Political Highlights November 15, 2010: Obama’s Asia Trip, Possible Deal with Israel, Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Run, and Nancy Pelosi Retains Democratic Leadership

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.


The President speaks at the University of Indonesia
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/10/10


  • Better News For Palin: PPP’s newest batch of 2012 Republican primary polls conducted right before last week’s election finds Mitt Romney ahead in the critical early state of Florida, Tim Pawlenty surprisingly weak in his home state of Minnesota, and Sarah Palin posting leads in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Maine…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Republican election win fails to excite public: poll: The Republican Party may have excited conservatives when it recaptured the House of Representatives in last week’s midterm elections but a recession-jilted public is less than enthused, according to a poll released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
    The survey found that 48 percent of those polled were happy with the Republican victory.
    This compared to 60 percent who said they were happy in 2006 when the Democrats regained majorities in both branches of Congress and the 57 percent who applauded the historic 1994 midterm gains for the Republican Party that saw them take control of the legislature for the first time in 40 years.
    “The nature of the victory itself is a little different because the Republicans this time only captured one chamber as opposed to the whole Congress,” said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Research Center. “One of the things that you see here is that we have seen these transitions of power before and they are happening more frequently and so it is not so novel,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • Poll: 77% say elections more negative than 2006 campaign: Americans believe the midterm elections were more negative than the 2006 campaign, a new Pew Research Center poll says. Nearly 8 in 10 voters, or 77%, say there was more mudslinging and negative campaigning than in previous elections. That compares with 69% after the elections four years ago.
    The 2010 elections may be remembered in history for these images: attacks on President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voters clamoring for less government and taxes participating in Tea Party rallies, and people railing against “Obamacare” and the new health insurance law. Most important, this election was about the economy. So maybe it’s not surprising that the low grades for Campaign 2010 weren’t partisan: 70% of Republicans, 79% of Democrats and 81% of independents said this political season was more negative than in 2006… – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Nine Congress and governor races not yet decided: Here are the congressional and gubernatorial races that remain uncalled after Tuesday’s election… – WaPo, 11-10-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Palin most polarizing of 2012 crowd: Sarah Palin is the most polarizing of the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, while impressions of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney lean more positive, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. As for the rest — Pawlenty, Barbour, Thune, Daniels — most Americans say, “Who?”
    Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, is the best-known and most divisive of the bunch. In the wake of her high-profile role in endorsing candidates all over the country, 46 percent of Americans view her favorably, 49 percent unfavorably, and 5 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
    Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the 2008 GOP Iowa caucus, received the highest favorability rating, 49 percent. About one in four people has no opinion of him, and 27 percent view him unfavorably.
    Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran in 2008, had similar results. Nearly a quarter of all Americans have no opinion about him, while 46 percent view him favorably, and 31 percent unfavorably.
    In terms of winning the 2012 nomination, the question is how Republican-leaning Americans view the contenders. Palin comes out on top. Among adults who identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, 79 percent view her favorably, and 17 percent unfavorably.
    These findings worry many Republican officials. The poll suggests Palin might be able to win the nomination. But among independents_they could be the deciding factor in the general election — just 43 percent hold a favorable view of Palin, compared with 61 percent with a positive view of Obama…. – AP, 11-10-10
  • 2010: An Aligning Election: Elections with results as dramatic as those of Tuesday night are sometimes referred to as “realigning elections.” The term — although somewhat ambiguous and overused — usually refers to a case in which one or another party not only gains a significant amount of power, but also, in which coalitions are shifted, the signature of which is usually that the rising party performs particularly well in certain geographic regions or among certain demographic groups.
    The 1980 election, for instance, arguably marked the beginning of a long-term shift toward Republicans in America’s suburbs, with Jimmy Carter’s share of the suburban vote dropping from 53 percent in 1976 to 37 percent in 1980: the 16-point swing against Mr. Carter was about twice the one he suffered in cities or rural areas. Likewise, in 1994, the shift against Democrats was particularly sharp in the South: 19 of the 52 representatives which they lost having come from that part of the country.
    The 2010 elections, by contrast, were remarkable for their orderliness — and they tended to reinforce, to an almost uncanny degree, existing political coalitions.
    Below is a chart that arranges America’s 435 congressional districts from those (on the left) which gave the highest percentage of their vote to Barack Obama in 2008 to those (on the right) which gave the highest share to John McCain; the chart then compares which party each district had elected to the House before and after Tuesday night…. – NYT, 11-8-10


President Barack Obama at a Press Conference at the G20 Summit at   Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea

President Barack Obama answers questions during a press conference at the G20 Summit at Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea, November 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Netanyahu Backs U.S. Proposal for Freeze: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask cabinet ministers to support a U.S. proposal to extend restrictions on building in Jewish settlements for 90 days in exchange for a package of incentives from Washington, according to Israeli officials. If approved by the Israeli government, the deal could help revive peace talks with the Palestinians, which collapsed at the end of September when a 10-month period of building restrictions expired and Israel refused to extend it. Also Sunday, one of Israel’s most senior intelligence officials issued a stark warning that without immediate and meaningful progress toward peace, the Palestinian security services, which have earned consistent Israeli praise in recent months, could rapidly start to unravel. In a rare briefing to a small group of journalists, the intelligence official said there was a window of between three months and a year to show progress toward peace. “If there will not be real progress, I believe we can find that sometime within three months, six months or one year from now, that the functioning of the Palestinian security system is in a very different place,” the intelligence official said. “In order to keep the legitimacy and functioning of the Palestinian security system we need real progress in the peace process.”… – WSJ, 11-14-10
  • Obama calls latest Israeli plan promising: President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the prospect of a new settlement freeze in the disputed West Bank as a promising step toward peace, urging Israelis and Palestinians to get back into serious negotiations quickly. An upbeat president also pledged to return to the basic principles that drove his thinking when he first came to the White House, including sticking to a more bipartisan tone and better explaining his decisions to the American people. He spoke of moving from an “obsessive focus” on policy and making changes to his approach after a humbling midterm election.
    “The fact that we are out of crisis — although still obviously in a difficult time — I think will give me the capacity,” Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One at the end of long Asia trip.
    On the Mideast, Washington’s new proposal for reviving peace talks includes a 90-day ban on housing starts in West Bank settlements — but not in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. The goal is to give the two sides a three-month period to shape borders of side-by-side states, a daunting, elusive mission.
    Obama commended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a “very constructive step” toward creating an environment for peace. “I think it’s a signal that he’s serious,” Obama said…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • White House, GOP look for middle ground on taxes: The White House and Republican lawmakers set the terms for a looming tax debate Sunday, coalescing around a possible temporary extension of existing income tax rates that would protect middle class and wealthy Americans from sharp tax increases next year. Top White House adviser David Axelrod stressed that President Barack Obama opposes a “permanent” extension of current tax rates for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and married couples making more than $250,000. But Axelrod, appearing on two Sunday television talk shows, was carefully silent on the possibility of extending current tax rates for the short term. He said he wants to leave negotiations to Obama and members of Congress. “The bottom line is he wants to sit down and talk about this,” Axelrod said. “There is no bend on the permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”… – AP, 11-14-10
  • US asks Israel for 90-day settlement building moratorium: Netanyahu discusses possibility of halting building with septet; in exchange, US would support Israel in the UN and give 20 fighter jets; request does not include e. Jerusalem. The US asked Israel to freeze all new settlement construction begun after September 26th for a 90-day period in exchange for support in the United Nations and 20 additional advanced fighter planes worth $3 billion, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The principles of this agreement designed to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, were relayed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his inner cabinet, a forum of seven ministers, on Saturday night and will be explained to the full cabinet on Sunday. The US said that if the deal was accepted it would not request an additional settlement freeze. The request does not include east Jerusalem…. – Jpost, 11-13-10
  • Obama and Republicans find common ground on ‘earmarks’: The president and GOP House leaders agree that curtailing or eliminating the provisions would be a step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,'” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    In his radio address Saturday, Obama said that curtailing or eliminating earmarks would be a first step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,'” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    “Earmarks have become a symbol of a dysfunctional Congress and serve as a fuel line for the culture of spending that has dominated Washington for too long,” said Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive incoming House speaker, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), likely the next majority whip. “We welcome President Obama’s remarks on earmark reform, and we call upon him to urge congressional Democrats to vote on a similar measure next week,” they said…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Justices Leave Military Gay Ban in Place: The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy restricting openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving will remain in force while a legal challenge is considered by a federal appeals court, the United States Supreme Court declared Friday. In an unsigned, two-paragraph order, the justices denied a request by the Log Cabin Republicans, the group trying to overturn the law, to reinstate an order by a federal district judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, that prohibited enforcement during the appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had ruled, however, that the military could continue enforcement during the appeal, and on Friday the Supreme Court agreed. The decision did not address the merits of the case.
    The Supreme Court order noted that the newest justice, Elena Kagan, “took no part in the consideration or decision” of the application; she may have recused herself because she was involved in the case as solicitor general, the position she held before President Obama nominated her to the court…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Obama Tells Business Leaders That U.S. Is `Here to Stay’ in Asian Markets: President Barack Obama told Japanese business leaders that the U.S. is “here to stay” in Asia as he neared the end of a 10-day trip across the region. Speaking to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s CEO Business Summit in Yokohama, Japan, Obama said engagement with Asia is a “jobs strategy,” important to his goal of increasing U.S. exports and spurring economic growth around the world.
    “We don’t want to lose the opportunity to sell our goods and services in fast-growing markets. We don’t want to lose the opportunity to create new jobs back home,” he said according to the prepared text of the speech. “When it comes to this growing, sprawling region of the world, the United States is here to stay.”
    Obama is in Japan for the APEC leaders meeting on a trip that has taken him to India, Indonesia and South Korea. At each stop he’s highlighted the need to boost exports in Asia’s rapidly growing economies in order to create jobs at home, where the unemployment rate has been 9.5 percent or higher for the last 14 months.
    Obama told the hundreds of Japanese chief executives gathered at the conference that he makes “no apologies” for trying to bring jobs to the U.S. through trade, but that economic growth in any country is good for others.
    “There’s no need to view trade, commerce, or economic growth as zero sum games, where one country always has to prosper at the expense of another,” he said. “If we work together, and act together, strengthening our economic ties can be a win-win for all of our nations.”… – Bloomberg, 11-12-10
  • Obama seeking compromise on Bush tax cuts: With tax breaks for millions of Americans set to expire Dec. 31, President Obama has opened the door to a compromise with Republicans, signaling a new willingness to accept tax breaks for the wealthy to avoid immediate tax hikes across the board. But as lawmakers head back to town next week for their first battle since this month’s congressional elections, no one is sure just how far Obama is willing to go.
    In recent days, the White House has appeared to vacillate on the expiring tax cuts, swerving from a humble tone of capitulation back to one of defiance. On Wednesday, White House senior adviser David Axelrod seemed to suggest in an interview with the Huffington Post that Obama was poised to acquiesce to GOP demands to extend all the tax cuts in tandem, saying “we have to deal with the world as we find it.”
    On Friday, Obama pushed back, telling reporters with him on a trip to South Korea that “that is the wrong interpretation.” “Here’s the right interpretation: I want to make sure that taxes don’t go up for middle-class families starting on January 1,” Obama said. “That’s my number one priority for those families and for our economy.”…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Obama, GOP could meet halfway on foreign policy: Voters gave no clear direction to U.S. foreign policy in this month’s congressional elections, leaving President Barack Obama and his strengthened Republican opponents plenty of room in which to find common ground — or duke it out over pressing international challenges. Senior GOP lawmakers say Republicans will challenge Obama over his approach to Iran’s nuclear program, and are balking at Senate approval of a new nuclear arms control accord with Moscow. They’ll help cushion Obama, however, against criticism of his Afghanistan war strategy from his own Democratic Party’s liberal wing. Afghanistan “is one area where Republicans feel comfortable standing with the president,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Halifax International Security Forum, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Nov. 6… – Miami Herald, 11-12-10
  • After G20, Obama says his global influence is intact: President Obama asserted Friday that the punishment his party took in midterm elections has not damaged his ability to advance U.S. interests overseas, saying his Asia trip has shown that many countries still want to work with the United States. In a news conference following the Group of 20 summit, Obama said the United States, while still the world’s most powerful economy, can no longer dictate the terms of how the world does business, especially after a global economic turndown that many blame on American policies. But he said his relationships with fellow heads of state have evolved during his two years in office – relying less on the novelty of his election and the enthusiasm it generated than on a shared view of where the global economy should be heading…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Deficit report favors ‘do-nothing Congress’ Debt-to-GDP ratio benefits from inaction: Buried inside the wide-ranging blueprint put out this week by the respected co-chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan commission to slash the federal deficit is a powerful argument for doing nothing. The commission’s recipe of tax increases, spending cuts, elimination of popular tax breaks and reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits continued to roil Washington on Thursday, as both liberals and conservatives condemned some of the painful steps contained in the draft proposal to reduce federal red ink over the coming decades. But the report, offered by Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, also demonstrates that Congress and Mr. Obama can take a major chunk out of the deficit without passing a single bill or issuing a single veto…. – The Washington Times, 11-11-10
  • Action, not talk: Deficit panel pushes Dems, GOP: The leaders of the deficit commission are baldly calling out the budget myths of both political parties, challenging lawmakers to engage in the “adult conversation” they say they want. Their plan — mixing painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare with big tax increases — has no chance of enactment as written, certainly not as a whole. But the commission’s high profile will make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to simply keep reciting their tax and spending talking points without acknowledging the real sacrifices that progress against government deficits would demand. It’s time for both conservatives and liberals to “put up or shut up,” says Jon Cowan, head of the centrist-Democratic group Third Way, which praised the bold new proposals and urged politicians to show courage. Republicans failed to produce their often-promised deficit reductions when they controlled the government, Cowan said, and Democrats refuse to acknowledge that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare must be trimmed…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Clinton offers Netanyahu security pledge on peace talks: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Israel’s security requirements would be fully taken into account in any peace deal with the Palestinians. In a move that could allow Netanyahu to persuade his governing coalition to back a new freeze on Israeli settlement construction, Clinton and the visiting Israeli leader ended a marathon round of talks in New York with a strong declaration of Washington’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and to peace in the region.”
    “The prime minister and the secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals,” the two sides said in a joint statement, which did not mention the settlement issue directly. But Clinton repeated that the peace talks — which have hit an impasse over the settlement issue — could yet yield an independent Palestine living next to Israel “with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
    “Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement,” the joint statement said…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • As G-20 begins, Obama gets few concessions from other leaders: Obama predicts that leaders will reach ‘a broad-based consensus’ on trade and currency issues, but the opening session of the summit offers little evidence that other nations are willing to help the U.S…. – LAT, 11-11-10
  • SKorea-US trade chiefs end talks as Obama arrives: South Korea and the United States ended a third day of talks aimed at jump-starting a long-stalled trade agreement, offering no clues on progress a day before their presidents meet. Washington and Seoul have been holding what are seen as make-or-break negotiations to infuse new life into the deal to slash tariffs and other barriers to trade that was signed in 2007 when previous administrations were in power. It remains unratified by lawmakers in both countries…. – Business Week, 11-10-10
  • Netanyahu defiantly answers Obama’s warning over construction in East Jerusalem: The Israeli leader’s sharp words come hours after Obama, in Indonesia, said new construction could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clashed publicly with President Obama on Tuesday over Israeli construction in disputed East Jerusalem, throwing a teetering Mideast peace effort deeper in doubt. Responding to criticism from Obama, Netanyahu struck a defiant tone in commenting on plans to build 1,300 more Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, saying his government had never agreed to limit construction in the city. “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the capital of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and the planning and building policy in Jerusalem.”
    Netanyahu’s statement came hours after Obama warned that the new construction, announced by Israel on Monday, could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort began in early September. Obama made the remarks a few hours after arriving in Indonesia, his boyhood home for four years, where he was set to deliver the second major speech Wednesday in his outreach to the Muslim world.
    “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations, and I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make that extra effort involved to get a breakthrough,” Obama said. “Each of these incremental steps end up breaking trust.”
    Israel also is moving ahead with 800 units in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, Israeli news reports said Tuesday. Netanyahu’s pronouncement was consistent with Israeli policy, yet his sharp tone may embarrass Obama at a moment of vulnerability. Obama is visiting the world’s largest Muslim country, and the rebuke may again raise questions in the Muslim world about how much influence the American leader really has on a priority issue. The disagreement also comes a week after Obama suffered a setback in the midterm elections, which gave Republicans, who are likely to be sympathetic to Netanyahu’s point of view, majority control of the House of Representatives. Some Israeli officials and U.S. analysts had predicted before the election that Netanyahu might feel emboldened to push back on Obama if the Democrats fared poorly…. – LAT, 11-9-10
  • No Charges in Destruction of C.I.A. Interrogation Tapes: Central Intelligence Agency officials will not face criminal charges for the destruction of dozens of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, the Justice Department said Tuesday. After a closely watched investigation of nearly three years, the decision by a special federal prosecutor is the latest example of Justice Department officials’ declining to seek criminal penalties for some of the controversial episodes in the C.I.A.’s now defunct detention and interrogation program. The destruction of the tapes, in particular, was seen as so striking that the Bush administration itself launched the special investigation after the action was publicly disclosed…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • Obama trip welcomes India to high table of global influence: President Obama left India with reassurances of his strong support for a ‘strategic partnership’ – as well as strong words about his commitment to free trade…. – CS Monitor, 11-9-10
  • Fed Global Backlash Grows China and Russia Join Germany in Scolding; Obama Defends Move as Pro-Growth: Global controversy mounted over the Federal Reserve’s decision to pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, with President Barack Obama defending the move as China, Russia and the euro zone added to a chorus of criticism. Mr. Obama returned fire in the growing confrontation over trade and currencies Monday in a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, taking the unusual step of publicly backing the Fed’s decision to buy $600 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds—a move that has come under withering international criticism for weakening the U.S. dollar…. – WSJ, 11-8-10
  • Obama heads to Indonesia, finally: President Barack Obama finally heads to Jakarta on Tuesday for a visit during which he will seek to boost U.S. security and trade ties with Indonesia, and also reach out to the larger Islamic world. His visit to a country where he spent four years of his childhood comes after two previously scheduled trips were put off because of problems at home — in March as he fought to pass his healthcare overhaul law and in June as he faced the cleanup of the massive BP oil spill. The delays disappointed and angered some Indonesians, and even this visit had been in some doubt because of concerns about volcanic ash from repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi volcano. Indonesia is important destination for Obama for a variety of strategic and personal reasons, aides said. Its importance as a U.S. ally is on the rise, even if the joy over Obama’s election has faded since he became president almost two years ago. Indonesia is an emerging economy, a democracy, a member of the G20 and the world’s most populous Muslim country…. – Reuters, 11-8-10
  • Obama boosts India for ‘rightful place in world’: Deepening America’s stake in Asian power politics, President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, hoping to elevate the nation of a billion people to “its rightful place in the world” alongside an assertive China.
    Obama’s declaration, delivered to the pounding applause of India’s parliament members, spoke to a mission broader than the makeup of one global institution. By spending three packed days in India, announcing trade deals, dismissing job-outsourcing gripes and admonishing India’s rival Pakistan, Obama went all in for an ally whose support he hopes to bank on for years.
    “I want every Indian citizen to know: The United States of America will not simply be cheering you on from the sidelines,” Obama said inside the soaring legislative chamber of the capital city. “We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, because we believe in the promise of India.”… – AP, 11-8-10
  • Diplomacy, Diwali, dinner on Obama’s agenda in India: A female tribal leader working to get more girls into classrooms, in a rural society that places boys first. A former civil servant running a website to battle corruption. Schoolchildren who got the first couple dancing for the Hindu festival Diwali.
    These were some of the Indians whom President Obama met Sunday on the second day of his four-nation Asia tour. The issues raised highlight the massive challenges facing this poor but fast-growing nation of 1.1 billion people, to whom Obama promised he would elevate the U.S.-India partnership “to an entirely new level.”
    He also faced the sensitive question of Pakistan-based terrorism, when asked, at a town-hall-style meeting with students, the question on many Indians’ minds: Why hasn’t the USA declared Pakistan a terrorist state? Obama stressed the need to work with Islamabad “to eradicate this extremism that we consider a cancer within the country that can potentially engulf the country.”… – 11-7-10
  • Fresh Slate at the Pentagon Lies Ahead for Obama: With critical decisions ahead on the war in Afghanistan, President Obama is about to receive an unusual opportunity to reshape the Pentagon’s leadership, naming a new defense secretary as well as several top generals and admirals in the next several months…. – NYT, 11-7-10
  • Obama calls India creator, not poacher, of US jobs: Searching for help half a world away, President Barack Obama on Saturday embraced India as the next jobs-creating giant for hurting Americans, not a cheap-labor rival that outsources opportunity from the United States. “For America, this is a jobs strategy,” Obama said of his emphasis on trade, although it could stand as a motto for his 10-day trip. He is spending Sunday with young people in Mumbai and then heading onto meetings in New Delhi, the capital, before shifting later in the week ahead to Indonesia and economic talks in South Korea and Japan…. – AP, 11-6-10
  • Obama Invokes Gandhi, Whose Ideal Eludes Modern India: President Obama and his wife, Michelle, with Usha Thakkar, director of Mani Bhavan, the Gandhi Museum in Mumbai, “He is a hero not just to India, but to the world,” the president wrote in a guest book on Saturday in Gandhi’s modest former home in Mumbai, now the Mani Bhavan museum. Yet if paying homage to Gandhi is expected of visiting dignitaries, Mr. Obama’s more personal identification with the Gandhian legacy — the president once named him the person he would most like to dine with — places him on complicated terrain…. – NYT, 11-7-10


  • Democrats avoid House leadership battle Nancy Pelosi helps craft an accord with potential rivals that will make her the minority leader: House Democrats, already hurting from their election shellacking, averted a potentially ugly leadership fight Saturday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco helped broker an agreement that paves the way for her to remain Democratic leader, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland to remain in the party’s second-ranking position of minority whip, and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to take the new title of assistant leader. Democrats who will serve in the new Congress will vote on their leaders Wednesday. The arrangement, which Pelosi announced in a letter to her party’s rank and file, averts a clash between Hoyer, whose appeal to more conservative Democrats is seen as crucial to helping the Democrats win back control of the House in 2012, and Clyburn, a black member who is popular with the liberal base…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • House Democrats Avoid Fight on No. 2 Position: Updated: Shuler Considers Run Top House Democrats said late Friday night that they had settled on an arrangement that avoided a divisive fight for the No. 2 position in the party when it reverts to the minority in January. In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would nominate Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to be the No. 3 Democrat when the party holds an internal party election on Wednesday. “Over the past four years, Congressman Clyburn’s effective leadership in the whip’s office was crucial to our passage of historic legislation on jobs, health care, veterans and Wall Street reform on behalf of the American people,” Ms. Pelosi said…. – NYT, 11-13-10
  • Ambition is curbed, but Democrats still have a lame-duck agenda: With a few weeks left in control of both houses of Congress, Democrats are pressing a scaled-back agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and possibly repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday to begin a complicated lame-duck session that will mark the last time Democrats will be in control of Congress for the foreseeable future….
    Despite electoral losses that handed control of the House to Republicans and diminished Democrats’ majority in the Senate, Democratic leaders are pressing an agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and perhaps repeal the ban on openly gay men and women serving inthe military.
    Yet nothing is certain in the new political climate. As many as 80 incoming House Republicans elected two weeks ago will arrive in town for freshman orientation in advance of their January swearing-in ceremony, and some plan to join a rally Monday to protest the Democrats’ plans.
    In addition, lawmakers who will be members of the 112th Congress will vote for their leaders next week. Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to become the next House speaker, while Democrats will decide whether to retain the outgoing speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as their leader. In the Senate, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to remain majority leader, with Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to continue leading the GOP…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Rahm: It’s on Presumptive front-runner makes official entry into race for mayor: As Rahm Emanuel made his entry into Chicago’s mayoral race official Saturday, a major theme of his campaign echoed off the school gymnasium walls: He is the tenacious leader Chicago needs during tough times. The former North Side congressman and White House chief of staff laid out a broad agenda, declaring he’d work to help generate jobs, improve education and decrease crime at a juncture in the city’s history when all three need to be addressed.
    “The choices we make in the next few years will define Chicago for future generations. They will determine whether we remain a world-class city — or fall back,” he told 250 supporters jammed in the gym at Coonley Elementary School. “The question in this election is who has the experience, imagination and strength to see a better future for Chicago? And who has the determination to see that vision through the end?” While providing few specifics in an 18-minute speech, Emanuel did say increasing taxes to address the city’s continued budget woes isn’t on the table. Still, Emanuel hinted at service cuts by promising that “necessary changes” and “tough choices” will be made and residents will “share in the sacrifices.”… – Chicago Tribune, 11-13-10
  • Recount Could Trap Pawlenty in Governor’s Mansion: Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has been gearing up for a bid for the Republican presidential nomination for months. He chose not to run for re-election as governor. He has hit the early-state circuit. Everything is ready once he leaves office on Jan. 3. Except for this: He may not be able to leave. Under Minnesota law, the governor’s term extends as long as it takes to swear in a successor, even if a recount takes months. And that could just happen.
    The race to replace Mr. Pawlenty between the Democrat Mark Dayton and the Republican Tom Emmer ended last Tuesday in what is becoming a regular outcome in the North Star state — a virtual tie. Out of about 2.1 million votes cast, Mr. Dayton leads Mr. Emmer by about 8,500 votes, less than the half-percentage point margin that mandates an automatic recount.
    That recount will start on Nov. 27 and is scheduled to last until early December, at which point the trailing candidate could choose to challenge the recount by filing a lawsuit. Mr. Emmer’s advisers and state Republicans have made it clear they will do so if they feel they have a legitimate case.
    “If we are behind and we think that there are issues with the recount, we could file a contest,” said Tony Sutton, the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. “We’re not looking to kick this past the first of the year. We are not going to do things to throw stuff against the law and see what sticks.”… – NYT, 11-13-10
  • No. 2 House Democrat Will Try to Retain Post: Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Monday that he would try to hold on to that position when his party slips into the minority next year as the leadership of House Democrats remained in turmoil one week after devastating election losses…. – NYT, 11-8-10
  • Hoyer collecting liberal support in whip bid: Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) continued Tuesday to collect high-profile endorsements from his party’s liberal wing in his bid to become House minority whip, trying to counter the impression that his candidacy is built around support from moderate-to-conservative Democrats. Seven Democratic committee chairmen issued a letter Tuesday endorsing Hoyer’s candidacy for the No. 2 post in the House leadership, including a trio of the leading legislative liberals: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).
    Hoyer, currently the majority leader, has publicly touted his momentum in his campaign against Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), unveiling a string of key endorsements. With Tuesday’s rollout – first reported by Politico – Hoyer now has nearly 50 public endorsements, almost halfway to the roughly 95 or so supporters he will need to win the secret ballot later next week.
    Clyburn, currently the majority whip, the No. 3 post in the majority, has about 10 public endorsements but is also expected to collect the lion’s share of the roughly 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus. He has won some key backing, including Monday’s endorsement by Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who is the highest-ranking Latino member of congressional leadership…. – WaPo, 11-9-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Congressman Danny Davis announces bid for Chicago mayor: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a veteran Chicago politician, struck populist tones as he declared his candidacy for mayor today, saying he will bridge the gap between wealthy and struggling communities.
    “Notwithstanding the economic climate, we the people, we the grassroots, everyday people, we the policeman, we the postman, we the clerks. . . can exercise our God-given rights to participate, be involved and make decisions about ourselves and our city,” Davis said at a rally held in a ballroom of the Hotel Allegro downtown.
    The announcement felt a little like a church service. Davis started with an invocation, and some of his 200 supporters gathered in the ballroom engaged in a call and response as Davis and others spoke.
    While Davis offered few policy details, he said he would create jobs and economic development opportunities and attempt to “save our children from lifetimes of drug use, abuse, (and) incarceration.”
    “I know that everyone in our city is concerned about balancing the budget and finding ways to keep our city solvent,” he said. “I don’t pretend at the moment to have the answers to all of our financial problems. . . but I can assure you that we have a team of researchers and experts looking at the issues and preparing recommendations.” … – Chicago Tribune, 11-14-10
  • Miller: Ballot fight unlikely if math doesn’t work: Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller is watching absentee ballots from military voters as he takes his next steps in Alaska’s still-undecided Senate race….
    The state has so far recorded more than 98,500 write-in ballots cast. Saturday marked the fourth day of a write-in ballot hand count that could stretch well into next week, with thousands of absentee and questioned ballots yet to be combed through.
    The count Saturday showed Murkowski with 74,449 votes, or 89.6 percent of the write-in vote undisputedly — a trend that has largely held throughout the process. Another 7.9 percent was credited to her tally over challenges by Miller observers, generally for things like misspellings of her name or penmanship. Murkowski’s campaign believes it needs to win at least 90 percent of the unchallenged vote to declare victory. Miller’s vote total, as of Friday night, was 87,517…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • Paging Jeb Bush — for 2012: In fact, some folks in the GOP are so convinced that there is a Bush renaissance in the offing that they’re hoping to turn that wave into another White House victory for the Bush family. That’s right. If the era of Bush fatigue is really over, then here comes baby brother. Jeb Bush, the popular former two-term governor of Florida, is being mentioned as a viable Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012, although he has denied having an interest in running.
    (Both Bush brothers will be guests on a special edition of State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Sunday at 8 and 11 p.m. ET.)
    While Jeb has his share of detractors, he also seems to have the same knack for bringing people together that his big brother had for driving them apart. And, with the Tea Party ready to go to war with the GOP establishment in the political equivalent of a cage match for control of the Republican Party, that skill set could come in handy…. – CNN, 11-12-10
  • Murkowski confident in re-election chances: If wrestling with a variety of spellings for write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s name isn’t enough, officials counting ballots in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race are also dealing with such oddball entries as “Donald Duck,” ”Elmo” and “Revolt.”
    Those ballots were quickly tossed Friday even as a count showed the Republican incumbent maintaining a healthy 90 percent of the write-in vote.
    Saying she feels “pretty good about the direction” the tally is headed, Murkowski expressed confidence that she’ll pull off an improbable write-in victory over Republican nominee Joe Miller.
    So far, the state has recorded 98,565 write-in votes and 87,517 votes for Miller. Murkowski has been getting about 90 percent of write-in votes. Another 7.6 percent have been apparent votes for Murkowski that have been challenged, generally by observers for Miller for things like penmanship issues and misspellings.
    The hand count is scheduled to go through the weekend and run well into next week to determine if Murkowski got enough write-in votes to win…. – AP, 11-13-10
  • Michigan Republican Anuzis to challenge RNC’s Michael Steele: Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis announced Friday that he will run for chairman of the Republican National Committee, making him the first official challenge to current leader Michael Steele. Anuzis said in a statement that the decision for him was not easy, since he regards Steele as a “friend and colleague.” “As someone who believes in loyalty, my natural instinct would be to sit this out,” Anuzis wrote. “But the simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business.”… – Yahoo News, 11-12-10
  • Reagan Library to Host First Republican Debate for 2012 Primary: What took so long? It’s been over a week since the 2010 vote and debate plans are finally being made for the presidential election in two years. The first Republican primary debate is set for spring 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
    “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his Presidential Library,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a press release. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.” NBC News and Politico will be the event’s media partners. No Republicans have announced their intentions to challenge President Obama. Among names being floated are Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
    “The fact that we are already talking about the 2012 presidential race only foreshadows how invested and deeply rooted America will be in the political discussion come next spring,” NBC News President Steve Capus…. – Politics Daily, 11-11-10
  • Nancy Reagan to host debate for 2012 GOP hopefuls: Republicans hoping to take back the White House in 2012 will have an audition of sorts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Former first lady Nancy Reagan announced today she will invite the leading 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls to a debate at the library in spring 2011. The debate will be co-hosted by NBC News and Politico. “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his presidential library,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement. A second Republican debate will be held at the library before the Super Tuesday primaries….. – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Murkowski returning to Alaska amid ballot count: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is returning to Alaska as election workers continue tabulating write-in ballots that will help determine whether she wins re-election. Anchorge Daily News, 11-11-10
  • Nurkowski? Makowski? Murckoski? Counting the Write-In Votes in Alaska: “Liza Makowski?” “Challenge.” So said Terry Campo, an observer working on behalf of Joe Miller, the Republican Senate candidate, as he hovered over a table where two election workers on Wednesday helped sift through more than 230,000 ballots cast in the Alaska Senate race. The question looming over the warehouse in this remote state capital: will Senator Lisa Murkowski become the first write-in candidate elected to the Senate since 1954? Write-in votes have a clear lead over Mr. Miller, but the process of actually seeing whose name is on them did not begin until Wednesday. The count is expected to last until at least Friday – but a court fight could last much longer…. – NYT, 11-10-10
  • 2012 Senate races pose challenge to President Obama: The votes are still being counted in some states for this year’s congressional elections, but already some political types are sweating the 2012 contests in the Senate. An analysis by The National Journal discusses a “civil war” brewing for Republicans in 2012, since the anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement roiled the GOP this year.
    There’s also been some sniping between Rep. Spencer Bachus and former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin about the Tea Party’s role in the 2010 elections. Palin has pushed back on the Alabama Republican’s comment that “Palin cost us control of the Senate” with her support of candidates such as Christine O’Donnell, who was defeated in her bid for a Delaware Senate seat. But some 2012 Senate races aren’t just interesting for Republicans. The contests also pose a challenge to Democrats and President Obama, especially in some of the states he won in 2008. In all, Democrats will have to defend 23 Senate seats including the two held by independents who vote with them. Republicans hold 10 Senate seats up for grabs in two years…. – USA Today, 11-10-10
  • Republicans Maneuver to Oust Their Leader: Turning their attention to the 2012 presidential election, Republican leaders are digging in for a battle over control of the Republican National Committee, judging that its role in fund-raising, get-out-the-vote operations and other tasks will be critical to the effort to topple President Obama. Some senior party officials are maneuvering to put pressure on Michael Steele, the controversial party chairman, not to seek re-election when his term ends in January or, failing that, to encourage a challenger to step forward to take him on…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • GOP lawmaker: Palin cost party control of Senate: Questioned about those comments on Tuesday, a spokesman for Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama said the remarks had been taken out of context but didn’t retract them. Bachus, in line to become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, initially blamed Palin last week at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon. According to the Shelby County Reporter, he said the Senate would be in Republican hands if not for losses by tea party candidates endorsed by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee.
    “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. He added that while tea party candidates did well in House races, “they didn’t do well at all” in Senate contests.
    In a statement Tuesday, Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson said the congressman was expressing a widely held belief that stronger Republican candidates could have won in states such as Delaware and Nevada, where Republicans Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle lost. “That’s a lesson going forward,” Johnson said. “As the article noted, (Bachus) was extremely complimentary of the tea party movement and Governor Palin in crediting them with the great turnout of conservatives that led to many of the successes on Tuesday.” “He said that the tea party, rather than being criticized, is on the same page as many in the country, including independents, in cutting spending, lowering taxes and limiting the size of government,” Johnson added…. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • Joe Miller: Cautiously optimistic on prospects: Alaska Senate hopeful Joe Miller says he’s cautiously optimistic about his prospects for winning on the eve of the absentee ballot count. Election workers plan to begin tallying more than 30,000 absentee ballots Tuesday; the counting of write-in ballots will begin Wednesday. Initial returns from last week’s election showed Miller trailing write-ins by more than 13,000 votes. Sen. Lisa Murkowski ran as a write-in following her loss in the GOP primary to Miller. It’s not clear how many of those votes are for her or how many for her were properly cast. Murkowski has sounded confident, telling supporters they’d “made history.” But Miller tells The Associated Press this is premature, and says her hiring of a “high-power” legal team suggests she’s nervous. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • 12 in 2012: Jim DeMint Earns His Stripes as Tea Party Power Broker: Senator Tea Party, as Jim DeMint is sometimes known, is a moniker the first-term senator began wearing before the Tea Party became a household name. It’s also a description that has pushed the South Carolina Republican out of the shadows and into the forefront of electoral politics.
    “I’m proud to be called Senator Tea Party. I feel like I’m giving a voice to people who are very frustrated that Washington’s not listening,” DeMint told Fox News.
    This fall, DeMint, who was just re-elected to his second term in the Senate, took his commitment to making Washington listen out on the campaign trail – and not merely in his own race. He endorsed high-profile conservatives and donated millions from his political action committee to failed Senate candidates Ken Buck of Colorado, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware as well as successful contestants Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky…. – Fox News, 11-9-10
  • Clyburn: Pelosi has a role in House leadership: Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a place in the Democratic leadership after Republicans take control next year. The South Carolina Democrat is downplaying the emerging contest between himself and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer for the No. 2 spot when Democrats become the minority party. Clyburn says he plans to keep his current job as whip…. – AP, 11-7-10
  • Pence, Pawlenty Still Weigh 2012 Bids: Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said they were still weighing whether to run for president in 2012, but decisions could be coming shortly. Mr. Pence, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” said he was “intent on taking the coming weeks to really prayerfully consider that, to wait on the Lord, to seek counsel. And after the first of the year, we’ll make a decision.”
    “Well, I don’t know for sure what I’m going to do after I’m done being governor,” Mr. Pawlenty told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I’ll decide that early next year.”
    Sen. Jim DeMint (R. S.C.) had some advice for whoever wants to win the Republican nomination. “I think the next Republican running for president needs to run on complete repeal” of the new health care law, he in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said he “absolutely” was not running for president in 2012. Or vice president, for that matter.
    “Can you see me as somebody who’s a vice president?” he said on “Meet the Press.” “After that question about ‘Governor Wrecking Ball?’ I would feel bad for that poor man or woman.” – WSJ, 11-7-10


The President Records the Weekly Address

For this edition of West Wing Week, walk step by step with the President as he travels through Asia.

  • President Obama at the G-20 in Seoul: “Focusing on Growth”WH, 11-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Earmark Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address November 13, 2010: This weekend, I’m concluding a trip to Asia whose purpose was to open new markets for American products in this fast-growing part of the world. The economic battle for these markets is fierce, and we’re up against strong competitors. But as I’ve said many times, America doesn’t play for second place. The future we’re fighting for isn’t as the world’s largest importer, consuming products made elsewhere, but as the world’s largest manufacturer of ideas and goods sold around the world.
    Opening new markets will not only help America’s businesses create new jobs for American workers. It will also help us reduce our deficits – because the single greatest tool for getting our fiscal house in order is robust economic growth. That kind of growth will require ensuring that our students are getting the best education possible; that we’re on the cutting edge of research and development; and that we’re rebuilding our roads and railways, runways and ports – so our infrastructure is up to the challenges of the 21st century.
    Given the deficits that have mounted up over the past decade, we can’t afford to make these investments unless we’re also willing to cut what we don’t need. That’s why I’ve submitted to Congress a plan for a three-year budget freeze, and I’m prepared to offer additional savings. But as we work to reform our budget, Congress should also put some skin in the game. I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. These are items inserted into spending bills by members of Congress without adequate review….
    As a Senator, I helped eliminate anonymous earmarks and created new measures of transparency so Americans can better follow how their tax dollars are being spent. As President, time and again, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks. We’ve reduced the cost of earmarks by over $3 billion. And we’ve put in place higher standards of transparency by putting as much information as possible on earmarks.gov. In fact, this week, we updated the site with more information about where last year’s earmarks were actually spent, and made it easier to look up Members of Congress and the earmarks they fought for.
    Today, we have a chance to go further. We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust. We have a chance to advance the interests not of Republicans or Democrats, but of the American people; to put our country on the path of fiscal discipline and responsibility that will lead to a brighter economic future for all. And that’s a future I hope we can reach across party lines to build together. – WH, 11-13-10
  • President Obama in Jakarta: “Indonesia’s Example To the World”: I first came to this country when my mother married an Indonesian named Lolo Soetoro. And as a young boy I was — as a young boy I was coming to a different world. But the people of Indonesia quickly made me feel at home.
    And we lived in a small house. We had a mango tree out front. And I learned to love Indonesia while flying kites and running along the paddy fields and catching dragonflies, buying satay and baso from the street vendors. (Applause.) I still remember the call of the vendors. Satay! (Laughter.) I remember that. Baso! (Laughter.) But most of all, I remember the people — the old men and women who welcomed us with smiles; the children who made a foreign child feel like a neighbor and a friend; and the teachers who helped me learn about this country.
    In the years since then, Indonesia has charted its own course through an extraordinary democratic transformation — from the rule of an iron fist to the rule of the people. In recent years, the world has watched with hope and admiration as Indonesians embraced the peaceful transfer of power and the direct election of leaders. And just as your democracy is symbolized by your elected President and legislature, your democracy is sustained and fortified by its checks and balances: a dynamic civil society; political parties and unions; a vibrant media and engaged citizens who have ensured that — in Indonesia — there will be no turning back from democracy.
    But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia — that spirit of tolerance that is written into your Constitution; symbolized in mosques and churches and temples standing alongside each other; that spirit that’s embodied in your people — that still lives on. (Applause.) Bhinneka Tunggal Ika — unity in diversity. (Applause.) This is the foundation of Indonesia’s example to the world, and this is why Indonesia will play such an important part in the 21st century.
    When I moved to Indonesia, it would have been hard to imagine a future in which the prosperity of families in Chicago and Jakarta would be connected. But our economies are now global, and Indonesians have experienced both the promise and the perils of globalization: from the shock of the Asian financial crisis in the ‘90s, to the millions lifted out of poverty because of increased trade and commerce. What that means — and what we learned in the recent economic crisis — is that we have a stake in each other’s success.
    America has a stake in Indonesia growing and developing, with prosperity that is broadly shared among the Indonesian people — because a rising middle class here in Indonesia means new markets for our goods, just as America is a market for goods coming from Indonesia. So we are investing more in Indonesia, and our exports have grown by nearly 50 percent, and we are opening doors for Americans and Indonesians to do business with one another.
    These are the issues that really matter in our daily lives. Development, after all, is not simply about growth rates and numbers on a balance sheet. It’s about whether a child can learn the skills they need to make it in a changing world. It’s about whether a good idea is allowed to grow into a business, and not suffocated by corruption. It’s about whether those forces that have transformed the Jakarta I once knew — technology and trade and the flow of people and goods — can translate into a better life for all Indonesians, for all human beings, a life marked by dignity and opportunity.
    Now, this kind of development is inseparable from the role of democracy.
    Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the right of human beings for the power of the state. But that’s not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see here in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another.
    I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we do have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you — no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we’ve done. And that is what we will do. (Applause.)
    Now, we know well the issues that have caused tensions for many years — and these are issues that I addressed in Cairo. In the 17 months that have passed since that speech, we have made some progress, but we have much more work to do.
    Innocent civilians in America, in Indonesia and across the world are still targeted by violent extremism. I made clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Instead, all of us must work together to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion –– certainly not a great, world religion like Islam. But those who want to build must not cede ground to terrorists who seek to destroy. And this is not a task for America alone. Indeed, here in Indonesia, you’ve made progress in rooting out extremists and combating such violence.
    That spark of the divine lives within each of us. We cannot give in to doubt or cynicism or despair. The stories of Indonesia and America should make us optimistic, because it tells us that history is on the side of human progress; that unity is more powerful than division; and that the people of this world can live together in peace. May our two nations, working together, with faith and determination, share these truths with all mankind. WH, 11-10-10
  • Palin calls Obama ‘most pro-abortion president’: Sarah Palin attacked President Barack Obama on Wednesday for his support of abortion rights and for the federal health care overhaul as the former Alaska governor appeared in Texas with another tea party favorte, Gov. Rick Perry. Palin described Obama as “the most pro-abortion president to occupy the White House” at the Dallas event, which was sponsored by a nonprofit organization that promotes an anti-abortion message. The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee also said the federal health care law is the “mother of all unfunded mandates” and means federal funding will go toward abortions…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Obama says Indonesia, U.S. ‘on right path’: President Obama on Tuesday said his efforts to find ways to cooperate with Indonesia were “direct results of my call … for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities.” “Our efforts have been earnest, sustained,” Obama said. “We don’t expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed … but we do think that we’re on the right path.” “I have made it clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam,” he said in remarks prepared prior to the speech and distributed to the news media. “Instead, all of us must defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion — certainly not a great, world religion like Islam.”
    Most of Indonesia’s 240 million people follow a moderate form of Islam…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
  • Peggy Noonan: Sarah Palin A ‘Nincompoop’ For Reagan Reduction: Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president…. – WSJ, 11-6-10
  • Obama: US elections force ‘midcourse corrections’: Hampered by heavy election losses at home, President Barack Obama promised on Sunday from Indian to make “midcourse corrections” to reinvigorate his embattled domestic agenda in the face of a testier American public and more combative Congress….
    The president agreed that people vented their frustration about the economy by sacking many incumbents. A “healthy thing,” he said, even though his Democratic Party suffered, losing control of one of the chambers in Congress. He said he would not retreat on spending money for energy and education, and offered no specific policy changes.
    But then he added that the election “requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments. And how those play themselves out over the next several months will be a matter of me being in discussions with the Republican Party.”… – AP, 11-7-10
  • Obama Says Vote Turned on Economy: President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that he views last week’s mid-term Congressional elections as “a referendum on the economy” rather than a referendum on him, his policies or the Democratic Party.
    While he said he should be held accountable for the economy as the nation’s leader, he did not accept the suggestion that he pursued the wrong agenda over the last two years, and he focused blame on his failure to build public support for what he was doing or to change the way Washington works.
    In a session taped for CBS’s “60 Minutes” before Mr. Obama left for Asia, the correspondent Steve Kroft pointed out to the president that Republicans view the election as a referendum on him and the Democrats, and asked if he agreed. “I think first and foremost it was a referendum on the economy,” Mr. Obama said. “And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming.”… – NYT, 11-10-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Compromise and Explains his Priorities on Taxes Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House November 6, 2010: This week, Americans across the country cast their votes and made their voices heard. And your message was clear.
    You’re rightly frustrated with the pace of our economic recovery. So am I.
    You’re fed up with partisan politics and want results. I do too.
    So I congratulate all of this week’s winners – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. But now, the campaign season is over. And it’s time to focus on our shared responsibilities to work together and deliver those results: speeding up our economic recovery, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class so that the American Dream feels like it’s back within reach….
    Here’s why this lame duck session is so important. Early in the last decade, President Bush and Congress enacted a series of tax cuts that were designed to expire at the end of this year.
    What that means is, if Congress doesn’t act by New Year’s Eve, middle-class families will see their taxes go up starting on New Year’s Day.
    But the last thing we should do is raise taxes on middle-class families. For the past decade, they saw their costs rise, their incomes fall, and too many jobs go overseas. They’re the ones bearing the brunt of the recession. They’re the ones having trouble making ends meet. They are the ones who need relief right now.
    So something’s got to be done. And I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together.
    But at a time when we are going to ask folks across the board to make such difficult sacrifices, I don’t see how we can afford to borrow an additional $700 billion from other countries to make all the Bush tax cuts permanent, even for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’d be digging ourselves into an even deeper fiscal hole and passing the burden on to our children.
    I recognize that both parties are going to have to work together and compromise to get something done here. But I want to make my priorities clear from the start. One: middle class families need permanent tax relief. And two: I believe we can’t afford to borrow and spend another $700 billion on permanent tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
    There are new public servants in Washington, but we still face the same challenges. And you made it clear that it’s time for results. This a great opportunity to show everyone that we got the message and that we’re willing, in this post-election season, to come together and do what’s best for the country we all love. – WH, 11-6-10


President Barack Obama places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan   War Memorial
The President places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan War Memorial, White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/11/10
  • Lawrence Goodwyn: The Great Predicament Facing Obama: What happened to the dream of Barack Obama’s transformational politics? There’s been very little deviation from the disastrous Bush years on the key issues of war, empire and the distribution of wealth in the country. I turned to Lawrence Goodwyn, historian of social movements whose books and methods of explaining history have had a profound influence on many of the best known authors, activists and social theorists of our time. Goodwyn’s account of the Populist movement, Democratic Promise, is quoted extensively by Howard Zinn in People’s History of the United States, and also in William Greider’s masterpiece on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple. You can find Goodwyn quoted in the first paragraph of Bill Moyers’ recent book, On Democracy, and cited in just the same way in countless other books and essays.
    I interviewed Goodwyn from his home in Durham, North Carolina about the pitfalls of recording American history, Obama’s presidency in light of previous presidents, and portents of change in our political culture…. – Alternet (10-30-10)
  • Can the Tea Party endure? CNN asks Michael Kazin: The midterm elections dealt a powerful blow to President Obama and the Democratic Party as the country appeared to shift decisively to the right, moved by mass anger, “due to a combination of two kinds of fear,” historian Michael Kazin told CNN…. Kazin, a professor of history at Georgetown University, editor of The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History and author of “A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan” and other books, spoke to CNN last week.
    CNN: Would Republicans have captured the House without the Tea Party?
    Michael Kazin: We historians hate counterfactual questions! But clearly, the aura of a grass-roots rebellion helped to obscure the fact that most of corporate America was rooting for the GOP and helping finance Republican campaigns. The specific policy ideas of the Tea Partiers mattered less than did their anger at the perceived sins of “big government” and of President Obama. As [political writer] Kevin Phillips once wrote, much of political conflict comes down to the question of “who hates whom.”… – CNN.com (11-7-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP leaders, beware the newcomers John Boehner has a huge problem on his hands. Now that the elections are over, and Republicans were victorious, he will need to tame the passions of the GOP freshmen who are coming to town determined to change everything about the way that Washington works.
    If he does not, the Republicans could divide among themselves, thereby undercutting their ability to push forward legislation and giving President Obama an opportunity to challenge their competence….
    Just as Democrats would do well to remember that life wasn’t so great for Clinton after 1994, even with his high approval rates, Republicans would do the same to recall how a massive opportunity was wasted and ultimately consumed some of its own leaders. – CNN, 11-8-1

Remembering Senator Edward (Ted) M. Kennedy, 1932-2009


Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention even though he wasn't anywhere near 100 percent.

Appleton/News Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention even though he wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent.


  • Edward M. Kennedy: Senator From 1962-2009: Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the most powerful and influential senators in American history, died after battling a brain tumor. Kennedy was the vibrant symbol of American liberalism in an era of conservative ascendance. – WaPo
  • Edward M. Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Is Dead at 77: Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew acclaim and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77…. – NYT, 8-26-09
  • Edward M. Kennedy Left Major Imprint on Life in D.C.: At 3 p.m. Wednesday, students and teachers gathered around the flagpole outside Brent Elementary School on Capitol Hill to remember one of their own…. – WaPo, 8-27-09
  • HNN Hot Topics: Edward Kennedy’s Life and LegacyHNN
  • A nation reacts to the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy…Detroit Free Press, 8-27-09
  • Residents at Hyannis Port mourn death of their neighbor, Ted Kennedy: Flags flew at half-mast and flowers were left outside the Kennedy compound Wednesday morning as Hyannis Port neighbors mourned the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy…. – NY Daily News, 8-26-09
  • Sen Edward Kennedy dies: Kennedy was key part of Obama’s agenda and early ambitions: Senator’s death leaves president without early ally… Chicago Tribune, 8-27-09
  • For Obama, Kennedy’s illness meant a missed chance for a mentor: Senator Edward Kennedy’s brain cancer dashed hopes he would help propel President Barack Obama’s bold agenda…. – LAT, 8-27-09

The President at Senator Kennedy's funeral

(President Barack Obama attends the funeral mass for Senator Edward Kennedy at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, Massachusetts, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • The Kennedy Funeral: The funeral for Senator Edward M. Kennedy begins at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help just outside Boston. The rain outside, and the wet streets, offer up a symbolism often remarked upon at dampened funerals as a renewal of life. Or that the heavens are weeping…. – NYT, 8-29-09
  • List of dignitaries attending Kennedy’s funeral SaturdayBoston Globe, 8-29-09
  • US Capitol applauds Kennedy one last time: Thousands gathered outside the US Capitol broke into loud applause Saturday as Edward Kennedy’s funeral procession halted briefly next to the building on the last leg of the senator’s final journey. In unprecedented scenes at the nation’s top assembly, thousands of other ordinary by-passers had gathered solemnly on the lawns and roadsides nearby to bid farewell to Kennedy, who died late Tuesday from brain cancer aged 77. Waving flags and cheering, they came to honor the last of a band of brothers who shaped the politics of a nation…. – AFP, 8-29-09
  • Kennedy’s Papal Correspondence and a Spontaneous Sing-Along: At the Capitol Despite the heat, people started gathering hours before the funeral procession’s arrival. According to CNN, United States Park Police estimated that 1,000 people had gathered on the Capitol steps and 4,000 on the grounds at around 5:45 on Saturday evening, hoping to catch a glimpse of the hearse during its brief stop…. – NYT, 8-29-09
  • BURIAL AT ARLINGTON ‘We Loved This Kind And Tender Hero’ A Day of Mourning, Celebration Edward M. Kennedy Funeral Service: Thousands of Kennedy admirers stood outside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston while family, colleagues and friends filled the church to say final goodbyes to the senator.
    On the day he was carried to his final resting place, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was remembered Saturday as a legislator of almost unequalled prowess, a political force who left a lasting imprint on the country and a husband, father and patriarch whose private acts of love and devotion helped his star-crossed family endure tragedy and misfortune…. – WaPo, 8-29-09
  • Sen. Ted Kennedy spent his life looking out for others: Edward Kennedy came to the last rousing political speech of his life from a Denver hospital, already being treated for the brain cancer that finally took him last week. On top of that, Kennedy showed up for last year’s Democratic convention suffering from what would be diagnosed as kidney stones. So the great health care advocate needed more health care of his own, right before he stood up for Barack Obama…. – NY Daily News, 8-31-09
  • An icon, for better or worse: In the spring of 1970, months after Mary Jo Kopechne died in Ted Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick, graphic designer George Lois produced an Esquire magazine cover depicting the senator in a Santa Claus hat, the same innocent headgear Lois had used seven years earlier to ironically crown Sonny Liston, the boxer whom most of middle-class America saw as an unapologetic thug. Lois said he returned to the idea for Kennedy to invoke “the bad-guy/good-guy theme at a time when he was being vilified.” Not long after Esquire’s June 1970 issue, featuring an article entitled “Reshaping Teddy’s Image,” hit newsstands, Lois encountered Kennedy on a Manhattan street, uncertain about the reaction he could expect. “I ran into him,” Lois recalled this week, “and he said: ‘I’m better-looking than that Sonny Liston!'”… – Boston Globe, 9-01-09
  • Kennedy’s Closest Confidante, in Politics and LifeNYT, 8-29-09
  • Vicki Reggie Kennedy: lawyer, widow, next U.S. senator from Massachusetts?: Time Magazine has called her “The Woman Who Saved Ted.” Now, though she has said she is not interested, pressure is mounting on Victoria Reggie Kennedy to save his agenda — serving as interim senator from Massachusetts until January when a special election is planned to fill the seat held by her husband, the late Edward Kennedy…. – LAT, 8-31-09
  • Fame didn’t separate Kennedy from little guy: The world remembers Sen. Edward Kennedy for his passionate liberalism, legislative skill and stewardship of a political dynasty.
    Kevin Larson recalls a McDonald’s lunch. A decade ago, Kennedy hosted Larson’s 6- and 4-year-old sons to thank them for returning a lost diamond ring they had found at a playground. Larson remembers his boys bounding past a reception area filled with important people in suits to McDonald’s meals Kennedy’s staff had waiting for them in his office. The graciousness Kennedy showed his family that day was repeated in the coming years in notes and Christmas cards. “He never forgot the little guy,” said Larson, who lives in the Boston suburb of Malden…. – AP, 8-27-09
  • Edward Kennedy memoir already a best-seller: Edward Kennedy was buried Saturday, but his impact will surely linger in the words contained in his memoir, “True Compass.” The book, which will be released Sept. 14, already has become Amazon’s best-selling biography. “Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy” by Peter S. Canellos was also in the Top 10 in that category. Jonathan Karp, editor-in-chief of Twelve, which is publishing the book, said in an open letter that “Kennedy has been keeping a personal journal through nearly 50 years of his public life, beginning with John F. Kennedy’s campaign for president in 1960. Five years ago, he began an oral history project at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, where he began to address all aspects of his life – his family, his career in the Senate, and his view of the historic events of our time.” – Baltimore Sun, 8-31-09
  • National Portrait Gallery Displays Warhol’s Kennedy Portrait: Visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery can pay their respects to Edward Kennedy by viewing a portrait by Andy Warhol. Made as a campaign fundraiser for the late Massachusetts senator’s 1980 presidential campaign, the silkscreened work features subtle red and blue lines meant to mimic the American flag. Kennedy lost the Democratic nomination to Jimmy Carter, whom Warhol had painted only a few years before. Kennedy died August 25 at the age of 77. – Art Info, 8-31-09
  • Edward Kennedy books: Sad to hear about Edward Kennedy’s death. For Baby Boomers, the Kennedy family held a special place, reflecting both the hope — and tragedy — of our youth. Recalling the 1960’s, when two of his brothers were felled by assassins’ bullets, the then-America seems an almost unbelievable place. Of course, young Teddy had his own demon: the Chappaquiddick incident that left a young woman dead. But he put together a remarkable political career as the only surviving brother…. – Baltimore Sun, 8-31-09
  • Shriver: Uncle’s death may aid health care push: Maria Shriver says the death of her uncle Sen. Edward Kennedy could provide momentum to the senator’s lifetime effort to overhaul the nation’s health care system…. – AP, 8-29-09



Pool photograph by Brian Snyder Former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife Jill, former first lady Rosalynn Carter and former President Jimmy Carter wait for the services to begin.

  • PRESIDENT OBAMA, on Senator Edward M. Kennedy: “His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education’s promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just — including myself.”
  • Vice President Joe Biden, quoted at WashingtonPost.com: The unique thing about Teddy was it was never about him. It was always about you. … People I admire, great women and men, at the end of the day gets down to being about them. With Teddy, it was never about him.
  • Kennedy family statement: Veteran US Senator Edward Kennedy has died at the age of 77 after suffering a brain tumour diagnosed in 2008. The announcement came in a short statement from his family:
    Edward M Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port [Massachusetts].
    We’ve lost the irreplaceable centre of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.
    We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.
    He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.
  • Obama Offers Tribute to ‘a Defender of a Dream’: “His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end. His extraordinary work lives on,” Mr. Obama said, speaking from the Blue Heron Farm in the town of Chilmark. “For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was a defender of a dream.”… “His fight has given us the opportunity that was denied us when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us,” Mr. Obama said, “the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye.” – NYT, 8-27-09
  • Grandchildren give thanks to Kennedy, ‘best in the world’: “When most people of Ted Kennedy, they think about the man who changed the lives of millions of people by fighting for a better health care. When I about him, vibrant memories of sailing, laughing, Thanksgiving dinner, talking on the front porch and playing with Splash come to mind,” Kiley Kennedy said. “To me, all the things he has done to change the world are just icing on my grandpa cake of a truly miraculous person.”… – NECN, 8-29-09
  • Nancy Reagan remembers Kennedy, fondly: “Both of them respected one another. And it was a very good friendship. It’s what there should be more of today,” Reagan’s widow, Nancy, said Wednesday night on her son Ron’s radio show on Air America. “You can get so much done if you work together,” she added.
    Ron Reagan asked whether the president and senator shared a bond in some way because Reagan narrowly escaped assassination, and Kennedy’s two older brothers were killed. “Maybe there was,” Nancy Reagan replied. She said she and Kennedy worked together for stem cell research, and they did not talk about their political disagreements. “I’ll miss him,” she said of “Teddy,” who he said stayed in touch long past the 2004 death of her husband, with calls on her birthday and notes and flowers on other special events…. – Boston Globe, 8-27-09
  • Biden Offers Personal Memories of Kennedy: “Don’t you find it remarkable that one of the most partisan liberal men in the last century, serving in the Senate, has so many of his foes embrace him?” Mr. Biden said. “Because they know he made them bigger. He made them more graceful, by the way in which he conducted himself.”…
    “I just hope we remember how he treated other people, and how he made other people look at themselves and look at one another,” Mr. Biden said. “That’ll be the truly fundamentally unifying legacy of Teddy Kennedy’s life, if that happens. And it will for a while, at least in the Senate.” – NYT, 8-26-09
  • Obama Delivers Muted Eulogy for Friend and Supporter: President Obama said goodbye Saturday to his friend and mentor Edward M. Kennedy, offering a studious profile of a man whom he and much of the country had come to admire and respect….
    Obama said Americans are left with one image of Kennedy: “the image of a man on a boat; white mane tousled; smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for what storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon.” – WaPo, 8-29-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT EULOGY FOR SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica Roxbury, Massachusetts: Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those that he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good that he did, the dream he kept alive, and a single, enduring image — the image of a man on a boat, white mane tousled, smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for whatever storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon. May God bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace. – WH, 8-29-09

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  • Brown calls Sen. Kennedy ‘great internationalist’: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written that Sen. Edward Kennedy was “a great internationalist” who inspired social progress around the world…. He says “we owe a great debt to the vision and courage of Kennedy,” who died Tuesday at age 77…. – AP, 8-28-09
  • Rep. Kennedy: Dad’s illness has united family: Rep. Patrick Kennedy has found something of a blessing in the curse of cancer afflicting his father: The family has been able to spend much more time with the stricken senator. “It’s been a chance for us to bond and be together and share a special time together that we would never have had together had he been taken from us,” Kennedy, D-R.I., said of his dad, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. “That’s a big gift. (It) let us have the chance to tell him how much we love him. And him to be there to hear it.” – AP, 8-13-09


File:TedKennedy 1962.jpg

  • Douglas Brinkley on Ted Kennedy’s Life: ‘He Did a Kind of a Redemptive Work’: “Well, for starters, Ted Kennedy was Catholic, and a big part of Catholicism is forgiveness. It’s the confession. He’s asked to be forgiven by people. He did a kind of a redemptive work throughout his whole career. He would fall off the wagon. He had a bit of a drinking problem. There was a carousing issue that came up. But he constantly said, I can do better. He asked the public directly, a number of times, that these are my own personal shortcomings, and I’m working on it.” News Busters, 8-27-09
  • JAY WINIK “Kennedy for the Ages Fierce partisanship is a proud senatorial tradition”: Over the course of a long and distinguished career, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died Tuesday at the age of 77, was like a cat with nine lives who used every one of them. He came from a family touched by greatness, even as it was riddled with unfathomable tragedy. He was the torchbearer for liberalism, even when it was a fading voice on the political scene. If his life was the stuff of rich biography—his memoir, for which he was reportedly paid $8 million, is due out in just over two weeks—the question remains: What will history think of him? Despite all the encomiums, it is too early to tell…. – WSJ, 8-27-09
  • Gil Troy “Mishpacha Ted Kennedy—friend of Israel, champion of social justice, advocate for Soviet Jews—became part of our family: “Kennedy, although not of the World War II generation exactly, was from the Hubert Humphrey-Alan Cranston school of liberals who were passionately pro-Israel, partially because the World War II vets among them had witnessed the Holocaust,” Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University and a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said by email yesterday. “Kennedy’s consistent support for Israel, along with his support for Soviet Jewry were givens, not in the sense of being taken for granted, but in the sense of being so central to his identity and worldview, it was assumed. Moreover, there was something very healing, very redemptive, for all concerned that Ted Kennedy, the son of that old anti-Semite Joe Kennedy, was such a good friend of the Jews. I don’t know of Ted discussing his father in that context, but Jews were certainly aware of the generational shift—and were grateful.” – Tablet, 8-27-09
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin: Kennedy Was ‘Strong In The Broken Places’: Well, I’ve known him for probably over 35 years — my husband, of course, worked in the White House with President Kennedy; was with Bobby when he died; and then was very close to Teddy Kennedy, who was at our wedding. We’ve spent vacations with him.
    You know, I think the extraordinary thing about him when you think of that long life is the way it’s really hit individual people in their daily goings-about.
    There’s a real personal bond that you can feel, even out here today at the Kennedy Library. You know, so many of those people who also loved Jack and Bobby, but probably never saw him, only saw either one of them through the power of television.
    A lot of these people here today have actually seen Teddy, they’ve had some dealings with him, or the legislation that he sponsored has affected them — giving them children’s health insurance; helping to get the right to vote; letting them take family and medical leave when something happened in the family; or people who are gay knowing that he helped with them; disabilities, helping with those rights.
    In a certain sense, the senator, it showed, could have more power in some ways, than presidents in making different changes in people’s daily lives, and you feel that in the emotion of these people today….. – wbur.org (NPR Boston), 8-28-09

June 4, 2009: President Obama’s Speech to the Muslim World in Cairo & Honoring Ronald Reagan


Stephen Crowley/The New York Times


In Focus: Stats

  • Addressing Muslims, Obama Pushes Mideast Peace: In opening a bold overture to the Islamic world on Thursday, President Obama confronted frictions between Muslims and the West, but he reserved some of his bluntest words for Israel, as he expressed sympathy for the Palestinians and what he called the “daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.” While Mr. Obama emphasized that America’s bond with Israel was “unbreakable,” he spoke in equally powerful terms of the Palestinian people, describing their plight as “intolerable” after 60 years of statelessness, and twice referring to “Palestine” in a way that put Palestinians on parallel footing with Israelis…. – NYT, 6-5-09
  • Americans Remain Skeptical About Middle East Peace Just 32% think Israel and Arabs will ever live in peace: With President Barack Obama seeking to engage the Arab world with his speech in Cairo, Americans’ confidence that there will ever be peace in the Middle East is at near-record lows. Only 32% of U.S. adults surveyed by USA Today and Gallup in late May believe “there will come a time when Israel and the Arab nations will be able to settle their differences and live in peace”; 66% disagree. – Gallup, 6-4-09
  • Poll Watch: Early Reactions to Sotomayor: Quinnipiac University, Gallup and The Associated Press polls each found Americans support the President’s pick to replace Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court. The Quinnipiac poll found 55 percent of voters approve of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, while 54 percent of Americans surveyed by Gallup and 50 percent of those polled by the AP said they would like to see the Senate confirm the nomination when they hold hearings sometime this summer. Judge Sotomayor, who would be the third woman and the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court, enjoys strong support from several groups of voters in particular — blacks (85 percent), Democrats (80 percent), women (60 percent) and Hispanics (58 percent), according to the Quinnipiac poll. White evangelical Christians, however, oppose the nomination 41 to 35 percent…. – NYT, 6-4-09


nancy reagan photoDoug Mills/The New York Times Nancy Reagan wiped tears away as a statue of former President Reagan was installed in the Capitol Building on Wednesday. Among the Congressional lawmakers joining the first lady were Representative John A. Boehner, House Republican leader from Ohio; Senator Harry Reid, Senate majority leader from Nevada; Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader from Kentucky.

The Headlines…

  • In Buchenwald, Obama to target Holocaust denial: In a solemn rendezvous with history, President Barack Obama will visit a scene of the 20th century’s great European horror to make an urgent point about the fear that still stalks its survivors. After meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in this city crushed by allied bombing in World War II, Obama was to fly by helicopter Friday to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where an estimated 56,000 people perished. Most were Jews — worked to death, shot or hanged by Nazi guards. The visit comes on the eve of commemorations in France of the 65th anniversary of the Allies’ D-Day invasion — and the day after Obama’s long-awaited speech to the Muslim world seeking a fresh start in relations with America…. 0 AP, 6-5-09
  • Expectation mounts ahead of Obamas’ Paris weekend: Not since the Kennedy era has an American first lady — and in tow, her presidential husband — been so eagerly awaited in Paris. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic were short on specifics about the American first couple’s upcoming weekend in the City of Light. The White House has only spoken openly about the D-Day commemorations in Normandy…. – AP, 6-4-09
  • Obama seeks common cause with Muslim world: Invoking the Quran and his rarely used middle name, Barack Hussein Obama declared Thursday that America has a common cause with Islam and never will be at war with the faith — an overture intently watched by the Muslim world and welcomed in unlikely quarters. An Iranian cleric called the president’s speech “an initial step for removing misconceptions.”
    Obama spoke at a seat of Islamic learning, his 55-minute address suffused with respect for touchstones of the religion. He said the time had come to “speak the truth” and “seek a new beginning.”
    “America and Islam are not exclusive,” he said, “and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”… – AP, 6-4-09
  • Do Obama’s words reveal his Middle East sympathies?: A close examination of the speech underscores how Obama, four months into his presidency, is still introducing himself — and what he stands for — to Americans and the world….
    But now, with Thursday’s speech in Cairo, Obama is laying bare more of his sympathies and inclinations in the volatile area of Middle East politics. Obama spoke, for example, of Palestinian “resistance” — a word that can cast Israel as an illegitimate occupier. He drew parallels between Palestinians and the struggles of black Americans in slavery and of black South Africans during apartheid. Both references made some allies of Israel uneasy. Moreover, in his defense of Israel’s legitimacy, Obama cited the Holocaust and centuries of anti-Semitism, but not the belief of some Jews that their claim to the land is rooted in the Bible and reaches back thousands of years…. – LAT, 6-5-09
  • World Reaction Mixed On Obama’s Cairo Speech: President Obama’s much anticipated speech to Muslims was watched by people of all faiths around the world. The reaction ranges from praises for a new beginning in Muslim-American relations to skepticism about setting words to action. From the Gaza Strip to Kabul to Washington, D.C., the world held its breath as President Obama made his historic speech to the Muslim world. “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” he said…. – VOA, 6-4-09
  • Analysis: Obama’s Islam success depends on Israel: President Barack Obama’s speech to Muslims also had a huge and attentive Jewish audience, attuned to any suggestion that he might soften U.S. support for Israel or make nice with Iran at the expense of the Jewish state. His careful words illustrate the constraints posed by Obama’s political obligations as he tries to reinvigorate America’s honest- broker status in the Islamic world…..
    An Israeli government statement issued after Obama spoke ignored his calls for a settlement freeze and the creation of an independent Palestinian state — demands that the hawkish Netanyahu continues to reject. “We share President Obama’s hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict,” the statement said, noting that Israel’s security must be guaranteed. – AP, 6-4-09
  • Many Muslims Praise Tone of Speech, but Call for Action: Mr. Obama won over many Muslims for delivering what many viewed as a respectful address — peppered with the moral message Muslims receive at weekly homilies and the straightforward talk they rarely get from their own leadership. Muslims in the Middle East and beyond praised U.S. President Barack Obama for the tone of his speech Thursday, but they had more of a mixed reaction to the substance of the address. “The Holy Quran tells us, ‘Be conscious of God and speak always the truth,’ ” said Mr. Obama, quoting the Muslim holy book in his hour-long speech at Cairo University. “That is what I will try to do.”… – WSJ, 6-4-09
  • Varying Responses to Speech in Mideast Highlight Divisions: On one level, President Obama’s speech succeeded in reaching out to Muslims across the Middle East, winning widespread praise for his respectful approach, his quotations from the Koran and his forthright references to highly fraught political conflicts. But Mr. Obama’s calibrated remarks also asked listeners in a region shaken by hatred to take two steps that have long been anathema: forgetting the past and understanding an opposing view. For a president who proclaimed a goal of asking people to listen to uncomfortable truths, it was clear that parts of his speech resonated deeply with his intended audience and others fell on deaf ears, in Israel as well as the Muslim world…. – NYT, 6-4-09
  • Gender and heritage a frequent topic for Sotomayor: Sonia Sotomayor told the Senate on Thursday that the White House never questioned her about cases or issues she might have to decide as a Supreme Court justice, a disclosure gleaned from reams of documents that reveal she has spoken repeatedly about how her gender and Latina heritage affect her judging…. – AP, 6-4-09
  • Speeches Show Judge’s Steady Focus on Diversity and Struggle: In speech after speech over the years, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has returned to the themes of diversity, struggle, heritage and alienation that have both powered and complicated her nomination to the Supreme Court…. – NYT, 6-5-09
  • Democrats may add car vouchers to war fund bill: U.S. congressional Democrats are considering fast-tracking legislation to boost auto sales by offering Americans vouchers to trade in older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for ones that get better mileage, a congressional aide said on Thursday. The legislation, known as “cash for clunkers,” would be added to a pending war funding measure in Congress, but “no final decisions have been made” despite wide support for the voucher program, said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…. – Reuters, 6-4-09
  • Rival Messages as Obama Lands in the Mideast: Aiming to repair the American relationship with the Muslim world, President Obama was greeted on Wednesday with reminders of the vast gulfs his Cairo speech must bridge, as voices as disparate as Al Qaeda’s and the Israeli government’s competed to shape how Mr. Obama’s message would be heard…. – NYT, 6-3-09
  • Israelis Say Bush Agreed to West Bank Growth: Senior Israeli officials accused President Obama on Wednesday of failing to acknowledge what they called clear understandings with the Bush administration that allowed Israel to build West Bank settlement housing within certain guidelines while still publicly claiming to honor a settlement “freeze.” The complaint was the latest in a growing rift between the Obama administration and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over how to move forward to achieve peace in the Middle East. Mr. Obama was in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and is scheduled to address the Muslim world from Cairo on Thursday…. – NYT, 6-3-09
  • First lady Michelle Obama joins push for Sotomayor: The White House dispatched first lady Michelle Obama to defend Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, part of a broad offensive to humanize the judge that came as former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich backed off his harsh criticism of her as a racist. Mrs. Obama told students at a high school graduation that Sotomayor is “more than ready” to be a justice and compared the judge’s life story of humble beginnings and high achievement to the paths taken by her husband and herself…. – AP, 6-3-09
  • Public plan threatens bipartisan health deal: President Barack Obama’s hopes for a bipartisan health deal seemed in jeopardy Thursday as GOP senators protested his renewed support for a new public health insurance plan, and a key Democratic chairman declared that such a plan would likely be in the Senate’s bill. A public plan that would compete with private insurers is opposed by nearly all Republicans. Obama long has supported it, but he had avoided going into detail about his health goals, leaving the specifics to Congress and emphasizing hopes for a bipartisan bill…. – AP, 6-4-09
  • Sotomayor’s Talk Made No Waves in ’01: For an event that has emerged as one of the biggest issues in the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, the speech Judge Sonia Sotomayor delivered in 2001 generated little notice at the time from the audience at a symposium on Latinos and the law. Ms. Sotomayor’s comment that she hoped a “wise Latina” would usually reach a better judicial conclusion than a white male has prompted cries of racism from her detractors and calls from Republican senators for an explanation. To critics like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Ms. Sotomayor was clearly saying that members of one ethnic group make better judges than those of another…. – WSJ, 6-3-09
  • Obama outlines health care plan for all: President Barack Obama, providing the first real details on how he wants to reshape the nation’s health care system, urged Congress on Wednesday toward a sweeping overhaul that would allow Americans to buy into a government insurance plan. In a letter to two senators leading the health care debate, Obama also moved toward accepting a requirement for every American to buy health insurance, as long as the plan provides a “hardship waiver” to exempt poor people from having to pay…. “The plans you are discussing embody my core belief that Americans should have better choices for health insurance, building on the principle that if they like the coverage they have now, they can keep it, while seeing their costs lowered as our reforms take hold,” Obama wrote…. – AP, 6-3-09
  • Obama Names a Republican to Lead the Humanities Endowment: President Obama intends to nominate Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa who is now a professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the White House said on Wednesday. “I am confident that with Jim as its head, the National Endowment for the Humanities will continue on its vital mission of supporting the humanities and giving the American public access to the rich resources of our culture,” Mr. Obama said in a statement…. – NYT, 6-3-09
  • Dems use war funding bill for more GI benefits: Congressional Democrats are using an approximately $100 billion war funding bill to give recently expanded GI Bill education benefits to the children of military service members who die while on active duty. The provision, pressed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, would give GI Bill benefits — which were greatly expanded last year — to each child of a service member killed in action or while on active duty, instead of a single family member as permitted under current rules…. – AP, 6-3-09
  • Nancy Reagan on hand as statue of President Reagan unveiled in D.C: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan held back tears Wednesday as she helped to unveil and then gently caressed a 7-foot bronze statue of her “Ronnie” that went on display at the Capitol. The statue in the Capitol’s soaring Rotunda, where the late President Ronald Reagan lay in state after his death at age 93 in 2004, was “a wonderful likeness of Ronnie and he would be so proud,” said Nancy Reagan, who will be 88 next month. “The last time we were in this room was for Ronnie’s service,” Reagan said. “So it’s nice to be back under happier circumstances.” – NY Daily News, 6-3-09
  • Nancy Reagan Joins Mrs. Obama for Lunch: Michelle Obama and Nancy Reagan will meet for the first time on Wednesday over lunch at the White House, an Obama administration official said… – NYT, 6-2-09
  • Obama Urges Quick Action by Senators on Insurance: President Obama on Tuesday affirmed his support for the creation of a government-sponsored health insurance plan, but he acknowledged that such a plan would sharply reduce the chances for Republican support of legislation to overhaul the health care system, Democratic senators said…. – NYT, 6-2-09
  • Sotomayor counters GOP critics over bias claims: Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday countered Republican charges that she would let her background dictate her rulings as Americans signaled a favorable first impression of President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court choice. A new Associated Press-GfK poll suggested that Americans have a more positive view of her than they did of any of former President George W. Bush’s nominees to the high court. Half backed her confirmation…. – AP, 6-2-09
  • Nancy Reagan and Obama Kiss and Make Up: It was a kiss and make up session at the White House Tuesday, with President Obama towering over former First Lady Nancy Reagan as he signed a proclamation establishing the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission. The commission is supposed to organize activities to mark the 100th anniversary, in 2011, of President Reagan’s birth. But enough about that; today’s White House event was also a chance for Mr. Obama to make up with Mrs. Reagan, whom he famously — and inexplicably — dissed back in November during the transition…. – NYT, 6-2-09
  • Pres. Obama holds surprise meeting with Ehud Barak: United States President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance yesterday at a meeting Defense Minister Ehud Barak was holding in Washington, shortly before the U.S. leader was set to leave on a five-day trip to the Middle East. Obama spoke for about 15 minutes with Barak, who was meeting with National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones at the time. While Obama’s official schedule did not include a meeting with Barak, he has in the past dropped into other officials’ meetings with international figures. Obama intends to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu four to six weeks to provide an “updated position” regarding construction in the settlements and the two-state principle…. – Haaretz, 6-2-09
  • Minnesota Gov Pawlenty says won’t seek third term: Republican Tim Pawlenty said on Tuesday he would not seek a third term as Minnesota’s governor but deflected questions about whether he would run for U.S. president in 2012. “I’m not ruling anything in or out,” the 48-year-old Pawlenty told reporters in Minnesota, adding he planned to offer his party new ideas. “I have 19 months left in my term — this is not a wake,” Pawlenty said, joking that he planned to tend to his lawn…. – Reuters, 6-2-09
  • Obama: Nationalization of GM to be short-term: In a defining moment for American capitalism, President Barack Obama ushered General Motors Corp. into bankruptcy protection Monday and put the government behind the wheel of the company that once symbolized the nation’s economic muscle. The fallen giant, the largest U.S. industrial company ever to enter bankruptcy, is shedding some 21,000 jobs and 2,600 dealers. Sparing few communities, the retrenchment amounts to one-third of its U.S. work force and 40 percent of its dealerships…. – AP, 6-1-09
  • Analysis: Gov’t firmly behind the wheel at GM: President Barack Obama now owns General Motors, even though he insists he’s taking it out only for a spin. Hours after the government sent GM into court Monday to file for Chapter 11 protection, Obama declared, “What I have no interest in doing is running GM.” But with a 60 percent equity stake in the carmaker and $50 billion in taxpayer money riding on GM’s success, the federal government is far from a hands-off investor…. – AP, 6-1-09
  • Ex-US Rep formally announces run for Ohio governor: Former Ohio Congressman John Kasich kicked off his campaign for governor Monday, saying he would eventually eliminate the state’s income tax while Democrats leveled a pre-emptive strike to tie him to Wall Street greed and irresponsibility…. – AP, 6-1-09
  • Judge: Gitmo legal documents must be public: A federal judge ordered the United States on Monday to publicly reveal unclassified versions of its allegations and evidence justifying the continued imprisonment of more than 100 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay…. – AP, 6-1-09
  • Obama is confusing the Left on Gitmo: Folks on the Left are confused because, for one thing, it is the Barack Obama hour, they love him, and they want to support him on just about everything. But there he is doing what he said he would not do on Guantanamo Bay. How to get around it? Well, if you have been reading what they write and listening to what they say, it’s pretty clear that many, if not all, have decided to put their faith in Obama’s dodges instead of his deeds…. – Washington Examiner, 5-27-09


Political Quotes

  • Text: Obama’s Speech in Cairo: The text of President Obama’s prepared remarks to the Muslim world, delivered on June 4, 2009, as released by the White House. – NYTMp3 DownloadVideo
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON A NEW BEGINNING Cairo University Cairo, Egypt: So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
    I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
    I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there’s been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” (Applause.) That is what I will try to do today — to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart…. – White House, 6-4-09
  • Obama cites Quran, but message is interfaith: President Barack Obama showed respect for Islam by quoting from the Quran in his speech Thursday but did so in a way meant to resonate with Christians and Jews as well. The passages he chose from the Muslim holy book had meanings that were universal in their appeal. He also referred once to the Talmud, the collection of Jewish law, and quoted a verse from the Gospel of Matthew. Both underscored the Quranic verses. “The Holy Quran tells us, ‘Mankind, we have created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another,'” Obama said in the Cairo address. “The Talmud tells us, ‘The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.’ The Holy Bible tells us, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.'”… – AP, 6-4-09
  • Israel Government spokesman Mark Regev: “Israel shares the hope expressed by President Obama that his efforts will indeed lead to a new period of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. a period where Israel will be recognized as a Jewish state and that we can live without fear of violence and terrorism.”
  • Saeb Erekat, a chief advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: “Now I hope that in the next few months, President Obama will lay a real plan with time lines, monitors and mechanisms to implement and translate the vision of two states to a realistic political track.”
  • Obama on Obama: “We have a joke around the White House. We’re just going to keep on telling the truth until it stops working — and nowhere is truth-telling more important than the Middle East.” “Stop saying one thing behind closed doors and saying something else publicly…. There are a lot of Arab countries more concerned about Iran developing a nuclear weapon than the ‘threat’ from Israel, but won’t admit it.” There are a lot of Israelis, “who recognize that their current path is unsustainable, and they need to make some tough choices on settlements to achieve a two-state solution — that is in their long-term interest — but not enough folks are willing to recognize that publicly.” There are a lot of Palestinians who “recognize that the constant incitement and negative rhetoric with respect to Israel” has not delivered a single “benefit to their people and had they taken a more constructive approach and sought the moral high ground” they would be much better off today — but they won’t say it aloud…. – NYT, 6-3-09
  • The President Spells Out His Vision on Health Care Reform – White House, 6-3-09
  • Obama makes nice with Nancy Reagan: President Obama kissed and made up with Nancy Reagan today at a White House event to create a commission to celebrate the centennial of her husband Ronald’s birth.
    “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and a way that Bill Clinton did not,” he said in an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal in January 2008.
    And today, Obama said, “President Reagan understood that while there are often strong disagreements between parties and political adversaries — disagreements that can be a source of conflict and bitterness — it is important to keep in mind all that we share….President Reagan helped as much as any President to restore a sense of optimism in our country, a spirit that transcended politics — that transcended even the most heated arguments of the day.”
    “I want to thank our special guest here today, Nancy Reagan, our former first lady, who redefined that role in her time at the White House — and who has, in the many years since, taken on a new role, as an advocate on behalf of treatments that hold the promise of improving and saving lives,” Obama said. “And I should just add, she has been extraordinarily gracious to both me and Michelle during our transition here and I’m thankful for that.
    “There are few who are not moved by the love that Ms. Reagan felt for her husband — and fewer still who are not inspired by how this love led her to take up the twin causes of stem cell research and Alzheimer’s research. In saying a long goodbye, Nancy Reagan became a voice on behalf of millions of families experiencing the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s disease.”
    When Obama escorted Nancy Reagan into the Diplomatic Reception Room, she walked using a cane in her right hand, while her left hand was in the crook of the president’s arm, where it stayed the entire time he spoke, according to the press pool report.
    When he escorted her out, she again had her hand in the crook of his elbow. The president leaned down, and said, “Michelle….She just thinks the world of you.” – Boston Globe, 6-2-09
  • Taking Shifts to Walk the Dog: Who’s walking Bo? Well, the Obamas are taking shifts. The president takes the night shift, usually just before 10 p.m., the first lady, Michelle Obama, told Time magazine. She walks the dog in the early morning (and picks up a few other shifts during the day, for good measure). “We sort of handle Bo like we did the kids,” said Mrs. Obama, who appears on the cover of this week’s Time magazine. “I’m the early-morning person … Once I go to bed, I don’t care what happens. Just make sure the dog doesn’t have an accident.”…
    “I know women who have given up a lot of themselves,” she said. “And there were times in my marriage where I put stuff aside. This isn’t one of those times.” – NYT, 6-2-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON GENERAL MOTORS RESTRUCTURING Grand Foyer: What we have, then, is a credible plan that is full of promise. But GM can’t put this plan into effect on its own. Executing this plan will require a substantial amount of money that only a government can provide. Considering GM’s extensive operations within their borders, the governments of Canada and Ontario have agreed to do their part with an investment in GM’s future, and I want to thank them for doing so. I also want to thank the government of Germany for working diligently to reach a Memorandum of Understanding on the sale of a major stake in GM’s European Division and for providing interim funding that will make it possible for that transaction to be finalized.
    But of course GM is an American company with tens of thousands of employees in this country, and responsibility for its future ultimately rests with us. That’s why our government will be making a significant additional investment of about $30 billion in GM — an investment that will entitle American taxpayers to ownership of about 60 percent of the new GM…. What we are not doing — what I have no interest in doing — is running GM. GM will be run by a private board of directors and management team with a track record in American manufacturing that reflects a commitment to innovation and quality. They — and not the government — will call the shots and make the decisions about how to turn this company around. The federal government will refrain from exercising its rights as a shareholder in all but the most fundamental corporate decisions. When a difficult decision has to be made on matters like where to open a new plant or what type of new car to make, the new GM, not the United States government, will make that decision. In short, our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a hands-off approach, and get out quickly…..
    I’m confident that the steps I’m announcing today will mark the end of an old GM, and the beginning of a new GM; a new GM that can produce the high-quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow; that can lead America towards an energy independent future; and that is once more a symbol of America’s success…. – White House, 6-1-09
  • Cheney “wrong” on facts: Obama: President Barack Obama on Monday struck back at one of his toughest critics, saying former Vice President Dick Cheney was wrong when he criticized White House plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. “He also happens to be wrong. Last time, immediately after his speech, I think there was a fact check on his speech that didn’t get a very good grade,” Obama told NPR News…. – Reuters, 6-1-09
  • Romney criticizes Obama’s defense cuts: “Backing away from missile defense and depleting the defense budget to fund new social programs, particularly in the face of global turmoil, would put America and Americans at risk,” he said. Romney, speaking to the conservative Heritage Foundation, called Obama’s proposal to cut missile defense programs a “grave miscalculation” in light of North Korea’s provocations, Iran’s near-nuclear status and Pakistan’s instability….
    “Arrogant, delusional tyrants can’t be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows,” he said. “Action, strong bold action coming from a position of strength and determination, is the only effective deterrent.” “I know the liberals have opposed missile defense ever since Ronald Reagan came up with it,” he said. “But this is too big an issue for ideology or politics to prevail over national security.”…
    “I take issue with President Obama’s recent tour of apology,” Romney said. “It’s not because America hasn’t made mistakes — we have – but because America’s mistakes are overwhelmed by what America has meant to the hopes and aspirations of people throughout the world.”… – AP, 6-1-09
  • Romney says Obama is putting nation at risk Words not enough in dealing with tyrants, he says: “The president’s planned budgets and multitrillion dollar deficits, financed by a level of borrowing never before attempted by any nation, puts our whole economy in jeopardy,” Romney said in the speech, sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation. “He may take us past the tipping point and create a crisis of confidence in the dollar that would burden us for years.”… “Arrogant, delusional tyrants can’t be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows,” Romney said. “Action — strong bold action — coming from a position of strength and determination, is the only effective deterrent.”… – Salt Lake Tribune, 6-1-09


The President in Cairo

Historians’ Comments

  • SUMAIYA HAMDANI, George Mason University “Obama’s Speech Could Mark Shift in U.S.-Muslim Relations”: I was very impressed with the speech, actually, and I was impressed with the speech for a lot of reasons. I think, first and foremost, the quality of the speech was one that was very different from the previous administration and, I think, for most administrations, U.S. administrations. Obama was speaking to an audience, as opposed to at an audience. And… By which I mean that he engaged the audience in terms that resonated with them. For example, whereas most U.S. presidents and policymakers have spoken in terms of freedom and democracy, much of his speech was really about justice, which is a concept around which political discourse is built in many over other parts of the world, including the Islamic world. And I think that he also was able to engage the audience in terms of what was particular to their culture and heritage. But at the same time, what made it universal, in the introduction to his speech — sorry.
    I would — my colleagues are putting Obama’s speech or putting his feet to the fire much more than I would. I listened to the speech as a speech by an American president. I listened to it for what kind of rationale he would provide for the kinds of policies — rather than specific policies, but the rationale for the kinds of policies he would pursue. And I listened to the speech, I have to admit, as an American Muslim. And on all of those levels, I found the speech impressive, in the sense that, again, he engaged the audience in terms that made sense to them. I think with regard to, for example, the Palestinian issue, the fact that a U.S. president talked about the humiliation that Palestinians suffer under occupation — I think those words are very important, because those are words the Palestinians have used to talk about their experience as displaced people, as refugees, as people trapped in the kind of Bantustans that exist in the occupied territories. And American presidents have not addressed them in terms that they themselves have used to describe their condition….
    I think realistically not much. I mean, as he himself said in a speech, one speech does not make a big difference. But I think what he did do in the context of a speech — and an important one at that — was to engage his audience and create this potential for common understanding and mutual interest. One of the things that impressed me about the speech was that, unlike many political pundits and many authors of the contemporary scene in the Islamic world, he attempted to transcend what has been a kind of accepted “othering” of Islam. He talked about the sort of debt that world civilization has to Islam. And in doing that, I think he transcended the sort of clash of civilization paradigm that has become so accepted. And I think, in talking about Islam as to, quote, “a part of America,” he went beyond the “othering” of Muslims in the West, which I think was also very important. – PBS Newshour, 6-4-09
  • Burton Visotzky “Obama cites Quran, but message is interfaith”: “Obama’s taking that step, showing familiarity with the Quran, is the palpable demonstration of the respect he went to Cairo to show,” said Burton Visotzky, a professor of interreligious studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York… – AP, 6-4-09
  • Julian Zelizer, professor, Princeton University: “President Obama should highlight three important points. The first is that the administration is committed to improving relations with the Muslim world after the tensions that have been building over the past decade — before and after 9/11. Diplomacy and financial assistance will be part of the mix. Second, he should reiterate his commitment to democratization and human rights in this region of the world. And finally, he should call for regional coalitions which include Israel to find ways to contain growing threats such as Iran without having to resort to war.” – Politico, 6-3-09
  • David Orentlicher, professor, Indiana University: “The president should reaffirm the message from his visit to Turkey that the United States is not at war with Islam, that the United States has been enriched by Muslims and that we seek broader engagement based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. He also should restate his point that ‘our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject’ and then talk about the need for Muslims to meet their responsibility in condemning the beliefs, statements and actions that arise out of that fringe ideology. The president should remind the world that Egypt was the first of Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel and agree to a peace treaty and highlight the important model of Anwar Sadat in seeking reconciliation with one’s enemy. The president also should contrast the efforts of Sadat with the example of other Arab leaders who not only have failed to pursue peace with Israel but have rebuffed genuine peace overtures or have tried to provoke an escalation of hostilities. The president should say that the time has come to enter a new era of relationships in the Middle East, where the vision of leaders like Sadat can be realized and not thwarted by the guns of extremists.” – Politico, 6-3-09
  • Don Ritchie “Reagan returns to Washington, D.C., in bronze”: Don Ritchie, the Senate’s associate historian, said that although he was sad to see the King statue go, “I’ve rarely met a Californian who knew who he was.” “I suppose that former presidents will have more staying power,” he said. “Anyway, having your statue in the U.S. Capitol for almost eight decades is a pretty good run, even if it’s not for eternity. And since King was a minister, he would likely have recalled Solomon’s warning in Ecclesiastes: ‘Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.'” – LAT, 6-3-09
  • Robert Dallek “Familiar Obama Phrase Being Groomed as a Slogan”: President Obama told doctors and insurers on Monday that revamping health care would “lay a new foundation for our economy.” He told graduating college students on Wednesday that “we need to build a new foundation.” He told consumers on Thursday that protecting them was vital “to the new foundation we seek to build.”…
    Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, suspects Mr. Obama’s expression may suffer the same fate. “I’m not sure what it means,” Mr. Dallek said. “The successful slogans tied in a convincing way to current events. T.R.’s Square Deal, F.D.R.’s New Deal, J.F.K.’s New Frontier and L.B.J.’s Great Society all resonated because they summed up what their presidents intended and what the public was eager for at the time.” “I guess you could say the same for the New Foundation,” he added, “but foundation doesn’t strike me as a word people will comfortably take to.” – NYT, 5-15-09

The President in Cairo

White House Photo, 6/4/09, Pete Souza

The President in the Middle East

The President spoke in Cairo on America’s relationship with Muslim communities around the world, watch the video or read his remarks in a dozen languages.

Watch the Video

December 1, 2008: The Obama Transition, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, First Ladies, and the Bush Legacy.


Damon Winter/The New York Times

Barack Obama’s national security team is to include, from left, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant.


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

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • Consensus emerging on universal healthcare The prospect of bold government action appears to be accepted among key players across the ideological and political spectrum, including those who staunchly opposed the idea in the 1990s. – LA Times, 12-1-08
  • Hillary Clinton’s test at State: How she’ll work with Obama – USA Today, 11-30-08
  • Jonah Goldberg: The Obama School Scandal? National Review Online: Public Schools Are Unacceptable To Pretty Much Anyone, Liberal Or Conservative – NRO, CBS News, 11-30-08
  • Obama turns to friends, foes for White House posts – AP, 11-30-08
  • Obama’s small-donor ‘myth’ The campaign’s base was dominated by those who gave less than $200, the political standard for small donors. But a new study asks, are you still a small donor if you do that five times? – La Times, 11-30-08
  • Officials: Obama set to introduce Clinton Monday: A deal with Bill Clinton over his post-White House work helped clear the way for Hillary Rodham Clinton to join President-elect Barack Obama’s national security team as secretary of state, reshaping a once-bitter rivalry into a high-profile strategic and diplomatic union. Obama was to be joined by the New York senator at a Chicago news conference Monday, Democratic officials said, where he also planned to announce that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would remain in his job for a year or more and that retired Marine General James L. Jones would serve as national security adviser. – AP, 11-30-08
  • Obama’s strong-willed national security team: With Clinton as secretary of State, retired Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. as national security advisor and Gates remaining in Defense, Obama will have a choice among often starkly differing views. – LA Times, 11-30-08
  • Liberals Angry Over Obama Keeping Gates as Pentagon Chief President-elect Obama’s expected selection of Robert Gates as his defense secretary and retired Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser is raising eyebrows among liberals. – Fox News, 11-29-08
  • Bill Clinton agrees to release donor’s names – Reuters, 11-30-08
  • Inauguration turning into D.C. windfall Frenzy to find accommodations sparks complaints of price-gouging – Houston Chronicle, NYT, 11-29-08
  • Bush Offers Support To India After Attacks Terror Ends With At Least 195 Dead; Tensions High Between India And Pakistan – CBS News, 11-29-08
  • Obama’s Supporters Spoke With Wallets – The Tampa Tribune, 11-30-08
  • on the Bush legacy: The most damaging president since Herbert Hoover – National Post, 11-29-08
  • Bush legacy remains to be written – National Post, 11-21-08
  • Remembered Unkindly Some say Bush will displace Buchanan as worst president – National Post, 11-21-08
  • Meet Obama’s financial SWAT team Three star advisers have formidable reputations and loads of experience. Now all they have to do is get the derailed U.S. economic engine back on trackAll three star nominees: Timothy Geithner, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as the new treasury secretary, and prominent academic economists Lawrence Summers and Christina Romer as top advisers – looked decidedly glum as they were introduced by a beaming Mr. Obama. – Globe & Mail, 11-29-08
  • National Security Pick: From a Marine to a Mediator: James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones. – – NYT, 11-29-08
  • Obama to Name Defense Secretary on Monday President-elect Barack Obama is expected to announce Monday who will be his secretary of defense. – Fox News, 11-28-08
  • Barack Obama set to roll out national security team; Hillary could be first: President-elect Barack Obama plans to roll out his national security team next week and could officially name Hillary Clinton secretary of state as early as Monday, Democratic sources said. – Ny Daily News, 11-28-08
  • Hillary Clinton as diplomat Obama’s bold choice for his secretary of State shows the two can be partners on the world stage. – LAT, 11-28-08
  • Obama Picks May Leave Big Holes As Elected Officials Migrate, Democratic Seats Are Vulnerable – WaPo, 11-28-08
  • Malia Obama Calls Dibs on Lincoln’s Desk Obama Talks to Barbara Walters About Homework, History and Happy Family – ABC News, 11-26-08
  • Obama’s Speechwriter Moves to the White House: In his latest round of White House staff announcements, Mr. Obama said Wednesday that he was naming Jon Favreau as his director of speechwriting. Mr. Favreau, 27, has had a hand in practically every speech that the president-elect has delivered over the last four years, following Mr. Obama from his Senate office to the presidential campaign. – NYT, 11-26-08
  • Bush twins show Obama girls fun White House tricks – AP, 11-26-08
  • McCain Plans to Run Again (for the Senate) – NYT, 11-25-08
  • Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware will be replaced in the United States Senate by his longtime aide, Edward Kaufman, when Mr. Biden resigns the seat to become vice president. – NYT, 11-24-08

President-elect Barack Obama, flanked by National Economic Council ...


Mon Nov 24, 1:16 PM ET

Political Quotes

  • First Lady Laura Bush describes post-White House plans: I’ll miss being with the military, too, and that’s one of the things about Camp David that we liked so much, and that’s going to church at Camp David with the people who are posted there. I’ll miss all the people that are around us all the time. From the ushers and the butlers who are there for every president and have been there four or five administrations, to our own staff, of course, that we love to laugh with and talk with and solve problems with. And so I’ll miss the people the most….
    She also said her husband “is going to build a freedom institute with his presidential library and museum at SMU [Southern Methodist University] in Dallas, and that’ll be a really good vehicle, I think, for me to continue to work with, especially, women and children in Afghanistan.”…
    “The main point I wanted to say to her is that this is — the White House is a home, and it can be a very happy home for her and for her children and her husband, and it certainly has been for us.” – CNN, 11-30-08

Mrs. Laura Bush is framed by equipment on the set of "Meet the Press" as she joins NBC host Tom Brokaw for the Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008, edition of the weekly TV show at the NBC studios in Washington, D.C. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Mrs. Laura Bush is framed by equipment on the set of “Meet the Press” as she joins NBC host Tom Brokaw for the Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008, edition of the weekly TV show at the NBC studios in Washington, D.C. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

  • President Bush Weighs In on His Legacy: “I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values. And I darn sure wasn’t going to sacrifice those values; that I was a President that had to make tough choices and was willing to make them. I surrounded myself with good people. I carefully considered the advice of smart, capable people and made tough decisions.”…
    But he said he wanted to be known “as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace; that focused on individuals rather than process; that rallied people to serve their neighbor; that led an effort to help relieve HIV/AIDS and malaria on places like the continent of Africa; that helped elderly people get prescription drugs and Medicare as a part of the basic package; that came to Washington, D.C., with a set of political statements and worked as hard as I possibly could to do what I told the American people I would do.”…. “I’ve been in the Bible every day since I’ve been the President, and I have been affected by people’s prayers a lot. I have found that faith is comforting, faith is strengthening, faith has been important…. “And the greatness of America — it really is — is that you can worship or not worship and be equally American. And it doesn’t matter how you choose to worship; you’re equally American. And it’s very important for any President to jealously protect, guard, and strengthen that freedom.” – NYT, 11-28-08
  • Barack Obama: Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect: In a preview of his weekly address, President-elect Barack Obama addressed the nation on the occasion of Thanksgiving, nearly one hundred and fifty years after President Lincoln called for the last Thursday in November to be set aside to acknowledge our blessings. You Tube, 11-26-08
  • Swing voters give Obama flexibility to solve US economic crisis: Even President-elect Barack Obama’s least enthusiastic supporters seem willing to cut him slack in solving the nation’s problems.That is one conclusion of a focus group conducted Nov. 22 by pollster Peter Hart among Virginia voters who might not have been expected to vote for Obama. Eight of the 12 voted for George Bush in 2004, nine considered backing John McCain. The focus group session, conducted for the Annenberg Public Policy Center, will air Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. on C-SPAN. – Christian Science Monitor, 11-28-08
  • President-elect Obama announces two more leaders of economic team: At a press conference in Chicago today, President-elect Barack Obama announced additional members of his economic team — nominating Peter Orszag as Director and Rob Nabors as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. – You Tube, 11-25-08
  • President-elect Obama announces economic team: At a press conference in Chicago today, President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden officially announced key members of their economic team, naming Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury and Lawrence Summers as Director of the National Economic Council. – You Tube, 11-24-08
  • A Barbara Walters Special: Barack and Michelle Obama Watch the Full Special With Barbara Walters and the President-Elect on ABC.com – ABC News, 11-27-08 Video: Barack and Michelle Obama on ‘Barbara Walters Special’ – Ace Showbiz, 11-27-08
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman: Obama ‘about perfect’ in Cabinet picks: “Everything that President-elect Obama has done since election night has been just about perfect, both in terms of a tone and also in terms of the strength of the names that have either been announced or are being discussed to fill his administration….
    I will ask them to judge me by my record. Generally speaking, I’ve had a record, a voting record, which is really ultimately what it’s about, not unlike most Democrats….
    It appears to me that the war in Iraq is coming to a successful — I don’t want to say conclusion yet, but it’s moving in a way that it will not be a divisive issue either in the Democratic Party or between Democrats and Republicans in the time ahead. And therefore, I think we’ll return to more normal times, which I welcome. – AP, 11-26-08
  • Obama reassures nervous nation on ailing economy: “Help is on the way…There is no doubt that during tough economic times family budgets are going to be pinched. I think it is important for the American people, though, to have confidence that we’ve gone through recessions before, we’ve gone through difficult times before, that my administration intends to get this economy back on track….
    “People should understand that help is on the way. And as they think about this Thanksgiving shopping weekend, and as they think about the Christmas season that is coming up, I hope that everybody understands that we are going to be able to get through these difficult times, We’re just going to have to make some good choices….
    The American people would be troubled if I selected a treasury secretary or a chairman of the National Economic Council at one of the most critical economic times in our history who had no experience in government whatsoever. What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. But understand where the vision for change comes from. First and foremost, it comes from me. That’s my job.
    What I don’t want to do is to somehow suggest that because you served in the last Democratic administration, that you’re somehow barred from serving again. Because we need people who are going to be able to hit the ground running – AP, 11-26-08
  • Obama and the Budget: “This isn’t about big government or small government; it’s about building a smarter government that focuses on what works.”…. Mr. Obama gave an example of the kind of cuts he intends to make (look out, subsidized farmers, here may come the ax): “There’s a report today that from 2003 to 2006, millionaire farmers received $49 million in crop subsidies even though they were earning more than the $2.5 million cutoff for such subsidies,” he said. “If this is true, it is a prime example of the kind of waste I intend to end as President.” “We had a decisive win. I don’t think that there’s any question that we have a mandate to move the country in a new direction and not continue the same old practices that have gotten us into the fix we’re in.”… “Friendship doesn’t come into this. That’s part of the old way of doing business.” He says he wants to undertake projects that will “give the American economy the most bang for the buck.”… – NYT, 11-25-08
  • Obama urges Congress to pass costly stimulus bill: “If we do not act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.”…. “The economy is likely to get worse before it gets better. Full recovery will not happen immediately. I know we can work our way out of this crisis because we have done it before.” – AP, 11-24-08
President-elect Barack Obama, with his wife, Michelle, left, and daughters Sasha and Malia, handed out food for Thanksgiving during a visit yesterday to Chicago's St. Columbanus Parish.
President-elect Barack Obama, with his wife, Michelle, left, and daughters Sasha and Malia, handed out food for Thanksgiving during a visit yesterday to Chicago’s St. Columbanus Parish. (Jim Watson/ AFP/ Getty Images

Historians’ Comments

  • George Herring: “Will Obama and Clinton work as a team? They’ve had differences, but Obama is expected to name her as secretary of State.”: “I do think the differences between them on some of these foreign-policy issues were magnified by the heat of campaign rhetoric,” says George Herring, a historian and professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky. “I don’t buy into the whole idea that Obama is, more than anything else, viewing Clinton as a rival.”…. “Nixon and Kissinger had a close but very weird relationship, suspicious of each other and each demeaning the other when he wasn’t around. But they respected each other’s views and capabilities, and they worked together,” he says. – Christian Science Monitor, 11-30-08
  • Paul C. Light: “For Obama, a chance to push big changes”: “Everything that he talked about during the campaign that can be seen as stimulus is going to be in that package,” predicted Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University’s graduate school of public service. “It will be one of the heaviest pieces of legislation passed by Congress in the last 20 years, and I mean heavy in terms of actual weight and page numbers.” – Boston Globe, 11-30-08
  • Paul Light “Liberals to keep pressure on Obama for results”: “I think he’s moving center-left, rather than left-center. It’s fair to call him pragmatic,” said Paul Light, a public policy professor and presidential historian at New York University. “I think labor is going to get a lot from him. I think his liberal supporters are going to get a lot from him. But they’re going to be disappointed if they want all liberal all the time.” – AP, 11-30-08
  • Carl Anthony “FIRST LADIES Very Little in Common But That ‘O'”: “There seems to be this moving train that simply insists that Mrs. Obama is the new Mrs. Kennedy,” says Carl Anthony, historian for the National First Ladies’ Library, who has been fielding calls from reporters eager to connect the dots. But Anthony thinks they’re worlds apart. – Newsweek, 11-30-08
  • Michael Beschloss: “Historian: Obama’s message also liability lower expectations”: Hope is the greatest asset and greatest liability for Barack Obama, said Michael Beschloss, author and scholar on presidential history. “He knows how damaging it could be to a new president (for voters) to expect a Superman, especially at a time when the problems are so great that everyone is looking for miracles,” Mr. Beschloss said…. “many people had doubts about, I would say, down to the evening of Nov. 3,” he said, adding some predicted a last-minute swelling of racial prejudice to bare itself at the polls. “That did not happen.” “If al-Qaida is saying that America has been captured by a white reactionary clique … Barack Obama does not look that way, and I think they’re going to have a much harder time recruiting,” Mr. Beschloss said. – The Times Tribune, 11-14-08
  • Betty Caroli: “Defining the job has challenged first ladies”: Many a first lady has said, in retrospect, that she had no idea how hard being first lady would be. Even the current one, Laura Bush, according to author and first lady historian Betty Caroli. Of all the first ladies, she should have known what was in store: Her mother-in-law, Barbara, was first lady from 1989-1993. “So no matter I suppose how well prepared … she’s probably going to be surprised by the enormity of the publicity, the focus, the demands and so forth,” Caroli said of Michelle Obama. – AP, 11-28-08
  • Robert P. Watson: “Defining the job has challenged first ladies”: Still, the job description is ill-defined, said Robert P. Watson, who has written two books about first ladies and directs the American studies program at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. “The first lady has to find her own way and match that with her husband’s interests,” Watson said. – AP, 11-28-08
  • Gerald Gawalt: “Scenes from Obamas’ love story Their affection stands out among presidential pairs”: Historians say Ronald and Nancy Reagan were perhaps the most adoring first couple. Like the Obamas, they appeared to genuinely enjoy being together. They often exchanged love notes and cards, including one in which the president declared his wife “my valentine forever.” “They seemed to be one of these couples that were head over heels in love with each other, even as they got older,” said Gerald Gawalt, a Library of Congress historian. – Chicago Tribune, 11-30-08
  • Michael Beschloss “Barack and Michelle: A more perfect union? First Couple-to-be could be relationship role models for nation, experts say”: In general, the relationship between the American president and his wife has always been an important one, and does have an impact on the public, said NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “We know that a person’s partner [choice] is one of the biggest clues to what that person is all about,” he said. Beschloss said that in the past, how a political figure interacted with his or her spouse didn’t matter as much, and as with the Kennedys, the media often looked the other way when it came to philandering. “Presidents are so intensely covered, we know so much about their personal lives that it’s inevitable that the public is going to know a lot about, and make judgments on, what happens between political wives and husbands,” he said. “John and Jackie Kennedy almost never held hands or showed affection in public — nowadays, people would think something was wrong.” – MSNBC, 11-29-08
  • Gil Troy “Barack and Michelle: A more perfect union? First Couple-to-be could be relationship role models for nation, experts say”: The Obamas have the best of both worlds, said Gil Troy, professor of history at McGill University and author of “Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons.” “The Obama marriage is a modern partnership between equals; they are a working couple just like the Clintons,” he said. “But, unlike the Clintons — and more like the Bushes — the Obamas appear to be a solid couple, devoted to each other, with no fidelity questions hovering overhead.” – MSNBC, 11-29-08
  • Liza Mundy “Barack and Michelle: A more perfect union? First Couple-to-be could be relationship role models for nation, experts say”: “Their friends have observed that they have a very positive relationship,” said Liza Mundy, author of “Michelle: A Biography.” “One of Barack’s friends pointed out how effusive he is in his praise of Michelle — he knows how much his career has demanded of her, and he’s very appreciative of that.” – – MSNBC, 11-29-08
  • Stephen J. Wayne “Obama has a hand on the helm weeks before taking oath of office”: – “It’s a consequence of the state of the economy and the invisibility of President Bush,” said Georgetown University’s presidential historian, Stephen J. Wayne. “I don’t think Obama expected it.” Kasas City Star, 11-29-08
  • David Bercuson “Bush legacy remains to be written:” “Kennedy’s got a great legacy. But what did he ever do? He got killed before he did anything,” suggests David Bercuson, a University of Calgary historian. After Kennedy dragged his heels on civil rights, it was Lyndon Johnson who finally advanced the cause. But “all poor old Johnson gets credit for is the Vietnam War,” which Kennedy set in motion, Prof. Bercuson argues….
    “He [Bush] will wear this recession, rightly or wrongly, the same way [Herbert] Hoover wore the Depression and the great crash,” says Prof. Bercuson. National Post, 11-29-08
  • Bush legacy remains to be written – Mr. Bush’s legacy in the academy is not off to a propitious start: Princeton University’s Sean Wilentz, one of the country’s leading historians, speculated a couple years ago that Mr. Bush could be the “worst president in all of American history.” In an unscientific poll earlier this year of 109 historians by the History News Network, 98.2% rated the Bush presidency a failure; 61% called it the worst ever. National Post, 11-29-08
  • Allen C. Guelzo: The Bush legacy: The five best things he ever did The war in Iraq, ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, Faith-based initiatives, Blunting the metastasis of abortion, Balancing the bench – National Post, 11-21-08
  • Robert S. McElvaine “The Bush legacy: The five worst things he did”: Fight against terror, ‘Pre-emptive war’, Economic policies, Trashed the constitution, ‘Gulf coast war’ – – National Post, 11-21-08
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