History Buzz, Feb 21-Mar. 8, 2010: ‘Last Train From Hiroshima’ Dropped

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

IN FOCUS:

  • Rosalind Rosenberg: Interview with Professor Rosenberg: Why should we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month? So that women do not disappear again from history…. – Columbia Spectator, 2-28-10

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Congressman Wants Reagan on $50 Bill, Joan Waugh objects to call to replace Grant on the $50 bill with Reagan: “President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century,” Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, said in a letter to his fellow members of Congress. “Like President Roosevelt on the dime and President Kennedy on the half-dollar, President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation’s currency.”
    “I’m outraged,” Joan Waugh, UCLA history professor and the author of “U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth,” told AOL News. “I think it’s a bad idea, and particularly troublesome coming from Southern Republicans.”
    The commanding general who led the North to victory in the Civil War, Grant was not a beloved figure in the Deep South, Waugh says. “But for the rest of the country, he was an incredibly popular two-term president.”… – AOL News (3-3-10)
  • Diane Ravitch: Scholar’s School Reform U-Turn Shakes Up Debate: Diane Ravitch, the education historian who built her intellectual reputation battling progressive educators and served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department, is in the final stages of an astonishing, slow-motion about-face on almost every stand she once took on American schooling…. – NYT, 3-3-10
  • Henry Holt drops publication of ‘Last Train From Hiroshima’: Henry Holt is dropping publication of “The Last Train From Hiroshima” after the author, Charles Pellegrino, failed to adequately answer questions about a source in the book and the revocation of his PhD more than 25 years ago…. – WaPo, 3-2-10
  • Pellegrino’s atom bom book withdrawn from circulation: Publication has been halted for a disputed book about the atomic bombing of Japan that “Avatar” director James Cameron had optioned for a possible film, The Associated Press has learned. Publisher Henry Holt and Company, responding to questions from the AP, said Monday that author Charles Pellegrino “was not able to answer” concerns about The Last Train from Hiroshima, including whether two men mentioned in the book actually existed…. AP (3-2-10)
  • Vichy remains a source of discomfort in modern France: The tangled oak woods of the Château de l’Écluse are inhabited by a great silence. The descendants of Fernand Plée, who purchased these grounds and this red-brick manor in central France in 1941, say they have nothing to hide. Their grandfather, they say, was a good man: a decorated veteran of the First World War, a willing partner to the Allies in the second, a man of generosity and courage…. – NYT (3-1-10)
  • Historians (among others) honored at White House ceremony: “Sorry I’m a little late. I had this thing I had to do,” joked President Obama, just before an afternoon ceremony at the White House on Thursday in which luminaries in the arts and academics were presented with the highest medals for achievements in their fields….
    The humanities citations went to prizewinning authors and historians Robert A. Caro (“The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, Means of Ascent and Master of the Senate”), Annette Gordon-Reed (“The Hemingses of Monticello”), David Levering Lewis (“W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963”) and William H. McNeill (“Plagues and Peoples”). The list also includes speechwriter and lawyer Theodore Sorensen, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Philippe de Montebello and philanthropist Albert H. Small, as well as Wiesel, founding chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the author of “Night,” whom the president gave his own big hug…. – WaPo (2-26-10)
  • Israel names two biblical tombs in West Bank heritage sites: Israel named the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s tomb in the West Bank heritage sites on Monday. Both biblical tombs are in Palestinian cities, and the decision brought warnings of violence and protests on Tuesday…. – CS Monitor, 2-23-10
  • Adrian Johns: History shows that intellectual property is more complex than either its creators or copiers care to admit, says a Chicago scholar: The history of publishing is swimming with pirates—far more than Adrian Johns expected when he started hunting through the archives for them. And he thinks their stories may hold keys to understanding the latest battles over digital publishing—and the future of the book…. – Chronicle of Higher Education (2-21-10)
  • Film Based on Book by Duke Professor Opens Nationwide Friday Duke connections helped bring “Blood Done Sign My Name” to big screen: The film version of Duke professor Timothy Tyson’s best-selling memoir “Blood Done Sign My Name” opens nationwide in select theaters this Friday, Feb. 19…. – Duke News, 2-17-10
  • Tests show King Tut died from malaria, study says: King Tutankhamen, the teen-aged pharaoh whose Egyptian tomb yielded dazzling treasures, limped around on tender bones and a club foot and probably died from malaria, researchers said on Tuesday…. – Reuters, 2-16-10

OP-EDs:

  • ROBERT W. MERRY: Op-Ed Contributor The Myth of the One-Term Wonder: No doubt President Obama was sincere when he recently told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that he’d “rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” The president seemed to be saying that he would make decisions with history in mind rather than voter sentiment, even if voter sentiment would get him tossed out at the next election.
    This is perhaps a noble sensibility — and one worth reflecting on as President’s Day approaches. But it’s also misguided. The judgment of history — in the form of presidential rankings yielded up by those periodic polls of heavyweight historians — coincides to a remarkable degree with the contemporaneous judgment of the electorate. With few exceptions, history has not smiled upon one-term presidents. Only one such chief executive has managed with any consistency to get into the historians’ “near great” category…. – NYT, 2-13-10
  • Ron Radosh: Growing Anti-Semitism On The Campus: But even more disturbing is the growing evidence that Jewish students are having a most confused response to this development…. – Minding the Campus (3-3-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Marilyn Johnson: Library Science THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All NYT, 3-7-10 Excerpt
  • Karl Rove: Book review: ‘Courage and Consequence’ by Karl Rove: COURAGE AND CONSEQUENCE My Life as a Conservative in the Fight In his memoir, Karl Rove acknowledges mistakes during the Bush presidency, but defends his former boss…. – WaPo, 3-5-10
  • Francis Wheen: Book review: ‘Strange Days Indeed: The 1970s: The Golden Age of Paranoia’ by Francis Wheen: STRANGE DAYS INDEED The 1970s: The Golden Age of Paranoia Some historians believe in the great man theory of history. Not Francis Wheen. In “Strange Days Indeed,” Wheen advances what might be called the “crazy man theory of history.” And it makes perfect sense because he’s writing about the 1970s, when world leaders exhibited astonishing levels of lunacy…. – WaPo, 3-5-10
  • James S. Hirsch: Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid: WILLIE MAYS The Life, the Legend All those old passions rose in me again when reading James S. Hirsch’s fine new book, “Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend.”… In his long, fascinating account, Hirsch tells the full story of Mays’s baseball life…. – NYT, 2-28-10Excerpt
  • Book Review of “Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone,” by Nadine Cohodas: Indeed, what kept me from warming to Nadine Cohodas’s sharply observed biography is that it tethered me to such a deeply unpleasant character: a woman who neglects her own daughter and pushes away everyone who does her a good turn, who dwindles into alcoholism and self-exile without losing an ounce of her arrogance…. – WaPo, 2-26-10
  • Nadine Cohodas: Nina Simone, Diva Out of Carolina: PRINCESS NOIRE The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone Indeed, Nadine Cohodas’s disturbing portrait in “Princess Noire” sets out to confirm Simone’s genius. The author lingers on her stage performances, her musical decisions, her sartorial choices — the alchemy she created in sound and fury…. – NYT, 2-25-10 Excerpt
  • History Book review: “Our Times” by A.N. Wilson: OUR TIMES The Age of Elizabeth II The reign of Queen Elizabeth II “is the one in which Britain effectively stopped being British,” A.N. Wilson argues…. – WaPo, 2-26-10
  • More Obama books on the way: We’ve seen several books on the 2008 election — Game Change now rides the top of the non-fiction charts — and soon we’ll be seeing new, broader works on Barack Obama’s life and times…. – USA Today, 2-22-10
  • Ken Gormley: The President and the Prosecutor: THE DEATH OF AMERICAN VIRTUE Clinton vs. Starr: “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr,” by Ken Gormley, recreates it all, from the Clintons’ investment in the Whitewater development in rural Arkansas to the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit and Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky, culminating in the impeachment trial. This hefty volume, going beyond the sordid details, provides helpful context for the larger story, the fractionalization of American politics that defined the Clinton years…. – NYT, 2-16-10
  • Damages: Bill Clinton’s Legal Mess: THE DEATH OF AMERICAN VIRTUE Clinton vs. Starr: NYT, 2-15-10
  • David Greenberg: Book review of ‘The Death of American Virtue,’ by Ken Gormley: THE DEATH OF AMERICAN VIRTUE Clinton vs. Starr Ken Gormley’s new book about the Clinton impeachment saga bears the lurid and trite title “The Death of American Virtue,” which sounds like a mashup of works by the conservative pundit William Bennett. Happily, though, it’s nothing of the sort. It is, rather, something I didn’t imagine would arrive so soon: a restrained, fair-minded, soup-to-nuts history of the largely fruitless investigations of Bill Clinton that shadowed so much of his presidency…. WaPo, 2-19-10
  • Nadine Cohodas: Under a Strange, Soulful Spell: PRINCESS NOIRE The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone One result was a stunning song, “Mississippi Goddam,” written by Simone in the wake of the 1963 Birmingham church bombings and the killing of the civil rights advocate Medgar Evers. It was a song that inserted her into the forefront, at least musically, of the civil rights movement. Its recording is a moment that Nadine Cohodas’s fascinating if turgid new biography of Simone, “Princess Noire,” builds toward and then falls away from…. – NYT, 2-18-10 Excerpt

FEATURES:

  • Tim Lewis: Teaching Canadian history through hockey: Turning hockey into a history lesson is a dream come true for Tim Lewis. Lewis combined his love of hockey and passion for history and developed two hockey-themed history courses in the summer including “Hockey and the Canadian Identity to 1952: The Development of a National Obsession”, and “Hockey and the Canadian Identity since 1952: Canada’s Game in the Cold War and Beyond”…. – Canada.com (3-3-10)
  • Black History Today: A Profile of Historian Crystal Feimster: Crystal Feimster went to college thinking she was going to be an attorney. The legal profession’s loss was history’s gain. While she was still an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina, Feimster met a string of distinguished African-American historians who made history exciting, including Tera Hunter, Darlene Clark Hine and Clayborne Carson…. Today, Feimster, 38, is at the forefront of a new wave of black historians exploring the forgotten nooks and crannies of American history. This fall, she will move from Princeton, where she has been a visiting professor, to a position in the Department of African-American Studies at Yale University. She is married to Australian historian Daniel Bottsman, whose work centers on Japan… – The Root (2-19-10)

QUOTES:

  • Missing Element in Obama’s Ties With G.O.P. Leaders: Good Chemistry: “The founders’ work was grounded in personal chemistry,” said Ted Widmer, a presidential historian at Brown University and former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton. “They spent endless time together. They lived near each other in Philadelphia. They disagreed profoundly on things, but they all knew each other, and that helped.”… – NYT, 2-24-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Robert Dallek: All Things Considered, Obama, Congress, And The Need For Toughness: President Obama is known for his consensus-building style. But does he have the stomach for the tactics to get his agenda passed? President Lyndon Johnson went one-on-one with dissenting congressmen and threatened to end their careers unless they toed the party line. Would those tactics fly today? In the wake of an unprecedented health-care summit this week, host Guy Raz talks with historian Robert Dallek about how tough presidents have to be…. – NPR, 2-27-10
  • Jeffrey Wasserstrom: The Dalai Lama’s Visit to D.C.: A Short Interview With Historian A. Tom Grunfeld: The lead-up to the Dalia Lama’s meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House last week received a great deal of attention from the press, and there was also a considerable amount of after-the-fact assessment of the event. In order to place what happened into a broad historical perspective, I put a few questions to A. Tom Grunfeld, who is a past contributor to “China Beat” and the author of The Making of Modern Tibet. Here are the results of our interview via e-mail…. Huffington Post (2-24-10)
  • Michael Kazin says America is an optimistic nation — Interview with CNN: What does it mean when 86 percent of the Americans surveyed last week by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. say they believe that their system of government is broken? It probably means, Michael Kazin says, that Americans are behaving like they always do. A repeated theme in American history, says Kazin, a historian at Georgetown University, “is Americans believing the country is in decline and then finding ways to rebound from both the fear of decline and the problems that gave rise to that fear.”… – CNN (2-23-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Robert S. McElvaine: Clintonian receives literary honor: Historian, author and longtime Clintonian Robert S. McElvaine is a winner of the 2010 Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award. The honor was presented Friday at the 21st annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration in Natchez. It is given annually to honor Wright, the internationally acclaimed author and Natchez native who wrote the classic books Black Boy and Native Son…. – Clintonian News, 3-4-10
  • Gordon S. Wood wins American History Book Prize: The historian Gordon S. Wood won the American History Book Prize last week for “Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815,” an account of how America’s leaders created the country’s democratic institutions. The award, presented by the New-York Historical Society, comes with a $50,000 prize, an engraved medal and the title of American Historian Laureate…. – NYT (2-28-10)
  • Washington College Announces George Washington Book Prize Finalists: The finalists are: Richard Beeman’s Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House), R.B. Bernstein’s The Founding Fathers Reconsidered (Oxford), and Edith B Gelles’ Abigail & John: Portrait of A Marriage (William Morrow)…. – The C.V. Starr Center at Washington College
  • Henry Snyder: UC – Riverside historian named Officer of the British Empire (OBE): To the titles Recipient of a National Humanities Medal and Professor of History Emeritus at UC Riverside Henry Snyder can add one more: Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The award, which is presented to few individuals outside the United Kingdom, was announced by Queen Elizabeth II in December and will be presented to Snyder at the British embassy in Washington, D.C. in early spring…. – UC – Riverside (2-22-10)

SPOTTED:

  • Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. captivates Messiah College audience with lecture on genealogy and history: On Thursday night, before a packed audience at the Eisenhower Campus Center at Messiah College in Grantham, Gates’ formidable command of history and genealogy, plus his natural and authentic style at the podium, captivated an audience of students, adults and dignitaries — young, old, black and white — with a lecture that wove personal stories with American history, and the important implications of personal ancestry…. – Penn Live, 2-25-10

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Spotlight, Greenwich Offering Face Time With History: the Bruce is hosting a three-part lecture series. On Feb. 25, Philip B. Kunhardt III, a Lincoln scholar and Bard Center Fellow (and Mr. Kunhardt Jr.’s uncle), will discuss the photographs in “Lincoln, Life-Size,” which span the period from 1857 to 1865. “I’m going to focus in on Lincoln’s face,” he said, “what we can learn from it, how it changed over time.”… – NYT, 2-21-10
  • Studying and debunking Civil War myths: Civil War history is rich with tales of blood and gore, heroism, and too many lies. Some of the nation’s pre-eminent historians will examine that history in a symposium, “Race, Slavery and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory,” at Norfolk State University in September. The conference is free and open to the public, and registration opened this week…. – The Virginian-Pilot (3-2-10)
  • Civil War Web site gears up State promoting events for war’s 150th anniversary: With just one year to go until the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, history lovers across Tennessee have taken their battle for the past to a new front – cyberspace. The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the state Department of Tourist Development launched a new Web site this month to help promote events planned statewide for the war’s anniversary, which will stretch from 2011-2015. The Web site – http://www.tncivilwar150.com – remains a work in progress but has already drawn praise from East Tennessee historians and preservationists…. – Knox News, 2-8-10

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Cliff Sloan: The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court, (Paperback) March 2, 2010
  • Hugh Ambrose: The Pacific, (Hardcover) March 2, 2010
  • Jonathan Phillips: Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades, (Hardcover) March 9, 2010
  • Thomas Asbridge: The Crusades, (Hardcover) March 9, 2010
  • Bryan D. Palmer: James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left, 1890-1928 (1st Edition), (Paperback) March 1, 2010
  • C. Brian Kelly: Best Little Stories from the Civil War, (Paperback) March 1, 2010
  • Nicholas Schou: Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Timothy M. Gay: Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Hardcover) March 23, 2010
  • John W. Steinberg: All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914, (Hardcover) April 1, 2010
  • Simon Dixon: Catherine the Great, (Paperback) April 6, 2010
  • J. Todd Moye: Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, (Hardcover) April 12, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Hardcover) April 13, 2010
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Hardcover), April 15, 2010
  • Timothy J. Henderson: The Mexican Wars for Independence, (Paperback) April 13, 2010
  • Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Max Hastings: Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Bradley Gottfried: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863, (Hardcover) April 19, 2010
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • William LaFleur, noted scholar at Penn: WILLIAM R. LaFleur was a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, delving into such subjects as bioethics, Zen Buddhism, Japanese culture and the like, but one subject that also caught his interest was abortion. He wrote on this subject in a book, “Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan,” one of his many books on subjects ranging from medieval literature to unethical medical research, religious thought, Zen and many other topics. He died of a massive heart attack Friday at the age of 73…. – Philadelphia Daily News, 3-4-10
  • Professor Jack Pole: historian of the US, dies at 87: Professor Jack Pole was the foremost British historian of the United States in his generation, and his books and articles won him recognition and acclaim in the highest ranks of US historians. He was an expert on the American Revolution but he wrote on all periods and linked the history of the US to that of Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. Times Online (UK) (2-16-10)
  • David Bankier, Scholar of Holocaust, Dies at 63: David Bankier, who helped expand the contours of Holocaust research by examining the participation of ordinary Europeans in the extermination of their Jewish neighbors, died over the weekend after a long illness, Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust center, announced. He was 63. Mr. Bankier, who was head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, focused his scholarly work on anti-Semitism, especially its use by the Nazis to promote and sustain a broader ideology. He was the author of “Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion Under Nazism” as well as a collection of essays, “Hitler, the Holocaust and German Society: Cooperation and Awareness.”…. – NYT (2-28-10)



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May 11, 2009: President Obama Unrolls Budget, Credit Card and Health Care Plans

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President discusses fiscal responsibility

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Obama Approval Picks Up in May Still, only 25% say they would definitely vote to re-elect him in 2012: President Barack Obama appears to be slightly more popular with Americans at the start of his second 100 days in office than he was, on average, during his first 100. Gallup Poll Daily tracking from May 7-9 finds 66% of Americans approving of how he is handling his job, compared with an average 63% from January through April.
    Obama’s approval rating has registered 66% or better in each Gallup three-day rolling average since May 2. His 68% approval rating reported on May 3 is tied for the second highest of his presidency, exceeded only by the 69% recorded immediately after his inauguration. And except for one 66% approval rating in late April, all of Obama’s previous 66% to 68% readings were obtained near the start of his term…. – Gallop, 5-11-09

THE HEADLINES.

..

The President talks to the stakeholders
(President Barack Obama meeting with healthcare stakeholders in the Roosevelt Room at White House
May 11, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Headlines….

  • Reboot in Afghanistan: Gates replaces top general: Taking a cue from voters who elected a president promising a different approach, the Obama administration is replacing the general overseeing the war in Afghanistan with a commander who has special-forces experience. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a senior administrator with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will take the place of Gen. David McKiernan once he is confirmed by the Senate. Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez will become McChrystal’s deputy with the Senate’s approval, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked be granted as soon as possible…. – AP, 5-12-09
  • US to borrow 46 cents for every dollar spent: The government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year, exploding the record federal deficit past $1.8 trillion under new White House estimates. Budget office figures released Monday would add $89 billion to the 2009 red ink — increasing it to more than four times last year’s all-time high as the government hands out billions more than expected for people who have lost jobs and takes in less tax revenue from people and companies making less money…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama’s Push for Health Care Cuts Faces Daunting Odds: President Obama engineered a political coup on Monday by bringing leaders of the health care industry to the White House to build momentum for his ambitious health care agenda. Mr. Obama pronounced it “a historic day, a watershed event,” because doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies voluntarily offered $2 trillion in cost reductions over 10 years. The savings, he said, “will help us take the next and most important step — comprehensive health care reform.”… – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Governor of Florida Plans Bid for Senate: Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce Tuesday that he will run next year for the United States Senate, ending months of speculation and creating a domino effect that will leave several state positions up for grabs…. – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Obama changes office name, pushes Web work: Someone really is reading those comments left on Barack Obama’s Web sites: the president himself. The White House on Monday changed the name of a major office to reflect how much the administration is using the Internet to sell its agenda and communicate directly with voters. For a candidate who harnessed the Internet to win the presidency, the move — announced on the White House Web site, naturally — underscores Obama’s understanding of new media’s power. “This office will seek to engage as many Americans as possible in the difficult work of changing this country, through meetings and conversations with groups and individuals held in Washington and across the country,” Obama said in a video message posted to the Web…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama Enlists Biden’s Expertise About High Court: The person in the White House most knowledgeable about Supreme Court nominations sits in the vice president’s office. With President Obama filling his first high court vacancy with the retirement of Justice David H. Souter, Vice President Biden finds himself regularly consulting with the president and fielding queries from the White House counsel and others for insights on the process…. – WaPo,
  • Obama says Health overhaul could save U.S. trillions: President Barack Obama will aim on Monday to build support for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system by highlighting a drive for greater efficiency he predicts could save trillions of dollars…. – Reuters, 5-10-09
  • Health Industry Is Said to Promise to Rein In Costs: Doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies will join President Obama on Monday in announcing their commitment to a sharp reduction in the growth of national health spending, White House officials said Sunday…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • U.S. Adviser Holds Firm on Airstrikes in Afghanistan: President Obama’s top national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States would likely continue conducting airstrikes against extremists in Afghanistan despite a sharp warning from President Hamid Karzai that civilian casualties were fast turning ordinary Afghans against the United States…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • Cheney backs Limbaugh over Powell on GOP future: Dick Cheney made clear Sunday he’d rather follow firebrand broadcaster Rush Limbaugh than former Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell into political battle over the future of the Republican Party. Even as Cheney embraced efforts to expand the party by ex-Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and the House’s No. 2 Republican, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the former vice president appeared to write his one-time colleague Powell out of the GOP. Asked about recent verbal broadsides between Limbaugh and Powell, Cheney said, “If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”… – AP, 5-10-09 Washington Times, 5-10-09
  • Obama pokes fun at himself, Dems and GOP: It was the hottest ticket in town, a black-tie dinner gathering of Washington’s political and media elite but Dick Cheney couldn’t make it. The former vice president was busy, President Barack Obama joked, working on his memoir “tentatively titled, How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People.'”…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: Send me a bill that stops credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers, and do it by month’s end, President Barack Obama is demanding of Congress. But there’s no guarantee lawmakers will deliver by Memorial Day, and the banking industry is fighting back…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Republicans and ObamaCare The sound of silence is deafening: Listen. That sound of silence? That’s what’s known as the united Republican response to President Barack Obama’s drive to socialize health care. The president has a plan, and he’s laid it on the table. The industry groups that once helped Republicans beat HillaryCare are today sitting at that table. Unions are mobilized. A liberal umbrella group, Health Care for American Now, is spending $40 million to get a “public option,” a new federal entitlement that would kill off private insurance. Democrats passed a budget blueprint that will allow them to cram through that “public option” with just 51 votes…. – WSJ, 5-9-09
  • Gaps Appear in G.O.P. Solidarity: WAfter being stingy with their support in the early days of the Obama administration, significant numbers of House Republicans have begun breaking from their party leaders and voting for legislation moving through the Democratic-led Congress…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • On Politics: Dwindling, Connecticut G.O.P. Won’t Look Inward: ON June 4, Newt Gingrich is to address a shrinking Connecticut Republican Party that has sworn off God, guns and gays as wedge issues and rallied around the Yankee ideals of “common sense” and “fiscal responsibility.” Not exactly bumper-sticker material. But this is a state where the G.O.P. has badly withered as Republicans in other states thrived using gay marriage, abortion and the death penalty to energize social conservatives and twice elect George W. Bush as president…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • US report blames Taliban for civilian deaths: The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturday for causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama to hold town hall meeting on credit cards: U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a town hall meeting next week in New Mexico to promote congressional efforts to reform credit card practices, the White House said on Friday…. – Rreuters, 5-8-09
  • Analysis: Slow recovery no help for Obama’s plans: Barack Obama’s budget, unveiled with fanfare, fails to deal with his biggest money problems. A molasses-slow economic recovery will make it hard to find the huge sums he’ll need to reach his biggest goals — fixing health care, confronting climate change and overhauling the tax system — without much deeper cuts than he’s proposing in other programs. Obama faces not only fiscal obstacles but political ones, as well…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • The Half-Penny Solution Cutting the budget paper clip by paper clip: President Obama unveiled a budget Thursday with a 2010 price tag of $3.5 trillion financed with $1.2 trillion of new debt. For domestic agencies, that’s a 9.3% spending hike over last year…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • List Says Top Democrats Were Briefed on Interrogations: Congressional Republicans on Friday accused Democrats of full complicity in the approval of the Bush administration’s brutal interrogations, citing a new accounting that shows briefings for some top Democrats on waterboarding and other harsh methods starting in 2002…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Pelosi still explaining interrogation briefing: It’s a political squall that won’t die: What did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi know about harsh questioning of detainees, and when did she know it? On Friday, the California Democrat was forced to issue yet another press release, reiterating her past assertions that she had been briefed in 2002 only on new interrogation techniques that had been deemed legal and were planned for future use. Pelosi had made the same comments in 2007 when word first leaked that she was aware of the interrogation program and had not objected to it. Her latest statement came three weeks after the Justice Department released formerly classified legal memos that detailed the once-secret CIA harsh interrogation program, and two weeks after she told reporters that when she got her sole CIA briefing on interrogation back in 2002, she had no idea the technique of waterboarding had already been used on a prisoner. Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama last week called torture…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • New Jersey’s GOP Sees Opportunity in Corzine Another moderate Christie seeks the Republican nod: One bright spot for Northeast Republicans is the chance this year to retake the governorship of New Jersey. The seat is now held by Democrat Jon Corzine — a former Goldman-Sachs CEO who has been trailing or tied in the polls with the two Republicans running in the party’s June 2 primary for the chance to unseat him. But the party is divided between moderates who say that only a centrist can win and conservatives who believe that only a bold agenda of tax cuts, spending restraint, and school reform can catch fire with voters…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • Souter’s Exit Opens Door for a More Influential Justice: A couple of days ago, Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations, asked constitutional law scholars for memorable quotations from Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court. Mr. Shapiro got only four responses. One was about television coverage of the court (“The day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it’s going to roll over my dead body”). Another concerned the limited pleasures of reading legal briefs rather than serious books (“I find the workload of what I do sufficiently great that when the term of court starts I undergo a sort of annual intellectual lobotomy”). Just two quotations came from the hundreds of opinions that Justice Souter, who is retiring in June, wrote in his 19 years on the court. Neither had much juice to it. ….Instead, he told Mr. Obama that was retiring “under the provision of 28 U.S.C. Section 371(b)(1), having attained the age and met the service requirements of subsection (c) of that section.” He appeared to have signed it in fountain pen, in script that would not have looked out of place on the Declaration of Independence. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Official Quits Over Jet Flight That Alarmed New Yorkers: The photo shoot of Air Force One soaring above the Statue of Liberty cost taxpayers $328,835. Now the incident, which incited panic among scores of people in New York City, has cost the director of the White House Military Office his job. The White House released the photo that caused the controversy on Friday. The director, Louis Caldera, who was appointed by President Obama to the White House post and had been a secretary of the Army in the Clinton administration, resigned on Friday for his role in approving the April 27 flyover. In a brief letter to Mr. Obama, Mr. Caldera said that the matter “has become a distraction for the important work you are doing as president.”…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Aide resigns over NYC flyover; probe continues: The Pentagon and Air Force are reviewing whether their officials may be partly to blame for a $328,835 photo-op of a jumbo jet used by the president soaring above New York City that has already forced the White House military director to step down… – AP, 5-9-09
  • Banks’ tests results lift cloud of uncertainty: Government exams of the nation’s biggest banks have helped lift a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the economy. The so-called stress tests — a key Obama administration effort to boost confidence in the financial system — showed nine of the 19 biggest banks have enough capital to withstand a deeper recession. Ten must raise a total of $75 billion in new capital to withstand possible future losses…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • Obama opts out of prayer day The move disappoints evangelicals. Under President George W. Bush, the event was held at the White House with political fanfare: For years, it’s been a staple of the White House calendar. On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (The event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held elsewhere in Washington on the first Thursday of February.) President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year. “Prayer is something that the president does every day,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. “I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family’s life, the role that prayer plays.” President Truman signed the first National Day of Prayer proclamation, and President Reagan made it a permanent occasion…. – LAT, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets chairmanship consolation prize Seniority to be settled in 2011 caucus: Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday gave Sen. Arlen Specter the chairmanship of a key Judiciary subcommittee, pacifying the veteran Pennsylvania lawmaker after his shaky start as the chambers newest Democrat. In another reversal of fortune, Mr. Specter’s prospects for re-election as a Democrat in 2010 improved slightly when Republican heavyweight Tom Ridge announced he would not enter the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania…. – Washington Times, 5-7-09
  • Colin Powell’s Bad Advice Nobody wants the government in their living room: In good times or bad, there’s always someone willing to tell the Republican Party that the road to success is to embrace the liberal agenda. In a speech in Washington Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell joined the chorus. We hope for the sake of the country that his party doesn’t listen. Mr. Powell insisted that he doesn’t want the Republicans to turn into Democrats or clones of the Democrats. But it’s hard to see what other space he hopes the GOP will carve out for itself given his analysis. According to press accounts, Mr. Powell argued that America has changed, and “Americans do want to pay taxes for services” and “Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less.”… – WSJ, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets subcommittee chair, primary challenge: Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter gained a Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship but also a potential primary challenger Thursday, the latest twists in a turbulent episode of party switching. The good news-bad news day for Specter didn’t stop there. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced he would not challenge Specter next year. Ridge, a moderate Republican and the first homeland security chief, had been running about even against Specter in a hypothetical general election race, according to a recent poll. “My desire and intention is to help my party craft solutions that both sides of the aisle can embrace,” said Ridge, whose decision eliminates one major challenge to Specter…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Obama touts $17 billion ‘lot of money’ budget cuts: President Barack Obama sent Congress a detailed budget Thursday boasting of cutting or killing 121 federal programs in a belt-tightening he likened to that of most Americans in difficult times. But the trims amounted to a tiny fraction of the new spending he wants, and some have already been nixed by allies on Capitol Hill. Obama said his cuts would amount to $17 billion — in a budget totaling well over $3 trillion for the fiscal year that begins in October. He’s estimating the government’s red ink will still be about $1.2 trillion, down only slightly from this year’s all-time record…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Bush attorneys who wrote terror memo face backlash: Pressure is mounting against two former Bush administration attorneys who wrote the legal memos used to support harsh interrogation techniques that critics say constituted torture. John Yoo, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is fighting calls for disbarment and dismissal, while Judge Jay Bybee of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals faces calls for impeachment…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Souter chokes up at farewell: Supreme Court Justice David Souter, momentarily choked with emotion, bid an affectionate farewell yesterday to judges and lawyers he has worked with for nearly two decades. AP, 5-6-09
  • Baucus, Obama talk health care at White House: Montana Sen. Max Baucus says a private lunch with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden should help as he leads efforts to overhaul the nation’s health care system. Baucus, a veteran Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, had lunch with Obama and Biden at the White House Wednesday, along with Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the finance panel. Baucus said the four men had a wide-ranging discussion, but focused on health care. Baucus called the meeting productive. He pledged to continue to work with Obama, Biden, Grassley and others to get a bill passed…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Franken meets with vice president in Washington: Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken met privately with Vice President Joe Biden late Wednesday afternoon to update him on the still-contested Minnesota Senate race. Franken, who said he is eager to join the Senate, said the two men also discussed President Barack Obama’s policy goals…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • New Democrat Specter loses committee seniority: Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party has cost him his seniority on Senate committees. The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday night that made him the most junior Democrat on the committees on which he serves. The resolution was passed after an agreement was reached between leadership in both parties and Specter, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Manley said the seniority issue will be revisited after the 2010 elections…. Specter serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Special Aging committees…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Source: No charges seen over interrogation memos: Justice Department investigators say Bush administration lawyers who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects should not face criminal charges, according to a draft report that also recommends two of the three attorneys face possible professional sanctions…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Senate hears a dim forecast for newspapers’ future: One way to save some of the nation’s struggling newspapers would be to let them become nonprofits similar to public broadcasting stations, a senator said Wednesday as editors and other journalists painted a grim future for daily print journalism. “We need to save our community newspapers and the investigative journalism they provide,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told a subcommittee of the Senate’s Commerce Committee. Under a bill proposed by Cardin, newspapers turning to nonprofit status would no longer be able to make political endorsements but could report on all issues including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • AP sources: Obama to seek $17B in budget savings: After a line-by-line scrub of the federal budget, President Barack Obama has signed off on a roster of 121 budget cuts totaling $17 billion — or about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.4 trillion budget Congress has approved for next year. Budget Director Peter Orszag briefed Democratic lawmakers on a partial roster of the cuts Wednesday before a public release on Thursday. Obama also is fleshing out the details of the $1.3 trillion portion of the budget that he requested Congress pass through appropriations bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Top Judiciary Republican Inclined Against Blocking Supreme Court Nominee: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said a deal among centrist senators four yours ago that averted filibusters against some of former President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees established a “standard” that shouldn’t be discarded except in unusual circumstances…. – Fox News, 5-6-09
  • U.S. Says Bank of America Needs $33.9 Billion Cushion: The government has told Bank of America it needs $33.9 billion in capital to withstand any worsening of the economic downturn, according to an executive at the bank…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • Pakistani President Tries to Assure U.S. on Taliban: Pakistan’s leaders began an arduous campaign here on Tuesday to convince the United States that they will repel recent incursions by Taliban militant groups, secure their own nuclear arsenal and make good use of American military and economic assistance. NYT, 5-5-09
  • House Dems narrow energy, climate bill differences: Key lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a strategy for replacing gas-guzzling cars with more fuel-efficient models, but much tougher negotiations lie ahead on a bill that would, for the first time, limit emissions linked to global warming. President Barack Obama summoned three dozen House Democrats to the White House to build consensus around climate and energy legislation that is under increasing criticism from Republicans and members of his own party. AP, 5-5-09
  • Party Switch Costs Specter His Seniority on Senate Committees: The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats. In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate and on the five committees on which he serves. Specter’s tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats. Instead, though, on a voice vote last night, the Senate approved a resolution that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four committees for the remainder of this Congress. Reid himself read the resolution on the Senate floor, underscoring the reversal…. – WaPo, 5-5-09
  • Michelle Obama captivates glittery crowd in NYC: She’s already conquered Britain, France and Germany. On Tuesday, it was time for Michelle Obama to conquer New York. After a visit to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and an appearance on “Sesame Street,” Mrs. Obama capped her first visit to New York as first lady with an appearance before a glittery crowd at Time magazine’s annual Time 100 gala, honoring its 100 “Most Influential People.” There, she mixed sparkle with substance, introducing the administration’s proposal to give $50 million to innovative nonprofit groups…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans attacking Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • G.O.P. Picks Conservative for Senate Judiciary Post: Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama, has struck an agreement to assume the top Republican position on the Judiciary Committee, making him the chief voice of the opposition in summer confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • At Annual Meeting, Pro-Israel Group Reasserts Clout: The formidable political strength of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s major pro-Israel lobby, has been on decidedly intentional display here in the last few days. But this year, Aipac’s annual conference comes after a period fraught with small anxieties for the group and its supporters…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • White House seeks comments on education law: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former big-city schools chief, traveled through rural terrain Tuesday as he asked educators and parents how the Obama administration should overhaul the No Child Left Behind law. Duncan is from Chicago, but he made West Virginia the first stop on a 15-state “listening tour.” “I think the challenges are very similar,” Duncan told The Associated Press in an interview. “I know there are high-performing schools in every state in the country, and what’s important to me is to really understand what enables them to beat the odds.”… – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans branch out from criticism over economy to hit Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Congress leery about Obama’s plan on tax loopholes: President Barack Obama promised sternly on Monday to crack down on companies “that ship jobs overseas” and duck U.S. taxes with offshore havens. It won’t be easy. Democrats have been fighting — and losing — this battle since John F. Kennedy made a similar proposal in 1961. Obama’s proposal to close tax loopholes was a reliable applause line during the presidential campaign, but it got a lukewarm response Monday from Capitol Hill…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Obama vows tougher overseas tax policies: President Barack Obama vowed on Monday to overhaul tax policies that he said reward companies for shifting U.S. jobs overseas and allow wealthy people to evade taxes using offshore accounts. The White House estimated the plan would save $210 billion over the next decade. In one proposal businesses are poised to fight, Obama would tighten tax-code provisions that allow firms to defer paying taxes on profits they make overseas as long as those earnings are ploughed back into the foreign subsidiaries…. – Reuters, 5-4-09
  • Standing on Ceremony Is the press showing more respect for Obama than Bush?: A video, put together by Politico’s Patrick Gavin, is making the rounds showing two presidential visits to the White House briefing room. In one, George Bush arrives for a press conference in February 2008, and the press remains seated. In the second, from last Friday, Barack Obama surprises the press by appearing in the midst of the daily briefing. They stand to greet him. (Given that the press is supposedly in the tank for Obama, shouldn’t critics be happy they didn’t kneel?)… – Slate, 5-4-09
  • Palin To Be Part of National Council: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be part of the National Council for a New America, an attempt by leaders in Congress and potential 2012 presidential candidates to rebrand the struggling party. “I am pleased to announce that Governor Palin has joined the National Council for a New America’s panel of experts,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) today. “When NCNA was announced last week, we spoke about a dynamic organization that worked to constantly bring in new people and innovative ideas.”… – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Senators to Obama: Look beyond the federal bench: Wanted: Supreme Court justice. Judicial experience not required. Not only is experience as a judge not a requirement under the Constitution, some of the senators who will conduct confirmation hearings for Justice David Souter’s replacement think it’s time for a nominee who hasn’t served on the federal appeals court. For all nine of the current justices, the appeals court was a final stepping stone to the Supreme Court. “I would like to see more people from outside the judicial monastery, somebody who has had some real-life experience, not just as a judge,” said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Obama calls senators about high court pick: President Barack Obama, eager to have his Supreme Court nominee seated by early October, has begun calling senators who will play key roles in the confirmation process. While it is unclear when Obama will name a nominee, aides said he wants the process to move rapidly enough so that the Senate can confirm the person shortly after Congress returns from its August recess, if not sooner…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: Feds are combing through John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign checkbook to see if there’s more to the story of his payments to his former mistress Reille Hunter, a probe that some observers say couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy…. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Ridge May Run for Specter’s Senate Seat: Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge (R) is seriously considering a 2010 bid for the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter and will make his decision in the next two weeks, according to several sources familiar with his thinking…. – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Obama to meet Afghan and Pakistan leaders: President Barack Obama presents his strategy for defeating al Qaeda to the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday amid growing U.S. concern it is losing the war and neither is a reliable ally. The White House meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are likely to be cagey affairs — both visitors have been heavily criticized by Obama’s administration and are also wary of each other…. – Reuters, 5-4-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives his Weekly Address on credit card reform

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REFORMING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO REDUCE COSTS: And that’s what makes today’s meeting so remarkable — because it’s a meeting that might not have been held just a few years ago. The groups who are here today represent different constituencies with different sets of interests. They’ve not always seen eye to eye with each other or with our government on what needs to be done to reform health care in this country. In fact, some of these groups were among the strongest critics of past plans for comprehensive reform.
    But what’s brought us all together today is a recognition that we can’t continue down the same dangerous road we’ve been traveling for so many years; that costs are out of control; and that reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait. It’s a recognition that the fictional television couple, Harry and Louise, who became the iconic faces of those who opposed health care reform in the ’90s, desperately need health care reform in 2009. And so does America….
    Ultimately, the debate about reducing costs — and the larger debate about health care reform itself — is not just about numbers; it’s not just about forms or systems; it’s about our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. And I understand that. As I’ve mentioned before during the course of the campaign, my mother passed away from ovarian cancer a little over a decade ago. And in the last weeks of her life, when she was coming to grips with her own mortality and showing extraordinary courage just to get through each day, she was spending too much time worrying about whether her health insurance would cover her bills. So I know what it’s like to see a loved one who is suffering, but also having to deal with a broken health care system. I know that pain is shared by millions of Americans all across this country. WH Blog, 5-11-09
  • Obama does turn as comedian in chief: “I must confess I really did not want to be here tonight,” Obama told guests at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — an annual black-tie gathering of journalists, politicians and Hollywood celebrities. “But I knew I had to come. That’s one more problem that I inherited from George W. Bush.”…. “The last thing Tim Geithner needs is someone else treating him like a fire hydrant,” he said…. “Finally, I believe that my next 100 days will be so successful that I will be able to complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest,” he joshed…. In a dig at the press, Obama said: “We look for you for truth — even if it’s always an approximation.” Reuters, 5-10-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ ASSOCIATION DINNERWH, 5-9-09
  • Obama Delivers the Zingers at Journalists’ Dinner: Not Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: “The minute she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and said I should go down there myself.”… Not Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “This is a tough holiday for Rahm. He’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother.’ “… Not even, it turned out, himself: “During the second 100 days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first 100 days.”… And: “My next 100 days will be so successful, I will complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.”… The routine brought mostly guffaws from the 2,500 journalists, politicians and celebrities jammed into the Washington Hilton ballroom for the press corps’ annual celebration of itself. The president acknowledged perceptions that he’s a media darling: “Most of you covered me; all of you voted for me. Apologies to the Fox table.” – WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Biden to grads: You have chance to shape history: “There is a much greater risk in accepting a situation we know we cannot sustain than in steeling our spine and embracing the challenge of change,” Biden said to students from Syracuse University and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry…. “It is totally within your power to shape history. … This has been the journey of America since its inception,” said Biden, a 1968 graduate of Syracuse’s law school, speaking to more than 19,000 people in the Carrier Dome…. “All over this great country, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness began to take hold,” Biden said. “But as I walked across that stage, I never doubted for one instant that we could change that history, that we could rewrite the outcome we were careening toward, and we did,” he said. “It’s 2009. Now it’s your turn. You are graduating into a world of anxiety and uncertainty … ,” said Biden, pointing to a troubled economy, two wars and a planet in environmental peril. “These are the challenges you face. But these are the moments you can embrace. Throughout the span of history, only a handful of us ever get a chance to actually shape the course of history,” said the vice president, who received several standing ovations…. – AP, 5-10-09
  • Latino Town Hall: Full Video and Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT LATINO TOWN HALL: ….So I’m very proud of this first White House town hall meeting conducted entirely in Spanish. I am grateful — except for my part. (Laughter.) You know, I’m kind of messing up the whole thing. (Laughter.) I’m grateful for Univision for hosting us, and I’m happy to see that we’ve got officials from many different departments, including my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
    So I want to let you continue with your conversation. I hope you learn something. Please ask questions — these folks are extraordinarily well informed — and then distribute the information that you learn from this town hall throughout your communities. And this is just the first of many, I hope, mechanisms for outreach that will improve the quality of service that the White House provides to the American people. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Credit Card Reform Bill: Good morning. I want to briefly share some news about our economy, and talk about the work that we’re doing both to protect American consumers, and to put our economy back on a path to growth and prosperity.
    This week, we saw some signs that the gears of America’s economic engine are slowly beginning to turn. Consumer spending and home sales are stabilizing. Unemployment claims are dropping and job losses are beginning to slow. But these trends are far from satisfactory. The unemployment rate is at its highest point in twenty-five years. We are still in the midst of a deep recession that was years in the making, and it will take time to fully turn this economy around. We cannot rest until our work is done. Not when Americans continue to lose their jobs and struggle to pay their bills. Not when we are wrestling with record deficits and an over-burdened middle class. That is why every action that my Administration is taking is focused on clearing away the wreckage of this recession, and building a new foundation for job-creation and long-term growth…. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: “Americans know that they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “But they also have a right to not get ripped off by the sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties and hidden fees that have become all too common.” “You shouldn’t have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached, nor should you need a magnifying glass and a reference book to read a credit card application. And the abuses in our credit card industry have only multiplied in the midst of this recession, when Americans can least afford to bear an extra burden,” the president said. Obama wants to sign the legislation by Memorial Day. “There is no time for delay. We need a durable and successful flow of credit in our economy, but we can’t tolerate profits that depend upon misleading working families. Those days are over,” he said. Railing against what he said was “abuse that goes unpunished,” the president stressed the need “to strengthen monitoring, enforcement and penalties for credit card companies that take advantage of ordinary Americans.” “Instead of fine print that hides the truth, we need credit card forms and statements that have plain language in plain sight, and we need to give people the tools they need to find a credit card that meets their needs,” he said. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Cheney: Mistake for GOP to ‘moderate’: “This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas … what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles,” Cheney said in an interview with North Dakota radio host Scott Hennen Thursday, according to a transcript. “You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy,” Cheney also said. “I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren’t eager to have someone come along and say, ‘Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'” “I think periodically we have to go through one these sessions. It helps clear away some of the underbrush … some of the older folks who’ve been around a long time — like yours truly — need to move on and make room for that young talent that’s coming along,” he said. “We resorted … to waterboarding, which is the source of much of the controversy, with only three individuals. In those cases, it was only after we’d gone through all the other steps of the process,” he said. “The way the whole program was set up was very careful, to use other methods and only to resort to the enhanced techniques in those special circumstances.” “If anybody takes a look at the record, they’ll find that we had significant success as a result of these policies,” he said. “One way to nail that down is that there are two documents in particular that I personally have read and know about that are still classified in that National Archives,” he said. – CNN, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REDUCING SPENDING IN THE BUDGET: We’re doing everything that we can to create jobs and to get our economy moving while building a new foundation for lasting prosperity — a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.
    But one of the pillars of this foundation is fiscal responsibility. We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits don’t matter and waste is not our problem. We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration — or the next generation.
    That’s why I’ve charged the Office of Management and Budget, led by Peter Orszag and Rob Nabors who are standing behind me today, with going through the budget — program by program, item by item, line by line — looking for areas where we can save taxpayer dollars….
    In addition, we’re going to save money by eliminating unnecessary defense programs that do nothing to keep us safe, but rather prevent us from spending money on what does keep us safe. One example is a $465 million program to build an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Defense Department is already pleased with the engine it has. The engine it has works. The Pentagon does not want and does not plan to use the alternative version. That’s why the Pentagon stopped requesting this funding two years ago. Yet it’s still being funded.
    These are just a few examples. But the point to remember is that there are consequences for this kind of spending. It makes the development of new tools for our military, like the Joint Strike Fighter, more expensive — even prohibitively so — and crowds out money that we could be using, for example, to improve our troops’ quality of life and their safety and security. It makes government less effective. It makes our nation less resilient and less able to address immediate concerns and long-term challenges. And it leaves behind a massive burden for our children and grandchildren. – WH Blog, 5-7-09
  • Obama applauds Afghan and Pakistan cooperation: President Barack Obama is applauding Pakistan and Afghanistan for their commitment to helping the U.S. fight terrorists holed up in their territory, but he also is cautioning that the path to success is slow and unsure. “The road ahead will be difficult,” Obama said Wednesday after a series of meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that yielded few announced new commitments. “There will be more violence, and there will be setbacks.” Obama added, “The United States has made a lasting commitment to defeat al-Qaida, but also to support the democratically elected sovereign governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. That commitment will not waver, and that support will be sustained.”… – AP, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER THE TRILATERAL MEETING WITH PRESIDENT KARZAI OF AFGHANISTAN AND PRESIDENT ZARDARI OF PAKISTAN: We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future. And to achieve that goal, we must deny them the space to threaten the Pakistani, Afghan, or American people. And we must also advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life.
    There is much to be done. Along the border where insurgents often move freely, we must work together with a renewed sense of partnership to share intelligence, and to coordinate our efforts to isolate, target and take out our common enemy. But, we must also meet the threat of extremism with a positive program of growth and opportunity. That is why my Administration is working with members of Congress to create opportunity zones to spark development. And that is why I’m proud that we’ve helped advance negotiations toward a landmark transit-trade agreement to open the Afghanistan and Pakistan border to more commerce.
    Within Afghanistan, we must help grow the economy, while developing alternatives to the drug trade by tapping the resilience and ingenuity of the Afghan people. We must support free and open national elections later this fall, while helping to protect the hard-earned rights of all Afghans. And we must support the capacity of local governments and stand up to corruption that blocks progress. I also made it clear that the United States will work with our Afghan and international partners to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties as we help the Afghan government combat our common enemy.
    Within Pakistan, we must provide lasting support to democratic institutions, while helping the government confront the insurgents who are the single greatest threat to the Pakistani state. And we must do more than stand against those who would destroy Pakistan – we must stand with those who want to build. That is why I have asked Congress for sustained funding for schools, roads, and hospitals. I want the Pakistani people to understand that America is not simply against terrorism – we are on the side of their hopes, and their aspirations. Because we know that the future of Pakistan must be determined by the talent, innovation and intelligence of its people…. – WH Blog, 5-6-09
  • Specter: Reid Promised Seniority, Eventual Judiciary Chairmanship: “When I talked to Senator Reid he assured me that my seniority would be as if I came in (as a Democrat) in 1980, and I relied . . . on his representation, and that’s the long and short of it,” Specter said in an interview in his Capitol “hideaway” office…. “There was no mention of the caucus when we talked. We talked more particularly about if Leahy became chairman of Appropriations, I would become chairman of the Judiciary. Ask him about that. That was the arrangement,” Specter said…. Assuming he wins that reelection, Specter is confident Reid will convince the Democrats to stand down from their concerns and give him his seniority back. “I think Senator Reid speaks for the caucus, he’s a very strong leader,” Specter said. – WaPo, 5-6-09
  • REMARKS OF FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AT TIME 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE AWARDS: The idea is simple: to find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country that are facing similar challenges. By focusing on high-impact, result-oriented non-profits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust….
    Careers focused on lifting up our communities – whether helping transform troubled schools or training workers for green jobs or helping low-income families access health care – are not always obvious. But, at a time when our nation is facing unprecedented challenges, encouraging careers in public service and social innovation are more important than ever…. – WH, 5-5-09
  • Good Jobs Here at Home REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON INTERNATIONAL TAX POLICY REFORM: So the steps I am announcing today will help us deal with some of the most egregious examples of what’s wrong with our tax code and will help us strengthen some of these other efforts. It’s a down payment on the larger tax reform we need to make our tax system simpler and fairer and more efficient for individuals and corporations.
    Now, it will take time to undo the damage of distorted provisions that were slipped into our tax code by lobbyists and special interests, but with the steps I’m announcing today we are beginning to crack down on Americans who are bending or breaking the rules, and we’re helping to ensure that all Americans are contributing their fair share.
    In other words, we’re beginning to restore fairness and balance to our tax code. That’s what I promised I would do during the campaign, that’s what I’m committed to doing as President, and that is what I will work with members of my administration and members of Congress to accomplish in the months and years to come…. – WH Blog, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: “I think the biggest problem we’re hearing from people when they talk about this case, aside from the criminal possibilities, is how angry a lot of people still are at John Edwards, not for his infidelity but for claiming the mantle of his wife’s illness as part of the reason for his running for president, and then while he was running for president engaging in this kind of conduct,” said Washington Examiner political editor Chris Stirewalt. “I think there’s going to be very little sympathy for the former senator as this goes forward. I mean, people are mad,” Stirewalt said. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: In a carefully worded statement issued Sunday, Edwards said none of the money Hunter received was wrongly paid. “I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly. However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help them get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely matter,” he said. – FOX News, 5-4-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President and the Russian Foreign Minister
(President Barack Obama meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the
White House May 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: News can outlast newspapers”: Last week, Sen. John Kerry convened a discussion of the troubled state of journalism in America by way of a hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
    In Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe is barely surviving. Several major metro papers have closed down, and there are indications that many more could soon follow. Experts have been warning in recent months that much of the newspaper industry may not survive.
    While the end of the metro newspaper would constitute a huge blow to journalism and the political system, realistically there might be nothing that we can do. The popularity of news on the Web and the potential of mobile devices such as the Kindle makes it difficult to see how we can sustain news in print — unless electronic delivery can produce enough revenue to support the cost of newspaper staffs.
    Sometimes technological innovations and consumer preferences cause changes that are irreversible. The industry has seen other important shifts in the way that Americans receive their news, such as the advent of television news in the 1950s and 1960s.
    But the real issue is not whether we can save the newspapers, but how we can create the best Internet news system possible. As Kerry said in his opening statement: “There also is the important question of whether online journalism will sustain the values of professional journalism, the way the newspaper industry has.”…
    The Internet can also combine written news with video and audio sources, as well as disseminate stories through social networking sites. Readers have the opportunities to interact with reporters and comment on stories.
    The death of the metro newspaper would be a huge loss. But rather than only focusing on lament, our best response would be to make the new medium of Internet news as strong as it can possibly be.
    We must address the major challenges by developing sites with the resources to edit, insisting on venues where the pursuit of objectivity remains a goal, and cultivating sites that help bring together different subject matter. If we do, the technological transition that we are living through can turn into a positive moment of advance for the media rather than a moment of decline. – CNN, 5-11-09
  • Conservative Historian Andrew Bacevich Warns Against Obama’s Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Intensifying Use of Air Power in Region: Well, I was invited to testify by Senator Kerry and thought it was appropriate for me to accept the invitation. I have been deeply disappointed by the direction of US policy in AfPak, as the Obama administration chooses to call it, ever since President Obama was inaugurated. I know, as do others, that when he was running for the office, he promised to reorient the US military effort from Iraq to Afghanistan. I had hoped that that was simply campaign talk to protect himself from the charge of being weak on national security. And therefore, I regret that it turns out that he’s serious on doubling down in Afghanistan and expanding US military efforts in Pakistan. I think both of those are mistaken…. – Democracy Now, 5-11-09
  • Robert Dallek “Obama Faces Mounting Challenges in His Next 100 Days With Iraq, Afghanistan, and the struggling economy, Obama is just getting started”: “He comes across as self-confident but not arrogant,” says historian Robert Dallek. “It reminds me of what Oliver Wendell Holmes said about Franklin Roosevelt—that he had a first-class temperament but a second-class intellect. Only with Obama, you have both a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” But Dallek adds that those personal traits will take him only so far. “The economy has to start coming back,” he says. “Patience will only last so long.” US News & World Report, 5-5-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Grateful Dead on health care”: All the stars seem to have aligned for the passage of national health care reform. Victory, supporters say, is inevitable. During the past week, two important developments excited health care proponents. First, President Obama and Senate Democrats included reconciliation instructions in the budget for health care. If a deal is not reached by October, congressional Democrats can use a process that prohibits a filibuster and allows passage of the bill with 51 rather than 60 votes in the Senate. And even if opponents of the bill attempted to stage a filibuster, the switch of Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party, combined with the likely victory of Al Franken as a senator from Minnesota, would provide Democrats with 60 votes to fight it off. Yet, as the Grateful Dead sang in one of their most famous songs, “When life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door.”…
    But some of the older pitfalls remain. The administration and congressional Democrats need to reach an agreement sooner rather than later about how these benefits will be financed, or they will be bogged down by the same kinds of internal conflicts over taxes. Once they have a plan in place, Democrats also need to think of an effective way to package it to the public in order to counteract attacks from Republicans who may characterize it as socialized medicine. If Democrats are able to achieve national health care reform, they will go into the 2010 and 2012 election with a major, concrete political achievement. If they fail, as Clinton’s experience reminds us, they might give Republicans the kind of issue that they have been looking for to recover from 2008. – CNN, 5-4-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Measuring Obama by FDR’s yardstick If the first 100 days mean anything, the president is looking a lot like Franklin Roosevelt. But recent history shows a lot can change after the early days of a presidency”: “He’s not a revolutionary; he’s a liberal,” said historian Allan Lichtman of American University. “Obama’s made big changes, but within the normal liberal-conservative arc. Yes, the pendulum has swung, but it’s swung from mainstream conservatism to mainstream liberalism.” One more thing, Lichtman noted: Obama is a fox, not a hedgehog. The phrase comes from British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who quoted an ancient Greek poet: “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing.”… – LAT, 4-21-09

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

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY: 

The President speaks at the Summit of the Americas

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

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

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

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

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President's Weekly Address: Efficiency and Innovation

Political Quotes

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

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President Presents His Vision for High Speed Rail

Historians’ Comments

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

March 15, 2009: Obama’s First Fifty Days in Office & Ratings Slide

The White House Council on Women and Girls

White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy

Council on Women

President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.Learn More

The President speaks on education.

White House Photo 3/10/09 by Pete Souza

Education

The President lays out his five pillars of investment and reform for education.Watch the President's remarks

The White House Council on Women and Girls

White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy

Council on Women

President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.Learn More

The President speaks on education.

White House Photo 3/10/09 by Pete Souza

Education

The President lays out his five pillars of investment and reform for education.Watch the President's remarks

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Weekly Address: Food Safety

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • FACTBOX: Main developments of Obama’s first 50 days: President Barack Obama marked his 50th day in office on Tuesday with a speech about overhauling the U.S. education system…. – Reuters, 3-11-09
  • Rasmussen Reports: 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president’s performance. – WSJ, 3-13-09
  • DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN and SCOTT RASMUSSEN: “Obama’s Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth”: It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama’s high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced. – WSJ, 3-13-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Lifts Restrictions on Stem Cell Research

The White House Council on Women and Girls

White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy

Council on Women

President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.Learn More

The Headlines…

  • Bracing for a Bailout Backlash: The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White House and could complicate President Obama’s agenda. – NYT, 3-15-09
  • President Obama’s call for longer school days raises questions: “That calendar may once have made sense,” Obama said last week. “But today, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage.” – Wichita Eagle, 3-15-09
  • Obama says US economy sound, reassures investors: President Barack Obama on Saturday downplayed divisions between the U.S. and Europe over how to tackle the world’s financial crisis and said China should have “absolute confidence” that its sizable investments in the United States are safe…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • G-20 pledge sustained action on financial crisis: Finance officials from rich and developing countries pledged Saturday to do “whatever is necessary” to fix the global economy, including supervision of freewheeling hedge funds and restoring bank lending by dealing with the shaky securities burdening their finances…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • Obama admin. to end use of term ‘enemy combatant’: The Obama administration said Friday that it is abandoning one of President George W. Bush’s key phrases in the war on terrorism: enemy combatant. But that won’t change much for the detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba — Obama still asserts the military’s authority to hold them. Human rights attorneys said they were disappointed that Obama didn’t take a new stance…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • Investigator uses phony documents to get passports: Using phony documents and the identities of a dead man and a 5-year-old boy, a government investigator obtained U.S. passports in a test of post-9/11 security. Despite efforts to boost passport security since the 2001 terror attacks, the investigator fooled passport and postal service employees four out of four times, according to a new report made public Friday. The report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, details the ruses…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • The First Lady’s First Trip: Michelle Obama took her first trip as first lady on Thursday, visiting the military base at Fort Bragg where she offered thanks and support to military families. – NYT, 3-12-09
  • Obama to tap Hamburg to run FDA: sources: President Barack Obama is set to nominate former New York City health chief Margaret Hamburg as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday. – Reuters, 3-12-09
  • Feds spending millions on Kennedy legacy in Mass.: More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys. The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. The funding may also help support an endowment for the institute…. – AP, 3-11-09
  • Obama defends pet projects and signs spending bill: President Barack Obama, sounding weary of criticism over federal earmarks, defended Congress’ pet projects Wednesday as he signed an “imperfect” $410 billion measure with thousands of examples. But he said the spending does need tighter restraint and listed guidelines to do it. Obama, accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for embracing billions of dollars of earmarks in the legislation, said they can be useful and noted that he has promised to curb, not eliminate them…. – AP, 3-11-09
  • Officials: Iran does not have key nuclear material: Iran does not yet have any highly enriched uranium, the fuel needed to make a nuclear warhead, two top U.S. intelligence officials told Congress Tuesday, disputing a claim by an Israeli official…. – AP, 3-10-09
  • 9/11 suspects: ‘We are terrorists to the bone’: Puerto Rico – The self-professed mastermind and four other men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks declared they are “terrorists to the bone” in a statement that mocked the U.S. failure to prevent the killings and predicted America will fall like “the towers on the blessed 9/11 day.”… – AP, 3-10-09
  • Congress approves massive $410B spending bill: Congress on Tuesday cleared for President Barack Obama’s signature a $410 billion measure to fund the government, a measure denounced by most Republicans as an example of reckless spending. The Senate approved the measure by voice after it cleared a key procedural hurdle by a 62-35 vote. Sixty votes were required to shut down debate. – AP, 3-10-09
  • Recession on track to be longest in postwar period: Factory jobs disappeared. Inflation soared. Unemployment climbed to alarming levels. The hungry lined up at soup kitchens. It wasn’t the Great Depression. It was the 1981-82 recession, widely considered America’s worst since the depression…. – AP, 3-8-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President speaks on education.

Political Quotes

  • Cheney Says Obama Has Increased Risks: “He is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack,” Mr. Cheney said of Mr. Obama in an interview on the CNN program “State of the Union.”….
    “I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11.” “I think that’s a great success story. It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles.”
    “Up until 9/11, it was treated as a law enforcement problem. You go find the bad guy, put him on trial, put him in jail. Once you go into a wartime situation and it’s a strategic threat, then you use all of your assets to go after the enemy. You go after the state sponsors of terror, places where they’ve got sanctuary. You use your intelligence resources, your military resources, your financial resources — everything you can — in order to shut down that terrorist threat against you. When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which I sense is what they’re doing, closing Guantánamo and so forth, that they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required, and that concept of military threat that is essential if you’re going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks.”
    “We’ve accomplished nearly everything we set out to do,” he said about Iraq. “Now, I don’t hear much talk about that, but the fact is, the violence level is down 90 percent. The number of casualties and Iraqis and Americans is significantly diminished. There’s been elections, a constitution. They’re about to have another presidential election here in the near future. We have succeeded in creating in the heart of the Middle East a democratically governed Iraq, and that is a big deal,” Mr. Cheney said. “And it is, in fact, what we set out to do.” – NYT, 3-15-09
  • Cheney going high-tech and driving a car: Dick Cheney’s going high-tech with a BlackBerry and a wireless device for reading books. And he’s driving a car these days. AP, 3-15-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, Saturday, March 14, 2009, Washington, DC, “Weekly Address: Reversing a Troubling Trend in Food Safety”: In this week’s address, President Barack Obama makes key announcements regarding the safety of our nation’s food.
    “We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things that only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm.” – WH Blog, 3-14-09Transcript
  • President Obama: “A wonderful meeting of the minds”: Is that directed at me? Well, look, I think Brazil has shown extraordinary leadership when it comes to biofuels. And I’ve been a great admirer of the steps that have been taken by President Lula’s government in pursuing biofuels and developing them. And this is an investment that Brazil has made for a very long time.
    My policies coming into this administration have been to redouble efforts here in the United States to pursue a similar path of clean energy development. And I think we have a lot to learn from Brazil.
    As I mentioned to President Lula, I think we have the potential to exchange ideas, technology to build on the biodiesel cooperation structure that we’ve already established. I know that the issue of Brazilian ethanol coming into the United States has been a source of tension between the two countries. It’s not going to change overnight, but I do think that as we continue to build exchanges of ideas, commerce, trade around the issue of biodiesel, that over time this source of tension can get resolved. – WH Blog, 3-14-09
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi “The Buzz About a Second Stimulus Package”: I really would like to focus on the first one. I know that people have made suggestions that we should be ready to do something, but I really would like to see this stimulus package play out.
    I think it’s important that the American people and the Congress of the United States have confidence in the recovery package that we have passed. We believe that it has the right components to take the country in a new direction in terms of job creation, tax cuts for the middle class, investments in the short term for job creation and longer term stabilization. So I’ve always been trying to be fiscally responsible about doing — getting the most for — I won’t say a small amount of money because we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars.
    As we go down that path as people make judgments, I would hope that we get the results that we need from this package. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t talk about it, as one of our economists suggested the other day. But not from my initiation. – NYT, 3-12-09
  • President Obama declares turning point on earmark reform: Now, yesterday Congress sent me the final part of last year’s budget; a piece of legislation that rolls nine bills required to keep the government running into one, a piece of legislation that addresses the immediate concerns of the American people by making needed investments in line with our urgent national priorities.
    That’s what nearly 99 percent of this legislation does — the nearly 99 percent that you probably haven’t heard much about.
    In my discussions with Congress, we have talked about the need for further reforms to ensure that the budget process inspires trust and confidence instead of cynicism. So I believe as we move forward, we can come together around principles that prevent the abuse of earmarks.
    These principles begin with a simple concept: Earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members’ websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the taxpayer….
    And finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines that it has no legitimate public purpose, then we will seek to eliminate it, and we’ll work with Congress to do so. – WH Blog, 3-11-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF EXECUTIVE ORDER CREATING THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON WOMEN AND GIRLS “Opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers never dreamed of”: I sign this order not just as a President, but as a son, a grandson, a husband, and a father, because growing up, I saw my mother put herself through school and follow her passion for helping others. But I also saw how she struggled to raise me and my sister on her own, worrying about how she’d pay the bills and educate herself and provide for us.
    I saw my grandmother work her way up to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling — how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her.
    I’ve seen Michelle, the rock of the Obama family — (laughter) — juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know. But I also saw how it tore at her at times, how sometimes when she was with the girls she was worrying about work, and when she was at work she was worrying about the girls. It’s a feeling that I share every day…..
    So now it’s up to us to carry that work forward, to ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements — and that they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers never dreamed of. That’s the purpose of this Council. Those are the priorities of my presidency. And I look forward to working with all of you to fulfill them in the months and years to come.
    All right, so I’m going to go sign this thing. Thank you very much. – WH Blog, 3-11-09Transcript
  • U.S. “in a deep mess” but we will fix it: Geithner: “This president is going to do what is necessary to get us through this. … We’re a terrifically strong country with abundant resources, and we will get through this.”…. You’re going to see (President Obama) lead an ambitious agenda to try to get the world moving with us so that the global economy is firing on all cylinders. Getting the world to move with us (is) necessary and critical.”… “Our markets are still the most liquid markets in the world. And frankly, there is a lot of confidence still in our capacity to manage this and get through it. Everything we do in moving aggressively to fix this crisis is guided by that basic obligation, of not just to American investors but around the world, to do what is necessary to get this economy back on track…. There are a lot of people who want us to come in and pay an inflated price for these assets, and have the government absorb a bunch of those losses directly to socialize that risk. We want to pursue a market mechanism that leaves the taxpayer with less risk and better overall benefit in trying to fix this system.” – Reuters, 3-10-09
  • President Obama “Taking on Education”: Every so often, throughout our history, a generation of Americans bears the responsibility of seeing this country through difficult times and protecting the dream of its founding for posterity. This is a responsibility that has fallen to our generation. Meeting it will require steering our nation’s economy through a crisis unlike any we have seen in our time. In the short-term, that means jumpstarting job creation, re-starting lending, and restoring confidence in our markets and our financial system. But it also means taking steps that not only advance our recovery, but lay the foundation for lasting, shared prosperity.
    I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. They forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad, passed the Homestead Act, and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of Civil War. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war. President Kennedy didn’t have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don’t have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.
    Of course, no matter how innovative our schools or how effective our teachers, America cannot succeed unless our students take responsibility for their own education. That means showing up for school on time, paying attention in class, seeking out extra tutoring if it’s needed, and staying out of trouble. And to any student who’s watching, I say this: don’t even think about dropping out of school. As I said a couple of weeks ago, dropping out is quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country, and it is not an option – not anymore. Not when our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past thirty years. Not when high school dropouts earn about half as much as college graduates. And not when Latino students are dropping out faster than just about anyone else. It is time for all of us, no matter what our backgrounds, to come together and solve this epidemic. – WH Blog, 3-10-09
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman now sings Obama’s praises: “He’s shown real leadership,” Lieberman told The Associated Press in an interview. “Bottom line: I think Barack Obama, president of the United States, is off to a very good start.” – AP, 3-9-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Signing of Stem Cell Executive Order and Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum, Washington, DC, March 9, 2009 – “A debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates”: Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield….
    That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals – to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives….
    That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals – to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives. – WH Blog, 3-9-09Transcript

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The White House Council on Women and Girls

Historians’ Comments

  • Michael Kazin “Bracing for a Bailout Backlash”: “The change now is you have a free-floating economic anxiety that has expressed itself in a kind of lashing out at those being bailed out and people who are bailing out,” Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University who has written extensively on populism. “There’s not really a sense of what the solution is.” “I do think there’s a potential for a ‘damn everybody in power’ kind of sentiment,” Mr. Kazin said. – NYT, 3-15-09
  • Robert Dallek “How Not to End Another President’s War (L.B.J. Edition)”: Now that President Obama has inherited not one war but two, does he face a similar hurdle? With the country’s economy in such poor shape and his eagerness to enact bold health insurance, education and environmental reforms, he will need to recall that wars are the enemy of far reaching change. World War I stopped Progressivism; in the 1940’s “Dr. Win the War replaced Dr. New Deal,” as Franklin D. Roosevelt said; the Korean War sidetracked Harry Truman’s Fair Deal; and Vietnam frustrated Johnson’s hopes of additional Great Society measures.
    Mr. Obama’s commitment to maintain perhaps 50,000 troops in Iraq after the drawdown of combat forces over the next 19 months, combined with his decision to send an additional 17,000 troops (for starters) to Afghanistan, could be the beginning of an unwanted debate about commitments abroad. If the country begins to see mounting costs in lives and money from the administration’s war policies, it risks distractions from the more urgent designs the president described in his campaign and recent messages to the Congress and the country.
    History is never a precise guide for current political actions. But the consistent negative impact of earlier foreign conflicts on grand projects at home is a cautionary tale that should command President Obama’s close attention. Guns and butter rarely mix. – NYT, 3-12-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Omnibus bill’s hidden item: a Democratic rift On Tuesday, Congress passed the spending bill to keep the government running – 160 days late, and not without some unusual friction between House and Senate leaders”: The moment marked a sharp break with tradition. “It’s hard to think of a comparable moment like this,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The tension between the two chambers is becoming very strong, especially the Pelosi-Reid rivalry.” – Christian Science Monitor, 3-11-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Is it Obama’s economy yet?”: President Obama currently has the polls on his side. In numerous surveys, Americans have said they are pleased with Obama’s performance thus far and confident the president can fix the economy, acknowledging this will take some time.
    The political question for the White House is how long those poll numbers will last. At some point, the “Bush Economy” is going to become the “Obama Economy.”
    When that happens, Obama will be in serious political trouble unless the economy has turned around. Republicans will be able to argue that the administration’s plans are not working and this perception will greatly diminish public support for the White House….
    The clock is ticking for Obama. There will likely be a tipping point when the approval ratings start to slide and a majority of Americans start to associate the recession with this White House.
    Arguments about how the crisis started earlier will sound more like a defeated leader, trying to explain his failures, than a reasoned leader trying to explain the situation we face. That’s how politics works.
    It will be politically essential that Obama’s early policies, particularly the economic stimulus bill and financial bailout, stop the downward slide of the economy and create some kind of stability. Otherwise, the president will find himself in rough waters. – CNN, 3-9-09

March 8, 2009: Obama Focuses on the Economy, Budget Debate Dominates, but Afghanistan Looms

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

President Obama at the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class

President Obama at the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class

White House photo 3/6/09 by Pete Souza

Jobs in Ohio

Today the President went to Ohio for the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class. The bad economic numbers are more than statistics there, but the recovery act did bring some good news.

Learn More

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Poll: Obama’s rating at all-time high NBC/WSJ poll shows gap between popularity of president and his policies: 68 percent have a favorable opinion of the president, including 47 percent whose opinion is “very positive” — both all-time highs for Obama in the poll.
    67 percent say they feel more hopeful about his leadership and 60 percent approve of his job in the White House.
    Yet the percentage of Americans who are confident that Obama has the right goals and policies for the country — 54 percent — is slightly smaller, suggesting that the president is more popular than his policies are. An example: 57 percent tend to support the stimulus, compared with 34 percent who tend to oppose it. – MSNBC, 3-7-09
  • FOX News Poll: Obama Believes in Bigger Government: Despite the president’s claim that he doesn’t believe in bigger government, a new poll shows there is widespread belief among Americans that he does.
    President Obama’s job approval rating stands at 63 percent, with 26 percent saying they disapprove.
    92 percent of Democrats say they approve — more than three times as many as the 30 percent of Republicans who give Obama the thumbs up. Among independents, 61 percent approve.
    Just over half of Americans — 52 percent — think so far Obama is meeting expectations and 14 percent say he is actually exceeding expectations. – Fox News, 3-5-09
  • FACT CHECK: Obama ‘tax hikes’ a matter of words: President Barack Obama says he would lower taxes on 95 percent of Americans now and raise them on the rich in 2011. Republicans say he will increase taxes for all and in the midst of a recession to boot. So who’s right? Yes, all Americans would pay more under the president’s policies. His own aides concede that. But no, Obama would not raise taxes in the midst of a recession, as long as his economic assumptions bear out. – AP, 3-7-09

President Barack Obama and White House Domestic Advisor Melody Barnes listen as firefighter Travis Ulerick of Dublin, Ind., addresses the White House Forum on Health Reform, Thursday, March 5, 2009, in the East Room at the White House.

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Obama Ponders Outreach to Elements of the Taliban: President Obama declared in an interview that the United States was not winning the war in Afghanistan and opened the door to a reconciliation process in which the American military would reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq. – NYT, 3-8-09
  • Analysis: Obama’s ambitious plans raise questions: President Barack Obama offered his domestic-policy proposals as a “break from a troubled past.” But the economic outlook now is more troubled than it was even in January, despite Obama’s bold rhetoric and commitment of more trillions of dollars. – AP, 3-7-09
  • When economy bottoms out, how will we know?: When will this wretched economy bottom out? The recession is already in its 15th month, making it longer than all but two downturns since World War II. For now, everything seems to be getting worse: The Dow is in free fall, jobs are vanishing every day, and one in eight American homeowners is in foreclosure or behind on payments. But the economy always recovers. It runs in cycles, and economists are watching an array of statistics, some of them buried deep beneath the headlines, to spot the turning point. The Associated Press examined three markets — housing, jobs and stocks — and asked experts where things stand and how to know when they’ve hit bottom. None of them expects it to come anytime soon. – AP, 3-7-09
  • Obama Turkey visit to focus on Iraq, Afghanistan: For one of his first foreign visits, President Barack Obama will call on NATO ally Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim country viewed as critical to aiding the U.S. pullout from Iraq, turning around the Afghanistan war and blocking Iran’s nuclear ambitions. – AP, 3-7-09
  • Obama on stimulus: ‘I know we did the right thing’: While aknowledging an “astounding” number of job losses in February, President Barack Obama told critics of his $787 billion economic recovery plan Friday that it is saving jobs and said, “I know we did the right thing.” He suggested that critics talk to 25 police recruits in Ohio’s capital city who owe their jobs to stimulus spending and “talk to the teachers who are still able to teach our children because we passed this plan.” – AP, 3-6-09
  • Source: Obama to reverse limits on stem cell work: Reversing an eight-year-old limit on potentially life-saving science, President Barack Obama plans to lift restrictions Monday on taxpayer-funded research using embryonic stem cells. The long-promised move will allow a rush of research aimed at one day better treating, if not curing, ailments from diabetes to paralysis — research that crosses partisan lines, backed by such notables as Nancy Reagan and the late Christopher Reeve. But it stirs intense controversy over whether government crosses a moral line with such research. – AP, 3-6-09
  • Government-run plan could trip up health overhaul: Giving Americans the option of buying medical coverage through the government — an idea put forth by President Barack Obama — is a potential deal breaker for some Republicans and insurance companies whose support would ease the way for a health care overhaul. The proposal, which Obama advocated in his presidential campaign, would for the first time offer government-sponsored coverage to middle class families, as an alternative to private health plans. By some estimates, it could reduce premiums by 20 percent or more — making it much more affordable to cover the estimated 48 million people who don’t have health coverage…. – AP, 3-6-09
  • Fight Brewing Within GOP Over Soul, Future of Party: This week’s dustup between GOP chief Michael Steele and influential radio host Rush Limbaugh underscored the struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. – Fox News, 3-6-09
  • Dean under consideration for surgeon general: report: Former Vermont governor Howard Dean was under consideration by the Obama administration for U.S. surgeon general, CNN reported on Friday, but a source said he was not interested in the post. – Reuters, 3-6-09
  • Congressman Labels Obama ‘Abortion President’ Ahead of Stem Cell Reversal: Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., accused Obama of launching two attacks on pro-life measures. – Fox News, 3-6-09
  • Democrats blast Limbaugh for comment on Kennedy: A Democratic official rebuked conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh on Friday for suggesting a health care proposal will be named in memory of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer. On his radio show, Limbaugh said President Barack Obama’s proposed health care revisions will be championed by “the liberal lion Teddy Kennedy.” – AP, 3-6-09
  • Top Dems adjust to life in Obama’s shadow Pelosi and Reid balance executive priorities with legislative powers: As the party’s highest-ranking elected officials, they used their congressional majorities to thwart key elements of Bush’s agenda. Now with Obama the Democrats’ unquestioned leader, Reid and Pelosi play less visible and more intermediary parts…. – MSNBC, 3-6-09
  • CIA destroyed 12 harsh interrogation tapes: The CIA destroyed a dozen videotapes of harsh interrogations of terror suspects, according to documents filed Friday in a lawsuit over the government’s treatment of detainees. The 12 tapes were part of a larger collection of 92 videotapes of terror suspects that the CIA destroyed. The extent of the tape destruction was disclosed through a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the government. – AP, 3-6-09
  • Gupta withdraws from surgeon general search: CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta won’t be the next surgeon general, the Obama administration confirmed Thursday. Gupta, 39, a neurosurgeon with star appeal, was seen as President Barack Obama’s first pick for the job. He would have brought instant recognition to the office of surgeon general, a post that has lacked visibility since the days of C. Everett Koop during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. – AP, 3-5-09
  • Obama: Every voice must be heard on health reform: President Barack Obama pumped health care allies and skeptics alike for ways to overhaul the nation’s costly and frustrating system Thursday and heard only applause and agreement when he told them there’s “a clear consensus that the need for health care reform is here and now.” – AP, 3-5-09
  • Congress passes stopgap bill to avoid shutdown: With a $410 billion catchall spending bill stalled in the Senate and a midnight deadline looming, Congress rushed through stopgap legislation Friday to keep the government running for another five days. The House passed the bill by a 328-50 vote; the Senate acted by unanimous voice vote. President Barack Obama will sign the measure later Friday. The stopgap measure was needed because on Thursday night, Senate Republicans unexpectedly put the brakes on the sweeping measure. The so-called omnibus bill would award domestic agencies with big spending increases and it also contains about 8,000 pet projects sought by lawmakers. – AP, 3-5-09
  • Treasury secretary’s choice for deputy withdraws: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is two steps further away from filling the ranks of his senior staff. As markets quake and Treasury confronts the worst economic crisis in decades, Geithner has seen two people he had hoped to name to key posts withdraw from consideration. – AP, 3-5-09
  • Senate preparing huge spending bill for Obama: Senate leaders hoped Thursday to clear for President Barack Obama a huge spending bill that awards big increases to domestic programs and is stuffed with pet projects sought by lawmakers in both parties. The $410 billion spending bill, spanning 1,122 pages, has an extraordinary reach, wrapping nine spending bills together to fund the annual operating budgets of every Cabinet department except for Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. – AP, 3-5-09
  • White House Health Care Summit: The wrap up session: President Obama entered the room with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who said said he looked forward to being a “foot soldier” in the push for health care reform and “this time we will not fail.” – NYT, 3-5-09
  • Clinton accuses Iran of seeking to intimidate: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.” – AP, 3-4-09
  • Key Democrats oppose Obama’s tax deduction plan: President Barack Obama’s proposal to limit itemized tax deductions for high earners is running into opposition from key Democrats in Congress who worry that charities and the housing market would be hurt. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus questioned Wednesday whether the proposal was viable, a day after his House counterpart also expressed reservations. – AP, 3-4-09
  • Obama takes aim at costly defense contracts: President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the U.S. government was paying too much for things it did not need and ordered a crackdown on spending “plagued by massive cost overruns and outright fraud.” – AP, 3-4-09
  • Senate votes to preserve earmarks in spending bill: The Senate has approved 13 pet spending projects sought by a lobbying firm accused of funneling illegal campaign contributions to lawmakers. Senators voted 52-43 to preserve the so-called earmarks in a 1,000-page- plus catchall spending bill even though they were sought by the PMA Group, a lobbying firm that closed up shop after being raided by the FBI last year. They included money for high-tech firms and colleges in Pennsylvania. – AP, 3-4-09
  • Obama’s plan to hike taxes meets fierce opposition: President Barack Obama’s call to raise taxes on high earners and greenhouse gas polluters met fierce opposition Tuesday from congressional Republicans and also a few Democrats. “I would never want to adversely affect anything that is charitable or good,” Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said of Obama’s call to limit high-income taxpayers’ itemized deductions for charitable donations and mortgage interest. – AP, 3-3-09
  • Trade nominee is 4th Obama pick to owe back taxes: Another Obama administration nominee has tax troubles. This time, it’s Ron Kirk, the president’s choice to be U.S. trade representative. Kirk owes an estimated $10,000 in back taxes from earlier in the decade and has agreed to pay them, the Senate Finance Committee said Monday. AP, 3-3-09
  • Obama pushes centers as one focus of health reform: President Barack Obama has been vague about details of his healthcare reform efforts, but he provided a hint on Monday of one direction he could take — community health centers. – Reuters, 3-3-09
  • Economic gloom shrouds Obama talks with Brown: A pall of economic gloom Tuesday hung over President Barack Obama’s talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who came armed with a plan for huge reforms of the reeling global finance system. – AFP, 3-3-09
  • Clinton vows to work for creation of Palestinian state: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed her “aggressive” Middle East diplomacy on Tuesday, saying she was sending two envoys to Syria and vowing to work towards a Palestinian state. – AFP, 3-3-09
  • US: ‘Inescapable’ movement to Palestinian state: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised Tuesday to work with the incoming Israeli government, but delivered a clear message that could put her at odds with the country’s next leader: Movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state is “inescapable.” – AP, 3-2-09
  • Obama lifts veil on Bush-era terror methods: President Barack Obama’s administration lifted the veil further Monday on past “war on terror” tactics, releasing Bush-era legal memos and revealing the CIA destroyed 92 controversial interrogation videos. Hours after Attorney General Eric Holder ruled out the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique — because it amounted to torture — his Justice Department released nine internal documents from the previous administration, which had given legal grounding to the controversial policies….. – AP, 3-2-09
  • Extraordinary Measures A new memo shows just how far the Bush administration considered going in fighting the war on terror: In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday. Many of the actions discussed in the Oct. 23, 2001, memo to then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s chief lawyer, William Haynes, were never actually taken. – Newsweek, 3-2-09
  • Web-Savvy Obama Team Hits Unexpected Bumps Washington Post: Issues Of Technology, Security And Privacy Slow The Administration’s Effort To Foster Instant Communication: The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government. WhiteHouse.gov, envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve. – CBS News, 3-2-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama spoke at a White House conference on health care.

Political Quotes

  • Sen. Richard Shelby “Some banks should be allowed to fail, say two top Republicans”: “Close them down, get them out of business. If they’re dead, they ought to be buried,” Sen. Richard Shelby, the Ranking Republican on the banking committee, told ABC’s This Week. “We bury the small banks — we’ve got to bury some big ones, and send a strong message to the market.” He did not mention any banks by name, although he responded to a question about Citigroup by noting that “Citi’s always been a problem child.” – CNN, 3-8-09
  • Sen. John McCain “Some banks should be allowed to fail, say two top Republicans”: Former GOP presidential candidate John McCain told Fox News Sunday that he did not think President Obama “made the hard decision, and that is to let these banks fail.” He did not call for nationalization of troubled financial institutions, which many Republicans oppose, but said their assets should be sold. “Unfortunately, the shareholders and others will take a beating,” he said. – CNN, 3-8-09
  • Eric Cantor: White House spending stance has ‘no credibility’: The Virginia Republican said on State of the Union Sunday that the White House’s contention that the legislative process was too far along to change course was completely inaccurate. “Let’s call it how it is. First of all, if you make a promise, people expect that you live up to it. And that’s why this administration’s refusal to go in and change this bill is, I think, is a false position.
    “There is no way anyone could take what Mr. Orszag has said with any credibility. Of course they’re negotiating on this bill in the Senate right now. To say that we would have drawn it differently, but leave $430 billion plus on the table like this? No way. People are expecting this administration to live up to the promises made.”
    “There is no question that we’ve got to change this entire process, it is a system gone bad,” he said.
    “Listen, the future of the Republican Party is tied to the future of this country. People right now are desperate for leadership, are desperate for us in this party as well as the other to begin talking about ideas that deal with the relevant challenges that they’re facing every single day,” he said.
    “And it is not about individuals, it’s not about Rush, it’s not about Rahm Emanuel, it’s not about any particular individual… if we do not begin to start acting more like adults in this town and produce so that people can get back to work, all of us are very concerned with where this country will end up.” – CNN, 3-8-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, Saturday, March 7, 2009, Washington, DC – WH Blog, 3-7-09, Mp3
  • Obama: Time of crisis can be ‘great opportunity’: “We will get through this,” Obama said in his weekly radio and video address, taped Friday after another week of downbeat news. “We’ve experienced great trials before, And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper — to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis. That is what we can and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do.”….
    “What I don’t think people should do is suddenly stuff money in their mattresses and pull back completely from spending,” Obama told the newspaper in an interview posted on its Web site Saturday. “I don’t think that people should be fearful about our future. I don’t think that people should suddenly mistrust all of our financial institutions because the overwhelming majority of them actually have managed things reasonably well.”….
    “From the day I took office, I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, nor would it happen overnight,” Obama said in the weekly address. “And we will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead. But I also believe that we will get through this — that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before.” – AP, 3-7-09
  • Obama: US should reach out to Taliban moderates: “But you’ve seen conditions deteriorate over the last couple of years. The Taliban is bolder than it was. I think … in the southern regions of the country, you’re seeing them attack in ways that we have not seen previously.”… “The national government still has not gained the confidence of the Afghan people. And so it’s going to be critical for us to not only, get through these national elections to stabilize the security situation, but we’ve got to recast our policy so that our military, diplomatic and development goals are all aligned to ensure that al-Qaida and extremists that would do us harm don’t have the kinds of safe havens that allow them to operate.”… “If you talk to Gen. Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us.”…. “There could be situations — and I emphasize ‘could be’ because we haven’t made a determination yet — where, let’s say that we have a well-known al-Qaida operative that doesn’t surface very often, appears in a third country with whom we don’t have an extradition relationship or would not be willing to prosecute, but we think is a very dangerous person.” – AP, 3-7-09
  • Sen. McCain: ‘Generational Theft’ Being Committed With Big Government Spending: Well, it is impossible for anyone to predict the market, but I think two things. One, America will come out of this. We will. There is no doubt about it. There have been worse times, not many, and this is a terrible time, but we will come out of it, but I think the market might be reacting because they have not confidence yet that the Obama administration is taking the necessary steps to cure the housing market and to bring about an economic recovery. They do not have confidence that the government is taking sufficient steps early enough that they are sort of playing catch-up.
    I think two things. One is that these steps have not been taken early enough. They always seem to be reacting to circumstances rather than anticipating. The second thing is that we are laying a debt on future generations of Americans, which is unconscionable. We are committing generational theft when we just keep spending hundreds of billions and even trillions of dollars at a time.
    We will continue to fight. There are 9,000 earmarks in it. Incredibly, the president and his chief of staff and director of his budget of OMD have both said this is last year’s business. It is this year’s business. It is this is this year’s spending, this year’s debt and this year’s pork barrel projects which breeds corruption, and we have former members of Congress convicted, in prison, and it is all because to a large degree — because of this earmark, pork barrel spending, which is – just, I cannot describe to you have a terrible it is, and the American people are tightening their belts and having to make tough decisions. Meanwhile, it is business as usual here in the Congress. $2 million for astronomy awareness in Hawaii.
    I think a lot of them are, but there are appropriators, Republicans, a number of them, who are on the Appropriations Committee, who consistently vote against our efforts to curtail this outrageous spending, and again I want to point out the reason we did not have a bill last year is that the Democrats would not pass these bills last year. They wanted to wait until this year so they could get a better deal, and this bill is eight percent more spending than we did last year in the toughest of times, and there are 9,000 pork barrel projects on it. It is as bad as anything as I have seen around here, given the economy of the country….
    Well, the president said he wants to work on reform. It is long overdue. We need to work on reform, and he will face some of the greatest resistance from his own party, who have said, majority leader and Congressman Steny Hoyer’s said, “We are not going to change. It is our prerogative.”….
    Forty percent Republican earmarks. Republicans let’s spending get completely out of control. We paid a very heavy penalty for it in the last election because we did not stick to our principles.
    I think you are going to see a real revolt out there on the part of the voters. We are seeing an increase in the independent voter registration. Americans are very fed up. Look at new low approval ratings for Congress. We either act or they are going to elect people who will act responsibly.

    If we keep this up, two things, I think, are going to happen. At some point the Chinese may stop buying our debt. The second thing that’s going to happen, if we keep printing money, trillions of dollars worth that we don’t have, then it is going to cause hyperinflation. And that inflation is the greatest enemy of the middle-income Americans, because they are on a fixed income. And it has happened in the past. It would not be the first time that governments got into such deep debt that they printed more money, and the currency was debased. I worry a great deal about it when we are laying these multi- trillion dollar debts on future generations of Americans. – Fox News, 3-5-09

  • Karl Rove: Obama, not Bush, is to blame for the financial crisis: “It makes them look small and churlish. And hastens the moment in which people say, you know what, it is your problem. And frankly, it is their problem in many respects…. he president and every Democrat worth his or her salt were out today saying the old guy’s numbers, the old guy’s job losses, the old guy’s recession. When will it be their recession?” – Dallas Morning News, 3-6-09
  • Barack Obama “Rebuilding America, town by town”: This city of Columbus needs the courage and the commitment of this graduating class to keep it safe, to make sure that people have the protection that they need. This economy needs your employment to keep it running. Just this morning we learned that we lost another 651,000 jobs throughout the country in the month of February alone, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to an astounding 4.4 million.
    Four point four million jobs. I don’t need to tell the people of this state what statistics like this mean, because so many of you have been watching jobs disappear long before this recession hit….
    In Savannah, Georgia, the police department would use this funding to hire more crime and intelligence analysts and put more cops on the beat protecting our schools. In Long Beach, California, it will be able to help fund 17,000 hours of overtime for law enforcement officials who are needed in high-crime areas. West Haven, Connecticut will be able to restore crime prevention programs that were cut, even though they improved the quality of life in the city’s most troubled neighborhoods. And the state of Iowa will be able to rehire drug enforcement….
    So for those who still doubt the wisdom of our recovery plan, I ask them to talk to the teachers who are still able to teach our children because we passed this plan. I ask them to talk to the nurses who are still able to care for our sick, and the firefighters and first responders who will still be able to keep our communities safe. I ask them to come to Ohio and meet the 25 men and women who will soon be protecting the streets of Columbus because we passed this plan. (Applause.) I look at these young men and women, I look into their eyes and I see their badges today and I know we did the right thing. – WH Blog, 3-7-09
  • Obama orders overhaul of ‘broken’ US contracting: “Far too often, the spending is plagued by massive cost overruns, outright fraud, and the absence of oversight and accountability…. It starts with reforming our broken system of government contracting. There is a fundamental public trust that we must uphold. The American people’s money must be spent to advance their priorities, not to line the pockets of contractors or to maintain projects that don’t work.” – AP, 3-4-09
  • Britain PM Gordon Brown: US must lead on economy, climate change: “We should seize this moment because never before have I seen a world willing to come together so much, never before has that been more needed.”… Brown pushed lawmakers to embrace his “global New Deal” plan for overhauling the rules of international finance and share the wealth of a world economy he promised would double over the next 20 years. President Barack Obama’s historic election has given “the whole world renewed hope in itself,” he said, adding that “now more than ever the rest of the world wants to work with you” including “your friend Europe.”… “Should we succumb to a race to the bottom and to a protectionism that history tells us that in the end protects no one? No.”… “I believe you, the nation that had the vision to put a man on the moon, are also the nation with a vision to protect and preserve our planet Earth.”… “Our shared message to Iran, it is simple: We are ready for you to rejoin the international community, but first you must cease your threats and suspend your nuclear programs.”… AFP, 3-4-09
  • REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND BRITISH PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN AFTER MEETING: “Where are the Brits? They’re over there,” President Obama said, playfully, during a press Q&A following a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
    “In fact, they’re everywhere,” Prime Minister Brown replied. And in that spirit of Anglo-American equity, the President and Prime Minister took questions from reporters from both sides of the pond.
    “I think that there are a set of shared values and shared assumptions between us,” President Obama said said during a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “That we believe in the free market, we believe in a government that is not overbearing and allows entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive, but we also share a common belief that there have to be sufficient regulatory structures in place so that the market doesn’t spin out of control.” – WH Blog, 3-3-09
  • President Obama to PBS’ “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” in an interview “Analysis: Obama embracing crisis as opportunity”: “I think that we are at an extraordinary moment that is full of peril but full of possibility, and I think that’s the time you want to be president,” Obama told PBS’ “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” in an interview Friday. “I think there’s a sense that right now we are having to make some very big decisions that will help determine the direction of this country, and in ways large and small the direction of the world for the next generation. “And I won’t lie to you. I wish that they weren’t all having to be made at once. It would nice to be able to stage them on one another,” Obama added. – AP, 3-2-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

President Obama at the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class

White House photo 3/6/09 by Pete Souza

Jobs in Ohio

Today the President went to Ohio for the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class. The bad economic numbers are more than statistics there, but the recovery act did bring some good news.

Learn More

President Barack Obama and White House Domestic Advisor Melody Barnes listen as firefighter Travis Ulerick of Dublin, Ind., addresses the White House Forum on Health Reform, Thursday, March 5, 2009, in the East Room at the White House.

White House photo 3/5/09 by Pete Souza

White House Forum on Health Reform

The forum was a major step in the monumental, transparent, imperative process to reform America’s health care system.

HealthReform.gov
Follow the live-blog

Contracting Reform

Historians’ Comments

  • Bruce Buchanan “Obama taking big political risk with budget”: “What you’ve got is a context that makes a very ambitious budget strategy possible in a way that wouldn’t be possible in times we would call normal,” said Bruce Buchanan, a presidential scholar at the University of Texas. “This is a rare moment.” – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-8-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama taking big political risk with budget”: As it is, taking on health care, global warming and a major increase in spending on education and social programs all at once is “a huge political risk,” said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “In 2004, we forget, Bush looked as strong as any president,” Zelizer said, until he took on just one issue, Social Security, and failed. – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-8-09
  • Bruce Schulman “Obama taking big political risk with budget”: By reaching so high, Obama’s fortunes rest on the economy. “If the economy recovers and there’s prosperity in 2011, he’ll beat any Republican,” said Boston University historian Bruce Schulman. “If not, many, many Republicans could beat him.” – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-8-09
  • David Frum “Why Rush is Wrong”: The party of Buckley and Reagan is now bereft and dominated by the politics of Limbaugh. A conservative’s lament. – Newsweek, 3-7-09
  • Robert Dallek “Will Obama Be a President Defined by War?”: It’s the unfinished agendas of domestic reformers that have lately been on the minds of presidential historians like Robert Dallek. Dallek has in recent months become a Cassandra about Obama’s plans for reform, prophesying the potential undoing of Obama’s domestic agenda by affairs abroad. He tends to reference the foreboding historical adage, “war kills reform.”… “If Obama gets drawn too deeply into Afghanistan it can be very destructive to his reform agenda,” Dallek said. – Real Clear Politics, 3-2-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Will Obama Be a President Defined by War?”: “American history teaches us that the world has a way of unexpectedly catching a president’s attention and priority,” said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University. “Not only do presidents have limited power to control the economy but limited power to predict the economy,” Lichtman said. – Real Clear Politics, 3-2-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Will Obama use ‘Facebook politics’?”: The battle over the federal budget is about to begin. President Obama has laid out an ambitious agenda…. As the president pushes for Congress to enact his budget, he is unlikely to receive much Republican support. The vote over the first economic stimulus bill revealed that partisanship is alive and well in Washington. In addition, the budget proposal will open the president up to the familiar Republican attack of being a tax-and- spend liberal. Obama should not underestimate how effective such criticism can be. He can just ask Bill Clinton, who saw Republicans take over Congress in 1994 following the defeat of his health care proposal….
    Using what might be called “Facebook politics,” the netroots could raise money to campaign against opponents of Obama’s budget proposals. They might also encourage volunteers to explain and promote Obama’s policies to their neighbors. They could also provide a forum to counteract Republican attacks, and remind senators of the kind of voter turnout they might encounter in the midterm elections if they decide to stand in the way of Obama’s program. Of course, Republicans could counter with their own Web-based politics, but so far they have lagged behind the Democrats. When Obama proposed the economic stimulus legislation in January, he didn’t really use Facebook politics and instead relied on an inside-the-beltway approach. He let legislators hammer out the details without heavy-handed presidential intervention….
    If Obama can show that Facebook politics is as organizationally strong as the party politics of yesteryear, then he would on to something big. Not only would the president be able to tap into a powerful political army that could pressure legislators into supporting his agenda, but he very well could introduce a new paradigm for governance, one that would remain a model for future presidents. On the other hand, when he calls on the netroots to support him against those pesky senators, he might learn that many of his virtual supporters have already clicked onto another page. – CNN, 3-2-09
  • Leo Ribuffo “Analysis: Obama embracing crisis as opportunity”: “Whenever there’s a crisis in American life, whoever is in charge has used it for a backlogged agenda,” said Leo Ribuffo, a history professor at George Washington University. “This is what leaders are supposed to do: take advantage of the situation to do what they think is good for the country.” – AP, 3-2-09
  • Robert Dallek “The First 100 Days: Lyndon Johnson Fulfilled Kennedy’s Legacy Johnson wanted to assure the country that he would carryout the policies of his predecessor”: “By contrast with Mr. Obama, Johnson had no mandate to govern except for being vice president. No one expected a Southern politician to suddenly replace the youngest man ever elected to the White House. . . . Johnson understood that his greatest initial challenge was to provide reassurance—to convince not just Americans but people around the world, who looked to the United States for leadership in the cold war, that he could measure up to the standard JFK had set as an effective president at home and abroad.” – US News & World Report, 3-5-09
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