March 8, 2010: Obama, Passing Health Care Reform


The President delivers the Weekly Address


  • Poll: U.S. has lost global standing under Obama: A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, according to a poll by two left-leaning groups.
    The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin – 51 percent to 41 percent – Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
    “This is surprising, given the global acclaim – and Nobel peace prize – that flowed to the new president after he took office,” the pollsters said…. – Washington Times, 3-9-10
  • New poll spells potential trouble for Democrats: A new poll on Monday found signs of trouble ahead for President Barack Obama and his Democrats on national security issues such as the handling of terrorism suspects. The poll was conducted jointly by Democratic Corps, a Democratic organization, and Third Way, a progressive non-profit organization. It was done mainly to gauge voters’ views on Democrats’ handling of national security.
    The poll found 60 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track. It also found that people rated Democrats at about the same level as Republicans, in what amounted to an erosion of the advantage Democrats have held.
    “We would not want the election to be held today, with this poll,” said Democracy Corps’ chief pollster Stan Greenberg. “If the election were held today, this would be a ‘change’ election.”… – Reuters, 3-8-10
  • Bill Clinton Bests Former Presidents to Handle Crisis Today, Newsmax/Zogby Poll Finds: The Newsmax/Zogby poll asked respondents: “Of the current living former presidents, which do you think is best equipped to deal with the problems the country faces today?” Bill Clinton got 41 percent of the vote, trouncing the others in the field of four. George W. Bush received just 15 percent, George H.W. Bush got 7 percent, and Jimmy Carter, just 5 percent. (Only 7 percent of Democrats surveyed opted for Carter.) But 26 percent chose “none,” and 5 percent were “not sure” (figures are rounded). Clinton finished first among Democrats with a solid 69 percent, and among independents (40 percent). George W. Bush far outpaced Clinton among Republicans, 37 percent to 8 percent, although 33 percent of Republicans chose “none.”… – Newsmax, 3-7-10
  • Gallup poll suggests President Obama trusted more than GOP or Congress on healthcare: The Gallup poll results released on Friday, March 5th, 2008 notes: “Americans remain more confident in the health care reform recommendations of President Obama (49%) than in the recommendations of the Democratic (37%) or Republican (32%) leaders in Congress. But these confidence levels are lower than those measured in June, suggesting that the ongoing health care reform debate has taken a toll on the credibility of the politicians involved.”… – Examiner, 3-6-10


  • Obama takes hard-sell health pitch to Pa.: President Obama stepped up pressure Monday on his fellow Democrats to retool the nation’s health care system, decrying those who put politics above policy. Saving his harshest rhetoric for the insurance industry, Obama began his latest attempt to pass his 10-year, $950 billion measure by declaring, “The issue here is not the politics of it.”
    “It’s hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There’s no doubt about that,” Obama said. In contrast, he said, “What’s hard is what millions of families and small businesses are going through because we allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country.”,…. – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Obama hails contributions of ‘daring’ women: Crediting their role in the American story, President Barack Obama on Monday praised the nation’s “daring, indomitable” women — including the one-time political rival who is now his secretary of state. “Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America’s glass ceiling,” Obama said in the grand East Room packed mostly with women. “It’s because of them — and so many others, many who aren’t recorded in the history books — that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope and one of progress, of an upward journey.”
    “We’re doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success,” Obama said. “We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I say that not only as a president, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and a grandson, and as a husband.” – AP, 3-8-10
  • Joe Biden in Israel to press Mid-East peace talks: US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel to promote a new round of Middle East peace talks more than a year after they stalled. Mr Biden – the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit the region – will meet both Palestinian and Israeli officials. Iran’s nuclear intentions are expected to be at the top of Israel’s agenda…. – BBC News, 3-8-10
  • Pa. Sen. Arlen Specter is penning a book: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched to the Democratic Party last year, is writing a book about his experiences… – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Healthcare overhaul comes down to Pelosi and Obama: A bill’s fate depends on whether the House Speaker can land enough votes – and whether the president can take control of the debate, which Democrats complain he has not done…. – 3-8-10
  • Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts: Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a health-care overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country’s health costs, highlighting a difficult issue that the White House and congressional leaders must address in the final negotiations on the measure. The issue is one of several that have been raised by Democrats over the bill, which President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are pushing to pass by the end of March. Conservative Democrats have raised questions over the bill’s language on abortion and tax increases, while liberals are unhappy with its failure to include a government plan that would compete with private insurers…. – WSJ, 3-8-10
  • Abortion and the Health Bill There is no middle ground. Either taxpayers will fund it or they won’t: It’s now becoming clear that Barack Obama is willing to put everything on the table in order to be the president who passes health-care reform. Everything, that is, except a ban on federal funding for abortion. Last September, the president promised that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” Yet the legislation most likely to move forward in Congress would be the single greatest expansion of abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The White House knows how to turn Mr. Obama’s September commitment into legislative action. I met with senior White House officials and told them that only adding a so-called Hyde Amendment to the health-care reform bills would fulfill the president’s promise to protect Americans from subsidizing abortion…. – WSJ, 3-6-10
  • New York Gov. David Paterson says he won’t resign: He seems to be using as a guide the consensus of a group of influential black leaders that he should retain his post, despite facing two scandals and declining public support…. – LAT, 3-6-10
  • Obama’s Health Care Push: The Race is On: After months of pleading with President Obama to be more hands on in the health care debate, congressional Democrats are finally getting their wish. First, the president put out his own proposal. Second, he held the Blair House summit (which the White House saw as a way to show once and for all that efforts at bipartisanship are fruitless)…. The time for listening appears to be over. The president is taking charge, and his message is the same one he so sternly delivered Wednesday in his speech at the White House: (1) Here’s my bill. (2) Stop dilly-dallying around and pass it. (3) Now…. – AP, CBS News, 3-5-10
  • Jan Crawford: 9/11 Trial Move an Obama Failure: When President Obama decided to try five accused 9/11 conspirators in a civilian court, they were reversing one of the Bush administration’s most strongly-held beliefs — that terror suspects must be tried in a military court, with fewer constitutional protections afforded other criminal defendants. After a barrage of pressure, it seems they are changing their position, according to Washington Post, which reports that Mr. Obama’s advisors will likely recommend a military trial for the self-professed mastermind of the September 11 attacks…. – CBS News, 3-5-10
  • Romney: Obama is another Jimmy Carter, The former presidential candidate is promoting his book: Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday that President Barack Obama is hurting, not helping, the economy in a way not seen “since the days of Jimmy Carter.” Speaking to the National Press Club as part of a media blitz launching his new book, Romney said that Obama has put too much focus on health care reform and not enough on jobs. Threats to raise taxes on capital gains and add a tax on carbon emissions, Romney added, along with rising deficits also are thwarting the economy. “These are the types of things that have led to the reaction in the private sector that says this is a frightening time,” Romney said. “And rather than encouraging the private sector to grow and add jobs, it has had exactly the opposite effect that the president might have intended. I think this has been the most anti-investment, anti- entrepreneur, anti-employment, anti-job agenda since the days of Jimmy Carter.”… – The Salt Lake Tribune, 3-5-10
  • Congressman Accused of Harassment Resigns: Representative Eric J. Massa, a freshman Democrat from upstate New York who faces an investigation after being accused of harassing a male aide, said Friday that he would resign next week. Mr. Massa was reported to the House ethics committee last month after a member of his Congressional staff accused him of harassment, according to a senior Congressional official who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter…. – NYT, 3-5-10
  • Obama looking to give new life to immigration reform: In an effort to advance a bill through Congress before midterm elections, the president meets with two senators who have spent months trying to craft legislation…. – LAT, 3-4-10
  • Obama urges Dems to seize moment on health care: Support from his own party in doubt, President Barack Obama summoned more than a dozen House Democrats to the White House Thursday, pleading with them to put aside their qualms, seize a historic moment and vote for his massive health care overhaul. It’s the opportunity of a generation, he told them — and a chance to revive the party’s agenda after his rough first year in office…. – AP, 3-4-10
  • Obama Meets With House Dems on Health Care: President Obama has been busy today whipping the House’s looming health care vote himself in a series of meetings with House Democrats. The meetings have included progressives who have denounced the Senate bill, which has served as a basis for President Obama’s own proposal, and members of the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of moderate Democrats…. – The Atlantic, 3-4-10
  • Obama reasserts Volcker rule, Senate bill seen: The Obama administration reasserted its commitment to banning proprietary trading by banks with draft legislative language on Wednesday, despite signs that Congress is unlikely to adopt such a rule. In a scant five pages from the Treasury Department, the administration put a two-year phase-in on its “Volcker rule” to curb “prop trading” — or buying and selling of investments on financiers’ own books unrelated to customer needs. Reuters, 3-4-10
  • Sarah Palin shopping reality TV series Sarah Palin — reality TV star?: The former Alaska governor is teaming with uber-producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor”) to shop a reality series about her home state, network sources confirm. Palin and Burnett made the rounds at least three of the major broadcasters (NBC, ABC and Fox) while in Los Angeles for her taping of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” this week…. – Reuters, 3-4-10
  • The $50 question: Grant or Reagan?: Should Ulysses S. Grant, the legendary Union general and 18th president of the United States, be bumped from his 96-year stint on the $50 bill? Yes, according to one North Carolina Republican. Rep. Patrick McHenry announced that he will introduce a measure that would replace Grant’s face with Ronald Reagan’s, just in time for the 40th president’s 100th birthday next February…. – CNN, 3-3-10
  • 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)
  • House to Vote on Modified $15 Billion Jobs Bill: The House of Representatives will vote on a $15 billion jobs bill on Thursday after modifying it to address the concerns of centrist Democrats, a House aide said on Wednesday. The Senate, which passed the bill last week, will have to vote on it again before President Barack Obama can sign it into law…. Reuters, 3-3-10
  • Obama names Scott Matheson Jr. to 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he has nominated Scott M. Matheson Jr. to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Matheson — a former U.S. attorney for Utah, gubernatorial candidate and University of Utah law school dean — is currently the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the U.’s S.J. Quinney College of Law…. – Deseret News, 3-3-10
  • Scott Brown’s first legislative proposal is ‘Immediate Tax Relief Act for America’s Workers’ amendment: Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown is introducing his first substantive piece of legislation Wednesday morning, the “Immediate Tax Relief for America’s Workers” amendment to provide an six-month cut in payroll taxes for an estimated 130 million taxpayers…. – Washington Examiner, 3-3-10
  • Obama’s new health care reform plan to include GOP ideas: In a last-ditch attempt to craft a bipartisan health care reform bill, President Obama will release a new proposal Wednesday that will include Republican ideas on tort reform and health savings accounts, according to Democratic officials familiar with the plans. But top Republicans, including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, immediately said the new proposal is not good enough and reiterated calls for the president to scrap the plan and start over. The situation is setting up a likely showdown that top Democrats say will end up with the president trying to pass the health legislation with only Democratic votes through the legislative shortcut of reconciliation… – CNN, 3-2-10
  • Scott Brown to join Senate homeland security, military committees: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who campaigned on the idea of freezing federal worker salaries to control the deficit, may soon get to explore the topic further. Senate Republicans announced Tuesday that Brown will join the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees…. – WaPo, 3-2-10
  • In Paterson’s Attempt to Reassure the Public, a Flashback to That ’70s Show: Richard M. Nixon, the only American president who resigned from office, lived for a time in New York City. He was never a central figure in political life here. Yet 16 years after his death, his spirit endures, certainly the part of him that wallowed in self-pity and that deflected responsibility when things went haywire. For some refugees from the 1970s, Nixon came to mind the other day as they watched Gov. David A. Paterson raise his right hand, like a witness at a criminal trial, and swear his innocence. His hand flourish was not particularly Nixonian. But his words were. “I give you this personal oath,” the governor said. “I have never abused my office — not now, not ever.” His statement evoked Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” statement, uttered in 1973 as the horror show known as Watergate enveloped him and ultimately forced him into exile…. – NYT, 3-1-10
  • GOP moderates poised to gain ground in Congress: Several joined with Democrats to block a filibuster on a jobs bill, a watershed moment for this Republican faction…. – LAT, 3-1-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Romney Ties Decision on Presidential Bid to Outcome of November Elections: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Sunday that his decision on whether to run again for president may hinge on the outcome of the November midterm elections….
    “I don’t really have the pros and cons laid out yet,” he said. “It’s something which we won’t have to decide until some time after the November elections. My guess is after those elections are over and we see where the country is, and we see the features in our own lives that may affect a decision like that, we’ll sit down and make a decision.”… – Fox News, 3-8-10
  • Mitt Romney’s pick of John McCain a blow to J.D. Hayworth camp: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s recent endorsement of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s re-election was widely viewed as another sign of how far the relationship between the two fierce rivals from the 2008 Republican presidential primaries has evolved. More cynical observers noted that Romney, a leading GOP 2012 White House prospect, likely wants to remain on the good side of McCain, his party’s 2008 nominee…. – The Arizona Republic, 3-6-10
  • Scott Brown campaigns for McCain in Arizona: Facing the toughest re-election battle of his career, John McCain enlisted a rising star of the Republican Party in a bid Friday to lock down support among conservative primary voters. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown made his first campaign trip as a senator when he visited Arizona. The appearance also marked a key test of Brown’s popularity among Republican activists and his ability to raise contributions for candidates after he recently broke with GOP leadership to side with Democrats in supporting a jobs bill. Brown joined McCain at Grand Canyon University, a small Christian school in Phoenix. “We need good people, honest people, people who are greatly respected, people who are not out for themselves,” Brown told a crowd of about 1,000 people. “And he’s right here,” he said of McCain…. – AP, 3-5-10
  • Gov. Perry defeats Hutchison in Texas GOP primary: Texas Gov. Rick Perry tapped into a rising wave of anti-Washington ire and rode it to an easy Republican primary win over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, once seen as the candidate who could block his march toward four more years in the state’s highest office. Perry emerged from the rancorous battle with Texas’ senior senator and a third candidate backed by some in the tea party movement to face a Democrat in many ways his polar opposite. Former Houston Mayor Bill White, a calm consensus-builder, easily defeated six opponents to win his party’s nomination.
    “Texas voters said no to Washington bureaucrats … and yes to leadership that controls spending, fights for individual freedoms and the United States Constitution,” Perry told cheering supporters at the famous Salt Lick barbecue restaurant in Driftwood, just outside Austin. “Hardworking Texans sent a simple, compelling message to Washington: Quit spending all the money!”… – AP, 3-2-10
  • With Jerry Brown’s move, the governor’s race is on: Jerry Brown’s official entrance into the governor’s race Tuesday begins to frame a key question about who should lead California through its most difficult period in decades: The 71-year-old Brown is billing himself as the experienced veteran of the race, albeit one with “an outsider’s mind” to go with a 40-year record in public service that includes stints as governor, mayor of Oakland and the state’s current attorney general. “The state is in serious trouble,” Brown said in his online candidacy announcement, “and the next governor must have the preparation and the knowledge and the know-how to get California working again. That’s what I offer, and that’s why I’m declaring my candidacy for governor.”… – Sacremento Bee, 3-2-10
  • Zuckerman says he’s not running for NY Senate: Real estate tycoon and newspaper publisher Mortimer Zuckerman won’t run for the U.S. Senate in New York, his newspaper reported Tuesday. Zuckerman, 72, told the Daily News he did not have time to campaign or to devote himself to working in Washington. “It demands unhindered attention, which I am unable to give at this time,” he said…. – AP, 3-2-10
  • Jerry Brown to announce bid for governor Tuesday: California’s attorney general, who was twice elected governor in the 1970s, is expected to officially launch his candidacy online… – LAT, 3-2-10
  • Ford Decides Not to Run for Senate Seat: Harold E. Ford Jr., the former Tennessee congressman who has sought to parlay his star power and Wall Street connections into a political career in New York, has decided not to challenge Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in the Democratic primary this September, according to friends and advisers…. – NYT, 3-1-10


  • Weekly Address: Health Reform Will Benefit American Families and Businesses This Year Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address March 6, 2010: Now, despite all the progress and improvements we’ve made, Republicans in Congress insist that the only acceptable course on health care is to start over. But you know what? The insurance companies aren’t starting over. I just met with some of them on Thursday and they couldn’t give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums – by as much as 60% in states like Illinois. If we do not act, they will continue to do this. They will continue to drop people’s coverage when they need it. They will continue to refuse coverage based on pre-existing conditions. These practices will continue. That’s why we must act now. That’s why the United States Congress owes the American people an up-or-down vote on health insurance reform…. – WH, 3-6-10
  • Obama turns up the heat for health care overhaul: Facing a tough political environment, President Barack Obama on Saturday turned up the heat for the health care overhaul that has been his top priority for a year yet has not been passed by Congress. The president used his weekly radio and Internet address to attempt to sway a public that has soured on the topic — and especially Democratic lawmakers who are wavering. Republicans, recognizing the public’s mood, are repeating their call to start from scratch on a proposal that would potentially reshape how all Americans receive health care.
    “Now, despite all the progress and improvements we’ve made, Republicans in Congress insist that the only acceptable course on health care is to start over. But you know what? The insurance companies aren’t starting over,” Obama said in prepared remarks. “I just met with some of them on Thursday, and they couldn’t give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums — by as much as 60 percent in states like Illinois. If we do not act, they will continue to do this.” – AP, 3-6-10
  • Cable Exclusive With Mitt Romney on Explosive New BookFox News, 3-3-10
  • President Obama Follows Up on Thursday’s Bipartisan Meeting on Health Reform: Thank you again for the time, energy, and preparation you invested in last Thursday’s bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform. I have always believed that our legislative process works best when both sides can discuss our differences and common goals openly and honestly, and I’m very pleased that our meeting at Blair House offered the American people and their elected representatives a rare opportunity to explore different health reform proposals in extraordinary depth.
    The meeting was a good opportunity to move past the usual rhetoric and sound-bites that have come to characterize this debate and identify areas on which we agree and disagree. And one point on which everyone expressed agreement was that the cost of health care is a large and growing problem that, left untended, threatens families, businesses and the solvency of our government itself.
    I also left convinced that the Republican and Democratic approaches to health care have more in common than most people think… – WH, 3-2-10


  • Donald Ritchie: Partisan bickering in Washington is nothing new: “We’ve had partisanship ever since we’ve had federal government,” Senate historian Donald Ritchie said. “Bipartisanship is really the exception to the rule.” AP, 3-6-10
  • Matt Dallek: Health reform’s last stand: “It’s most likely the end of bipartisanship on health care,” said Matt Dallek, a historian and visiting scholar with the Bipartisan Policy Centre, a think-tank created by moderate former lawmakers in Washington. Dallek said a mix of political calculations and ideology had doomed the chances of passing a bill with broad support…. – DPA, 3-8-10
  • Al Felzenberg: Advice to House: Don’t Take Any Obama Wooden Nickels The Senate may trick the House into passing its bill: “It’s always a bad sign when a chief executive tells members of Congress of his own party to ignore the politics,” says presidential historian Al Felzenberg. “It usually means he’s got a bad product.” – WSJ, 3-5-10
  • Julian Zelier: Democrats face health care hurdles amid talk of reconciliation: Julian Zelizer, a political historian and contributor, said the Democratic leadership must be proactive in responding to reconciliation criticism.
    “They will have to explain that reconciliation is a legitimate process by pointing to the history,” he said in a commentary. “They will also have to connect the dots for voters frustrated with the ineffective government by explaining that the constant use of the filibuster has turned the Senate into a supermajority institution where both parties have found it extraordinarily difficult — virtually impossible — to pass major legislation.” CNN, 3-1-10

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


Stephen Crowley/The New York Times


In Focus: Stats

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


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

The Headlines…

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


Political Quotes

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


The President in Cairo

Historians’ Comments

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

The President in Cairo

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

The President in the Middle East

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

Watch the Video

History Buzz May 4, 2009: Historian Michael Oren Named Israel Ambassador to US








  • Mark Rudd: Years of Rage UNDERGROUND My Life With SDS and the Weathermen NYT, 5-3-09
  • Mark Rudd: UNDERGROUND My Life With SDS and the Weathermen, First Chapter – NYT, 5-3-09
  • Raymond Arsenault: Voice of America THE SOUND OF FREEDOM Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America NYT, 5-3-09
  • Raymond Arsenault: THE SOUND OF FREEDOM Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America, From Chapter 5, “Sweet Land of Liberty” – NYT, 5-3-09
  • Thomas Parrish: Inside Lend-Lease TO KEEP THE BRITISH ISLES AFLOAT FDR’s Men in Churchill’s London, 1941 NYT, 5-3-09
  • James Mann, William Kleinknecht: Books About Ronald Reagan The Great Enigma THE REBELLION OF RONALD REAGAN A History of the End of the Cold War, THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America NYT, 5-3-09
  • Ernest B. Furgurson on Winston Groom: HISTORY The Key in Lincoln’s Pocket VICKSBURG, 1863 WaPo, 5-3-09
  • Winston Groom: VICKSBURG, 1863, First Chapter – WaPo, 5-3-09
  • Alec Wilkinson, Allan M. Winkler: Two compelling new Pete Seeger books are timed to the folk singer reaching age 90 The Protest Singer, To Everything There is a Season The Plain Dealer, 5-2-09
  • Richard Breitman, Barbara McDonald Stewart and Severin Hochberg: Roosevelt and the Jews: A Debate Rekindled Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1935-1945 “It is a book that will change the consensus about the role of President Roosevelt,” said Deborah Lipstadt, a leading expert on the Holocaust, who has read some sections. It “compels historians — both those who have vilified F.D.R. and those who have sanctified him — to rethink their conclusions.” – NYT, 4-30-09
  • Daniel James Brown: Desperate Journey THE INDIFFERENT STARS ABOVE The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride NYT, 5-1-09
  • Jon A. Shields: New study claims Christian right leaders teach careful moral reasoning and civics The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right Source: NYT (4-24-09)


  • David McCullough: Historian warns against ‘instant history’ of Obama’s first 100 days during Drew U. speech: “I think we have an extraordinary president. He has the makings of one of the most remarkable presidents ever,” said McCullough, 75, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his books on American history. “The man is amazing… He has the capability to move people with words.” – Source: NJ Star-Ledger (4-29-09)


  • Sheryl Cohn: UCF Professor: Revise Holocaust Education, Nazis’ persecution of Jews should be taught as standalone course: “One of my messages is the Holocaust is a standalone event,” she said. “It needs to be taught separately from World War II.” – The Ledger, 5-3-09
  • Norton Mezvinsky: Professor called brilliant, inspiring, biased, dangerous: The controversial Central Connecticut State University icon, in his final lecture last week, found pathos in his life story and struck an American Gothic aura in his championing of radical causes. – Bristol Press, 5-2-09
  • James J. Lorence: Retired UWMC history professor a forever student, teacher – Wausau Daily Herald, 5-1-09
  • Museums: In Berlin, Teaching Germany’s Jewish History – NYT, 5-2-09
  • Michael Burleigh: In his new book Burleigh’s NOT writing about the Third Reich – Source: NYT (4-24-09)





  • June 11-14, 2009: The ninth annual “Reacting to the Past” Institute at Barnard College (New York), Annual summer history institute at Barnard College – Source: Press Release (4-21-09)


  • PBS, Monday April 20, at 9pm: Seeing History Through Indians’ Eyes: “We Shall Remain” NYT, 4-12-09 (
  • Donald Fixico: History professor advises new PBS documentary “We Shall Remain” – ASU Web Devil, 4-21-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Art of War” – Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “How the Earth Was Made” Marathon – Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 2-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The States” Marathon – Thursday, May 5, 2009 at 2-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “USS Constellation: Battling for Freedom” – Friday, May 8, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Titanic’s Final Moments: Missing Pieces” – Friday, May 8, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Deep Sea Detectives: Slave Ship Uncovered!” – Friday, May 8, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Patton 360” Marathon – Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 2-5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Art of War” – Sunday, May 9, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Ancient Aliens ” – Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT



  • Thomas Childers: Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II, May 13, 2009
  • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
  • Geoffrey Blainey, Sea of Dangers: Captain Cook and His Rivals in the South Pacific, May 25, 2009
  • Richard Ben-Veniste: Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate To 9/11, May 26, 2009
  • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009


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


Damon Winter/The New York Times

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


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

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office:

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

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


Mon Nov 24, 1:16 PM ET

Political Quotes

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

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

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

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

Historians’ Comments

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

Election Day History: 1980-2008

Past Elections

Ronald Reagan, 40th President (1981-1989)


President-elect Ronald Reagan gives the thumbs-up sign in this ...

Nov. 5, 1980: President-elect Ronald Reagan gives the thumbs-up sign, as he leaves the podium after addressing supporters at his Los Angeles election headquarters. Reagan had a solid win over incumbent Jimmy Carter.

(AP Photo)


Nov. 6, 1984: President Ronald Reagan gives a thumbs-up to supporters at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles as he celebrates his re-election, with first lady Nancy Reagan at his side. Reagan’s win over Walter Mondale, 525 to 13 in the electoral vote and 59 percent to 41 percent in popular votes, was unquestionably a landslide election.

(AP Photo/File)

George H.W. Bush, 41st President (1989-1993)


In this Nov. 9, 1988 file photo, President-elect George H. W. ...
Nov. 9, 1988: President-elect George H. W. Bush holds his hands up to acknowledge the crowds applause, and ask them to allow him to continue his speech during his victory rally with grandson, George P. Bush, right, and son, George W. Bush, left, in Houston, Texas. Bush trounced Michael Dukakis 426-111 in the electoral vote, but the popular vote was closer, 53 percent to 46 percent.

(AP Photo/File)

Bill Clinton, 42nd President (1993-2001)


President-elect Bill Clinton reaches into a crowd of supporters ...

Nov. 3, 1992: President-elect Bill Clinton reaches into a crowd of supporters as his wife Hillary and Tipper Gore, right, cheer at the Old State House in Little Rock, Arkansas, after Clinton defeated President Bush in a landslide election.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


Nov. 5 1996: President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore raise their hands in front of the Old State House during an election night celebration in Little Rock, Ark., after winning a landslide re-election victory against Republican Robert Dole.

(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

George W. Bush, 43rd President (2001-2009)


This is the fourth, and final, edition of the Wednesday, Nov. ...

This is the fourth, and final, edition of the Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2000, issue of the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. The newspaper printed four different front pages throughout the night in order to keep up with the changing election results between presidential candidates Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. The votes were too close to call in Florida leaving the state’s electoral votes and the entire election up in the air. After several recounts, and a court battle Al Gore finally conceded on December 13 2000. The Vice President had won the popular vote, but with Florida counted George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote and the election.  (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman)


President Bush shakes hands with Vice President Dick Cheney ...

Nov. 3, 2004: President Bush shakes hands with Vice President Dick Cheney as the President’s daughter Jenna, center, looks on during a victory rally after winning reelection against the Democratic ticket, Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington.

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Barack Obama, 44th President (2009-)


U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden ...

November 4 2008: U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) walks with his mother Jean (C) and his wife Jill (L) after casting their votes in the U.S. presidential election at the Tatnall School near Wilmington, Delaware. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (Reuters, USA)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., ...

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, and his wife Michelle, cast their votes at a polling place in Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.

Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah ...

Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin votes Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, at Wasilla City Hall in Wasilla, Alaska. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ), ...

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ), his wife Cindy (C) and his son Jack (R) drop off their ballots at their polling place in Phoenix, Arizona November 4, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (Reuters. USA)

The Obamas on Election Night

behind the scenes on election night

The shots were taken by David Katz, Mr Obama’s longtime official photographer, who was given unrivalled access to the candidate and his team Photo: DAVID KATZ

Obama wins the Presidency!

Election victory dominates world's front pages

An internet user created the montage from front pages compiled by
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