Political Buzz May 26, 2011: Supreme Court Rules 5-3 to Uphold Arizona Immigration Law — US Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

John Roberts is pictured. | AP Photo

SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts: The law “expressly reserves to the states the authority to impose sanctions on employers hiring unauthorized workers, through licensing and similar laws,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “It uses the federal government’s own definition of ‘unauthorized alien,’ it relies solely on the federal government’s own determination of who is an unauthorized alien, and it requires Arizona employers to use the federal government’s own system for checking…

  • Supreme Court backs Arizona immigration law: The Supreme Court today upheld an Arizona law penalizing companies that hire illegal immigrants, rejecting a challenge by business groups and civil liberties organizations, our court correspondent Joan Biskupic reports.
    U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, released a statement supporting the ruling: “Not only is this law constitutional, it is common sense. American jobs should be preserved for Americans and legal workers.”
    The Associated Press reports that Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a majority made up of Republican-appointed justices, said the Arizona’s employer sanctions law “falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states.”
    Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, all Democratic appointees, dissented. The fourth Democratic appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate because she worked on it while serving as President Obama’s solicitor general.
    The law permits the state to take away the business licenses of companies that knowingly hire illegal workers. It requires employers to use an otherwise optional federal verification program, known as the E-Verify system, which collects data on workers from the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security.
    The ruling, by a 5-3 vote, comes off oral arguments presented in December. Reporting on those arguments, Biskupic had noted that the court “appeared poised … to uphold” the law.
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Obama administration had opposed the law…. – USA Today, 5-26-11
  • Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Immigration Law: The Supreme Court today backed an Arizona law that sanctions businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
    On a 5-3 vote, the court held that federal immigration law does not preempt Arizona from suspending or revoking the licenses of businesses that violate state immigration law.
    Chief Justice Roberts wrote the 27-page opinion, which can be found here. And here’s a report from WSJ.
    Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the Arizona law in 2007, saying that while immigration is a federal responsibility, Arizona had been forced to deal with the issue because the demand for cheap, undocumented labor in the state was contributing to illegal immigration…. – WSJ, 5-26-11
  • Supreme Court sustains Arizona employer sanctions law: The Supreme Court has sustained Arizona’s law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers who are in the United States illegally, rejecting arguments that states have no role in immigration matters.
    By a 5-3 vote, the court said Thursday that federal immigration law gives states the authority to impose sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers.
    The decision upholding the validity of the 2007 law comes as the state is appealing a ruling that blocked key components of a second, more controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law. Thursday’s decision applies only to business licenses and does not signal how the high court might rule if the other law comes before it.
    Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a majority made up of Republican-appointed justices, said the Arizona’s employer sanctions law “falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states.”
    Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, all Democratic appointees, dissented. The fourth Democratic appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate in the case because she worked on it while serving as President Barack Obama’s solicitor general
    Breyer said the Arizona law upsets a balance in federal law between dissuading employers from hiring illegal workers and ensuring that people are not discriminated against because they may speak with an accent or look like they might be immigrants.
    Employers “will hesitate to hire those they fear will turn out to lack the right to work in the United States,” he said…. – AP, 5-26-11
  • Justices Uphold Law Penalizing Hiring of Illegal Immigrants: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Arizona law that imposes harsh penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
    The 5-to-3 decision amounted to a green light for vigorous state efforts to combat the employment of illegal workers. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts on behalf of the court’s five more conservative members, noted that Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia had recently enacted laws similar to the one at issue in the case.
    The decision did not directly address a second, more recent Arizona law that in some circumstances requires police there to question people they stop about their immigration status. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked enforcement of that law in April, and the case may reach the Supreme Court soon.
    The challenge to the older Arizona law that was the subject of Thursday’s decision was brought by a coalition of business and civil liberties groups, with support from the Obama administration. They said the law, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, conflicted with federal immigration policy.
    The decision turned mostly on the meaning of a provision of a 1986 federal law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which said that it overrode “any state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ” unauthorized aliens…. – NYT, 5-26-11
  • Supreme Court upholds Ariz. law punishing companies that hire illegal immigrants: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Arizona may revoke the business licenses of companies that knowingly employ illegal immigrants, rejecting arguments that the state’s law intrudes on the federal government’s power to control immigration.
    The court ruled 5 to 3 that Congress specifically allowed states such an option, and dismissed the objections of an unusual coalition that challenged the state law: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, civil rights groups, labor unions and the Obama administration.
    The 1986 federal Immigration Reform and Control Act generally preempts states from using employer sanctions to control immigration. But Arizona took advantage of a parenthetical clause in the statute — “other than through licensing and similar laws” — to go after companies that knowingly and intentionally hired undocumented workers.
    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. agreed with the state’s reading of the federal law.
    “It makes little sense to preserve state authority to impose sanctions through licensing, but not allow states to revoke licenses when appropriate as one of those sanctions,” he wrote.
    Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. agreed with the outcome.
    The law at issue — the Legal Arizona Workers Act — is different from a more recent Arizona law that the Obama administration is battling in lower courts…. – WaPo, 5-26-11
  • SCOTUS upholds Arizona immigrant hiring law: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold Arizona’s law that penalizes companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
    In a 5-3 vote, the court concluded that federal immigration law doesn’t prevent the state from revoking the business licenses of companies that violate state law.
    Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that the court had come to its decision because “the state’s licensing provisions fall squarely within the federal statute’s savings clause and that the Arizona regulation does not otherwise conflict with federal law.”
    The Arizona law also requires employers to use the federal government’s web-based E-Verify system to determine whether potential employees are eligible to work within the United States. The court upheld this provision, saying it is “entirely consistent” with federal law…. – Politico, 5-26-11
  • US states can shut firms with illegals: Supreme Court: The US Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a state has the right to revoke the license of a business that knowingly employs illegal immigrants, in a case watched for implications on related judicial battles.
    The top US court in a 5-3 decision upheld Arizona’s 2007 law, saying the state was within its rights under a 1986 federal immigration reform measure.
    The ruling comes amid a legal battle on another Arizona law that took effect last July and which makes it a crime to be in the state, which borders Mexico, without proper immigration papers.
    In Thursday’s decision, the court cited the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which preempts state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions other than through licensing and similar laws on firms that employ, recruit, or refer unauthorized aliens for employment.
    The law “expressly reserves to the states the authority to impose sanctions on employers hiring unauthorized workers, through licensing and similar laws,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.
    “It uses the federal government’s own definition of ‘unauthorized alien,’ it relies solely on the federal government’s own determination of who is an unauthorized alien, and it requires Arizona employers to use the federal government’s own system for checking employee status.”… – AFP, 5-26-11
  • ‘Business death penalty’ for hiring illegal workers is upheld by Supreme Court: The 5-3 decision gives states more authority to act against illegal immigrants. Justices rule that states can take away the business licenses of companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
    The Supreme Court on Thursday gave Arizona and other states more authority to take action against illegal immigrants and the companies that hire them, ruling that employers who knowingly hire illegal workers can lose their license to do business.
    The 5-3 decision upholds the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 and its so-called business death penalty for employers who are caught repeatedly hiring illegal immigrants. The state law also requires employers to check the federal E-Verify system before hiring new workers, a provision that was also upheld Thursday.
    The court’s decision did not deal with the more controversial Arizona law passed last year that gave police more authority to stop and question those who are suspected of being in the state illegally. But the ruling is likely to encourage the state and its supporters because the court majority said states remained free to take action involving immigrants…. – LAT, 5-26-11
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Sonia Sotomayor Confirmed as the First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice

Sonia Sotomayor, John Roberts, Juan Luis Sotomayor, Celina Sotomayor

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press
Sonia Sotomayor, left, takes the oath from Chief Justice John Roberts to become the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice and only the third woman in the court’s 220-year history. She is joined by her brother, Juan Luis Sotomayor, and her mother Celina Sotomayor.
  • Sonia Sotomayor sworn in as Supreme Court justice: Chief Justice Roberts administers the oath on a quiet morning so she can begin work ‘without delay,’ he says. Her mother and family members are there to witness her becoming the court’s first Latino…. – LAT, 8-8-09
  • Now that she’s sworn in, Sotomayor a rookie again: Sonia Sotomayor has gained admission to the Marble Palace. Now she has to figure out how the Supreme Court works…. After 17 years as a federal judge, Sotomayor knows her way around a courthouse. But her new workplace, filled with quirky customs and rituals, isn’t any old court building and new justices, like new colleagues everywhere, want to fit in…. – AP, 8-8-09
  • Sotomayor Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice: Sonia Sotomayor took the judicial oath on Saturday, becoming the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court. At just past 11 a.m., Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered a pair of oaths to her in two private ceremonies at the Supreme Court building, completing her ascent to a life-tenured position as the nation’s 111th justice — the first to be nominated by a Democratic president since 1994…. – NYT, 8-8-09
  • Sotomayor vote could impact Fla. Senate race: If there is one place where any bad feelings from the hearings on Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination could have lasting consequences, it’s Florida, the pesky swing state that the second-largest Puerto Rican community outside the island calls home. Although Sen. Mel Martinez, who announced Friday that he would leave his seat a year early, broke ranks to vote in favor of Sotomayor and urged fellow Republicans to do likewise, both major GOP candidates to replace him came out against her…. – AP, 8-7-09
  • Sotomayor’s Confirmation Isn’t a Win for the White House Sonia Sotomayor is the Supreme Court’s newest justice. And now the fallout begins: But Thursday’s vote was not a win for the White House. The latest Zogby poll showed that Americans were tied 49% to 49% on whether Sotomayor should be confirmed. That’s worse than any Supreme Court nominee in recent history except for Harriet Miers…. Fox News, 8-7-09
Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

Judge Sonia Sotomayor was greeted in her West Village neighborhood on Thursday after the Senate confirmed her nomination.

  • Sotomayor OK’d for Supreme Court in historic vote: Sonia Sotomayor won confirmation Thursday as the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, a history-making Senate vote that capped a summer-long debate heavy with ethnic politics and hints of high court fights to come. The third woman in court history, she’ll be sworn in Saturday as the 111th justice and the first nominated by a Democrat in 15 years…. – AP, 8-6-09
  • Senate Confirms Sotomayor in Largely Partisan 68-31 Vote: The Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court by a 68-31 vote, handing President Barack Obama a victory right before lawmakers leave town for their August recess…. – WSJ, 8-7-09
  • Sotomayor Faces Heavy Workload of Complex Cases: With the Senate’s approval of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Thursday, the new justice will soon take on one of the most demanding jobs in the land…. – NYT, 8-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE CONFIRMATION OF JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR Diplomatic Reception Room: …And with this historic vote, the Senate has affirmed that Judge Sotomayor has the intellect, the temperament, the history, the integrity and the independence of mind to ably serve on our nation’s highest court….
    These core American ideals — justice, equality, and opportunity — are the very ideals that have made Judge Sotomayor’s own uniquely American journey possible. They’re ideals she’s fought for throughout her career, and the ideals the Senate has upheld today in breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union.
    Like so many other aspects of this nation, I’m filled with pride in this achievement and great confidence that Judge Sotomayor will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice. This is a wonderful day for Judge Sotomayor and her family, but I also think it’s a wonderful day for America. WH, 8-6-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Senate Votes Sonia Sotomayor As First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee Confirmed by Senate in 68-31 Vote”: Julian Zelizer, history professor at Princeton University, says it’s “too early to tell” what backlash Republicans will feel, suggesting that Sotomayor’s confirmation “might actually diminish some of the backlash that would have developed if Senate Republicans had been able to stifle this nomination.” Zelizer sees more disturbing implications where the nomination process is concerned. “The question is: does this harm the kind of nominees we get. Does it scare certain people out of the mix or does it cause presidents to not nominate someone who might be very good simply because they are nervous about whether they can survive the politics of this,” the professor said…. – ABC News, 8-6-09

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

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

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

IN FOCUS: STATS

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

THE HEADLINES….

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

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

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives the Weekly Address

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

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

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

President Obama’s Visit to Ghana

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

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President in Ghana

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

President Obama at the MLB All-Star Game

The President and Willie Mays

President Obama and Willie Mays on Air Force One

June 22, 2009: President Obama’s Health Care Reform in Trouble? Poll Numbers Sliding

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

President Obama gives remarks to the Esperanza National Prayer Breakfast

(President Barack Obama gives remarks to the Esperanza National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.,  Friday, June 19, 2009. Official White House Photographer Samantha Appleton.)

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • President Barack Obama’s poll numbers start to wilt: The good news for Obama is that his approval ratings — 57 percent in a Gallup tracking poll over the weekend — remain comfortably high by historical standards for presidents. Obama’s approval rating has dipped below 60 percent on other occasions, according to Gallup, but though those slumps lasted only a day, this one appears to be more persistent…. – Politico, 6-22-09
  • In Poll, Wide Support for Government-Run Health: Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll….
    Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care…. – NYT, 6-20-09
  • Obama change message resonates, poll finds: The Zogby-Scoop44 poll found nearly two-thirds of voters under 30 polled said Obama’s change message has matched his work in the White House, and among those 18-24, 70 percent said they believed this.
    Among voters over 30, slightly more than one in four said they don’t believe Obama’s campaign promises translated into action in office, the poll found. Only 18 percent of those younger than 30 and 5 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds said they shared that view.
    The poll found 43 percent of Republicans said they believe Obama’s actions are in keeping with his promised change. – UPI, 6-19-09
  • Analysis: Deficit could be chink in Obama’s armor: The nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported Thursday that a majority of Americans — 55 percent — are optimistic that Obama will eventually reduce the budget deficit. But that’s a smaller slice than the 61 percent of people who approve of him generally.
    And according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent of Americans don’t believe the president has a strategy for dealing with the deficit. Also, 58 percent in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll want Obama to make controlling the deficit a higher priority than a speedy economic recovery. And, nearly half expressed a “great deal” of concern about the increase of government intervention in American life that Obama has overseen, from taking over companies to influencing corporate bonuses and seeking to add government-sponsored insurance to the health care system…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • ABC News to air Obama interview on health care: ABC News will present a prime-time interview with President Barack Obama on health care issues next week. The special will air June 24 at 10 p.m. Eastern, on two-hour tape delay. Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate the White House discussion with a live audience, also taking questions submitted by viewers. After a break for local news, the discussion will continue on “Nightline.” That morning, Sawyer will interview Obama for “Good Morning America.” Gibson will anchor that evening’s edition of “World News” from the White House Blue Room…. – AP, 6-15-09

THE HEADLINES….

The President announces the agreement
(President Barack Obama speaks about the agreement to lower drug costs for seniors, Monday, June 22, 2009,
in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.   With the President are, from left,  CEO of AARP Barry Rand, Senator Max Bachaus (D-MT) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT). Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The Headlines…

  • Court upholds a voting rights measure by sidestepping issue: The Supreme Court on Monday left intact one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The court, in an 8-1 decision, ducked the central question in a case that was the most closely watched of the term. Most election law specialists had expected the court to rule on whether a core provision of the law was constitutional, and many of them were betting the answer would be no…. – NYT, 6-22-09
  • He’s out: LA mayor sidesteps 2010 governor’s race: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Monday he will not enter next year’s race for California governor, ending months of speculation about his ambitions and reordering the emerging contest to run the deeply troubled state. The 56-year-old mayor, once widely seen as a rising Democratic star, said months ago he would consider jumping into the 2010 campaign to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican prevented by law from seeking a third consecutive term…. – AP, 6-22-09
  • Democrats getting bolder on gov’t insurance plan: Democrats are becoming bolder about their idea that middle-class familes get the option of joining a government insurance plan in any overhaul of the health care system. Their fervor carries a risk. Liberals, citing polls that show support for a public plan, say they are increasingly frustrated with negotiations to make the idea more palatable to Republicans. Moderates, however, warn that abandoning the talks could jeopardize efforts to draft a bill that can pass a closely divided Senate…. – AP, 6-22-09
  • Health-Care Reform Will Test Obama’s Resolve: As the legislative debate over health care intensifies on Capitol Hill, there is growing clamor for President Obama to step in. White House officials believe it’s wiser to wait, but at some point the president will have to make clear what he’ll accept and what he won’t. For Obama, a handful of big decisions awaits. They include cost and coverage, revenue and savings, a public option or not, and the cost vs. the desirability of bipartisan agreement. Those decisions, all inextricably linked, probably will determine whether he succeeds where other presidents have failed… – WaPo, 6-21-09
  • Obama may need firmer hand on health care debate: President Barack Obama is seeing the downside of his light touch on revamping the nation’s health care system. Congressional Democrats are off to a halting start, blindsided by a high cost estimate and divided over how to proceed. The confusion has emboldened Republican critics of the administration’s approach to its top domestic priority. While too early to rule out eventual success, it seems Obama will have to be more forceful and hands-on…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Obama’s own party worried health plan lacks votes: A Republican senator seeking a bipartisan health deal spoke Sunday of “dialing down” expectations while one of President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies questioned whether the White House had the votes necessary for a such a costly and comprehensive plan during a recession. Obama’s proposal to provide health insurance for some 50 million Americans who lack it has become a contentious point for a Democratic-controlled House and Senate struggling to reach a consensus Obama desperately wants…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Baucus, White House in deal with drug industry: The pharmaceutical industry agreed Saturday to spend $80 billion over the next decade improving drug benefits for seniors on Medicare and defraying the cost of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation, capping secretive negotiations involving key lawmakers and the White House. “This new coverage means affordable prices on prescription drugs when Medicare benefits don’t cover the cost of prescriptions,” Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement announcing the accord…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Democrats fear Obama health care plan ‘on the rocks’: Several senior Democratic advisers to the White House are urging President Obama to further step up his personal involvement in the health care debate, as administration allies privately warn the president’s push for a major reform bill is hitting major roadblocks at a critical juncture on Capitol Hill…. – CNN, 6-19-09
  • GOP Complains About ABC’s Obama Health Care Special; Network Promises Fairness: ABC has rejected a request by a Republican group to rebut President Obama’s health care plans on an upcoming day of White House-themed news specials. In response, the network has stated that its coverage will nevertheless be balanced. The Republic National Committee referred questions to a fundraising letter posted on GOP.com that asks supporters for donations to buy air time during the ABC programs. “What are the Democrats and their media allies afraid of? T he truth?” RNC chairman Michael Steele said in the letter. “That is outrageous! And we will not take it!”… – TV Guide, 6-19-09
  • Dems’ health care plan stumbles but keeps moving: Democrats got a sobering glimpse of what it would look like if their ambitious health care overhaul ran into a wall — and they quickly pulled back to regroup and get moving again. Trying to regain the initiative, House Democrats on Friday unveiled draft legislation they said would cover virtually all of the nation’s nearly 50 million uninsured as President Barack Obama has promised. However, they offered few details on how to pay for it. The president welcomed their action as “a major step toward our goal of fixing what is broken about health care while building on what works.”… – AP, 6-19-09
  • Sotomayor quits women’s club after GOP criticism: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor resigned Friday from an elite all-women’s club after Republicans questioned her participation in it. Sotomayor said she resigned from the Belizean Grove to prevent the issue from becoming a distraction in her confirmation hearings…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • Analysis: Deficit could be chink in Obama’s armor: The solid armor of President Barack Obama’s popularity may have a crack — a nearly $2 trillion-sized one.
    There’s continued and considerable public restiveness over eye-popping federal budget deficits, a potential danger for both Obama’s ambitious agenda and his political fortunes…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • Senate ethics committee next up for Roland Burris: U.S. Sen. Roland Burris won’t face a perjury charge over statements he made to state lawmakers investigating how he got his job, but the junior senator still faces the task of salvaging his political future and shaking the stigma of his link to the disgraced former governor who put him in office…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • House impeaches federal judge from Texas: The House on Friday impeached a federal judge imprisoned for lying about sexual assaults of two women in the first such vote since impeaching former President Bill Clinton a decade ago. The impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Texas sets up a trial in the Senate. Kent is the first federal judge impeached in 20 years. The House approved four articles of impeachment against Kent accusing him of sexually assaulting two female employees and lying to judicial investigators and Justice Department officials. All four articles passed unanimously…. – AP, 6-19-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SIGNING OF THE FAMILY SMOKING PREVENTION AND TOBACCO CONTROL ACT Rose Garden: I know — I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time. And I also know that kids today don’t just start smoking for no reason. They’re aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry. They’re exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting.
    We’ve known about this for decades, but despite the best efforts and good progress made by so many leaders and advocates with us today, the tobacco industry and its special interest lobbying have generally won the day up on the Hill. When Henry Waxman first brought tobacco CEOs before Congress in 1994, they famously denied that tobacco was deadly, nicotine was addictive, or that their companies marketed to children. And they spent millions upon millions in lobbying and advertising to fight back every attempt to expose these denials as lies.
    Fifteen years later, their campaign has finally failed. Today, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, health care and consumer advocates, the decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged victorious. Today, change has come to Washington.
    This legislation will not ban all tobacco products, and it will allow adults to make their own choices. But it will also ban tobacco advertising within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds. It will curb the ability of tobacco companies to market products to our children by using appealing flavors. It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell. And it will allow the scientists at the FDA to take other common-sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.
  • This legislation is a victory for bipartisanship, and it was passed overwhelmingly in both Houses of Congress. It’s a victory for health care reform, as it will reduce some of the billions we spend on tobacco-related health care costs in this country. It’s a law that will reduce the number of American children who pick up a cigarette and become adult smokers. And most importantly, it is a law that will save American lives and make Americans healthier…. – White House, 6-22-09

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  • Obama, citing his smoking woes, signs tobacco law: Lamenting his first teenage cigarette, President Barack Obama ruefully admitted on Monday that he’s spent his adult life fighting the habit. Then he signed the nation’s toughest anti-smoking law, aiming to keep thousands of other teens from getting hooked…. “I know. I was one of these teenagers,” he said. “And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time.” – AP, 6-22-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE MEDICARE PART D “DOUGHNUT HOLE” AND AARP ENDORSEMENT Diplomatic Reception Room: So as part of the health care reform I expect Congress to enact this year, Medicare beneficiaries whose spending falls within this gap will now receive a discount on prescription drugs of at least 50 percent from the negotiated price their plan pays. It’s a reform that will make prescription drugs more affordable for millions of seniors, and restore a measure of fairness to Medicare Part D. It’s a reflection of the importance of this single step for America’s seniors that it has earned the support of AARP, which has been fighting for years to address this anomaly in the system on behalf of older Americans. AARP is committed, as I am, to achieving health care reform by the end of this year. And I’m committed to continuing to work with AARP to ensure that any reforms we pursue are carried out in a way that protects America’s seniors, who know as well as anyone what’s wrong with our health care system and why it’s badly in need of reform.
    Our goal — our imperative — is to reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs while improving patient care. And to do that we’re going to have to work together to root out waste and inefficiencies that may pad the bottom line of the insurance industry, but add nothing to the health of our nation. To that end, the pharmaceutical industry has committed to reduce its draw on the health care system by $80 billion over the next 10 years as part of overall health care reform. … – White House, 6-22-09
  • Barack Obama: Responsible Fatherhood: In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference. That is why we need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one…. – Parade, 6-21-09
  • Obama stays with careful response to Iran crisis: President Barack Obama says he does not want to become a scapegoat for Iran’s leadership as postelection upheaval continues, but Republicans are still saying the new president is being too cautious. “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States,” Obama said in an interview to be broadcast Monday. “We shouldn’t be playing into that.” The president spoke Friday during an interview with CBS News’ Harry Smith. The interview will be broadcast on “The Early Show.” – AP, 6-22-09
  • McCain: Obama has ‘done well’ as president so far Sen. John McCain says his opponent in last year’s presidential campaign, Barack Obama, has “done well” in his first five months in the White House…. On the down side, McCain says that Obama’s successes in Congress have come with little or no Republican support…. McCain appeared Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” – AP, 6-21-09
  • Transcript: Sens. Chris Dodd and Lindsey Graham: Exclusive “This Week” Interview with Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. – ABC News, 6-21-09
  • Statement from the President on Iran: The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
    As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
    Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness. – White House, 6-20-09
  • Bill Clinton says Barack Obama on right track: Former President Bill Clinton rallied Democrats on Saturday with a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama, saying that Obama has done what was needed to spark the economy. “I know we need to worry about this debt,” Clinton said. “First we’ve got to build a bridge over troubled waters and give the president’s economic reforms in the finance system time to take hold.” “We are now responsible and we need to get out of the blame business — we’re stuck with what we’ve got — and deal with these challenges,” Clinton said. “We will now be judged by what we do.” – AP, 6-20-09
  • GOP says Dems health overhaul would break the bank: Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused the Obama administration and congressional Democrats of rushing expensive and flawed plans that would result in rationing of care. McConnell’s criticism, in the weekly GOP radio and Internet address, came after a rocky start for legislation to revamp the system, with eye-popping cost estimates, partisan anger and divisions within the Democratic ranks.
    “Throughout this debate, the administration’s central argument has been that America needs health care reform for the sake of the economy,” McConnell said. “Yet according to independent estimates, every health care proposal Democrats on Capitol Hill have offered would only hurt the economy.”
    “They say a new government health plan will keep costs low. Well, expecting a government-run system to help the economy is like praying for rain in the middle of a flood,” McConnell said. “The thing you’re asking for is the last thing you need.”
    Even with trillion-dollar price tags, McConnell argued, “The total cost would be much higher, burying us in deeper and deeper debt.” “Against Republican advice, they rushed the stimulus. We shouldn’t rush again on something as important, and costly, as health care,” McConnell said. AP, 6-20-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Highlights Tough New Consumer Protections: As we continue to recover from an historic economic crisis, it is clear to everyone that one of its major causes was a breakdown in oversight that led to widespread abuses in the financial system. An epidemic of irresponsibility took hold from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street. And the consequences have been disastrous. Millions of Americans have seen their life savings erode; families have been devastated by job losses; businesses large and small have closed their doors.
    In response, this week, my administration proposed a set of major reforms to the rules that govern our financial system; to attack the causes of this crisis and to prevent future crises from taking place; to ensure that our markets can work fairly and freely for businesses and consumers alike…. – White House, 6-20-09

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  • Obama ready for fight on financial overhaul: President Barack Obama said Saturday that current financial rules exploit consumers and he put critics of his proposed overhaul on notice: “While I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one.”… “This is essential,” Obama said. “For this crisis may have started on Wall Street. But its impacts have been felt by ordinary Americans who rely on credit cards, home loans and other financial instruments.”
    “It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want and actually understand,” Obama said. “Those ridiculous contracts — pages of fine print that no one can figure out — will be a thing of the past. You’ll be able to compare products, with descriptions in plain language, to see what is best for you.”
    “I welcome a debate about how we can make sure our regulations work for businesses and consumers,” Obama said. “But what I will not accept — what I will vigorously oppose — are those who do not argue in good faith.”
    “These are the interests that have benefited from a system which allowed ordinary Americans to be exploited,” Obama said. The president said he would stand up for his plans, saying: “While I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one. The most important thing we can do to put this era of irresponsibility in the past is to take responsibility now.”… – AP, 6-20-09
  • Obama says immigration overhaul is essential: President Barack Obama said Friday he is committed to a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes a way for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Obama told the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference that U.S. borders must be strengthened to thwart illegal immigration. But he also supports giving the millions of people now in the U.S. illegally the chance to become citizens.
    “That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that’s what I’m committed to passing as president of the United States,” Obama said. He added: “The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages.”… – AP, 6-19-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT YOUNG MEN’S BARBECUE South Lawn – White House, 6-19-09
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  • Obama to fathers: Don’t be like my absent dad: Growing up without a father left a hole in his heart, President Barack Obama told boys at the White House Friday in a remarkably personal Father’s Day weekend message. He implored fathers everywhere — and the kids when they’re older — to be involved in the lives of their own children.
    “This isn’t an obligation,” said the father of two in a message to millions of wayward dads. “This is a privilege to be a father.”
    “I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it’s because of them that I’m able to stand here today,” he told a throng of youngsters and leaders of community organizations. “But despite all their extraordinary love and attention, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel my father’s absence. That’s something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that a government can’t fill.”
    “Just because your own father wasn’t there for you, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent also. It’s all the more reason for you to be present,” Obama told the young men in his audience.
    “You have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children,” Obama said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do in my life.”
    “I’ve been far from perfect,” Obama said in measuring himself as a father. “But in the end it’s not about being perfect. It’s not always about succeeding. It’s about always trying. And that’s something everybody can do. It’s about showing up and sticking with it.”

    “Now, my kids aren’t teenagers yet, so I don’t know whether that will maintain itself,” Obama said. “But right now the greatest joy I get is just hanging out with the girls and talking to them.” AP, 6-19-09

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE ESPERANZA NATIONAL HISPANIC PRAYER BREAKFAST J.W. Marriott Washington, D.C.: The American people — the American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages. That’s why we’re taking steps to strengthen border security, and we must build on those efforts. We must also clarify the status of millions who are here illegally, many who have put down roots. For those who wish to become citizens, we should require them to pay a penalty and pay taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line behind those who played by the rules. That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that’s what I’m committed to passing as President of the United States. (Applause.)
    We must never forget that time and again, the promise of America has been renewed by immigrants who make their story part of the American story. We see it in every state of our country. We see it in our families and in our neighborhoods. As President, I’ve been honored to see it demonstrated by the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States.
    Last month, I had the honor of welcoming a group of our service members as citizens for the very first time. In that crowd, there were faces from every corner of the world. And one man from Nicaragua — Jeonathan Zapata — had waited his whole life to serve our country even though he was not yet a citizen. “By serving in the military,” he said, “I can also give back to the United States.” He’s done so in Afghanistan, and he even helped man the 400,000th aircraft landing aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
    And Jeonathan’s story is not unique either. He’s part of a proud legacy of service. For generations, Hispanic Americans have served with great commitment and valor, and there are now nearly 150,000 Hispanic Americans serving under our flag. And today we are proud — (applause) — today we are proud to welcome several of them who are wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed. Please join me in honoring their service, and in keeping them and all of our troops in our thoughts and prayers — please. – White House, 6-19-09
  • Obama pokes fun at broadcasters’ annual dinner: President Barack Obama knows a little something about catching flies — knowledge he says he’s using to help win over groups in solving the nation’s health care crisis. “I’m pleased that in our quest to reform the health care system, I have gained the support of the American Medical Association,” Obama told the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner Friday night. “It proves true the old expression that it’s easier to catch flies with honey. And if honey doesn’t work, feel free to use an open palm and a swift, downward wrist motion.”…
    Obama told the crowd he is working to repair the financial institutions and auto companies. “But you probably wouldn’t understand the concept of troubled industries,” he said, “working as you do in radio and television.”
    “Why hang out with celebrities when I can spend time with people who make me one?” Obama said.
    “I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures of Rahm on that camel,” Obama said. “I admit, I was a little nervous about the whole situation. I said at the time, ‘This is a wild animal known to bite, kick and spit. And who knows what the camel could do?'”… – AP, 6-19-09
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  • Bush takes swipes at Obama policies: “I know it’s going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we’re in,” the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. “You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money.”…
    “Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States,” he said to huge cheers….
    “The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again,” he said, adding that the country needs to stay on offense, not defense. On Guantanamo, which while in office Mr. Bush said he wanted to close, the former president was diplomatic.
    “I told you I’m not going to criticize my successor,” he said. “I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that — persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.”…
    “Clearly, there’s a level of frustration on the Iranian streets,” Mr. Bush said. “It looks like it’s not a very fair election.”….
    “I am told, ‘If you do not move strongly, Mr. President, you will be a president overseeing a depression that will ultimately be greater than the Great Depression,'” Mr. Bush said. “I firmly believe it was necessary to put money in our banks to make sure our financial system did not collapse. … I did not want there to be bread lines, to be a great depression.”….
    He said his administration sought to address the “housing bubble” before the system broke down. “We tried to reform” mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “but couldn’t get it through the vested interests on Capitol Hill.” Still, Mr. Bush was optimistic, pressing, as he did as president, free trade, open markets and the free enterprise system. “We’ll come out of this better than before,” he said to more applause.
    But he was less than convinced about Mr. Obama’s move to overhaul the health care system.
    “There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care,” Mr. Bush said. “I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care.”
    Asked by the evening emcee at the 104th annual Manufacturer and Business Association meeting if he finds the new president’s policies “socialist,” Mr. Bush started — then stopped.
    “I hear a lot of those words, but it depends on –” he said, breaking off. He later offered a more diplomatic assessment: “We’ll see.” Washington Times, 6-18-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Victor Davis Hanson: Understanding Obamaworld: Are you confused by all that has changed since President Barack Obama took office in January? If so, you’re not alone. Perhaps, though, this handy guide to Age of Obama “logic” might be of some assistance.
    1. The Budget. Wanting to cut $17 billion from the budget, as President Obama has promised, is proof of financial responsibility. Borrowing $1.84 trillion this year for new programs is “stimulus.” The old phrase “out-of-control spending” is inoperative.
    2. Unemployment. The number of jobs theoretically saved, or created, by new government policies — not the actual percentage of Americans out of work, or the total number of jobs lost — is now the far better indicator of unemployment.
    3. The Private Sector. Nationalizing much of the auto and financial industries, while regulating executive compensation, is an indication of our new government’s repeatedly stated reluctance to interfere in the private sector. …
    6. Terrorism. Acts of terror disappeared about six months ago. Thankfully, we live now in an age where there will be — in the new vocabulary of the Obama administration — only occasional “overseas contingency operations” in which we may be forced to hold a few “detainees.” At the same time, ongoing military tribunals, renditions, wiretaps, phone intercepts and predator-drone assassinations are no longer threats to the Constitution. And just saying you’re going to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is proof that it is almost closed. …
    9. Media. The media are disinterested and professional observers of the present administration. When television anchormen and senior magazine editors bow to the president, proclaim him a god or feel tingling in the legs when he speaks, it is quite normal.
    10. George W. Bush. Former President Bush did all sorts of bad things to the United States that only now we are learning will take at least eight years to sort out. “Bush did it” for the next decade will continue to explain the growing unemployment rate, the most recent deficit, the new round of tensions with Iran and North Korea, and the growing global unrest from the Middle East to South America. Once we remember and accept the logic of the above, then almost everything about this Age of Obama begins to make perfect sense. The Union, 6-19-09
  • Morgan State University historian Lawrence A. Peskin: Viewpoint Rewriting the history of America and Islam: President Barack Obama went to Egypt this month to create common ground between America and Islam. In the process, he whitewashed America’s early, troubled history with the Islamic world.In his speech at Cairo University, the president noted that “Islam has always been a part of America’s story.”
    He cited Morocco’s early recognition of American independence in 1778. He also reminded his audience of the U.S.-Tripoli treaty of 1796-97, which denied that the United States bore any “enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity” of Muslims.
    In so doing, the president created a mythic tale of longstanding friendship and understanding on the part of Americans and Islamic North Africans. Although it may have diplomatic uses, this tale has little historical basis.
    President Obama correctly stated that Morocco was the first nation to recognize American independence. However, he omitted the fact that shortly thereafter, Moroccans captured an American ship and its crew to force the United States to sign a pay-for-peace treaty with Morocco’s ruler.
    The payment did stop Morocco from capturing more Americans, but soon its next-door neighbor, Algeria, began capturing American ships. Ultimately it held more than 100 American crew members for ransom, some for a dozen years. Nor did a similar arrangement with Tripoli stop that country from capturing more Americans…. – Baltimore Sun, 6-18-09
  • Julian Zelizer: Congressional Budget Office is threat to health care reform: The most potent threat to the Obama administration’s fledgling health care plan may come not from the insurance industry or skeptical doctors but from the Congressional Budget Office.
    Earlier this week, CBO released preliminary estimates suggesting that the health care proposals — the most ambitious currently under discussion — from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would cost $1 trillion and trim the number of uninsured by only 16 million.
    With a few more reports like this, CBO could quickly prove more damaging to the administration’s health care efforts than could Republican attacks about “socialized medicine.”… – Politico, 6-18-09
  • Robert Dallek: Obama Seeks Counsel From Ex-Presidents The president has said he wants to reach out to all of his predecessors: Two other former presidents re-entered the spotlight. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush recently held a joint appearance in Toronto. It was a polite affair that generated little news, suggesting that both men are trying to finally put aside their differences, which former presidents tend to do. “They see themselves as part of a distinct club,” says historian Robert Dallek. “The passions fade away, and they tend to come together and consider themselves as elder statesmen.”… – US News & World Report, 6-18-09
  • Donald Ritchie “Biggest Shift in U.S. Health Care Needs 45-Day Sprint”: The packed schedule will be a particular challenge for the slower, more deliberate Senate. Democrats, who control 59 votes, must be able to secure the backing of 60 senators to overcome the possibility of a filibuster. The fast pace also may be an asset, said Senate historian Donald Ritchie. “Sometimes there’s an advantage in setting a short schedule,” Ritchie said. “That gets people responding to the bill, it’s easier to schedule votes, people are more willing to cut a deal and compromise. Leadership around here often gets their best work done here before a recess when everyone has a plane ticket in their pocket.” – Bloomberg, 6-17-09
  • John Steele Gordon “Financial crisis shifts balance toward regulation”: “In theory, regulation and markets should evolve together. In fact, almost always, regulation comes after disasters” and it isn’t always for the better, said John Steele Gordon, an economic historian and author of the book “The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power.” “Disasters teach us how to prevent the last disaster,” he said…. – AP, 6-17-09
  • Julian Zelizer & Melissa Lerner: Commentary: Obama can succeed in Mideast: At a time when the Obama administration is dealing with a barely stable economy while trying to address long-term health care, two wars, the environment and the threat of terrorism, many ask whether it is wise for President Obama to try to resolve a problem that has frustrated so many presidents before him.
    With the latest events in Iran, there is even more reason for skepticism that progress towards Arab-Israeli peace is possible.
    Despite conventional wisdom, when presidents have become personally active in shaping American policy in the region and resolved to make the Mideast conflict a top priority, they’ve often succeeded in improving Arab-Israeli relations….
    At the same time, Obama will have to work with the Israeli government — without antagonizing it — in order to gain support for a settlement freeze during the negotiations and to push forward Netanyahu’s promise to make progress towards a viable Palestinian state.
    Finally, Obama can’t take his eye off the domestic front. He must continue to engage the domestic coalitions who are most interested in these policies and ensure they are brought into the deliberations.
    The key will be balance. Obama should take this opportunity to embrace a strategy that is truly even-handed and does not let either side avoid its responsibilities. – CNN, 6-16-09
  • Clive Crook: Is this leadership on health care?: Obama’s hands-off approach to health care reform looks ever more questionable. I’m getting tired of listening to speeches that state uncontroversial goals–widen coverage, curb costs, free doctors from useless paperwork, improve medical outcomes–but have little or nothing to say on how these things might actually be done. It’s one thing to refrain from ramming a fully worked-out blueprint down the throat of a skeptical Congress, another entirely to step back altogether from fundamental questions of design and cost recovery…. – The Atlantic, 6-16-09

June 8, 2009: President Obama at 65th D-Day Anniversary, Health Care & Stimulus Plans

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President listens to the Vice President
(President Barack Obama listens as Vice President Joe Biden (left) presents the report on the Roadmap to
Recovery as he meets with his Cabinet in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, June 8, 2009.
Looking on at right are Attorney General Eric Holder and Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Shaun Donovan.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • RCP Poll, June 7, 2009: President Obama Job Approval: RCP Average: +25.2% Details Approve 59.7% Disapprove 34.5%
    Congressional Job Approval: RCP Average: -18.3% Details Approve 35.7% Disapprove 54.0%
    Direction of Country RCP Average: -3.7% Details Right Direction 45.0% Wrong Track 48.7%
  • Poll Finds Lukewarm Support for Bloomberg: Despite generally broad approval for the job Michael R. Bloomberg has done as mayor, a majority of New Yorkers say that he does not deserve another term in office and that they would like to give someone else a chance, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Cornell University and NY1 News…. – NYT, 6-8-09
  • Pelosi’s Poll Numbers Sink Below Cheney’s as GOP Hounds Her on CIA Remarks: Republicans are trying to keep the spotlight on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing the CIA of lying to Congress, saying her poll numbers show she’s out of step with voters and suggesting she step out of intelligence briefings since she doesn’t trust the source….
    A new Gallup poll out Friday of 1,015 national adults conducted May 29-31, 37 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Cheney and 34 percent have a favorable view of Pelosi. The margin of error is 3 percent. Pelosi’s current image rates 50 percent unfavorable, an increase from six months ago, while Cheney’s unfavorability has dropped from 63 percent six months ago to 54 percent now…. – Fox News, 6-5-09
  • Barack Obama’s Second Term Polls For the 2012 Election: Currently, Obama polls in the mid-60s approval rating. And when paired up with any of the prospective 2012 presidential hopefuls, Obama leads by about 15%. – Fox Austin, 6-5-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Obama repackages stimulus plans with old promises: President Barack Obama assured the nation his recovery plan was on track Monday, scrambling to calm Americans unnerved by unemployment rates still persistently rising nearly four months after he signed the biggest economic stimulus in history. Obama admitted his own dissatisfaction with the progress but said his administration would ramp up stimulus spending in the coming months. The White House acknowledged it has spent only $44 billion, or 5 percent, of the $787 billion stimulus, but that total has always been expected to rise sharply this summer. “Now we’re in a position to really accelerate,” Obama said. He also repeated an earlier promise to create or save 600,000 jobs by the end of the summer. Neither the acceleration nor the jobs goal are new. Both represent a White House repackaging of promises and projects to blunt criticism that the effects haven’t been worth the historic price tag. And the job estimate is so murky, it can never be verified…. – AP, 6-8-09
  • U.S. Envoy Begins New Middle East Peace Push: U.S. President Barack Obama’s special Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, began a new push to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on Tuesday by opening a series of talks with leaders in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at odds with Obama over the president’s demand to halt Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and has not endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state, a cornerstone of U.S. Middle East policy…. – Reuters, 6-9-09
  • Sources: House Democrats consider taxing benefits: Despite a less-than-rousing reaction from the Obama administration, House Democrats are considering a new tax on employer-provided health benefits to help pay for expanding coverage to the uninsured…. – AP, 6-8-09
  • Gingrich urges GOP inclusion at fundraiser & Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appears at GOP fundraiser: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday urged some 2,000 Republican party loyalists to stand up for GOP principles but to be inclusive as the party tries to retake the majority.
    “I am happy that Dick Cheney is a Republican,” Gingrich said at the annual Senate-House fundraising dinner. “I am also happy that Colin Powell is a Republican.” “A majority Republican party will have lots of debates within the party,” Gingrich, the former Georgia congressman, said. “That is the nature of majority parties.”… – AP, 6-8-09
  • Palin opts to appear at GOP fundraiser: Ben Evans, AP Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appeared at a major Republican congressional fundraiser Monday night, ending a will-she-or-won’t-she mystery that overshadowed the event and frustrated the GOP…. – AP, 6-8-09
  • Obama Push for Public Health Care Plan Stirs Controversy: President Obama insists that any new health care plan will be paid for and will not add to the deficit. But Republicans are suspicious, in part because Obama has been working only with Democrats, even meeting with them exclusively just before he left on his overseas trip. “If we go to a government plan, the government will be setting prices. They’ll be telling people what they can do. They’ll be injecting themselves between your doctor and yourself,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, calling a public plan “tremendously costly.”… – Fox News, 6-8-09
  • Gingrich sees no harm in Palin’s use of his words: Newt Gingrich takes no issue with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for using his words in a speech she gave last week. In fact, he’d be happy if more Republicans espoused his ideas, a spokesman for the former House speaker said Monday. Blogger Geoffrey Dunn, who is writing a book about Palin, accused the former Republican vice presidential candidate of lifting phrases and ideas at length from an article co-written by Gingrich in 2005. Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said the accusation was comical. “If she used Newt’s ideas in a speech and gave him credit for them, there certainly is zero issue,” Tyler said…. – AP, 6-8-09
  • GOP, 2 Dems flip power balance in NY senate: Republicans and two dissident Democrats took control of New York’s Senate on Monday after the two New York City renegades voted with the GOP to throw the fledgling Democratic majority out of power. The decision by senators Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens to join the coalition gave Republicans a 32-30 voting edge on hastily introduced measures that changed the leadership structure. Neither Espada nor Monserrate changed party affiliation. Democrats held the Senate for barely five months after being out of power for four decades…. – AP, 6-8-09
  • Tight Race in Virginia as 3 Democrats Vie for Governor: When Virginia voters go to the polls Tuesday in the Democratic primary for governor, they will choose among three candidates who have distinguished themselves more by personality than politics during the fight to continue their party’s recent winning streak in this historically conservative state.
    The candidates are Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; State Senator R. Creigh Deeds; and Brian J. Moran, a former member of the House of Delegates. The winner will oppose the Republican candidate, Robert F. McDonnell, in November. Mr. McDonnell, a former state legislator, was Virginia’s attorney general until he resigned in February to seek the governorship…. – NYT, 6-8-09
  • Clinton says NKorea reconsidered for terror list: The U.S. is considering adding North Korea back to a list of state sponsors of terrorism, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview broadcast Sunday after President Barack Obama pledged “a very hard look” at tougher measures because of the North’s nuclear stance. The communist country has conducted recent nuclear and missile tests, and there are concerns about the North’s shipping nuclear material to other nations…. – AP, 6-7-09
  • Bipartisan Health Bill Is Possible, Leaders Say: Plenty of people here think Senators Max Baucus and Charles E. Grassley are wasting time seeking a bipartisan health care bill to insure every American. And skeptics boast a 70-year winning streak. The two men’s roles as the Senate Finance Committee chairman (Mr. Baucus, Democrat of Montana) and the ranking Republican (Mr. Grassley, of Iowa) lack the clout of a generation ago. Each stands to attract more abuse than acclaim from his party’s rank and file…. – NYT, 6-7-09
  • Ailing Senator Ted Kennedy Key to Health Bill: Sen. Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee and a senator for more than 45 years, has championed health-care issues his whole career. But he has been fighting brain cancer and working on the legislation long distance from his Massachusetts home….
    Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, is crafting a bill of his own that could set legislation on a different path. If the liberal Mr. Kennedy takes a lesser role, that could make it easier for the more-conservative Mr. Baucus to push the health-care legislation in a centrist direction. Mr. Kennedy, for example, is a major proponent of including a publicly run health-insurance option as part of a plan to give all Americans coverage, while Mr. Baucus is weighing other proposals that wouldn’t include such an option right away…. – Fox News, 6-7-09
  • The Obamas play tourists (with the odd detour for lunch at the Elysée Palace): A typical American family of four completed a typical tourist weekend in Paris yesterday. There were visits to the Eiffel Tower, to Notre Dame cathedral, to the Pompidou Centre and, er, Sunday lunch with President Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. Actually, the father of the American tourist family, Barack Obama, missed the lunch at the Elysée Palace. He had to fly home to Washington on business.
    To those who tried to read a snub into his early departure, President Obama said: “I would love nothing more than to have a leisurely week in Paris, stroll down the Seine, take my wife out to a nice meal, have a picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens. Those days are over, for the moment.” … – Independent UK, 6-7-09
  • Obama’s marriage was on brink of collapse, says book: Barack and Michelle Obama’s fairytale love story of an adoring couple propelled on to the international stage has caught the imagination of millions…. – Telegraph UK, 6-6-09
  • Official: Michelle Obama’s Top Aide Resigned to Escape Bureaucracy: Jackie Norris, who worked on the president’s campaign in Iowa, didn’t enjoy the management and scheduling duties and the large social aspect of the job, a senior official told Politico….
    Obama’s longtime friend and adviser from Chicago, Susan Sher, is replacing Norris as Obama’s top aide. Sher joined the administration as an associate counsel to the president. Sher and Michelle Obama worked together at the University of Chicago Medical Center. – Fox News, 6-6-09
  • Obama team plans more active role on health care: The White House, backing away from President Barack Obama’s “it’s-all-on-the-table” approach initially advocated, prepared to get louder and more involved in the details of a health care overhaul that officials once were content to leave to Congress, administration officials said Saturday. The White House’s attention increases as Congress turns to a priority that officials watched in recent weeks drift off what has otherwise been a precise pathway. Even with an Obama-imposed August deadline, many administration aides weren’t sure just how much they would be able to accomplish before Congress left for the summer, and Obama has turned to his grassroots supporters to pressure Congress to find a solution…. – AP, 6-6-09
  • Experts Say Candor in Diplomacy, as Obama Vows, Isn’t Always the Best Tactic: President Obama laid down a marker in Cairo last week for candor in American diplomacy. The United States, he declared, will “say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs” — a line that drew applause from his Arab audience. But candor and diplomacy are not synonymous, and if Mr. Obama were to apply the same approach to thorny problems like Iran and North Korea, it might not produce the intended desirable results, according to foreign affairs experts. Some say he risks forsaking the advantages of “constructive ambiguity,” the diplomatic practice of fudging differences, credited to Henry A. Kissinger…. – NYT, 6-6-09
  • Man sought for threatening president arrested: Authorities have arrested a man who allegedly told bank tellers while cleaning out his savings account in Utah that he was on a mission to kill President Barack Obama. The Secret Service said Daniel James Murray, 36, was arrested Friday outside a casino in Laughlin, Nev., a gambling town 100 miles from Las Vegas on the Nevada-Arizona line…. – AP, 6-6-09
  • Sweeping Health Plan Is Drafted by Kennedy: All Americans would have access to “essential health care benefits,” with no annual or lifetime limits, employers would have to contribute to the cost of coverage and the government would create a new public insurance program under sweeping legislation drafted by Senator Edward M. Kennedy and circulated Friday…. – 6-5-09
  • Obamas’ trip to Paris raises some eyebrows: So much for the Obama common touch. After whisking his wife to Manhattan for dinner and a Broadway show last weekend, President Obama is treating his family to a Paris vacation – paid for, in part, by taxpayers. The White House confirmed yesterday that first lady Michelle Obama, their two daughters, and his mother-in-law will fly today to the City of Lights to join the president, who has scheduled meetings with French officials and will appear at a ceremony tomorrow in Normandy marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day…. – Boston Globe, 6-5-09
  • Obama: Buchenwald ‘rebuke’ to Holocaust denial: President Barack Obama absorbed the stark horrors memorialized at the Buchenwald concentration camp Friday and said the lesson for the modern world is vigilance against evil, against subjugation of the weak and against the “cruelty in ourselves.” Obama honored the 56,000 who died at the Nazi camp and the thousands who survived. He invoked, too, his great-uncle, who helped liberate a Buchenwald satellite prison in 1945 and came back a haunted man…. –  AP, 6-5-09
  • Obama Pins Mideast Hope on Limiting Settlements: Iran seems to be hurtling toward nuclear weapons capacity, Hezbollah could win Sunday’s election in Lebanon and Hamas is smuggling long-range rockets into Gaza again. So why is President Obama focusing such attention on the building of homes by Israeli Jews in the West Bank? That, in essence, is the question being angrily posed by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and underscores one of the biggest shifts in American policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in three decades. While every administration has objected to Israeli settlement building in occupied lands, the Obama administration has selected it as the opening issue that could begin to untie the Gordian knot of the conflict…. – NYT, 6-5-09
  • Among Israel’s U.S. Backers, Anxiety and Some Support Greet Obama’s Words – NYT, 6-5-09
  • Employment Report Fuels GOP Attack on Obama Policies: Republicans launched a political offensive against President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy after weeks of reticence, emboldened by Friday’s report of a surging unemployment rate. Political strategists have been pushing GOP lawmakers to attack Mr. Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan and to challenge how the Democratic Congress has handled everything from taxes to unions to energy policy. At the same time, Republicans have worried such attacks would backfire in the event of a recovery. With Friday’s report that the unemployment rate had jumped to 9.4%, the highest monthly reading since September 1983, Republicans put aside those qualms….
    Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.), the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, declared the stimulus plan a failure. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) proclaimed, “Washington is hanging middle-class Americans out to dry.”
    “This is President Obama’s economy now,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R., Va.). – WSJ, 6-5-09
  • Obama’s Voodoo Health Economics Cutting our medical care is bad science: On Monday President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report called “The Economic Case for Health Care Reform.” The report argues that Americans must curb their consumption of medical care in order to avoid soaring federal deficits, unsustainable burdens on family budgets, and damage to the economy. All of these claims are untrue…. – WSJ, 6-5-09
  • Sotomayor Faulted Over Missing Memo: Critics of Judge Sonia Sotomayor seized Friday on her failure to include a 1981 memo opposing the death penalty in her response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire. But after 11 days of intense scrutiny, Judge Sotomayor’s chances of confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court appeared on track, thanks to the Democrats’ strong majority in the Senate and the lack so far of any revelation that would alienate a significant number of the lawmakers…. – WSJ, 6-5-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama speaks at Normandy
(President Barack Obama speaks during the ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville sur Mer in Western France, Saturday, June 6, 2009. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT BEFORE MEETING WITH CABINET TO DISCUSS ROADMAP TO RECOVERY State Dining Room:
    VICE PRESIDENT Biden: A couple weeks ago, I asked the Cabinet members to give me a list of new projects that they were absolutely certain of they could get up and running in the second hundred days that would build momentum and accelerate the job growth in the next hundred days. And they each came back with new projects. The 10 most significant of those projects, Mr. President, we’ve put in this book that we’re going to give you — it’s called “Roadmap to Recovery”….
    PRESIDENT Obama: Now I know that there are some who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still don’t believe in the necessity and promise of this Recovery Act, and I would suggest to them that they talk to the companies who, because of this plan, scrapped the idea of laying off employees and in fact decided to hire employees. Tell that to the Americans who receive that unexpected call saying, come back to work. Tell it to the Americans poised to benefit from critical investments that this plan makes in our long-term growth and prosperity.
    In the end, that’s the only measure of progress, is whether or not the American people are seeing some progress in their own lives. And so although we’ve seen some stabilizing in the financial markets and credit spreads have gone down, we’re seeing a reduction in the fear that gripped the market just a few months ago, stock market is up a little bit — all that stuff is not our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is making sure that the average family out there — mom working, dad working — that they are able to pay their bills, feel some job security, make their mortgage payments; the small business owner there is starting to see customers coming back in, they can make payroll, they can even think about hiring a little bit more and expanding. That’s the measure, how ordinary families are helping to rebuild America once more…. – White House, 6-8-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Outlines Goals for Health Care Reform: In his weekly address, President Barack Obama described his goals for fixing our broken health care system. With skyrocketing costs threatening fiscal collapse, real reform that provides quality, affordable health care for every American is a necessity that cannot wait. To do this, reform must be built on lowering costs, improving quality, and protecting consumer choice so people who are happy with their coverage can keep it…. – White House, 6-6-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT D-DAY 65TH ANNIVERSARY CEREMONY Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial Normandy, France: Lyndon Johnson once said that there are certain moments when “…history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.”
    D-Day was such a moment. One newspaper noted that “we have come to the hour for which we were born.” Had the Allies failed here, Hitler’s occupation of this continent might have continued indefinitely. Instead, victory here secured a foothold in France. It opened a path to Berlin. It made possible the achievements that followed the liberation of Europe: the Marshall Plan, the NATO alliance, the shared prosperity and security that flowed from each.
    It was unknowable then, but so much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only six miles long and two miles wide.
    More particularly, it came down to the men who landed here — those who now rest in this place for eternity, and those who are with us here today. Perhaps more than any other reason, you, the veterans of that landing, are why we still remember what happened on D-Day. You’re why we keep coming back.
    For you remind us that in the end, human destiny is not determined by forces beyond our control. You remind us that our future is not shaped by mere chance or circumstance. Our history has always been the sum total of the choices made and the actions taken by each individual man and woman. It has always been up to us.
    You could have done what Hitler believed you would do when you arrived here. In the face of a merciless assault from these cliffs, you could have idled the boats offshore. Amid a barrage of tracer bullets that lit the night sky, you could have stayed in those planes. You could have hid in the hedgerows or waited behind the seawall. You could have done only what was necessary to ensure your own survival.
    But that’s not what you did. That’s not the story you told on D-Day. Your story was written by men like Zane Schlemmer of the 82nd Airborne, who parachuted into a dark marsh, far from his objective and his men. Lost and alone, he still managed to fight his way through the gunfire and help liberate the town in which he landed — a town where a street now bears his name.
    It’s a story written by men like Anthony Ruggiero, an Army Ranger who saw half the men on his landing craft drown when it was hit by shellfire just a thousand yards off this beach. He spent three hours in freezing water, and was one of only 90 Rangers to survive out of the 225 who were sent to scale the cliffs.
    And it’s a story written by so many who are no longer with us, like Carlton Barrett. Private Barrett was only supposed to serve as a guide for the 1st Infantry Division, but he instead became one of its heroes. After wading ashore in neck-deep water, he returned to the water again and again and again to save his wounded and drowning comrades. And under the heaviest possible enemy fire, he carried them to safety. He carried them in his own arms…. – White House, 6-6-09
  • Laura Bush glad Obama picked woman for high court: “I think she sounds like a very interesting and good nominee,” Bush said of Sonia Sotomayor, the federal appeals judge Obama picked. Mrs. Bush said in an interview broadcast Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “as a woman, I’m proud that there might be another woman on the court. I wish her well.” She was interviewed in Dallas, where the Bushes moved after their White House tenure. On another subject, Mrs. Bush said her husband will have no comment on any Obama decisions. He feels that as a former president, “he owes President Obama his silence on issues and there’s no reason to second-guess any decisions he makes,” Mrs. Bush said. – AP, 6-8-09
  • Clinton Urges ‘Clemency’ for US Journalists in North Korea: At a press conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Noer Hassan Wirajuda, Secretary Clinton said the United States is focused on obtaining clemency for the two journalists – a matter she said that should be seen as separate from the nuclear issue.
    “We are pursuing every possible approach that we can consider in order to persuade the North Koreans to release them and send these young women home,” said Hillary Clinton. “We view these as entirely separate matters. We think the imprisonment trial and sentencing of Laura and Euna should be viewed as a humanitarian matter. We hope that the North Koreans will grant clemency and deport them. There are other concerns that we and the international community have with North Korea, but those are separate and apart from what’s happening to the two women.”… – VOA, 6-8-09
  • Senator says Obama ‘got nerve’ to push lawmakers: Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says that President Barack Obama “got nerve” to go sightseeing in Paris while telling lawmakers it’s time to deliver on a health care overhaul. Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, is key to any bipartisan health care deal. Using Twitter the Iowa Republican issued two angry “tweets” Sunday morning as the president wrapped up an overseas tour.
    Grassley’s first tweet: “Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us ‘time to deliver’ on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND.”
    A short time later: “Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said ‘time to delivr on healthcare’ When you are a ‘hammer’ u think evrything is NAIL I’m no NAIL.”… – AP, 6-7-09
  • Specter ‘pleased and proud’ to be a Pa. Democrat: Sen. Arlen Specter told Pennsylvania’s Democratic leaders Saturday he’s “pleased and proud” to be back in the party he left shortly after launching his political career more than four decades ago. “I’m no longer a Republican in name only. I’m again a Democrat,” the fifth term senator said in an introductory speech to the Democratic State Committee at a downtown hotel. “It is really my independence that has made me strong, made me better able to represent Pennsylvania, to deliver for Pennsylvania and strong enough to come back to the party,” he said…. – AP, 6-6-09
  • In Des Moines visit, Pelosi says GOP frustrated: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday said Republicans are stepping up their attacks on her because they’re frustrated by congressional Democrats’ accomplishments. “I feel this principally comes from those who do not agree with the new direction we’re going to take the country, the change the American people asked for, to try to distract the public and the focus that you have to have,” said Pelosi. “It is an arena that I have chosen to be in and I understand what that is, but it will not take us off our course of action.” “Our success in all we’re doing in education, in energy and we will have a health care plan on the floor of the House before the end of July,” said Pelosi. “I suspect in Congress, what’s going on is they are trying to distract attention.” “He said the Republicans are trying to use me as a lightning rod,” Pelosi said, predicting that tactic would ultimately fail…. – Chicago Tribune, 6-6-09
  • Obama: Buchenwald ‘rebuke’ to Holocaust denial: “To this day, there are those who insist the Holocaust never happened,” Obama said. “This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.”
    “He returned from his service in a state of shock,” Obama said, “saying little and isolating himself for months on end from family and friends.” Payne bore “painful memories that would not leave his head.”
    The president said Buchenwald “teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem, and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.”
    He added: “It’s also important for us, I think, to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human, as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves.”… – AP, 6-5-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President an European leaders arrive
(President Barack Obama (L-R), Britain’s Prince Charles, Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy arrive at the Colleville-sur-Mer
cemetery to attend a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy June 6, 2009. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Historians’ Comments

  • John Rosenthal “OBAMA FLUNKS HISTORY, AGAIN”: “Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald,” Obama said in Cairo, “which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today.” Buchenwald was indeed part of the network of concentration camps established by Nazi Germany, both in Germany proper and the occupied territories. And it is indeed true that some Jews were interred at Buchenwald and that many of those that were died there. According to the estimate of the Buchwald Memorial, from 1937 when the camp was established until its liberation in 1945, altogether some 11,000 Jews died at Buchenwald. 11,000. That’s roughly the number of Jews that were killed at Auschwitz in a single week. In total, not 11,000, but over one million Jews are estimated to have been killed at Auschwitz…. – New Majority, 6-5-09
  • SHELBY STEELE “Sotomayor and the Politics of Race Americans thought they were electing a president who would transcend grievance”: President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court points to a dilemma that will likely plague his presidency: How does a “post-racialist” president play identity politics? What is most notable about the Sotomayor nomination is its almost perfect predictability. Somehow we all simply know — like it or not — that Hispanics are now overdue for the gravitas of high office. And our new post-racialist president is especially attuned to this chance to have a “first” under his belt, not to mention the chance to further secure the Hispanic vote. And yet it was precisely the American longing for post-racialism — relief from this sort of racial calculating — that lifted Mr. Obama into office.
    The Sotomayor nomination commits the cardinal sin of identity politics: It seeks to elevate people more for the political currency of their gender and ethnicity than for their individual merit. (Here, too, is the ugly faithlessness in minority merit that always underlies such maneuverings.) Mr. Obama is promising one thing and practicing another, using his interracial background to suggest an America delivered from racial corruption even as he practices a crude form of racial patronage. From America’s first black president, and a man promising the “new,” we get a Supreme Court nomination that is both unoriginal and hackneyed…. – WSJ, 6-8-09
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Harry and Louise need health care reform: ….Health care reform could bail out these interests by adding the currently uninsured – fast approaching 50 million people – to their customer base, and by preventing more individuals and employers from dropping insurance altogether.
    Remember Harry and Louise, the imaginary couple who appeared in the television ads that helped beat President Bill Clinton’s health plan 15 years ago? That middle-class duo, which is to say a great many people just like them, has switched sides in the debate. The insurance companies and the drug companies that paid for the ads know that Louise’s employer has probably restricted her health coverage or dropped her altogether. And who knows if Harry still has a job?… – SF Chronicle, 6-7-09
  • Stephen Hess “Health, climate change vie for boost in US Congress”: “It’s not impossible to do both, but that would be more than a Congress has ever given a president, maybe since the first First 100 Days,” said Brookings Institution senior fellow Stephen Hess, referring to the start of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” presidency in 1933…. – Reuters, 6-7-09
  • Professor Juan Cole and Cairo-Based Analyst Issandr El Amrani on Obama’s Historic Address – Democracy Now, 6-4-09
  • KC Johnson one of the first to actually read Sotomayor’s Princeton thesis. His grade …. ?: … The thesis is quite good. I’m not sure it’s a summa cum laude thesis… but summa grades essentially depend on the competition and the standards at the time. As for the thesis as a whole, from a historian’s perspective: It’s solidly researched and fairly well written — uses lots of data, more or less presents an argument, and has a pedagogical approach (political/economic history, focus on a key political leader in Muñoz Marin) that is very much mainstream. This is basically a pedagogically sound thesis that (with one exception) allows the facts to speak for themselves…. – KC Johnson quoted by Stuart Taylor at the National Journal website (6-2-09)
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