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

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

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

THE HEADLINES….

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

The Headlines…

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

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

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

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President in Cairo

Historians’ Comments

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

The President in Cairo

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

The President in the Middle East

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

Watch the Video

Advertisements

May 31, 2009: Obama’s Economic Stimulus at 100 Days – Bush & Clinton Debate

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President announces the plan for GM

White House Photo, 6/1/09, Samantha Appleton

A New GM

The President balances the interests of stakeholders, the American taxpayer, and the economy at large in announcing his plan for GM and the American auto industry.

Watch the Video

The Weekly Address

In Focus: Stats

  • George W. Bush: ‘What Do You Do?’: Since leaving office, former President Bush’s approval rating has climbed 6 points in one recent poll, something many in the media have attributed to his low profile since leaving office. Of course, former Vice President Cheney’s approval rating is up too, and he’s been very vocal. It’s more likely that Bush and Cheney’s approval ratings are up because they really couldn’t go down, and since they’re not in power, the negative media coverage that comes with a failed presidency has abated…. – Politics Daily, 5-30-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Battle for Senate Seat Goes to Minnesota’s Top Court: After half a year of arguments and more than 19,000 pages of legal briefs, the battle over recounting election results for Minnesota’s vacant United States Senate seat reaches the state’s Supreme Court on Monday. And that may not be the last stop…. – NYT, 6-1-09
  • Obama’s efforts to engage Cuba facing big test: A diplomatic tug-of-war over Cuba’s outcast status in the Organization of American States takes center stage at the group’s meeting this week in Honduras, testing U.S. efforts to engage the communist nation. Numerous Latin American countries are pushing to reverse the 1962 expulsion of Cuba from the 34-country group, although the Cuban government insists it has no interest in returning…. – AP, 5-31-09
  • U.S. Weighs Tactics on Israeli Settlement: As President Obama prepares to head to the Middle East this week, administration officials are debating how to toughen their stance against any expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The measures under discussion — all largely symbolic — include stepping back from America’s near-uniform support for Israel in the United Nations if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel does not agree to a settlement freeze, administration officials said…. – NYT, 5-31-09
  • Senators to meet Obama’s nominee: Senators this week will begin to take the measure of Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. The confirmation hearing for the court’s first Hispanic nominee is not expected until July. But on Tuesday, escorted by home state Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), she will meet key players, including Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)…. – AJC, 5-31-09
  • Senators Preview Stances on Sotomayor: Senators hit the talk shows Sunday in an informal opening act to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, battling over whether she would bring a nuanced judgment seasoned by a complex life or would let her personal views trump the law. The formal hearings won’t begin for several weeks, and Republicans on Sunday suggested they wouldn’t seek to block her confirmation. But senators from both parties, and especially those from the Judiciary Committee, are already seeking to shape the debate and Ms. Sotomayor’s image…. – WSJ, 5-31-09
  • Iowa presidential campaigning returns: It’s been six months since voters handed Barack Obama the White House, and in the minds of a lot of Iowa activists that means only one thing: It’s time to start the campaign again. 2012 already? Yes, 2 1/2 years before Iowans gather for their first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses, early presidential campaigning has begun…. – AP, 5-31-09
  • Baucus, Kennedy to work together on health care: The two Senate Democrats leading the drive to overhaul health care say they will work together to come up with legislation. Sens. Max Baucus and Edward Kennedy said in a joint statement Saturday they intend to cooperate so their committees pass similar bills that can be combined into a single piece of legislation before the Senate leaves for its August recess…. – AP, 5-30-09
  • First couple’s NY date: a campaign promise kept: President Barack Obama made good on a campaign promise to his most important supporter Saturday night — his wife, Michelle. The president and first lady jetted to a date in New York late Saturday afternoon, aides and media in tow. “I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished,” the president said in a statement an aide read to the press…. – AP, 5-30-09
  • Politics Can Wait: The President Has a Date: The Obamas escaped Washington on Saturday in search of a quintessential New York evening — dinner and a Broadway show. They found it at Blue Hill, a low-key Greenwich Village restaurant, and at the Belasco Theater near Times Square for a performance of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” the Tony-nominated August Wilson play…. – NYT, 5-30-09
  • RNC slams Obama for romantic date with Michelle in New York: “As President Obama prepares to wing into Manhattan’s theater district on Air Force One to take in a Broadway show, GM is preparing to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills,” RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in an email this afternoon. That’s not all from Gitcho. She then added a snitty, “Have a great Saturday evening — even if you’re not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense.”… – CS Monitor, 5-30-09
  • Bush, Clinton appear on stage together in Canada: Former President George W. Bush called former President Bill Clinton “his brother” and the two rarely disagreed in their first-ever appearance together on stage. The Republican and Democratic ex-presidents defended each other at a Toronto forum on Friday, disappointing some in the crowd of 6,000 who expected a more heated debate. Bush said that he never liked it when previous administration officials criticized his government but said Clinton was respectful and never did…. – AP, 5-29-09
  • Bush-Clinton Policy Talk Strikes a Congenial Tone: Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton appeared together Friday for the first time as Frank McKenna, a former Canadian ambassador to the United States, moderated a talk on global affairs in Toronto. The two were paid $150,000 each…. – NYT, 5-29-09
  • Sotomayor’s Focus on Race Issues May Be Hurdle: The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court has opened a new battle in the fight over affirmative action and other race-conscious remedies for patterns of inequality, with each side invoking the election of the first black president in support of its cause…. – NYT, 5-29-09
  • A Burger Run Or A Photo Op?: For the second time this month, Mr. Obama went out for a lunch of burgers and fries. He fired up the motorcade and drove a couple of miles into southeast D.C. to a Five Guys restaurant near Nationals’ Stadium. This time, he didn’t take Vice President Biden along. Instead, he was accompanied by NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who was at the White House today taping elements for his two-part hour-long prime time specials on a day-in-the- life the president. Spokesman Robert Gibbs pooh-poohed a reporte’s suggestion that today’s burger outing was staged principally for the benefit of NBC’s cameras. “I can assure you it was done simply for the benefit of the appetite of the Commander-in-Chief,” he said…. – CBS News, 5-29-09
  • Romney: Va., NJ races will give GOP its voice back: The nation’s Republican Party has a chance to reclaim its voice in governors’ elections this fall in Virginia and New Jersey, former Republican presidential prospect Mitt Romney said Friday…. – AP, 5-29-09
  • McCain to back Meg Whitman in 2010 race: Arizona Sen. John McCain wants Meg Whitman to be California’s next governor. The former eBay chief executive has not formally declared her candidacy, but a spokesman said Wednesday that she will pick up the 2008 Republican presidential nominee’s endorsement at an event in Orange County on Friday…. – AP, 5-28-09
  • Obama to create cyber czar in awareness effort: The Obama administration is creating a “cyber czar” within the White House to coordinate the nation’s computer security. Critics already say the post will not have enough authority to haul the government into the digital age…. – AP, 5-28-09
  • Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament – NYT, 5-28-09
  • Obama drops into California for political money: President Barack Obama looked not for votes in California on Wednesday but for millions of dollars to aid Democratic campaigns in other states…. – AP, 5-27-09
  • Obama names US ambassadors to Japan, India, Sri Lanka: Obama named longtime technology-focused lawyer John Roos as US ambassador to Japan, and named Democratic former congressman Timothy Roemer to be his envoy in India, the White House said. Obama also named Patricia Butenis, a career diplomat who has previously been posted in Baghdad, Pakistan and New Delhi, as ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives…. – AFP, 5-27-09
  • Obama promotes clean energy, stimulus in Nevada: President Barack Obama on Wednesday hailed solar energy as a cost saver for a major Air Force base, one stop on a Western trip devoted to raising political money and promoting his economic policies. Obama’s aides had mocked reporters for making a fuss over his first 100 days in office, but the president was eager to assess the first 100 days of his $787 billion economic stimulus package. It has “saved or created nearly 150,000 jobs,” he said, including “jobs building solar panels and wind turbines; making homes and buildings more energy-efficient.”… – AP, 5-27-09
  • Gates to press for Far East unity on NKorea threat: The U.S. on Wednesday accused North Korea of “provocative and belligerent” behavior as Defense Secretary Robert Gates took on the delicate task of reassuring Asian allies of U.S. support without further provoking the communist government…. – AP, 5-27-09
  • No filibuster, but Sotomayor battle still loom: Republicans see little chance of blocking Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, a key GOP senator conceded Wednesday. But senators and advocacy groups are still girding for this summer’s battle — partly with an eye toward raising money and perhaps preparing for Barack Obama’s next nominee…. – AP, 5-27-09
  • Historic nomination: Hispanic Sotomayor as justice: Reaching for history, President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, championing her as a compassionate, seasoned jurist whose against-the-odds life journey affirms the American dream. Republicans who will decide whether to make a fight of her confirmation said they want thorough hearings…. – AP, 5-26-09
  • Obama Chooses Sotomayor for Supreme Court Nominee – NYT, 5-26-09
  • Army chief says US ready to be in Iraq 10 years: The Pentagon is prepared to leave fighting forces in Iraq for as long as a decade despite an agreement between the United States and Iraq that would bring all American troops home by 2012, the top U.S. Army officer said Tuesday.
    Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, said the world remains dangerous and unpredictable, and the Pentagon must plan for extended U.S. combat and stability operations in two wars. “Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction,” Casey said. “They fundamentally will change how the Army works.”…. – AP, 5-26-09
  • Obama Revamps National Security Posts: President Barack Obama is merging the domestic and foreign sides of the White House national-security team, effectively eliminating a division created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The White House will use the reorganization to make broader changes as well. Among them is the creation of positions at the National Security Council focused on cybersecurity, energy, the environment and the threat of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, officials said Tuesday…. – WSJ, 5-26-09
  • Obama raises money for Democrats out West: Hours after exercising a cherished presidential right Tuesday — naming a Supreme Court nominee — Barack Obama engaged in one of the office’s grubbier traditions: raising money for an embattled lawmaker. The president launched a two-day, three-stop Western trip that will devote more time to fundraising than to public policy…. – AP, 5-26-09
  • President lays wreath at Tomb of Unknowns: President Barack Obama avoided a racial controversy on his first Memorial Day in office by sending wreaths to separate memorials for Confederate soldiers and for blacks who fought against them during the Civil War. Last week, a group of about 60 professors petitioned the White House, asking the first black U.S. president to break tradition and not memorialize military members from the Confederacy, the group of Southern states that supported slavery. “The Arlington Confederate Monument is a denial of the wrong committed against African-Americans by slave owners, Confederates and neo-Confederates, through the monument’s denial of slavery as the cause of secession and its holding up of Confederates as heroes,” the petitioners said. “This implies that the humanity of Africans and African-Americans is of no significance.” The White House ignored the request…. – AP, 5-25-09
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton surprises Yale graduates: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a surprise return to her alma mater on Monday, picking up an honorary degree from Yale University 36 years after earning her law degree from the Ivy League school. AP, 5-26-09
  • Republicans invoke Ronald Reagan to fight Harry Reid: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s critics are already in full-blown campaign mode 17 months before the 2010 election. A conservative political action committee known as Our Country Deserves Better PAC launched an attack Monday that quotes Ronald Reagan criticizing the Nevada Democrat back in 1986. The ad, which will run on Nevada radio and TV stations, says Reid is “emblematic of all that’s wrong in Washington.” Politico, 5-26-09
  • G.O.P. Eyes Tough Task: Winning Reid’s Seat: Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has emerged as a tempting target for Republicans as he prepares for re-election next year: unpopular at home, identified with partisan battles in Washington and shadowed by the memory of the election defeat suffered by the last Democrat who held his job, Tom Daschle of South Dakota…. – NYT, 5-25-09
  • Dick Cheney’s Second Act The president plays defense on security: By goading a sitting president into responding to his arguments on his terms, Dick Cheney won the contest with Barack Obama last week before either said a word. And his re-emergence onto the public square seems to be driving everybody nuts…. – WSJ, 5-26-09
  • Obama picks Bolden for NASA: It looks like manned spaceflight may yet have a future at NASA, with the selection this weekend of former astronaut Charlie Bolden to head the troubled agency. Bolden would be the agency’s first black Administrator…. – ZDNet, 5-24-09
  • GOP senator threatens filibuster over court pick: The Senate’s No. 2 Republican on Sunday refused to rule out a filibuster if President Barack Obama seeks a Supreme Court justice who decides cases based on “emotions or feelings or preconceived ideas.” Sen. Jon Kyl made clear he would use the procedural delay if Obama follows through on his pledge to nominate someone who takes into account human suffering and employs empathy from the bench. The Arizona Republican acknowledged that his party likely does not have enough votes to sustain a filibuster, but he said nonetheless he would try to delay or derail the nomination if Obama ventures outside what Kyl called the mainstream. “We will distinguish between a liberal judge on one side and one who doesn’t decide cases on the merits but, rather, on the basis of his or her preconceived ideas,” Kyl said…. – AP, 5-24-09
  • Key Democrat warns against ‘activist’ Obama court nominee: A leading Democratic senator warned Sunday his party could support a potentially polarizing obstruction of President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court if he names an “activist” to the bench. “I don’t care whether they’re liberal or conservative,” Nelson told Fox News Sunday in an interview. “I just want to make sure they’re not activist. I don’t want an activist on the bench.” “I think that’s the test — will they be an activist or not?” Nelson said. “And I would hope that there wouldn’t be any circumstances that would be so extreme with any of the president’s nominees that the other side would feel the need to filibuster or that I might feel the need to filibuster in a case of extraordinary circumstances.”… AFP, 5-24-09
  • Biden is a Key Adviser and Confidant in Obama’s White House: Biden is settling into his job as second in command and is making the role his own…. – US News & World Report, 5-20-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

  • Specter: Not guaranteed free ride in Dem primary: Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday he did not seek and was not given any assurance that he would not face a primary challenge when he made the decision to leave the Republican party to rejoin the Democratic party. “I didn’t ask that the field be cleared. There was no discussion of that,” Specter said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about a possible Democratic primary challenge by Rep. Joe Sestak. “Everybody ought to run if he or she wants to run,” Specter said. “And I’m ready to take on all comers.”… – AP, 5-31-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls for Thorough and Timely Confirmation for Judge Sonia Sotomayor: This week, I nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Court of Appeals to replace Justice David Souter, who is retiring after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court. After reviewing many terrific candidates, I am certain that she is the right choice. In fact, there has not been a nominee in several generations who has brought the depth of judicial experience to this job that she offers…. – White House, 5-30-09
  • Obama On Cybersecurity: We’re Not That Prepared: President Obama on Friday said the U.S. government is “not as prepared” as it should be to respond to disruptions caused by computer or Internet attacks and announced that a new cybersecurity coordinator position would be created inside the White House staff.
    “We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient,” Mr. Obama said. “We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.”… – CBS News, 5-29-09
  • Gates issues warning to North Korea: In a speech in Singapore, the Defense chief says the U.S. will hold Pyongyang ‘fully accountable’ if it sells or transfers nuclear material abroad…. “The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies,” Gates told officials gathered at an Asian defense summit here. “And we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.”… – LAT, 5-29-09
  • Bush defends interrogation program in Michigan speech: Former President George W. Bush on Thursday repeated Dick Cheney’s assertion that the administration’s enhanced interrogation program, which included controversial techniques such as waterboarding, was legal and garnered valuable information that prevented terrorist attacks. The former president was speaking to the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. In a change in format, he agreed to answer questions directly from the audience instead of responding to pre-submitted questions provided to a moderator. Bush told a southwestern Michigan audience of nearly 2,500 — the largest he has addressed in the United States since leaving the White House in January — that, after the September 11 attacks, “I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you.”
    “The first thing you do is ask what’s legal?” Bush said. “What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, ‘I’ve done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.’ I can tell you that the information we got saved lives.”
    “Nothing I am saying is meant to criticize my successor,” Bush said. “There are plenty of people who have weighed in. Trust me, having seen it first-hand. I didn’t like it when a former president criticized me, so therefore I am not going to criticize my successor. I wish him all the best.” He repeated his disclaimer about not passing judgment on Obama later when asked about North Korea’s nuclear test. Before answering, the 43rd president said he is “in no way trying to shape my successor’s decisions or criticize them.”
    “I know there are news people here, and they love conflict,” he said. Bush then went on to say that diplomacy is impossible without leverage. “A lot of times people want to give out the carrots,” he said. “My attitude is, you give out the carrots when the behavior changes.”
    He strongly defended his Troubled Asset Relief Program in response to the economic crisis at the end of his presidency, calling it crucial to preventing capital markets from freezing up, which he said would have led to another Great Depression. However, he said he remains “a free-market guy.” Asked what he thinks about conservative pundits who say the Obama administration’s fiscal policies are opening the door to socialism, Bush said: “I think the verdict is out. I think people are waiting to see what all this means.”
    “Well, I hope it is this: The man showed up with a set of principles, and he was unwilling to compromise his soul for the sake of popularity,” he said. He also revealed the topic of the first chapter in his forthcoming book, which he said will be about “the stories of my administration, as I saw them.” That first chapter, he said, will answer the question: “Why did I run for president?” – CNN, 5-29-09
  • Bush: White House pressure made marriage stronger: “I can promise you that her life dream when she was growing up was not to be first lady of the United States,” he told a Michigan audience in one of his first major domestic speeches since leaving the White House. “Frankly, I am not so sure that if we hadn’t married, she’d have voted for me,” he joked of his wife, who was raised in a Democratic family. “There’s a lot of pressure in the White House, as I’m sure you can imagine. Pressure sometimes can make a marriage stronger or weaker. In my case because of her patience and her enthusiasm, it made our marriage a really good marriage,” Bush said. “It’s much harder to be the son of the president than to be the president. And it’s much harder to be the father of the president than to be the president,” he said in a reference to his dad, former President George H.W. Bush. “And I used to have to admonish him not pay attention to what they were writing on the editorial pages about his son. I had gone through the same agony myself. And so I am confident that the end of the presidency is a great relief because of our strong love.” “I was pleased to have someone serve as my vice president who was not running for president, because someone who is running for president, at times, will try to distance themselves,” Bush said. “If things got tough, [he] could be one of the first persons off the ship, and that would be really unpleasant in the White House.” “I was frustrated because the stakes were so high in some of the decisions that I had to make. I wasn’t surprised that people would forget the feeling of how they felt after September 11. I was grateful that people were moving beyond September 11. As a president, you don’t want your nation to be so worried about an attack that people don’t go about their lives. … The psychology of the nation concerned me. Which then made it harder to get people to listen to you, to some of the decisions I made.” “The truth of the matter is, I never watched the nightly news, because it was predictable, I thought. Nor did I ever pay attention to the editorial pages, good editorials or bad,” he said. “I knew what was in the news. When you’re president, you can get so obsessed with this stuff that I felt it would cloud your vision.” “The truth of the matter is, there is so much attention paid to you, I thought it was important even in the toughest moments to be upbeat and not to be so worried about myself that I couldn’t convey a sense of confidence.” “People ask, what is it like? Well, I have never stopped at a traffic light for eight years,” he said. “The neighborhood we live in is nice. You know, Laura bought this house sight unseen. At least she saw. I didn’t. It was like a faith-based initiative.” – CNN, 5-29-09
  • Obama sure Sotomayor would restate 2001 comment: President Barack Obama on Friday personally sought to deflect criticism of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who finds herself under intensifying scrutiny for saying in 2001 that a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white male judge. “I’m sure she would have restated it,” Obama flatly told NBC News, without indicating how he knew that.
    “I think that when she’s appearing before the Senate committee, in her confirmation process, I think all this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is,” Obama said in the broadcast interview, clearly aware of how ethnicity and gender issues are taking hold in the debate…. – AP, 5-29-09
  • Obama presses Israel, Palestinians on West Bank: Gingerly trying to advance Mideast peace, President Barack Obama on Thursday challenged Israel to stop settlement construction in the West Bank on the same day the Israelis rejected that demand. Obama pushed Palestinians for progress, too, deepening his personal involvement. “I am confident that we can move this process forward,” Obama said after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House. The president said that means both sides must “meet the obligations that they’ve already committed to” — an element of the peace effort that has proved elusive for years…. – AP, 5-28-09
  • Obama says health care changes must come this year: President Barack Obama warned Thursday that if Congress doesn’t deliver health care legislation by the end of the year, the opportunity will be lost, a plea to political supporters to pressure lawmakers to act. “If we don’t get it done this year, we’re not going to get it done,” Obama told supporters by phone as he flew home on Air Force One from a West Coast fundraising trip.
    Obama’s political organization, Organizing for America, invited campaign volunteers to a midday conference call to describe a nationwide June 6 kickoff for its health care campaign. “The election in November — that did not bring about change, it just gave us an opportunity for change,” Obama said. “So now, we are really going to have to remobilize, we have all had a chance to catch our breath after election and we have gotten a lot of things done during our first four months.” “But health care, that’s a big push.”
    “I think the status quo is unacceptable and that we’ve got to get it done this year,” Obama repeated, ginning up his supporters for a door-to-door and phone-to-phone canvass similar to his presidential campaign…. – AP, 5-28-09
  • Gates: No reason to build up US troops in Korea: While worrisome, North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests have not reached a crisis level that would warrant additional U.S. troops in the region, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. “I don’t think that anybody in the (Obama) administration thinks there is a crisis,” Gates told reporters aboard his military jet early Friday morning, still Thursday night in Washington. “What we do have, though, are two new developments that are very provocative, that are aggressive, accompanied by very aggressive rhetoric,” he said. “And I think it brings home the reality of the challenge that North Korea poses to the region and to the international community.”… – AP, 5-28-09
  • Obama talks politics, basketball at Beverly Hills fundraiser: Demonstrators outside the Beverly Hilton urge the president to stand up for gay rights. Obama says he intends to keep his campaign promises…. – LAT, 5-28-09
  • President Obama: “You ain’t seen nothing yet”, should he be so confident?: Perhaps feeling proud of his accomplishments during his first four months in office, President Obama told a star-studded Hollywood crowd, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”…. “It won’t be easy. There will be setbacks. It will take time.” He added that he’s made some mistakes and guarantees he’ll make more. – CNN’s Jack Cafferty, 5-29-09
  • Obama drops into California for political money: President Barack Obama painted an upbeat vision of the economy Wednesday as he addressed Californians who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid Democratic campaigns in other states. “It’s safe to say we have stepped back from the brink, that there is some calm that didn’t exist before,” Obama told donors and celebrities at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He said the stimulus bill that Congress passed three months ago is starting to improve the economy. He acknowledged that his young administration has had “some fits and starts.” “I’ve made some mistakes, and I guarantee you I will make some more,” he said…. – AP, 5-28-09
  • Sestak says he plans to take on Specter: Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) confirmed that he’s planning on challenging Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), in an interview this afternoon with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We have to ask the question will [Specter] be with the right policies that our president has put out there… There’s too much doubt in my mind not to have the intent right now to get in this race, pending just a little time with my family to make sure we’re all together.”… – Politico, 5-27-09
  • U.S. wants no more Jewish settlement growth, Clinton says: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Israel must stop expanding Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory. The Obama administration stance is a key difference with Israel….. “Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interest of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease,” Mrs Clinton said…. – LAT, 5-27-09
  • Biden Teases Obama Over Teleprompter Dependence, After Mishap: The vice president razzed his boss Wednesday while speaking at the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony in Colorado. Biden made the crack about Obama’s crutch after a strong gust of wind blew over one of the vice president’s Teleprompters. Biden was talking about Colorado’s thin air at the time and when he heard the crash, he added, “and the strong winds.” Then he said: “What am I gonna tell the president when I tell him his Teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?”… – Fox News, 5-27-09
  • No filibuster, but Sotomayor battle still loom: Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he didn’t foresee a filibuster, essentially the only way Republicans could try to stop Sotomayor since Democrats control the Senate. Still, he made it clear that Republicans were ready to raise pointed questions about whether Sotomayor, the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, would let her personal life color her legal opinions — and whether that’s appropriate for a Supreme Court justice.
    “We have an absolute constitutional duty to make sure that any nominee, no matter what their background and what kind of life story they have, that we examine that so the American people can know that the person we give a lifetime appointment to … will be faithful to the law and not allow their personal views to influence decision-making,” Sessions said in an interview on NBC’s “Today.” – AP, 5-27-09
  • ‘They Answered a Call,’ Obama Says of Veterans: “They felt some tug; they answered a call; they said, ‘I’ll go,'” Mr. Obama said after the wreath-laying ceremony in a 12-minute address paying tribute to veterans and fallen soldiers. “That is why they are the best of America, and that is what separates them from those of us who have not served in uniform: their extraordinary willingness to risk their lives for people they never met.” The president asked all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. on Monday for a moment of “national unity” to honor the war dead. “I ask you to ring a bell, or offer a prayer, say a silent ‘thank you,'” Mr. Obama said, “and commit to give something back to this nation, something lasting, in their memory.”… – NYT, 5-25-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON MEMORIAL DAY: Here lie Presidents and privates; Supreme Court justices and slaves; generals familiar to history, and unknown soldiers known only to God. A few moments ago, I laid a wreath at their tomb to pay tribute to all who have given their lives for this country. As a nation, we have gathered here to repeat this ritual in moments of peace, when we pay our respects to the fallen and give thanks for their sacrifice. And we’ve gathered here in moments of war, when the somber notes of Taps echo through the trees, and fresh grief lingers in the air. Today is one of those moments, where we pay tribute to those who forged our history, but hold closely the memory of those so recently lost. And even as we gather here this morning, all across America, people are pausing to remember, to mourn, and to pray…. – White House, 5-25-09
  • Answering Critics, Powell Says G.O.P. Needs Change: “Rush will not get his wish, and Mr. Cheney was misinformed,” Mr. Powell said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” “I’m still a Republican.”….
    “For the previous 20 years I voted solidly for Republican candidates,” Powell said. “I served Ronald Reagan for two years. I spoke at the 1996 convention and I spoke at the 2000 convention.” He added that he had voted for several Democratic presidents: John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and “even” Jimmy Carter. Mr. Powell called it “unfortunate” that Mr. Limbaugh said he supported Mr. Obama because he, too, was black…. “I’d like to point out that in the course of my 50 years of voting for presidents, I have voted for the person I thought was best qualified at that time to lead the nation,” he said. “Last year, I thought it was President-now Barack Obama.”….
    Noting the party’s substantial losses in last fall’s elections, he said: “You can only do two things with a base. You can sit on it and watch the world go by, or you can build on it. In almost every demographic indicator, the Republican Party is losing. North, South, East, West. Men, women, whites, blacks, Hispanics. Are we simply moving further to the right, and by so doing opening up the right-of-center and the center to be taken over by independents and to be taken over by Democrats?” – NYT, 5-24-09
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Gingrich continued his criticism of Mr. Obama’s promise to close Guantánamo. “I think the president made a very big mistake,” said Mr. Gingrich, who, like Mr. Cheney, has made repeated media appearances in recent weeks. “It was a campaign promise. It is not a national security plan. I think, frankly, they should keep Guantánamo open. Whatever things that are wrong with Guantánamo they would fix by moving them to somewhere else, fix them at Guantánamo.” When pressed to say when he thought the base could be closed, Mr. Gingrich said, “When the terrorists disappear.” – NYT, 5-24-09
  • Ridge offers strong words on how GOP can rebound: “Rush articulates his point of views in ways that offend very many,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s a matter of language and a matter of how you use words. And it does get the base all fired up, and he’s got strong following. But, personally, if he would listen to me — and I doubt if he would — the notion is, express yourselves, but let’s respect others’ opinions. And let’s not be divisive.”…
    He said Republicans should respect the opinions of others and explain in “a rational, thoughtful, responsible and reasonable way” why Republican ideas should be more acceptable to the average American. Ridge has ruled out running against Republican-turned Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter next year, but sidestepped a question on whether he might make a run for the White House in 2012. He said he plans to work within the party so the GOP wins the presidency in 2012 “and we’ll just leave it at that.” “I’m a strong, strong Republican but … I’ve never, ever, ever voted straight Republican ticket in my life and I never will,” he said…. – AP, 5-24-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Sotomayor puts GOP at crossroads”: It seems as if Republican opponents of President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court are now coalescing around the issue of affirmative action as their main point of attack. Their focus is her ruling in Ricci v. DeStefano as well as her remark about the benefits that a Latina judge could bring to a court.
    Just months after Americans made a historic decision to elect an African-American as president, this approach is a high-stakes strategy that poses huge risks for the GOP regardless of the outcome of this nomination.
    Some Republicans, such as former Speaker Newt Gingrich, have called on their colleagues to aggressively oppose Sotomayor in response to arguments about affirmative action and liberalism that have been central to the base of the party. Other Republicans, including several in Congress, have suggested that this strategy would further marginalize the Republican Party among Hispanics, women and moderates.
    By focusing an assault on affirmative action, Republicans would add African Americans and other minorities to that list, playing to the accusations of their opponents that the GOP is a white man’s party. The debate about Sotomayor’s nomination is in many ways a strategic debate about the future of the Republican Party…. – CNN, 6-1-09
  • David C. McCullough “Nation needs review of anti-terror tactics”: “A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia,” says historian David C. McCullough, author of the best-selling book “1776” about the early years of the American revolution. “History is not the story of heroes entirely,” McCullough observes. “It is often the story of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are monsters, there is evil, there is betrayal … the best, the worst, the height of noble attainment and the depths of depravity.”… – Detroit Free Press, 5-31-09
  • Obama’s Battle With the Liberal Wing of the Democratic Party: Four decades ago, the liberal, antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped to force President Lyndon B. Johnson from office. Specifically, Johnson decided not to run for re-election in 1968 in large part because of rising primary challenges and increasingly vitriolic demonstrations against him. One chant that was heard often at anti-Vietnam War rallies was “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” The level of anger now is nowhere close to that level, but there are warning signs that President Obama is starting to generate serious opposition on the fiery left. There is increasing unease about his sending 21,000 more troops into Afghanistan, which some compare to the early escalations in Vietnam…. – Us News & World Report, 5-31-09
  • Lawrence Baum “The Waves Minority Judges Always Make”: It is not clear, though, that any of those stories caused Justice O’Connor to change her vote. “Justice O’Connor was not nearly as sympathetic to racial civil rights claims as she was to gender claims,” said Lawrence Baum, a political science professor at Ohio State. – NYT, 5-31-09
  • David J. Garrow “The Waves Minority Judges Always Make”: Justice Clarence Thomas, the second African-American justice, is by some measures the most conservative justice since 1937, while Justice Marshall was the most liberal. “Thomas is living proof and a daily reminder that not everyone from a particular background has a particular point of view,” said David J. Garrow, a historian at Cambridge University, in England. – NYT, 5-31-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Obama and the life of the party”: With his appointment of Sonia Sotomayor and a fiery speech in Nevada, President Obama bought himself a little breathing space with congressional Democrats after taking a big political hit from them last week.
    The debate over closing the Guantanamo prison intensified when congressional Democrats refused to provide the administration with the funds needed to conduct the transfer.
    Democrats were frustrated that Obama, who had announced the closure as one of the first pieces of business for his administration, had failed to provide his own party’s leaders with the details of the plan.
    When conservatives warned that detainees would be sent to American prisons from where they could potentially spread terrorism in the heartland, congressional Democrats were vulnerable, left without enough information to mount a defense.
    Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, didn’t find the vote particularly difficult. He told reporters that the reason was clear: The White House had failed to forward “a coherent plan for closing this prison.”
    To make matters worse, this came one week after Speaker Nancy Pelosi came under fire as a result of CIA Director Leon Panetta’s announcement that she had been briefed on the agency’s interrogation techniques, including the use of waterboarding.
    This kind of conflict between the executive and legislative branches when they are under the control of the same party is not new in contemporary American history. One party’s control of government is not a guarantee of harmony. These conflicts have stemmed from basic policy differences but also because of political missteps…. – CNN, 5-28-09
  • Peniel Joseph “In Dueling Speeches, a National Security Debate Obama Says Bush Set Aside Principles in Terrorism Fight”: “I think it is unprecedented in the modern era,” said Peniel Joseph, a historian at Brandeis University. “We’ve seen outgoing administrations that did not get along with the new administration, but we have never seen the vice president of an outgoing administration lambasting the new administration like this.” – WaPo, 5-22-09

President Barack Obama participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
(President Barack Obama participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery Monday, May 25, 2009. White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama Chooses Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his Nominee for the Supreme Court

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

(Image from NYT)

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • According to the Senate historian’s office, 28 of 158 nominations have been rejected, withdrawn or simply not acted upon since the court was founded in 1789.
  • US top court pick may lure Hispanic votes-analysts: Choice could consolidate Obama appeal with Hispanics, Opposition to Sotomayor could alienate Hispanic voters…. – Reuters, 5-26-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Senators to meet Obama’s nominee: Senators this week will begin to take the measure of Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. The confirmation hearing for the court’s first Hispanic nominee is not expected until July. But on Tuesday, escorted by home state Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), she will meet key players, including Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)…. – AJC, 5-31-09
  • Senators Preview Stances on Sotomayor: Senators hit the talk shows Sunday in an informal opening act to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, battling over whether she would bring a nuanced judgment seasoned by a complex life or would let her personal views trump the law. The formal hearings won’t begin for several weeks, and Republicans on Sunday suggested they wouldn’t seek to block her confirmation. But senators from both parties, and especially those from the Judiciary Committee, are already seeking to shape the debate and Ms. Sotomayor’s image…. – WSJ, 5-31-09
  • Sotomayor’s Focus on Race Issues May Be Hurdle: The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court has opened a new battle in the fight over affirmative action and other race-conscious remedies for patterns of inequality, with each side invoking the election of the first black president in support of its cause…. – NYT, 5-29-09
  • Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament – NYT, 5-28-09
  • How, why Obama picked Sotomayor: President Barack Obama called Judge Sonia Sotomayor at 9 p.m. on Memorial Day to say she was his pick for the Supreme Court. Obama showed he was willing to pick a fight with his choice — Republicans do not consider her a “consensus” nominee and had signaled that they considered her the most liberal of the four finalists. He played smart base politics with the historic selection of a Hispanic (a first) and a woman. And he fulfilled his pledge to pick someone with a common touch by nominating someone who was raised in a Bronx housing project, and lost her father at age 9…. – Politico, 5-27-09
  • Sotomayor, a Trailblazer and a Dreamer: She was “a child with dreams,” as she once said, the little girl who learned at 8 that she had diabetes, who lost her father when she was 9, who devoured Nancy Drew books and spent Saturday nights playing bingo, marking the cards with chickpeas, in the squat red brick housing projects of the East Bronx. She was the history major and Puerto Rican student activist at Princeton who spent her first year at that bastion of the Ivy League “too intimidated to ask questions.” She was the tough-minded New York City prosecutor, and later the corporate lawyer with the dazzling international clients. She was the federal judge who “saved baseball” by siding with the players’ union during a strike…. – NYT, 5-27-09
  • Sotomayor’s take-no-guff demeanor could alter court dynamics: Judge Sonia Sotomayor can be blunt, aggressive and impatient. So get ready for another public debate, and probably some insinuations, about her judicial temperament….
    “It’s her style,” said New York -based lawyer Julia Heit , who counts herself among Sotomayor’s fans and who’s practiced in Sotomayor’s 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for three decades. “She wants answers. She wants the attorneys who appear before her to be prepared. And she’s demanding, as she well should be. “As an aside, I should say life will be easier when I don’t have to confront her.”… – McClatchy Newspapers, 5-27-09
  • Bronx bursting with pride over Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor: Local officials say the judge gives the New York City borough a new ambassador to improve its image problems…. – LAT, 5-27-09
  • No filibuster, but Sotomayor battle still loom: Republicans see little chance of blocking Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, a key GOP senator conceded Wednesday. But senators and advocacy groups are still girding for this summer’s battle — partly with an eye toward raising money and perhaps preparing for Barack Obama’s next nominee…. – AP, 5-27-09
  • Historic nomination: Hispanic Sotomayor as justice: Reaching for history, President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, championing her as a compassionate, seasoned jurist whose against-the-odds life journey affirms the American dream. Republicans who will decide whether to make a fight of her confirmation said they want thorough hearings…. – AP, 5-26-09
  • Obama Chooses Sotomayor for Supreme Court Nominee – NYT, 5-26-09
  • Sotomayor’s Rulings Are Exhaustive but Often Narrow: Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial opinions are marked by diligence, depth and unflashy competence. If they are not always a pleasure to read, they are usually models of modern judicial craftsmanship, which prizes careful attention to the facts in the record and a methodical application of layers of legal principles…. – NYT, 5-26-09
  • Biased or brilliant? Scrutiny of Sotomayor begins Obama’s high-court pick is no ‘stealth candidate.’ She has made some 450 judicial decisions. What’s more, she has not been shy about expressing her opinions publicly: The nomination of federal appeals-court judge Sonia Sotomayor to a seat on the US Supreme Court sets the stage for a national debate over the appropriate role of a high-court justice and whether Judge Sotomayor is the best person for the job. But the debate may ultimately be far less aggressive than many conservative stalwarts would like. Short of a revelation of personal scandal, Sotomayor is almost certain to be confirmed with a solid Democratic majority in the Senate. And an aggressive campaign against her by Republicans could harm the party, already reeling from a poor performance last November and a decline in support among Hispanics…. – CS Monitor, 5-26-09
  • Sotomayor’s Baseball Ruling Lingers, 14 Years Later: When he introduced Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday as his nominee for the Supreme Court, President Obama cited only one of her cases to make his argument that she replace Justice David H. Souter — and it wasn’t her opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano, a race-discrimination lawsuit. Instead, it was the temporary injunction she issued to end the baseball strike in 1995. “Some say that Judge Sotomayor saved baseball,” said Obama, who offered another paragraph of praise for her before saying she was raised “not far from Yankee Stadium.”…. – NYT, 5-26-09
  • Sotomayor would be sixth Catholic justice: Judge Sonia Sotomayor has much to distinguish her, but one element of her biography stands out in the world of those interested in religion and the public square: she is Catholic, and, if approved as a Supreme Court justice, she will be the sixth Catholic on the nine-member court. That is a remarkable accomplishment for American Catholics, who make up 23 percent of the nation’s population, and will now potentially hold 67 percent of the high court’s seats. Two of the justices are Jewish; the resignation of Justice David Souter, who is an Episcopalian, will leave, amazingly given the history of this nation, just one Protestant on the Supreme Court, 89-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens…. – Boston Globe, 5-26-09
  • L.A. Latinos savor Supreme Court choice: It’s about time, some say, as President Obama nominates federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She would be the court’s first Latina…. – LAT, 5-26-09
  • Court Nomination Creates a Puff of Pride, and Some Concerns, Among Hispanics: In restaurants, homes and offices across the country, Hispanics responded to Judge Sotomayor’s selection with a puff of pride, some gratitude and considerable discussion. In interviews in Miami, Los Angeles and New York, many said this kind of recognition from Washington — Democratic or Republican — was long overdue given the growing size of the Hispanic voting bloc…. – NYT, 5-26-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President and Judge Sotomayor

Political Quotes

  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls for Thorough and Timely Confirmation for Judge Sonia Sotomayor: This week, I nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Court of Appeals to replace Justice David Souter, who is retiring after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court. After reviewing many terrific candidates, I am certain that she is the right choice. In fact, there has not been a nominee in several generations who has brought the depth of judicial experience to this job that she offers…. – White House, 5-30-09
  • Gingrich Calls Sotomayor “Racist”: “Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman,'” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., blogged today. “Wouldn’t they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism. A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.” The conservatives are decrying a comment made by Judge Sotomayor in 2001, addressing former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s famous quote that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.” “I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement,” Sotomayor said. “First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” “Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society,” she said…. – ABC News, 5-27-09
  • No filibuster, but Sotomayor battle still loom: Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he didn’t foresee a filibuster, essentially the only way Republicans could try to stop Sotomayor since Democrats control the Senate. Still, he made it clear that Republicans were ready to raise pointed questions about whether Sotomayor, the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, would let her personal life color her legal opinions — and whether that’s appropriate for a Supreme Court justice.
    “We have an absolute constitutional duty to make sure that any nominee, no matter what their background and what kind of life story they have, that we examine that so the American people can know that the person we give a lifetime appointment to … will be faithful to the law and not allow their personal views to influence decision-making,” Sessions said in an interview on NBC’s “Today.” – AP, 5-27-09
  • The President’s Nominee: Judge Sonia Sotomayor – WH Blog, 5-26-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN NOMINATING JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: Of the many responsibilities granted to a President by our Constitution, few are more serious or more consequential than selecting a Supreme Court justice. The members of our highest court are granted life tenure, often serving long after the Presidents who appointed them. And they are charged with the vital task of applying principles put to paper more than 20 [sic] centuries ago to some of the most difficult questions of our time.
    So I don’t take this decision lightly. I’ve made it only after deep reflection and careful deliberation. While there are many qualities that I admire in judges across the spectrum of judicial philosophy, and that I seek in my own nominee…..
    After completing this exhaustive process, I have decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice: Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the great state of New York. (Applause.)
    Over a distinguished career that spans three decades, Judge Sotomayor has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice….. – White House, 5-26-09
  • JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Thank you, Mr. President, for the most humbling honor of my life. You have nominated me to serve on the country’s highest court, and I am deeply moved…..
    It is a daunting feeling to be here. Eleven years ago, during my confirmation process for appointment to the Second Circuit, I was given a private tour of the White House. It was an overwhelming experience for a kid from the South Bronx. Yet never in my wildest childhood imaginings did I ever envision that moment, let alone did I ever dream that I would live this moment.
    Mr. President, I greatly appreciate the honor you are giving me, and I look forward to working with the Senate in the confirmation process. I hope that as the Senate and the American people learn more about me they will see that I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences.
    Thank you again, sir. (Applause.) – White House, 5-26-09
  • Obama makes Sotomayor his first Supreme Court nominee: President Barack Obama nominated Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, Reuters reports. “I have decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the great state of New York,” Obama said in a White House event announcing his decision…. – National Post, 5-26-09
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev: “As majority leader, I will do all I can to ensure Judge Sonia Sotomayor receives a fair and respectful hearing and the Senate’s quick confirmation.”
  • Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky: “Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law evenhandedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.”
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee: “Judge Sotomayor has a long and distinguished career on the federal bench. She has been nominated by both Democratic and Republican presidents, and she was twice confirmed by the Senate with strong, bipartisan support.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican: “We must determine if Ms. Sotomayor understands that the proper role of a judge is to act as a neutral umpire of the law, calling balls and strikes fairly without regard to one’s own personal preferences or political views.”
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., member of the Judiciary Committee: “This is an historic choice, and much more. Judge Sotomayor meets three very important standards in filling this Supreme Court vacancy — excellence, moderation and diversity.”
  • Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, member of the Judiciary Committee: “She must prove her commitment to impartially deciding cases based on the law, rather than based on her own personal politics, feelings and preferences.”
  • Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., member of the Judiciary Committee: “Her confirmation would add needed diversity in two ways: the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the high court.”
  • Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, member of the Judiciary Committee: “The Judiciary Committee should take time to ensure that the nominee will be true to the Constitution and apply the law, not personal politics, feelings or preferences.”
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.: “With eight men, one woman and no Hispanics currently sitting on the court, President Obama listened to voices like former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in recognizing that diversity on the bench is essential.”
  • John Yoo, former Justice Department lawyer who wrote memos during the Bush administration on the legality of harsh interrogation techniques: “Sotomayor’s record on the bench, at first glance, appears undistinguished. She will not bring to the table the firepower that many liberal academics are asking for.”
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: “I congratulate Judge Sonia Sotomayor on her nomination by the president to be an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court. I look forward to examining her record thoroughly during the Senate confirmation process.”
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., member of the Judiciary Committee: “I am impressed that Judge Sotomayor is someone who knows the Constitution and the law, but who also knows America.”
  • Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine: “I commend President Obama for nominating a well-qualified woman.” Delegate Pedro Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico.: “Puerto Ricans, both on the island and in the 50 states, take great pride in today’s historic appointment. The story of Sonia Sotomayor is truly an inspiration.” —
  • Wendy Long, counsel to the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network: “She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal activist Supreme Court.”
  • Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens: “The Supreme Court should reflect the diverse population of the U.S. to ensure the highest court understands the unique circumstances of all Americans.”
  • Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: “Republicans will reserve judgment on Sonia Sotomayor until there has been a thorough and thoughtful examination of her legal views.”
  • Larry Klayman, founder, chairman and general counsel of Freedom Watch: “While I would have liked to see a more conservative libertarian type on the high court, President Obama’s selection of New York federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor was a very prudent and wise decision from a far left liberal like Obama.” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous: “It brings us one step closer to the inclusive democracy that is the hallmark and promise of our great nation. Judge Sotomayor has the track record, the intellectual fortitude and the life experiences that will serve our nation well.”
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., member of the Judiciary Committee: “The president has chosen a very solid and tested woman as his nominee for the United States Supreme Court.”
  • Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.: “Judge Sotomayor’s remarkable life story is an inspiring example of the American dream, and she has a highly distinguished legal background. She’ll bring intelligence, insight, and experience to the vital work of protecting the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans.”
  • Raul Danny Vargas, national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly: “Her compelling personal story of overcoming adversity to achieve success through hard work and education are to be celebrated. We look forward to a fair and thorough confirmation process, a courtesy some Democrats did not afford to some conservative Hispanic judicial nominees during the Bush administration.”
  • Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.: “I supported Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1998 and from all accounts, she is a highly qualified and very experienced judge.”
  • Rush Limbaugh: “A majority of Republicans are going to be scared to death to oppose her … because the Dems are going to use … race, identity politics, minority status, feminism, to criticize me and any other Republican that dares oppose her.”

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Alan Abramowitz “US top court pick may lure Hispanic votes”: Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. population and 9 percent of the electorate and they voted around 68 percent for Obama in 2008, said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “Appointing a Hispanic woman … makes a lot of sense politically” in terms of consolidating Hispanic votes, said Abramowitz. – Reuters, 5-26-09
  • Dennis J. Hutchinson “Sotomayor Would Make It 6 Catholics on the Court”: Experts have been split on what the Catholic majority has meant so far. They point out that Catholics on the bench historically have spanned the spectrum from liberal to conservative. Dennis J. Hutchinson, a court historian at the University of Chicago, noted in 2005 that one of the most liberal Supreme Court justices of the 20th century, William J. Brennan, was a Catholic, and so is one of the most conservative, Scalia. The religious affiliation of the justices is not a burning issue because “we’ve learned that Catholics can be conservative or liberal, and that in terms of judges, ideology trumps any sort of presumption about church doctrine — and that’s true whether the justice is a Protestant, a Catholic or a Jew,” he said. – WaPo, 5-26-09
  • David Garrow “Speculation abounds in upcoming high court vacancy”: “How long the hearings last really depends on who the nominee is,” said David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Supreme Court expert. “If he or she falls into what I call the ‘Breyer category,’ where nobody could find anything objectionable to say about this guy, hearings will be a breeze. If he falls into perhaps the ‘Bork category,’ anything goes.”… – CNN, 5-19-09
%d bloggers like this: