Political Highlights February 28, 2011: Governors & Tea Party Meet — Obama Congress Budget Showdown; Threat of Government Shutdown — Wisconsin’s Gov. Walker & Union Wars — Unrest in the Middle East & Libya

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama and a bipartisan group of governors in the State Dining Room
The President tells Governors that from infrastructure to the health reform law, he wants to give them “the flexibility that you need to find your own innovative ways forward.”

STATS & POLLS

  • Almost Six in Ten Americans Give President Obama Negative Job Rating Almost nine in ten give Congress negative ratings: Going into these battles, almost three in five Americans (58%) have a negative opinion of the job the President is doing while 42% have a positive opinion of it. This is slightly down from last month when 44% of U.S. adults gave the job the President was doing positive marks and 56% gave it negative ratings…. – PRNewswire, 2-28-11
  • Gallup poll: Obama’s approval ratings fell across U.S. in 2010: The Gallup survey says President Obama’s approval rating is above 50% in a dozen states, and in 10 states his approval rating is lower than 40%…. – LAT, 2-23-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Egyptian protesters taped a flag on the front doors of the Libyan Embassy in Cairo on Sunday.

  • Gaddafi opponents spread control deeper into west Libya: The popular revolt that has already seen opponents of Col. Moammar Gaddafi’s 41-year-rule claim the eastern half of the country spread deeper into the west on Sunday, with rock-wielding residents…. – WaPo, 2-27-11
  • Libya rebels set up first political leadership: Politicians in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi said Sunday they are setting up a council to run day-to-day affairs in the eastern half of the country under their control, the first attempt to create a leadership body that could eventually form an alternative to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. A day after a high-ranking minister who defected from the government said he was setting up a provisional government, a prominent human rights lawyer, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, held a news conference in Benghazi to shoot down the claim. Instead, he said politicians in the east were establishing a transitional council to manage daily life in the rebel-controlled areas until Gadhafi falls…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Tunisian interim prime minister resigns: The premier, who served in the same post under deposed President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, bows to public pressure and street protests demanding that all traces of the old regime be removed…. – LAT, 2-27-11
  • UN, world further isolate Libya’s Gadhafi: Armed with tough Security Council sanctions, the U.N. and many nations began moving to isolate Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from the international community in hopes of halting his deadly crackdown on protesters. The council voted 15-0 late Saturday to impose an arms embargo and urged U.N. member countries to freeze the assets of Gadhafi, four of his sons and a daughter. The council also backed a travel ban on the Gadhafi family and close associates, including leaders of the revolutionary committees accused of much of the violence against regime opponents…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • British military discreetly evacuates 150 nationals from Libya: In a hush-hush rescue mission, British planes land in the desert to take 150 oil workers and their families to Malta. A Royal Navy frigate is expected to arrive in Benghazi on Sunday to pick up some of the 300 Britons believed to still be in Libya…. – LAT, 2-26-11
  • Foreigners in Libya report being beaten, robbed: Guest workers from Egypt, Tunisia and other nations tell of being attacked by Libyan security forces, robbed and accused of being traitors and inciting the uprising against Moammar Kadafi…. – LAT, 2-26-11
  • Security Council Calls for War Crimes Inquiry in Libya: The UN Security Council called for an international war crimes investigation into “widespread and systemic attacks” against Libyan citizens. NYT, 2-26-11
  • Obama says Gadhafi must leave Libya ‘now’: President Barack Obama says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must leave now. Obama made the comments to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a private telephone conversation Saturday as they discussed the violence in Libya. The White House says Obama told Merkel that when a leader’s only means of holding power is to use violence against his people, then he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what’s right for his country by “leaving now.”… – AP, 2-26-11
  • Libya’s Gaddafi vows to “triumph over the enemy”: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Friday vowed defiantly to triumph over his enemies, urging his supporters in Tripoli’s Green Square to protect Libya and its petroleum interests.
    “Get ready to fight for Libya, get ready to fight for dignity, get ready to fight for petroleum.” The Libyan leader, who has lost swathes of his country to rebels, said: “Respond to them, put them to shame” and “we can triumph over the enemies.”
    Blowing kisses to his supporters and then shaking his fist in the air, Gaddafi said: “This nation, we are the nation of dignity and integrity, this nation has triumphed over (former colonial power) Italy.”
    Gaddafi shouted: “You must dance, sing, and prepare yourself … this spirit you have is stronger than any other attempt by the foreigners and the enemies to destroy us.”… – Reuters, 2-25-11
  • White House: Libyans have lost faith in Gadhafi: Obama spokesman Jay Carney stopped short of calling for Gadhafi to step down. But he says it’s clear that Gadhafi’s legitimacy has been “reduced to zero.”… – AP, 2-25-11
  • Obama discusses Libya options with Turkish leader: President Barack Obama is consulting with world leaders on possible steps to deal with the violence in Libya, speaking Friday morning with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan… – AP, 2-25-11
  • Gadhafi says he’s only a ‘symbolic leader,’ blames unrest on al-QaedaUSA Today, 2-24-11
  • International Pressure Mounts on Libyan Leader to Step Down: International pressure is mounting on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose violent crackdown on opposition protesters has drawn widespread condemnation…. – Voice of America, 2-25-11
  • Libya: Gaddafi Rages As World Talks Continue: Forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi hit back at rebel-held towns near the Libyan capital, as world leaders struggled to coordinate action against the dictator…. – Sky News, 2-25-11
  • Obama reaching out to Britain, France on Libya: President Barack Obama is stepping up diplomatic efforts to address the violent crackdown in Libya…. – AP, 2-24-11
  • UN to meet on further options against Libya: The U.N. Security Council will meet Friday to consider actions against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime that could include sanctions aimed at deterring his violent crackdown on anti-government protesters…. – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama dispatches Clinton for talks on Libya: President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned the violence in Libya as “outrageous … and unacceptable” and said he was dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Geneva for international talks aimed at stopping the violence.
    Obama said he was studying a “full range of options” to pressure Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime to halt attacks against Libyans as violent clashes spread throughout the North African country. He said the options included possible sanctions that the U.S. could take with its allies as well as steps it might take by itself.
    “We are doing everything we can to protect American citizens,” Obama said in brief remarks at the White House, his first public comments after days of violence in Libya. He appeared with Clinton after the two conferred on the situation at the White House. Clinton is traveling to Geneva on Monday for talks on Libya.
    “We strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya,” Obama said. “The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya.”… – AP, 2-23-11
  • Newspaper review: Events in Libya remain the focus: A row of dominos is collapsing on top of Colonel Gaddafi, who holds, in one hand, a machine gun and, in the other, an umbrella. Most offer their opinion on the dictator’s latest televised speech – at once comic and disturbing, they say…. – BBC News, 2-23-11
  • US to evacuate Americans from Libya by ferry: The State Department said late Tuesday it has chartered a ferry boat to evacuate Americans from Libya by sea amid increasingly violent unrest in the North African state as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vowed further crackdowns on opponents seeking his ouster.
    In a notice sent to U.S. citizens in Libya, the department said Americans wishing to leave Libya should report to the As-shahab port in the capital of Tripoli with their passports starting at 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The ferry will depart for the Mediterranean island of Malta no later than 3 p.m. local time…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Gadhafi forces strike back at revolt near Tripoli: Army units and militiamen loyal to Moammar Gadhafi struck back against rebellious protesters who have risen up in cities close to the capital Thursday, attacking a mosque where many had taken refuge and battling with others who had seized control of a local airport.
    The assaults aimed to push back a revolt that has moved closer to Gadhafi’s bastion in the capital, Tripoli. The uprising has already broken away nearly the eastern half of Libya and unraveled parts of Gadhafi’s regime…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Jackson Diehl: Is the Obama administration soft on Gaddafi?: For the Obama administration, Libya ought to be the easy case in the Middle East’s turmoil. Dictator Moammar Gaddafi, aptly labeled a “mad dog” by Ronald Reagan 25 years ago, is no friend of the United States, unlike Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak… – WaPo, 2-22-11
  • US condemns ‘appalling’ violence in Libya: The Obama administration on Tuesday condemned “appalling” violence in Libya, where security forces unleashed a bloody crackdown on protesters demanding the ouster of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. “This violence is completely unacceptable,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. “We believe that the government of Libya bears responsibility for what is occurring and must take actions to end the violence.”… – AP, 2-22-11

THE HEADLINES….

The President on Libya
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 2/23/11
  • Obama lends support to states’ health alternative: In a concession over his divisive health care overhaul, President Barack Obama offered Monday to let unhappy states design alternative plans as long as they fulfill the goals of his landmark law.
    Addressing the nation’s governors, Obama also challenged state chiefs who have sought to balance their budgets through weakening unions and curbing employees’ benefits, telling them that they should not demonize workers.
    “I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service,” the president said…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Tea party members vow to hold GOP accountable: Antsy for results, tea party supporters gathered for a weekend strategy summit say they’re intent on making sure the Republicans they helped return to power last fall live up to promises to dramatically change course in Washington. That idea emerged as an apparent consensus among the more than 2,000 people attending the Tea Party Patriots event, which wrapped up Sunday in Arizona. The meeting of the conservative-libertarian coalition was filled with warnings to the GOP not to squander their new base of support, at the risk of diminished help or challenges from the right.
    Among the messages from attendees: Congress is too timid when it comes to slashing spending, Republican leaders seem too willing to compromise with President Barack Obama to avoid a government shutdown, and the newly empowered GOP won’t take a firm enough stand to tamp down the nation’s debt…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • NJ gov compliments first lady’s health efforts: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who says he’s struggled with a weight problem most of his life, he thinks first lady Michelle Obama is doing well to speak in favor of healthy eating and exercise…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Tea Party Group Issues Warning to the G.O.P.: While heaping scorn on President Obama and the Democrats for overspending, more than 2,000 members of the Tea Party Patriots gathered here for a national conference also had strong words on Saturday for Congressional Republicans and vowed to vote them out of office next year if they did not move aggressively to cut the budget.
    They offered up Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, locked in a standoff with his state’s public-sector unions, as a model of budget-cutting fervor. Mr. Walker remained in Wisconsin, but the mere mention of his name led to a standing ovation. It was Washington, not Wisconsin, though, that seemed the source of the most ire…. – NYT, 2-26-11
  • Governors Look for Means to Cope With Budgets: Democratic governors warned Saturday that federal budget cuts could crimp a fragile economic recovery, and governors of both major parties asked the Obama administration to give them more flexibility in running education and health care programs so that they could cope…. NYT, 2-26-11
  • Anxiety on all sides of upcoming House hearing on radicalization of US MuslimsWaPo, 2-26-11
  • US Economy Grew 2.8% in Fourth Quarter; Revised From 3.2%: The US economy grew at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, slower than previously calculated and less than forecast as state and local governments made deeper cuts in spending…. – Bloomberg, 2-25-11
  • Tea party uses Ariz. summit to scope out 2012 role: A couple of thousand tea party members convening a weekend summit in Phoenix are determined to have a say in choosing the next Republican nominee for president. The populist, conservative movement poses an enticing but complicated challenge for potential GOP candidates because it’s comprised of engaged voters who are generally skeptical of the political establishment…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Tea Party at second anniversary: What happens next?: “It’s time to get serious about … a long-term policy,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder says Phoenix (CNN) — The Tea Party has already stitched together a colorful history made of success and failure, anger and optimism and lots of controversy…. – CNN International, 2-26-11
  • Govs to feds: Avoid causing states any more pain: Their states on the brink of financial catastrophe, governors pleaded Saturday for the divided federal government to avoid doing anything that would hamper the tenuous economic recovery back home.
    Their message to Washington: prevent a government shutdown, abstain from spending cuts that dramatically will affect states and end even preliminary discussions about allowing states to declare bankruptcy.
    “Anything that Congress does that will undermine our recovery is quite troublesome to us,” said Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, head of the National Governors Association, as she opened the bipartisan group’s winter meeting. “We’re asking for cooperation.” “We don’t need a hiccup now in our recovery,” she added. “We are fragile.”… – AP, 2-26-11
  • Daley tells activists to keep fighting, keep faith: White House chief of staff Bill Daley told Democratic activists Saturday to “keep up the fight” and not lose faith despite continued hard economic times. Daley recalled the days after the November elections, when Republicans won the House and increased their ranks in the Senate…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Signs of progress in averting government shutdown: Lawmakers appear to be moving closer to a compromise that would prevent a government shutdown, at least for now. Democrats say they’re encouraged by efforts to narrow the gap on possible spending cuts, but are pushing back against Republican efforts to force their position on Congress. House Republicans on Friday detailed a proposal to cut $4 billion in federal spending as part of legislation to keep the government operating for two weeks past a March 4 deadline. They urged Senate Democrats to accept their approach and avoid a government shutdown…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Obama says government shutdown imperils economy: President Barack Obama says the economic recovery will stall if Congress can’t agree on spending cuts and avoid a government shutdown. The current budget expires next Friday. That means lawmakers must OK a new spending plan before the March 4 deadline to keep much of the government from running out of money and closing. The Republican-run House and Democratic-controlled Senate are bickering over how much to cut.
    “For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. “I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth.”… – AP, 2-26-11
  • Obama says Gadhafi’s time is up as Libya’s leader: President Barack Obama dropped the careful condemnation, threats of consequences and the reminders to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime about its responsibility to avoid violence. In their place he delivered a more forceful message to the Libyan leader: Leave.
    The president called on Gadhafi to step down for the first time Saturday, saying that the Libyan government must be held accountable for its brutal crackdown on dissenters. The administration also announced new sanctions against Libya, but that was overshadowed by the sharp demand for Gadhafi’s immediate ouster…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Republicans Urge Democrats to Accept Budget Cut, Avoid Shutdown: House Republicans demanded that Senate Democrats accept their plan to cut $4 billion in federal spending while keeping the government open until mid-March or bear responsibility for “actively engineering” a shutdown. Each party has offered a short-term extension of the government’s spending authority that expires March 4. Without agreement by then, agencies will close.
    House Republican leaders said their proposed two-week extension, to be released later today, would cut $4 billion from programs President Barack Obama has already targeted for reductions in his 2012 budget proposal. Their plan also would eliminate lawmakers’ special projects, known as earmarks, which Obama has pledged to veto. “If Senate Democrats walk away from this offer” then “they are actively engineering a government shutdown,” Deputy Republican Whip Pete Roskam of Illinois told reporters on a conference call…. – Bloomberg, 2-25-11
  • State conservatives pledge to uphold Defense of Marriage Act: A Bay State conservative group yesterday promised to take up the legal fight against gay marriage in the wake of the historic decision by the Obama administration to abandon its defense of the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act… – Boston Herald, 2-24-11
  • Jeremy Bernard: A historic choice for White House social secretary: The White House is set to make news and history this afternoon when it announces the new social secretary. Jeremy Bernard, currently the chief of staff to the U.S. ambassador to France, will become the third person to hold the job in the Obama administration. But he will be the first man and the first openly gay person to be the first family’s and the executive mansion’s chief event planner and host…. – WaPo, 2-25-11
  • Tea Party at second anniversary: What happens next?: “It’s time to get serious about … a long-term policy,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder says Phoenix (CNN) — The Tea Party has already stitched together a colorful history made of success and failure, anger and optimism and lots of controversy. CNN International, 2-25-11
  • Obama rejects Defense of Marriage Act: The Obama administration delivered an unexpected victory to gay-rights activists yesterday, declaring that a law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and discriminatory and that Department of Justice lawyers will no longer defend it in court…. – Boston Globe, 2-25-11
  • White House meets lobbyists off campus: Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident. It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public.
    “They’re doing it on the side. It’s better than nothing,” said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none…. – Politico, 2-24-11
  • White House reverberates with Motown sound, moves: The White House reverberated like a long-ago basement sound studio in Detroit on Thursday as the likes of John Legend, Seal, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas and Sheryl Crow channeled their inner Motown before Michelle and Barack Obama. Musical pioneers Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder joined in for the celebration of all things Motown.
    Obama called it “the soundtrack of the civil rights era,” and credited Motown’s tight lyrics, catchy melodies and deep soul with helping to “blur the line between music that was considered either black or white.”
    Foxx, Seal, Legend and Jonas launched the East Room concert celebrating the Motown sound with a high-energy medley in which the four took turns as backup dancers, complete with some smooth dance moves to the likes of “Get Ready,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Can’t Get Next to You” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”… – AP, 2-24-11
  • Conservatives vow to make gay marriage an issue in 2012: Angered conservatives are vowing to make same-sex marriage a front-burner election issue, nationally and in the states, following the Obama administration’s announcement that it will no longer defend the federal law denying recognition to gay married couples…. – WaPo, 2-24-11
  • Conservatives vow to make gay marriage 2012 issue: Angered conservatives are vowing to make same-sex marriage a front-burner election issue, nationally and in the states, following the Obama administration’s announcement that it will no longer defend the federal law denying recognition to gay married couples.
    “The ripple effect nationwide will be to galvanize supporters of marriage,” said staff counsel Jim Campbell of Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group… – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama confident oil prices will stabilize: President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s confident that markets will be able to ride out the situation in Libya and the price of oil will stabilize. Obama made the brief comments during a discussion with a new council of business and labor leaders he’s appointed to work on economic competitiveness. He said that energy costs are generally a source of uncertainty for businesses. But as for the spike in oil prices, the president said: “We think we’ll be able to ride out the situation in Libya and it will stabilize.”… – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama: Unemployment the biggest economic challenge: Obama told his newly created competitiveness council Thursday that its top priority must be creating jobs during a period of fiscal restraint… AP, 2-24-11
  • Saudi man charged with plotting terrorist attack: A college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas bought explosive chemicals online as part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said Thursday. “After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad,” or holy war, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari wrote in his private journal, according to court documents…. – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama sharpens critique of Libya amid wider unrest: The Obama administration on Wednesday sharpened its condemnation of a bloody crackdown on Libyan opposition demonstrators as it broadened its outreach to government officials, dissidents, rights activists and youth in other Arab nations across a Middle East that is seething with unrest. Amid the tumult rocking the region, Obama condemned the violence in Libya in the sharpest terms Washington has yet used and directed his administration to prepare a full range of options, including possible sanctions that could freeze the assets and ban travel to the U.S. by Libyan officials. He said he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Geneva for international talks aimed at stopping the bloodshed and formulating a unified global message to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
    “The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable,” Obama told reporters after meeting with Clinton at the White House. “So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.”… – AP, 2-23-11
  • Obama denounces Cuba’s treatment of dissidents: Obama said Zapata’s “selfless and tragic death” had “galvanized the world’s attention to the ongoing mistreatment of those unjustly held by Cuban authorities.” “The Cuban people must know that their suffering does not go unnoticed and that the United States remains unwavering in our commitment to defend the inalienable right of the Cuban people to enjoy the freedoms that define the Americas and that are universal to all human beings,” he said…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Government drops defense of anti-gay-marriage law: President Barack Obama ordered his administration on Wednesday to stop defending the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of gay marriage, a policy reversal that could have major implications for the rights and benefits of gay couples and reignite an emotional debate for the 2012 presidential campaign. Obama still is “grappling” with his personal views on whether gays should be allowed to marry but has long opposed the federal law as unnecessary and unfair, said spokesman Jay Carney. First word of the change came not from the White House but from the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Obama had concluded the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was legally indefensible…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • WH: Obama still ‘grappling’ with gay marriage: The White House says President Barack Obama is “grappling” with his personal views on gay marriage even as he’s ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of a law that bans it. Spokesman Jay Carney said Obama has always opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as “unnecessary and unfair.” But Carney said there’s no change to how Obama views gay marriage itself…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Judge tosses suit against Obama health care plan: A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit claiming that President Barack Obama’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance violates the religious freedom of those who rely on God to protect them. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian legal group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, on behalf of five Americans who can afford health insurance but have chosen for years not to buy it…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Obama pitches economic message one state at a time: Twenty months ahead of the 2012 election, President Barack Obama is traveling the nation, vying for the public’s attention one state at a time, while international crises and budget fights compete with his plans for economic revival. On Tuesday, Obama curried favor with small businesses in politically important Ohio, pushing his plans to boost American competitiveness by increasing spending on sectors like education and infrastructure. That agenda, however, is running up against opposition from some Republican governors in cash-strapped states, and GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, whose demands for deep spending cuts raise the prospect of a federal government shutdown…. – AP, 2-22-11
  • Qaddafi’s Grip on Power Appears to WeakenNYT, 2-21-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Boehner signals reluctance about shutdown: ‘Americans want the government to stay open,’ the House speaker says. Meanwhile, a Democratic senator indicates that a Republican spending plan could lead to a temporary agreement…. – LAT, 2-28-11
  • A New Discussion About a Profession That Isn’t: Brooke Taylor voted for Harry Reid in his battle for re-election to the Senate last fall. But now she is incensed…. Now Mr. Reid’s comments are reopening the oldest debate about the oldest profession. And Ms. Taylor is rallying her army of fans and clients to fight back.
    Prostitution never emerged as an issue during the Reid campaign. But then Mr. Reid, a Democrat and the Senate majority leader, returned to his home state last week for his address to the Legislature. “When the nation thinks about Nevada, it should think about the world’s newest ideas and newest careers, not about its oldest profession,” Mr. Reid said. “If we want to attract business to Nevada that puts people back to work, the time has come to outlaw prostitution.”… – NYT, 2-27-11
  • Boehner makes budget case at religious convention: House Speaker John Boehner in a speech to religious broadcasters on Sunday called it a “moral responsibility” to rein in the federal debt. Boehner said Republicans will work to prevent a shutdown of the federal government, but not without spending cuts.
    “Perhaps the activists of unrestrained government think there’s some compromise to be had that allows their spending binge to survive,” the Ohio Republican said in a 25-minute speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville. “Ladies and gentlemen, know this: We will do no such thing.” “We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face,” Boehner said. “That means working together to cut spending and rein in government — not shutting it down.”…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • GOP House freshmen draw mixed response at home: Newly elected Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, like dozens of other freshman members, was sent to Congress on a promise to slash government spending. And slash it she did, voting last weekend to cut $61 billion from the current federal budget and to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan.
    Buerkle, who defeated first-term Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei by less than 600 votes in a district that favored Obama in 2008, is one of 87 House GOP freshmen — six from New York alone — swept into office by voters demanding greater fiscal discipline in Washington. But at town halls and other constituent meetings during this week’s Congressional recess, GOP lawmakers — particularly from swing districts like Buerkle’s — were grilled for making good on that promise.
    But others, like Florida Rep. Allen West, won standing ovations from huge crowds. Others, like Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold and Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan, drew parents pushing baby strollers protesting potential cuts to Head Start, the federal school readiness program for young children…. – AP, 2-25-11
  • House GOP says shutdown would be irresponsible: House Republicans on Friday detailed a proposal to slash $4 billion in federal spending as part of legislation to keep the government operating for two weeks past a March 4 deadline. They urged Senate Democrats to accept their approach and avoid a government shutdown.
    “A government shutdown is not an acceptable or responsible option for Republicans,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said in a conference call where he and other Republicans promoted their plan for avoiding the first government shutdown since 1996…. – AP, 2-25-11
  • Reid proposes 30-day bill to avert shutdown: The top Democrat in the Senate said Tuesday that he’ll bring legislation to the floor next week to keep the government running at current spending levels for 30 days to avoid a shutdown in March.
    The move by Majority Leader Harry Reid is in keeping with longstanding tradition, but it was immediately rejected by GOP leaders who assailed the Nevada Democrat for freezing spending at levels inflated by generous budget increases provided under President Barack Obama.
    A short-term bill is required because the House on Saturday passed a $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill to finance the government through Sept. 30. That measure would slash domestic agency budgets by more than $60 billion over the last seven months of the budget year, which would lead to widespread furloughs of federal workers and dismantle a host of environmental regulations…. – AP, 2-22-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Laura Segall/Getty Images

Like many addressing the Tea Party Patriots, Tim Pawlenty got in a dig at President Obama.

  • Poll: Americans oppose weaker unions: Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law…. – USA Today, 2-22-11
  • The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions: Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin…. Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers…. – Forbes, 2-25-11
  • Hundreds defy order to vacate Wisconsin CapitolMSNBC, 2-27-11
  • Governors meld minds on mending budget ills: A national governors meeting focused on closing huge state budget gaps showed chief executives deeply divided Sunday over whether a Wisconsin plan that has sparked weeks of protests by public employees is the way to go…. – USA Today, 2-27-11
  • Rallies in 50 states support Wis. protesters: Demonstrations against Gov. Walker’s anti-labor bill spread as other states consider rolling back rights of union workers…. – CBS News, 2-26-11
  • Deadline nears to clear Wisconsin Capitol: The hundreds of people who have called the Capitol home these past two weeks last week have formed a village, demonstrating a common determination to sleep on marble, fight for a common cause and make a heck of a lot of noise…. – USA Today, 2-26-11
  • Governors head to D.C., minds set on economy: Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, probably won’t come. He’s at home battling absentee Democratic lawmakers, unions and protesters over proposed changes to collective bargaining…. – USA Today, 2-25-11
  • Wisconsin GOP wins Round 1 over unions, but final victory still eludes: The Wisconsin GOP-led Assembly approved a bill Friday to sharply curtail the power of public employee unions. But the battle for public opinion, in Wisconsin and the nation, goes on, with the state Senate yet to vote…. – CS Monitor, 2-25-11
  • Gov. Christie says trade not a partisan issue: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that trade shouldn’t be a partisan issue if America wants to get a leg up in the global economy.
    “Trade is not a partisan issue when President Obama nominates Governor Christie to be on anything,” Christie joked. “America has to reach out around the world to grow our economy,” he said…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • State budget crisis looms over governors meeting: Confronting crushing budget woes, many of the nation’s governors are calling for painful spending cuts. But beyond that, their approaches are diverging drastically, from union-cramping proposals in Wisconsin and other states to higher taxes in Illinois and elsewhere. Most states’ chief executives are struggling to plug massive budget holes without pushing unemployment higher and hampering a fragile post-recession recovery, and that’s setting a worrisome atmosphere as they gather in Washington for their winter meeting. Not all are coming; some are choosing to stay at home to wage budget battles with their legislatures…. – AP, 2-25-11
  • Workers expand budget wars to more states: The standoff in Wisconsin over budget cuts spread to other states Tuesday as union leaders began to organize protests in other capitals… – Seattle Times, 2-23-11
  • Rahm to Obama: I couldn’t have done it without you: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel turned President Obama’s glowing send-off into a near-endorsement that helped Emanuel claim a majority of the black vote…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 2-23-11
  • Emanuel faces big money woes as next Chicago mayor: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel won’t have much time to celebrate his victory as Chicago’s new mayor. Emanuel, who overwhelmed the race with truckloads of money and friends in high places from Washington to Hollywood, will take control of a city in deep financial trouble with problems ranging from an understaffed police department to underperforming schools.
    On Tuesday, Emanuel won 55 percent of the vote, easily outdistancing former Chicago schools president Gery Chico, who had 24 percent, and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk Miguel del Valle, who each had 9 percent. He succeeds Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is retiring after 22 years in office as the longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Daley leaves legacy for next mayor: Chicago mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun smiled at US Representative Danny Davis (right) at a rally yesterday. Braun, a former US senator, is one of six people on today’s ballot…. – Boston Globe, 2-22-11
  • New Jersey mayors hold their breath over state budget: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has built a national reputation as a fiscal conservative, but New Jersey mayors say they worry a $10.5 billion budget gap will be closed at their expense…. – Reuters, 2-21-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Gingrich closer to presidential run: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich intends to take a formal step toward entering the 2012 presidential race within the next two weeks, Republican officials said Sunday, after months spent traveling to important primary and caucus states.
    These officials declined to say precisely what type of announcement the 67-year-old former Georgia lawmaker would make, but added they expect him to make clear his determination to run. If so, he would be the first Republican to do so in a slow-to-develop field of potential challengers to President Barack Obama…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Gallup Poll: Mike Huckabee climbs to top of GOP 2012 fieldUSA Today, 2-26-11
  • Factbox: Possible Republican White House candidates in 2012: Big-name Republicans have begun maneuvering to seek their party’s nomination to run for the White House in 2012 to try to deny President Barack Obama a second four-year term…. – Reuters, 2-25-11
  • Gallup: A three-way GOP horserace: A Gallup poll out Wednesday found Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin locked in a close contest for the Republican presidential nomination.
    18 percent of Republicans and R-leaning independents support Mike Huckabee for president.
    16 percent back Mitt Romney, and 16 percent are behind Sarah Palin.
    14 percent have no opinion. No other potential candidate breaks single-digits…. – Politico, 2-25-11
  • Politico says Pawlenty is relevant: Politico’s Mike Allen, in his daily “playbook” column, catalogues the latest evidence that Sarah Palin isn’t doing any of the things she would need to do (court the big donors, lock up the established Iowa and New Hampshire operatives) if she was seriously thinking of running for president.
    Then, switching gears, Allen gives his list of “The likely GOP field, in order of relevance: 1) Mitt Romney, 2) Tim Pawlenty, 3) Haley Barbour, 4) Jon Huntsman, 5) Newt Gingrich, 6) Rick Santorum.”… – MinnPost, 2-25-11
  • Gingrich: We won in government shutdown, not Clinton: The dominant political narrative of the 1995 government shutdown is this: President Bill Clinton stared down Republicans, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich – and he won… – Politico, 2-25-11
  • Why Mike Huckabee probably won’t run for president in 2012 (video): Mike Huckabee has an Achilles’ heel that nags at him: money. The possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate isn’t good at raising it, and he worries about having an empty bank account – again…. – CS Monitor, 2-24-11
  • Huckabee: Romney should apologize for health plan: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Wednesday that potential White House rival Mitt Romney should offer an apology for the health care overhaul he oversaw as Massachusetts governor.
    “I think it’s not a killer for him. But he has to say either ‘I love it,’ ‘I hate it,’ or, ‘Hey I tried it, it didn’t work and that’s why I would say to you, let’s not do it nationally,'” Huckabee said. “He’s got to figure out how he wants to deal with it. It’s the 800-pound elephant in the room for him,” said Huckabee, who is on tour to promote his latest book, “A Simple Government: Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a Trillion That We Don’t).”… – AP, 2-23-11
  • With Thune out, Senate contenders for White House seem unlikely in 2012: Now that the 2010 midterm elections are over, lips have already started wagging over who the potential Republican presidential candidates may be in 2012…. – WaPo, 2-23-11
  • US Sen. John Thune won’t run against Obama in 2012: U.S. Sen. John Thune said Tuesday that he won’t join what’s expected to be a crowded GOP field of presidential hopefuls next year, concluding he would have a difficult time fundraising and that President Barack Obama would be tough to beat. Thune was seen as one of several potential challengers to Obama in 2012. His exit is the first clear signal of who will — and who will not — compete for the Republicans’ nomination… – AP, 2-22-11
  • Joe Courtney Won’t Seek Senate Seat: A prominent potential candidate for the Connecticut Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman said Monday he won’t run, setting up a two-way Democratic primary between a congressman and a former Connecticut secretary of state…. – WSJ, 2-22-11
  • Insight into a President Mike Huckabee: Today I had the opportunity to be part of a blogger conference call with Mike Huckabee for his new book, A Simple Government… – Politicons, 2-22-11
  • Mike Huckabee in no hurry to decide on presidentialLAT, 2-22-11
  • Ind. treasurer to take on Sen. Lugar for GOP nod: Indiana’s state treasurer, who became a tea party favorite for challenging aspects of the government’s auto industry bailout, said Tuesday he will challenge six-term U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar for the Republican nomination in next year’s primary.
    At a news conference attended by some 200 supporters, Richard Mourdock said he respects Lugar’s decades of public service but thinks his challenge to the moderate senator will ultimately benefit Indiana Republicans.
    “As a party, we are made better when we have a contest for our ideas and ideals,” Mourdock told those gathered at the Indianapolis Artsgarden…. – AP, 2-22-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/25/11
  • Weekly Address: “Investments in Education, Innovation, and Infrastructure are an Essential Down Payment on our Future”: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery February 26, 2011 Washington, DC: Over the last month, I’ve been traveling the country, talking to Americans about how we can out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world. Doing that will require a government that lives within its means, and cuts whatever spending we can afford to do without. But it will also require investing in our nation’s future – training and educating our workers; increasing our commitment to research and technology; building new roads and bridges, high-speed rail and high-speed internet.
    In cities and towns throughout America, I’ve seen the benefits of these investments. The schools and colleges of Oregon are providing Intel – the state’s largest private employer – with a steady stream of highly-educated workers and engineers. At Parkville Middle School outside of Baltimore, engineering is the most popular subject, thanks to outstanding teachers who are inspiring students to focus on their math and science skills.
    In Wisconsin, a company called Orion is putting hundreds of people to work manufacturing energy-efficient lights in a once-shuttered plant. And in the small community of Marquette, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, widely accessible high-speed internet has allowed students and entrepreneurs to connect to the global economy. One small business, a third-generation, family-owned clothing shop called Getz’s is now selling their products online, which has helped them double their workforce and make them one of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies in a recent listing.
    Each of these places reminds us that investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure are an essential down payment on our future. But they also remind us that the only way we can afford these investments is by getting our fiscal house in order. Just like any family, we have to live within our means to make room for things we absolutely need.
    That’s why I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years – a freeze that would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Just to be clear, that’s lower than it was under the past three administrations, and lower than it was under Ronald Reagan.
    Now, putting this budget freeze in place will require tough choices. That’s why I’ve frozen salaries for hardworking civil servants for three years, and proposed cutting programs I care about deeply, like community action programs in low-income neighborhoods. I’m not taking these steps lightly – but I’m taking them because our economic future demands it.
    Still, a freeze in annual domestic spending is just a start. If we’re serious about tackling our long-run fiscal challenges, we also need to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in defense spending, spending in Medicare and Medicaid, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.
    I’m willing to consider any serious ideas to help us reduce the deficit – no matter what party is proposing them. But instead of cutting the investments in education and innovation we need to out-compete the rest of the world, we need a balanced approach to deficit reduction. We all need to be willing to sacrifice, but we can’t sacrifice our future.
    Next week, Congress will focus on a short-term budget. For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail. Both Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have said they believe it’s important to keep the government running while we work together on a plan to reduce our long-term deficit.
    Given that, I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth. It won’t be easy. There will be plenty of debates and disagreements, and neither party will get everything it wants. Both sides will have to compromise.
    That’s what it will take to do what’s right for our country. And I look forward to working with members of both parties to produce a responsible budget that cuts what we can’t afford, sharpens America’s competitive edge in the world, and helps us win the future. Thanks everyone, and have a nice weekend. – WH, 2-26-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Eric Cantor: We have a choice to make about the future of our country. In order to protect our way of life, the choice we must make is about changing course, and renewing our commitment to what makes America unique: Innovation. Creative thinking. Problem solving. Entrepreneurship. Individual liberty and economic freedom. – 2-25-11
  • John McCain: Senator Lieberman and I met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today. We contiunue to stand with Israel at a time of historic change in the region. — 2-25-11
  • Barack Obama President Obama on the Situation in Libya: The U.S. strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression. — 2-24-11
  • Remarks by the President at “In Performance At The White House: The Motown Sound”: No one knows exactly when jazz began. Nobody knows who the first person was to sing a freedom song. But we know where Motown came from. We know it was born in the basement of a house on West Grand Boulevard in the Motor City — Detroit. (Applause.) And we know it started with a man named Berry Gordy, who is here with us tonight. Stand up, Berry. (Applause.)? ?
    Now, apparently Berry tried a lot of things before following his heart into music. A high school dropout, he failed as a record store owner, competed as an amateur boxer, finally took a job earning $85 a week on the assembly line at the local Lincoln-Mercury plant. And it was there, watching the bare metal frames transformed into gleaming automobiles, that Berry wondered why he couldn’t do the same thing with musicians, and help turn new talent into stars.? ?
    And before long, he quit his job at the plant, borrowed $800, and set up shop in a little house with a banner across the front that read “Hitsville, U.S.A.” His family thought he was delusional. (Laughter.) But as Berry said, “People thought the Wright Brothers had a stupid idea, so I say, ‘Bring on the stupid ideas.’”? ?
    As it turned out, Berry could recognize talent and potential better than anybody else in the business. It began with Smokey Robinson, who stopped by the Motown house with a group of friends calling themselves the Miracles. Then came one of Smokey’s neighbors -– a high school senior named Diana Ross, who started out working as a secretary. One of the Miracles brought along his little brother, who invited a 10-year-old blind kid named Stephen Hardaway Judkins to tag along. (Laughter.) And then there was a group called the Jackson Five, fresh from amateur night at the Apollo, that Gladys Knight told Berry he just had to see.? ?
    Pretty soon, the basement studio was turning out hits faster than Detroit was turning out cars. From 1961 to 1971, Motown produced 110 Top 10 hits from artists like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops and The Supremes. In the process, Motown’s blend of tight lyrics, catchy melodies and deep soul began to blur the line between music that was considered either “black” or “white.” As Smokey Robinson said, “I recognized the bridges that were crossed, the racial problems and the barriers that we broke down with music. I recognized that because I lived it.”? ?
    Along the way, songs like “Dancing in the Streets” and “What’s Going On” became the soundtrack of the civil rights era. Black artists began soaring to the top of the pop charts for the first time. And at concerts in the South, Motown groups literally brought people together –- insisting that the ropes traditionally used to separate black and white audience members be taken down.? ?
    So, today, more than 50 years later, that’s the Motown legacy. Born at a time of so much struggle, so much strife, it taught us that what unites us will always be stronger than what divides us. And in the decades since, those catchy beats and simple chords have influenced generations of musicians, from Sheryl Crow to the Jonas Brothers. – WH, 2-24-11
  • President Obama on Libya: “These Sanctions Therefore Target the Qaddafi Government, While Protecting the Assets that Belong to the People of Libya”: The Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community. By any measure, Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable. These sanctions therefore target the Qaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.
    Going forward, the United States will continue to closely coordinate our actions with the international community, including our friends and allies, and the United Nations. We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied. WH, 2-25-11Executive OrderLetter to Congress
  • Statement of the Attorney General on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act: The Attorney General made the following statement today about the Department’s course of action in two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman:
    In the two years since this Administration took office, the Department of Justice has defended Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on several occasions in federal court. Each of those cases evaluating Section 3 was considered in jurisdictions in which binding circuit court precedents hold that laws singling out people based on sexual orientation, as DOMA does, are constitutional if there is a rational basis for their enactment. While the President opposes DOMA and believes it should be repealed, the Department has defended it in court because we were able to advance reasonable arguments under that rational basis standard…. – DOJ, 2-23-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President in Cleveland
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/22/11
  • Obama rejects Defense of Marriage Act In victory for gay-rights advocates, US won’t defend law in court: “For the Republican leadership, that is the last thing they want to deal with right now,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “I think a lot of Republicans feel that President Obama is quite vulnerable, and they see a real opportunity to do well in 2012, so the last thing you want is to inject an issue that creates dissention and creates divisions. They want to be focused on the deficit, a lot of Republicans — not on this.” — Boston Globe, 2-24-11
  • Right now sees Michelle Obama as fair game: “There’s so much anger in the criticism surrounding Michelle Obama,” said Myra Gutin, a Rider University professor and author of a biography of Barbara Bush and a book on 20th century first ladies. “It seems almost personal to me.”
    Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said Obama “became an easier target” by becoming more political recently with the DNC announcement. “She made herself more political and thus fed these kinds of attacks,” he said…. – Politico, 2-24-11
  • LLOYD M. KRIEGER: ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care: Many of its changes don’t kick in until 2014. But the law is forcing dramatic consolidation and reducing choice in the industry.
    The Republicans who now control the House of Representatives hope to repeal or defund ObamaCare, but the law has already yielded profound, destructive changes that will not be undone by repeal or defunding alone. Active steps and new laws will be needed to repair the damage.
    The most significant change is a wave of frantic consolidation in the health industry. Because the law mandates that insurers accept all patients regardless of pre-existing conditions, insurers will not make money with their current premium and provider-payment structures. As a result, they have already started to raise premiums and cut payments to doctors and hospitals. Smaller and weaker insurers are being forced to sell themselves to larger entities.
    Doctors and hospitals, meanwhile, have decided that they cannot survive unless they achieve massive size—and fast. Six years ago, doctors owned more than two-thirds of U.S. medical practices, according to the Medical Group Management Association. By next year, nearly two-thirds will be salaried employees of larger institutions…. – WSJ, 2-25-11
  • Paul Kengor: Bush’s Middle East ‘March of Freedom’: As we watch the growing demand that Middle East autocrats and dictators step down, from Iran in June 2009 to Egypt and Libya this February, on the heels of repeated elections in post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-Saddam Iraq, the wisdom of two presidents keeps coming to mind.
    First is Ronald Reagan, who warned dictators that freedom is “contagious.” As he noted in May 1982, the Soviets feared the “infectiousness” of the freedom posed by groups like Solidarity in Poland. Eight years later, with elections held in Poland and the wall down in Berlin, Reagan, no longer president, observed: “As is always the case, once people who have been deprived of basic freedom taste a little of it, they want all of it.” Looking back at the impact of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, he remarked: “It was as if Gorbachev had uncorked a magic bottle and a genie floated out, never to be put back in again.”
    As president, Reagan had spoken of a “march of freedom” that would leave Marxism-Leninism on the “ash-heap of history.” He said this often, but most memorably in his June 1982 Westminster speech, which also founded the National Endowment for Democracy.
    That brings me to the other president. The president who picked up Reagan’s mantle from Westminster was George W. Bush. Speaking to the National Endowment for Democracy in November 2003, Bush gave the most important address of his presidency, promising to extend Reagan’s “march” into the Middle East, the place most resistant to the freedom tide. What Bush said cannot be reiterated enough, and couldn’t be more appropriate than right now, as the next target by the people of the Middle East is the hideous Muammar Gaddafi; from the Taliban, to Saddam, to Ahmadinejad, to Mubarak, to Gaddafi…. – Spectator, 2-25-11
  • Niall Ferguson: Wanted: A Grand Strategy for America NEWSWEEK’s new columnist on Obama’s Egypt debacle and the vacuum it exposes: The statesman can only wait and listen until he hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then he must jump up and grasp the hem of His coat, that is all.” Thus Otto von Bismarck, the great Prussian statesman who united Germany and thereby reshaped Europe’s balance of power nearly a century and a half ago.
    Last week, for the second time in his presidency, Barack Obama heard those footsteps, jumped up to grasp a historic opportunity … and missed it completely…. – Newsweek, 2-13-11
  • How Obama’s Legacy Will Generate Big Bucks….: Though several years off, President Obama’s next gig is already shaping up to be a sweet deal. He may be deep in the groove of his Presidency. But we do know he has given thought to what happens next. Before he even sat at the Resolute Desk, he inked a deal to deliver a post-presidency book, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Millions will follow, no doubt, because after you’ve pulled the nation back from the brink of economic disaster, and perhaps even a second Great Depression, what you do for an encore will be worth paying for. He’ll rack up on the speakers’ circuit. He’s one of the world’s most gifted orators, so money won’t be an issue. Neither will his age. When he leaves the White House — in either 2013, or 2017, at the age of 52 or 56, depending on the outcome of the next election — he will still have a dangerous jump-shot and a bop in his walk, and his children will still be youngsters.
    “He’ll be a relatively young ex-President, so he’ll have a long career,” said Alan Brinkley, a historian at Columbia University. “I think we’ve had somewhat younger Presidents fairly recently, and also people are living longer now, so ex-Presidents seem to be around for a longer time. Some of them are very active, like Clinton and Carter, and others seem to just disappear. I doubt that Obama will disappear.”… – ThyBlackMan.com, 2-11-11
  • Debate swirls over Mubarak legacy: “He pretty much wiped them out,” University of Michigan Professor of History Juan Cole said. “It’s not an accident that they were in Afghanistan instead of Egypt.” The government penetrated opposition movements so thoroughly that “if five people (sat) down to plot something, the fifth person (wrote) a report to Hosni Mubarak about it,” he said…. – CNN.com, 2-11-11
  • Timing of Mubarak speech was no accident, says expert: The timing of Hosni Mubarak’s speech Thursday night to the nation was no accident, said Prof. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist and visiting scholar at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, who was imprisoned three times by Mubarak. “He’s trying to preempt a call for a general strike tomorrow,” Ibrahim told CNN Thursday in a telephone interview, noting that workers began joining the demonstrations early this week and were calling for demonstrations throughout Egypt on Friday. “Usually, after the Friday prayer, people congregate, so he was trying to preempt that.”…
    James Gelvin, a professor of history at UCLA, said Mubarak had little choice but to act on Thursday. “He had to do something,” Gelvin said in a telephone interview. “Today followed on the biggest demonstrations in Egypt’s recent history. It’s not just in Tahrir Square, it’s up and down the country, and it’s labor unrest as well. You’ve got a perfect storm of economic grievances and political grievances at the same time.” The timing of the next move is up to the military, which both supports the protesters and wants order, he said. “They can’t have it both ways.”… – CNN.com, 2-10-11
  • Douglas Brinkley: What Reagan Would Do in Egypt: Egypt’s brutal crackdown on demonstrators and the media would have “angered and goaded” the late, great President Ronald Reagan, who would have sided with the people trying to throw off a dictator, best-selling historian Douglas Brinkley tells Newsmax.
    “One of the things I learned in editing ‘The Reagan Diaries’ is to never say what Reagan would do, because he surprised people,” Brinkley told Newsmax in an exclusive interview Thursday night. However, there’s little doubt how Reagan would have reacted to the mayhem in the streets of Cairo, “The Reagan Diaries” author said.
    “If Reagan had intelligence information that showed that the upheaval in Egypt is actually Democratic in spirit, then he would have, I believe, turned his back on Mubarak, even though there’s a long friendship between the United States and Egypt,” Brinkley said. “And [he would have] supported the Democratic movement.”… – NewsMax, 2-4-11
Advertisements

Midterm Elections 2010: Last Days on the Campaign Trail… Election Day Arrives With GOP Set for House Victory

https://bonniekaryn.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/midterm_elections.jpg

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010:

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama on Friday in Virginia for Representative Tom Perriello. He is campaigning for Senate candidates this weekend.

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Election night cheat sheet: Key races to watch: Get your last bits of election speculation and guessing out now — because starting Tuesday night we will have actual facts. People will vote. Candidates will win. Careers will end. Power in Washington will shift. There are 435 elections in the House, 37 in the Senate, and 37 gubernatorial elections. To help you sift through the returns, here’s a reader and viewer’s guide to some key things to watch.
    The official unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, though the true picture may be closer to 17 percent. In states with key races, the unemployment rate is worse: In Nevada it’s 14.4 percent; in Ohio it’s 10 percent. President Obama’s approval rating is about 45 percent. The generic ballot shows voters picking Republicans over Democrats by seven points. The congressional approval rating is below 20 percent…. – Yahoo News, 11-2-10
  • Polls: Rubio holds wide lead in Senate race; governor race neck-and-neck: Two Florida polls have Marco Rubio well ahead of the pack in the U.S. Senate race. Quinnipiac University’s final pre-election poll, which wrapped up Sunday night, shows Republican Marco Rubio with a 45-to-31 percent lead over indie Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race, with Democrat Kendrick Meek at 18 percent. Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, says Rubio is headed for “an easy victory” with 47 percent to 30 percent for Crist and 21 percent Meek.
    But both firms say the race for governor is too close to call. Quinnipiac gives Democrat Alex Sink a 44-to-33 percent lead over Republican Rick Scott; has Sink with a 48-to-47 percent lead. Both polls have a 3.5 percent margin of error…. – Palm Beach Post, 11-1-10
  • Ohio governor’s race a close call, final polls show: Nearly every poll that weeks ago predicted an easy win for Republican challenger John Kasich over Gov. Ted Strickland is now declaring the race a toss-up as voters cast their ballots today in the closely watched race. That’s good news for Democrat Strickland, who, despite his low job approval ratings, has closed the gap on Kasich, who has watched his once double-digit lead wilt. “Ted Strickland’s chances of re-election are looking the best they have in months,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, which gives Kasich a one-point edge. In late August, the same poll had the Republican up by 10 points.
    But even if the race is too close to call, the polls still have Kasich ahead of the incumbent, which is a good position to be in, according to another pollster. “John Kasich has the historical tendency of undecided voters to break against well-known incumbents at the very end of a campaign,” Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said on Monday. Brown agreed, however, that momentum is with Strickland. Quinnipiac on Monday had Kasich leading by one point with about six percent of voters undecided. The same poll had Kasich leading by 17 percentage points in September and by 10 points just two weeks ago…. – Cleveland.com, 11-1-10
  • A Vote Against Dems, Not for the GOP: Voters don’t want to be governed from the left, right or center. They want Washington to recognize that Americans want to govern themselves.
    In the first week of January 2010, Rasmussen Reports showed Republicans with a nine-point lead on the generic congressional ballot. Scott Brown delivered a stunning upset in the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election a couple of weeks later. In the last week of October 2010, Rasmussen Reports again showed Republicans with a nine-point lead on the generic ballot. And tomorrow Republicans will send more Republicans to Congress than at any time in the past 80 years. This isn’t a wave, it’s a tidal shift—and we’ve seen it coming for a long time. Remarkably, there have been plenty of warning signs over the past two years, but Democratic leaders ignored them. At least the captain of the Titanic tried to miss the iceberg. Congressional Democrats aimed right for it…. – WSJ, 10-31-10
  • Democrats, GOP close in Nevada early votes: Nevada Democrats and their union allies appear to have blunted a surge of Republican enthusiasm in early voting, confirming a close race between Republican tea party favorite Sharron Angle and Majority Leader Harry Reid, figures showed Saturday. Two weeks of early voting that ended Friday provide only a barometer of turnout – it’s far from conclusive with Election Day to come. The early numbers confirm Republicans are fired up to deny Reid a fifth term, but Democrats are getting to the polls in significant numbers, too. Statewide, Democrats hold about a 60,000-vote registration edge over the GOP, and the decisive factor on Nov. 2 is likely to be the state’s independent voters…. – AP, 10-30-10
  • Early Voting Numbers in California: Close Races Ahead?: If early voting is an indication of how Tuesday’s midterm elections will go–and it’s debatable whether, and how, it can–early vote-by mail turnout in California predicts close races for Senate and governor. Here’s a breakdown of who has voted already through the state’s vote-by-mail program, provided to The Atlantic by a source close to the California Republican Party. By party registration, here’s a who has mailed a ballot so far… – The Atlantic, 10-30-10

THE HEADLINES….MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010

Drew Angerer/The New York Times

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert appeared on stage Saturday. More Photos »

  • Voters cast ballots; Control of Congress at stake: The fate of the Democratic Congress was put before voters Tuesday in midterm elections that drew Americans to balloting stations starting before dawn, some clamoring for change, others digging in their heels against resurgent Republicans. Expectations took hold in both camps that the political order was in for a makeover in these anxious times…. – AP, 11-2-10
  • Republicans Poised to End Pelosi’s Historic Reign: Two years after voters gave President Obama and Democrats a mandate to govern, angry voters appeared poised today to give Republicans control of the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving droves of incumbent Democrats without jobs. ABC News, 10-12-10
  • The Presidential Planner: After a weekend of campaigning in four states President Obama will spend Election eve behind-closed-doors at the White House today. In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing and meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office, his regular daily briefings. Mr. Obama will spend the rest of the day in private meetings at the White House…. – ABC News, 11-2-10
  • Kentucky Race Tests Tea Party’s Strength: Kentucky voters are casting their ballots in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate contests, which will determine the future of tea-party favorite Rand Paul. An election of Mr. Paul, a 47-year-old eye surgeon and Republican, would signal the movement’s growing political influence, while a defeat to Democrat Jack Conway would mark a substantial setback for the conservative grass-roots effort. “There is a tea-party tidal wave coming to Washington,” he said to reporters after emerging from the polling station. He described the movement as “a bunch of people who are more concerned about the [national] debt than anything else.”… – WSJ, 11-2-10
  • Reid, Angle make late push in marquee raceWaPo, 11-2-10
  • Bold Republicans bidding for control in Congress: Confident of major gains, Republicans challenged the Democrats’ grip on power in Congress on Tuesday in midterm elections shadowed by recession and stirred by the rebellion of tea party conservatives. All 435 seats in the House were on the ballot, plus 37 in the Senate. An additional 37 governors’ races gave Republicans ample opportunity for further gains halfway through President Barack Obama’s term.
    “This is going to be a big day,” House Republican leader John Boehner, in line to become speaker if the GOP wins the House, said after voting near his West Chester, Ohio, home. For those who think the government is spending too much and bailing out too many, he said, “This is their opportunity to be heard.”
    The president gave a series of radio interviews pleading with Democratic supporters not to sit on the sidelines. “I know things are still tough out there, but we finally have job growth again,” he said in one. “It is all at risk if people don’t turn out and vote today.”
    While the president’s name was not on the ballot, his record and policies were. After nearly two years in power, he and congressional Democrats were saddled politically with ownership of an economy that was barely growing, 9.6 percent unemployment, a high rate of home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, the residue of the worst recession since the 1930s….- AP,
  • Obama’s response: President plans post-election press conference: With a Capitol Hill power shift believed to be in the making, Obama is expected to outline possible mid-course changes in the direction of his presidency. With Republicans expected to win control of the House in Tuesday’s election, President Obama scheduled a press conference for Wednesday in what was expected to amount to a mid-course correction to deal with the power shift on Capitol Hill. Obama is expected to try to reach out to Republicans, who have campaigned against his economic stimulus plan, healthcare overhaul and other policies. But if the GOP gains seats in the House and Senate, as expected, heavy partisan conflict is anticipated, especially as the parties gear up for the 2012 reelection campaign. “This election’s going to be a referendum on Obama’s policies,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Assn., said on MSNBC on Tuesday. “What is the president’s response going to be?” Citing the GOP’s pledge to cut spending aggressively, Barbour added: “Hopefully, the president is going to be willing to come forward and say, ‘I recognize we have to do that; let’s work together.'”… – LAT, 11-2-10
  • Obama Reaching Out to Voters by Radio: Voters may hear President Obama on the radio as they drive to the polls on Tuesday morning. Mr. Obama on Monday taped radio interviews with three morning drive-time hosts, Ryan Seacrest, Russ Parr and Steve Harvey, all of which will be broadcast on Tuesday. The three shows are syndicated to stations across the country, reaching millions of people, and Mr. Obama will be trying to encourage Democrats to vote. The booking with Mr. Seacrest drew some scrutiny since “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” is usually a fluffy entertainment show and Mr. Seacrest is the host of “American Idol.” The blog TVNewser noted that the show solicited questions from its Facebook fans, and the submissions included gems like “What do you think about Justin Bieber???”… – NYT, 11-2-10
  • Obama: Agenda ‘all at risk’ in any Republican romp: Even with voting already under way, President Barack Obama furiously worked the phones to urban-format radio stations Tuesday, arguing that his agenda would be “all at risk” if Republicans trampled Democrats. “We need to keep moving forward, that’s why I need folks to vote today,” Obama told listeners to KPWR in Los Angeles. Interrupting the music and chat of the station’s morning show, Obama phoned in from the Oval Office to acknowledge voter frustration with the recession-bound economy – and say that even though he’s not on the ballot, his agenda is. “Are we taking the steps now to move us in the right direction, or are going to go back to the policies that got us into that mess in the first place?” he said. Other calls went to radio stations in Las Vegas, Chicago and Jacksonville, Fla., with large African-American listenership. On Monday, Obama phoned a series of nationally syndicated radio programs…. – AP, 11-2-10
  • Democrats hope to retain Delaware Senate seat: Delaware Democrats are hoping their greater numbers will help them beat back tea-party fueled Republicans including Christine O’Donnell in a rare Democratic bright spot for the midterm elections. Democratic New Castle County executive Chris Coons and O’Donnell are battling in a special election Tuesday for the Senate seat held by Joe Biden for more than three decades before he became vice president. The winner will be seated immediately after the election and serve the remaining four years of the term Biden won in 2008, when he easily beat O’Donnell…. – AP, 11-2-10
  • Obama closes 2010 campaign season with stop in Cleveland: President Barack Obama closed out his midterm campaigning Sunday in Cleveland trying to push Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland past a GOP challenger backed by a restless electorate in a race with political implications beyond the Statehouse. Making his 12th visit to Ohio since becoming president – his second visit on behalf of the governor in two weeks – Obama urged thousands at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center to vote in Tuesday’s election and encourage others to do the same.
    “Cleveland, the journey we began two years ago was not about putting a president in the White House. It was about building a movement for change,” he said. “Cleveland, I need you to keep on fighting.”… – The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11-1-10
  • John Boehner fires back at President Obama at GOP rally in Cincinnati House Minority Leader whips up crowd for election Tuesday – and 2012: House Minority Leader John Boehner, at a rally of GOP volunteers Monday evening in a Lunken Airport hangar, gave President Barack Obama a taste of what he can expect if the West Chester Republican becomes the next speaker of the House.
    “The president has been here in Ohio a dozen times this year, and (Ohio Gov.) Ted Strickland thinks it is about him,” Boehner told a crowd of over a thousand Southwest Ohio Republicans who came to Lunken to see him and John Kasich, the GOP candidate for governor, and Rob Portman, the GOP Senate candidate. “It is not about him – this is about President Obama getting re-elected in two years,” Boehner said.
    Boehner took a pointed shot at the president, who has been criticized in recent days by conservatives for an interview with Univision, the Spanish-speaking TV network, in which he used the word “enemies” to describe his political opponents. The White House clarified the statement Monday, saying he should have referred to them as “opponents.” Boehner wasn’t having any of it Monday night.
    “I have a word to describe these people who have the audacity to fight for our constitution, Mr. President,” Boehner said. “These people aren’t enemies; they are patriots.”… – cincinnati.com, 11-1-10
  • Winners Tuesday May Benefit From Economic Cycle: The impact of the anti-incumbency wave of 2010 — if, in fact, it materializes in the way that polls would indicate — will be judged in the next few days by the number of seats that change hands in Washington and in statehouses across the country. In the longer term, though, the importance of any wave election isn’t only about the sheer number of seats gained and lost, but also about when the wave hits—or, more specifically, where it falls in the economic cycles of the country. And if you look at it that way, history suggests that the expected big bang of 2010 may well end up reverberating loudly through our politics for a long time to come…. – NYT, 11-1-10
  • Appeals court extends life of gay military policy: A federal appeals court on Monday indefinitely extended its freeze on a judge’s order halting enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, heightening pressure on the Obama administration to persuade the U.S. Senate to repeal the law before a new Congress is sworn in. A divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the U.S. government’s request for a stay while it challenges the trial court’s ruling that the ban on openly gay service members is unconstitutional. The same panel, composed of two judges appointed by President Ronald Reagan and one appointed by President Bill Clinton, on Oct. 20 imposed a temporary hold keeping “don’t ask, don’t tell” in place.
    Monday’s decision means gay Americans who disclose their sexual orientations still can’t enlist in the armed forces and can be investigated and ultimately discharged if they already are serving…. – AP, 11-1-10
  • Obama as American Idol: president to be guest on Ryan Seacrest radio show: In a final bid to bring young voters to the polls, President Obama will join Ryan Seacrest’s radio talk show on Election Day. President Obama chatted with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show’ as part of a bid to motivate young voters. On Election Day, he’ll be a guest on Ryan Seacrest’s radio talk show. Let’s just say it’s official: President Obama will do whatever it takes to reach that younger demographic that was so important to his 2008 election.
    On Monday, American idol and radio talk show host Ryan Seacrest announced that the commander-in-chief will appear live on his syndicated, daily radio talk show. It will air at 7:15 a.m. Pacific time – drive time – on Election Day. Mr. Seacrest tweeted to his fans to submit questions for the interview.
    The questions are currently piling up on the Facebook site and run the gamut from serious ones about the military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to queries about Mr. Obama’s favorite songs and other essential POTUS trivia. (That would be President Of The United States, for the uninitiated.) This fits in with a trend that began with Bill Clinton, says Travis Ridout, a political scientist at Washington State University in Pullman. “He’s clearly trying to bypass the filter of the traditional media to get his message directly to that younger demographic,” he says. “There really are no boundaries any more,” says Washington-based digital strategist Brendan Kownacki…. – CS Monitor, 11-1-10
  • ‘American Idol’ host Ryan Seacrest to interview President Obama: The move draws disdain from the GOP, but the White House says that, in a new-media era, specialized programs are the best way to reach a variety of people.
    “I’m interviewing President @BarackObama and want to ask him YOUR questions, political & otherwise,” Seacrest tweeted Monday. Such final appeals are not uncommon from candidates in the final hours before polls close, a time when turnout trumps persuasion. But Republicans mocked the news that Obama would speak with Seacrest in particular. “Just when we thought lack of dignity in the Oval Office couldn’t drop any lower,” Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye said in an e-mail to reporters…. – LAT, 11-1-10
  • Palin endorses Tancredo in Colo. gov race: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has offered a last-minute endorsement to former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo in the Colorado governor’s race. Palin urged voters Monday to support Tancredo – who is running on the American Constitution Party ticket – saying he will fight for lower taxes and smaller government, and start growing the economy…. – AP, 11-1-10
  • In closely watched races, campaigns hunt for votes: If the nation’s most closely watched Senate race is a battle, the campaign offices and neighborhoods of recession- ravaged Nevada were the trenches on Monday in the final hours before Election Day. Volunteers at GOP offices made their best cold-call pitches: Help Sharron Angle beat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. Democrats – one dressed as a chicken to mock Angle’s refusal to take questions from the media – hurried from door to door, urging voters in a state hit hard by unemployment and the housing bust to give the Senate majority leader another chance. Last-minute and, at times, desperate get-out-the-vote drives picked up speed in the state and across the country, with some key races, like Reid-Angle, so close that they could be decided by just a couple votes per precinct…. – AP, 11-1-10
  • Lawyers Gear Up for Post-Election Fights: Political party lawyers are gearing up for what could be a heated post-election fight over the results of Tuesday’s closest races. Multiple close races raise the possibility of inconclusive or disputed results of balloting, party operatives say, and allegations of impropriety flew in the final hours. The Justice Department, which investigates election crimes, said its Civil Rights Division plans to deploy more than 400 federal observers and department personnel to 30 jurisdictions in 18 states.
    The Democratic National Committee said it expects to deploy nearly 10,000 lawyers and other trained monitors as part of its “voter protection” effort. Joseph Sandler, a former Democratic National Committee general counsel who now represents state parties and candidates, said Democrats’ efforts are bigger than in earlier midterm elections.
    “The reason is the number of close races,” Mr. Sandler said. “Every state has become a battleground state.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent out email fund-raising appeals with the headline: “Don’t Let Them Steal This Election.” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the committee’s chairman, set a goal of raising $100,000 to help the party watch for irregularities and prepare for possible litigation…. – WSJ, 11-1-10
  • Clinton stumps for NY House Dems in tight races: Former President Bill Clinton campaigned Monday for a pair of House Democrats from New York, the latest evidence of political dedication to his adopted home state in the waning hours of the midterm elections. Clinton started the day at a rally with Rep. Scott Murphy, whom he praised for supporting local economic growth and President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law. Murphy, who won the seat in a special election last year, faces a tough challenge from Republican Chris Gibson, a retired Army colonel.
    “He gets this. You have to choose the future,” Clinton told a crowd of about 1,200 Murphy supporters. “This isn’t about right and left, this is about tomorrow versus yesterday.”
    Later, Clinton was headed to Watertown to stump for Rep. Bill Owens, who like Murphy won his seat in a longtime Republican stronghold in a special election. Owens faces millionaire businessman Matt Doheny in a tight race…. – AP, 11-1-10
  • Candidates make final push in Alaska Senate race: Alaska’s three main U.S. Senate candidates made their final cases to voters Monday, with high-profile surrogates also weighing in on the hotly contested race that might remain in limbo well after Election Day. Financial disclosures show a flurry of last-minute spending on the race, including from Tea Party Express, which had maintained a relatively low profile since helping Joe Miller defeat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the August GOP primary. Alaska Native corporations have spent nearly $1.3 million through their PAC to help Murkowski, who’s running a write- in campaign. And the millions of dollars poured into the race – by the candidates and outside groups – have kept ads on the air seemingly nonstop. Then there are the big names: former President Bill Clinton did a robocall for Democrat Scott McAdams, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, maintained a vigilant attack on Murkowski on Miller’s behalf…. – AP, 11-1-10
  • Time Off to Vote: Employer Responsibilities: November 2 is Election Day, and employees of all political stripes may be taking a bit of time off work to vote. Employers of all sizes and stripes should be sure they know the law regarding this duty and right. The laws of nearly every state allow time off from work to vote, but whether or not other benefits such as paid time off are included, vary from state to state.
    Some laws place more responsibility on the employers, some place equal responsibility on employees regarding time off to vote. In some states, the employee has certain requirements they must meet to take advantage of time off to vote. Some jurisdictions ask that employees show proof they voted, or give advance notice that they will require time off to vote. Some states allow employers to set the time that employees may take to vote. To check on the specific requirements where your business is located, your state labor department website is a good resource for time off for voting rules in each state. The amount of time off that must be given to an employee can depend on their schedule and might permit the employer to not give additional time off for voting. For example, if an employee has two or three consecutive hours off while the polls are open, or otherwise has enough time to vote before or after work, an employer may not have to let the employee take time to vote during work hours…. – Reuters, 11-1-10
  • Sarah Palin and Jon Stewart agree on this: News media are bad influence: The media are berated as ‘corrupt’ (per Sarah Palin) and as a ‘conflictinator’ (per Jon Stewart). Is it a case of shooting the messenger, or did news media miss the mark in Election 2010? A familiar bogeyman leapt back into the news this weekend – the media itself. Tarring of the media and its election coverage came from Fox News commentator Sarah Palin, who called a team of Alaskan TV newsfolk “corrupt bastards,” as well as Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who closed his Saturday rally on the Washington Mall by saying the 24-hour news and media machine was “broke.” He coined a new term of derision for it: “conflictinator.”
    Even the nonpartisan Wesleyan Media Project added some fuel to the critique: This election cycle has the most negative political ads ever, with more than half being pure attack ads, according to its new data released Monday. Many campaigns count on the far-out content to propel the ads into the media spotlight.
    In the wake of such a barrage, Sunday’s news talk shows had a field day of self-dissection. On NBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” the host parried with columnist and Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington in a high-pitched – if friendly – frenzy of proposed solutions. She called for no more demonizing by media personalities; he laughed at the idea that people should not argue. And The New York Times ran an op-ed piece chiding Mr. Stewart for berating the messenger rather than the message…. – CS Monitor, 11-1-10
  • Michelle Obama tells Nevada ‘my husband can’t do this alone’ As the headliner at a rally for Sen. Harry Reid, Obama asks voters to heed the spirit of the 2008 campaign, which ‘was about building a movement for change.’ LAT, 11-1-10
  • At Rally, Thousands — Billions? — Respond: Part circus, part satire, part parade, the crowds that flooded the National Mall Saturday for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear made it a political event like no other. It was a Democratic rally without a Democratic politician, featuring instead two political satirists, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert, who used the stage to rib journalists and fear-mongering politicians, and to argue with each other over the songs “Peace Train” and “Crazy Train.”
    Though at no point during the show did either man plug a candidate, a strong current of political engagement coursed through the crowd, which stretched several long blocks west of the Capitol, an overwhelming response to a call by Mr. Stewart on his “Daily Show.” The turnout clogged traffic and filled subway trains and buses to overflow. The event, sponsored by Viacom’s Comedy Central network and televised live, was viewed by many in the crowd as a counterweight to Restoring Honor, a rally led by the Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck near the Lincoln Memorial two months ago. Some participants staged a protest near a Fox News satellite truck.
    The National Park Service did not offer a formal crowd estimate. But Judy McGrath, the chief executive of Viacom’s MTV Networks unit, said she had been told by the Parks Service that there were “well over 200,000 people” at the rally. Mr. Colbert offered his own guess in a Twitter message: “Early estimate of crowd size at rally: 6 billion.”… – NYT, 10-31-10
  • Facing G.O.P. Gain, Democrats Fight to Retain Senate: The battle for control of Congress rolled into a frenetic final weekend as Democrats fought to preserve the Senate as their power center on Capitol Hill, trying to hold off a Republican surge that could reshape the political order in Washington. With Republicans in a strong position to capture the House, President Obama on Saturday opened a four-state weekend swing here to rally support for Senate candidates in Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, hoping to build a critical firewall to protect the party’s Senate majority from Republican gains across the country. Republicans intensified their efforts to capitalize on a favorable political environment, with Sarah Palin making a last-minute trip to West Virginia to ask voters to elect a Republican for the Democratic seat Senator Robert C. Byrd held for 51 years. The outcome of five contests considered tossups will help determine if Democrats retain control of the Senate, according to the latest analysis of races by The New York Times, with Republicans trying to capture Democratic-held seats in Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington. Should they sweep those, they would still need to triumph in a state like California or West Virginia, where Democratic chances seemed to be improving…. – NYT, 10-31-10
  • In Ads, Candidates Make Their Final Pitches to Voters: Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, wants the state’s voters to know that Harry Reid had his chance, but it’s her turn now. This is the final pitch Ms. Angle makes in a political ad released Thursday and titled “Our Turn,” which argues that two years ago, Democrats “promised change—but they delivered unprecedented spending, overwhelming debt, heartbreaking job loss,” and a laundry list of other economic woes. “They promised change,” the ad concludes. “Now, it’s our turn.” With Election Day on Tuesday, candidates across the nation are turning to political ads to make their closing arguments — often a last-ditch plea to win over voters by either reintroducing themselves , tearing down their opponent one last time , or something in between. And this year, both Democrats and Republicans are trying to harness the anti-Washington sentiment to push different versions of the same theme: That the nation’s capital must change, and with their independent voice and close ties to their home state, the candidate currently approving this ad is just the person for the job. NYT, 10-31-10
  • Republicans Deny Giving Up Hope on Miller as Polls Show Nominee Slipping: Republicans stood by Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller Sunday, denying a claim that the party had given up hope that he can beat write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, as polls show the GOP nominee slipping. Murkowski, the incumbent senator, launched a write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the Republican primary. Such campaigns are rarely successful in part because the names of write-in candidates do not show up on the ballot — the state Supreme Court ruled Friday, though, that the write-in list could be provided in limited cases on Election Day…. – Fox News, 10-31-10
  • Nev. Senate race converges in state capital: Nevada’s hotly contested Senate race had rivals Harry Reid and Sharron Angle serving flapjacks, petting dogs and shaking hands as they worked for last-minute votes during Nevada’s statehood celebration. The Nevada Day Parade, part of three-day state holiday, is one politicians rarely miss, especially in an election year. Reid, the Democratic majority leader, strolled the back streets before the festivities began Saturday, talking to entrants as they assembled. He watched the parade from along Carson City’s main drag. Polls have consistently shown the race too close to call…. – AP, 10-31-10
  • ‘Sanity’ rally draws tens of thousands: Tens of thousands of people turned out on the sun-splashed National Mall on Saturday to hear comedian Jon Stewart proclaim “reasonableness” as the norm in American life and to jab the cable news media for being purveyors of fear and division.
    “The country’s 24-hour politico-pundit-perpetual-panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder,” said Stewart in a speech that wrapped up the event. The three-hour “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” mixed comedy and music with a message that was non-partisan, yet deeply political…. – USA Today, 10-30-10
  • Obama fires up voters at Chicago rally: President Barack Obama is telling supporters to go to the polls themselves and get others there as well. He’s firing up thousands of people gathered in Chicago on Saturday night just a few blocks from his home in the city for a get-out-the-vote rally. He asked the cheering crowd if they were fired up. He says people have to go to the polls so Democrats can finish what they started in 2008. He said at the rally people need to get others out to the polls too. And he said if everyone who fought for change to elect him comes out to the polls on Tuesday, then Democrats will win. Chicago was Obama’s third stop in a day of campaigning as he tries to fend off Republicans trying to win his former Senate seat and the Illinois governor’s mansion…. – AP, 10-30-10
  • Clinton to campaign for Meek on election-eve: Former President Bill Clinton will factor into Florida’s Senate race one more time with an election-eve visit to Orlando for Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek. When Clinton last visited the state, he and Meek discussed the possibility of Meek dropping out of the race to give independent candidate Charlie Crist a better chance of defeating Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio.
    Meek and Clinton both say the former president never urged Meek to withdraw. Meek says Clinton was discussing rumors pushed by Crist and he said Crist asked him directly to drop out a few days ago when the two crossed paths at an AIPAC conference in Broward County…. – Palm Beach Post, 10-
  • Obama deals with protests in Connecticut: President Obama, who is having a hard enough time with the Republicans this election season, had to deal with putative supporters today in Connecticut. As Obama launched into his stump speech at an arena in Bridgeport, a group of protesters began heckling him over funding for the global fight against AIDS.
    “Excuse me … excuse me,” an irritated looking Obama said before he could finally talk over the shouting. “You’ve been appearing at every rally we’ve been doing. And we’re funding global AIDS (prevention). And the other side is not. So I don’t know why you think this is a useful strategy to take.” USA Today, 10-30-10
  • Sarah Palin to Joe Manchin: Stay in W.Va.: On a last-minute visit for Republican John Raese’s Senate campaign, Sarah Palin said Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin is a “nice guy” who’s better off sticking with his current gig. “He’s such a nice governor, I think that ‘Manchin in the mansion’ just kind of fits,” Palin to the crowd at a rally for Raese, gesturing to the governor’s official home just down the riverfront street. It was the only time Palin uttered Manchin’s name during her appearance. Instead, she told the crowd that she preferred to call him the “would-be rubber-stamp” for President Barack Obama. Palin’s visit was finalized at the last minute, less than 24 hours before she took the stage with Raese and rock guitarist Ted Nugent — and three days before the bulk of voters will head to the polls…. – Politico, 10-30-10
  • Palin: Vote for Raese, leave Manchin as governor: Sarah Palin says Democrat Joe Manchin is a good governor — but she says West Virginia voters should keep him in the governor’s mansion and out of the U.S. Senate. Palin, the former governor of Alaska and one-time vice presidential candidate, was in Charleston on Saturday to support Republican John Raese (RAY’-see)’s Senate bid. She drew cheers when she said Manchin was a better fit as governor…. – AP, 10-30-10
  • Ohio congressman leaves rally as wife gives birth: Ohio Rep. John Boccieri ran offstage Saturday during a speech by Bill Clinton after the congressman received word that his pregnant wife had gone into labor. Boccieri quickly left the podium Saturday afternoon while the former president addressed a crowd of about 1,000 people in Canton, about an hour south of Cleveland. “The baby is now being born!” Clinton announced as the crowd erupted with cheers. “You’d be amazed how many times I take a picture with a very pregnant woman and then she immediately gives birth.” Addressing both sets of grandparents, who were among the crowd standing in the parking lot, Clinton joked: “I’d like some credit for your fifth grandchild being brought into the world.” Clinton couldn’t resist one more wisecrack before continuing his speech. “We got another Democrat,” he said. “I wish we could register that baby before it’s too late.”… – AP, 10-30-10
  • Fiorina goes Boxer-bashing at Halloween-themed candy store; she, Whitman say they’ll prove polls wrong: Standing in a Halloween-decorated Menlo Park candy store Friday amid a mad scientist display, a jar of brains and big fuzzy spiders, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina portrayed Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer as the real goblin in this race.
    “No, Barbara Boxer, the stimulus bill hasn’t worked,” said Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, during a short visit to the Sugar Shack to highlight the importance of women-owned small businesses. “No, your policies of bailing, borrowing, spending, taxing are not working either.”
    Asked about a new Field Poll that shows her trailing Boxer 49 percent to 41 percent — and among women by 15 percentage points — Fiorina called the statewide poll “an outlier” compared with several others that show the race is “very, very tight” and “very, very winnable.” But a recent Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll also gave Boxer an eight-point advantage, and a Public Policy Institute of California poll put Boxer ahead by five points. An average of multiple polls at realclearpolitics.com gives Boxer an edge of 6.5 percentage points…. – Mercury News, 10-30-10
  • None of the above looms large in Nevada Senate: Choosing “none of the above,” the default option on quizzes, is looming as a potential factor in the dead-heat Nevada Senate race for voters who don’t like either Democrat Harry Reid or Republican Sharron Angle. Voters in the Silver State have nine choices on the ballot next week — eight are candidates, including Reid and Angle. The number of voters who choose “None of these candidates” is expected to be small, but in a close race those who decide to boycott the ballot could make the difference. Reid knows the risk: A dozen years ago he pulled off a 428-vote re-election victory over then-Republican Rep. John Ensign, while “none” received 8,125 votes, far more than his winning margin…. – AP, 10-29-10
  • Palin, US State Department in Twitter duel: A tongue-in-cheek US birthday message to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over Twitter may not have reached the intended recipient, but triggered a rebuke from someone else — Sarah Palin. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, learning from reporters that Ahmadinejad celebrated turned 54 on Thursday, took to the micro-blogging service to ask him to release two US hikers detained in Iran since last year.
    “Happy birthday President Ahmadinejad. Celebrate by sending Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer home. What a gift that would be,” Crowley tweeted. “Your 54th year was full of lost opportunities. Hope in your 55th year you will open Iran to a different relationship with the world,” read another tweet.
    Palin, the Republican Party’s 2008 candidate for vice president who enjoys a following among conservatives, was not amused. “Happy B’day Ahmadinejad wish sent by US Govt. Mind boggling foreign policy: kowtow (and) coddle enemies; snub allies. Obama Doctrine is nonsense,” she wrote in her own message on Twitter. Palin highlighted Ahmadinejad’s past calls for the destruction of Israel….. – AFP, 10-29-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

John Raese, Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent are pictured. | AP Photo

Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent came out to support GOP Senate candidate John Raese (left). | AP Photo
  • Upstairs at the White House, Obama says he gets no ‘Mr. President’ greeting from first lady: His party’s having trouble at the polls. But is President Barack Obama also having a spot of trouble at home? Calling in to the morning show at KVEG radio in Las Vegas, hoping to boost Democratic turnout at the polls Tuesday, Obama was asked by the host how his wife, Michelle, addresses him in the White House residence. “Is it Mr. President?” he was asked. “That would be no,” Obama deadpanned. “She calls me names sometimes, but it’s not Mr. President.”… – LAT, 11-2-10
  • GOP Leaders: Sarah Palin Must be Stopped: Last night, Politico posted an anonymously-sourced story reporting that advisers to top potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates are united in their desire to stop Sarah Palin from winning the presidential nomination out of a fear that she would lose badly in the general election. “There is a determined, focused establishment effort … to find a candidate we can coalesce around who can beat Sarah Palin,” someone described as a “prominent and longtime Washington Republican” told Politico. “We believe she could get the nomination, but Barack Obama would crush her.”
    Palin quickly responded to the story on Fox News’ “On the Record” last night, criticizing the use of anonymous sources and stating, “The paper that we just printed this article on was not worth even wrapping my king salmon in.” “This is a joke to have unnamed sources tearing somebody apart limb by limb,” said Palin. She also lit into those quoted, telling Greta Van Susteren they “want to lead the nation and run the world” and yet “they’re not brave enough to put their name in an article.” She called them “the GOP the establishment — the self- proclaimed elite” and added that “if they would man up and if they would, you know, make these claims against me, then I can debate them.”
    Palin has now sarcastically referred to Politico and other detractors “puppy-kicking, chain-smoking porn producers” in an email to the Daily Caller. She reportedly wrote: “I suppose I could play their immature, unprofessional, waste-of-time game, too, by claiming these reporters and politicos are homophobe, child molesting, tax evading, anti-dentite, puppy-kicking, chain smoking porn producers…really, they are… I’ve seen it myself…but I’ll only give you the information off-the- record, on deep, deep background; attribute these ‘facts’ to an ‘anonymous source’ and I’ll give you more.”… – CBS News, 11-1-10Politico, 11-1-10
  • Obama pulls back on ‘enemies’ remark to Latinos: A day before the pivotal midterm elections, President Barack Obama pulled back from remarks he made last month when he called on Latino voters to punish their “enemies” on Election Day. In an interview Monday with radio host Michael Baisden, Obama said he should have used the word “opponents” instead of enemies.
    Republicans were quick to criticize the president’s remarks. House Minority Leader John Boehner was expected to use Obama’s words in an election eve speech in Ohio to paint the president as a staunch partisan. “Sadly, we have a president who uses the word ‘enemy’ for fellow Americans, fellow citizens. He used it for people who disagree with his agenda of bigger government,” Boehner said, according to prepared remarks released in advance of his speech.
    Obama’s original comments came during an interview with Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo, a Hispanic radio personality. Piolin questioned how Obama could ask Latinos for their vote when many don’t believe he’s worked hard to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Obama responded: “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder.”
    The president said Monday that the message he was trying to send was that voters need to support lawmakers who stand with them on the issue. “Now the Republicans are saying that I’m calling them enemies,” Obama said. “What I’m saying is you’re an opponent of this particular provision, comprehensive immigration reform, which is something very different.”… – AP, 11-1-10
  • Palin: News Station Trying to “Make Up” Stories: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Says Anchorage Station KTVA Conspired to Make Up Stories About Senate Candidate Joe Miller
    Sunday on Fox News, Palin said a cell phone recording shows two of the reporters were trying to discredit the Miller campaign.
    “It was revealed and we have the tape that proves it, that the CBS reporters, the affiliate in Alaska, conspired to make up stories about Joe Miller,” said Palin on Fox News. “We have the tape, [Host] Chris [Wallace], that proves it and I can’t wait till it busts out all over the nation.”… – CBS News, 10-31-10
  • Sarah Palin would ‘make the sacrifices’ and run for president: The former governor of Alaska predicts Tuesday’s vote will serve as a rebuke to President Obama as well as the GOP establishment. Obama exhorts Democrats in Cleveland to answer a ‘cocky’ GOP.
    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin predicted that Tuesday’s midterm elections would bring a “political earthquake” to the country and reiterated her willingness to make the personal sacrifices necessary to run for president in 2012. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee said the message from voters this year would serve as an indictment of the current administration.
    “They’re going to say, ‘You blew it, President Obama. We gave you the two years to fulfill your promise of making sure that our economy starts roaring back to life again.’ And instead I believe things are getting worse,” Palin said.
    The election results also will deliver a stinging rebuke to the Republican establishment from the “tea party” movement, she warned.
    “Those within the establishment who have kind of perpetuated the problem by going along just to get along, including some who’ve been wishy-washy on the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda — the message sent to them is ‘No more,'” Palin said.
    She was more equivocal about her own political future, saying: “I love the freedom that I have, that I can sit here and I can tell you anything that I want to tell you and not have to worry so much about how it will affect my future political career, or my relationship with senators or congressmen.”
    But while acknowledging she was enjoying private life, the former governor hastened to clarify that she would be happy to step back into public life.
    “You know, the country is worth it, though, to make those sacrifices, when we talk about making money today, having a lot of fun today, having all this freedom,” she said. “If the country needed me — and I’m not saying that the country does and that the country would ever necessarily want to choose me over anyone else, but I would be willing to make the sacrifices if need be for America.”… – LAT, 10-31-10
  • Rally to Shift the Blame: In his new role as a political leader, which is what you call somebody if he hosts a rally on the Washington Mall for over 200,000 people, Jon Stewart was a little hemmed at the Rally to Restore Sanity on Saturday. Because sanity should know no party, partisan rhetoric was not on the teleprompter.
    At his rally, Jon Stewart said cable news “did not cause our problems,” but it “makes solving them that much harder.” So instead the host of “The Daily Show” took steady aim on the one American institution that everyone can agree to hate: The Media. Within the first minute of his deft, very articulate stump speech at the end of the rally, Mr. Stewart turned his gun sights on the, um, fake news, which he called, “the country’s 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator,” which, he added, “did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.” “The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous, flaming ant epidemic,” he said, to roars of approval from the crowd. “We work together to get things done every damn day! The only place we don’t is here,” he said, gesturing toward the Capitol, “or on cable TV.”… – NYT, 10-31-10
  • In radio address, Obama urges party unity after election: Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s election, it’s time to put aside partisanship, President Obama is telling Democrats and Republicans. Yet his appeal for unity includes a jab at GOP leaders in the House and Senate for comments that the president said were troubling.
    House minority leader John Boehner of Ohio “actually said that ‘this is not the time for compromise,'” Obama said yesterday in his weekly radio and Internet address. The president added that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky “said his main goal after this election is simply to win the next one.”… – Boston Globe, 10-31-10
  • Obama warns of progress reversal if GOP wins: President Barack Obama implored voters on Saturday to resist a Republican tide, warning that if the GOP prevails in Tuesday’s midterm elections all the progress of his first two years in office “can be rolled back.” That would be just fine, said Rep. John Boehner, in line to become the new speaker if Republicans take the House, as expected. He declared, “Americans are demanding a new way forward in Washington.” Embarking on a four-state weekend campaign dash, Obama acknowledged the difficulties Democrats face — the distinct chance of losing their comfortable majority in the House and possibly the Senate, as well as several governors’ seats. All four weekend stops are in states Obama carried in 2008 — Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois and Ohio. But Democratic candidates for the Senate, House and governorships are struggling in these places and elsewhere, and Obama is making a last-ditch plea for the party’s core supporters not to abandon them. “It is difficult here in Pennsylvania, it is difficult all across the country,” Obama told several hundred campaign volunteers at Temple University in Philadelphia, a Democratic-leaning city he has visited often. The weekend tour marks the president’s last campaign swing of the campaign season, with Republicans expecting big victories on Tuesday. Obama’s sagging popularity has limited his ability to save Democratic candidates, and his legislative agenda may be deeply complicated if the GOP takes over the House, as many expect…. – AP, 10-30-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls on GOP Leadership to Put Aside Partisan Politics and Focus on Strengthening the Economy
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House October 30, 2010:
    Tuesday is Election Day, and here in Washington, the talk is all about who will win and who will lose – about parties and politics.
    But around kitchen tables, I’m pretty sure you’re talking about other things: about your family finances, or maybe the state of the economy in your hometown; about your kids, and what their futures will bring. And your hope is that once this election is over, the folks you choose to represent you will put the politics aside for a while, and work together to solve problems. That’s my hope, too….
    That’s why I found the recent comments by the top two Republican in Congress so troubling. The Republican leader of the House actually said that “this is not the time for compromise.” And the Republican leader of the Senate said his main goal after this election is simply to win the next one.
    I know that we’re in the final days of a campaign. So it’s not surprising that we’re seeing this heated rhetoric. That’s politics. But when the ballots are cast and the voting is done, we need to put this kind of partisanship aside – win, lose, or draw.
    In the end, it comes down to a simple choice. We can spend the next two years arguing with one another, trapped in stale debates, mired in gridlock, unable to make progress in solving the serious problems facing our country. We can stand still while our competitors – like China and others around the world – try to pass us by, making the critical decisions that will allow them to gain an edge in new industries.
    Or we can do what the American people are demanding that we do. We can move forward. We can promote new jobs and businesses by harnessing the talents and ingenuity of our people. We can take the necessary steps to help the next generation – instead of just worrying about the next election. We can live up to an allegiance far stronger than our membership in any political party. And that’s the allegiance we hold to our country. – WH, 10-30-10
  • President Obama: “A Credible Terrorist Threat Against Our Country, and the Actions That We’re Taking”: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to briefly update the American people on a credible terrorist threat against our country, and the actions that we’re taking with our friends and our partners to respond to it.
    Last night and earlier today, our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, working with our friends and allies, identified two suspicious packages bound for the United States — specifically, two places of Jewish worship in Chicago. Those packages had been located in Dubai and East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom. An initial examination of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material.
    I was alerted to this threat last night by my top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan. I directed the Department of Homeland Security and all our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens from this type of attack. Those measures led to additional screening of some planes in Newark and Philadelphia…. – WH, 10-29-10
  • Ten Questions for Jeb Bush: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sat down at his Miami office with John Harwood of The New York Times and CNBC to discuss President Obama’s leadership, Republican presidential politics, and the Senate campaign of his successor, Gov. Charlie Crist. An edited transcript of their conversation…. – NYT, 10-29-10
  • Obama Says Packages Bound for U.S. Contained Explosives: Two packages containing explosive devices originating in Yemen and addressed to two places of Jewish worship in Chicago were intercepted in Dubai and Britain, setting off a global terror alert, President Obama said at the White House on Friday. The president called the packages a “credible threat,” prompting searches of cargo planes landing at Philadelphia and Newark and a delivery truck in Brooklyn, and a military escort for an inbound passenger flight. No explosive packages were found to have reached the United States…. – NYT, 10-29-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Tevi Troy: Troy responds: Bewitching hour for campaign craziness?: Elections seem more important than ever because our electorate is so closely divided. As a result, control of Congress is far more likely to change hands in each election than it was in the decades before the GOP takeover of 1994. The policy impact of such changes in Congress is what keeps bringing the intensity to higher and higher levels…. – The Arena at Politico.com, 11-2-10
  • Leading article: President Obama still offers change we can believe in: It is hard to find an American with a good word to say about Barack Obama at the moment. The President is denounced by his progressive supporters for being insufficiently liberal. He is attacked by the libertarian Tea Party movement for being a communist. He is slated by the leaders of corporate America for his supposedly “anti-business” policies. Everywhere, there seems to be anger and disillusion. The contrast with the mood of optimism and hope when Mr Obama was elected two years ago is remarkable. And the expectation is that these currents of national discontent will mean heavy losses for the Democrats in today’s midterm congressional elections…. – Independent UK, 11-2-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: It’s Tea Party vs. Bush and Obama: Former President George W. Bush loomed large throughout the 2010 campaign even though he has been out of office for nearly two years.
    The upcoming publication of Bush’s memoirs, “Decision Points,” offers us an opportunity to consider the relationship between the former commander-in-chief and the Tea Party activists who played such a major role in energizing the GOP this summer and fall. While the Tea Party attacks on President Obama and his policies were front and center, their anger was also directed toward the nature of Republican politics in the age of Bush.
    The Tea Party movement has opened up a civil war within the Republican Party. Recently these tensions exploded when Bush’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, said the Tea Party was not very “sophisticated.” Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called Rove an “elitist” and said that “unfortunately, there is an elitism within the Republican establishment. And it’s one of the reasons the Republicans have not been able to solidify not only the Tea Party movement but solidify conservatives across America.”…
    Now that the election campaign is just about over, the party’s leaders will have to reconcile the tensions between where the party had been under George W. Bush and where Tea Party leaders would like to see it heading. The impact of the movement on the GOP will create intense pressure on elected officials to listen to what the activists have been demanding if they want their support in 2012.
    The question will be whether Tea Party activists will decide that the GOP is just no longer a home for them and if other Republicans, like former President Bush, will be left wondering what has become of their party. – CNN, 11-1-10
  • GERALD F. SEIB: Lessons of Reagan’s Rebound: As they lick their wounds during what figures to be a tough election night Tuesday, Democrats might want to reflect on the 1982 experience of President Ronald Reagan and take away some lessons from it…. – WSJ, 11-1-10
  • DOROTHY RABINOWITZ: Why Obama Is No Roosevelt: Roosevelt: ‘Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart.’ Obama: We don’t ‘always think clearly when we’re scared.’
    Whatever the outcome of today’s election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience—with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of “present,” and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us—a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity—to a place of respect in the world.
    We would win back our allies who, so far as we knew, hadn’t been lost anywhere. Though once Mr. Obama was elected and began dissing them with returned Churchill busts and airy claims of ignorance about the existence of any special relationship between the United States and Great Britain, the British, at least, have been feeling less like pals of old.
    In the nearly 24 months since Mr. Obama’s election, popular enthusiasm for him has gone the way of his famous speeches—lyrical, inspired and unburdened by the weight of concrete thought…. – WSJ, 11-1-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Obama and Democrats brace for possible Republican wave: “It’s an election in which conservatives gain enough power in Congress — even if they don’t control it — to block liberal legislation,” said Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University. “They’re usually some kind of response or backlash to a president who has put forth a big agenda.”… – USA Today, 10-31-10
  • 5 questions for 5 analysts: What will happen Election Day, what it means: Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report: The level of voter anger and the increased level of incivility really stand out to me. I’ve never heard a candidate for statewide office tell the president to “shove it,” as Rhode Island Democrat Frank Caprio did, or another candidate say that if elected he hopes for headlines that read “Gov. LePage tells Obama to go to Hell.”

    Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia: This is the first initial midterm of a Democratic president in 16 years. Oddly, Obama’s first midterm election is looking a lot like Bill Clinton’s first midterm in 1994. Democratic presidents are starting to have real problems early in their terms — although a sample of two is very, very small.
    Linda Fowler, professor of government at Dartmouth College: The economy. We haven’t had unemployment rates this high since 1982. Every forecasting model that any political scientist has ever run indicates that when you have an economy running this badly, the party that the president controls gets punished pretty heavily.
    Earl Black, co-author of “America Divided” and a political scientist at Rice University in Houston: This is the first election really since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society where we’ve had a very liberal Democratic president move to enact a highly ambitious program, health care being the most obvious, and to do this in the face of national public opinion that was opposed to the bill. This has created a lot of opposition.
    Bill Whalen, research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a GOP media consultant: That would be the “wave” dynamic seemingly working to the Republicans’ advantage for the first time in 16 years and President Clinton’s first midterm test. … (T)his is the first time the GOP is looking at landmark congressional gains (plus gaining a majority advantage among governorships) since Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America…. – Yahoo News, 10-31-10

  • Obama Tries To Rally Democrats In Final Days Before Election: In the final days before Tuesday’s (Nov. 2) congressional elections, President Barack Obama is making one last campaign swing, in hopes of persuading more of his fellow Democrats to vote. With public opinion polls predicting big losses for his Democratic Party, President Obama is on the road once more, trying to limit the damage.
    Young voters were a big part of Mr. Obama’s surge to the presidency in 2008, so he went to a university in Philadelphia on Saturday and urged students to campaign for Democratic candidates. “Coming to a rally, that is not the hard part. What I need this weekend is 20,000 doors knocked on by all the volunteers who are here today,” he said. Public opinion surveys predict that Republicans will easily win at least the 39 seats they need to take control of the House of Representatives, and probably more. There is a lesser chance that Republicans could also take over the Senate…. – VOA, 10-30-10
  • Can Sarah Palin Save Joe Miller?: Republican Joe Miller has seemingly lost his momentum in Alaska’s Senate race, going from rebel insurgent during the primary to hapless blunderer the week before the general. Miller has been slammed by a series of revelations about his background, from his family’s reliance on the federal benefits he criticizes to political indiscretions– and resulting disciplinary action–while he was working as an attorney for the state. His campaign has responded with defensive and somewhat thuggish behavior, including handcuffing a journalist who tried to question Miller at a public event.
    Though Alaska is a difficult state to poll accurately, the most recent survey from the state showed Miller trailing significantly behind write-in Republican Lisa Murkowski, who received 34 percent (the poll presented “write-in candidate” as an option rather than using Murkowski’s name), and Democrat Scott McAdams, who received 29 percent. Miller’s percentage had slipped from 31 at the beginning of the month to just 23 when the poll was released yesterday.
    Miller, then, is looking for a resurgence. He may have sparked one in a rally last night headlined by Sarah Palin, though it’s too early to judge whether the gathering will significantly energize the last days of his campaign. Palin and Miller have had a complicated background of late–at least as far as the media is aware–and she has been slow to throw her full weight into this race… – The Atlantic, 10-29-10
  • Gil Troy: Israel is peripheral in the US elections – fortunately: Although Americans glided smoothly to the 2008 presidential election, with most increasingly giddy at the prospect of Barack Obama’s historic victory, they are stumbling haphazardly toward the 2010 congressional midterms, with most increasingly cranky. Pollsters predict that on November 2, Barack Obama will suffer a major defeat. Gone is the faith that this mortal can solve America’s problems. Gone is most of the hope that galvanized millions. Gone is the sky-high popularity rating that had Republicans and comedians wondering in January 2009, “how are we ever going to criticize, let alone laugh, at this guy.” Gone is the “yes we can” optimism, as many Americans take a “no we can’t” approach. And gone may be the power President Obama drew from his Democratic congressional majority…. – JPost, 10-27-10

Political Highlights October 25, 2010: Obama & Palin Campaign for Democrats & Republicans – Polls Predict GOP House Victory

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

Image: Sarah Palin in Florida and President Obama in Minnesota

Reuters, AP

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addresses a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, the same day President Barack Obama addresses a Democratic rally in Minneapolis, Minn.

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Brown surges against Whitman in Calif. gov race-poll: Democrat Jerry Brown has more than doubled his lead over Republican rival Meg Whitman in the California governor’s race, gaining support from Latino voters after an illegal immigration furor over the former eBay chief’s ex- housekeeper. A Los Angeles Times/USC poll on Sunday gave Brown, the state’s attorney general who first served as California governor from 1975 to 1983, a 13 point lead over Whitman. Brown has 52 percent support, compared to 39 percent for Whitman. In the same poll a month ago, Brown had a five point overall lead over Whitman. Sunday’s survey showed he now has a 36 percentage point lead over Whitman among Latino voters, up from 19 percent in September…. – Reuters, 10-24-10
  • Jobless Rate Declines in 23 States: Unemployment rates were little changed in most states in September, as a recovery in the labor market remained sluggish across the country. The Labor Department reported Friday that 23 states and Washington, D.C., experienced decreases in jobless rates, while the rate rose in 11 states and was unchanged in 16.
    States hardest-hit by the housing bust, such as Florida and California, continue to struggle with double-digit unemployment rates. Nevada remained the state with the highest unemployment rate, at 14.4%, more than a percentage point higher than the 13% recorded in second-place Michigan. In all, 15 states had rates above the 9.6% national figure released earlier this month.
    North and South Dakota continued to have the lowest rates in the country, at 3.7% and 4.4%, respectively.
    Despite some improvement in jobless rates, 34 states reported a decrease in the number of people employed, possibly as fewer people hunted for jobs. Fourteen of the state declines are regarded as statistically significant. Just New Mexico, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., posted statistically significant increases in employment from August…. – WSJ, 10-20-10
  • Prop. 19 trailing badly, poll shows: Prop. 19 would legalize marijuana in California. But the Los Angeles Times/USC Poll found that voters oppose the measure 51% to 39%. The poll found that the measure is far behind in Southern California…. – LAT, 10-22-10
  • American Voices: Candidates Want More than “Maybe” From the Youth Vote: The midterm elections potentially bring major victories for the Republican party, which was run out of town in the 2008 presidential election. Now that the tables are turned, the Democrats are scrambling to convince voters to support their candidates on November 2. A key constituency for both parties is the youth vote, which made up 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and helped catapult Barack Obama into the presidency. A recent Rock the Vote survey found 34 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 favor the Democrats, compared with 28 percent for Republicans, with 36 percent not concerned about which party ends up controlling Congress. A CBS News-Knowledge Networks poll released Tuesday found that two-thirds of Obama voters in 2008 (67 percent), which included young voters, say they’ll vote for one of his fellow Democrats in 2010. Eight percent of those voters say they will vote Republican this year, and 21 percent say it depends…. – CBS News, 10-21-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Likely voters ready to embrace GOP: All signs point to huge Republican victories in two weeks, with the GOP now leading Democrats on virtually every measure in an Associated Press-GfK poll of people likely to vote in the first major elections of Barack Obama’s presidency. In the final survey before Election Day, likely voters say the GOP would do a better job than Democrats on handling the economy, creating jobs and running the government. Most also think the country’s headed in the wrong direction. More than half disapprove of Obama’s job performance. And even more don’t like the Democratic-controlled Congress. Neither party is popular. But likely voters view the GOP a bit more positively than they do the Democrats. Slightly more say they will vote for the Republican congressional candidate in their district over the Democrat. And most think the GOP will win control of Congress from the Democrats…. – AP, 10-20-10
  • GOP in Lead in Final Lap: A vigorous post-Labor Day Democratic offensive has failed to diminish the resurgent Republicans’ lead among likely voters, leaving the GOP poised for major gains in congressional elections two weeks away, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
    Among likely voters, Republicans hold a 50% to 43% edge, up from a three-percentage-point lead a month ago.
    In the broader category of registered voters, 46% favor a Democratic-controlled Congress, compared with 44% who want Republican control. But in the 92 House districts considered most competitive, the GOP’s lead among registered voters is 14 points, underscoring the Democrats’ challenge in maintaining their hold on the House. The poll of 1,000 registered voters was taken Oct. 14-18…. – WSJ, 10-19-10
  • Need to get voters excited? Call Bill Clinton, not Obama: A Gallup poll suggests that both Democrats and independents are more likely to be enthusiastic about a campaign visit from former President Bill Clinton than from President Obama. In a poll conducted October 14-17, Gallup asked registered voters whether having Clinton or Obama campaign for a candidate would be a plus, minus, or make no difference. From those responses, Gallup calculated a “net impact” by subtracting the percentage who said campaigning would make them less likely to vote for a candidate from the percentage who said it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate.
    “Clinton does modestly better than Obama among Democrats,” writes Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport. The net positive impact of Clinton’s campaigning among Democrats is 48 percent, while for Obama it is 42 percent. Where the former president dramatically outshines Obama is with independent voters. Among independents, “Clinton’s impact breaks about even,” Mr. Newport writes. Some 21 percent of independents are more likely to support a candidate if Mr. Clinton works for them, while 23 percent are less likely, leaving the net result at a negative 2 percent…. – CS Monitor, 10-19-10
  • Election 2010 Monday Polls: Voter Enthusiasm, Nevada, Colorado Obama voters vs. McCain Voters, Nevada, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah Senate Races: An AP-Knowledge Networks poll released today shows 67 percent (about two-thirds) of John McCain voters are certain to vote in the 2010 election, compared to only 51 percent of Obama voters. The same study indicated that the majority of Obama voters (59 percent) feel “hopeful” about Obama’s presidency, while the majority of McCain voters (71 percent) feel “frustrated.” The poll also shows that 30 percent of Obama voters think he is maintaining his promise to change Washington. And, about 25 percent of Obama voters say they are thinking about voting for the GOP in 2010.
    A Gallup Poll released today shows that 66 percent of Republicans think the federal government “poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens” in 2010 compared to 21 percent of Democrats. However, the same poll found the opposite results when George W. Bush was president. In 2006, 57 percent of Democrats saw the federal government as a threat compared to 21 percent of Republicans. The overall percentage of Americans who agree has shifted only 2 percentage points in the four years, with 46 percent of Americans viewing the government as a threat in 2010…. – US News, 10-18-10

THE HEADLINES….

A backyard discussion with Seattle area families

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 10/21/10
  • Obama likely to focus on deficit in next 2 years: Preparing for political life after a bruising election, President Barack Obama will put greater emphasis on fiscal discipline, a nod to a nation sick of spending and to a Congress poised to become more Republican, conservative and determined to stop him. He is already giving clues about how he will govern in the last two years of his term.
    Obama will try to make gains on deficit reduction, education and energy. He will enforce his health care and inancial overhauls and try to protect them from repeal should Republicans win control of Capitol Hill. He will use executive authority when blocked by Congress, and steel for scrutiny and investigations if the GOP is in charge.
    While trying to save money, Obama will have to decide whether to bend to Republican and growing Democratic pressure to extend Bush-era tax cuts, even for the wealthy, that expire at year’s end. Obama wants to extend them for people making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000, but a broader extension is gaining favor with an increasing number of Democrats. Moving to the fore will be a more serious focus on how to balance the federal budget and pay for the programs that keep sinking the country into debt…. – AP, 10-24-10
  • In Losing the Midterms, There May Be Winning: Let there be no mistake: President Obama wants the Democrats to win next week’s midterm elections. His voice has gone hoarse telling every audience that from Delaware to Oregon. But let’s also acknowledge this: Although he will not say so, there is at least a plausible argument that he might be better off if they lose. ADVERSARY President Clinton was able to play off Speaker Newt Gingrich, left. The reality of presidential politics is that it helps to have an enemy. With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, they shoulder responsibility for the country’s troubles. No amount of venting about George W. Bush or the filibuster rule has convinced the public otherwise. But if Republicans capture Congress, Mr. Obama will finally have a foil heading toward his own re-election battle in 2012.
    “The best possible result for Obama politically is for the Republicans to gain control of both houses,” said Douglas E. Schoen, a Democratic pollster and strategist who helped President Bill Clinton recover from his own midterm Congressional defeat in 1994 to win re-election two years later. “That’s what Obama should want.”… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • G.O.P. Is Poised To Seize House, If Not Senate: A costly and polarizing Congressional campaign heads into its closing week with Republicans in a strong position to win the House but with Democrats maintaining a narrow edge in the battle for the Senate, according to a race-by- race review and lawmakers and strategists on both sides. President Obama campaigned for a fourth consecutive day on Saturday as the Democratic Party threw its full weight into preventing a defeat of historic proportions in an election shaped by a sour economy, intense debate over the White House’s far-reaching domestic agenda and the rise of a highly energized grass-roots conservative movement. But Republicans have placed enough seats into play that Democrats now seem likely to give up many of the gains they made in the last two election cycles, leaving Washington on the brink of a substantial shift in the balance of power. The final nine days of the midterm election are unfolding across a wide landscape, with several dozen House races close enough to break either way, determining whether the election produces a Republican wave that reaches deep into the Democratic ranks. In the Senate, Democrats were bracing to lose seats, but the crucial contests remained highly fluid as Republicans struggled to pull away in several Democratic-leaning states…. – NYT, 10-23-10
  • Big guns push midterm campaigns into high gear In Florida, Palin invokes past; in Minneapolis, Obama says don’t repeat it: President Barack Obama warned against a return to the past while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin invoked a past president’s name Saturday as each led midterm election rallies thousands of miles and millions of voters apart. Obama closed a four-day campaign swing ahead of the Nov. 2 elections by imploring supporters to defeat the conventional wisdom that Democrats face steep losses. He cast the choice Election Day as one between the economic policies “that got us into this mess” and the policies leading the nation out…. – MSNBC, 10-23-10
  • President Seeks Edge in a Contest for Governor: President Obama wrapped up a four-day campaign swing on Saturday, telling students and the Democratic Party faithful to seize the chance to win a Republican-held governor’s seat here next month. Mr. Obama appeared at a rally on behalf of the candidate Mark Dayton, who probably represents the Democrats’ best chance in the midterm elections to take a seat held by a Republican governor. Unlike many other races across the country where polls show Republicans with an edge, in Minnesota, Mr. Dayton, a former United States senator, is polling ahead of Tom Emmer, a Republican, and Tom Horner of the Independence Party…. – NYT, 10-23-10
  • G-20 powers agree to Geithner currency and trade plan: Finance ministers from the world’s major nations agreed to a U.S.-brokered plan for easing tensions over exchange rates and world trade patterns, saying that a “fragile and uneven” economic recovery was at risk if top powers pursued conflicting policies or used the value of their currencies to gain an edge for their exports. Aiming to head off what some have dubbed a developing “currency war,” the statement from the finance leaders of the Group of 20 nations was a carefully worded bargain across a range of issues. It put China on the record as seeking to bring down its massive trade surplus and let its exchange rate fluctuate more. It also hinted that any move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to further ease monetary policy would be measured so as not to disrupt currency values or capital flows in emerging market nations…. – WaPo, 10-23-10
  • Despite latest coup, WikiLeaks facing challenges: “Wikileaks,” said the godfather of whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg, “has become the future of unauthorized disclosure.” Speaking Saturday in London, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers and their damning history of American involvement in Vietnam a generation ago, expressed what is partly hope and partly a reflection of reality: the Internet makes it harder to keep secrets. But still to be determined is whether WikiLeaks itself is that future, or some other Web site or collection of online organizations. WikiLeaks is evolving, working through challenges posed by the new media model, such as to what degree can a site devoted to holding the powerful accountable hold itself beyond reach? And can a site dedicated to combating secrecy continue to be so secret… – WaPo, 10-23-10
  • U.S. Offers Pakistan Army $2 Billion Aid Package: Even as the Obama administration moved to stop training and equipping Pakistani Army units that have killed civilians in the offensive against the Taliban, the United States said Friday that it planned increased aid for Pakistan’s military over the next five years. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement in Washington alongside the Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, as leaders from both nations convened for a series of meetings.
    The new aid package, totaling $2 billion, is meant to replace one that expired Oct. 1. It would complement $7.5 billion in aid that the United States has already pledged to Pakistan for civilian projects, some have which have been directed toward helping the nation recover from the damaging floods…. – NYT, 10-22-10
  • The Iraq Archive: The Strands of a War: A huge trove of secret field reports from the battlegrounds of Iraq sheds new light on the war, including such fraught subjects as civilian deaths, detainee abuse and the involvement of Iran. The secret archive is the second such cache obtained by the independent organization WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations. Like the first release, some 92,000 reports covering six years of the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq documents provide no earthshaking revelations, but they offer insight, texture and context from the people actually fighting the war. A close analysis of the 391,832 documents helps illuminate several important aspects of this war…. – NYT, 10-22-10Read the full Pentagon response
  • Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands, Logs Say: The public image of detainees in Iraq was defined by the photographs, now infamous, of American abuse at Abu Ghraib, like the hooded prisoner and the snarling attack dog. While the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks offer few glimpses of what was happening inside American detention facilities, they do contain indelible details of abuse carried out by Iraq’s army and police…. – NYT, 10-22-10
  • Obama rallies voters in Los Angeles to support Sen. Boxer, Democratic control of Congress: President Barack Obama is accusing Republicans of peddling “snake oil” as he asks voters who backed him over the GOP in 2008 for a repeat performance. Obama was raising money and rallying support for Sen. Barbara Boxer of California on Friday, day three of a four-day tour ahead of the Nov. 2 election. Boxer is one of several endangered Democratic incumbents Obama is trying to help on a campaign trip that started Wednesday in Portland and ends Saturday in Minneapolis…. – CP, 10-22-10
  • Obama targets women voters in Seattle trip with talk of jobs, cupcakes: President Obama tried to energize women voters at a town hall meeting Thursday in Seattle. He’s also set to campaign for Washington’s Patty Murray and California’s Barbara Boxer…. – CS Monitor, 10-21-10
  • Happy Dems, a few GOPers pack Obama-Murray rally: With Washington’s vote-by-mail election already under way, President Barack Obama urged a raucous crowd Thursday to quickly cast their votes for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. With Washington’s vote-by-mail election already under way, President Barack Obama urged a raucous crowd Thursday to quickly cast their votes for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. “You need to go, right after this rally, fill out that ballot, and mail it in,” Obama told a packed crowd at the University of Washington’s basketball arena. “Today. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but today.” Obama’s second campaign trip to Washington state this year was part of a flood of high-profile Democrats trying to whip up voters for Murray this month. The three-term incumbent is in a competitive race with Republican Dino Rossi, a two-time runner-up for governor. “I am proud to be at your back, and I know you’re proud to be at mine,” Murray told the crowd. “We are going to continue to move forward with leadership for this state.”…. – Seattle Times, AP, 10-21-10
  • ‘The Daily Show,’ Rolling Stone, and MTV: Obama’s youth vote push: President Obama isn’t trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous by appearing on ‘The Daily Show’ five days before the midterm elections – he’s trying to fire up young voters. President Obama is going to appear on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart before the November elections. Last night the White House announced that Obama will tape a segment for the show on October 27. What’s the point of that? Is the president angling to get a good spot on the stage for Mr. Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” which will be held on the National Mall the following weekend? Or is he just trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous? Well, he’s probably not going to hang around Washington for the “Sanity” meeting and Mr. Colbert’s competing “March to Keep Fear Alive.” In all likelihood Obama will be out campaigning that weekend in a last-minute push to avoid a Democratic electoral apocalypse. Obama has called the dueling-rally premise “amusing”, but that’s not exactly a full-throated endorsement is it? No, Obama is appearing on “The Daily Show” for the same reason he recently gave an interview to “Rolling Stone” and appeared in an hour-long MTV “town hall” – young voters. He’s trying hard to fire up a cohort that went overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2008. The audience for Stewart’s show skews young, and many of them view it as a main source of news, even if the producers insist their product is really a hybrid of pseudo-news and comedy…. – CS Monitor, 10-20-10
  • Justice Department asks appeals court to overturn ‘don’t ask’ injunction: The motion calls on the appeals court to lift a judge’s order immediately. The government says the ‘extraordinary decision’ went too far, too fast and is causing ‘confusion and uncertainty’ in the Pentagon and among gays and lesbians in the ranks…. – LAT, 10-20-10
  • The Conversation: Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, Nearly 20 Years Later After Virginia Thomas Asks Hill for an Apology, Explosive Hearings Are Back in the News: In October 1991, the Senate was set to confirm Clarence Thomas as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court when Anita Hill, a former aide to Thomas, came forward publicly with allegations of sexual harassment. Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee riveted the nation, airing live on the broadcast networks. After three days of contentious hearings, the Senate voted to confirm Thomas as a Supreme Court justice in a narrow 52-to-48 vote. A New York Times/CBS News poll at the time found that 58 percent of Americans believed Thomas, while only 24 percent believed Hill. Hill’s words and Thomas’s denial turned sexual harassment into a national discussion, prompting a wholesale reexamination of workplace policies and training procedures. To this day, Anita Hill and her allegations are firmly linked to Justice Thomas and his reputation. That, perhaps, is why Thomas’s wife, Ginny Thomas, called Hill to ask for her apology, catapulting the story back into the news all these years later…. – CBS News, 10-20-10
  • Official: Shooting at Pentagon appears to be a ‘random incident’: A Pentagon official said he believes the shooting early Tuesday at the U.S. Defense Department headquarters was a “random incident.” “We are looking at all the possibilities,” Steven E. Calvery, director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, said at a news conference late Tuesday morning. “What we have is an isolated incident, so far.” Pentagon police officers, as well as several construction workers in the area, heard at least five shots fired around 4:50 a.m., Pentagon officials said…. – CNN, 10-19-10
  • Obama and Democrats count on Senate wins out West: With Republicans headed to big election gains on November 2, Democrats are counting on the liberal-leaning West Coast to counter the national trend and help them preserve their fragile Senate majority. President Barack Obama heads to California and Washington state this week to drum up support for endangered incumbents Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray in the last days of a campaign that finds his Democrats playing defense around the country. Wins in those two Democratic-leaning states — most polls show Boxer and Murray with slight leads — likely would be enough to ensure Democrats retain narrow control of the Senate even if Republicans sweep the other competitive races…. – Reuters, 10-19-10
  • Democrats try to woo women as more embrace GOP candidates: In the final stretch before the midterms, President Obama is giving a lot of attention to the traditional Democratic base: young people, black voters and white women. But women are his most urgent target. Unlike the other core groups, women are undecided, rather than merely unmotivated. And there are signs in parts of the country that they are open to defecting to the Republicans, potentially defying the long-standing “gender gap” that has skewed heavily toward Democratic candidates…. – WaPo, 10-19-10
  • Is Obama’s Excuse for Not Repealing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Legitimate?: President Obama claims he must defend and enforce the ban on gays serving in the military, even though he opposes it. But most experts in constitutional and military law say he has other options…. – Newsweek, 10-19-10
  • US military ready to accept gay applicants: Pentagon: The US military is ready to accept gays applying to join the armed forces, a spokeswoman said Tuesday after a federal judge struck down a ban on homosexuals serving openly in uniform. But the military will tell potential recruits that a law barring openly gay members — known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — could still be reinstated depending on the outcome of pending court decisions, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.
    “Recruiters have been given guidance, and they will process applications for applicants who admit they are openly gay or lesbian,” she told AFP. “Recruiters are reminded to set the applicants’ expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court’s decision of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law/policy may occur,” she said in an email.
    A federal judge in California, Virginia Phillips, last week ordered the government to immediately suspend the rule, which requires gay troops to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion…. – AFP, 10-19-10
  • Republican Candidates Outpacing Democrats in Race for Campaign Cash: Republican candidates have pulled ahead in the bare-knuckles race for campaign cash, registering big hauls in the final weeks and months before Election Day. Though the Democratic congressional campaign arms are outpacing their GOP counterparts in the fundraising race, individual GOP candidates are consistently attracting the most money. In Nevada, Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle reported raising a whopping $14 million in the critical third quarter, compared with less than $3 million for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In Kentucky, Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul raised $2.7 million in that period, $1 million more than Democrat Jack Conway. According to local reports, Delaware Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell raised $3.8 million between the end of August and the end of September, while Democrat Chris Coons raised just over $1 million…. – Fox News, 10-18-10
  • Five myths about Sarah Palin: Think you know Sarah Palin? The former Alaska governor has been in the spotlight ever since John McCain named her as his running mate on Aug. 29, 2008. Yet, while practically everybody has an opinion about Palin, not all of those opinions are grounded in reality. Many of them are based more on a “Saturday Night Live” caricature than on the living, breathing, 46-year-old mother of five. The real Sarah Palin is a complex woman who has risen in no time from obscurity to the stratosphere of American politics, fusing celebrity and populism in novel ways. Now that she’s laying the foundation for a possible presidential run in 2012, it’s worth taking a moment to separate the facts about Palin from the fables…. – WaPo, 10-17-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Obama at a rally Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

  • Political ads: Mean, and getting meaner, before Nov. 2: It’s nastier than ever this election cycle. Coast to coast, North to South, hotly contested mid-term races have candidates going negative in ads in a big way. And it’s getting personal, with zingers aimed at the private lives and even the religious beliefs of opponents. Political operatives and observers wonder how low it can go before Nov. 2. While no one can put a hard number on negative ads, neither does anyone dispute that they are especially rampant this election season…. – AP, 10-24-10
  • Crist, Meek gang up on Rubio in Fla. Senate debate: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist defends his changing positions on issues by saying as a former college quarterback he knows how to call an audible. By the end of Sunday’s debate with his opponents for U.S. Senate, it looked like he was throwing a Hail Mary. The debate spun out of control near the end as independent Crist and Republican Marco Rubio rapidly talked over each other. Crist, who is down by double digits in multiple polls with just more than a week left before the election, repeatedly interrupted Rubio with accusations that as House speaker he steered money to a university and a hospital and later took jobs from them. He also said Rubio doesn’t advocate transparency because he won’t release credit card records from his state GOP-issued American Express card.
    “I’ve never had a heckler at the debate, I’ve always had them in the audience,” Rubio said with a laugh.
    “Welcome to the NFL,” responded Crist.
    It was clear that Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek stepped up their efforts to make up ground against Rubio. Earlier in the debate, Meek, a congressman from Miami-Dade County, argued with Rubio about whether tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush should be extended. The debate was sponsored by CNN, the University of South Florida and the St. Petersburg Times…. – AP, 10-23-10
  • Love-hate relationship with Washington plays out in Nevada politics: The West has long been torn between attacking and cozying up to the federal government. Now Harry Reid and Sharron Angle have picked sides in that fight…. – LAT, 10-23-10
  • Rand Paul will face Jack Conway in final debate after all: Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul will participate in a debate Monday night on Kentucky Educational Television with his Democratic rival, Jack Conway. Paul, who said earlier in the week that he was not sure if he would appear with Conway in the fifth and final scheduled debate before the Nov. 2 election, held a news conference Friday afternoon at the Lexington Hyatt Regency to discuss his decision…. – The Lexington Herald-Leader, 10-22-10
  • Sharron Angle, Harry Reid Nevada race: Wild, woolly, and weird: If you believe the ads, Harry Reid is a rich playboy and Sharron Angle doesn’t know the difference between Latinos and Asians. Then there’s the former Republican Party chief who’s endorsed the Democrat…. – CS Monitor, 10-22-10
  • Reid Speculates Angle’s in “Cheney’s Bunker”: Leader discusses opponent’s absence from interviews, addresses questions of his “manhood” in MSNBC interview…. – Time, 10-21-10
  • Former GOP national chairman endorses Reid: Former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. has endorsed Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, saying it would be a mistake for Nevadans to elect Republican Sharron Angle and lose Reid’s clout to protect the state’s lifeblood gambling industry. Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, suggested Angle should distance herself from the anti- gambling Campaign for Working Families, which has endorsed her and begun running television advertisements attacking Reid. The political action committee’s founder and chairman is Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years. “It’s disturbing that she (Angle) is taking money from people who oppose gambling,” Fahrenkopf told The Associated Press. “She may not even know it, but Gary Bauer has been a longtime, outspoken opponent of legalized gambling. I did a double-take when I read she was receiving assistance from someone who has opposed Nevada’s chief industry for so long.”…. – Business Week, 10-21-10
  • In California midterm election’s tight races, voter turnout is key: Voter turnout will be especially important for Democrats in the midterm elections. The higher the overall turnout, the more likely Democrats will benefit. Both parties are appealing energetically to independents and the undecided…. – CS Monitor, 10-21-10
  • Sarah Palin endorses Pat Toomey for Pa. Senate: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is backing Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania’s competitive race for U.S. Senate against Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak. In a note posted on her Facebook page — her preferred method of endorsing candidates — the conservative stalwart tied Toomey to several other Republican candidates running in “‘rust belt’ and energy producing states,” including West Virginia and Kentucky. “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think cap-and-tax could potentially be more disastrous to our economy than Obamacare because it would devastate our businesses and cripple our energy and industrial sectors,” Palin wrote, referring to the Democratic energy policy approved by the House last year to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “Senate races in particular have national significance when it comes to legislation like cap-and-tax.”… – AP, 10-20-10
  • Is Giannoulias ready to take on Senate job?: At 34 years old and yet to complete his first term as Illinois treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias decided the time was right for him to succeed an admired friend and basketball buddy, President Barack Obama, in the U.S. Senate. Giannoulias, whose only other big job was working at his late father’s bank, was told by some to get more experience under his belt. Even the White House courted another Democrat for the job. But Giannoulias pushed ahead — eventually winning the nomination and the embrace of national party leaders — in what some call a mark of the drive and ambition that also characterizes his style on the basketball court, where he likes to have his hands on the ball and admittedly doesn’t pass as much as he should. Giannoulias attributes his ambition to his Greek family’s immigrant background, and some of his success to a lucky sense of timing…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-20-10
  • Why Republicans shouldn’t take a Pennsylvania Senate win for granted: Polls suggested that Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey had a firm grip on his race with Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania. But new polls point to hope for Democrats here and elsewhere…. – CS Monitor, 10-20-10
  • Separation of church and state questioned by Christine O’Donnell: Delaware Senate candidates Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R) met again Tuesday at Widener University’s School of Law for a debate over, among other contentious topics, the separation of church and state. After a squabble over whether or not schools should be permitted to teach creationism as a competing theory to evolution, Coons said that the First Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to imply the case for the separation of church and state…. – WaPO, 10-19-10
  • Did Jack Conway go too far?: A new ad being run by state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) against ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R) in the Kentucky Senate race using several college-era incidents to raise questions about the Republican’s character has created a national firestorm.
    “Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible a ‘hoax’,” asks the ad’s narrator. “Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol and say his god was ‘Aqua Buddha’.” The ad’s charges both can be traced back to Paul’s collegiate years…. – WaPo, 10-19-10
  • Sarah Palin kick-starts final Tea Party Express bus tour of 2010: Tea Party Express launches its last tour of the 2010 campaign in (guess where) Sen. Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada with an event headlined by (guess who) Sarah Palin…. – CS Monitor, 10-18-10
  • Palin in Nevada launch Tea Party Express tour: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was back in Nevada on Monday to help rev up the Tea Party Express for the stretch drive of a coast-to-coast campaign determined to throw out Sen. Harry Reid and his Democratic allies in Congress. Palin headlined a rally outside county GOP headquarters in Reno to kick off the 15-day bus tour hoping to capitalize on government discontent and unify conservatives two weeks away from the off-year election…. – AP, 10-18-10
  • Kentucky Senate Election 2010: Rand Paul and Jack Conway trade attacks in contentious final weeks until election: The Kentucky Senate race has turned ugly, as both Rand Paul and Jack Conway traded barbs in their final debate, even refusing to chake hands afterwards. As election day nears this contest will receive ample national attention from both parties and the national media. As WhoRunsGov explains: In May 2010, riding a wave of anti-Washington anger as part of the tea party movement, he crushed the competition to win the Republican nod for the open seat of retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). “I have a message, a message from the tea party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back,” Paul said…. – WaPo, 10-18-10
  • Nevada Senate Election 2010: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looks to fend off Sharron Angle, retain seat: Nevada’s Senate race has attracted national attention as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fights for his political life against Republican Sharron Angle, who has been a lightning rod of controversy from the start of her campaign…. – WaPo, 10-18-10
  • Sharron Angle Tells Hispanic Students That They Might Be Asian: When Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle dropped by the Rancho High School Hispanic Student Union in Las Vegas on Friday, she was asked about an ad she aired which, in criticizing Harry Reid on immigration, included a photo of three allegedly menacing-looking Hispanics…. – NY Mag, 10-18-10
  • Miller cites Communist East Germany as effective in dealing with border security: The scuffle between the editor of Alaska Dispatch and Joe Miller’s security guards at a public forum in Anchorage late Sunday is getting much national attention today. Getting lesser but growing attention is Miller’s answer at the forum to a question from the audience about how he would deal with illegal immigration. Anchorage blogger Steve Aufrecht was there and is among those today who are criticizing Miller’s response that Communist East ermany is a good example of a nation achieving border security. He quotes Miller as saying: “The first thing that has to be done is secure the border. … East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow. Now, obviously, other things were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border. If East Germany could do it, we could do it.”… – Anchorage Daily News, 10-18-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 10/20/10
  • No surprise: Democrats and Republicans differ on election predictions: Will an anti-incumbent wave return Republicans to power in the House and Senate, or can Democrats engineer a late rush to hold on to their congressional majorities? The 2010 mid-term elections comes down to campaign basics in the final nine days until vote-counting begins. For now, the two parties agree that Republicans will win more seats than they currently hold, but they differ sharply on how many and whether a major power shift will occur.Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that an unprecedented GOP wave would win control of both chambers as well as state legislatures in a broad condemnation of President Barack Obama and Democratic policies.
    “The voters are tired of the fact that the federal government has not listened to them over the past two years, has moved in its own direction, at its own rhythm and they want to pull back on that,” Steele said. “And I think you’re going to see a wave, an unprecedented wave on election day that’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
    His Democratic counterpart, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, pointed to strengthening poll numbers for his party’s candidates as a sign that the Democratic base was getting energized. “From this point forward, it’s all about turnout and ground game, and we’re seeing good early voting trends,” said Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman, when asked on the ABC program “This Week” if Democrats can hold their majorities. “We’ve got work to do, but we think we can do it.”
    While Kaine said the House remains uncertain, he sounded much more confident about the Senate.
    “Four or five months ago, the Republicans thought they had a great chance at taking both houses,” Kaine said. “For a variety of reasons, the Senate has gotten much more difficult for them. And again, we’re seeing this week strong moves in polling for our Senate candidates” in several states…. – CNN, 10-24-10
  • Weekly Address: Warns of GOP Efforts to Repeal Wall Street Reform – Including Foreclosure Protections
    Remarks of President Barack Obama, Saturday, October 23, 2010, Weekly Address, Washington, DC:
    Over the past two years, we’ve won a number of battles to defend the interests of the middle class. One of the most important victories we achieved was the passage of Wall Street Reform.
    This was a bill designed to rein in the secret deals and reckless gambling that nearly brought down the financial system. It set new rules so that taxpayers would never again be on the hook for a bailout if a big financial company went under. And reform included the strongest consumer protections in history – to put an end to a lot of the hidden fees, deceptive mortgages, and other abusive practices used to tilt the tables against ordinary people in their financial dealings.
    Yet despite the importance of this law – and despite the terrible economic dislocation caused by the failures in our financial system under the old rules – top Republicans in Congress are now beating the drum to repeal all of these reforms and consumer protections. Recently, one of the Republican leaders in the Senate said that if Republicans take charge of Congress, repeal would be one of the first orders of business. And he joins the top Republican in the House who actually called for the law to be repealed even before it passed. I think that would be a terrible mistake. Our economy depends on a financial system in which everyone competes on a level playing field, and everyone is held to the same rules – whether you’re a big bank, a small business owner, or a family looking to buy a house or open a credit card. And as we saw, without sound oversight and common-sense protections for consumers, the whole economy is put in jeopardy. That doesn’t serve Main Street. That doesn’t serve Wall Street. That doesn’t serve anyone. And that’s why I think it’s so important that we not take this country backward – that we don’t go back to the broken system we had before. We’ve got to keep moving forward. – WH, 10-23-10
  • Big guns push midterm campaigns into high gear In Florida, Palin invokes past; in Minneapolis, Obama says don’t repeat it: Palin, at a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., claimed Obama and other Democratic leaders created more debt instead of jobs by funding “shovel-ready” projects such as a $3 million Tallahasee turtle tunnel. “We know what he’s shoveling and it’s not asphalt,” Palin said. No matter what your political views may be, if you’re in a contested race for federal office this cycle, someone, somewhere, is probably calling you “extreme.”
    “The momentum is with us but now is not the time to let up; now is the time to dig deep,” Palin said with 10 days to go until the elections. Hundreds of Republicans with “Fire Pelosi” and “Listen to Me!” signs clapped, hooted and waved American flags in the ballroom of the Marriott World Center near Walt Disney World. The gathering was cast as a fundraising rally but had the feel of a county fair.
    “You know, the president is now telling us that we’re not thinking straight because of all the fear and frustration,” Palin said. “You know Mr. President, you have it right on one point there. We are afraid, knowing that your economic policies are driving us off a cliff.” Palin referred to the rally as a “Reagan crowd,” and invoked late President Ronald Reagan’s name several times, noting he was for “the little guy.” “What I love best is he didn’t waste time looking back,” Palin said.
    “Remember the national security policy back then, that was lived out by (former Florida Gov.) Jeb and (former President) G.W. Bush, of we win and they lose.”
    “Before spending more or borrowing or printing, adopt the test of Reagan: Will it empower the individual and make us reach for the stars?”… – MSNBC, 10-23-10
  • In Seattle, Obama tells party faithful: ‘We need you fired up’: President Obama swooped into this traditionally Democratic corner of the country Thursday to implore the party faithful to rekindle the enthusiasm they felt in 2008 and help propel a senator locked in a surprisingly close reelection contest.
    “We need you fired up,” Obama told a packed crowd inside a basketball arena here at the University of Washington to rally for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). He added: “We are grinding it out. We are doing the hard, frustrating, inch-by- inch, day-by-day, week-by-week work of bringing about change.”
    “They figured if they just sat on the sidelines and opposed us every step of the way, then eventually they could ride that anger and that frustration to success in this election,” Obama said. “In other words, they were betting on amnesia. They were betting on the idea that you’d forget who caused this mess in the first place. Now let me tell you, Seattle: It’s up to you to tell them you haven’t forgotten.”
    Obama drew about 10,000 students and area residents to the arena here, with 3,000 more watching from a nearby stadium, in a gathering reminiscent of the huge rallies he staged during his 2008 presidential campaign. As Seattle’s morning fog was lifting, the line of supporters wrapped around the university’s soccer field and stretched for several blocks through campus…. – WaPo, 10-21-10
  • Obama: Biden and Clinton are doing great ‘where they are’: President Obama said today that stories about Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton switching jobs are “completely unfounded.” “They are both doing outstanding jobs where they are,” Obama said in an interview with National Journal. It’s the surest sign yet that Biden will be on the ticket when Obama seeks re-election in 2012. The president has been chatting up his veep ever since book author Bob Woodward and others began talking about the prospect of a Biden-Clinton switch. During a Democratic fundraiser Friday in Biden’s home of Wilmington, Del., Obama said, “The single best decision that I have made was selecting Joe Biden as my running mate.” USA Today, 10-19-10
  • Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama ‘Reprehensible’: In a radio interview, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas acknowledges she touched a nerve with remarks about Israel that led to her retirement. But she says the comments were “exactly what I thought,” even though she realized soon afterward that it was the end of her job. “I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive,” Thomas told Ohio station WMRN-AM in a sometimes emotional 35-minute interview that aired Tuesday. It was recorded a week earlier by WMRN reporter Scott Spears at Thomas’ Washington, D.C., condominium. Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get “out of Palestine.” She gave up her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. She has kept a low profile since then….
    In the below clip (via Mediaite), Thomas can be heard crying after learning that President Obama condemned her remarks about Israel on the “Today” show, calling them “offensive and out of line.” “I think he was very unfair, and I return the compliment on his remarks,” Thomas said. “Reprehensible.”… – Huffington Post, 10-13-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Democrats are hurting: With the midterm elections just a week away, many Democrats are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong.
    After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, many in the party thought that they were on the cusp of a new era in American politics. Republicans, and the conservative philosophy that had shaped their party for several decades, seemed to be in retreat.
    Yet less than years later, Republicans are on the verge of recapturing control of the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate. President Obama’s approval ratings have slid since his first year, while Republicans are now looking forward to the election of 2012.
    The most conventional argument about what went wrong for Democrats is that Obama moved too far to the left in a country that is center-right. But this argument is not supported by a recent study by The Washington Post, Henry Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.
    The study found that Americans are philosophically conservative but operationally liberal….Conservatives have also done very well at playing the politics of the media by staying on message and framing Obama and his policies in a negative light. They have been able to turn the president’s legislative victories into political defeats. Obama and his supporters have spent the last few months trying to explain all that he has done. But when a president has to do so much explaining, that means that he has already lost the battle.
    Whatever the outcome of the midterms, Democrats will need to regroup in the coming months. Rather than focusing on allegations of foreign money flowing into the campaign or embarking on some wholesale philosophical shift to the right, Democrats would do better to look at the specific strategic mistakes that they have made along the way and make sure that they don’t repeat them on the road to 2012. – CNN, 10-25-10
  • FRANK RICH: What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?: PRESIDENT Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.
    The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment, the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the White House’s surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe in is even more ominous. It’s the country’s fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.
    No matter how much Obama talks about his “tough” new financial regulatory reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe there’s been real change. That’s not just because so many have lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. It’s also because so many know that the loftiest perpetrators of this national devastation got get-out-of-jail-free cards, that too-big-to-fail banks have grown bigger and that the rich are still the only Americans getting richer… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • MARK HALPERIN: After the Midterm Elections: How Obama Can Meet Promises: It is time for a new White House plan. Even the best case for Democrats in the midterms will leave President Barack Obama with the tarnish of repudiation and far fewer members of his own party with whom to work.
    If he wants to continue to achieve his campaign promises, the President is going to have to make some profound changes, something Obama’s stay-the-course history suggests does not come naturally to him. (See scenes from a midterm-elections road trip.)
    By luck or design, however, the newly installed interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, is one of Washington’s great long-range planners. And Obama and Rouse have at least one comeback model. The Clinton game plan circa 1994 shows how a young Democratic President, seen as overreaching and lurching leftward two years into his term, can move back to the political center, reconnect with the opposition, reclaim his momentum and successfully maintain his agenda…. – Time, 10-25-10
  • Julian Zelizer: FDR Has Suffered This, Too Just when Democrats think they’re making headway, voters send them a midterm message”: President Obama has warned Democratic voters not to be apathetic. “If the other side does win,” he told an audience in Wisconsin on Sept. 28, “They will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place.” But Obama probably understated the case. Over the last century, a series of pivotal midterm elections has severely undermined liberal policies—at just those moments when it seemed they were flourishing. With polls predicting strong Republican gains, this election looks to be another such turnaround…. – Newswweek, 10-22-10

July 19, 2010: Congress Passes Financial Overhaul & Obama’s Maine Vacation

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks on the news from the Gulf

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 7/16/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 – Full text of the bill
  • Senate Vote 208 – Passes Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Senate Vote 206 – Final Senate Hurdle for Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-15-10
  • Obama must listen to Bill Clinton to get re-elected: The news that Barack Obama is behind Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in a new national opinion poll and even with Sarah Palin will surely give the White House much food for thought. How does President Huckabee sound to you? Or President Palin? If the election were held today they seem at least as likely as Obama to win. It signals a major reversal for the Democratic Party in the midterm election for one reason only — they are unable to get their message out starting at the top. In the era of the one-word sound bites, Republicans are outmaneuvering Obama and his fellow Democrats in the all- important message stakes…. – Irish Central, 7-18-10
  • Americans Disapproving Obama May Enable Republicans: Americans disapprove of U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of almost every major issue and are deeply pessimistic about the nation’s direction, offering a bullish environment for Republicans in the November congressional elections. A majority or plurality disapproves of Obama’s management of the economy, health care, the budget deficit, the overhaul of financial market regulations and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted July 9- 12. In addition, almost 6 in 10 respondents say the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause. The Senate is scheduled to begin voting on the financial regulation bill today. Almost two-thirds say they feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction, an even more sour assessment than in March when 58 percent felt that way. Two-thirds of independent voters are pessimistic, while just 56 percent of Democrats offer a vote of confidence…. – Bloomberg, 7-15-10
  • Harry Reid Jumps Out to a Lead Over Sharron Angle in New Nevada Senate Poll: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has regained a solid lead over his Republican opponent Sharron Angle in the Nevada Senate race, a new poll shows, after weeks of relentlessly portraying Angle as too extreme. Reid leads Angle 44 percent to 37 percent in the new Mason-Dixon poll, conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Ten percent were undecided, and 5 percent chose “none of these candidates.”… – CBS News, 7-16-10
  • Obama White House tries to turn around bad poll numbers: The polls aren’t looking good for President Obama. ABC News says 51% would prefer to see a Republican Congress elected in November, as a check on Obama. A CBS News poll says only 13% of Americans say Obama’s economic plan has helped them personally…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • VP Favorable Ratings: Gore Down; Cheney, Biden Flat Americans more negative than positive toward Gore, Cheney: Americans’ current views of former Vice President Al Gore have become significantly more negative compared with three years ago, and are among the worst for him in more than a decade. The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore’s image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him. All three party groups are less favorable toward Gore now compared with 2007, though his rating has declined more among Republicans (from 32% to 16%) and independents (from 57% to 43%) than among Democrats (from 79% to 72%)… – Gallop.com, 7-14-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama, Republicans get ready for new Wall Street battle: We’ve long had the political debate over the effectiveness of the stimulus bill; then this year came the battle over the impact of new health care law. Get ready for the political fight over the value of new Wall Street regulations. President Obama is set to sign the financial regulation bill next week, and he and the Republicans have started an argument that will last until the Nov. 2 congressional elections and beyond. The law will protect consumers, stop the “shadowy deals” that led to the financial crisis of 2008, and keep taxpayers from being “on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said last evening…. – USA Today, 7-17-10
  • Obama chides Republicans for thwarting jobless extension: President Barack Obama stepped up criticism of Republicans Saturday for blocking jobless aid, hammering home a Democratic election year attack line that casts the opposition as the party of the rich.
    “Too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. Senate Republicans have used the filibuster, a procedural hurdle demanding 60 votes in the 100-member chamber, to block at least three Democratic initiatives to extend unemployment insurance. Republicans cite the need to curb government spending amid a record budget deficit.
    “Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire,” the president said…. – LAT, 7-17-10
  • White House Memo Shifting Politics in Presidents’ Vacations: It has been 100 years, the local newspaper reports, since a sitting president chose this picturesque seaside village as his vacation spot. When William Howard Taft arrived in July 1910, he sprained his ankle playing golf, the captain of his yacht got “a terrible sunburn” and the townsfolk made such a ruckus about who would entertain him that Mr. Taft decided to give a speech from the bandstand on the village green. President Obama faces pressures of a different sort. Mr. Obama arrived here Friday for a summer weekend getaway with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9 — a precursor to a longer family vacation they are planning next month on Martha’s Vineyard. But what sounds like a much-needed family escape from the literal and political heat of Washington to some sounds like hypocrisy to others, given recent statements by both the president and first lady urging Americans to spend their vacation time and money along the shores of the oil-stricken Gulf of Mexico…. – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Senators Look for BP-Lockerbie Link: Just as BP stopped oil from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the company faces unwelcome attention from the U.S. Congress on another issue: whether it sought the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to help get a $900 million exploration agreement with Libya off the ground. Soon after his release last year, BP acknowledged that it urged the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but stressed it did not specify al-Megrahi’s case. It reiterated that stance this week when four U.S. Democratic senators asked the State Department to investigate whether there was a quid pro quo for the Lockerbie bomber’s release…. – Fox News, 7-17-10
  • West Virginia Governor Picks Ex-General Counsel to Succeed Byrd: West Virginia’s governor, Joe Manchin III, announced on Friday that he had chosen Carte P. Goodwin, his former general counsel, to temporarily fill the Senate seat long held by Robert C. Byrd. Mr. Goodwin, 36, will serve until a special election is held, which will probably be later this year. Mr. Manchin has expressed interest in being a candidate in that race. At an event announcing his appointment in Charleston, Mr. Goodwin said it would be impossible to fill the shoes of Mr. Byrd, a Democrat who died last month after serving more than a half-century in the Senate…. – NYT, 7-17-10
  • Financial Overhaul Signals Shift on Deregulation: Congress approved a sweeping expansion of federal financial regulation on Thursday, reflecting a renewed mistrust of financial markets after decades in which Washington stood back from Wall Street with wide-eyed admiration. The bill, heavily promoted by President Obama and Congressional Democrats as a response to the 2008 financial crisis, cleared the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39, largely along party lines, after weeks of wrangling that allowed Democrats to pick up the three Republican votes to ensure passage. The vote was the culmination of nearly two years of fierce lobbying and intense debate over the appropriate response to the financial excesses that dragged the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression…. – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Congress acts, but bank bill has work ahead: In the end, it’s only a beginning. The far-reaching new banking and consumer protection bill awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature now shifts from the politicians to the technocrats. The legislation gives regulators latitude and time to come up with new rules, requires scores of studies and, in some instances, depends on international agreements falling into place. For Wall Street, the next phase represents continuing uncertainty. It also offers banks and other financial institutions yet another opportunity to influence and shape the rules that govern their businesses…. – AP, 7-16-10
  • Obama Pushes Agenda, Despite Political Risks: If passage of the financial regulatory overhaul on Thursday proves anything about President Obama, it is this: He knows how to push big bills through a balky Congress. But Mr. Obama’s legislative success poses a paradox: while he may be winning on Capitol Hill, he is losing with voters at a time of economic distress, and soon may be forced to scale back his ambitions. The financial regulatory bill is the final piece of a legislative hat trick that also included the stimulus bill and the landmark new health care law. Over the last 18 months, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have made considerable inroads in passing what could be the most ambitious agenda in decades… – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Ex-Manchin Aide Tapped For Byrd Seat, W.Va. Gov. Picks Former Aide Carte Goodwin To Fill Byrd’s US Senate Seat: Gov. Joe Manchin is tapping former chief counsel Carte Goodwin, a member of a prominent West Virginia family, to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Democratic officials told The Associated Press on Friday. Manchin is scheduled to present his appointee at a Friday afternoon press conference at the Capitol.
    The 36-year-old Goodwin, a Charleston lawyer, would hold the seat until November. That’s when the governor wants general election voters to decide who will serve the final two years of Byrd’s term. The Legislature has begun a special session to consider a proposal from Manchin to allow for a fall vote…. – AP, 7-16-10
  • Financial reform bill another win for Obama, but will the public care?: Following the Recovery Act and health-care reform, the newly approved financial reform bill shows that President Obama is adept at getting his agenda through Congress. But the American public cares about one thing right now: the economy…. – CS Monitor, 7-16-10
  • Pelosi plays down tensions between White House, Democratic lawmakers: At her weekly news briefing Thursday, less than 48 hours after she and other House Democrats criticized Obama’s political operation at a private caucus meeting, she said she and her fellow leaders visited the White House on Wednesday to smooth over the tension and discuss the legislative agenda.
    “We had a very positive meeting with the president yesterday,” Pelosi said. “Our major focus was on jobs. . . . There is absolutely no reason to think that the White House has been anything but cooperative with us in terms of our political efforts to retain control of Congress.”
    The current flare-up was sparked by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’s public comments over the weekend that the House majority was in doubt and that it would take “strong campaigns by Democrats” to avert dramatic losses. WaPo, 7-15-10
  • Obama to share electric vision at Holland stop Other agencies less optimistic on costs: President Barack Obama will hail a vision of low-cost, high-powered electric vehicles in Michigan today that other government agencies have suggested is overly optimistic, especially in its estimates of how much the cost of batteries can be reduced. The president’s trip to the groundbreaking for a battery plant in Holland will highlight the more than $5 billion the administration has committed toward boosting electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. White House officials said Wednesday that the programs would help lower the cost of some batteries by 70% and provide enough components to build 500,000 electric-drive vehicles a year in the U.S. by 2015…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-15-10
  • AZ immigration law gets first major court hearing: A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday over whether Arizona’s new immigration crackdown should take effect later this month, marking the first major hearing in one of seven challenges to the strict law. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also will consider arguments over Gov. Jan Brewer’s request to dismiss the challenge filed by Phoenix police Officer David Salgado and the statewide nonprofit group Chicanos Por La Causa…. – AP, 7-15-10
  • Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston reunite: What it means for Sarah Palin: Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston – former boyfriend and father of her son – have reconciled and could be married in six weeks. Politically speaking, is this good for Sarah Palin or Roger Clinton redux?… – CS Monitor, 7-15-10
  • Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy: U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration’s policies… – Reuters, 7-14-10
  • Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • White House Official: Recovery Act Has Created 3 Mln Jobs: The Obama administration’s stimulus push has saved or created about 3 million jobs and is on track to save an additional 500,000 by the end of the year, according to a new report by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • For Obama, more on legislative priorities: President Barack Obama is discussing legislative priorities with Democratic congressional leaders for a second day Wednesday. The president met with the Senate Democratic leadership on Tuesday. On Wednesday it’s the House Democrats’ turn. Obama is getting the meetings in before Congress takes its August break…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • Sarah Palin rebuts NAACP charge of Tea Party racism: Using her favored and unorthodox means of communicating with nearly 2 million followers via her Facebook page, Sarah Palin Tuesday night expressed sadness over an as yet unpublished NAACP convention resolution accusing Tea Party activists of tolerating racist elements in their midst. The former Republican governor of Alaska, who appears to be positioning herself for a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination using the disgruntled Tea Party’s concerns over expanding and fiscally irresponsible government as a major portion of her base, said:
    I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand. – 7-14-10
  • As NAACP aims to stay in national debate, charge of tea party racism draws fire: One thing is clear as the NAACP gathers this week for its 101st annual meeting: The civil rights organization is intent on being seen as still relevant. Even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sent out a Twitter message and posted a statement on her Facebook page, helping to make the NAACP convention a hot topic on conservative Web sites. She condemned the organization’s passage of a resolution denouncing what it called “racist elements” within the “tea party” movement…. – WaPo, 7-14-10
  • Pelosi, White House Feud Over Gibbs’ House Prediction: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the driving force behind the Obama agenda in Congress, sharply criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting late Tuesday, according to Democratic sources.
    Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs’ careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs’ unwelcome handicapping of House races.
    “How could he [Gibbs] know what’s going on in our districts?” Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. “Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House.”… – Fox News, 7-14-10
  • Obama To Nominate Former Clinton Official To Head OMB: President Barack Obama plans to nominate a former Clinton administration official to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is grappling with how to best reduce a $1.4 trillion deficit while the economy is on shaky ground. Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, who ran OMB from 1998 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton… WSJ, 7-13-10
  • Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • Senior Republican wins weeklong delay on Kagan: The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed scheduled action Tuesday to send Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, setting a panel vote for next week.
    Republicans insisted on the delay, saying they needed more time to review Kagan’s written answers to questions they posed to her after her confirmation hearings, and to inquire still further into how she would behave as a justice…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning ‘tea party’ supporters: Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls “explicitly racist behavior” by supporters of the “tea party.” The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism…. – WaPo, 7-13-10
  • Obama looks to Bush’s worldwide strategy on AIDS: President Barack Obama is trying to bring home some of the much-lauded strategies his predecessor used to fight AIDS around the world. The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them…. – AP, 7-13-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Surprise SC Senate candidate makes first speech: In his first campaign appearance, South Carolina’s surprising U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene avoided any major gaffes Sunday as he hit his three major themes of jobs, education and justice. The speech started off with a joke and ended with Greene timidly waving, a shy smile spreading across his face as he got a standing ovation before a friendly audience in his hometown of Manning. Greene’s 6 1/2 minute speech at the local NAAP’s monthly meeting was mostly serious. Left out was any mention of his suggestion earlier this month that creating a line of action figures modeled after him could give South Carolinians jobs. In their place came platitudes familiar to anyone who has heard a stump speech.
    “Let’s get South Carolina and America back to work and let’s move South Carolina forward,” said Greene, one of about a dozen lines that got applause from the several hundred folks crammed into a sweltering junior high gymnasium…. – AP, 7-19-10
  • Obama foes Romney, Palin start to mix it up a little bit: President Obama and House Democrats have had their differences lately, but so have some of the Republicans who would like to replace Obama.
    An anonymous adviser to Mitt Romney went after Sarah Palin this week, telling Time magazine’s Mark Halperin that the ex-Alaska governor is “not a serious human being.” Another nameless Romney aide added about Palin: “If she’s standing up there in a debate and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she’s in trouble.” Ouch!
    Politico ran those quotes by an equally anonymous Palin aide, who said the former Massachusetts governor’s team is violating Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. “You’d think we’d all be working together toward a common goal — that being 2010 — and that should be the focus right now,” the aide said. “Those who try to claim the mantle of Reagan would be good to follow one of his most sacred tenets.”… – USA Today, 7-16-10
  • Can Republicans take back the Senate?: The kerfuffle caused by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ acknowledgment that there are enough seats in play to flip control of the House this fall has eclipsed another interesting political debate: Could Republicans win the Senate majority too? The answer? Yes — but it remains a significantly longer shot than the GOP taking over the House. Senate Republicans need a net gain of 10 seats, which, if history is any guide, will be difficult. The last time one party made double digit seat gains was in 1980 when Republicans defeated nine incumbents and won three more Democratic open seats for a 12-seat pickup. (Thank you Ronald Reagan!) Still, if the last few elections have taught us anything, it’s that history isn’t always determinative… – WaPo, 7-16-10
  • Palin’s Ground Game Spurs Campaign Buzz: Through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has burst back into the political spotlight this month, while her family life has once again become part of the broader American conversation. But it is Ms. Palin’s groundwork on behalf of candidates across the country, along with her continued fund-raising abilities, that has Republican leaders and political strategists wondering whether she is gearing up for a presidential bid in 2012. Ms. Palin’s intentions remain unclear, and unstated. She declined to comment through her political-action committee.
    But her influence is undeniable: On Sunday, SarahPAC disclosed contributions of at least $87,500 to Republican candidates she has endorsed, and a tantalizing $210,000 she has spent on consultants of her own. Ms. Palin also appears to have honed her pitch. Last week, SarahPAC posted a “Mama Grizzlies” video online aimed at reaching out to women voters. In the clip, women carried signs such as “I am not the ‘Angry Mob.’ I am an angry tax-bled ‘Hockey Mom.’ ” Political experts said the video—with its high production values…. – WSJ, 7-17-10
  • GOP Candidates Seize Funding Edge: Republican candidates for Congress have seized the fund-raising lead from Democrats in the closest House and Senate races. Republicans in a dozen of the closest Senate contests claimed 58% of the nearly $50 million in total contributions during the three-month period that ended June 30, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That is a change from the first fund-raising period of the year when Democrats brought in a slight majority of contributions in those races…. – WSJ, 7-17-10
  • Is Jim DeMint an Ace in the Hole for Barack Obama?: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint , who once proclaimed that he’d rather have “30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in principles of freedom than 60 who don’t believe in anything,” continues to endorse Senate candidates and give leaders in his own party migraine headaches. But one politician must be smiling from ear to ear when he follows DeMint’s antics: President Barack Obama . That’s because, more than Florida’s Marco Rubio, Kentucky’s Rand Paul or Colorado’s Ken Buck — all endorsed by DeMint in GOP Senate primaries against the wishes of party strategists and insiders — the president stands to benefit the most, long term, from DeMint’s rhetoric and actions leading up to the 2010 midterm elections…. – Roll Call, 7-15-10
  • Outsider Wins Alabama GOP Gov Nomination: Self-described outsider Robert Bentley won Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night over establishment candidate Bradley Byrne with a strong showing in rural areas.
    In the unofficial count, Bentley had 56 percent of the vote to Byrne’s 44 percent with 83 percent of the precincts reporting. Bryne ran strong in the state’s four big counties, but Bentley outperformed Byrne in small counties, including areas where Tim James and Roy Moore did well when they ran third and fourth in the June 1 Republican primary…. – AP, 7-14-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Biden: Afghan withdrawal may start with ‘a couple of thousand troops’: As few as “a couple of thousand” U.S. troops may leave Afghanistan in the first phase of withdrawing forces from there beginning a year from now, Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Sunday. “It could be as few as a couple of thousand troops; it could be more,” Biden told ABC’s “This Week.” Asked about a book that quotes him as saying the troop withdrawal would start with “a whole lot of people” leaving Afghanistan, Biden confirmed the comment but said he was responding to an assertion that there might be no withdrawal at all at that time. “I did say it,” Biden acknowledged, calling the July 2011 withdrawal date “the beginning of a transition” based on the ability of Afghanistan forces to provide security around the country…. – CNN, 7-18-10
  • Vice President Joe Biden defends Tea Party against ‘racist’ claims: Tea Partiers have gotten some support from an unlikely source — the Vice President of the United States. VP Joe Biden told ABC News’ Jake Tapper on Sunday that he doesn’t think the ultra-conservative group is “racist.”
    “I wouldn’t characterize the Tea Party as racist,” he said on Sunday’s “This Week.” But “there are individuals who are either members of or on the periphery of some of their things, their — their protests — that have expressed really unfortunate comments.”
    The remarks come on the heels of the NAACP’s move last week to demand that Tea Party leaders “repudiate it’s racist elements.”
    Sarah Palin was quick to defend the group.
    “I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow ‘racists,'” she said via Facebook…. – NY Daily News, 7-18-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says GOP Senate Leadership Choosing to “Filibuster Our Recovery and Obstruct Our Progress”
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House July 17, 2010:
    Now in the past, Presidents and Congresses of both parties have treated unemployment insurance for what it is – an emergency expenditure. That’s because an economic disaster can devastate families and communities just as surely as a flood or tornado.
    Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money. So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed. They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline.
    Well, I think these Senators are wrong. We can’t afford to go back to the same misguided policies that led us into this mess. We need to move forward with the policies that are leading us out of this mess.
    The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy. It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly. That boosts local economies. And that means jobs.
    Increasing loans to small business. Renewing unemployment insurance. These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession – they’re the right thing to do for all of us. And I’m calling on Congress once more to take these steps on behalf of America’s workers, and families, and small business owners – the people we were sent here to serve.
    Because when storms strike Main Street, we don’t play politics with emergency aid. We don’t desert our fellow Americans when they fall on hard times. We come together. We do what we can to help. We rebuild stronger, and we move forward. That’s what we’re doing today. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s how we’re going to come through this storm to better days ahead. – WH, 7-17-10
  • Obama: GOP blocking unemployed, small business aid: President Barack Obama says Senate Republicans are playing politics with bills that would extend benefits to the unemployed and increase lending to small businesses. Striking a deeply partisan tone in his weekly radio and online address, Obama said the GOP leadership has chosen to “filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress” by blocking votes on agenda items the president says would breath life into the economic recovery.
    “These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession,” Obama said. “They’re the right thing to do for all of us.” The address was recorded at the White House before Obama flew to Maine on Friday for a weekend family vacation… – AP, 7-17-10
  • Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
    What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
    Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
    This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Obama’s poll numbers have sunk: President Obama’s supporters have been frustrated about the apparent paradox of this administration. With the recent passage of historic financial regulation legislation, many Democrats are having trouble grasping why his approval ratings still lag and why Democrats might lose control of the House in the fall elections. Supporters say the economic stimulus bill, education and health care reform, and now financial reform, should have Americans looking at the White House with the same admiration they had for President Roosevelt in the 1930s or President Johnson at the height of his success in 1964 and 1965. But according to a recent CBS News poll, just 40 percent of those polled approved of how the president was handling the economy. This was a drop of five percentage points since June….
    Rather than complain about what the public thinks or dismiss liberals as unrealistic, Obama would do better to be more responsive to public concerns, with joblessness at the top of his list. The president must give serious consideration to another stimulus package, and be willing to spend the kind of political capital that he used in pushing for health care and financial regulation. He must also be willing to look at some of the shortcomings of the first bill, such as insufficient funds for public works projects and for assistance to the states. – CNN, 7-19-10
  • Analysis: Dems enacted much of Obama’s agenda: Far-reaching legislation aimed at reining in Wall Street marks the latest and likely the last major achievement by President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, an 18-month partnership that strove simultaneously to fix a battered economy and enact sweeping changes to health care, education and more. Whatever the longer term impact — the most far-reaching changes in the health care legislation won’t start until 2014 — the immediate aftermath is unemployment that scrapes double digits and deficits far deeper than Obama and his allies inherited in January 2009. The Republicans who worked ceaselessly to thwart the president’s agenda are emboldened, while Democrats who voted it into law brace for majority-threatening election losses…. – AP, 7-17-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Gulf oil spill containment: Obama’s Katrina or turning point toward reelection?: When President Clinton responded to the Oklahoma City bombing, he did so forcefully, with an expansive legislative agenda to strengthen the nation’s ability to fight against domestic terrorism. Just because the Gulf Oil spill might finally have reached a turning point, there is no way to see victory for the administration. It is clear that administration policies allowed for this kind of off-shore drilling to take place, despite great doubts and concerns, and there is evidence the administration is still authorizing risky drilling to occur (see offshore drilling). The response has not been forceful and a huge amount of environmental damage has been caused as a result of this — damage that won’t be repaired…. – Politico, 7-16-10
  • DANIEL HENNINGER: Berwick: Bigger Than Kagan: If the American people want the health-care world Dr. Berwick wishes to give them, that’s their choice. But they must be given that choice…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • Allan Lichtman: Scholar’s “13 Keys” Predict Another Obama Win: Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…. – American University, 7-14-10

July 12, 2010: Financial Regulation Overhaul Set to Pass & Obama meets with Benjamin Netanyahu

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President & Senate Democratic Leaders before final votes on Wall Street Reform, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/13/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Obama White House tries to turn around bad poll numbers: The polls aren’t looking good for President Obama. ABC News says 51% would prefer to see a Republican Congress elected in November, as a check on Obama. A CBS News poll says only 13% of Americans say Obama’s economic plan has helped them personally…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • After 18 months of Obama, Americans already feeling fonder of Dick Cheney, less so of Al Gore: The new Gallup Poll, released overnight, shows that a near-majority of Americans now views almost-president Gore unfavorably (49%), while 44% are favorable, down 14 points since his Nobel Prize glory days of 2007. As the most recent former White House No. 2, Cheney had the most to improve in favorable ratings. And, actually, he did improve the most in the opinion of surveyed Americans.
    Cheney’s robust unfavorable rating melted 11 points during the past 18 months of the Democrat duo of Obama-Biden to 52% now. While the Republican’s favorables surged from their low point of 30% all the way up to an impressive 36% now. That’s a stunning 20% improvement. LAT, 7-14-10
  • VP Favorable Ratings: Gore Down; Cheney, Biden Flat Americans more negative than positive toward Gore, Cheney: Americans’ current views of former Vice President Al Gore have become significantly more negative compared with three years ago, and are among the worst for him in more than a decade. The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore’s image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him. All three party groups are less favorable toward Gore now compared with 2007, though his rating has declined more among Republicans (from 32% to 16%) and independents (from 57% to 43%) than among Democrats (from 79% to 72%)… – Gallop.com, 7-14-10
  • Poll finds Pennsylvania Senate race in dead heat: Pennsylvania’s Senate race is dead even, with Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey both drawing 43% of support in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
    At this point in the race, momentum appears to be on Sestak’s side. He was down 2 percentage points in May and 8 percentage points in an April survey by Quinnipiac.
    “Congressman Joe Sestak, a decided underdog who knocked off U.S. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, has now closed an 8-point gap in the last three months to tie Pat Toomey,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • Crist leads 3-way Senate race in Florida: Florida Governor Charlie Crist holds a narrow edge over Republican Marco Rubio in a three-way Senate race dominated by economic worries, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
    Crist, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent after Rubio mounted a primary challenge against him, leads Rubio 35 percent to 28 percent. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails with 17 percent less than four months before the November election for the open Senate seat.
    Crist holds a similar 34 to 29 percent edge over Rubio in a three-way race against Democrat Jeff Greene, who is locked in a tough party primary fight with Meek. The Florida primary will be held August 24.
    In the race to succeed Crist as governor, Republican Rick Scott leads Democrat Alex Sink by 34 percent to 31 percent. But Sink leads slightly, 31 percent to 30 percent, when matched against Republican Bill McCollum. McCollum and Scott are waging a bitter Republican primary race…. – Reuters, 7-13-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Shakes Hand with Jacob Lew, His Nominee for OMB   Director

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Jack Lew to replace Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag during a statement to the press in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House July 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy: U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration’s policies… – Reuters, 7-14-10
  • Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • White House Official: Recovery Act Has Created 3 Mln Jobs: The Obama administration’s stimulus push has saved or created about 3 million jobs and is on track to save an additional 500,000 by the end of the year, according to a new report by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • For Obama, more on legislative priorities: President Barack Obama is discussing legislative priorities with Democratic congressional leaders for a second day Wednesday. The president met with the Senate Democratic leadership on Tuesday. On Wednesday it’s the House Democrats’ turn. Obama is getting the meetings in before Congress takes its August break…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • Sarah Palin rebuts NAACP charge of Tea Party racism: Using her favored and unorthodox means of communicating with nearly 2 million followers via her Facebook page, Sarah Palin Tuesday night expressed sadness over an as yet unpublished NAACP convention resolution accusing Tea Party activists of tolerating racist elements in their midst. The former Republican governor of Alaska, who appears to be positioning herself for a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination using the disgruntled Tea Party’s concerns over expanding and fiscally irresponsible government as a major portion of her base, said:
    I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand. – 7-14-10
  • As NAACP aims to stay in national debate, charge of tea party racism draws fire: One thing is clear as the NAACP gathers this week for its 101st annual meeting: The civil rights organization is intent on being seen as still relevant. Even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sent out a Twitter message and posted a statement on her Facebook page, helping to make the NAACP convention a hot topic on conservative Web sites. She condemned the organization’s passage of a resolution denouncing what it called “racist elements” within the “tea party” movement…. – WaPo, 7-14-10
  • Pelosi, White House Feud Over Gibbs’ House Prediction: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the driving force behind the Obama agenda in Congress, sharply criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting late Tuesday, according to Democratic sources.
    Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs’ careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs’ unwelcome handicapping of House races.
    “How could he [Gibbs] know what’s going on in our districts?” Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. “Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House.”… – Fox News, 7-14-10
  • Obama To Nominate Former Clinton Official To Head OMB: President Barack Obama plans to nominate a former Clinton administration official to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is grappling with how to best reduce a $1.4 trillion deficit while the economy is on shaky ground. Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, who ran OMB from 1998 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton… WSJ, 7-13-10
  • Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • Senior Republican wins weeklong delay on Kagan: The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed scheduled action Tuesday to send Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, setting a panel vote for next week.
    Republicans insisted on the delay, saying they needed more time to review Kagan’s written answers to questions they posed to her after her confirmation hearings, and to inquire still further into how she would behave as a justice…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning ‘tea party’ supporters: Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls “explicitly racist behavior” by supporters of the “tea party.” The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism…. – WaPo, 7-13-10
  • Obama looks to Bush’s worldwide strategy on AIDS: President Barack Obama is trying to bring home some of the much-lauded strategies his predecessor used to fight AIDS around the world. The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • US should better define, counter Islamic extremism: The Obama administration’s recent move to drop rhetorical references to Islamic radicalism is drawing fire in a new report warning the decision ignores the role religion can play in motivating terrorists. Several prominent counterterror experts are challenging the administration’s shift in its recently unveiled National Security Strategy, saying the terror threat should be defined in order to fight it. The question of how to frame the conflict against al-Qaida and other terrorists poses a knotty problem. The U.S. is trying to mend fences with Muslim communities while toughening its strikes against militant groups. In the report, scheduled to be released this week, counterterrorism experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argue that the U.S. could clearly articulate the threat from radical Islamic extremists “without denigrating the Islamic religion in any way.” President Barack Obama has argued that words matter, and administration officials have said that the use of inflammatory descriptions linking Islam to the terror threat feed the enemy’s propaganda and may alienate moderate Muslims in the U.S…. – AP, 7-12-10
  • Congress returns from recess to even more of the same: Congress will return this week from the July 4th recess to a pile of unfinished business. Yes, the same might be said of every Congress returning from every recess since lawmakers wore wigs and tights. But this time it could be a big problem, especially for the party in power. When Barack Obama took office and the Democrats took control of Washington, they made ambitious promises about how much they’d get done, with or without Republican help. Now, with relatively few working days left before the November midterm elections (in part because lawmakers granted themselves another long break beginning at the end of July), they might not be able to convince skeptical, frustrated voters that they delivered — and that they deserve to stay in charge…. – WaPo, 7-11-10
  • U.S. might launch 2nd suit against Arizona immigration law, Holder says: 2nd lawsuit weighed on immigration law. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that if the federal government does not stop Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, it might launch a second legal challenge to combat any racial profiling that occurs. The Obama administration is suing Arizona over the law, set to take effect July 29, which would make it a state crime for someone to be in the country illegally. During “lawful stops,” local law enforcement officers will be required to question people about their immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they might be illegal immigrants. WaPo, 7-11-10
  • Governors: Obama’s Immigration Suit Is ‘Toxic’: Democratic governors expressed “grave” concerns to White House officials this weekend about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, warning it could cost the party in crucial elections this fall, The New York Times reported late Sunday. The closed-door meeting took place at the National Governors Association in Boston on Saturday, according to two unnamed governors who spoke to the Times. “Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs, and all of a sudden we have immigration going on,'” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, was quoted as saying. “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.” The Arizona law, which is facing a U.S. Justice Department challenge, requires police to question people about their immigration status while enforcing other laws if there’s reason to suspect someone is in the country illegally….. – Fox News, 7-12-10
  • With votes looming, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan plays it cool: With committee and floor votes beginning this week on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, skeptical lawmakers could not resist the opportunity to search for a weak point that might provoke last-minute controversy. Six Republican senators submitted questions that produced 74 pages of written responses from Kagan. In ritual form, her answers — released Friday — were finely sanded to avoid any clamor. Kagan carefully hewed to the themes she struck at last month’s hearings: In cases in which she voiced opinion, she said, it was that of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she once worked…. – WaPo, 7-10-10
  • Obama changes VA rule to help vets get stress disorder aid: War-zone veterans will no longer have to submit specific evidence to get benefits and treatment for post-traumatic stress….- LAT, 7-11-10
  • PM: Israel-US alliance strong: “The alliance between Israel and the US is stable and strong. It has the support of the American administration and people,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Sunday. Netanyahu said that he reiterated to Obama “Israel’s desire to proceed immediately to direct negotiations with the PA, with the goal being to advance the diplomatic process and try to reach a peace agreement.”… – JPost, 7-11-10
  • Governors avoid debate on Arizona’s immigration law: The topic’s not on their convention agenda, but it’s on everyone’s mind as demonstrators rally nearby…. – LAT, 7-11-10
  • No full Social Security benefits until age 70?: Young Americans might not get full Social Security retirement benefits until they reach age 70 if some trial balloons that prominent lawmakers of both parties are floating become law. No one who’s slated to receive benefits in the next decade or two is likely to be affected, but there’s a gentle, growing and unusually bipartisan push to raise the retirement age for full Social Security benefits for people born in the 1960s and after. The suggestions are being taken seriously after decades when they were politically impossible because officials – and, increasingly, their constituents – are confronting the inescapable challenge of the nation’s enormous debt…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-11-10
  • Obama turns a corner on Middle East peace: Two bits of good news emerged during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brief visit to Washington this week: First, that Netanyahu and President Barack Obama publicly reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israeli relations, and, second, that Netanyahu said he expects direct talks with the Palestinians to begin soon. Both items suggest a maturing of the Obama administration’s foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East, and may even portend real results soon. Israel has been participating in indirect negotiations with the Palestinians through former Sen. George Mitchell since Obama named him a special envoy last year…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-10-10
  • In spy swap, agents were pawns in a practiced game: In the rapid-fire spy swap, the United States and Russia worked together as only old enemies could. Less than two weeks after the FBI broke the spy ring in a counterintelligence operation cultivated for a decade, 10 Russian secret agents caught in the U.S. are back in Russia, four convicted of spying for the West have been pardoned and released by Moscow, and bilateral relations appear on track again. In describing how the swap unfolded, U.S. officials made clear that even before the arrests, Washington wanted not only to take down a spy network but to move beyond the provocative moment…. – AP, 7-10-10
  • U.S.-Russia spy swap is complete: The speed of the exchange has some wondering what was behind the deal…. – LAT, 7-9-10
  • Going Nuclear: Romney vs. Obama (and Kerry): Yesterday Mitt Romney blasted Barack Obama via a Washington Post op-ed denouncing Obama’s nuclear Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia as the president’s “worst foreign policy mistake yet.” Romney complains that the Russians “badly out-negotiated” Obama and came out with a decided strategic advantage in the treaty, including the power to walk away from the treaty if the U.S. presses too far ahead with missile defense systems. Today, John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, hit back at Romney (also in the Post), calling his argument “baloney,” and tossing in some tart insults:
    I have nothing against Massachusetts politicians running for president. But the world’s most important elected office carries responsibilities, including the duty to check your facts even if you’re in a footrace to the right against Sarah Palin. More than that, you need to understand that when it comes to nuclear danger, the nation’s security is more important than scoring cheap political points…. – Time, 7-7-10
  • Relief well drilling ahead of schedule: While workers keep drilling the wells, the battle over President Barack Obama’s effort to suspend deepwater drilling moves Thursday to a federal appeals court in Louisiana. Oral arguments in a case that challenged the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling start in the afternoon in New Orleans. An advocacy group called Alliance for Justice made a pre-emptive strike against the court on Wednesday. It released a scathing report alleging that many appeals court judges have extensive ties to the oil industry, including the three-judge panel that will preside over the drilling ban hearing. As the case proceeds, others hope the seas will be calm enough for vessels to return to cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. CNN, 7-8-10
  • Department of Justice seeks injunction against Arizona immigration law: In a lawsuit filed July 6 in federal court in Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice made good on its promise to challenge Arizona’s immigration law. Arizona law S.B. 1070, due to take effect July 29, was challenged on the basis that it unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, accoridng to a July 6 news release from the Department of Justice.
    In the brief, the administration said that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country,” the release said.
    The Department of Justice has requested a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, the news release said. The department believes law’s operation will cause irreparable harm, the release said.
    “Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in the news release. “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety.” The Packer, 7-6-10
  • President Obama wants injunction to stall Arizona’s controversial new immigration law: The Obama administration sued Arizona on Tuesday to kill, or at least stall, the state’s hotly disputed new law allowing local cops to target suspected illegal immigrants. In seeking an injunction to block the law from going into effect July 29, Attorney General Eric Holder said he sympathized with Arizonans and others who are “frustrated with illegal immigration.”
    But “setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility,” Holder declared, and “seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.” His lawsuit said it’s also flat-out unconstitutional, usurping federal power to control the borders…. – NY Daily News, 7-7-10
  • Obama trying carrot, not stick, on Netanyahu: Netanyahu got off easy in Washington: He left strengthened by Obama and without having to make any real concessions. Haaretz, 7-7-10
  • Obama Bypassing Senate for New Medicare Chief: Obama to use a recess appointment to put a new director in place for Medicare and Medicaid… – ABC News, 7-7-10
  • Obama Returns to Missouri, Site of Slim 2008 Loss: For some in President Obama’s White House, Missouri remains the state that got away, nearly two years after his election. Mr. Obama was the first Democrat since 1964 to win Indiana and the first since 1976 to win North Carolina. But his loss in Missouri by the narrowest of slivers (fewer than 4,000 votes) was of special disappointment. After all, the state has sided with the winner of the presidential race in nearly every election in the past century. Who would wish to be remembered for breaking that sort of trend? Now, even as President Obama juggles a barrage of dire matters, relatively calm Missouri seems to continue to carry some particular attention for the White House. This week, Mr. Obama will be in the state again, raising money in a competitive Senate campaign in a challenging political season for Democrats…. – NYT, 7-6-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Outsider Wins Alabama GOP Gov Nomination: Self-described outsider Robert Bentley won Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night over establishment candidate Bradley Byrne with a strong showing in rural areas.
    In the unofficial count, Bentley had 56 percent of the vote to Byrne’s 44 percent with 83 percent of the precincts reporting. Bryne ran strong in the state’s four big counties, but Bentley outperformed Byrne in small counties, including areas where Tim James and Roy Moore did well when they ran third and fourth in the June 1 Republican primary…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • GOP candidate Angle rallies GOP against Reid: U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle on Friday denounced Majority Leader Harry Reid as a “desperate man” who was distorting her conservative record while ignoring a state that leads the nation in joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies. A day after President Barack Obama delivered a mocking indictment of her candidacy at a rally in Las Vegas, Angle accused the president and Reid of pushing billions of dollars in stimulus spending while Nevada struggles with “an economy that is a disaster.”… – AP, 7-10-10
  • Democrats digging harder than ever for dirt on Republicans: The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates’ unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money…. – WaPo, 7-6-10
  • Once a withdrawn teen, SC man now takes on senator: Alvin Greene earned the nickname “turtle” in high school — a quiet, withdrawn boy who was smart when he applied himself but rarely took a chance and tried to put himself in comfortable situations. Nearly four weeks ago, the 32-year-old unemployed military veteran turned South Carolina’s political scene upside down when he won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. And unlike that high school student, he’s taking a big chance: running against powerhouse Republican Sen. Jim DeMint…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • Poll: Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown in virtual tie: California’s race for governor is a dead heat, as Republican Meg Whitman’s massive advertising blitz coupled with Democrat Jerry Brown’s lo-fi campaign have raised doubts about Brown and cut his lead among Latino voters and other key Democratic constituencies, a Field Poll released today shows.
    Brown leads Whitman 44 to 43 percent in the poll, with 13 percent undecided, according to Field’s survey of 1,005 likely voters. The poll, conducted June 22 to July 5, has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
    But billionaire Whitman’s relentless advertising campaign has helped sour voters’ views of Brown, with 40 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him – up from 25 percent in March 2009. Still, 42 percent view him favorably…. – SF Chronicle, 7-6-10
  • Feingold faces unexpectedly tough race: Add Russ Feingold to the list of Senate Democrats who find themselves in unexpectedly tough races, the latest evidence of the GOP’s success in widening the playing field that President Barack Obama’s party has to defend.
    The Wisconsin Democrat faces a wealthy political newcomer with early backing from tea party activists in a state that has many independent voters and is known for doing its own thing. Likely GOP nominee Ron Johnson is running an outsider’s campaign in a year that seems to favor outsiders…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • McCain’s Immigration Shift: ‘Many’ Should Be Sent Back: A lot has changed since 2007, when John McCain was the #1 immigration compromiser in the U.S. Senate, leading the way with a large, bipartisan bill that would have given illegal immigrants an opportunity to become U.S. citizens while beefing up border security….
    Now, McCain finds himself in a different political situation, and so does the immigration issue. McCain lost the 2008 election, during which he was sharply criticized as an immigration liberal by his GOP primary rivals, and he’s facing a primary challenge from Tea-Party-style candidate J.D. Hayworth. As a national issue, immigration has heated up after Arizona passed its new law and as a drug war has raged in Mexico…. – The Atlantic, 7-6-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/9/10

  • Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
    What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
    Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
    This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10
  • President Obama & President Fernandez Meet on Trade, Drug-Trafficking, and HaitiWH, 7-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address July 10, 2010
    …Today, we’ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we’ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.
    But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.
    Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.
    So we’re changing the way things are done.
    On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Ric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.
    This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.
    It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. WH, 7-10-10
  • Treasury Secretary Geithner on Wall Street Reform: “All Americans Have a Stake in Reforms”: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on PBS NewsHour last night to discuss, among other items, the financial reform bill that is awaiting final passage by the Senate when they return from recess next week. In his conversation with NewsHour host Jim Lehrer, Secretary Geithner expressed confidence that the Congress will soon deliver a strong bill to President Obama’s desk… – WH, 7-7-10
  • Obama thanks Europe for renewing anti-terrorist financing program: The United States welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to join the Council and Commission of the European Union in approving a revised agreement between the United States and the European Union on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP). We look forward to the Council’s completion of the process, allowing the agreement to enter into force on August 1, 2010, thus fully restoring this important counterterrorism tool and resuming the sharing of investigative data that has been suspended since January 2010. The threat of terrorism faced by the United States and the European Union continues and, with this agreement, all of our citizens will be safer.
    The TFTP has provided critical investigative leads — more than 1,550 to EU Member States — since its creation after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These leads have aided countries around the world in preventing or investigating many of the past decade’s most visible and violent terrorist attacks and attempted attacks, including Bali (2002), Madrid (2004), London (2005), the liquids bomb plot against transatlantic aircraft (2006), New York’s John F. Kennedy airport (2007), Germany (2007), Mumbai (2008), and Jakarta (2009).
    This new, legally binding agreement reflects significant additional data privacy safeguards but still retains the effectiveness and integrity of this indispensable counterterrorism program.
    Protecting privacy and civil liberties is a top priority of the Obama Administration. We are determined to protect citizens of all nations while also upholding fundamental rights, using every legitimate tool available to combat terrorism that is consistent with our laws and principles. – USA Today, 7-8-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Allan Lichtman: Scholar’s “13 Keys” Predict Another Obama Win: Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…. – American University, 7-14-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Sarah Palin likes government too: During a speech at an event called “Freedom Fest,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin warned Tea Party activists that while government spending was a bad thing, conservatives should not go too far and start calling for reductions in the military budget.
    While Palin told the crowd in Norfolk, Virginia, “Something has to be done urgently to stop the out-of-control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine,” she also told them, “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military.”
    Palin’s speech touched on a historic problem for the conservative movement. Ever since conservatives embraced a hawkish stance toward national security policy in the early Cold War in the late 1940s and started to challenge Democrats for not being tough enough, national security has always been the poison pill for anti-government conservatism.
    Despite all their rhetoric about the dangers of government intervention and the virtues of private markets, conservatives have rather consistently supported an expansion of the government when it comes to national security….
    But when it comes to Republicans, Palin’s recent comments at the conservative rally show why voters should take right-wing arguments about the dangers of government with a grain of salt. While conservative activists like to talk about a choice between big government and small government, the real debate is over what kinds of government we must have, what our priorities should be, and where our federal money should be directed…. – CNN, 7-12-10
  • The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth: Runaway government spending, not declining tax revenues, is the reason the U.S. faces dramatic budget shortfalls for years to come…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton “Bringing down the House? Why is the White House warning of a Republican takeover of Congress?”: If the White House starts to talk about the other party gaining control of Congress or about how terrible midterms usually are, then they are trying to manage expectations. The White House has depended on the Democratic House to move its legislative agenda. Having votes on Capitol Hill is better than a foil and the perception of weakness…. – Politico, 7-12-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama’s ‘we’ philosophy collides with capitalism’s ‘me’: Business leaders accuse President of using failures of a few to justify expansion of government regulatory authority…
    For McGill University political historian Gil Troy, Mr. Obama’s attacks on business put him well within a presidential tradition that goes back at least as far as Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. But they also betray his particular world view and a career spent entirely outside the private sector.
    “Not only does Barack Obama lack corporate experience, but his defining experiences were as a community organizer, public interest lawyer and law lecturer,” Prof. Troy said in an interview. “That puts him ideologically, structurally and professionally in opposition to business.”
    Mr. Obama, Mr. Troy continued, is “trying to convince Americans of the efficacy of government. He’s enough of a [Ronald] Reagan baby to know that is not necessarily the easiest sell to make. So, if [the economic crisis] is not a God-given opportunity, it’s at least a Goldman Sachs-given opportunity to make that sell.”… – Globe & Mail, 7-9-10
  • Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan’s Road Map: For now, the road map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Sen. Jim DeMint praised it in his book “Saving Freedom.” Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”… – Washington Examiner, 7-11-10
  • Kennedy’s clout could grow on high court: David Garrow, a Cambridge University historian who has written about the court, said the 74-year-old Kennedy already writes a disproportionate share of the court’s big decisions and will have even more chances to do so now because he can assign opinions to himself…. – AP, 7-11-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Senate bill to repeal health reform lacks backing from Republican leaders: “Unified party positions are better than divided party positions,” Julian Zelizer, a congressional expert at Princeton University, said in an e-mail. “When the GOP is not all on board with legislation,” he added, Democrats can argue “Republicans calling for repeal are on the wrong track.”
    “Equally important, in an age of party unity, when divisions like this emerge it suggests [what] pollsters are saying: there is support for the healthcare bill in red America,” he said. The Hill, 7-5-10

President Barack Obama Talks with President Leonel Fernandez of   the Dominican Republic Following Their Meeting in the Oval Office

President Barack Obama talks with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic following their meeting in the Oval Office July 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

%d bloggers like this: