February 8, 2009: Obama Heading into his Third Week as President, Economic Stimulus Bill Debate & Daschle Drops his HHS Bid

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

President Barack Obama addresses the House Democrats Conference in Williamsburg,Va. (Photo: Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Rate media coverage of Pres. Obama?: A new Gallup poll shows 38% of those surveyed don’t think the press has been tough enough in its coverage of the new president. 11% say “too tough”, while almost half — 48% — say “about right.” – CNN, 2-9-09
  • Senate confirms Holder as first black AG: The vote was 75-21, with all the opposition coming from Republicans. – AP, 2-2-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Obama faces tough week; stimulus, bailout on tap: President Barack Obama plunges into a difficult test of his leadership this week, struggling to get a divided Congress to agree on his economic recovery package while pitching a new plan to ease loans to consumers and businesses. – AP, 2-8-09
  • First Lady Michelle Obama’s rollout; first FLOTUS visit to Interior Dept. since Eleanor Roosevelt: -First Lady Michelle Obama is stepping up her “rollout tour,” on Monday visiting the Interior Department, probably the first First Lady to stop by the agency since Eleanor Roosevelt. – Chicago Sun-Times, 2-9-09
  • Biden in First Policy Address about Iran: US will talk, but is ready to act: Vice President Joe Biden warned Saturday that the U.S. stands ready to take pre-emptive action against Iran if it does not abandon nuclear ambitions and its support for terrorism.
    “We will draw upon all the elements of our power — military and diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement, economic and cultural — to stop crises from occurring before they are in front of us.”…
    AP, 2-7-09
  • Obama and Senate Republicans bicker over stimulus: President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans bickered Saturday over his historically huge economic recovery plan after states and schools lost tens of billions of dollars in a late-night bargain to save it. – AP, 2-7-09
  • Senators debate stimulus in rare Saturday session: Republicans and Democrats offered starkly different assessments of President Barack Obama’s newly renegotiated economic recovery plan Saturday, as the Senate held a rare weekend debate in advance of a key vote on Monday. – AP, 2-7-09
  • Labor unions press for vote on Solis: Labor unions accused Republicans of seizing on questions about unpaid taxes to stall the confirmation of Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis because they dislike her policies. – AP, 2-6-09
  • Obama considering at least 2 Iraq withdrawal plans: The White House is considering at least two troop withdrawal options as it weighs a new Iraq strategy — one that would preserve President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to get all combat brigades out within 16 months and a second that would stretch it to 23 months, two officials said Friday. – AP, 2-6-09
  • Obama asks Democrats to quickly pass stimulus plan: Pushing Congress to pass his economic plan by next week, President Barack Obama implored House Democrats on Thursday to reject delaying tactics and political gamesmanship that often stymies legislation and keep a promise to voters who booted Republicans from power. – AP, 2-6-09
  • Obama admin. seeks treaty to cut US, Russia nukes: The Obama administration, reversing the Bush administration’s limited interest in nuclear disarmament, is gearing up for early negotiations with Russia on a new treaty that would sharply reduce stockpiles of nuclear warheads. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has notified Congress and her staff that she intends to get started quickly on talks with the Russians, who have voiced interest in recent weeks in settling on a new treaty calling for cutbacks in arsenals on both sides. – AP, 2-6-09
  • Senators Reach Accord on Stimulus Plan as Jobs Vanish: Senate Democrats reached an agreement with Republican moderates on Friday to pare a huge economic recovery measure, clearing the way for approval of a package that President Obama said was urgently needed in light of mounting job losses. – NYT, 2-6-09
  • Officials say tentative stimulus deal reached: Amid stunning new job losses and yet another bank failure, key senators and the White House reached tentative agreement Friday night on an economic stimulus measure at the heart of President Barack Obama’s recovery plan. Two officials said the emerging agreement was for a bill with a $780 billion price tag, but there was no immediate confirmation. The tentative agreement capped a tense day of back room negotiations in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, sought to attract the support of enough Republicans to give the measure the needed 60-vote majority. – AP, 2-6-09
  • With Stimulus, Partisanship Proves a Worthy Foe: With the Senate on track to pass its version of the economic stimulus legislation, President Obama is widely expected to win final Congressional approval of the plan soon, and thus make good on an assortment of his campaign promises. But in the process, he is confronting the impediments to his most ambitious pledge: to end the capital’s partisan warfare. – NYT, 2-6-09
  • Obama lifts restrictions on kids’ health coverage: The Obama administration on Thursday lifted a Bush-era directive to states that restricted some middle-class families from getting government health insurance.
    “The way I see it, providing coverage to 11 million children through CHIP is a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American,” Obama said Wednesday at a White House bill-signing ceremony. – AP, 2-5-09
  • Obama Rallies Democrats on Stimulus Package: President Obama urged House Democrats tonight to set aside their differences with the Senate and Republicans in order to push forward quickly with the stimulus package. At times, he sounded irritated with critics who contended the bill was too big or its purpose wrong-headed. – NYT, 2-5-09
  • Obama seeks action as parties try to pare stimulus: Senate moderates worked to cut tens of bililons of dollars from economic stimulus legislation Thursday in hopes of clearing the way for passage as the government spit out grim new jobless figures and President Barack Obama warned of more bad news ahead. – AP, 2-5-09
  • Obama caps executive pay tied to bailout money: President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed a $500,000 cap on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving taxpayer bailout money and promised new steps to end a system of “executives being rewarded for failure.” – 2-4-09
  • Senate OKs $15,000 tax break for homebuyers: The Senate voted Wednesday night to give a tax break of up to $15,000 to homebuyers in hopes of revitalizing the housing industry, a victory for Republicans eager to leave their mark on a mammoth economic stimulus bill at the heart of President Barack Obama’s recovery plan. – AP, 2-4-09
  • Senate votes to give a tax break to new car buyers: The Senate voted Tuesday to give a tax break to new car buyers, setting aside bipartisan concerns over the size of an economic stimulus bill with a price tag approaching $900 billion. The vote was 71-26 to allow many car buyers to claim an income tax deduction for the cost of automobile sales taxes and interest payments on car loans. – AP, 2-3-09
  • Obama wants to move ahead after Daschle withdraws: Tom Daschle withdrew Tuesday as President Barack Obama’s nominee to be health and human services secretary, dealing potential blows to both speedy health care reform and Obama’s hopes for a smooth start in the White House. “Now we must move forward,” Obama said in a written statement accepting “with sadness and regret” Daschle’s request to be removed from consideration. A day earlier, Obama had said he “absolutely” stood by Daschle in the face of problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest. – AP, 2-3-09
  • Daschle apologizes, fights to salvage nomination: Fighting to salvage his Cabinet nomination, Tom Daschle pleaded his case Monday evening in a closed meeting with former Senate colleagues after publicly apologizing for failing to pay more than $120,000 in taxes. President Barack Obama said he was “absolutely” sticking with his nominee for health secretary, and a key senator added an important endorsement. – AP, 2-2-09
  • Gregg seeks GOP successor to join Obama’s Cabinet: President Barack Obama moved closer to nominating his secretary of commerce on Monday as his top choice, GOP Sen. Judd Gregg, revealed an apparent deal that would keep his seat out of Democratic hands. “I have made it clear to the Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle and to the governor that I would not leave the Senate if I felt my departure would cause a change in the makeup of the Senate,” Gregg said in a statement. – AP, 2-2-09
  • GOP circulates plan to cut the cost of mortgages: Senate Republicans circulated a sweeping plan to drive down the cost of mortgages by expanding the federal government’s role in the industry, officials said Monday night as debate opened on an economic stimulus bill at the top of President Barack Obama’s agenda. – AP, 2-2-09
  • Sources: Sen. Judd Gregg accepts commerce secretary post: Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire has accepted President Barack Obama’s offer to be commerce secretary, two administration officials said Monday. – CNN, 2-2-09
  • Holder Is Confirmed as Attorney General: The Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday evening to confirm Eric H. Holder Jr. to be the new attorney general of the United States. The vote was 75 to 21, with all the votes against the nomination coming from Republicans. NYT, 2-2-09
  • Clinton Sets First High-Level Talks and Travel as Secretary of State: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to meet with her British and German counterparts on Tuesday in her first meetings with senior foreign officials in her new post. Plans are also being made for her first overseas trip as Secretary – to Japan, South Korea and China. – VOA, 2-2-09
  • Ironies pile up as Clinton sworn in to new U.S. post: The ironies and memories piled up fast on Monday when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with husband Bill Clinton at her side, was publicly sworn-in to her new post by Vice President Joe Biden. – Reuters, 2-2-09
  • GOP wants mortgage relief, tax cuts in stimulus: Senate Republicans pressed for mortgage relief as well as larger tax cuts Monday as debate opened on the emergency economic stimulus measure atop President Barack Obama’s agenda. Democrats came under pressure to reduce spending in the bill. AP, 2-2-09
  • Obama says Iraq’s peaceful elections aid pullout: President Barack Obama said Sunday that the peaceful elections in Iraq are “good news” for U.S. troops and their families, and he agreed with the suggestion that a substantial number of those troops could be home within a year. – AP, 2-2-09
  • GOP governors press Congress to pass stimulus bill: Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama’s economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care. – AP, 2-1-09
  • Obama readies road map for new bailout spending: President Barack Obama on Saturday promised to lower mortgage costs, offer job-creating loans for small businesses, get credit flowing and rein in free-spending executives as he readies a new road map for spending billions from the second installment of the financial rescue plan. – AP, 1-31-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama talked with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Representative Steny Hoyer at the House Democratic Issues Conference on Thursday. (Photo: Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Political Quotes

  • Obama asks Democrats to quickly pass stimulus plan: “They didn’t vote for the status quo; they sent us here to bring change. We owe it to them to deliver. This is not a game. This is not a contest for who’s in power and who’s up and who’s down….
    We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin….
    I found this deficit when I showed up. I found this national debt doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me when I stepped into the Oval Office….
    This package is not going to be absolutely perfect. All of us are going to have to make some sacrifices. And we have to accommodate the interests of a range of people. Understand, the scale and the scope of this plan is right.” – AP, 2-6-09
  • Vice President Biden: “Quite simply, we cannot wait.”: “Quite simply, we cannot wait. We cannot wait another two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. We cannot wait. Our economic recovery package is now before the Senate. It will put us back on track to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs.” – WH Blog, 2-5-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama National Prayer Breakfast: …”In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.”… – WH Blog, 2-5-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM LEGISLATION:
    Now, this is not who we are. We’re not a nation that leaves struggling families to fend for themselves, especially when they’ve done everything right. No child in America should be receiving his or her primary care in the emergency room in the middle of the night. No child should be falling behind at school because he can’t hear the teacher or see the blackboard. I refuse to accept that millions of our children fail to reach their full potential because we fail to meet their basic needs. In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to tradeoffs or negotiations, and health care for our children is one of those obligations.
    That is why we have passed this legislation. These legislators have passed this legislation on a bipartisan basis to continue coverage for 7 million children, cover an additional 4 million children in need, and finally lift the ban on states providing insurance to legal immigrant children if they choose to do so.
    Since it was created more than 10 years ago, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has been a lifeline for millions of children whose parents work full time and don’t qualify for Medicaid, but through no fault of their own don’t have — and can’t afford — private insurance. For millions of children who fall into that gap, CHIP has provided care when they’re sick and preventive services to help them stay well. This legislation will allow us to continue and build on these successes. – WH Blog, 2-4-09
  • Obama takes blame in Daschle, Killefer controversy on NBC’s “Nightly News with Brian Williams.”: “I screwed up…. It’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules — you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”
    “I’m frustrated with myself, with our team. … I’m here on television saying I screwed up.” – AP, 2-4-09
  • Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire: Cabinet deal is set for Gregg N.H. senator to get nod today; Likely successor is a Republican: “It is important that President Obama be able to select the advisers he feels are necessary to help him address the challenges facing our nation,” Lynch said in a statement. “If President Obama does nominate Senator Gregg to serve as commerce secretary, I will name a replacement who will put the people of New Hampshire first and represent New Hampshire effectively in the US Senate.” – Boston Globe, 2-3-09
  • Clinton Sets First High-Level Talks and Travel as Secretary of State: “That sense of enthusiasm as you walk in and through this building – it is contagious,” said Vice President Biden. “And that’s a statement about your ability to inspire, Madame Secretary, as well as to lead.”
    “We have in the leadership of President Obama someone who wants us to reach out to the world, to do so without illusions – understanding the difficulties we face will not be wished away, but meeting them forthrightly and smartly, and that we want to seize the opportunities that exist as well,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. – VOA, 2-2-09
  • Ironies pile up as Clinton sworn in to new U.S. post: “Never did I think, Madame secretary, that I would swear you in as secretary of state. Never did I think I’d be sworn in as vice president,” he said to laughter at a State Department ceremony attended by several hundred of Clinton’s friends and colleagues as well as four former secretaries of state. – Reuters, 2-2-09
  • Ironies pile up as Clinton sworn in to new U.S. post: “For me this has been an amazing personal journey. As Joe laughingly referenced, neither one of us thought we would be standing here together doing what we are now doing. Life has that funny way of unfolding and politics is even stranger.”…
    Clinton singled out Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “who after all presided over my confirmation hearing.” “I look forward to working with all of you — particularly the appropriators,” she said, alluding to the powerful members of Congress who dole out money for the State Department and other government agencies. – Reuters, 2-2-09
  • Obama says Iraq’s peaceful elections aid pullout in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer before the Super Bowl: “I think that you have a sense now that the Iraqis just had a very significant election with no significant violence that we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis and that’s good news not only for the troops on the ground but for the families who are carrying an enormous burden.”
    Lauer asked Obama if he could assure the troops “that a substantial number of them will be home” a year from now. Obama said: “Yes.”
    “We’re going to roll out in a very formal fashion what our intentions are in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.” – AP, 2-2-09
  • Obama pokes fun at Emanuel at Alfalfa Club dinner: “Now this hasn’t been reported yet, but it was actually Rahm’s idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again. Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.”…
    “Every week the guy takes a little time away to give back to the community. Just last week he was at a local school, teaching profanity to poor children.”…
    If Lee “were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old,” Obama joked. “And very confused.”
    The president patted himself on the back for the “toughest diplomacy of my life” — being able to keep his Blackberry. “I finally agreed to limit the number of people who could e-mail me. It’s a very exclusive list. How exclusive?” “Everyone look at the person sitting on your left,” Obama said. “Now look at the person sitting on your right. None of you have my e-mail address.” – AP, 1-31-09
  • Al Gore: The former U.S. vice president to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at its first hearing in the new Congress “Gore urges passing stimulus deal to aid climate”: “For years our efforts to address the growing climate crisis have been undermined by the idea that we must choose between our planet and our way of life. In fact, the solutions to the climate crisis are the very same solutions that will address our economic and national security crises as well. – Reuters, 1-29-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin “Presidential rivals can make excellent Cabinet members”: Goodwin noted that political rivals for the presidency, once they have been defeated through the election process, often remain among the strongest and most able people on the national stage.
    It is a truism apparently not lost on Obama, since he appointed his fiercest opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, to his Cabinet. “Hillary Clinton was his biggest rival,” said Goodwin. “I think she’ll be a very good secretary of state.”
    Goodwin also noted that Obama has appointed Republicans to his Cabinet, mentioning that while advice from those who may categorically disagree with you is important, a confident president then has no trouble making his own decisions. “Obama will have to decide what he’ll have to do,” about the welter of sticky problems he faces,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar and author said. – Bradenton Herald, 29-09
  • Robert Dallek “Bush aides quick to criticize the Obama administration”: The tenor of the comments is remarkable so soon after the start of a new administration. Presidential historian Robert Dallek said the wave of criticism “speaks to their defensiveness,” noting that Bush spent much of his last two months in office defending his rocky White House tenure. “This was an administration that left so much under a cloud,” Dallek said. “They’re just continuing a pattern of aggression in defending their failed record, which is what the current judgment is among most Americans.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2-8-09
  • David Greenberg “Will “war on terror” survive without Bush?”: “It may be only symbolic but it signals that Obama is serious about avoiding the kind of Bush-style foreign policy that proved so divisive,” said historian David Greenberg, an expert on presidential communication at Rutgers University in New Jersey. – Reuters, 2-6-09
  • Doug Wead “Obama’s Tardiness Sets Him Apart From Bush Unlike his predecessor, President Obama has struggled to arrive on time to events and news conferences”: “To me, being tardy, it’s got to be one of two things,” said presidential historian Doug Wead, who advised both Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush. “Bad organization that can be corrected, or it’s arrogance. It sounds to me like this is arrogance.”…
    Wead warned that habitual tardiness can be misinterpreted, citing the Cingular dropped-call ads that show how communication breakdown can lead to awkward moments in a New York minute. And he said being late could cost Obama politically. “When Obama’s popularity slips, some people on Capitol Hill will not wait for him, and that will result in diminished political power,” he said. – Fox News, 2-6-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Obama’s Tardiness Sets Him Apart From Bush Unlike his predecessor, President Obama has struggled to arrive on time to events and news conferences”: Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University, had a different explanation for Clinton’s tardiness. “President Clinton was always late because he wasn’t very disciplined in general,” he said. “This was a man who marched to the beat of his own drummer, who liked to talk, liked intellectual discussions, had his finger in every pie.” There are two kinds of presidents, Lichtman said: “Foxes and hedgehogs.” “Foxes know a little about everything. They have their fingers in every pie. … Hedgehogs only know a few things and know it well and leave the details to others. Clinton was a classic fox. Bush was a classic hedgehog.” And Obama? He appears to be a fox, too, Lichtman said. – Fox News, 2-6-09
  • Joseph McCartin “Executive Pay: Obama’s PATCO moment”: Of course, the diminution in union power had multiple causes, including globalization and a decline in U.S. manufacturing. But the attack on PATCO “had great impact,” says Joseph McCartin, a Georgetown University historian who has written extensively on the PATCO strike. “Reagan made strike-breaking more patriotic and striking less patriotic.” – MSNBC, 2-6-09
  • Donald A. Ritchie “Cabinet deal is set for Gregg N.H. senator to get nod today; Likely successor is a Republican”: Donald A. Ritchie, associate historian for the US Senate Historical Office, said governors have rarely reached across the political aisle to fill a Senate vacancy and usually only when state law has required it. Arizona is one of those states; if John McCain had won the presidential race, Governor Janet Napolitano, a Democrat would have had to appoint a Republican. Ritchie said the last time a governor freely chose a member of the other party to replace an outgoing senator was in 1960, when Governor Mark Hatfield of Oregon, a Republican, chose a Democratic judge to replace a Democratic senator who died. – Boston Globe, 2-3-09
  • Julian Zelizer “With Daschle’s withdrawal, can Obama repair image as ‘change’ agent?”: “Obama has work to do to restore his image as an agent of change,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. – LAT, 2-3-09
  • Stephen Tanner “Afghanistan: Can Obama succeed in the ‘land of the unruly?'”: “Controlling the Afghan people is a losing proposition,” says Stephen Tanner, author of “Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban.” “No one has ever been able to control the country.” Afghan President Hamid Karzai is struggling to control the country now, Tanner says. The landlocked nation, which is roughly the size of Texas, has no strong national police, he says; its citizens are averse to taxes and a strong central government. Afghans seem to unite only when a foreign army occupies their country, Tanner says. “The people are so disunited within that they can’t resist an invader at the border,” Tanner says. “But once you’re in, you’re surrounded by them.” The resurgence of the Taliban will complicate Obama’s plans as well, Tanner says. – CNN, 2-2-09

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December 8, 2008: Obama on the Economy & Caroline Kennedy, New York Senator?

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Canada in Focus:

  • Dion’s Speech Beset By Technical Woes: In the battle of the airwaves Wednesday, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion showed up almost an hour late and a few pixels short in his duel with the prime minister he hopes to replace. – Canadian Press, 12-4-08
  • Gov. Gen. Agrees to Suspend Parliament: Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a stay of political execution – at least until January. Harper convinced Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament on Thursday, delaying a non-confidence vote scheduled for Monday that would have brought down his beleaguered minority Conservative government. – Canadian Press, 12-4-08

The Headlines…

Scott Olson/Getty Images

President-elect Barack Obama introduced retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as his nominee for secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department on Sunday.

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • Democrats Pick Up House Seat: Mary Jo Kilroy, a Democrat, won the 15th District, which encompasses Columbus, the state’s capital and largest city, by a little more than 2,000 votes over Steve Stivers, a Republican. Representative Deborah Pryce, a Republican, announced in August 2007 that she was vacating the seat. – NYT, 12-7-08
  • CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: In a move to reassert Congressional independence at the start of the new presidential administration, the vice president will be barred from joining weekly internal Senate deliberations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08
  • 1st Vietnamese-American elected to US Congress: Republican immigration attorney Anh “Joseph” Cao defeated Democratic U.S. William Jefferson on Saturday in an election postponed for a month by Hurricane Gustav. – AP, 12-7-08
  • What impact will Obama’s public works have on the American landscape?: President-elect Barack Obama is a student of history, as he has deftly demonstrated by following the model of Abraham Lincoln’s “team of rivals” in staffing his Cabinet. So as Obama pushes to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the nation’s infrastructure, I hope he’ll direct his motorcade past some living architectural history in Chicago, such as the Art Deco-style Lake Shore Drive Bridge over the Chicago River. – Chicago Tribune, 12-7-08
  • The Brightest Are Not Always the Best: IN 1992, David Halberstam wrote a new introduction for the 20th-anniversary edition of “The Best and the Brightest,” his classic history of the hubristic J.F.K. team that would ultimately mire America in Vietnam. He noted that the book’s title had entered the language, but not quite as he had hoped. “It is often misused,” he wrote, “failing to carry the tone or irony that the original intended.” – NYT, 12-7-08
  • Academic elites fill Obama’s roster Critics worry about insularity as Ivy League graduates crowd Cabinet posts: Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser was one of the youngest people to be tenured at Harvard and later became its president. His budget director went to Princeton and the London School of Economics, his choice for ambassador to the United Nations was a Rhodes scholar, and his White House counsel hit the trifecta: Harvard, Cambridge and Yale Law. – Salt Lake Tribune, 12-7-08
  • H. Brandt Ayers: Abraham Obama’s cabinet: We do not yet know how Sen. Hillary Clinton was persuaded to accept appointment as secretary of state, but the process is likely to resemble Abraham Lincoln’s appointment of his chief rival in the presidential race, Sen. William H. Seward. – The Anniston Star, 12-7-08
  • Clinton’s Welcome Will Include a Plate of Global Crises: As a candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that Iran might be obliterated if it launched a nuclear attack on Israel and that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided capital. As a senator, she voted to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization and to approve President Bush’s plan to go to war against Iraq. – NYT, 12-7-08
  • Obamaland ‘Partisan’ Seeks a Prefix: Bi- or Post- : Six weeks before taking office, President-elect Barack Obama can already boast one striking accomplishment: persuading partisan, ideological adversaries to see him in a less partisan, less ideological light. NYT, 12-6-08
  • Lawrence Summers: Harvard Lightning Rod Finds Path to Renewal With Obama – NYT, 12-7-08
  • AP IMPACT: Donors, lobbyists help Obama get ready: Faced with hiring a new administration, President-elect Barack Obama is learning how hard it is to keep his promise to avoid aides who have been entangled with the capital’s lobbying scene. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Kennedy Is Said to Cast Her Eye on Senate Seat: Caroline Kennedy, a daughter of America’s most storied political family who for many years fiercely guarded her privacy, is considering whether to pursue the Senate seat expected to be vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton early next year, a family member said Friday. – NYT, 12-6-08
  • “Car czar” proposed for any automaker bailout – Reuters, 12-6-08
  • Obama speechwriter Favreau learns the perils of Facebook: Jon Favreau, future White House director of speechwriting, has so far been at a loss for words over Facebook pictures of him at a recent party. – CNN, 12-6-08
  • Louisiana voters oust indicted Rep. Jefferson: In a year when national Republican fortunes took a turn for the worse, Louisiana delivered the GOP two seats in Congress in elections delayed by Hurricane Gustav. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary: President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, turning to a former Army chief of staff once vilified by the Bush administration for questioning its Iraq war strategy. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Obama campaign mulls what to do with $30M surplus: Democrats carrying significant campaign debt after winning a string of House and Senate races are grumbling about President-elect Barack Obama’s financial reserves, saying the party’s leader is sitting on a pile of cash while Democratic leaders are broke. – AP, 12-5-08
  • Obama in the public eye Sunday: President-elect Barack Obama, who has been laying low the last few days, plans to be out in public in high-profile appearances on Sunday. In the morning, he’s the guest on NBC’s venerable “Meet the Press,” where he is certain to be questioned on the economy, his cabinet picks, and more. In the afternoon, he plans a press conference in Chicago. His office said this afternoon that “on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, President-Elect Barack Obama will be speaking about the contributions of those that have served our nation.” – Boston Globe, 12-5-08
  • 3 Palin Stylists Cost Campaign More Than $165,000: Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign spent more than $165,000 over the course of nine weeks on a trio of stylists for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, equivalent to what a Hollywood studio might invest in preparing an A-list actress for a movie premiere or publicity campaign, other stylists said. – N”YT, 12-5-08
  • Biden picks Bernstein as his economic adviser: Vice President-elect Joe Biden on Friday named Jared Bernstein as his chief economic policy adviser, a new post created as the nation faces a recession. – AP, 12-5-08
  • Obama donors urged to ease Clinton campaign debt: Hillary Rodham Clinton is scrambling to reduce her massive campaign debt before she becomes secretary of state, when federal ethics laws — and political sensitivities — will severely hamper her ability to do so. – AP, 12-5-08

Political Quotes

  • Gen. Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs: President-elect Barack Obama announced today that General Eric Shinseki will be his nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. General Shinseki is a former Army Chief of Staff and 38-year Army veteran who served two combat tours in Vietnam. He understands the changing needs of our troops and their families and shares President-elect Obama’s commitment to modernizing the VA to meet the challenges of our time. – You Tube, 12-7-08
  • Obama Sharpens Tone on Auto Industry: Part of what I’m hoping to introduce as the next president is a new ethic of responsibility, where we say that, if you’re laying off workers, the least you can do when you’re making $25 million a year is give up some of your compensation and some of your bonuses, figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut, but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their health care, and they can still stay in their homes…. They have been building better cars now than they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. They are making some investments in the kind of green technologies and the new batteries that would allow us to create plug-in hybrids. – NYT, 12-7-08
  • Obama Warns of Further Economic Pain: “This is a big problem, and it’s going to get worse.”….. “I don’t think it’s an option to simply allow it to collapse… I think Congress is doing exactly the right thing by asking for a conditions-based assistance package that holds the auto industry’s feet to the fire… If this management team that’s currently in place doesn’t understand the urgency of the situation and is not willing to make tough choices and adapt to new circumstances, then they should go. As part of our economic recovery package, what you will see coming out of my administration right at the center, is a strong set of new financial regulations, in which banks, ratings agencies, mortgage brokers, a whole bunch of folks start having to be much more accountable and behave much more responsibly.
    I am absolutely confident, that if we take the right steps over the coming months, that not only can we get the economy back on track, but we can emerge leaner, meaner and ultimately more competitive and more prosperous.” NYT, 12-8-08
  • Obama Noncommittal on Caroline Kennedy, and Smoking: Caroline Kennedy has become one of my dearest friends and is just a wonderful American, a wonderful person. But the last thing I want to do is get involved in New York politics….
    I have done a terrific job, under the circumstances, of making myself much healthier. And I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House…. – N”YT, 12-7-08
  • Obama: Economy to get worse before it improves – on “Meet the Press”: “We’ve got to provide a blood infusion to the patient right now to make sure that the patient is stabilized. And that means that we can’t worry short term about the deficit. We’ve got to make sure that the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get the economy moving….
    Congress is doing the exact right thing by asking for a conditions-based assistance package that holds the industry’s feet to the fire and gives the industry some short-term assistance….
    What we need to do is examine, what are the projects where we’re going to get the most bang for the buck? How are we going to make sure taxpayers are protected? You know, the days of just pork coming out of Congress as a strategy, those days are over…
    We are going to maintain a large enough force in the region to assure that our civilian troops or our civilian personnel and our embassies are protected, to make sure that we can ferret out any remaining terrorist activity in the region. – AP, 12-7-08
  • The Saturday Word: Roads and Cars: In the wake of dismal job reports, President-elect Barack Obama called in his radio/YouTube address for the creation of “millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s.” – NYT, 12-6-08
  • Barack Obama: Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect: December 6, 2008: This week President-elect Barack Obama addresses the job loss that our nation continues to endure and offers solutions to the challenges we face. – You Tube, 12-6-08
  • Obama vows vast public works program: He proposes rebuilding roads, extending access to Web as way to revive economy – “We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least 2 1/2 million jobs so that the nearly 2 million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future.” Houston Chronicle, 12-6-08
  • Obama Statement: Town meetings start health reform effort: Providing quality affordable health care for all Americans is one of my top priorities for this country because our long-term fiscal prospects will have a hard time improving as long as sky-rocketing health care costs are holding us all down. Yet in order for us to reform our health care system, we must first begin reforming how government communicates with the American people. These Health Care Community Discussions are a great way for the American people to have a direct say in our health care reform efforts and I encourage Americans to take part if they are able. – Reuters, 12-6-08
  • Tom Daschle “Town meetings start health reform effort”: The myth is that we have the best healthcare system in the world. We do have islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity.” – Reuters, 12-6-08
  • Biden’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander: CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: “Biden had no intention of continuing the practice started by Vice President Cheney of regularly attending internal legislative branch meetings — he firmly believes in restoring the Office of the Vice President to its historical role. He and Senator Reid see eye to eye on this.” – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08
  • Harry Reid: CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: “He can come by once and a while, but he’s not going to sit in on our lunches. He’s not a senator. He’s the vice president.” – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Donald Ritchie: CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: Associate Senate Historian Donald Ritchie said Johnson was “hurt by the angry response.” Senators then, as they had throughout history, understood potential encroachment of the executive branch on their power. Similar rebuffs fill the pages of Senate history, from John Adams to Spiro Agnew. “Every vice president who has tried to be assertive has been restrained by the Senate,” said Ritchie, the historian. “Usually the vice president gets the hint and goes back to the White House.” – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08
  • Gil Troy “Will recession mean a toned-down inauguration?”: Though costly, an inauguration helps set the tone for a presidency, said Gil Troy, a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
    The president shouldn’t be seen noshing on caviar, but neither should he dispense with glamour entirely, Troy said. Americans want their leader to be a man of the people and a celebrity superstar, both.
    “Americans are people who love to indulge, and deep in our hearts want our leaders to be like the king and queen of England — but not too much,” he said.
    President Ronald Reagan fit the bill best when he set a new standard of opulence for his 1981 inauguration, Troy said. Nancy Reagan wore a $10,000 gown to the three-hour gala with Frank Sinatra.
    “Reagan had the ability — and maybe the Obamas will — to somehow make spending look patriotic,” Troy said. – AP, 12-7-08
  • Donald A. Ritchie “Can’t Put a Price on History For Some, Preparing for Inaugural Events Is No Time for Frugality”: Donald A. Ritchie, associate historian at the U.S. Senate Historical Office, said atypical visitors also attended the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Blacks came because it was the first time they were allowed to march in the parade. “Probably the most popular so far was Andrew Jackson’s first inauguration in 1829, because he was seen as the people’s president,” Ritchie said. “The well-to-do of Washington were appalled at the common folk who showed up for Jackson’s inauguration.” – WaPo, 12-7-08
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony “For Michelle Obama, great expectations”: Historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony said the public misperceived what Carter, who also maintained a weekly working lunch with her husband, was trying to do. “She was just avoiding having to bother him later with questions,” said Anthony, of the National First Ladies Library…. Dolley Madison, on the other hand, was admiringly called “Presidentress” by some for her role as a national symbol for all Americans, one who knew “how to strike the delicate balance between queen and commoner,” Anthony said. But Elizabeth Monroe, who came next and was much less popular, suffered from the comparison…. The wealthy Julia Tyler was deemed overly regal or queenlike, but then her successor, Sarah Polk, was called “monstrously small” (meaning small-minded) by President Tyler himself, Anthony said. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Michael Beschloss “300,000 Apply for 3,300 Obama Jobs”: The presidential historian Michael R. Beschloss said that “it’s hard to find a parallel in modern times to this degree of enthusiasm for going into government,” all the more striking in a period previously known for cynicism about government employment. – NYT, 12-6-08
  • Joan Hoff: ‘It was the best of times … worst of times:’ Presidential historian analyzes election: “Never before have we had a president coming in facing two wars, the collapse of a financial system and a country on the brink of decline in its great nation status.”…
    “Number one was the question of race. But also, we as a country are reluctant to vote for a president who does not try to hide his intellect. The last one before Obama was Woodrow Wilson. If you combine these two factors, it makes it a hugely unique vote.”…
    “The country is on a seismic brink,” Hoff said. “As foreign observers are now saying that all the time, we are on a downward slope in terms of economic footing and our position of power in the world. We are at the tipping point. And, if that is the case, any president will have to deal calmly and intellectually with our declining economic and diplomatic power in the world.”…
    “He has to be like Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Hoff said. “FDR gave Americans the impression that he was solving the Depression. It was the second world war that brought the country out of the Depression.”…
    “Obama has become an international phenomenon like no other candidate has. It is said that as the U.S. goes, so goes the world. And people around the world were interested in what was happening in our election. There is the perception that Obama could bring change not only to the U.S. but also to the world.”…
    “I was in New York City during the election and it was fun to be there. People poured out into the streets and closed many of them off when it was announced that Obama had won. In addition, large crowds unprecedented in size gathered to watch the results in Times Square, Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Center.”
    “To be classified as a landslide, a candidate has to win at least 400 electoral votes, and preferably more than 500. So Obama’s 365 (current projections) was definitely was not a landslide, but it was a good mandate. Historians may, as they have with Truman and the Korean War, positively re-evaluate his Middle Eastern foreign policy if in 20 years or so it appears more successful than it does now. ” “This election was really something to experience. Obama will have to utilize his optimism and popularity to make changes following a failed presidency of unprecedented proportions. No previous president-elect has inherited two wars and a major recession. The situation is depressing, but it was such an upbeat election that I can’t be depressed. Obama has raised our expectations in a time of great need and I wish him well in trying to fulfill them.” – MSU News, 12-5-08
  • David Brinkley “Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency”: “The first year for every ex-president is really hard,” said David Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “You have to raise all this money for your library, you’ve got to build an organization, you have to write a huge memoir, your papers are in disarray, and you suddenly realize your mistakes because your pace slows down.”…
    “This is going to be Bush vision.” Brinkley said of the institute. “Bush has never liked the academics, and this is a nonacademic institute aimed at cutting to the core of things: only pro-democracy foot soldiers who are green-lit by George and Laura Bush are in the mix.” – CNN, 12-5-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency”: “He is a president where people are expecting some kind of repair work,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. “If he just goes on the speaking circuit and focuses his time making huge money, that would only tarnish a presidency that only has a low approval rating.” Instead, Bush is more likely to choose a similar post-presidential path, at least initially, as that of Jimmy Carter, who also left the White House with poor approval ratings, Zelizer said. “What Jimmy Carter showed is that you can be very active in your post-presidential years and help improve how people think of you as a leader and a policy maker,” Zelizer said. – CNN, 12-5-08
  • Stephen Hess “Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency”: “This president’s low approval rating is overwhelmingly connected to Iraq. It will rise and fall depending what turns out to be the history of that country and that part of the world,” said Stephen Hess, a former Eisenhower aide and a scholar at the conservative Brookings Institution. “That really is what his legacy for future historians is all about.” – CNN, 12-5-08
  • Gil Troy: Is Bush’s Greatest Achievement a Non-Achievement: No Subsequent 9/11s?: In yet another example of “blowback” actually undermining Islamist terrorism, the Mumbai mayhem may boost George W. Bush’s historical legacy. In the waning days of his presidency, the massacres highlighted one of Bush’s most significant but elusive achievements. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is a non-event. After September 11, most Americans assumed they would endure a wave of terrorist attacks. Even those Americans who hate Bush must grant him at least some credit for the fact that not one major attack has occurred again on American soil….
    Despite all the hype during a presidential campaign about a candidate’s skills, judgment, character, experience, and potential, external events often define presidencies. George W. Bush himself entered office expecting to focus on domestic affairs. The horrific murders in Mumbai – along with the continuing economic roller coaster – illustrate that Obama’s legacy, like that all of his predecessors, remains in the hands of powerful actors and historical forces beyond his control, no matter how talented he is, no matter how focused on this one leader we remain. – HNN, 12-4-08
  • Julian Zelizer: Can President-Elect Obama Manage His Team of Egos?: Obama has assembled a powerful team that is full of experience, and opinions “He does have this challenge,” says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. “It’s not a modest cabinet by any stretch of the imagination. These are people of opinions and experience,” and they won’t be shy about “pushing the president” to adopt their ideas. The question is whether Obama will be strong enough to manage the egos around him—and distill from the resulting tensions and rivalries the best policies for the nation without allowing his government to descend into constant infighting, as happened under President Jimmy Carter and other chief executives. – – US News & World Report, 12-2-08
  • Douglas Brinkley “Presidential Historian Obama Could Permanently Ban ANWR Drilling”: Douglas Brinkley tells CNN’s Lou Dobbs new president may turn Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to a national monument – “I think what they’re trying to do is in the Obama administration, start pointing out some clear divot spots where they’re going to deviate from the Bush administration –things like Guantanamo, things that, ‘No, we are not going to be for drilling around parks,'” Brinkley said. “I wouldn’t be surprised in the coming year if you see someplace like ANWR in Alaska turn from being a wildlife refuge run by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and turn over to becoming a National Monument where you couldn’t drill. So you’re going to be, and that’s because you’re going to have to do some things sort of on the cheap,” he said. – Business and Media, 11-12-08

Campaign Highlights: Obama Completes his Cabinet “A Team of Rivals”

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

AT HIS RIGHT HAND Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett getting lunch last week in Chicago. Ms. Jarrett took Mr. Obama under her wing nearly two decades ago.

Stats:

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

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • An Old Hometown Mentor, and Still at Obama’s Side – NYT, 11-24-08
  • Official: Richardson to be commerce secretary – AP, 11-23-08
  • Obama Books Dominate Political Best-Seller List – NYT, 11-22-08
  • Clearer picture emerges of Obama’s Cabinet: A picture of President-elect Barack Obama”s Cabinet became clearer Friday, with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson emerging as a likely pick for commerce secretary. As word spread Friday that Sen. Hillary Clinton was expected to accept the secretary of state position, senior Democratic officials said Obama intended to name Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, as his Treasury secretary to confront the nation”s intense economic turmoil. – San Jose Mercury News, 11-21-08
  • Obama Tilts to Center, Inviting a Clash of Ideas: Now, his reported selections for two of the major positions in his cabinet — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state and Timothy F. Geithner as secretary of the Treasury — suggest that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues. – NYT, 11-22-08
  • Geithner Is Said to Be Obama’s Pick for U.S. Treasury Secretary – Bloomberg, 11-21-08
  • ‘Amtrak Joe’ No More – NYT, 11-23-08
  • TYLER COWEN: The New Deal Didn’t Always Work, Either – NYT, 11-
  • Another Triumph for Clinton, Many Women Agree: Hillary Rodham Clinton, a first lady turned senator turned almost-president, is now transforming herself again, this time into the nation’s top diplomat. But she is also back to a role she cannot seem to shake: a canvas for women’s highest hopes and deepest fears about the workplace. – NYT, 11-21-08
  • Al Qaeda Coldly Acknowledges Obama Victory – NYT, 11-19-08
  • For ’60 Minutes,’ a Jump in Ratings – NYT, 11-19-08
  • Dem officials: Daschle accepts HHS Cabinet post – AP, 11-19-08
  • Democrats Gain as Stevens Loses His Senate Race – NYT, 11-19-08
  • Blogtalk: The Lieberman Vote: Today’s decision by Senate Democrats to let the Democrat-turned-independent keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee has only further frustrated the liberal blogosphere’s quest for decisive triumph over the moderate who emphatically backed Senator John McCain’s White House bid. – NYT, The Caucus, 11-18-08
  • White House Memo Obama Team Anything but Shy and Retiring: Whatever happened to Mr. No-Drama-Obama? – NYT, 11-18-08
  • Obama moves closer to key cabinet pick: A Democratic source said a conditional offer for the post of attorney general had been made to former Clinton administration official Eric Holder, making him the automatic front-runner for the nation’s top law enforcement position. – Reuters, 11-18-08
  • Clinton job for Obama may depend on Bill: If Sen. Hillary Clinton is to be picked by President-elect Barack Obama as his secretary of state, it may well depend on a review of the business activities of her husband, former President Bill Clinton. – Reuters, 11-18-08
  • Biden’s Guv Plans Midnight Swearing-in: ABC News has learned that Delaware’s newly elected Democratic governor is planning to take the oath of office at 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 20, 2009, making it possible for him to name Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s replacement to the United States Senate ABC News, 11-18-08
  • Cheney, Gonzalez Indicted in Texas Prison Case The indictment accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees by working through prison companies: A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County’s federal detention centers. – Fox News, 11-18-08
  • Senate Republicans postpone vote on Ted Stevens – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • Obama moves to defrost relations between White House, Congress – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • McCain Vows to Work With Obama: The bitter general election campaign behind them, President-elect Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain met Monday to discuss ways to reduce government waste, promote bipartisanship and find other ways to improve government. – AP, 11-17-08
  • Obama Quits Senate, Names More Staffers President-Elect to Meet With McCain Today – WaPo, 11-17-08
  • Clinton Vetting Includes Look at Mr. Clinton – NYT, 11-16-08
  • Palin’s political potential: THE 2008 presidential campaign may be over, but Sarah Palin’s moment in the spotlight has yet to run its course. – Boston Globe, 11-16-08
  • Barack Obama links Israel peace plan to 1967 borders deal: Barack Obama is to pursue an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East involving the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, according to sources close to America’s president-elect. – The Sunday Times, 11-16-08
  • Absent Obama still a presence in the capital – AP, 11-15-08
  • Obama Team Decides on 2 for Top Posts: Gregory B. Craig as White House counsel, Ronald A. Klain, a former lobbyist and Clinton administration lawyer, as chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. – NYT, 11-16-08
  • Say Goodbye to BlackBerry? Yes He Can, Maybe: Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry. Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days. – NYT, 11-16-08
  • President-elect Obama reaches out to former rivals: Presidents typically say they want to be surrounded by strong-willed people who have the courage to disagree with them. President-elect Barack Obama, reaching out to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republicans, actually might mean it. – AP, 11-15-08

Political Quotes

  • Nov. 22, 2008: Barack Obama Delivers Weekly Address On YouTube – YouTube, 11-21-08
  • Gloria Steinem said in an interview: “Secretary of state is far superior to vice president, because it’s involved in continuously solving problems and making policy and not being on standby.” – – NYT, 11-21-08
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman said during a press conference: The resolution expresses strong disapproval and rejection of statements that I made about Senator Obama during the campaign. And in that regard, I said very clear, some of the statements — some of the things that people have said I said about Senator Obama are simply not true.
    There are other statements that I made that I wish I had made more clearly. And there are some that I made that I wish I had not made at all.
    And, obviously, in the heat of campaigns, that happens to all of us, but I regret that.
    And now it’s time to move on. – NYT, The Caucus, 11-18-08
  • An Obama campaign aide: “‘No-Drama Obama’ during the campaign meant that if you had something to say, you said it,” You didn’t go around people, or try to undermine people, you said what you thought. That’s how he’s going to run his administration.” – N”YT, 11-21-08
  • Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama’s transition spokeswoman: “He doesn’t put up with drama, but he encourages strong opinions and advice. In that environment of mutual respect, there tends to be little drama.” – N”YT, 11-21-08
  • Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn: “He said he’ll have our back. He’ll look out for House members. The idea is, we have his back, we do what Obama wants (and) he’ll do what we want. Something like that.” – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.: “What happened this morning was in large measure due to him. We all know that Senator Obama has said that he doesn’t think anybody should hold a grudge, that we’ve got too much work to do.” Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees taxes, trade, pensions and health care, said that he’ll not be bound blindly by Obama proposals. : “My goal is to work with Republicans. My goal is to work with everyone. We all have to keep an open mind about this. There’s going to be a lot of knee-jerking on both sides, and my job will be to help stop the knee-jerking.” – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • McCain Vows to Work With Obama — Joint Statement after meeting: “At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time. It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family. We hope to work together in the days and months ahead on critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy, and protecting our nation’s security.” – AP, 11-17-08
  • Obama On Economic Crisis, Transition Also Discusses National Security, Iraq, And His Cabinet In 60 Minutes Interview – CBS News, 11-16-08
  • Sarah Palin at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami: “I had a baby; I did some traveling; I very briefly expanded my wardrobe; I made a few speeches; I met a few VIPs, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey.”…. “The future is not that 2012 presidential race; it’s next year and our next budgets,” she said. – Boston Globe, 11-16-08
  • The feminist social critic Camille Paglia, a pro-choice Democrat, is appalled by the Democrats’ anti-Palin debauch, especially their attacks on her intelligence: “As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is,” Paglia writes, “and, quite frankly, I think the people who don’t see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma.” – Boston Globe, 11-16-08
  • Nov. 15, 2008: Barack Obama Delivers Weekly Address On YouTube – YouTube, 11-14-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin: “Clinton-Richardson: Benefits of a ‘Team of Rivals'”: In her book, Ms. Kearns Goodwin explained the essence of Lincoln’s approach: “That Lincoln, after winning the presidency, made the unprecedented decision to incorporate his eminent rivals into his political family, the cabinet, was evidence of a profound self-confidence and a first indication of what would prove to others a most unexpected greatness … It soon became clear … that Abraham Lincoln would emerge the undisputed captain of this most unusual cabinet, truly a team of rivals. The powerful competitors who had originally disdained Lincoln became colleagues who helped him steer the country through its darkest days.” By “rivals,” Ms. Kearns Goodwin meant not only the Republicans who contested Lincoln for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination, but also several pro-Union Democrats who supported his opponent in the 1860 general election. – Washington Times, 11-24-08
  • Paul Light “Bum nominations hard to avoid, history shows”: Historian Light said experience shows that the lure of a Cabinet appointment sometimes proves irresistible to people who should know better. “The ambition to be a presidential appointee is so great that somebody’s not going to tell the truth, no matter how hard you push the vetting process,” said Light. “It happens all the time. There have been some recent nominees who just flat-out lied when asked whether there was anything about their personal or financial history that might embarrass the president.” – AP, 11-20-08
  • Gil Troy “Michelle Obama’s fashion Wife of U.S. president-elect has a wardrobe that is colourful and accessible”: Historian Gil Troy, of McGill University, agrees, saying everything about the new First Family will be scrutinized and copied by an adoring public. “We’ve seen this thing before, with the Kennedys,” says the author of “Mr. and Mrs. President, from the Trumans to the Clintons.” “But the frenzy this time is going to be that much more intense.” The press, which shares a “vibe” with the intellectual, urban Obama, is giving him a bit of a free ride right now, says Troy, feeding the public’s appetite for information about his favourite snacks (Planter’s Trail Mix), preferred drink (Black Forest Berry Honest Tea) and favourite book (Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls). “This product placement is a boon for consumer manufacturers of all kinds.” The Obamas, Troy says, are clever at making decisions, such as what car to buy, and “turning it into political points.” Saying this couple “is very coached,” he points out Michelle Obama has replaced early complaints about her “stinky, snoring husband” with the traditional supporting role. “Michelle didn’t play well. She was being passive aggressive,” Troy says of the early days of the campaign. The couple has to give off an air of authenticity, Troy says. Any signs “that it is too faux, too calculating and on the make will cause a backlash.” Their White House style will fit in with the new era of austerity, predicts Troy, but will still have sparkle and energy. As he puts it, “They give great celebrity.” – Toronto Star, 11-21-08
  • Robert Watson “All eyes are on Michelle Obama”: “Michelle Obama has done the impossible” said Watson, director of American Studies at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.. “The age-old debate, can women do it all? The answer with Michelle Obama is, you bet. She’s been the breadwinner. She’s been a great mother. She’s also managed to keep her marriage together. Michelle Obama has been superwoman. So why shouldn’t the expectations be high?” – Kansas City Star, 11-21-08
  • Catherine Allgor “All eyes are on Michelle Obama”: Catherine Allgor, a history professor at the University of California-Riverside, said optimism surrounds the entire Obama family, “and I think it’s completely tied up with how bad things are and how great they (the family) seem to be.”
    First ladies have become larger-than-life embodiments of everything their husbands stand for, powerful figures in modern, media-driven times, Allgor said. Obama carries a lot on her shoulders into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Women in particular see themselves in her, said Allgor, author of Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government.
    She is not a governor’s wife or a vice-presidential spouse moving her family from one mansion into the next. She’s more the girl in the movies who wakes up one day to discover that she is really a princess, Allgor said. “She is the closest to a regular person to take on this role,” Allgor said. “She is really, literally, coming from a life that we are familiar with. To go from that to the White House … this is the ‘Princess Diaries.'”
    “While they were being lovely and gracious, they are going out and changing the world,” Allgor said. “I think she recognizes this,” Allgor said. “I think she will be very, very careful to couch the work that she will do under very traditional veils. My sense is that she’ll be working to correct inequities in class, race, gender. But she won’t say that. She’ll say, ‘I’m looking out for working moms and the health of our children.’ And she’s very smart to do that because she saw what happened to Hillary Clinton. “The other thing I would say, too, that is going to be easier for Michelle than Hillary, is that somehow we demand first ladies to be the women we are not. Because she has young children, it’s going to be much easier for her to use that role. “When you have young children, you end up doing things like carving pumpkins and making cookies, whereas Hillary had a 15-year-old. So I think with this young family and all of its needs, it’s going to make it much easier to present herself as nonthreatening.” – Kansas City Star, 11-21-08
  • Myra Gutin “All eyes are on Michelle Obama”: “The more official side of her life is putting people onto her staff in the East Wing, which is traditionally the first lady’s bailiwick. My guess is she’s flooded with resumes,” said Myra Gutin, author of The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century. Obama will choose a chief of staff, press secretary and social secretary. In the past, first ladies have been drawn to people who have government experience. Choosing people with Washington smarts “is even more important for someone like the Obamas who really haven’t been in Washington very much,” said Gutin, a communications professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. – – Kansas City Star, 11-21-08
  • Don Ritchie “Clinton Would Leave Big Shoes to Fill Hillary Clinton is poised to be nominated as President-elect Obama’s secretary of state, leaving an empty seat in the Senate”: Senate historian Don Ritchie added that Bill Clinton is eligible for appointment to the seat because he is a New York resident. It is unclear though, if he would be interested. Ritchie cautions that anyone who is appointed faces a 50 percent chance of losing the next election. – Fox News, 11-21-08
  • Professor Eric Rauchway reviews the presidential electionCalifornia Aggie, 11-20-08
  • Ronald White “Can Lincoln’s playbook help Obama in the years ahead?”: Lincoln historian and author Ronald White said that both had a “tremendous trust in words and the power of language.” “And I think today, we come with a real kind of cynicism. … It’s only words. And yet I think underneath the words are the public’s perception of looking for someone with integrity and authenticity and not someone simply playing a role,” White said. White, author of the upcoming book “A. Lincoln: A Biography,” has lectured on Lincoln at the White House and the Library of Congress. “Both of them rose, in a sense, beyond their inexperience and in spite of their relative youth, the wings of their ability to use public language,” he added….
    White said Lincoln’s strategy was to surround himself with people who were equally strong. “And I think one of the comparisons to recent presidents is that they often have put in people from their own states who often are ‘yes people’ to them. Therefore, they have not been given the benefit of strong contending points of view,” he added…. “I think this is the great question. Would it be possible? I hope it is. I think it’s a more difficult task today,” White said. “The Civil War also helped kind of say, ‘we have to have kind of a unity government.’ This is a big challenge. I hope [Obama] can do it. I’m not sure he can.” – CNN, 11-19-08
  • Eric Foner “Can Lincoln’s playbook help Obama in the years ahead?”: But Columbia University history professor Eric Foner, also a Lincoln scholar, said people should take a step back from the comparisons. “Lincoln is a great man, and people should learn from him. But I think, as a historian, people ought to calm down a little about these comparisons,” he said. “They are entirely different situations, worlds, political systems. There aren’t I think a lot of exact direct lessons one can or should necessarily try to learn from Lincoln.” Foner, author of the new book “Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World,” said Lincoln has become something of a model for politicians on both sides of the aisle. “Lincoln is a Rorschach test. Everybody finds themselves in Lincoln. Everybody finds what they want to find in Lincoln. There are dozens of Lincolns out there. So saying ‘I’m reading Lincoln or modeling myself on Lincoln’ doesn’t really tell us a heck of a lot.”…
    “A lot of what has been said as a historian strikes me as a little misguided. [Obama], for example, is modeling himself after Lincoln by [possibly] putting Hillary Clinton in the secretary of state,” Foner said. “But, by the way, that was typical in the 19th century. Most presidents took a major figure of their own political party, often someone who wanted the job himself, and made him secretary of state. That was a fairly conventional thing to do.” – CNN, 11-19-08
  • Harold Holzer “Can Lincoln’s playbook help Obama in the years ahead?”: Harold Holzer, one of the country’s leading authorities on Lincoln and the Civil War, said the state of the nation today may be a major barrier to putting in place Lincoln’s playbook. “Sen. Obama could have never contemplated a state leaving the country in reaction to his election, which was pretty rough. Lincoln could have never imagined nuclear war, the kind of foreign challenges that occur,” Holzer said. Holzer’s new book, “Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861,” examines the period between his election and inauguration. But Holzer said that although the nation’s challenges may be different, “leadership comes not from experience alone or sometimes not from experience at all. It comes from a gravitas and self- deprecation and understanding of other people. It’s going to be a very interesting period.” – CNN, 11-19-08
  • Gil Troy “Winds of patriotism renewed Election brings a liberal zeal for Old Glory”: Gil Troy, a historian who teaches at McGill University in Quebec, said that while Democrats accuse Republicans of co-opting patriotism, they’re also guilty of giving it up. “One of the great failures of the Democratic Party … is how they have ceded God and the flag to the Republicans,” he said. “Even as many Democratic voters have continued to wave the flag, party leaders and elite liberal opinion leaders have equated patriotism with” rednecks “and deep faith with dangerous morons.” – McClatchy Newspapers, 11-23-08
  • H.W. Brands “Winds of patriotism renewed Election brings a liberal zeal for Old Glory”: H.W. Brands, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, said that Democrats became uncomfortable with only a certain type of patriotism — the exclusive variety. Primal and powerful, it appears most forcefully during times of war, whipping up fervor through an us-versus-them mentality, squelching most dissent in the name of national unity. It was on broad display, Brands noted, in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. – McClatchy Newspapers, 11-23-08
  • JAMES OAKES “What’s So Special About a Team of Rivals?”: INSPIRED by the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, President-elect Barack Obama is considering appointing a “team of rivals” to his cabinet — if rumors about the nomination of Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state are true. But there’s more mythology than history in the idea that Lincoln showed exceptional political skill in offering cabinet positions to the men he had beaten in the race for the 1860 Republican nomination….
    There is little doubt that Abraham Lincoln was a great president. But not much of what made him great can be discerned in his appointment of a contentious, envious and often dysfunctional collection of prima donnas to his cabinet. – NYT, 11-19-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Can McCain be Obama’s friend in Congress?”: President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain will meet for the first time on Monday since the election. The meeting comes at an important time for McCain, who must decide what to do with remainder of his career in the Senate.
    With his reputation severely harmed as a result of the campaign — some Republicans furious at him for having lost the White House with a poor campaign and some Democrats furious with the negative tone that his campaign embraced in September and October — he will have an interest in building a positive legacy.
    McCain’s best bet would be to form a bipartisan alliance with Obama on as many issues as possible — perhaps with an economic stimulus bill, immigration reform, exiting Iraq and new regulations on Wall Street….
    But what McCain can do, as he has done in the past with campaign finance and ethics reform, is to team up with the opposition and get legislation through Congress. According to Congressional Quarterly, former Bush and McCain adviser Mark McKinnon has predicted that “Senator McCain’s interest after this election will be not any political ambition but a genuine desire to make his last chapter in Washington all about bipartisan healing.”
    Now he has a chance to enhance his mark in the history books, this time with the person who defeated him, and then his legacy would not be the failed political campaign of 2008. CNN, 11-17-08
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin “President-elect Obama reaches out to former rivals”: It so happens that Obama and New York Sen. Clinton share a reverence for “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about how Lincoln brought foes into his fold. Clinton listed it during the campaign as the last book she had read. Obama, clearly a student of Lincoln, spoke of it several times. “I think it reflects a great inner strength on Obama’s part that he is seriously considering creating a team of rivals as Lincoln did,” Goodwin told The Associated Press on Friday. “By surrounding himself with people who bring different perspectives, he will increase his options, absorb dissenting views and heighten his ability to speak empathetically to people on different sides of each issue. The challenge, of course, is to ensure that the discussions do not become paralyzing, and that once a decision is made the inner circle accepts that the time for debate is over,” she said. Goodwin says a true team of rivals is exceptionally difficult to make work in these days of hyperpartisanship, scandal-hungry blogs and raw feelings between parties and factions of the same party from the often nasty campaign. Disharmony in Lincoln’s Cabinet was largely kept inside the meetings, exposed years later in memoirs, and that’s not how the world works anymore. Still, she said the even-keeled Obama displayed a temperament in the campaign that could help him pull it off. “And I believe the country would respond with great enthusiasm, recognizing the great contrast to recent times.” – – AP, 11-15-08

Aaron Tomlinson/CBS

The Obamas, interviewed by Steve Kroft for “60 Minutes.”

Democratic Convention Day 3: August 27, 2008

Day 3 Schedule

    Wednesday, August 27: Securing America’s Future

    Barack Obama offers a new, tough foreign policy that is neither Republican nor Democratic, but is a strong, smart American foreign policy to make our country more secure and advance our interests in the world. Wednesday night’s Convention program will feature the voices of Americans who share Barack’s vision of making America stronger and safer.

    The headline prime-time speaker on Wednesday was Vice Presidential Nominee Senator Joe Biden.

    Barack Obama and Joe Biden (NYT)

    The 2008 Democratic Ticket: Barack Obama and Joe Biden (NYT)

    Featured speakers included: Former President Bill Clinton; former Senator Tom Daschle; Governor Bill Richardson and Senators Evan Bayh, John Kerry and Jay Rockefeller. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Convention home state Senator Ken Salazar, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, and Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) along with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth will lead a tribute honoring those who give so much to secure our nation’s future – veterans, active duty military and their families.

Highlights:

  • August 27, 2008: Obama and Biden plan post-convention bus tour of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan … GOP ‘war room’ revs up as high-profile figures hit airwaves to slam Obama … Democrats plan heavy presence at GOP convention, will greet delegates with Bush billboard – AP, 8-27-08
  • Freudian Slip: Mr. Biden’s Freudian slip gets a big laugh — when he says “George” when he means “John.” That’s the subtext of his speech, which hasn’t come yet — that Mr. McCain is Mr. Bush. – NYT, The Caucus Blog, 8-27-08

Stats

  • August 27, 2008: Exclusive Poll: Obama’s Swing Leads An exclusive TIME/CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll reveals that Barack Obama leads John McCain by several percentage points in three crucial battleground states—Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—while McCain tops Obama by 1% in Colorado. – Time, 8-27-08
  • August 27, 2008: Obama had received 1549.5 votes to Clinton’s 341.5 when Clinton called for the roll call to be suspended. – Detroit Free Press, 8-27-08
  • Q: Had the wives of presidential candidates given full-length, prime-time speeches before Michelle Obama?
    A: Yes. Elizabeth Dole, wife of GOP nominee Bob Dole, stole the show at the 1996 Republican National Convention when she took a roving microphone and spoke to delegates on the floor. Her “Oprah turn” drew cheers, even from network correspondents.
    Both Laura Bush and Tipper Gore also gave full-length, prime-time speeches at their husbands’ nominating conventions in 2000.
    In 1988, Barbara Bush spoke, but her remarks were not aired in prime time. Nancy Reagan had a prime-time slot at her husband’s second Republican convention in 1984. Pat Nixon spoke briefly at the 1972 GOP convention after her husband, Richard M. Nixon, was nominated for a second term.
    In 1940, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented third term, he asked his wife, Eleanor, to go to the Democratic convention in Chicago on his behalf and unify delegates to back his vice presidential pick. She was home knitting when she got the call, according to Carl Anthony, a historian with the National First Ladies Library. – AP, 8-27-08

Historians’ Comments

  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian on “Bill Clinton had key moment”: I sure do, Jim. This was a great, big night for the Democrats and a huge help to this ticket. Bill Clinton gave one of his best speeches, including the seven words that Hillary Clinton did not quite speak last night. He said, “Barack Obama is ready to be president.” That’s going to be a great help to those who are going to cite Hillary’s words from earlier in the primary campaign against her. You also saw one of the reasons why Joe Biden is on this ticket. You know, vice presidents, like Hubert Humphrey in 1964, that convention, went after Barry Goldwater. Fritz Mondale, whom you interviewed earlier this evening, Jim, in 1976, brought the house down at the Carter convention by saying, “We’ve had the worst scandal in our history, Watergate, and this nominee, Gerald Ford, pardoned the guy who did it.”And, of course, Al Gore in 1992, “What time is it? It’s time for them to go.” And the interesting thing, finally, Jim, is that Joe Biden showed sort of an ironic and interesting sense of history, because when he kept on saying, “Do you want change or more of the same?”, who’s slogan was that? It was Bill Clinton’s in 1992. – PBS Newshour, 8-27-08 Download
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University on Joe Biden: Well, it’s funny. Like Michael, I saw the ghost of Hubert Humphrey in this hall tonight, you know? We’ve heard this week from Kennedy Democrats, and Clinton Democrats, and Obama Democrats, and tonight was Hubert’s night. I mean, this was one-part classic populism and one-part the politics of joy. But it was also something else. It was very interesting. This was a values speech. This was a character speech. And it does indicate that this is a party that is going to go after values voters, with which they have not always been terribly successful in some recent elections. That, in itself, it seems to me makes it significant. And it also really, I think, ups the ante for Senator McCain who has, I guess, about two days in which to decide who he wants to pit in that vice presidential debate against the man we heard tonight. – PBS Newshour, 8-27-08 Download
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: Oh, gosh. Bill Clinton’s legacy — earlier we heard Walter Mondale, a very honorable, very decent spokesperson for a different kind of Democratic Party, a kind of a New Deal liberalism. It was Bill Clinton who said the era of big government is over. It was Bill Clinton who in many ways anticipated Barack Obama by seeking a third way, almost a post-ideological presidency. And so welfare reform, and a balanced budget, and surpluses, things that people didn’t associate with Democrats. So he redefined the Democratic Party, certainly in economic terms, and to some degree, I would say, in foreign policy, as well. – PBS Newshour, 8-27-08 Download
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University: Absolutely. It’s really a paradoxical legacy. On the one hand, Clinton is the first Democrat to have two terms since, really, Roosevelt. On the other, his third way or neoliberalism actually really transforms the party in a way that his critics say was really negative, because, on the one hand, he says he wants a leaner, not meaner government in 1992, and really tries to split the difference between old-school New Deal liberalism and the conservative austerity of the 1980s. Now, that third way was progressive on some fronts, but on other fronts it left people wondering whether the Democratic Party really cared about working people, poor people, and minorities. – PBS Newshour, 8-27-08 Download
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Yes, actually, I don’t agree too much with some of what both Peniel and Richard said, as much as I love you both. And the reason is that eight years of peace and prosperity, admirable, I think to historians, in the future. Legacy is what a president does that affects later generations. Bill Clinton had to basically try to retard the movement of a Republican period. That period is ebbing right now. He also tried to make the Democratic Party as strong as the Republicans on military things. So both of those things are a little bit out of date. This seems to be this year a Democratic time, a growing Democratic Congress. Not too many lessons for Barack Obama to use either as candidate or president. – PBS Newshour, 8-27-08 Download
  • Michael Beschloss, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) at breakfast discussion hosted by Politico, The Denver Post and Yahoo News: Beschloss agreed with Emanuel that race often played a role in presidential elections, “sometimes in subtler ways.”…. Answering a question about the most important qualities a president should possess, Beschloss mentioned the ability to “get things through Congress,” noting that Obama’s short experience in Washington could make that a challenge. But he added, gesturing toward Daschle, “That’s a talent that a president can hire.”… Beschloss added that a president should be willing to dump any advisers who end up being less helpful — or more troublesome — than expected. “Sometimes you will appoint someone,” Beschloss said, “and sometimes it is not working, and you have to cut the friend adrift. It is excruciatingly painful.”… And Beschloss, the historian, suggested the migration from Daschle’s staff to Obama’s was an early sign of the Illinois senator’s national political potential. – Politico, 8-27-08
  • Milton C. Sernett on “Did Harriet Tubman Really Say That?”: Milton C. Sernett, a retired professor of history at Syracuse University, and an authority on African-American history, said he found it “a bit odd” when he heard Mrs. Clinton’s Tubman citation in her speech. “If she meant it as a paraphrase of something that has been attributed to Harriet Tubman, that might be understandable,” he said. “But if she was meaning to quote Harriet Tubman directly, that puzzled me.”
    Dr. Sernett is the author of “Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History” (Duke University Press, 2007), which examined the ways Tubman has been represented in American writing and culture. The thesis of the book, he said in a phone interview, is that “by the time Harriet Tubman enters fully into the American consciousness as an American icon, her historical person has been so mixed up with ideas that cannot be historically substantiated that what passed into memory was the mythologized symbol, not the historical person.” He added, “Because she was illiterate, we have mediated histories of her — stories always told by others — that leave it open to a great deal of interpretation and reinterpretation by each generation as they search for a usable Harriet Tubman.”
    As part of the book, Dr. Sernett investigated a four-line quatrain that has often been attributed to Tubman and resembles what Senator Clinton cited:

    If you are tired, keep going.
    If you are scared, keep going.
    If you are hungry, keep going.
    If you want to taste freedom, keep going.

    Dr. Sernett said, “While this is frequently attributed to her, and you find it in many books written for children, I was unable to find it in any of the primary documents that date from Harriet Tubman’s life — or something that she might have recounted to someone else who then took it down firsthand.”
    He believes the lines originated in “semifictional accounts of her life in the 1950s or even later, in the 1960s, when there was an explosion of interest in writers, at a time when there was a great-felt need for remedying the neglect of African-American history.”
    Dr. Sernett said he nonetheless appreciated the senator’s words:

    Senator Clinton was not on the podium there as a historian. She was there as a symbol in her own right. I thought there was a refrain throughout her speech that was more feminist than some of her other speeches. Given the audience and the moment, it was an appropriate citation.

    In fact, Dr. Sernett said, Tubman did receive such compensation during her lifetime — though some of that compensation came late — and it is a “historically inaccurate notion that she had something coming to her.” – NYT, The Caucus log, 8-27-08

  • Kate Clifford Larson on “Did Harriet Tubman Really Say That?”:: Kate Clifford Larson, who teaches history at Simmons College and Wheelock College in Boston and is author of “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero” (Ballantine, 2003), told The Caucus in an e-mail message:

    This quote, and variations of it, have been attributed to Tubman since the mid 20th century. I researched this years ago and determined it came from a juvenile account of Tubman’s life sometime in the 1950s. The roots of it, however, are obvious. Tubman, indeed, never did give up, and spent her life encouraging people to keep fighting for freedom, equality, justice, and self determination. Even on her death bed, it was reported that she encouraged black and white women to “stick together” to win the battle for the right to vote (many white women activists were willing to sacrifice giving the vote to black women in order to attract southern white women to the cause). How poignant that Hillary asked the same of her supporters on the anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment, giving all women the right to vote. While Clinton used a commonly attributed quote of Tubman’s that is not known to be original, she did capture Tubman’s spirit. And, in all fairness to Senator Clinton and others who use that quote, few outside of the small circle of Tubman scholars know that the quote is not actually attributable to Tubman.

    Dr. Larson said she appreciated Senator Clinton’s citation of Tubman, saying it would assist efforts by scholars who are working with the National Park Service to create a national park in Tubman’s honor. – NYT, The Caucus log, 8-27-08

  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University on “In Speech, Clinton Tries to Unite Party Behind Obama”: Well, for decades, the Democratic Party has suffered from the perception that it is the party of special interests. For the second straight night, we see a party that’s trying to create a perception that it’s actually the party of universal interest, but universal interest in Technicolor. So I think that it’s been very effective in trying to embrace themes of patriotism and, really, small-d American democracy….
    I thought it was a remarkable speech. I think in a way some critics will say that she should have talked about Obama even more. But given the fact that she got 18 million votes, I think the self-referential nature of the speech was justified to an extent. At the same time, she tried to pass the torch to Obama and really tell her supporters that, if they want a different kind of America for themselves and their children, they should support Senator Obama’s candidacy…. PBS Newshour, 8-26-08 Download
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University on “In Speech, Clinton Tries to Unite Party Behind Obama”:: Well, I think, in a curious sort of war, she may have just saved the McCain campaign some ad dollars, because it’s awfully difficult to imagine them continuing as of tomorrow morning to run those ads that suggest that Senator Clinton is, in fact, a latent McCain supporter….
    You know, I think that’s, frankly, implicit. You know, we’ve all been caught up in this media melodrama for weeks. You know, basically, will she or won’t she? And tonight she answered that question I think pretty emphatically, with some poignancy and, I suspect, considerable persuasiveness. But, remember, there are still a lot of raw feelings among many of those delegates on the floor tonight. There’s a credibility test that this speech had to pass among some of her most dedicated followers. And I think, if she’d spent much of that speech, in effect, taking back some of the things she’d said rather than arguing the broad case — I agree with Michael, it was a broad, somewhat generic case — but that case certainly more than passed the threshold that had been raised over these last few weeks. – PBS Newshour, 8-26-08 Download
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian on “In Speech, Clinton Tries to Unite Party Behind Obama”:: Well, I think it’s probably the best written and best delivered speech I’ve heard her give. But I think you can criticize it on one ground, an Obama supporter might, and that is this is a dead-close election right now. Barack Obama, for Democrats who want to see him elected, is going to need all the help he can. She said some pretty brutal things about Barack Obama and his equipment to be — his experience to be president that are being aired in those McCain commercials. And so what she said for Obama tonight — you know, he’ll bring health care, he’ll do all these wonderful things — it was great, but it was pretty generic. She could have said those things about Chris Dodd, if he had been nominated. I think what it really needed more, if it was going to be really a huge help to Obama, would be, “I did say certain things early in the campaign, but because of what Obama has done in this campaign, I’ve seen him grow. I’ve come to question what I said against him. I have a new view that’s a lot more positive. – PBS Newshour, 8-26-08 Download

The Speeches….

  • Joseph R. Biden’s Convention Speech:
    Joe Biden (CSMonitor)

    Joe Biden (CSMonitor)

    BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, John Kerry.
    Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thanks. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

    You know, folks, my dad used to have an expression. He’d say, “A father knows he’s a success when he turns and looks at his son or daughter and know that they turned out better than he did.” I’m a success; I’m a hell of a success. Beau, I love you. I’m so proud of you.

    I’m so proud of the son you’ve become; I’m so proud of the father you are. And I’m also so proud of my son, Hunter, and my daughter, Ashley.

    And my wife, Jill, the only one who leaves me both breathless and speechless at the same time.

    It’s an honor to share the stage tonight with President Clinton, a man who I think brought this country so far along that I only pray we do it again.

    And last night — and last night, it was moving to watch Hillary, one of our great leaders, a great leader of this party, a woman who has made history and will continue to make history…
    … a colleague, my friend, Senator Hillary Clinton.

    And I am truly honored — I am truly honored to live in a country with the bravest warriors in the world.

    And I’m honored to represent the first state, my state, the state of Delaware.

    Sen. Joe Biden emphasized his working class roots in a speech at the Democratic convention Wednesday. (CNN)

    Sen. Joe Biden emphasized his working class roots in a speech at the Democratic convention Wednesday. (CNN)

    Since I’ve never been called a man of few words, let me say this simply as I can: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve with Barack Obama, the next president of the United States of America.

    Let me make this pledge to you right here and now. For every American who is trying to do the right thing, for all those people in government who are honoring the pledge to uphold the law and honor the Constitution, no longer will you hear the eight most-dreaded words in the English language, “The vice president’s office is on the phone.”….

    You know, my mom taught her children — all the children who flocked to our house — that you’re defined by your sense of honor and you’re redeemed by your loyalty. She believes that bravery lives in every heart, and her expectation is that it will be summoned. Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.

    As a child, I stuttered, and she lovingly would look at me and tell me, “Joey, it’s because you’re so bright you can’t get the thoughts out quickly enough.”

    When I was not as well-dressed as the other kids, she’d look at me and say, “Joey, oh, you’re so handsome, honey, you’re so handsome.”

    And when I got knocked down by guys bigger than me — and this is the God’s truth — she sent me back out and said, “Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day.” And that’s what I did.

    You know — and after the accident, she told me, she said, “Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear.” And when I triumphed, my mother was quick to remind me it was because of others.

    My mother’s creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you.

    My parents taught us to live our faith and to treasure our families. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough. That was America’s promise.

    Like millions of Americans, they’re asking questions as ordinary as they are profound, questions they never, ever thought they’d have to ask themselves.

    Should Mom move in with us now that Dad’s gone? Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars just to fill up the gas tank? How in God’s name, with winter coming, how are we going to heat the home? Another year, no raise. Did you hear they may be cutting our health care at the company? Now we owe more money on our home than our home is worth. How in God’s name are we going to send the kids to college? How are we going to retire, Joe?

    You know, folks, that’s the America that George Bush has left us. And that’s the America we’ll continue to get if George — excuse me, if John McCain is elected president of the United States of America. Freudian slip. Freudian slip.

    And, folks, these are not isolated discussions among families down on their luck. These are common stories among middle-class people who worked hard their whole life, played by the rules, on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays.

    That promise is the promise of America. It defines who we are as a people. And now it’s in jeopardy. I know it. You know it.

    But John McCain doesn’t seem to get it. Barack Obama gets it, though. Like many of us in this room, like many of us in this hall, Barack Obama has worked his way up. He is the great American story, you know?

    I believe the measure of a man is not the road he travels but the choices he makes along that road.

    And, ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama could have done anything after he graduated from college. With all his talent and promise, he could have written his own ticket to Wall Street. But what did he choose to do?

    He chose to go to Chicago, the South Side of Chicago. There, there, in the South Side, he met women and men who had lost their jobs. Their neighborhood was devastated when the local steel plant closed. Their dreams had to be deferred; their self-esteem was gone. And, ladies and gentlemen, he made their lives the work of his life.

    That’s what you do when you’re raised by a single mom who worked, went to school and raised two kids on her own. That’s how you come to believe to the very core of your being that work is more than a paycheck. It’s dignity. It’s respect….

    You know, you can learn a lot about a man campaigning with him, debating him, seeing how he reacts under pressure. You learn about the strength of his mind. But even more importantly, you learn about the quality of his heart.

    I watched how Barack touched people, how he inspired them. And I realized he had tapped into the oldest belief in America: We don’t have to accept the situation we cannot bear; we have the power to change it.

    And change it — and changing it is exactly what Barack Obama will do. That’s what he’ll do for this country.

    You know, John McCain is my friend. And I know you hear that phrase used all the time in politics. I mean it. John McCain is my friend.

    We’ve traveled the world together. It’s a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me.

    But I profoundly disagree with the direction John wants to take this country, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Amtrak to veterans.

    You know, John thinks that, during the Bush years, quote, “We’ve made great economic progress.” I think it’s been abysmal. And in the Senate, John has voted with President Bush 95 percent. And that is very hard to believe.

    And when John McCain proposes $200 million in new taxes for corporate America, $1 billion alone for the largest companies in the nation — but no, none, no relief for 100 million American families, that’s not change. That’s more of the same.

    Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history, nearly $500 billion in the last five years, John wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. That’s not change. That’s the same.

    And during the same time, John voted again and again against renewable energy, solar, wind, biofuels. That’s not change. That’s more of the same.

    Millions of Americans have seen their jobs go offshore, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That’s not change. That’s more of the same.

    He voted 19 times against the minimum wage for people who are struggling just to make it to the next day. That’s not change. That’s more of the same.

    And when he says he’ll continue to spend $10 billion a month, when the Iraqis have a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that’s not change. That’s more of the same.

    The choice in the election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader. A leader who can change — the change that everybody knows we need….

    Barack Obama’s going to deliver that change, because, I want to tell you, Barack Obama will reform our tax code. He will cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people who draw a paycheck. That’s the change we need.

    Barack Obama will transform the economy by making alternative energy a national priority and in the process creating 5 million new jobs and finally, finally freeing us from the grip of foreign oil. That’s the change we need.

    Barack Obama knows that any country that out-teaches us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That’s why he’ll invest in the next generation of teachers and why he’ll make college more affordable. That’s the change we need.

    Barack Obama will bring down health care costs by $2,500 for the average family and, at long last, deliver affordable, accessible health care for every American.

    That’s the change we need….

    America cannot afford four more years of this failure. And now, now, despite being complicit in this catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama is not ready to protect our national security. Now, let me ask you this: Whose judgment do you trust?

    Should you trust the judgment of John McCain, when he said only three years ago, “Afghanistan, we don’t read about it anymore in papers because it succeeded”?

    Or should you believe Barack Obama who said a year ago, “We need to send two more combat battalions to Afghanistan”?

    The fact of the matter is, al Qaeda and the Taliban, the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, they’ve regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and they are plotting new attacks. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has echoed Barack’s call for more troops.

    John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was right….

    Again and again, on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama has been proven right.

    Folks, remember when the world used to trust us, when they looked to us for leadership? With Barack Obama as our president, they’ll look at us again, they’ll trust us again, and we’ll be able to lead again.

    Folks, Jill and I are truly honored to join Michelle and Barack on this journey. When I look at their young children, when I look at my grandchildren, I know why I’m here.

    I’m here for their future. I’m here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton and Wilmington. I’m here for the cops and the firefighters, the teachers and the assembly line workers, the folks whose lives are the very measure of whether the American dream endures.

    Our greatest presidents, from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy, they all challenged us to embrace change. Now it is our responsibility to meet that challenge.

    Millions of Americans have been knocked down. And this is the time as Americans together we get back up, back up together.

    Joe Biden after accepting the Democratic Vice-Presidential Nomination (PBS)

    Joe Biden after accepting the Democratic Vice-Presidential Nomination (PBS)

    Our debt to our parents and our grandparents is too great. Our obligation to our children is too sacred. These are extraordinary times; this is an extraordinary election.

    The American people are ready. I am ready. Barack is ready. This is his time; this is our time; this is America’s time.

    God bless America, and may God protect our troops. Thank you very much. Thank you.

  • John Kerry Whips Up Support for Barack Obama at DNC:

    Thank you so much. Four years ago, you gave me the honor of fighting our fight. I was proud to stand with you then, and I am proud to stand with you now, to help elect Barack Obama as President of the United States.

    In 2004, we came so close to victory. We are even closer now, and let me tell you, this time we’re going to win. Today, the call for change is more powerful than ever, and with more seats in Congress, with more people with more passion engaged in our politics, and with a President Obama, we stand on the brink of the greatest opportunity of our generation to move this country forward.

    The stakes could not be higher, because we do know what a McCain administration would look like: just like the past, just like George Bush. And this country can’t afford a third Bush term. Just think: John McCain voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Ninety percent of George Bush is just more than we can take.

    Never in modern history has an administration squandered American power so recklessly. Never has strategy been so replaced by ideology. Never has extremism so crowded out common sense and fundamental American values. Never has short-term partisan politics so depleted the strength of America’s bipartisan foreign policy.

    George Bush, with John McCain at his side, promised to spread freedom but delivered the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. They misread the threat and misled the country. Instead of freedom, it’s Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban and dictators everywhere that are on the march. North Korea has more bombs, and Iran is defiantly chasing one.

    Our mission is to restore America’s influence and position in the world. We must use all the weapons in our arsenal, above all, our values. President Obama and Vice President Biden will shut down Guantanamo, respect the Constitution, and make clear once and for all, the United States of America does not torture, not now, not ever….

    I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years. But every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.

    Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it.

    Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself. And what’s more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same “Rove” tactics and the same “Rove” staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year, not this time. The Rove-McCain tactics are old and outworn, and America will reject them in 2008.

    So remember, when we choose a commander-in-chief this November, we are electing judgment and character, not years in the Senate or years on this earth. Time and again, Barack Obama has seen farther, thought harder, and listened better. And time and again, Barack Obama has been proven right….

    So who can we trust to keep America safe? When Barack Obama promised to honor the best traditions of both parties and talk to our enemies, John McCain scoffed. George Bush called it “the soft comfort of appeasement.” But today, Bush’s diplomats are doing exactly what Obama said: talking with Iran.

    So who can we trust to keep America safe? When democracy rolled out of Russia, and the tanks rolled into Georgia, we saw John McCain respond immediately with the outdated thinking of the Cold War. Barack Obama responded like a statesman of the 21st century.

    So who can we trust to keep America safe? When we called for a timetable to make Iraqis stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home, John McCain called it “cut and run.” But today, even President Bush has seen the light. He and Prime Minister Maliki agree on “guess what?” a timetable.

    So who can we trust to keep America safe? The McCain-Bush Republicans have been wrong again and again and again. And they know they will lose on the issues. So, the candidate who once promised a “contest of ideas,” now has nothing left but personal attacks. How insulting to suggest that those who question the mission, question the troops. How pathetic to suggest that those who question a failed policy doubt America itself. How desperate to tell the son of a single mother who chose community service over money and privilege that he doesn’t put America first.

    No one can question Barack Obama’s patriotism. Like all of us, he was taught what it means to be an American by his family: his grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line in World War II, his grandfather who marched in Patton’s army, and his great uncle who enlisted in the army right out of high school at the height of the war. And on a spring day in 1945, he helped liberate one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald….

    This election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: you don’t decide who loves this country; you don’t decide who is a patriot; you don’t decide whose service counts and whose doesn’t.

    Four years ago I said, and I say it again tonight, that the flag doesn’t belong to any ideology. It doesn’t belong to any political party. It is an enduring symbol of our nation, and it belongs to all the American people. After all, patriotism is not love of power or some cheap trick to win votes; patriotism is love of country.

    Years ago when we protested a war, people would weigh in against us saying, “My country right or wrong.” Our answer? Absolutely, my country right or wrong. When right, keep it right. When wrong, make it right. Sometimes loving your country demands you must tell the truth to power.

    This is one of those times, and Barack Obama is telling those truths.

    In closing, let me say, I will always remember how we stood together in 2004, not just in a campaign, but for a cause. Now again we stand together in the ranks, ready to fight. The choice is clear; our cause is just; and now is our time to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

  • Bill Clinton’s Convention Speech:

    You know, I — I love this, and I thank you, but we have important work to do tonight. I am here first to support Barack Obama. And, second — and, second, I’m here to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden… … though, as you will soon see, he doesn’t need any help from me. I love Joe Biden, and America will, too.

    President Clinton urges his wifes supporters to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. (CNN)

    President Clinton urges his wife's supporters to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. (CNN)

    What a year we Democrats have had. The primary began with an all-star line up. And it came down to two remarkable Americans locked in a hard-fought contest right to the very end. That campaign generated so much heat, it increased global warming. Now, in the end, my candidate didn’t win. But I’m really proud of the campaign she ran. I am proud that she never quit on the people she stood up for, on the changes she pushed for, on the future she wanted for all our children. And I’m grateful for the chance Chelsea and I had to go all over America to tell people about the person we know and love. Now, I am not so grateful for the chance to speak in the wake of Hillary’s magnificent speech last night. But I’ll do the best I can.

    Last night, Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she is going to do everything she can to elect Barack Obama. That makes two of us. Actually, that makes 18 million of us… … because, like Hillary, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.

    And here’s why. And I have the privilege of speaking here, thanks to you, from a perspective that no other American Democrat, except President Carter, can offer. Our — our nation is in trouble on two fronts. The American dream is under siege at home, and America’s leadership in the world has been weakened. Middle-class and low-income Americans are hurting, with incomes declining, job losses, poverty, and inequality rising, mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing, health care coverage disappearing, and a very big spike in the cost of food, utilities, and gasoline. And our position in the world has been weakened by too much unilateralism and too little cooperation… … by a perilous dependence on imported oil, by a refusal to lead on global warming, by a growing indebtedness and a dependence on foreign lenders, by a severely burdened military, by a backsliding on global nonproliferation and arms control agreements, and by a failure to consistently use the power of diplomacy, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe.

    Clearly, the job of the next president is to rebuild the American dream and to restore American leadership in the world. And here’s what I have to say about that. Everything I learned in my eight years as president, and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job.

    Now, he has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful president needs. His policies on the economy, on taxes, on health care, on energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives. He has shown — he has shown a clear grasp of foreign policy and national security challenges and a firm commitment to rebuild our badly strained military.

    His family heritage and his life experiences have given him a unique capacity to lead our increasingly diverse nation in an ever more interdependent world.

    The long, hard primary tested and strengthened him. And in his first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park.

    With Joe Biden’s experience and wisdom, supporting Barack Obama’s proven understanding, instincts, and insight, America will have the national security leadership we need.

    And so, my fellow Democrats, I say to you: Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world. Barack Obama is ready to honor the oath, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States….

    Most important of all, Barack Obama knows that America cannot be strong abroad unless we are first strong at home.

    People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

    Look… Look at the example the Republicans have set.

    In this decade, American workers have consistently given us rising productivity. That means, year after year, they work harder and produce more. Now, what did they get in return? Declining wages, less than one-fourth as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty, and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s.

    American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage….

    My fellow Democrats, America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will do better than that.

    Wait a minute. But first…

    AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

    CLINTON: Yes, he can, but, first, we have to elect him….

    The choice is clear. The Republicans in a few days will nominate a good man who has served our country heroically and who suffered terribly in a Vietnamese prison camp. He loves his country every bit as much as we do. As a senator, he has shown his independence of right-wing orthodoxy on some very important issues.

    But on the two great questions of this election — how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America’s leadership in the world — he still embraces the extreme philosophy that has defined his party for more than 25 years.

    And it is, to be fair to all the Americans who aren’t as hard- core Democrats as we, it’s a philosophy the American people never actually had a chance to see in action fully until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and the Congress.

    Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades actually were implemented. And look what happened….

    They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more.

    AUDIENCE: No!

    CLINTON: Now, let’s send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America, a simple message: Thanks, but no thanks.

    In this case… In this case, the third time is not the charm.

    My fellow Democrats, 16 years ago, you gave me the profound honor to lead our party to victory and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broadly shared prosperity.

    Together, we prevailed in a hard campaign in which Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief.

    Sound familiar?
    AUDIENCE: Yes!

    CLINTON: It didn’t work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it will not work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history.

    Now, Senator Obama’s life is a 21st-century incarnation of the old-fashioned American dream. His achievements are proof of our continuing progress toward the more perfect union of our founders’ dreams. The values of freedom and equal opportunity, which have given him his historic chance, will drive him as president to give all Americans — regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability — their chance to build a decent life and to show our humanity, as well as our strengths, to the world.

    We see that humanity, that strength, and our nation’s future in Barack and Michelle Obama and their beautiful children.

    We see them reinforced by the partnership with Joe Biden, his fabulous wife, Jill, a wonderful teacher, and their family.

    Barack Obama will lead us away from the division and fear of the last eight years back to unity and hope.

    So if, like me, you believe America must always be a place called Hope, then join Hillary and Chelsea and me in making Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

    Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you.

  • Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., calls for the nomination of Sen. Barack Obama by acclamation at the Democratic National Convention in Denver tonight. At right is New York Gov. David Paterson and at left is Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (DFREEP)

    Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., calls for the nomination of Sen. Barack Obama by acclamation at the Democratic National Convention in Denver tonight. At right is New York Gov. David Paterson and at left is Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (DFREEP)

  • At 4:48 p.m. local time, Mrs. Clinton called on the Democratic National Convention to end the roll call and nominate him by acclamation: “With eyes firmly fixed on the future in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and country, let’s declare together in one voice, right here and right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president. I move that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by acclamation as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
    The crowd in the Pepsi Center roared as one and then began to chant, “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.” – Download
  • Hillary Clinton releasing her delegates: “I’m here today to release you as my delegates,” Clinton told a group of more than 1,000 supporters in a ballroom at the downtown convention center here, a few blocks from the Pepsi Center where she spoke to all the delegates on Tuesday. “I have spoken to many of you who have expressed your questions about what you should do,” she said. “Now many of you feel a responsibility to represent the voters in the states that you came from. And others of you after this long journey we’ve been on want the chance to vote for what’s in your heart. Now still others will be voting for Senator Obama, because they want to demonstrate their personal commitment to the unity of this party behind our nominee.” “I am not telling you what to do,” she said to loud applause, but added, “I signed my ballot this morning for Senator Obama.” “It is traditional that we have nominations, that we have a roll call,” Clinton said. “We’ve got win in November.”
  • Obama to Reporter about his acceptance speech as the Democratic Party’s nominee for President, 8-27-08: “I’m not aiming for a lot of high rhetoric. I am much more concerned with communicating how I intend to help middle-class families live their lives…. I have been working hard on it. Do I feel pressure? You know, 2004 was unique. Nobody knew who I was… I think people know that I can give the kind of speech that I gave four years ago. That’s not the question on voters’ minds. I think they’re much more interested in what am I going to do to help them in their lives. In that sense, I think this is going to be a more workmanlike speech.
  • Howard Wolfson: Clinton Ally Blasts MSNBC Pundits: “I’m not going to take any lectures on how to be a good Democrat from two people who have spent the last two years attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Wolfson said, and then specifically named Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. “I think it’s unfortunate that a news organization with a great tradition like NBC has been taken over by those kind of antics.”
  • Obama to Reporter about his acceptance speech as the Democratic Party’s nominee for President, 8-27-08: “I’m not aiming for a lot of high rhetoric. I am much more concerned with communicating how I intend to help middle-class families live their lives…. I have been working hard on it. Do I feel pressure? You know, 2004 was unique. Nobody knew who I was… I think people know that I can give the kind of speech that I gave four years ago. That’s not the question on voters’ minds. I think they’re much more interested in what am I going to do to help them in their lives. In that sense, I think this is going to be a more workmanlike speech.
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), right, speaks as vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) laughs during on the third night of the Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center, August 27, 2008 in Denver. Obama will be officially nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate on Thursday. (WaPo)

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), right, speaks as vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) laughs during on the third night of the Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center, August 27, 2008 in Denver. Obama will be officially nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate on Thursday. (WaPo)

Campaign 2008 Highlights: August 27, 2008

The day that was….

  • August 27, 2008: Obama and Biden plan post-convention bus tour of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan … GOP ‘war room’ revs up as high-profile figures hit airwaves to slam Obama … Democrats plan heavy presence at GOP convention, will greet delegates with Bush billboard – AP, 8-27-08
  • Senator Barack Obama arriving at the Denver International Airport on Wednesday.

    Senator Barack Obama arriving at the Denver International Airport on Wednesday.

  • August 26, 2008: Democrats bicker over how hard to hit McCain as Clintons take center stage next 2 days … Using Clinton’s words against Obama, McCain returns to that ominous 3 a.m. phone call … Obama sounds economic themes on way to Denver … Republicans debate platform shaped by conservative base, McCain … Former president warns of global warming, trying to float above convention fray…. Biden offers mea culpa for past mistakes … McCain tells veterans he welcomes debate over Iraq. AP, 8-26-08
    Democrats rip into McCain at national convention; Clinton salutes Obama … Using Clinton’s words against Obama, McCain returns to that ominous 3 a.m. phone call … Former president’s odd moment in Denver: in the spotlight but on the sidelines … In crafting a platform, GOP takes a hard line on abortion, moderate stand on climate change … Biden offers mea culpa for past mistakes … McCain tells veterans he welcomes debate over Iraq – AP, 8-26-08

The Stats

  • August 27, 2008: Exclusive Poll: Obama’s Swing Leads An exclusive TIME/CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll reveals that Barack Obama leads John McCain by several percentage points in three crucial battleground states—Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—while McCain tops Obama by 1% in Colorado. – Time, 8-27-08
  • August 27, 2008: Obama had received 1549.5 votes to Clinton’s 341.5 when Clinton called for the roll call to be suspended. – Detroit Free Press, 8-27-08
  • FactCheck: Claims omit details on McCain record – AP, 8-26-08
  • August 26, 2008: A new Gallup Polls shows John McCain besting Barack Obama by a 46% to 44% margin — the first time McCain has led since June. Christian Science Monitor, 8-26-08

Candidate Bloopers

  • Freudian Slip: Mr. Biden’s Freudian slip gets a big laugh — when he says “George” when he means “John.” That’s the subtext of his speech, which hasn’t come yet — that Mr. McCain is Mr. Bush. – NYT, The Caucus Blog, 8-27-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Richard Fulton on “Obama names V.P.; McCain’s still mystery”: History, Humanities, Philosophy and Political Science Professor Richard Fulton said Biden’s experience will add to Obama’s campaign. “He’s (Biden) got experience, he’s very down to Earth, he complements Obama, I think quite well with maturity and experience, especially in foreign affairs,” Fulton said. He also noticed Biden seems to be popular with Democrats and Independents in his home state, Delaware. “I think from the very beginning, once he clinched the nomination, he was what I thought would be the better choice for vice president,” Fulton said. – NW Missouri News, 8-28-08
  • Allan Lichtman, Professor of History at American University on “Can Biden rebuild broken Democratic bridges?”: “On the minus side, Biden has bombed out twice as a presidential candidate. The first time he ran there were accusations of plagiarism. He can be gaffe prone. But he does bring what Obama needs on this ticket; experience, gravitas and tremendous knowledge in the area of foreign policy….. Joe and I have been friends for many, many, years and we know each other very well, and so I think he’s made a very wise selection.” – EuroNews, 8-27-08
  • Julian Zelizer: Barack Obama Does Not Have to Be Another Jimmy Carter – Huffington Post, 8-27-08
  • Michael Beschloss, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) at breakfast discussion hosted by Politico, The Denver Post and Yahoo News: Beschloss agreed with Emanuel that race often played a role in presidential elections, “sometimes in subtler ways.”…. Answering a question about the most important qualities a president should possess, Beschloss mentioned the ability to “get things through Congress,” noting that Obama’s short experience in Washington could make that a challenge. But he added, gesturing toward Daschle, “That’s a talent that a president can hire.”… Beschloss added that a president should be willing to dump any advisers who end up being less helpful — or more troublesome — than expected. “Sometimes you will appoint someone,” Beschloss said, “and sometimes it is not working, and you have to cut the friend adrift. It is excruciatingly painful.”… And Beschloss, the historian, suggested the migration from Daschle’s staff to Obama’s was an early sign of the Illinois senator’s national political potential. – Politico, 8-27-08
  • Robert Dallek on “Biden to recast foreign policy from centre stage”: But Robert Dallek, professor of history at Boston University and the pre-eminent scholar on US presidents said yesterday that while vice-presidents never used to be important, “all changed in 1960 when Kennedy chose Lyndon Johnson as his running mate”. The subsequent trend culminated in Dick Cheney’s accumulation of immense power under George Bush. Dallek thought that the degree of power attained by Cheney “will make the next president cautious about giving the vice-president too much authority”. – Guardian, UK, 8-27-08
  • Fred Siegal: The Facebook Candidate Meets the Real World – Huffington Post, 8-26-08
  • Robert Rupp: Convention Highlights Its History – Wheeling Intelligencer, WV, 8-26-08
  • Richard Norton Smith on William Jennings Bryan: Father of the Modern Democratic Party: “It’s hard to think of a single speech that did more,” said presidential historian Richard Norton Smith. “On a personal level, it catapulted this unknown young congressman to the party’s nomination. On a broader level, it redefined the nature of what it meant to be a Democrat.” – PBS, 8-26-08
  • Peniel Joseph: Jackson Speech Sets Stage for Obama Run: Presidential historian Peniel Joseph explains how Jesse Jackson’s 1984 speech at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco introduced themes of diversity into the party and paved the way for the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. – PBS, 8-25-08
  • Michael Beschloss; Richard Norton Smith, scholar in residence at George Mason University; and Peniel Joseph, professor of history and African-American studies at Brandeis University: “Historians Reflect on the Democratic Party’s Fractious Evolution” – PBS, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, 8-26-08
  • Gil Troy on “Are We at War, Senator Obama? A gentle reminder for the Democrats: This is not a peacetime election for Al Qaeda.”: “When you think about Obama’s vulnerabilities, and his need to capture wavering Democrats and swing voters, questions about whether he is strong enough and patriotic enough are definitely on the table,” says Gil Troy, a historian at McGill University and a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a centrist Washington think tank. “The challenge is showing the American people on a deep, deep level that terrorism is a core issue, and you’re really passionate about this. Obama has to show, and the Democrats have to show, that they are passionately opposed to and disgusted by terrorism.” Troy, the author of a new book, Leading From the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, argues that Obama should give a detailed speech “about all the things Bush did right in the war on terrorism. After I had explained where I agree with him, then I would talk about where I disagree.” – National Journal, 8-23-08

On the Campaign Trail….

    Ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, alongside other Republicans, says Obama is not qualified to be president. (CNN)

    Ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, alongside other Republicans, says Obama is not qualified to be president. (CNN)

  • GOP cheers Obama’s historic stride, but doubts his experience – CNN, 8-27-08
  • At 4:48 p.m. local time, Mrs. Clinton called on the Democratic National Convention to end the roll call and nominate him by acclamation: “With eyes firmly fixed on the future in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and country, let’s declare together in one voice, right here and right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president. I move that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by acclamation as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
    The crowd in the Pepsi Center roared as one and then began to chant, “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.” – Download
  • Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer of the New York delegation on Wednesday.

    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer of the New York delegation on Wednesday.

  • Hillary Clinton releasing her delegates: “I’m here today to release you as my delegates,” Clinton told a group of more than 1,000 supporters in a ballroom at the downtown convention center here, a few blocks from the Pepsi Center where she spoke to all the delegates on Tuesday. “I have spoken to many of you who have expressed your questions about what you should do,” she said. “Now many of you feel a responsibility to represent the voters in the states that you came from. And others of you after this long journey we’ve been on want the chance to vote for what’s in your heart. Now still others will be voting for Senator Obama, because they want to demonstrate their personal commitment to the unity of this party behind our nominee.” “I am not telling you what to do,” she said to loud applause, but added, “I signed my ballot this morning for Senator Obama.” “It is traditional that we have nominations, that we have a roll call,” Clinton said. “We’ve got win in November.”
  • Obama to Reporter about his acceptance speech as the Democratic Party’s nominee for President, 8-27-08: “I’m not aiming for a lot of high rhetoric. I am much more concerned with communicating how I intend to help middle-class families live their lives…. I have been working hard on it. Do I feel pressure? You know, 2004 was unique. Nobody knew who I was… I think people know that I can give the kind of speech that I gave four years ago. That’s not the question on voters’ minds. I think they’re much more interested in what am I going to do to help them in their lives. In that sense, I think this is going to be a more workmanlike speech.
  • Howard Wolfson: Clinton Ally Blasts MSNBC Pundits: “I’m not going to take any lectures on how to be a good Democrat from two people who have spent the last two years attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Wolfson said, and then specifically named Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. “I think it’s unfortunate that a news organization with a great tradition like NBC has been taken over by those kind of antics.”
  • Mitt Romney Speaking to Fox News, 8-26-08: You know, Neil, I got nothing for you on the V.P. front… I can only tell you that I have — I have confidence in — in John McCain. And his instincts — his instincts have been proven right time and again. I trust him to pick a good person to be on his ticket and somebody who views the country and the economy the way he does. And I think he’s going to strengthen his ticket with that pick…. You know, it’s been a little while since we have chatted. But, again, I’m not going to — I’m not going to open the door to this big secret that you’re talking about. I got nothing for you on that front… You know, I’m not a political strategist, even though I have run for office a couple of times, once successfully. You know, I think — I think John McCain is going to do what he thinks is best for — for his chances of getting his message across. I — I think there will be a bounce from the Democratic Convention. I thought it got off to a good start last night. I think Ted Kennedy did a fine thing of coming to the convention and speaking. He — he’s proven once again he’s a lion, and I respect him for that. But I think, in the final analysis, that, despite these bounces and all of the confetti and the — and the glitz associated with a convention, people are going to focus on the issues. And, on the issue of the economy they’re going to see that Barack Obama, who wants to raise taxes, cut back on trade, and prevent drilling for oil offshore and no new nuclear power plants, is simply wrong for the economy….. – Fox News, 8-26-08
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