Political Highlights May 3, 2010: Obama Responds to the Oil Spill & White House Correspondents’ Association dinner

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President at the Coast Guard Venice Center in Louisiana

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll affirms a vote for judicial know-how: Some Senate Democrats and legal activists are advising President Obama to look beyond the “judicial monastery” to find a replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, but the public does not seem to share that view.A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that judicial experience is the most valued quality among a list of professional and personal characteristics. Seven in 10 say service as a judge is a positive quality for a Supreme Court nominee, while only 5 percent see it as a negative. In contrast, 35 percent view experience outside the legal world as a positive.Overall, two-thirds of Americans say they are comfortable with Obama selecting the nation’s next justice, including nearly a third of Republicans. That is comparable with a Fox News poll conducted last May before the president chose Sonia Sotomayor to be his first nominee to the court… – WaPo, 4-29-10

THE HEADLINES….

The President speaks in Illinois

  • Obama tours Gulf Coast while following failed NYC bombing: Driving through the marshy lowlands southeast of New Orleans on Sunday, President Obama got his first glimpse of the fallout from a huge oil spill moving in from the Gulf of Mexico — an event that has teetered on the verge of crisis as the administration has rushed to demonstrate the situation is under control.”We will do what’s necessary to protect the American people, to determine who’s behind this potentially deadly act, and see that justice is done,” Obama said of the attempted car bombing as he stood in a parka in front of a Coast Guard cutter on a rural estuary…. – WaPo, 5-2-10
  • Obama jokes at correspondents dinner: It may be one of the more difficult speeches a president has to make every year, an address that requires diplomacy, a slight hint of salaciousness, and just enough self-deprecation to make the hits at political foes seem just all in good fun. Oh — and the chief executive has to end on a serious, high-minded note about how politicians and the reporters who cover them are really on the same side of democracy, even when they spar…. – Boston Globe, 5-2-10
  • White House Correspondents Dinner: Obama Can Also Be His Own Comedian:It really is true. Barack Obama can staff himself better on nearly all fronts than those who staff him — even comedians. Leno just didn’t hit his groove during his routine — but President Obama said preemptively that night that everyone knew what happened to those who followed Leno’s time slot — and well, he wasn’t gonna take any chances…. People were gasping and laughing pretty hysterically at the edginess of Obama’s remarks. Leno just couldn’t beat him…. – Huffington Post, 5-3-10
  • White House Correspondents’ dinner: D.C. spiffs up its act: There is one essential thing to be learned from this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner about Washington’s relationship with fashion: It has improved significantly. The appearance of the guests took on a decidedly more elegant and sophisticated tone compared to years past, when the annual convergence of media, politics and Hollywood glitter earned its “nerd prom” epithet…. – WaPo, 5-2-10
  • Palin appearance draws fans, foes in Wichita: Sarah Palin hailed Wichita as a city of “hard working and patriotic liberty-loving Americans” during a rousing speech Sunday night at Intrust Bank Arena. The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, appearing at a fund-raiser for the Bethel Life School Association of Wichita, spoke to a crowd of a few thousand people. The evening had a few technical glitches. Problems with the sound system led to several short delays before the speech. Entertainer Pat Boone, who hosted the event, filled some of the time by leading the audience in a round of “Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”… – Wichita Eagle, 5-2-10
  • UK Today News: Vera Baker Denies The Alleged Obama-Baker Cheating Scandal: The alleged Obama – Baker affair: Just a few days ago the National Enquirer put up a shocking article in it’s magazine which was something on the lines of “Did Barack Obama have a relationship with Vera Baker?” The National Enquirer insists that they have proof they the US President cheated on his wife Michelle Obama with his former campaign aide Vera Baker back in 2004 and even stayed at a Washington hotel. An alleged security camera has revealed everything. The magazine say that Vera had put in lots of hard work to get him onto the street of success during his campaign days; and it was then that the two grew closer. Vera Baker, on the other hand, has reportedly denied that any such thing ever occured even though sources say that she could be paid $1 Million to confirm the news…. – UK Today News, 5-10
  • Who is Vera Baker? And what did she do for Barack Obama?: If you’re wondering who Vera Baker — the woman rumored to have been involved with Barack Obama during his Senate race — is, then you must not have been paying attention to the Republicans during the 2008 presidential campaign…. – Zap2it.com, 5-1-10
  • U.S. presses BP to stop gushing Gulf Coast oil leak: A huge oil slick caused by an underwater leak continued to creep toward the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday as the Obama administration pressed energy giant BP Plc to stem the oil gushing from its ruptured offshore well. President Barack Obama visited affected communities on Sunday, pledging a “relentless relief effort” but keeping the focus on the British oil giant BP. “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill,” Obama said. “We are dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.” “The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states and it could extend for a long time. It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home,” Obama said during his visit to Louisiana…. – Reuters, 5-3-10
  • Obama urges Congress to act quickly on campaign finance reform: Corporate and other donors will gain even more influence over politics and government this year unless swift action is taken to force them to reveal who they are in broadcast campaign ads.”The American people have a right to know when some group like “Citizens for a Better Future’ is actually funded by ‘Corporations for Weaker Oversight’,” Obama said during his weekly radio address…. – LAT, 5-1-10
  • Obama will fight for new campaign finance rules: President Barack Obama on Saturday pressed Congress for swift action on measures to restrict political advertising by corporations and labor unions, saying that “no less than the integrity of our democracy” is at stake. Legislation introduced in Congress this week would require that corporations and unions identify themselves in political ads they pay for and that the chief executive or other top official state that “I approve this message.” The measures are in response to a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in January that upheld the First Amendment rights of these groups to spend money on campaign ads, thus enhancing their ability to influence federal elections. Obama slammed the decision at the time, saying the court had given a “green light to a new stampede of special- interest money in our politics” and pledging to work with Congress on a “forceful response” to the ruling…. – SIFY, 5-1-10
  • Protests against Arizona immigration law go nationwide: Thousands of protesters in cities across the United States waved American flags as they rallied Saturday against Arizona’s tough new immigration law and pushed for national immigration reform. “Si se puede,” “Yes we can” and “Boycott Arizona” were common refrains for groups protesting from Los Angeles, California, to New York City. May 1 is traditionally a rallying day for supporters of immigration reform. But protesters across the country said they were galvanized by Arizona’s recent passage of a law cracking down on illegal immigration…. – CNN, 5-1-10
  • Immigration a hot topic in Whitman and Poizner’s last debate: The GOP rivals trade attacks over Arizona’s new law, as well as each other’s business dealings and consistency on policy issues… – LAT, 5-3-10
  • All the Obama 20-Somethings NYT, 5-2-10
  • Washington honors memory of civil rights leader Dorothy Height: In the movement, there was Thurgood. There was Martin. There was Miss Dorothy.Height, perhaps the most influential woman in the leadership of the civil rights movement, was remembered Thursday in a stirring 90-minute program at Washington National Cathedral that summoned the sometimes painful and majestic march toward equality for blacks and women in America. “She lived to see the country change,” said Olivia G. White, dean of students at Hood College in Frederick and one of the hundreds of members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority who filled the pews — along with President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and others well known and unknown.”She was raised in a different America, beyond the experience of many,” President Obama said in his eulogy, looking out over pews filled with elderly men with canes, women in fine millinery and children holding on to the white-gloved hands of mothers. “Jim Crow ruled the South. The Ku Klux Klan was on the rise. Lynching was all too often the penalty of black skin. And slaves had been freed within living memory.”… – WaPo, 4-30-10
  • Goldman Sachs is focus of criminal investigation: U.S. attorney’s office in New York is conducting an inquiry into the investment bank’s mortgage securities deals. LAT, 4-29-10
  • In financial regs debate, senators look to details: Now it’s all about the details. With Republicans ceding the way for debate, legislation to impose sweeping new controls on financial institutions faces a test from both parties. Some Democrats seek tougher restrictions on banks; some Republicans aim to ease consumer protection provisions. Senate officials expect about two weeks of votes on amendments that could change the bill in substantial ways…. – AP, 4-29-10
  • Arizona immigration law boosts Gov. Brewer’s rating But points scored with own party may be erased by sales-tax push: Signing the nation’s toughest immigration legislation into law has thrust Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer into the national spotlight, and recent polls suggest the move has given her job-performance ratings a boost. But her support of Senate Bill 1070 is unlikely to carry her gubernatorial campaign through the summer and into the fall, analysts say. That’s because Brewer has put herself at the forefront of yet another controversial issue: Proposition 100, the temporary sales-tax hike that goes before voters next month. Brewer’s advocacy of the 1-cent-per-dollar tax increase is such a sore point with core Republican voters that her stance on the immigration bill may not be enough to mitigate it when voters head to the polls in August for the primary elections, political experts say…. – The Arizona Republic, 4-29-10
  • Kirk to skip Palin fundraiser: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk won’t attend next month’s Illinois Republican Party fundraiser featuring Sarah Palin, campaign aides said Tuesday. Instead, his aides said, the five-term North Shore congressman will be in Washington for House votes on May 12 when the former vice presidential candidate is scheduled to be in Rosemont raising money….- Chicago Tribune, 4-28-10
  • In Greeting Iowa Voters, Obama Focuses on Finances: President Obama strongly criticized Senate Republicans on Tuesday for blocking proposed legislation to tighten regulation of the financial system, vowing that he would “not let this effort fall victim to industry lobbyists who want to kill it.” “It’s one thing to oppose reform, but to oppose even talking about reform in front of the American people?” Mr. Obama said to cheers from the audience. “That’s not right.” Mr. Obama’s appearance here in Iowa, the first stop of a two-day tour of three Midwestern states, was intended to convince voters before the midterm elections that his economic policies were working despite the high unemployment rate…. – NYT, 4-28-10
  • Arizona’s immigration law has ripple effect: Arizona’s tough new immigration law has spawned calls for boycotts, a travel warning from Mexico to its citizens and a possible federal lawsuit, but a key Republican senator said Tuesday that it is not likely to result in comprehensive immigration reform this year. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had been the lone GOP senator supporting reform, but he said it appears a reform bill must wait until 2012 to gain enough public and political support to pass. A reform bill could not pass without bipartisan support. “Good people in Arizona are so afraid of an uncontrolled border that they passed a law that I think is unconstitutional,” Graham said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’ve got a long way to go to prove we can secure the border.”… – Arizona Republic, 4-28-10
  • Biden to speak at daughter’s commencement at Penn: Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a University of Pennsylvania commencement ceremony where his daughter will get her master’s degree. The Philadelphia Ivy League school announced Tuesday that Biden will address graduates of the School of Social Policy and Practice on May 17. Ashley Biden will receive a master’s in social work at the ceremony…. – WaPo, 4-27-10
  • Unemployment challenges Obama’s economic narrative: Even as he touts his efforts to put more Americans to work, President Barack Obama faces a public increasingly skeptical of his ability to bring jobs back to Main Street. During stops in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, Obama will try to convince voters that his economic policies are working, despite an unemployment rate that’s expected to remain at painfully high levels for months if not years. Those voters – many of them crucial independents – will be key to Obama’s re-election prospects in 2012. And his fellow Democrats, facing a tough political climate in the November, need their support even sooner…. – AP, 4-27-10
  • Debate stalls on Wall St. overhaul: One Democrat’s defection stings party’s Senate push; Brown says GOP compromise would protect Mass. firms: Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, united with a lone Democrat yesterday to block debate on legislation designed to overhaul the nation’s financial regulations and prevent a repeat of the 2008 economic meltdown. The 57-to-41 vote — three shy of the number that Senate rules say are needed to end the filibuster and proceed — is a setback for Democrats who have been pushing for the biggest overhaul of financial regulations since the Great Depression. It could give Republicans, who oppose several key aspects of the proposal, more momentum in brokering a bipartisan compromise. Polls suggest the legislation is popular with the public, but it has drawn strong opposition from securities industry lobbyists. Democrats appeared intent on pushing forward, betting that Republicans will eventually cave under public pressure to support the bill…. – Boston Globe, 4-27-10
  • Troubled Senate Climate Bill to Undergo EPA Analysis: The Senate climate bill may be on life support, but its authors plan nonetheless to send their measure to U.S. EPA as soon as this afternoon for an economic study that needs to be completed if the legislation has any chance of reaching the floor before the start of the summer.Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised to have the EPA study “well in hand for the debate” on the sweeping bill, which would curb greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S. economy. Typically, EPA’s work takes about six weeks to complete, which means Reid cannot expect to start a floor debate until at least after lawmakers return from their Memorial Day recess in early June. For now, the Senate measure is on hold for a completely different reason. Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the bill’s principal GOP co-sponsor, threatened Saturday to abandon the climate negotiations unless Reid gives up on plans this year to tackle legislation overhauling the nation’s immigration policies…. – NYT, 4-27-10
  • G.O.P. Blocks Debate on Financial Oversight Bill: Senate Republicans, united in opposition to the Democrats’ legislation to tighten regulation of the financial system, voted on Monday to block the bill from reaching the floor for debate. As both sides dug in, the battle has huge ramifications for the economy and for their political prospects in this year’s midterm elections. Republicans said they were intent on winning substantive changes to the bill and accused the Democrats of rushing the most far-reaching overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression. Both sides say they expect the overhaul eventually will be approved…. – NYT, 4-27-10
  • For Derek Jeter and World Series champion New York Yankees, visiting the White House never gets old: When Derek Jeter was a kid, he dreamed of playing shortstop for the Yankees. But visiting the White House five times and meeting three different Presidents never entered his mind. “All the stuff that comes along with it isn’t part of the dream,” Jeter said. “These are just the perks.” Jeter and his teammates will make the trip from Baltimore to Washington to visit wounded veterans Monday morning at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, then proceed to the White House to meet with President Obama Monday afternoon…. – NY Daily News, 4-26-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Internal GOP wars shaping policies nationwide: Internal GOP politics are profoundly affecting major policies such as immigration, health care and deficit spending, as elected Republicans shift right to fend off challengers in primary elections. The moves may leave a lasting imprint on society long after flashy political events, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision to abandon the GOP in hopes of winning a Senate seat, are minor memories. They show that conservative movements such as the tea party phenomenon are influencing the nation well ahead of the November elections…. – AP, 5-3-10
  • Immigration a hot topic in Whitman and Poizner’s last debate: The GOP rivals trade attacks over Arizona’s new law, as well as each other’s business dealings and consistency on policy issues. LAT, 5-3-10
  • Parties Snipe at Crist, but May Court Him Later: A bipartisan scolding broke out in the wake of the decision by Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida to ditch the Republican Party and make an independent Senate bid, with leaders of both parties calling his move a self-serving piece of aggrandizement, rather than an act of principle.”Elections are about trust,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, “and, frankly, it is unclear whether Governor Crist deserves any.” “As usual,” added Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, “Charlie Crist is putting his political ambition first.” But if Mr. Crist wins — unlikely, but hardly impossible — won’t both parties find themselves at his doorstep?… – NYT,
  • Fla. gov dumps GOP, runs for Senate as independent: Former GOP darling Gov. Charlie Crist defected from the Republican Party on Thursday to run as an independent for U.S. Senate after months of being ripped by conservatives as too supportive of President Barack Obama.”I don’t have either party helping me. But I need you. I need you more than ever,” the governor said, surrounded by cheering supporters carrying signs that included “Democrats for Crist.”Crist was mobbed by supporters after the speech. One man shouted, “I love you!” and Crist replied, “I love you more, brother.” He said he felt liberated. Asked why, he said, “Because I only belong to the people and that’s a wonderful place to be. That’s what it’s all about.”… – AP, 4-29-10
  • Fla. gov. on cusp of independent bid for US Senate: The very thing that once made Gov. Charlie Crist the clear Republican choice to run for U.S. Senate is also what will perhaps make it inevitable that he will eventually buck the party to run as an independent: his embrace — literally and figuratively — of bipartisanship…. – AP, 4-29-10
  • Active campaign shapes up for Republicans: Eric Dahlberg quit his job working for a government agency that oversees the state’s health law last month so he could concentrate on his new passion, running full time for the state Senate. The 32-year-old Chelmsford selectman believes that Scott Brown’s US Senate victory paved the way for Republicans like him to focus on the economy instead of “the lunatic” social issues that have less bearing, he says, on daily life. If Republicans have an opportunity to rebuild the state party, it may be with candidates like Dahlberg. Yesterday marked the deadline for legislative candidates to submit voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. The final tally of candidates will not be known for a few weeks, but more than 500 took out qualifying papers in recent months, according to an informal list maintained by the secretary of state, a sign of what is likely to be an active campaign season. The state Republican Party, which now claims just a small fraction of the seats on Beacon Hill, says it hopes to field more than 100 legislative candidates around the state and will spend the next few months determining who among them are serious enough to warrant further help from the party… – Boston Globe, 4-28-10
  • McCain needs to provide real leadership of old on immigration: Arizona has never needed Sen. John McCain more — the “maverick” version of years gone by, that is. The man who understood the inherent evil of demonizing groups of people. The McCain who stood up to strident voices, understanding that fearful, reactionary sentiments must never be codified into punitive laws.His state has enacted just such a law, an immigration-enforcement measure that basically equates Latinos with illegal immigrants. Under the law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, police would be required “when practicable” to detain anybody about whom there is “reasonable suspicion” of being in this country illegally. Immigrants would be required to carry documents showing they are in this country legally; those who do not produce such documents could be charged with a misdemeanor. Finally, if the police in any jurisdiction choose not to enforce the law with sufficient zeal — and many law enforcement authorities in Arizona are loath to do so — they could be sued.Arizona — the nation, really — needs a Republican leader of the kind McCain used to be. The kind of man who once co-sponsored a sensible set of reforms for the nation’s immigration laws…. – The Kansas City Star, 4-26-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Palin calls oil spill ‘tragic’ and defends offshore drilling: Gulf of Mexico oil spill or not, Sarah Palin on Saturday defended offshore drilling as an essential component of U.S. energy security. Speaking to a crowd of mostly Republicans at the Independence Events Center, the former Alaska governor called the oil spill “very tragic” but added: “I want our country to be able to trust the oil industry.” She said the U.S. must wean itself from foreign oil in order to be truly free. “We’ve got to tap domestically because energy security will be the key to our prosperity,” Palin said…. “We believe that God shed his grace on thee,” she said. “We still believe that America is exceptional.”… – Kansas City Star, 5-2-10
  • Remarks by the President on Oil Spill, Venice, Louisiana: … I also want to stress that we are working closely with the Gulf states and local communities to help every American affected by this crisis. Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak; BP will be paying the bill. But as President of the United States, I’m going to spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues. And we will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused. And while there will be time to fully investigate what happened on that rig and hold responsible parties accountable, our focus now is on a fully coordinated, relentless response effort to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the Gulf…. – WH, 5-2-10
  • President Obama Trades Jokes with Jay Leno: You might have heard we passed a health care bill. And some Republicans have suggested that the bill contains a few “secret” provisions. That’s ridiculous. There aren’t a few secret provisions in the health care plan. There are like hundreds. And tonight, in the interest of transparency, I’d like to share a couple. Let’s see here. This provision is called the “Bay State of Denial.” It reads, “This bill shall cover short-term memory loss related to the passage of Massachusetts health care reform.” Good news, Mitt, your condition is covered! This next provision is called the “Jersey Shore-Up.” It reads, “The following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill: Snooki, J-Woww, the Situation, and House Minority Leader John Boehner.” This provision ought to put a common misconception to rest. It says right here: “If you do not like the ruling of your death panel, you can appeal it.”Some of you are seasoned veterans who have been on the political beat for decades. Others here tonight began their careers as bloggers not long ago. But I think it’s fair to say that every single reporter in this room believes deeply in the enterprise of journalism. Every one of you, even the most cynical among you, understands and cherishes the function of a free press in the preservation of our system of government and our way of life. And I want you to know that for all the jokes and occasional gripes, I cherish that work as well. In fact, tonight, I wanted to present you all with a bipartisan, Congressional resolution that honors all those wonderful contributions that journalists have made to our country and our world. Unfortunately, I couldn’t break the filibuster. WH, 5-2-10
  • President Obama pokes fun at Scott Brown at dinner: President Obama poked fun at Republican Senator Scott Brown, referring to his long-ago centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine, at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday night. “Speaking of tween heartthrobs, Scott Brown is here. .. I admire Scott, a rare politician in Washington with nothing to hide,” said Obama. Obama, who delivered his lines with perfect aplomb, moved on quickly to tease his own adviser, the balding, middle-aged David Axelrod. “Now you should be aware that Scott Brown is not the only one with a salacious photo spread floating around. Recently, David Axelrod was offered a centerfold opportunity of his own. Now I did not know that Krispy Kreme had a catalog, but it’s true,” he said, drawing widespread laughter…. – Boston Globe, 5-2-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls on Congress to Enact Reforms to Stop a “Potential Corporate Takeover of Our Elections” Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, May 1, 2010 Weekly Address Washington, DC That’s one of the reasons I ran for President: because I believe so strongly that the voices of ordinary Americans were being drowned out by the clamor of a privileged few in Washington. And that’s why, since the day I took office, my administration has been taking steps to reform the system. Recently, however, the Supreme Court issued a decision that overturned decades of law and precedent – dealing a huge blow to our efforts to rein in this undue influence. In short, this decision gives corporations and other special interests the power to spend unlimited amounts of money – literally millions of dollars – to affect elections throughout our country. This, in turn, will multiply their influence over decision-making in our government….In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, we face a similar challenge. That’s why it’s so important that Congress consider new reforms to prevent corporations and other special interests from gaining even more clout in Washington. And almost all of these reforms are designed to bring new transparency to campaign spending. They are based on the principle espoused by former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis – that sunlight is the best disinfectant….In addition, these reforms would address another troubling aspect of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Under the bill Congress will consider, we’ll make sure that foreign corporations and foreign nationals are restricted from spending money to influence American elections, just as they were in the past – even through U.S. subsidiaries. And we’d keep large contractors that receive taxpayer funds from interfering in our elections as well, to avoid the appearance of corruption and the possible misuse of tax dollars.Now, we can expect that these proposed changes will be met with heavy resistance from the special interests and their supporters in Congress. But I’m calling on leaders in both parties to resist these pressures. For what we are facing is no less than a potential corporate takeover of our elections. And what is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy. This shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an issue that goes to whether or not we will have a government that works for ordinary Americans – a government of, by, and for the people. That’s why these reforms are so important. And that’s why I’m going to fight to see them passed into law. WH, 5-1-10
  • Clinton: Syria’s provocations may plunge Middle East into war: Syrian President Bashar Assad is pursuing dangerous policies that could unleash war on the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Thursday night. In a speech to the American Jewish Committee in Washington, Clinton said that Syria’s transfer of weapons to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon risks throwing the region into instability.”We have spoken out forcefully about the grave dangers of Syria’s transfer of weapons to Hizbollah,” Clinton said. “We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and have expressed our concerns directly to the Syrian government.” She added: “Transferring weapons to these terrorists – especially longer-range missiles – would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel. It would have a profoundly destabilizing effect on the region. “All states must stop supplying weapons to terrorist groups such as Hizbollah and Hamas. Every rocket smuggled into southern Lebanon or Gaza sets back the cause of peace.”… – Haaretz, 4-30-10
  • Obama says Arizona immigration law is ‘polarizing’: President Barack Obama criticized Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, which opponents fear could lead to ethnic profiling, saying it was “polarizing.””These kinds of shortcuts, I think, will end up polarizing the situation instead of solving the problem,” Obama told reporters on Air Force One. The US president noted that “if you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people coming in, not playing by the rules, that’s a problem. And the federal government has been abdicating on its responsibilities for a very long time on this issue. “That’s why I’ve called for comprehensive immigration reform, and I want that to proceed, and I want it to be done on a bipartisan basis,” Obama underscored. But “what I think is a mistake is when we start having local law enforcement officials empowered to stop people on the suspicion that they may be undocumented workers, because that carries a great amount of risk that core values that we all care about are breached. “This isn’t just my opinion. You’ve seen a number of very prominent Republicans say that this is a problem,” the president added…. – AFP, 4-29-10
  • Obama to Muslim world: A ‘new beginning’ has started: President Obama said tonight that the U.S. will set up exchange programs with business people throughout the Muslim world as part of the overall outreach program he outlined last year.”The new beginning we seek is not only possible, it has already begun,” Obama told the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C…. “Over the past year the United States has been reaching out and listening,” he said. – USA Today, 4-26-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Miss him? Bush’s reputation might be ready for a rebound: “You can’t begin to really assess a presidency with any sort of objectivity until they’ve been out of office for years,” said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Minnesota. “It will be 30 years before we can accurately assess the Bush presidency.””We aren’t going to have a really good perspective for a while,” said Bert Rockman, a presidential historian at Purdue University in Indiana. “I don’t think his presidency will be regarded as top drawer – it may well be well below the median – but it may not be at the bottom any longer.”… – Miami Herald, 5-2-10
  • Is the oil spill Obama’s Katrina? Not yet: “This is not Katrina yet,” said Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University. “While terrible, the oil spill does not equal the kind of human suffering that was seen in New Orleans. This is something (Obama) must respond to and improve his plan, but a distinction must be made.”…. – Reuters, 5-3-10
  • Could immigration furor create positive evolution?: “The whole country has taken notice,” said Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s state historian, who dislikes the new law but thinks something had to be done about illegal immigration. “I don’t think people realized how serious a problem it is.”… – AP, 5-3-10
  • Lessons from the Gulf oil spill: “We are looking at a wildlife disaster that is unthinkable: This could be the Exxon Valdez on steroids,” historian Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, said in an interview. Brinkley has seen those TV ads in which British Petroleum — owner of the lease site — claims its initials stand for “Beyond Petroleum.” “We’ve got to stop listening to the oil companies’ fake environmental rhetoric,” Brinkley said. “There is no such thing as overregulation of this industry. Offshore drilling carries real dangers. It must be tightly regulated.”… – Seattle PI, 5-2-10
  • Q&A: Historian Allan Meltzer on the Fed Nominations: Allan Meltzer, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is a leading historian of the Federal Reserve System. (He’s at work on Volume II his Fed history.) We talked with Dr. Meltzer — who has been critical of the Fed’s recent monetary policy — about the White House’s latest nominations to the Federal Reserve Board:With the latest nominations, President Obama will have named four governors to the Fed in a short period. Will that help Obama?Meltzer: It will help Obama when he might need it. He’ll have a board that will be sympathetic to his views. Not necessarily because they’re politically motivated, but because they believe that it’s more important to do something about unemployment. That’s why the Burns board [Arthur Burns served as Fed chairman from 1970 to 1978] voted for the high money growth under price controls, because they were more concerned about unemployment than inflation. Unemployment first, then we’ll take care of the inflation later… I expect that the board will eventually appear to be a much more dovish place than it was some time ago. The issue will be, we have high unemployment. How can we raise interest rates? They’ll have the support of the business community, the labor unions, the Congress, the administration and the public… – WSJ, 4-29-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama the president is not Alexander the Great: Obama wants to solve the conflict by cutting through what seems to be the Gordian knot, the obstacle to peace: Israeli intransigence. I understand Barack Obama’s impatience with Israel. I see his logic whereby if only Israel would freeze, concede and withdraw, the conflict would end. I can imagine the appeal, for the first African-American US president – the first incumbent president to win a Nobel Peace Prize in decades, the first to pass such sweeping health-care legislation – to seek his next big win in the Middle East.Just as Alexander the Great legendarily solved the problem of the Gordian knot by slicing it in half rather than untying it, Obama wants to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict by cutting through what the world has deemed to be the obstacle to Middle East peace: Israeli intransigence.Alas, Obama is no Alexander.So far, the more Obama pulls at this Gordian knot, the tighter it gets; the more Obama pressures Israel, the more the Palestinians raise their demands. Obama is failing – and flailing – because he is blind to history. He is ignoring the history of Israeli willingness to compromise…. – Jerusalem Post, 4-26-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Washington has always helped set rules for Wall Street: On Sunday, Sens. Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby said that they were close to a bipartisan compromise on financial regulation, which could be reached as early as this week.Yet many Republicans are attacking the regulations by painting them as yet another example of big government taking over private markets. Even if the bill will likely pass, GOP leaders are planning to use this floor debate to raise philosophical concerns about the role of government in economic life…But on the fundamental question, as to whether the government has a right to intervene in these issues and whether these reforms somehow break with the traditions of American history, that is a much easier question to resolve. While there has been tension between markets and government, it is equally important to remember that a close partnership has always existed in this country. The ties between government and markets are as American as apple pie. In other words, government can help markets prosper. – CNN, 4-26-10

2010 White House Correspondents Dinner 2

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the White House Correspondents Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. May 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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