Top Young Historians: 108 – Bethany Moreton, 39

Top Young Historians

Bethany Moreton, 39

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History and Women’s Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and the History of Christianity Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, 2010-2011
Area of Research: History of capitalism, the twentieth-century cultural and religious history of the United States, and transnational history
Education: Ph.D. 2006, (M.A., M. Phil.) U.S. History, Yale University
Dissertation: “The Soul of the Service Economy: Wal-Mart and the Making of Christian Free Enterprise, 1929-1994,” under the direction of Glenda E. Gilmore.
Major Publications: Moreton is the author of Book: To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Harvard University Press, May 2009). Winner, Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians, April, 2010. Bethany Moreton JPG
Moreton is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Why Is There So Much Sex in Christian Conservatism and Why Do So Few Historians Care Anything about It?” Journal of Southern History 75th anniversary issue, v. 75, no. 3 (August, 2009); “Make Payroll, Not War: Business Culture as Youth Culture,” in Bruce Schulman and Julian Zelizer, eds., Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008); “The Soul of the Service Economy: Wal-Mart and the Making of Christian Free Enterprise, 1929-1994,” Enterprise & Society 8:4 (December, 2007); “The Soul of Neoliberalism,” Social Text v. 25, no. 3 92 (Fall 2007), pp. 103-123; co-authored with Pamela Voekel: “Vaya con Dios: Religion and the Transnational History of the Americas,” History Compass, Summer 2007; “It Came from Bentonville: The Agrarian Origins of Wal-Mart Culture” in Nelson Lichtenstein, ed., Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism (New Press, 2005).
Moreton is currently working on the tentively titled manuscript “Spiritual Development: Neoliberalism and Transnational Religion”.
Awards: Moreton is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Emerging Scholar’s Prize Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, April, 2009;
Junior Faculty Fellowship Willson Center for the Humanities, University of Georgia, for fall semester 2009;
Visiting Scholar Fellowship American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2006-2007;
Charlotte F. Newcombe Fellowship Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 2005-2006;
Dissertation Fellowship for the Study of American Religion Louisville Institute, 2004-2005;
Program on Philanthropy and the Non-Profit Sector Fellowship Social Science Research Council, 2004;
Program on the Corporation as a Social Institution Fellowship Social Science Research Council, 2003;
Myrna F. Bernath Fellowship Award Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2003;
Dissertation Research Grant Yale Center for International and Area Studies, 2003;
Coca-Cola World Fund at Yale Summer Travel Grant Yale Center for International and Area Studies, 2003;
Mellon Research Seminar Fellowship in Women’s and Gender History Schlesinger Library, Harvard University, 2002.

Personal Anecdote

My first act of research for To Serve God and Wal-Mart was shoveling fossilized chicken droppings out of a defunct coop on a goat farm in Northwest Arkansas. The farm’s owners, friends of my favorite agrarian Jim Scott, evidently took my willingness to pick up a shovel as a character reference, and lost no time making me feel at home in Wal-Mart’s backyard. Since we have no Freedom of Information Act for the state-supported institutions we somewhat inaccurately call private corporations, the research could only go so far by relying on formal archives. It was only through the generosity of my hosts in the Ozarks-the original Wal-Mart Country–that I was able to learn to explore how “Wal-Martism” might fill the conceptual hole in the middle of “post-Fordism.” If the Detroit auto industry had set the pattern for the first half of the twentieth century-in spatial organization, labor arrangements, finance, family formation, ideology, immigration, art-then surely its successor was a likely site for understanding major developments of the post-war years.

When Wal-Mart beat out Exxon-Mobil to become the world’s largest company in 2002, what we knew that the first service company to make it to the top of the Fortune 400 was what astute business journalists like Bob Ortega had been telling us since the early 1990s: Wal-Mart had remade retail by achieving such market dominance that it could dictate its terms to the suppliers rather than the other way around. At the fringes of this narrative were the voices of historic preservationists and organized labor, finally roused by the Arkansas company’s disruptive penetration of Vermont, Chicago, and Southern California. The reigning questions about the new top multinational were often variations on “Wow–how did Wal-Mart do it?” or “Is Wal-Mart good for America?”

While my 2002 dissertation prospectus referenced this literature, though, it also included chapter proposals that ultimately allowed me to explore a question I found much more interesting, the one that Thomas Frank revived from the original Populist mobilization: “What’s the matter with Kansas?” -understood now as “Why have Americans on the losing end of the deregulated, off-shored service economy enabled it politically for more than a generation?” To Serve God and Wal-Mart is therefore not so much a book about Wal-Mart as an account of the anointing of free enterprise, the unlikely legitimation of neoliberal economics through evangelical religion. It tells this story through the twinned biographies of the world’s largest company and the ideological apparatus it nurtured. It argues that this specific experience of mass service work transformed economic common sense and infused it with evangelical values at precisely the moment that federal redistribution catapulted the Sun Belt to its position of decisive influence within the nation. That moment of waxing power for the old agricultural periphery coincided with American-led economic integration, so that the ethos of Christian free enterprise-the odd pairing of Jerry Falwell and Milton Friedman, so to speak-gave late twentieth-century globalization some of its most distinctive characteristics. Ultimately I join writers like Janet Jakobsen, Ann Pellegrini, Lisa Duggan, Tanya Erzen, and Linda Kintz in arguing that the Left’s frustration with the “culture wars” misreads the necessary connection between conservative sexual mores and the post-1973 economy that Wal-Mart ultimately dominated.

That I got to learn about this complex relationship while living in the Ozarks, knee-deep in chicken droppings, was my good fortune.

Quotes

By Bethany Moreton

  • “For the emerging Wal-Mart constituency, faith in God and faith in the market grew in tandem, aided by a generous government and an organized, corporate-funded grassroots movement for Christian free enterprise. Ultimately, they  JPG helped shape American-led globalization itself. The postindustrial society grew from a specific regional history an the heritage of Populism. It was built in the aisles and break rooms of Southern discount stores, in small-group Bible study and vast Sunday-morning worship services. It spread through the marketing classes and mission trips of Christian colleges, through student business clubs and service projects. Although free-market economic theories captured the hearts and minds of elite policymakers in the later twentieth century, the animatig spirit of Christian free enterprise shaped the outcome. The Wal-Mart Moms understood better than their critics: Family values are an indispensable element of the global service economy, not a distraction from it.” — Bethany Moreton in “To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009)
  • About Bethany Moreton

  • “Moreton’s work is a model of public scholarship in the humanities, rigorous, sympathetic to individual stories, wonderfully written, combining attention to individual story with command of the complex intersection of corporate culture and religious practice. It provides insight into one of the most prevalent, and inscrutable, features of American society today. — Kathy Woodward, Director of the Simpson Humanities Center at the University of Washington, Emerging Scholar’s Prize Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, April, 2009
  • “Moreton charts the fortunes of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest corporation, and analyses its collusion with the evangelical Christian movement. Hers is a thought-provoking general account of the effect “a Christian service ethos” has on American attitudes towards the free market.” — New Statesman
  • “This is a history in equal parts of Wal-Mart and the world that Wal-Mart has made…Moreton reveals Wal-Mart’s extraordinary capacity to develop cultural solutions for the very crises that its business model produced. Her prose is extraordinarily lucid and often provocative, and presents the subject in a manner that will hold interest for both scholars and general readers…To Serve God and Wal-Mart should become a standard text in business history courses, and deserves to be widely assigned–in whole or in part–in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of the twentieth-century United States…In performing a deliberate inversion of more conventional approaches to business history, To Serve God and Wal-Mart greatly enriches our understanding of both Wal-Mart and the Sun Belt service economy.” — “Angus Burgin, Enterprise and Society”
  • “Essential reading for understanding not just Wal-Mart, but also America’s general political and economic trajectory.” — David Moberg, “In These Times”
  • “Full of detailed and important information and gives a very good insight as to how the sunbelt states set about their development after the second World War…For those interested in the Southern Christian psyche it’s a valuable reference.” — Noel Smyth, “Irish Times”
  • “[A] deeply researched account of the ideological underpinnings of the company’s rise…[It] makes for compelling and provocative reading, complicating any simplistic view about why many Americans are enthusiastic about Wal-Mart, even as it seems to grind down wages, stamp out unions, advance a desolate model of exurban life, and eviscerate the small towns in its path.” — Rob Horning, popmatters.com
  • “Much of what we learn from Moreton’s book…raises serious doubts about whether the corporation’s influence has been positive on balance. But in the process of describing the downside of Wal-Mart, [she] offers penetrating insights into why the chain has been so phenomenally successful…Moreton offers a gracefully written and meticulously researched account of why people not only have been willing to work for the company, but often have also developed fierce loyalty to it…Economists have long recognized the attractions of flexible working arrangements to some segments of the labor force. But Moreton also offers more novel observations about the lure of Wal-Mart. She explains, for example, how the company invoked the fundamentalist Christian teachings embraced by many of its employees to fashion a working environment that induced them to work contentedly for low wages and paltry benefits…Moreton argues that Walton and his fellow executives quickly recognized the economic advantage of weaving specific strands of the Ozark region’s fundamentalist belief system into their corporate strategy… Moreton’s book answers important questions about why workers have been willing to accept Wal-Mart’s austere compensation package.” — Robert Frank, “New York Times Book Review”
  • “Walton made the cheerful, down-home, everyone-pulling-together family-farm values of his early frontline retail workers a hallmark of his emerging behemoth while earning their loyalty through policies, like flexible scheduling, that respected their “home duties.”…To understand the lingua franca of today’s workplace–with its talk of networking, entrepreneurialism, leadership, community service, and, above all, PR and communications–this book is indispensable reading. After all, we all live in Wal-Mart World now.” — Catherine Tumber, “Boston Phoenix”
  • “Bethany Moreton’s pathbreaking study, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise is an invaluable asset for apprehending how we got here. Her new book chronicles Wal-Mart’s role in mainstreaming evangelical and free market values even as it became the world’s largest public corporation and the nation’s biggest private employer. A critical appraisal of how religion, politics and economics were interwoven in post- Vietnam American culture and society, To Serve God and Wal-Mart is also a bracing reminder that we, among the most materialistic people in the world, have turned a blind eye to the impact of material conditions on our actions, attitudes and beliefs.” — Diane Winston, Religion Dispatches
  • “[A] probing and nuanced study of the latter-day evangelical romance with free-market capitalism…Wal-Mart’s folksy illusion relied in part on making store workers feel like family; in particular, on making female workers feel valued as wives and mothers. Moreton does an excellent job of digging beneath Wal-Mart’s carefully imagineered vision of the rural good life. She not only recounts labor abuses such as the company’s notorious failure to promote and reward women but also stresses how the company appealed to white Americans’ feelings of entitlement…Its workers and the customers they served–often “friends, neighbors, and loved ones”–were the same: white Ozarkers nostalgic for a wholesome, more homogeneous, and largely imaginary yesteryear, for a past in which the best opportunities were reserved for people like them.” — Maud Newton, “Bookforum”
  • “Like all historians who love their craft, Bethany Moreton is a gifted storyteller, and this book offers readers an engaging account of how a discount five-and-dime store conceived in the rural American Ozarks became the template for service work in the global economy…[An] impeccably documented and eloquently argued narrative, which will interest historians, sociologists and general readers…Her most significant contribution is to offer an explanation of the paradox that political pundits have pondered in recent years: why many middle Americans prioritize conservative social issues ahead of government policies that would presumably be in their economic self-interest. Moreton’s careful, sometimes wry historical analysis demonstrates that when “values voters”–with many Wal-Mart workers surely among them–eschew economic benefits such as unionization, they do so out of allegiance to a radically new set of moral market priorities. The subjugation of the self to the global corporation, ironically, embraces a deeper set of ideals about the supremacy of family, the morality of self-reliance and the evangelical justification of free enterprise. To Serve God and Wal-Mart shows just how deeply entrenched these ideals are in the world’s largest retailer, offering an intimate portrait of both the contradictions and conquests of the new service economy.” — Rebekah Peeples Massengill, Times Higher Education
  • “Moreton unearths the roots of the seeming anomaly of “corporate populism,” in a timely and penetrating analysis that situates the rise of Wal-Mart in a postwar confluence of forces, from federal redistribution of capital favoring the rural South and West to the “family values” symbolized by Sam Walton’s largely white, rural, female workforce (the basis of a new economic and ideological niche), the New Christian Right’s powerful probusiness and countercultural movement of the 1970s and ’80s and its harnessing of electoral power. Giving Max Weber’s “Protestant ethic” something of a late-20th-century update, Moreton shows how this confluence wedded Christianity to the free market. Moreton’s erudition and clear prose elucidate much in the area of recent labor and political history, while capturing the centrality of movement cultures in the evolving face of American populism.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “Fascinating…With verve and clarity, Moreton offers something more distinctive: a compelling explanation of how Wal-Mart captured the hearts and pocketbooks of so many Americans.” — Steven P. Miller, “St. Louis Post-Dispatch”
  • “Dr. Moreton make students see strengths within themselves, she inspires and empowers women through knowledge and action. No one else could ever be a more effective teacher than she. She is truly a gift to students and the academy as a whole.”…
    “Dr. Moreton has the unique ability to present material in a highly intellectual way that everyone can grasp.”…
    “Moreton has the power to comfortably accomodate, yet critically challenge all students. Her lectures are my favorite; they are always well-prepared, brilliantly articulated, intellectually stimulating, and very exciting. She also facilitates powerful discussions among students; she asks the right questions.”…
    “I always leave Dr. Moreton’s classes as a better writer than I was before. Her deep discussions into the core of the subject matter encourage and empower students to argue a thoroughly well-written paper. Dr. Moreton offers extensive (positive) criticism and help to improve any student’s writing. Also, she challenges me on a greater intellectual level than any other professor.”…
    “Dr. Moreton’s material for the class was the most challenging material I have come across in both of my fields of study. Dr. Moreton forced me to think of things that in the past I ran from and for that I am FOREVER grateful to Dr. Moreton. Dr. Moreton’s intelligence, passion, patience, and high standards for student performance EMBOLDENED my ability to take on intellectual challenges that first seem impossible.”…
    “Dr. Moreton is one of the most inspirational instructors that I have had at the University. Her passion for her students and unlimited knowledge provided for an amazing classroom environment.”…
    “This class was one of the few at UGA that gave me not only new information or facts, but new concepts.” – — Anonymous Students
  • Posted on Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Political Highlights June 28, 2010: Obama at the G20, Passing Financial Reform & Kagan’s Confirmation Hearings Begin

    Political Highlights

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

    President Obama Commends Congress for Finalizing Wall Street

    President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press regarding the congressional agreement on Financial Reform from the South Lawn of the White House June 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    • President Obama at the G8 in Photos: The President spent today at the G8 Summit in Canada, which focused amongst other things on the Muskoka Initiative on maternal and child health (MCH). See an array of photos from the day below…. – WH, 6-25-10
    • Poll: Obama’s ratings fall amid Gulf oil spill: President Barack Obama’s job performance rating has dropped to the lowest level of his presidency as Americans grow less confident in his leadership, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday. Obama’s rating stood at 45 percent in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, down 5 points from early last month. For the first time in the survey, more people — 48 percent — say they disapprove of Obama’s job performance. A majority of respondents, 62 percent, said the country was on the wrong track. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed rate Obama positively on “strong leadership qualities,” down from 70 percent when he became president and a drop of 8 points since January…. – Reuters, 6-23-10
    • GOP: generic optimism over poll: Republicans must be giddy over the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Thanks to the BP oil spill in the gulf, the administration’s problems getting a public handle on the disaster and the stubborn economy, President Obama’s job approval rating dropped from 50 percent last month to 45 percent now. His disapproval rating is now 48 percent. To make matters worse, 60 percent of those polled say the nation is on the wrong track. Republicans surely are smiling over who poll respondents said they wanted ruling Congress after the November midterms. For the second survey in a row the GOP came out on top. They were favored 45 to 43 over Democrats. WaPo, 6-25-10
    • Confidence Waning in Obama, U.S. Outlook: Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama’s leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The survey also shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation’s economy and environment. Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama’s tenure. WSJ, 6-23-10
    • Cherry-picking polls: Obama’s leadership numbers tumble and would you believe Senator Charlie Crist?: As one result, a new CBS News Poll finds most Americans believe Obama reacted too slowly to the catastrophe (61%) and has no clear plan to deal with it (59% nationwide, 64% in the gulf area). Forty-five percent say Obama has no clear plan for developing new energy sources and 54% still say he has no clear plan for developing new jobs, 16 months after he signed his own massive jobs plan and numerous expensive sales trips to sell its benefits…. – LAT, 6-22-10
    • Rasmussen: McCain 47%, Hayworth 36%: Longtime Senator John McCain continues to lead Arizona’s Republican Primary by double digits but remains in the same narrow range of support he’s drawn since January. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely GOP Primary Voters in the state Voters shows McCain picking up 47% support, while challenger J.D.Hayworth earns the vote from 36%. Navy veteran and Tea Party activist Jim Deakin picks up seven percent (7%) support. One percent (1%) like another candidate in the race, and eight percent (8%) are undecided…. – Tucson Weekly, 6-22-10

    THE HEADLINES….

    President Barack Obama talks with President Dmitry Medvedev of

    President Barack Obama talks with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada as as they walk with other G8 leaders at the G8 Summit in Muskoka, Canada June 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    • Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd, who used his record tenure as a United States senator to fight for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and to build a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money, died at about 3 a.m. Monday, his office said. He was 92. He had been in failing health for several years. Mr. Byrd served 51 years in the Senate, longer than anyone in American history, and with his six years in the House, he was the longest-serving member of Congress. He held a number of Senate offices, including majority and minority leader and president pro tem. But the post that gave him the most satisfaction was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, with its power of the purse — a post he gave up only last year as his health declined. A New Deal Democrat, Mr. Byrd used the position in large part to battle persistent poverty in West Virginia, which he called “one of the rock bottomest of states.”… – NYT, 6-28-10
    • M.D. Ginsburg, 78, Dies; Lawyer and Tax Expert: Martin D. Ginsburg, a tax lawyer and professor of tax law and the husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court, died Sunday at his home in Washington. He was 78. The cause was cancer, according to a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court, which announced the death…. – NYT, 6-28-10
    • Obama’s G20 Attendance Signifies Debt Reduction Plan: The G20 Summit in Toronto has been taking place, ensuring that world leader’s from 20 of the largest countries have been able to discuss some of the key issues concerning international finance.
      One of the main issues has been the deficits which many countries are having to contend with – the UK included. Britain has recently announced that they are going to be making billions of dollars worth of cuts to their public sector, in order to try and reduce the public sector net borrowing deficit.
      Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to reducing America’s deficit today, agreeing with other nations at the event to reduce oustanding debt by half over a three-year period. However, the President warned about how being too proactive over this matter could result in what is known as a ‘double dip’ recession, meaning that previous economic difficulties could return on a far worse scale. As it is, some European leaders believe that Barack Obama’s plans are ineffective in some ways, particularly because of how levels of unemployment in America have remained fairly constant…. – News Quench, 6-27-10
    • Oops! Joe Biden’s smart mouth gives GOP more ammo with botched Wisconsin trip: Would you call it a disastrous trip? Maybe not disastrous, but memorable. You will hear about Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to the Wisconsin custard shop many times over the course of the next five months. The simple campaign-like stop will give conservatives even more ammunition in an upcoming midterm election season that already looks ominous for President Obama…. – LAT, 6-27-10
    • Obama’s high court pick Kagan faces Senate hearing: Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, faces a potential grilling by Republicans as she begins her Senate confirmation hearing on Monday even as Obama rejected as “pretty thin gruel” arguments advanced by her critics.
      Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee that will hold the hearings, made it clear that Kagan can expect tough questioning on whether she has what it takes to be a Supreme Court justice. “This is a confirmation, not a coronation,” said Sessions, appearing on Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “She has the least experience of any nominee at least in the last 50 years,” Sessions said…. – Reuters, 6-28-10
    • White House launches plan to boost broadband: U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to free up airways would nearly double the amount of commercial spectrum currently available for wireless devices, an administration official said on Monday. The plan would make available 500 megahertz of federal and commercial spectrum over the next 10 years, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity…. – Reuters, 6-28-10
    • Palin in Tyler: Says Obama falls short on leadership: Sarah Palin fired up an enthusiastic Texas crowd late Saturday by criticizing President Barack Obama’s handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying he’s falling short on leadership. “You asked for the job, Mr. President, so buck up,” Palin said to voracious applause inside the nearly packed Oil Palace. Organizers said the event drew about 5,000 people…. – AP, 6-27-10
    • US legislation could help Obama at G-8 talks: President Obama came to the summit table this weekend with a strong hand to press his case to foreign leaders for tougher financial regulations, after Congress agreed to a far-reaching overhaul of the American regulatory system. The opposite is true for his effort to persuade other governments to keep stimulating their economies rather than attacking deficits. While Congress allowed Obama to pack the big victory on banking regulation as he left for the Group of 20 summit, the Senate separately dealt him a significant setback that no doubt resonated with the foreign leaders here pushing fiscal austerity: Democratic leaders shelved an economic stimulus package of aid for the long-term unemployed and financially squeezed states, along with assorted tax cuts…. – NYT, 6-27-10
    • Senate Democrats poised to start energy bill: Legislation could include a carbon cap on utility companies. Many Democrats hope a summer discussion on energy will establish a strong contrast with Republicans before this fall’s election… – LAT, 6-27-10
    • GOP: Obama’s panel is biased Critics contend spill inquiry panel has no oil experts, only drilling foes: The presidential commission investigating offshore drilling safety and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill came under fresh fire Thursday with Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of stacking it with environmental activists. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., charged the Obama administration with keeping oil and gas drilling experts off its seven-member commission in favor of people who philosophically oppose offshore exploration. And Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said there was a huge conflict of interest in putting environmental advocates on a panel responsible for investigating the spill and recommending new safety mandates for offshore drilling…. – Houston Chronicle, 6-27-10
    • Specter ready to press Kagan to take a stand: Elena Kagan wrote 15 years ago that Supreme Court confirmation hearings had become a “vapid and hollow charade” filled with blather instead of rigorous thought. For a lifetime appointment, she argued, there should be a substantial exchange of ideas. When her own turn before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins Monday, however, Kagan probably will stick to platitudes…. – Philadelphia Inquirer, 6-27-10
    • 3 Democrats urge U.S. to not sue Arizona: A trio of U.S. House Democrats from Arizona is making a last-ditch effort to discourage President Barack Obama’s administration from suing the state over its controversial new illegal-immigration law. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords support a comprehensive approach to border security and immigration reform, something Congress has failed to pass despite years of trying. All three, who could find themselves in difficult re-election battles this year, want the administration to focus on practical steps to repair the broken U.S. immigration system and shore up border security instead of suing Arizona. A federal legal challenge could come from the Justice Department as early as this week…. – The Arizona Republic, 6-27-10
    • ‘McChrystal downbeat on Afghan war before sacking’: US General Stanley McChrystal issued a highly critical assessment of the war in Afghanistan just days before he was sacked by President Barack Obama, a British newspaper reported Sunday. The Independent on Sunday said leaked military documents showed McChrystal had briefed defence ministers from the countries involved in the war earlier this month and warned them to expect no progress in the next six months…. – AFP, 6-27-10
    • Vice President Biden to visit Gulf Coast region to see BP’s oil spill first hand: Vice President Biden will visit the Gulf Coast on Tuesday to check on progress in the ongoing fight against the massive oil spill, officials said Friday. Biden will visit the National Incident Command Center in New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle, where miles of beach are closed as murky plumes of oil loom not far offshore. The trip will be the vice president’s first since the crisis in the Gulf began. President Obama has visited the region four times in recent months…. – NY Daily News, 6-26-10
    • GOP: Schwarzenegger ‘a great disappointment’: Gov. has few friends in Calif. party, massive deficit, low approval ratings… – WaPo, MSNBC, 6-26-10
    • Former VP Cheney hospitalized: Former Vice President Dick Cheney was admitted to the hospital Friday after experiencing discomfort, the latest health scare for the 69-year-old Republican leader who has a long history of heart disease. Cheney was expected to remain at George Washington University Hospital over the weekend, said spokesman Peter Long…. – AP, 6-25-10
    • Democrats Fix Strategy for Undefined Climate and Energy Bill: Emotions surged during a “thrilling” caucus gathering in which Democrats plotted to bring a vote on climate legislation to the floor this summer. They promised to challenge resistant Republicans to oppose a measure focusing on polluters as oil from the site of an exploded rig continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico.
      But the party faces the same thorny questions it did before the rousing “rank and file uprising,” as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) described the meeting. The questions include whether Democrats have enough support among their own members to impose a price on greenhouse gas emissions…. – NYT, 6-25-10
    • Lawmakers Agree on Wall Street’s Biggest Overhaul Since 1930s: Congressional negotiators today approved the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. financial regulation since the Great Depression, reshaping oversight of Wall Street and some of its most opaque concoctions. Lawmakers from the House and Senate worked through the night in a 20-hour session to reach deals on two of their most far-reaching and contentious proposals — a ban on proprietary trading by banks and new oversight of the derivatives market. This month, they’ve also agreed on measures to wind down big firms whose collapse might shake markets, to keep tabs on hedge funds and to make it easier for investors to sue credit raters.
      “This is going to be a very strong bill, and stronger than almost everybody predicted that it could be and that I, frankly, thought it would be,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, told reporters June 23 as lawmakers prepared for the final round of talks…. – Bloomberg, 6-25-10
    • House, Senate lawmakers reach a deal on financial reform: The sweeping legislation, an attempt to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis, would create a consumer protection bureau, impose tough regulations on derivatives and grant the government power to seize and dismantle teetering firms… – LAT, 6-25-10
    • Congress Fails to Pass an Extension of Jobless Aid: Legislation to extend unemployment subsidies for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have exhausted their jobless benefits teetered on the edge of collapse on Thursday, as Senate Democrats and Republicans traded bitter accusations about who was to blame for an eight-week impasse. Senate Republicans and a lone Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined forces to filibuster the bill in a procedural vote on Thursday. Visibly frustrated, the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would move on to other business next week because he saw little chance of winning over any Republican votes. The vote was 57 to 41, with the Democrats falling three short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure. “You’ll hear a lot of excuses,” Mr. Reid said at a news conference. “The bottom line is the minority just said no.”… – NYT, 6-25-10
    • House OKs campaign-spending disclosure bill: Democrats in Congress, scrambling to rein in special-interest spending before November’s midterm elections, pushed through a bill Thursday that would require CEOs to appear in campaign ads they fund and impose broad new disclosure rules on political spending. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives by a 219-206 vote, was opposed by most Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, who cast it as violating free-speech protections and riddled with loopholes for powerful groups, such as the National Rifle Association and labor unions. The measure’s prospects are uncertain in the Senate, where Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to pass a bill over Republican objections. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the chamber’s top Republican, Thursday assailed the proposal as “protecting incumbent Democratic politicians.”… – USA Today, 6-25-10
    • Obama, new Australian prime minister speak about war: Australia’s new prime minister pledged her commitment to the war in Afghanistan during a phone call with President Obama, the two leaders said. “I assured President Obama that my approach to Afghanistan will continue the approach taken to date by the Australian government,” said Julia Gillard, Australia’s new prime minister, on Friday. “I fully support the current deployment and I indicated to President Obama that he should expect to see the Australian effort in Afghanistan continuing.”
      During the talk, Obama and Gillard “underscored their shared commitment to closely work together on the broad range of global challenges confronting both countries, including in Afghanistan,” the White House statement said… – CNN, 6-25-10
    • CNN, 6-24-10
    • Short, Tense Deliberation, Then a General Is Gone: By the time he woke up Wednesday morning, President Obama had made up his mind. During the 36 frenetic hours since he had been handed an article from the coming issue of Rolling Stone ominously headlined “The Runaway General,” the president weighed the consequences of cashiering Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, whose contemptuous comments about senior officials had ignited a firestorm. Mr. Obama, aides say, consulted with advisers — some, like Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who warned of the dangers of replacing General McChrystal, others, like his political advisers, who thought he had to go. He reached out for advice to a soldier-statesman, Colin L. Powell. He identified a possible successor to lead the war in Afghanistan. And then, finally, the president ended General McChrystal’s command in a meeting that lasted only 20 minutes. According to one aide, the general apologized, offered his resignation and did not lobby for his job. After a seesaw debate among White House officials, “there was a basic meeting of the minds,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and a major player in the deliberations. “This was not good for the mission, the military and morale,” Mr. Emanuel said…. – NYT, 6-24-10
    • Oregon woman accused Gore of sexual misconduct in 2006: Law officials say former Vice President Al Gore was accused of “unwanted sexual contact” during a visit to Portland in October 2006. Authorities in Portland investigated in late 2006 and early 2007 whether former Vice President Al Gore sexually assaulted a masseuse while visiting that city, but the matter was dropped for lack of evidence, officials said Wednesday…. – Seattle Times, 6-23-10
    • Dems exploit Barton apology to BP in election push: In need of political momentum, Democrats are exploiting Republican Rep. Joe Barton’s startling apology to Gulf oil spiller BP for its treatment by the Obama administration, launching a steady, low-budget campaign of fundraising appeals, a pair of television commercials and Web ads. Little more than four months before midterm elections, party officials appear to be testing ways to maximize the gain from an episode that ricocheted across the Capitol at a furious pace last week, and that Republicans deemed significant enough to force Barton to recant his remarks…. – AP, 6-23-10
    • Obama seeks new drill ban as oil still spews: The White House was set on Wednesday to step up its legal battle to keep deepwater drilling on hold in the Gulf of Mexico following the worst oil spill in U.S. history. A U.S. judge on Tuesday overturned a six-month ban on drilling in water deeper than 500 feet (152 metres) after an appeal by drillers who stand to lose business… – Reuters, 6-23-10
    • SPIN METER: Defining ‘border security’: You wouldn’t know it from the public debate, but the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it. Despite those efforts, calls for increased border security are elbowing out cries for an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws and inducing Congress and the administration to spend even more money on border enforcement…. – AP, 6-23-10
    • Obama requests $600 million for border security: The president’s emergency funding request would pay for more Border Patrol agents, drones, National Guard troops and more…. – LAT, 6-22-10
    • Obama Says Health Law Shouldn’t Be Excuse to Raise Rates: President Obama, whose vilification of insurers helped push a landmark health care overhaul through Congress, warned industry executives at the White House on Tuesday not to use the bill “as an opportunity to enact unjustifiable rate increases that don’t boost care and inflate their bottom line.” Mr. Obama made his remarks in the East Room of the White House after a private meeting with executives of leading health insurance companies and with state insurance commissioners who regulate them. As the new law is being implemented, the White House wanted to issue a pointed reminder to insurers — and the public — that the president intends to monitor the industry’s behavior.
      “There are genuine cost drivers that are not caused by insurance companies,” Mr. Obama said. “But what is also true is that we’ve got to make sure that this new law is not being used as an excuse to simply drive up costs.”… – NYT, 6-22-10
    • Hoyer: Permanent middle class tax cuts too costly: A top House Democrat said Tuesday that tax increases will eventually be necessary to address the nation’s mounting debt, raising a difficult election-year issue as Democrats fight retain control of Congress. In the near term, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer raised the possibility that Congress will only temporarily extend middle-class tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. He pointedly suggested that making them permanent would be too costly…. – AP, 6-20-10
    • AP source: White House budget chief stepping down: White House Budget Director Peter Orszag’s expected resignation would make him the first high-profile member of President Barack Obama’s team to depart the administration. A Democratic official said Monday that Orszag is expected to leave in the coming months, although the exact timing is not known. The official confirmed the news to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced…. – AP, 6-22-10
    • A White House “shakedown?” A lot of House Republicans agree: Republican Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP last week for what he called a “shakedown” by President Obama to pay for the gushing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico barely caused a ripple among local Republican House members. Is it because they agree with him? The White House had worked out a deal with BP that the oil giant would create a $20 billion compensation fund. But Barton, a senior Texas Republican and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, apologized to BP. “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” he told BP executives at a hearing. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown…I apologize.” Kansas City Star, 6-22-10
    • High court upholds anti-terror law prized by Obama: The Supreme Court upheld the government’s authority Monday to ban aid to designated terrorist groups, even when that support is intended to steer the groups toward peaceful and legal activities….
      The justices voted 6-3 to reject a free-speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups to the law that bars “material support” — everything from money to technical know-how to legal advice — to foreign terrorist organizations…. – AP, 6-21-10

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    • Despite opposition, Texas two-step primary process prevails: The unique Texas two-step primary process scooted forward, despite a move Saturday to scrap the system that was overwhelmed by overflow crowds in 2008. Boyd Richie, accompanied by wife Betty, was reinstated as state chairman Saturday during the Texas Democratic Party’s convention in Corpus Christi. Texas Democrats meeting at their state convention upheld the dual primary vote and caucus system called the two- step. Delegates also reinstated Boyd Richie as state chairman and adopted a policy statement that endorses the new federal health care law…. – Dallas News, 6-27-10
    • McCain will join 2 GOP debates: Sen. John McCain’s re-election campaign on Friday announced that he has accepted two invitations to debate Republican primary opponents J.D. Hayworth and Jim Deakin next month. McCain has agreed to 7 p.m. televised debates on July 16 on Phoenix’s Channel 3 (KTVK) and on July 17 on the “Arizona Illustrated” program on Tucson PBS affiliate Channel 6 (KUAT). Early voting for the Aug. 24 GOP primary starts July 29. The Arizona Republic, 6-26-10
    • Texas Democrats to rally at convention: After traveling for months courting all types of Texas voters, Democrat Bill White will try to ignite excitement among party loyalists with his starring role at the Democratic Party’s state convention.
      “The face of the party looks much like the face of the state. So this is an opportunity for people in different parts of the state to get to know each other and to resolve we want an election that will put Texas first,” White said this week. He’s urging delegates to recruit friends and neighbors, even those who don’t always vote for Democrats.
      That kind of support from independent voters is what White will need in November in conservative Texas, where Republicans have dominated state politics since sweeping all statewide elections in 1998 and where incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry is the fall favorite… – AP, 6-25-10
    • Navy exaggerations damage Ill. Senate candidate: Republican Mark Kirk has stepped on a political landmine of his own creation, leaving him as damaged as his Democratic opponent in the race for an Illinois Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Kirk, a 21-year veteran in the Navy Reserve, was caught exaggerating his military record. He claimed an award he didn’t win. He mentioned serving in overseas conflicts while he was safely in the United States. He stretched the facts when talking about combat and coming under fire. And his troubles don’t end there: Even his references to being a teacher are being questioned. Two months ago, it was Kirk’s Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, who was on the ropes. Federal regulators had taken over his family’s Chicago bank, Broadway Bank, which had grown insolvent because of bad loans and a bad economy. Stories about the bank lending money to criminals were resurrected, leading Republicans to start calling Giannoulias a “mob banker.”…. – AP, 6-24-10
    • South Carolina Republicans buck biases in runoff election: The conservative state’s GOP nominates Nikki Haley for governor and Tim Scott for Congress in a runoff vote. Mississippi, North Carolina and Utah also hold nomination contests for November’s midterms…. – LAT, 6-23-10
    • Inglis becomes fifth congressional casualty of anti-incumbent year: South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis became the latest victim of the anti-incumbent wave Tuesday, losing his bid for a seventh term to GOP rival Trey Gowdy. Prosecutor Trey Gowdy has just made six-term incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis the fifth congressional incumbent to fall prey to this year’s anti-incumbent tide. Gowdy has defeated the veteran South Carolina lawmaker in a runoff for the GOP nomination, the Associated Press reports…. – USA Today, 6-22-10
    • Matheson cruises to victory: Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, easily held off his first-ever primary challenge Tuesday and will get a shot at a sixth term. With 98 percent of precincts counted by press time, Matheson led 2nd Congressional District Democratic challenger Claudia Wright 68 percent to 32 percent. Republican Morgan Philpot awaits in the Nov. 2 general election…. – The Salt Lake Tribune, 6-23-10
    • Lee wins Utah GOP Senate nomination: Utah Republicans chose their nominee for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, selecting a legal scholar who grew up in a family of lawyers and fondly recalls discussing the Constitution over childhood dinners. Mike Lee is the overwhelming favorite to win in November and replace Sen. Bob Bennett, who was ousted at the Republican convention in May amid a wave of anti-incumbent rage around the country. Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater beat out Bennett at the convention to advance to Tuesday’s primary. Lee won on Tuesday, earning a nearly a 5,000 vote lead with 84 percent of precincts reporting for about 51 percent of the vote…. – AP, 6-23-1-
    • Gowdy knocks Inglis out of office: Seventh Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg has knocked U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis out of the 4th Congressional seat. Several hundred Gowdy supporters are celebrating at the Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg. The solicitor was the leader in the Republican Primary two weeks ago, and once again bested Inglis tonight, scoring well with voters in the congressman’s home county of Greenville. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Gowdy had 51,541 votes (70 percent). Inglis garnered 21,898 votes (30 percent)…. – Go Up State, 6-22-10
    • Harold Johnson wins 8th District GOP race Newcomer rides recognition, party endorsements to primary victory: Former sportscaster Harold Johnson defeated businessman Tim D’Annunzio Tuesday after an expensive and combative 8th District congressional primary that saw party leaders go to extraordinary lengths in supporting him. Johnson, who turns 69 next week, was winning about 61 percent of the vote in unofficial returns. He piled up big margins in the district’s western portion, including Cabarrus County, which offset D’Annunzio’s support in the east. Johnson now faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell and Libertarian Thomas Hill in the 10-county district that stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville…. – Charlotte Observer, 6-23-10
    • Elaine Marshall, William Randall score runoff election wins in Person County: Despite a low voter turnout, two candidates emerged victorious in a pair of runoff elections in Person County Tuesday and the two also appeared headed to wins statewide as of press time for today’s edition. The runoff contests were between two Democrats vying to challenge Richard Burr this fall for his seat in the U.S. Senate and two Republicans battling for the U.S. House of Representatives District 13 seat, now occupied by Democrat Brad Miller. The Democratic runoff featured Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham. Marshall was North Carolina’s secretary of state for over 10 years and Cunningham is a former state senator from Lexington. In the Republican runoff, William (Bill) Randall and Bernie Reeves faced off to determine who would move on to face Burr, who easily defeated his three Republican challengers in May…. – Roxboro Courier, 6-23-10
    • Primary/Runoff Day in Utah, South and North Carolina: What to Watch ForWaPo, 6-22-10
    • Utah Republican Senate primary could be a test for tea party: As a test of the “tea party” movement’s ability to galvanize voters for a single chosen candidate, Utah’s GOP Senate primary Tuesday is likely to deliver a mixed message. Republicans Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee survived a bruising convention in May that knocked out incumbent Sen. Robert F. Bennett and gave the tea party and other conservative groups bragging rights as a dragon-slayer. Now, most of those groups — but not all of them — have rallied around Lee, a 38-year-old lawyer. But Bridgewater, 49, is even or ahead in several polls…. – WaPo, 6-22-10
    • Cuomo, Lazio toked pot in youth: New York governor candidates Andrew Cuomo and Rick Lazio say they have both smoked marijuana in their youth. The question is, does anyone care? Maurice Carroll of the Quinnipiac University poll answers with a loud “no.” AP, 6-22-10
    • McCain Is Now Running Just to Stay in Place: But less than two years after he was defeated by Barack Obama, nothing seems quite the same for Senator John McCain, who has gone from being his party’s candidate for president rallying 1,000 supporters at a Florida football stadium to furiously defending his Senate seat before 60 recession-weary residents in a Hampton Inn in Lake Havasu, Ariz…. – NYT, 6-22-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    The President Records the Weekly Address
    • Elena Kagan’s Opening Statement: Excerpts: “Mr. Chairman, the law school I had the good fortune to lead has a kind of motto, spoken each year at graduation. We tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a profession devoted to “those wise restraints that make us free.” That phrase has always captured for me the way law, and the rule of law, matters. What the rule of law does is nothing less than to secure for each of us what our Constitution calls “the blessings of liberty” – those rights and freedoms, that promise of equality, that have defined this nation since its founding. And what the Supreme Court does is to safeguard the rule of law, through a commitment to even-handedness, principle, and restraint.
      “The idea is engraved on the very face of the Supreme Court building: Equal Justice Under Law. It means that everyone who comes before the Court – regardless of wealth or power or station – receives the same process and the same protections. What this commands of judges is even-handedness and impartiality. What it promises is nothing less than a fair shake for every American.
      “[T]he Supreme Court is a wondrous institution. But the time I spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one – properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives. What I most took away from those experiences was simple admiration for the democratic process. That process is often messy and frustrating, but the people of this country have great wisdom, and their representatives work hard to protect their interests. The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.”
      “I’ve led a school whose faculty and students examine and discuss and debate every aspect of our law and legal system. And what I’ve learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. I’ve learned that we make progress by listening to each other, across every apparent political or ideological divide. I’ve learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. And I’ve learned the value of a habit that Justice Stevens wrote about more than fifty years ago – of ‘understanding before disagreeing.’
      I will make no pledges this week other than this one – that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons. I will listen hard, to every party before the Court and to each of my colleagues. I will work hard. And I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in accordance with law.” – CBS News, 6-28-10
    • Vice President Joe Biden caught on video calling custard shop manager a ‘smarta–’ after taxes quip: Biden was in Milwaukee to talk about jobs on Saturday, and made a stop at a Kopp’s Frozen Custard outside the city.
      “What do we owe ya?” the vice president asked after enjoying some of the cold treats.
      “Don’t worry, it’s on us,” the unnamed store manager replied, but then added: “Lower our taxes and we’ll call it even.”
      A few minutes later, Biden indicated he didn’t exactly appreciate the remark. “Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smarta– all the time?” he said to the manager, in an exchange captured on video by local station WISN. “Say something nice.”… – NY Daily News, 6-27-10
    • Palin: Obama administration selling out allies: Sarah Palin on Sunday painted President Barack Obama’s administration as a cowering giant intent on surrendering the nation’s mantle as a superpower and willing to sell out its allies…. “Do they think, really, that we’re getting anything in return for all this bowing and kowtowing and apologizing? No, we don’t get anything positive in return for this,” Palin said at the event spearheaded by a Norfolk talk radio station. “So while President Obama is getting pushed around by the likes of Russia and China, our allies are left to wonder about the value of an alliance with our country any more. They’re asking what is it worth,” she said…. – AP, 6-28-10
    • Weekly Address: President Obama Urges Congress to Complete Work on Wall Street Reform Bill Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, June 26, 2010 Weekly Address Washington, DC: This weekend, I’m traveling to Toronto to meet with members of the G20. There, I hope we can build on the progress we made at last year’s G20 summits by coordinating our global financial reform efforts to make sure a crisis like the one from which we are still recovering never happens again. We’ve made great progress toward passing such reform here at home. As I speak, we are on the cusp of enacting the toughest financial reforms since the Great Depression.
      I don’t have to tell you why these reforms are so important. We’re still digging ourselves out of an economic crisis that happened largely because there wasn’t strong enough oversight on Wall Street. We can’t build a strong economy in America over the long-run without ending this status quo, and laying a new foundation for growth and prosperity.
      That’s what the Wall Street reforms currently making their way through Congress will help us do – reforms that represent 90% of what I proposed when I took up this fight. We’ll put in place the strongest consumer financial protections in American history, and create an independent agency with an independent director and an independent budget to enforce them….
      Beyond these reforms, we also need to address another piece of unfinished business. We need to impose a fee on the banks that were the biggest beneficiaries of taxpayer assistance at the height of our financial crisis – so we can recover every dime of taxpayer money.
      Getting this far on Wall Street reform hasn’t been easy. There are those who’ve fought tooth and nail to preserve the status quo. In recent months, they’ve spent millions of dollars and hired an army of lobbyists to stop reform dead in its tracks.
      But because we refused to back down, and kept fighting, we now stand on the verge of victory. And I urge Congress to take us over the finish line, and send me a reform bill I can sign into law, so we can empower our people with consumer protections, and help prevent a financial crisis like this from ever happening again. – WH, 6-26-10
    • Remarks by the President on Wall Street Reform: Now, let me be clear. Our economic growth and prosperity depend on a strong, robust financial sector, and I will continue to do what I can to foster and support a dynamic private sector. But we’ve all seen what happens when there’s inadequate oversight and insufficient transparency on Wall Street.
      The reforms making their way through Congress will hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one that we’re still recovering from.
      We’ll put in place the toughest consumer financial protections in our history, while creating an independent agency to enforce them. Through this agency, we’ll combine under one roof the consumer protection functions that currently are divided among half a dozen different agencies. Now there will be one agency whose sole job will be to look out for you.
      Credit card companies will no longer be able to mislead you with pages and pages of fine print. You will no longer be subject to all kinds of hidden fees and penalties, or the predatory practices of unscrupulous lenders.
      Instead, we’ll make sure that credit card companies and mortgage companies play by the rules. You’ll be empowered with easy-to-understand forms so you know what you’re agreeing to. And you’ll have the clear and concise information you need to make financial decisions that are best for you and your family.
      Wall Street reform will also strengthen our economy in a number of other ways. We’ll make our financial system more transparent by bringing the kinds of complex deals that help trigger this crisis, like trades in a $600 trillion derivatives market, into the light of day. We’ll enact the Volcker Rule to make sure that banks protected by the safety net of the FDIC can’t engage in risky trades for their own profit. And we’ll create what’s called a resolution authority to help wind down firms whose collapse would threaten our entire financial system. No longer will be have companies that are “too big to fail”.
      Over the last 17 months, we passed an economic Recovery Act, health insurance reform, education reform, and we are now on the brink of passing Wall Street reform. And at the G20 summit this weekend, I’ll work with other nations not only to coordinate our financial reform efforts, but to promote global economic growth while ensuring that each nation can pursue a path that is sustainable for its own public finances. – WH, 6-25-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    President Barack Obama talks with British Prime Minister David

    President Barack Obama talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the G8 summit in Muskoka, Canada June 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    • Julian E. Zelizer: How Afghanistan became the ignored war: If the Korean War, which began 60 years ago this past weekend, was America’s forgotten war, Afghanistan has been America’s ignored war.
      Since President Obama authorized a surge of troops in Afghanistan in December 2009, there has been a notable absence of public debate or interest about this conflict.
      Although the media has tracked conditions on the ground and more recently has examined the rapid deterioration of U.S. military strategy, Afghanistan has not elicited the same kind of civic dialogue that surrounded President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq and certainly nothing like President Johnson’s war in Vietnam.
      Indeed, when the controversy over Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s comments in Rolling Stone magazine erupted in the past week, one of the most surprising aspects of the story was that, for a brief moment, Americans were actually talking about Afghanistan once again. Our nation is in the middle of a war that has gone on for over nine years, but many people have not been paying attention.
      As a result of these factors, Afghanistan has remained off the radar. Perhaps with the McChrystal controversy, the nation will start asking tougher questions about what is going on in this war, what our objectives are and how the strategy is working.
      Unfortunately, we will most likely turn our attention back to other issues, such as the feature story in Rolling Stone called “Lady Gaga Tells All.” In doing so, we will continue an unhealthy pattern of fighting wars outside of the public mind. – CNN, 6-28-10
    • Gil Troy: Primary job for wives of G20 leaders: Do no harm: Though prominent wives have advocated for political initiatives at home, they’ve stayed away from the microphones at international summits…
      “Their basic job is not to do damage,” Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University, says. Mr. Troy cites a memo written by U.S. president Richard Nixon in 1972, where he considered bringing his wife on a state visit. “If Pat comes to China, she’s coming as a prop,” Mr. Nixon wrote. Not a lot has changed since then, Prof. Troy says…
      Summits can be a haven for the lonely other halves of presidents and prime ministers, Prof. Troy says. “If you’re feeling frustrated or if you’re feeling bored, this is an opportunity to share concerns, to find people who are like minded in the zone of confidence and comfort. If you do have a cause, this is an opportunity to find people who have shared interest and the same power,” he says…
      Prof. Troy says Ms. Obama may not get to speak up about her position on the McChrystal affair, but she can recruit support among other spouses for her less-controversial childhood obesity initiative. The stipulation, though, is “it has to be done within all the protocols and pageantry of the summit.”… – The Globe & Mail, 6-25-10

    History Buzz: June 21, 28, 2010: Remebering the Korean War 60 Years Later

    HISTORY BUZZ:

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

    IN FOCUS:

    • Nurse being kissed in iconic wartime picture dies, aged 91: Edith Shain was photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt in Times Square in 1945 being kissed by a sailor – Guardian UK, 6-23-10

    THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    HISTORY NEWS:

    • AHA, OAH, and NCPH endorse new guidelines for tenure: Three national groups of historians — the American Historical Association, the National Council on Public History and the Organization of American Historians — have now all endorsed guidelines that suggest a new, broader approach to tenure when considering public historians. The joint guidelines are part of a growing movement in disciplines that have tended to base tenure decisions on traditional forms of scholarship (in this case the monograph) to broaden the way they judge contributions to a field…. – Inside Higher Ed (6-22-10)
    • Historical Associations Issue Recommendations about Rewarding Public History Work for Promotion and Tenure AHA Blog (6-21-10)
    • Robert B. Townsend: Recession Takes Toll on AHA Membership: The economic hard times rocking the discipline took their toll on the AHA this past year, as membership in the Association fell 7.4 percent from the year before. This erased gains made over the previous five years and dropped membership down to 13,946 active members…. – Robert B. Townsend at the AHA Blog (6-21-10)
    • Robert B. Townsend: Is There an E-book in Your Future? A Report from the University PressesRobert Townsend at the AHA Blog (6-21-10)

    OP-EDs:

    REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

    • Book review: H.W. Brands reviews “Tocqueville’s Discovery of America,” by Leo Damrosch: Rather, the appeal of “Democracy in America” is that of any good coming-of-age story: We see the possibilities of youth struggling against the realities of adulthood, and even as we slide toward old age, we reimagine all that we might have been. Leo Damrosch, in the best book on this subject in 70 years, deftly depicts the fateful encounter between the young Tocqueville and adolescent America. WaPo, 6-25-10
    • Book review of Hugh Trevor-Roper’s “History and the Enlightenment”: In the half-century following World War II, there was no more admired British historian than Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003)…. “History and the Enlightenment” is a posthumous collection. Editor John Robertson has gathered together Trevor-Roper’s reflections on historiography and the achievements of the 18th- and early 19th-century historians, starting with Pietro Giannone — whose “Civil History of Naples” inspired both Hume and Edward Gibbon — and ending with Jacob Burckhardt (“The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy”)…. – WaPo, 6-23-10
    • Dominic Lieven: ‘War and Peace’: The Fact-Check: RUSSIA AGAINST NAPOLEON The True Story of the Campaigns of “War and Peace” Lieven’s account in “Russia Against Napoleon” could not be more different. He concentrates on the men who led the Russian Army to victory — the young Czar Alexander and his close advisers — and shows that they won because they got more things right than Napoleon did. They understood him better than he did them, and while Napoleon may have been a battle­field genius, Alexander showed greater diplomatic skill in bringing together the coalition that eventually defeated him. That was no easy matter, given the fear of the French that prevailed in the German lands, and the fear of Russian predominance as well…. – NYT, 6-20-10
    • Rabbi’s Biography Disturbs Followers: Mr. Heilman, a sociologist at Queens College, and Menachem Friedman, a professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, offer a view into his world in their new biography, “The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson” (Princeton University Press). But they have provoked a growing chorus of complaints from people inside and outside Chabad with their characterization of the rebbe…. – NYT, 6-20-10

    FEATURES:

    • Doris Kearns Goodwin: New Kennedy Docs Show Perseverance, FBI Relationship, Says GoodwinWPUR (Boston) (6-15-10)
    • Douglas Brinkley, Robert Dallek: Historians weigh in on released Kennedy FBI files: The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy lived under the constant threat of violent death, a burden he inherited from his slain brothers, according to FBI records released yesterday detailing hundreds of threats issued by hate groups or relayed by agency tipsters and police across the country…. – Boston Globe (6-15-10)
    • Joseph Persico, Lara Brown: Presidential historians (pre)assess Obama speech: …Before Obama’s first Oval Office address, historians were taking the measure of what might be possible for the president…. – NPR,org (6-15-10)

    QUOTES:

    • Shen Zhihua, the director of the Shanghai-based Center for Cold War International History Studies and professor of history at East China Normal University: Frank Views from Chinese Historian About Korean War: The Korean War was started by Stalin, who wished to establish pro-Soviet government in the Korean Peninsula, and Kim Il-sung, who wanted unified Korea, a leading Chinese academic told the state-run media Thursday. – Chosun Ilbo (6-18-10)
    • Controversy in France over de Gaulle literature, Robert Paxton weighs in: “He’s a great classical stylist with a vigorous point of view, which is exactly what young people should be reading,” Paxton said in a telephone interview from Cluny, in the Burgundy region of France. “You can use the same critical powers on the writings of a politician as on a literary figure.”… Bloomberg News (6-18-10)
    • J.B. Shank: University of MN historian objects to Pawlenty comments on Daily Show: “Technophilic talk is a pernicious distraction,” he says, “because it allows for a certain kind of justification for not giving the university the money it needs to provide the kind of education it wants to provide.”… – DigitalBurg.com (6-17-10)
    • Jean-Pierre Azema: De Gaulle truth played down?: A LEADING World War II historian has warned against manipulating history as France this week commemorates 70 years since Charles de Gaulle made his stirring appeal to resist Nazism…. – The Straits Times (Singapore) (6-16-10)

    INTERVIEWS:

    • Andrew Bacevich sits down with Salon on Gen. McChrystal’s ouster: Should Gen. McChrystal have been fired?
      I believe this matter has already been settled. My view is that he should not have been fired…. – Salon.com (6-23-10)

    AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

    • Rick Atkinson wins prize for military writing: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian Rick Atkinson has received a $100,000 award for military writing. Atkinson has been awarded the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing…. – AP, 6-21-10
    • U. of Tennessee Wins Grant to Digitize Newspapers: In two years, students, historians, and anyone else curious about nearly a century of history should have 100,000 pages of Tennessee newspapers at their fingertips. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize local newspapers from 1836 to 1922…. – CHE (6-18-10)
    • Stimpson Prize for Feminist Scholarship awarded to Ellen Samuels: Professor Samuels’s award-winning essay, “Examining Millie and Christine McKoy: Where Enslavement and Enfreakment Meet,” is impressively interdisciplinary, combining historical analysis, visual culture studies, feminist theory, and critical race theory to explore representations of Millie and Christine McKoy, African American conjoined twins born into slavery in North Carolina in 1851. – Chicago Journals (6-13-10)

    SPOTTED:

    • West Point gathering examines endings of US wars: American wars usually begin with a bang, yet it’s the endings that usually have long-lasting influences, a gathering of prominent military historians told West Point instructors who are training the next generation of Army officers…. – AP (6-21-10)

    ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700″ is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
    • Jeff Shesol to give Jackson Lecture at the Chautauqua Institution: Historian, presidential speechwriter and author Jeff Shesol will deliver Chautauqua Institution’s sixth annual Robert H. Jackson Lecture on the Supreme Court of the United States. Jeff Shesol will give the Jackson Lecture on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. in Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy…. – John Q. Barrett at the Jackson List (6-14-10)
    • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
    • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

    ON TV:

    BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    BOOKS COMING SOON:

    • Ruth Harris: Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century (REV), (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
    • James Mauro: Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010.
    • William Marvel: The Great Task Remaining: The Third Year of Lincoln’s War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
    • Suzann Ledbetter: Shady Ladies: Nineteen Surprising and Rebellious American Women, (Hardcover), June 28, 2010.
    • Julie Flavell: When London Was Capital of America, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
    • Donald P. Ryan: Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
    • Jane Brox: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, (Hardcover), July 8, 2010.
    • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), July 30, 2010.
    • Richard Toye: Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, (Hardcover), August 3, 2010.
    • Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers, (Hardcover), August 16, 2010
    • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
    • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
    • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
    • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
    • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
    • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
    • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
    • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
    • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
    • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
    • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
    • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
    • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
    • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
    • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
    • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

    DEPARTED:

    • Retired Vanderbilt professor, Paul Hardacre, passes away: Paul Hoswell Hardacre, a retired Vanderbilt University professor noted for his expertise on the Stuart period of English history, died on April 10 in Pasadena, Calif., at the age of 94. The professor of history, emeritus, taught at Vanderbilt for 34 years… – InsideVandy.com (6-18-10)
    • Angela Gugliotta, Environmental Historian and Lecturer at the University of Chicago, 1963-2010: Angela Gugliotta, a beloved teacher of environmental history whose research challenged the categorical distinction between natural and social knowledge, died June 1 after a ten-year battle with breast cancer. She was 47… – University of Chicago (6-9-10)
    • Bruce Fraser, historian of Connecticut, dies at 63: Mr. Fraser, 63, executive director of the Connecticut Humanities Council since 1982, died Sunday after battling cancer for nearly a year. A compact, athletic, intense man with a Swiftian wit and Yankee work ethic, Mr. Fraser was a gifted historian as well as a skilled advocate, organizer and fundraiser. He built the humanities council into one of the largest and most effective such agencies in the country, and then used it, in the words of Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation Executive Director Helen Higgins, “to transform Connecticut’s once sleepy heritage community into a vibrant industry.”… – Hartford Courant (6-16-10)

    CAMILLE PAGLIA: No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class

    Source: NYT, 6-27-10

    ….The implication is that a new pill, despite its unforeseen side effects, is necessary to cure the sexual malaise that appears to have sunk over the country. But to what extent do these complaints about sexual apathy reflect a medical reality, and how much do they actually emanate from the anxious, overachieving, white upper middle class?

    In the 1950s, female “frigidity” was attributed to social conformism and religious puritanism. But since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, American society has become increasingly secular, with a media environment drenched in sex….. READ MORE

    Donald Worster: KU History Professor Wins Scotland’s Biggest Literary Prize

    Donald Worster, the Joyce and Elizabeth Hall Distinguished Professor of U.S. History at the University of Kansas, received the Scottish Book of the Year Award for his biography “A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir external link” from the Scottish Arts Council. The award is funded by the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust.

    Worster will receive 30,000 British pounds in recognition of his literary talent and the significance of his biography, which positions Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, as a national icon for Scotland and a figure of global significance for concern about the environment….READ MORE

    Obama Fires Afghan General Stanley McChrystal for Controversial Rolling Stone Profile

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

    Doug Mills/The New York Times

    President Obama, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Gen. David H. Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, announced his removal of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday and his appointment of General Petraeus to lead the war effort there.

    THE HEADLINES….

    • Obama Relieves McChrystal of Command: President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of American forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday, and tapped as his replacement the general’s boss and the architect of the 2007 surge in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus.
      Mr. Obama, standing with General Petraeus and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the White House Rose Garden to underline the continuity and solidity of his Afghan policy, said that he had accepted General McChrystal’s resignation “with considerable regret.”… – NYT, 6-23-10
    • McChrystal out, Petraeus in: Obama fires the top commander in Afghanistan after McChrystal makes disparaging comments about civilian leaders, published in Rolling Stone. ‘I welcome debate, but I won’t tolerate division,’ the president says…. – LAT, 6-23-10
    • General Sees Obama, Then Leaves Before War Meeting: Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal left the White House after meeting with President Obama for about 20 minutes, departing ahead of a meeting on the war in Afghanistan scheduled for later Wednesday morning, but there was no immediate word on whether he would keep his job as the top American commander there…. – NYT, 6-23-10
    • Stanley McChrystal’s fate unclear after Obama meeting: The top US military commander in Afghanistan has left the White House after meeting President Barack Obama to explain his criticism of leading officials. Gen Stanley McChrystal held a one-on-one meeting with Mr Obama which lasted about 30 minutes. It is unclear whether or not he still retains his position in the military. Gen McChrystal had agreed with Mr Obama that the statements in Rolling Stone magazine showed “poor judgement”. Gen McChrystal was also due to attend the monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan and face some of those he and his aides criticised. It is unclear whether he will return for this 1535 GMT meeting…. – BBC, 6-23-10
    • McChrystal likely to resign over magazine comments, source says: America’s top military commander in Afghanistan is unlikely to survive the fallout from remarks he made about colleagues in a magazine profile to be published Friday, according to a Pentagon source who has ongoing contacts with the general. Gen. Stanley McChrystal will likely resign Wednesday, the source said. McChrystal’s fate is expected to hinge on a meeting scheduled Wednesday with President Obama, who was “angry” after reading the general’s remarks in Rolling Stone.
      The “magnitude and graveness” of McChrystal’s mistake in conducting the interview for the article were “profound,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said McChrystal had “made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment.”
      “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” McChrystal said in a Pentagon statement. “Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard.”… – CNN, 6-23-10
    • Obama ‘angry’ after reading McChrystal’s remarksCNN, 6-23-10
    • Afghan leaders voice strong support for McChrystal: Afghan officials said Wednesday that firing Gen. Stanley McChrystal would disrupt progress in the war and could jeopardize a pivotal security operation underway in Taliban strongholds in the south. At the end of a one-hour video conference Tuesday night with President Barack Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his confidence in the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said…. – USA Today, 6-23-10
    • McChrystal speaks up one too many times: Gen. Stanley McChrystal was put in charge of a drifting war in Afghanistan in part because he wasn’t afraid to speak up. That quality may prove to be his downfall as President Barack Obama decides whether to fire him. Calm and introspective in public, if a bit brusque, the lanky four-star general, 55, has never been one to suffer fools gladly. But challenging the president and his team is another matter, so he was summoned to the Oval Office on Wednesday to explain remarks he made in a magazine interview…. – AP, 6-23-10
    • McChrystal to meet with Obama after deriding top civilian officials: The U.S.’ top leader in Afghanistan apologizes for ridiculing senior Obama administration officials in a Rolling Stone magazine article, calling his comments a ‘mistake reflecting poor judgment.’… – LAT, 6-22-10
    • Top U.S. General in Afghanistan Under Fire for Testy Magazine Profile: The top commander in Afghanistan, and his team, describe their diplomatic and political counterparts in robust terms in a Rolling Stone profile. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been summoned to the White House to explain comments made in a Rolling Stone magazine profile in whcih he airs insults against Vice President Joe Biden, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke and the president himself. National-security adviser James L. Jones is referred to as a “clown.”
      The profile, out this Friday, headlined “The Runaway General,” shows a bravado-filled, towel-flicking culture in the general’s inner circle—an aide describes French ministers as “f—king gay,” and McChrystal, whose favorite movie is Talladega Nights, flips an aide the bird…. – Newsweek, 6-22-10
    • AP source: McChrystal has no sign he’ll be fired: A senior U.S. military official in Afghanistan tells The Associated Press that Gen. Stanley McChrystal doesn’t know whether he’ll keep his job when he appears at the White House on Wednesday. The official says the general has been given no indication that he’ll be fired — but no assurance he won’t be….
      McChrystal has apologized for a Rolling Stone magazine profile this week in which aides mock other administration officials. Obama summoned the general to Washington to explain the remarks…. – AP, 6-22-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    • Video and Transcript of President Obama’s Remarks on Gen. McChrystal: Today I accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. I did so with considerable regret, but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military and for our country.
      I’m also pleased to nominate Gen. David Petraeus to take command in Afghanistan, which will allow us to maintain the momentum and leadership that we need to succeed.
      I don’t make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal, as we are in full agreement on strategy, nor do make this decision out of any sense of personal insult. Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully. I’ve got great admiration for him and for his long record of service in uniform. Over the last nine years, with America fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has earned a reputation as one of our nation’s finest soldiers. That reputation is founded upon his extraordinary dedication, his deep intelligence and his love of country. I relied on his service, particularly in helping to design and lead our new strategy in Afghanistan. So all Americans should be grateful for General McChrystal’s remarkable career in uniform.
      But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a president.
      And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security.
      The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan…. – NYT, 6-23-10
    • Gen. McChrystal issued this short statement soon after the president spoke: This morning the President accepted my resignation as Commander of U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. I strongly support the President’s strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people. It was out of respect for this commitment — and a desire to see the mission succeed — that I tendered my resignation.
      It has been my privilege and honor to lead our nation’s finest. – NYT, 6-23-10
    • The Runaway General: Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House…. – Rolling Stone, 6-22-10
    • Excerpts from Stanley McChrystal’s Rolling Stone Interview: “McChrystal thought Obama looked ‘uncomfortable and intimidated’ by the roomful of military brass.”
      “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his (expletive) war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
      “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal tells an imaginary questioner. “Who’s that?” “Biden?” a top adviser says. “Did you say: Bite Me?”
      “if Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.” USA Today

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • MAX BOOT, ROBERT DALLEK and DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: General Uproar: Three writers on Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s remarks in a magazine profile that have put him under scrutiny and how it may affect his command in Afghanistan…. – NYT, 6-23-10
    • MAX BOOT: Judging McChrystal’s War: Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s ill-advised remarks shouldn’t overshadow the credit he deserves for putting in place the right strategy to turn around a failing war effort…. – NYT, 6-23-10
    • ROBERT DALLEK: The Other Truman Doctrine: President Obama must replace General McChrystal with a commander who will closely follow his orders…. – NYT, 6-23-10
    • DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: What Would Lincoln Do?: If Abraham Lincoln’s experience is any guide, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s fate will be determined by how his firing would affect the war in Afghanistan…. – NYT, 6-23-10

    For Jeb Bush, Life Defending the Family Name

    For Jeb Bush, Life Defending the Family Name

    Source: NYT, 6-23-10

    For months now, Jeb Bush has been listening as President Obama blasts his older brother’s administration for the battered economy, budget deficits and even the lax oversight of oil wells.

    M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

    A lot of Republican Party insiders think Jeb Bush could still be a serious presidential contender in 2012.

    “It’s kind of like a kid coming to school saying, ‘The dog ate my homework,’ ” Mr. Bush, this state’s former governor, said over lunch last week at the Biltmore Hotel. “It’s childish. This is what children do until they mature. They don’t accept responsibility.”

    In fact, instead of constantly bashing the 43rd president, Mr. Bush offered, perhaps Mr. Obama could learn something from him, especially when it comes to ignoring the Washington chatter. “This would break his heart, to get advice that applies some of the lessons of leadership my brother learned, because he apparently likes to act like he’s still campaigning, and he likes to blame George’s administration for everything,” Mr. Bush said, dangling a ketchup-soaked French fry. “But he really seems like he’s getting caught up in what people are writing about him.”

    “I mean, good God, man, read a book!” Mr. Bush said with a laugh. “Go watch ESPN!… READ MORE

    Super Tuesday Primary Run-Off: Anti-Incumbent Votes Continue

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

    MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010

    • South Carolina Republicans buck biases in runoff election: The conservative state’s GOP nominates Nikki Haley for governor and Tim Scott for Congress in a runoff vote. Mississippi, North Carolina and Utah also hold nomination contests for November’s midterms…. – LAT, 6-23-10
    • Inglis becomes fifth congressional casualty of anti-incumbent year: South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis became the latest victim of the anti-incumbent wave Tuesday, losing his bid for a seventh term to GOP rival Trey Gowdy. Prosecutor Trey Gowdy has just made six-term incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis the fifth congressional incumbent to fall prey to this year’s anti-incumbent tide. Gowdy has defeated the veteran South Carolina lawmaker in a runoff for the GOP nomination, the Associated Press reports…. – USA Today, 6-22-10
    • Matheson cruises to victory: Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, easily held off his first-ever primary challenge Tuesday and will get a shot at a sixth term. With 98 percent of precincts counted by press time, Matheson led 2nd Congressional District Democratic challenger Claudia Wright 68 percent to 32 percent. Republican Morgan Philpot awaits in the Nov. 2 general election…. – The Salt Lake Tribune, 6-23-10
    • Lee wins Utah GOP Senate nomination: Utah Republicans chose their nominee for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, selecting a legal scholar who grew up in a family of lawyers and fondly recalls discussing the Constitution over childhood dinners. Mike Lee is the overwhelming favorite to win in November and replace Sen. Bob Bennett, who was ousted at the Republican convention in May amid a wave of anti-incumbent rage around the country. Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater beat out Bennett at the convention to advance to Tuesday’s primary. Lee won on Tuesday, earning a nearly a 5,000 vote lead with 84 percent of precincts reporting for about 51 percent of the vote…. – AP, 6-23-1-
    • Gowdy knocks Inglis out of office: Seventh Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg has knocked U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis out of the 4th Congressional seat. Several hundred Gowdy supporters are celebrating at the Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg. The solicitor was the leader in the Republican Primary two weeks ago, and once again bested Inglis tonight, scoring well with voters in the congressman’s home county of Greenville. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Gowdy had 51,541 votes (70 percent). Inglis garnered 21,898 votes (30 percent)…. – Go Up State, 6-22-10
    • Harold Johnson wins 8th District GOP race Newcomer rides recognition, party endorsements to primary victory: Former sportscaster Harold Johnson defeated businessman Tim D’Annunzio Tuesday after an expensive and combative 8th District congressional primary that saw party leaders go to extraordinary lengths in supporting him. Johnson, who turns 69 next week, was winning about 61 percent of the vote in unofficial returns. He piled up big margins in the district’s western portion, including Cabarrus County, which offset D’Annunzio’s support in the east. Johnson now faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell and Libertarian Thomas Hill in the 10-county district that stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville…. – Charlotte Observer, 6-23-10
    • Elaine Marshall, William Randall score runoff election wins in Person County: Despite a low voter turnout, two candidates emerged victorious in a pair of runoff elections in Person County Tuesday and the two also appeared headed to wins statewide as of press time for today’s edition. The runoff contests were between two Democrats vying to challenge Richard Burr this fall for his seat in the U.S. Senate and two Republicans battling for the U.S. House of Representatives District 13 seat, now occupied by Democrat Brad Miller. The Democratic runoff featured Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham. Marshall was North Carolina’s secretary of state for over 10 years and Cunningham is a former state senator from Lexington. In the Republican runoff, William (Bill) Randall and Bernie Reeves faced off to determine who would move on to face Burr, who easily defeated his three Republican challengers in May…. – Roxboro Courier, 6-23-10
    • Primary/Runoff Day in Utah, South and North Carolina: What to Watch ForWaPo, 6-22-10
    • Utah Republican Senate primary could be a test for tea party: As a test of the “tea party” movement’s ability to galvanize voters for a single chosen candidate, Utah’s GOP Senate primary Tuesday is likely to deliver a mixed message. Republicans Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee survived a bruising convention in May that knocked out incumbent Sen. Robert F. Bennett and gave the tea party and other conservative groups bragging rights as a dragon-slayer. Now, most of those groups — but not all of them — have rallied around Lee, a 38-year-old lawyer. But Bridgewater, 49, is even or ahead in several polls…. – WaPo, 6-22-10

    Rick Atkinson wins prize for military writing

    Source: AP, 6-21-10

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian Rick Atkinson has received a $100,000 award for military writing. Atkinson has been awarded the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. Atkinson has won Pulitzers for his book “An Army at Dawn” and for his reporting for The Washington Post. He is currently working on the final volume of his acclaimed World War II “Liberation” trilogy.

    June 21, 2010: Obama selling the Economy & Introduces Father’s Day Initiative

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

    White House Photo, Pete Souza, 6/16/10

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    • AP-GfK Poll bolsters congressional Democrats: There’s encouraging news for Democrats battling to retain control of Congress in this fall’s elections, with the party holding a slender edge in public trust for shepherding the economy and small gains in those saying their finances are healthy, according to a new poll. The reeling economy remains people’s top concern, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll conducted earlier this month, making public attitudes about it crucial for both parties’ hopes in November. The good news for Democrats: By a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent, people trust them more than Republicans to guide the economy, and slightly more — 64 percent — say their household budgets are in good shape. In addition, people want Democrats to win control of Congress by a 46 percent to 39 percent margin. That is the second straight month in which Democrats have held a delicate advantage on that question since April, when 44 percent preferred Republicans and 41 percent picked Democrats…. – AP, 6-16-10

    THE HEADLINES….

    • White House: Emanuel Quitting Report ‘Ludicrous’: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is expected to leave his job within six to eight months because he is fed up with the “idealism” of President Barack Obama’s closest advisers, The London Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
      The newspaper cited Washington insiders, who said Congress veteran Emanuel, 50, is also concerned about burning out and losing touch with his three children due to the pressure of the job.
      In response to the report, a senior White House official told Fox News early Monday the story was “ludicrous” and “not worth looking into.”
      The Telegraph, however, quoted a Democratic source as saying: “I would bet he will go after the midterms.” “Nobody thinks it’s working, but they can’t get rid of him — that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to, but the consensus is he’ll go.” “It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform. “Democrats have not stood behind the President in the way Republicans did for George W. Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”…. – Fox News, 6-21-10
    • Obama steps up fatherhood advocacy with new mentoring initiative: In what is becoming a Father’s Day ritual for the Obama administration, the president on Monday will bring together children, famous dads and nonprofit groups that promote fatherhood to highlight the importance of fathers. The center of President Obama’s day-long celebration will be a speech at the ARC, an arts and recreation campus in Southeast Washington, where he is set to announce the creation of the President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. It will build on a theme that has been central to his family policy and a core part of the White House’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new initiative, which is enlisting a network of organizations, will expand on a six-city listening tour the administration held last year to bring attention to the issue of fatherlessness. “The tour was a national conversation on responsible fatherhood that was rooted in the president’s personal experiences growing up and his realization that father absence is a real challenge facing many communities,” said Joshua DuBois, director of the partnerships office…. – WaPo, 6-21-10
    • A yachting trip? The 10 worst BP gaffes in Gulf oil spill: BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward attended a yachting race in England yesterday. It was just the latest BP public relations gaffe in the Gulf oil spill. Here are 10 of the worst…. – CSMonitor, 6-20-10
    • Records suggest Kagan played small part in settling Harvard-military dispute Lawrence H. Summers took the lead: When Elena Kagan suspended help to military recruiters as dean of Harvard Law School, consternation inside the Pentagon reached all the way to then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, according to government documents released Saturday. The records show that the controversy was resolved by Harvard’s president with little apparent input from Kagan…. – WaPo, 6-20-10
    • Election-year deficit fears stall Obama stimulus plan: Barely a week after President Obama tried to re-energize his push for more spending on the economy, his agenda is stalled on Capitol Hill, mired in election-year anxiety about the deficit…. Even the state aid that Obama last week called critical to preventing the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and other government workers is foundering. After days of talks, frustrated Democratic leaders in the Senate failed again Thursday to muster the 60 votes needed to approve the cash and left town for the weekend with no clear path forward…. – WaPo, 6-18-10
    • Obama dashing to Ohio to keep economy out front: Determined to keep showing the economy is on his mind, President Barack Obama is dashing into Ohio for the groundbreaking of a road project, hoping to remind the nation that the massive, costly stimulus act is still churning out jobs. Millions of unemployed people have yet to feel the relief. Obama was to be on the ground in Ohio for only about 90 minutes Friday, long enough to celebrate what the White House calls a significant moment: the start of the 10,000th road project launched under the recovery act. The president’s message is that a summer season of more help is on the way…. – AP, 6-18-10
    • Earning trust is biggest obstacle in disbursing $20 billion BP escrow fund: It is not easy to divvy up $20 billion. Perhaps no one in America knows this better than Kenneth R. Feinberg. The nation’s unofficial authority on disbursing massive relief funds oversaw the paying out of billions of dollars for families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the Virginia Tech shootings. His phone rang once again this month, not long before word began to spread in Washington about such a fund for victims of the gulf oil spill. BP executives contacted Feinberg to see whether he would be willing to take the job. He agreed, and President Obama signed on…. – WaPo, 6-18-10
    • Kagan’s e-mails show dry wit, political savvy: Newly released e-mails from Elena Kagan’s time as an aide to President Bill Clinton portray the Supreme Court nominee as a driven and opinionated person with a flair for political tactics and little tolerance for high-flying rhetoric. The e-mails — among tens of thousands of pages of her e-mails released Friday — also show how Kagan often had to place political considerations ahead of policy views…. – AP, 6-19-10
    • Day 58: The Latest on the Oil Spill: BP Chief Testifies Before Congress: Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, testifying before a Congressional subcommittee, apologized for the oil spill, saying it “never should have happened,” but then he faced a barrage of criticism from lawmakers who grew frustrated that he would not answer their questions on specifics about the disaster still unfolding in the Gulf Coast. “With all due respect, Mr. Hayward, I think you’re copping out,” said Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia. NYT, 6-17-10
    • U.S. official calls for Kyrgyzstan investigation: A U.S. official on Friday called for a “substantial” investigation into the killings of more than 170 people during recent ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake was at a refugee camp near the border in Uzbekistan, where thousands of ethnic Uzbeks fled violence in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Blake said he wants Kyrgyzstan authorities to investigate who carried out the attacks on ethnic Uzbeks and to bring those responsible to justice. He planned to go to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek later Friday to deliver the message personally, he said…. – CNN, 6-18-10
    • Bill To Help Unemployed Fails In Senate: A beleaguered bill to extend benefits for the long term unemployed stalled on Capitol Hill Tuesday, when the Senate voted 45-52 to block the $140 billion catchall bill that also would delay a Medicare fee cut, extend a hodgepodge of expiring tax cuts, and other provisions that Democrats say will help stimulate job growth. Although the bill also included tax increases on investment managers and oil companies to help offset the cost, it has run into opposition from Republicans as well as many Democrats who are worried about adding to the burgeoning budget deficit. The vote to block the bill came on a motion to waive budget rules to allow it to pass – a motion that would have required 60 votes. Eleven Democrats and one Independent – Joe Lieberman of Connecticut — joined 40 Republicans in voting… – LAT, 6-17-10
    • Obama Adds To Iran Sanctions: Washington….The Obama administration Wednesday added several dozen Iranian individuals and organizations to its sanctions blacklist, its first steps to intensify international pressure in the aftermath of international sanctions adopted last week by the United Nations Security Council. The penalties were aimed at entities tied to Iran’s nuclear and missile program, including one bank, five front companies, 22 energy and insurance concerns, and two individuals and four groups tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, announcing the sanctions at the White House, said that to be effective “we need to have in place a concerted international approach. This is not something the United States can do alone.”… – LAT, 6-16-10
    • 9/11 payout czar Kenneth Feinberg to dole out gulf oil disaster funds: President Obama’s choice to oversee the gulf oil disaster fund is one of the very few people who have weighed the dollar value of devastation before: 9/11′s special master Kenneth Feinberg. Feinberg, 64, oversaw the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund created by Congress in the wake of the terrorist attacks, doling out $7 billion over nearly three years. “I’m confident he will ensure that claims are administered as quickly, as fairly and as transparently as possible,” Obama said yesterday, adding Feinberg would have $20 billion to start with…. – NY Daily News, 6-17-10
    • Obama to meet with man heading up restoration plan: President Barack Obama is preparing to meet with the man he’s put in charge of developing a recovery plan for the oil-devastated Gulf Coast. Obama and the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus (MAY’-buhs), plan to discuss Mabus’ role in developing a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan. Mabus knows the region — he is a native of Mississippi and served as that state’s governor from 1988 to 1992…. – AP, 6-17-10

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    • Another Alvin Greene? Texas Democrats Grapple With Their Own Surprise Candidate: South Carolina’s unexpected Democratic nominee for the US Senate, mystery man Alvin Greene, says he wants to play golf with Barack Obama. But in Texas, another surprise Democratic primary winner, congressional nominee Kesha Rogers, wants to impeach the President. So while South Carolina party officials are still unsure of what to do about Greene’s success at the ballot box, Texas Democrats have no such reservations — they wasted little time in casting Rogers into exile and offering no support or recognition of her campaign to win what once was Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s old seat…. – Time, 6-20-10
    • Donations Create a Tricky Balance for Oil-State Politicians: The outburst by Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas in support of BP underscored the potential peril for lawmakers forced to respond to crises involving industries vital to their regions, and whose bountiful donations finance their political campaigns. Democrats continued to make use of Mr. Barton’s apology to BP, using it to portray Republicans as beholden to big oil. Mr. Barton, the senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, worked as a consultant to Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Company before being elected to Congress. He has long been one of the top beneficiaries of campaign donations from big energy companies, cornerstones of the Texas economy. But in going after Republicans, the Democrats’ attacks gloss over a more complicated picture. The largest beneficiary of campaign donations from BP in the 2008 election cycle, for instance, was President Obama, who took in $77,000 from company executives and its political action committee. This year, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas and chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, leads all candidates with $286,000 in donations from oil and gas companies… – NYT, 6-19-10
    • Anybody but Rubio? Democrats are flocking to Charlie Crist in order to upend conservative Marco Rubio: Party affiliation wasn’t the only thing Gov. Charlie Crist switched when he dropped out of the GOP primary and decided to run as independent in the Florida Senate race. Mr. Crist has piqued the ire of many conservatives by flip-flopping on a number of issues in order to ingratiate himself with liberals. In fact, he’s made so many 180s that many Democrats are now considering throwing their weight and money behind him in order to upend the remaining Republican in the race, Marco Rubio. In his most recent about-face, Mr. Crist changed his policy on travel to Cuba. In 2008, Mr. Crist signed a law imposing taxes on companies that traveled to and from the communist country. This week, he told Floridians: “I think that what the [Obama] administration has done by allowing families to visit [Cuba] is compassionate.”… – WSJ, 6-19-10
    • State Party in S. Carolina Rejects Bid for New Vote: In this age of candidate Twitter accounts and robocalls, the surprising victory in a South Carolina Democratic primary by Alvin M. Greene, 32, an unknown candidate without so much as a Web site, harks back to another era. But the state’s Democrats rejected a request by Mr. Greene’s opponent for the Senate nomination, Vic Rawl, to turn back the clock in another way. Though members of the executive committee of the state’s Democratic Party called the election “flawed,” they voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reject Mr. Rawl’s request for a new primary. Representatives for Mr. Rawl, 64, a former judge, contended in a hearing in Columbia that the primary results were so rife with irregularities that they should be discarded…. – NYT, 6-18-10
    • Minn. GOP Pawlenty sets up fundraising in Iowa, NH: Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has expanded his presence in two states pivotal to presidential politics by setting up fundraising operations in Iowa and New Hampshire. The state-based political action committees announced Wednesday will let Pawlenty raise and spend money on behalf of Republicans running for state and local offices. It’s a goodwill strategy common among likely presidential candidates…. – AP, 6-16-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    The President Records the Weekly Address
    White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 6/18/10
    • The Most Important Job, President Obama’s Father’s Day Message: As the father of two young daughters, I know that being a father is one of the most important jobs any man can have.
      My own father left my family when I was two years old. I was raised by a heroic mother and wonderful grandparents who provided the support, discipline and love that helped me get to where I am today, but I still felt the weight of that absence throughout my childhood. It’s something that leaves a hole no government can fill. Studies show that children who grow up without their fathers around are more likely to drop out of high school, go to jail, or become teen fathers themselves.
      And while no government program can fill the role that fathers play for our children, what we can do is try to support fathers who are willing to step up and fulfill their responsibilities as parents, partners and providers. That’s why last year I started a nationwide dialogue on fatherhood to tackle the challenge of father absence head on.
      In Chicago, the Department of Health and Human Services held a forum with community leaders, fatherhood experts and everyday dads to discuss the importance of responsible fatherhood support programs. In New Hampshire, Secretary of Education Duncan explored the linkages between father absence and educational attainment in children. In Atlanta, Attorney General Holder spoke with fathers in the criminal justice system about ways local reentry organizations, domestic violence groups and fatherhood programs can join together to support ex-offenders and incarcerated individuals who want to be closer to their families and children.
      Now we’re taking this to the next level. Tomorrow, I’ll make an announcement about the next phase of our efforts to help fathers fulfill their responsibilities as parents — The President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. You can learn more at http://www.fatherhood.gov.
      This Father’s Day — I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a dad to two wonderful daughters. And I’m thankful for all the wonderful fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and friends who are doing their best to make a difference in the lives of a child. – WH, 6-20-10
    • Weekly Address: Republicans Blocking Progress - WH, 6-219-10
    • Obama: Republicans blocking progress in Congress: President Barack Obama accused Republicans on Saturday of blocking legislation that would boost the nation’s economic recovery and lift a $75 million cap on what oil companies must pay to families and small businesses affected by an oil spill. Obama said the stalled Senate bill would extend unemployment benefits to workers without jobs and a tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He also said the legislation would save thousands of jobs across the country. “Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate won’t even allow this legislation to come up for a vote,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home.”… – AP, 6-19-10
    • Remarks by the President at the Site of the 10,000th ARRA Road Project Parsons and Livingston Avenue Construction Site Columbus, OhioWH, 6-18-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    President  Obama Speaks in Columbus, Ohio

    President Barack Obama, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, delivers remarks following his tour of the Parsons and Livingston Avenue construction site in Columbus, Ohio, June 18, 2010. The President is in Columbus to tour the site of the 10,000th Recovery Act road project to get underway. The road improvement project is expected to create over 300 construction jobs and will contribute to the broader economic development effort underway in the area around the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    • Julian E. Zelizer: Is America tuning out Capitol Hill?: At my local gym Thursday, one of the television sets showed the live CNN broadcast of Rep. Henry Waxman questioning BP CEO Tony Hayward about how so much could have gone wrong.
      The problem was, most people at the gym weren’t watching. Some of them were tuned in to the other television sets on the wall that broadcast the World Cup. Yet others had their eyes glued to the music video stations that play continuously throughout the day near the Nautilus machines….
      Congressional hearings just aren’t what they used to be. We live in a multimedia world that has made it much more difficult for congressional committees to draw attention to their work when they are fulfilling one of the most important roles of the legislative branch: to act as a watchdog by convening hearings.
      While, historically, many hearings have fallen flat and have failed to produce any kind of concrete legislative outcome, the added challenge today is that they take place in a media environment where the public has so many choices as to what they should watch that it is almost impossible to gain national attention.
      This is a shame, for there have been moments when the nation has been absorbed by congressional hearings that produced extremely important debates over key issues of the day….
      Members of Congress have much more trouble shaping national conversations and much more difficulty controlling the flow of information than they did in the period before the 1980s. Legislators such as Waxman, who still believe that the legislative branch has a role to fill in the politics of investigation, might have to start finding new ways to fulfill this historic function…. – CNN, 6-21-10
    • President Obama’s Oval Office oil spill disaster speech draws fire from Robert Reich, other allies: If the reviews of President Obama’s Oval Office oil disaster speech were about a Broadway play, the scenery already would have been loaded into moving vans. The address was “vapid,” “bloodless,” “short on specifics,” “inscrutable” or just plain “flat.” And those verdicts were from Obama’s pals and others who usually give him a thumbs up. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary and a current White House favorite on the economy, was nearly in despair in musings to the Huffington Post. The speech “was, to be frank, vapid,” Reich said. “If you watched with the sound off, you might have thought he was giving a lecture on the history of the Interstate Highway System.”… – NY Daily News, 6-17-10

    Top Young Historians: 107- François Furstenberg

    Top Young Historians

    François Furstenberg, 37

    Basic Facts

    Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation Chair in American Studies, Université de Montréal.
    Area of Research: U.S. and comparative nationalism, Political ideologies, The French Atlantic World, c. 1790-1820, Slavery and Society, c. 1770-1860
    Education: Ph.D., History, Johns Hopkins University (2003); B.A., Columbia University (1994).
    Major Publications: Furstenberg is the author of In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation, Penguin Press, 2006, Audio book edition, Tantor audio, 2006,Paperback edition, Penguin Books, 2007, a Finalist for the Washington Book Prize, and a “Starred Review,” Publisher’s Weekly. François Furstenberg JPG Furstenberg is an editor with Carolyn Fick, La construction de la nation haïtienne après la Révolution. Under contract with CIDIHCA Press, 2010, and the upcoming George Washington and the American Nation: A Brief History with Documents. The Bedford Series in History and Culture. Under Contract with Bedford/ St. Martin’s Press, for publication in 2011.
    Furstenberg is currently working on When the United States Spoke French: French Émigrés, Land, and Empire in the Age of Revolutions. Under contract with Penguin Press, for publication in 2012/2013.
    Furstenberg is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
    “Atlantic Slavery, Atlantic Freedom: George Washington’s Library, Slavery, and Trans-Atlantic Abolitionist Networks,” William and Mary Quarterly, forthcoming, October 2010; “The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History, c. 1754-1815,” The American Historical Review, 113:2 (June, 2008), 647-677, Winner of the Ray Allen Billington Award, Western Historical Association, for the best article on Western history; “Beyond Slavery and Freedom: Autonomy, Agency, and Resistance in Early American Political Discourse.” The Journal of American History 89:4 (March, 2003), 1295-1330, Winner of the ABC-CLIO: America: History and Life Award, for scholarship in American history advancing new perspectives on accepted interpretations or previously unconsidered topics.
    Awards: Furstenberg is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
    Principal Investigator, “When the United States spoke French: Trans-Atlantic commerce, finance, and land speculation in the age of revolutions,” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grants Program, 2010-2013;
    Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, The New York Public Library (Gilder Lehrman Fellow) 2009-2010;
    Co-Investigator, “French Atlantic Studies” (with a group of scholars from Université de Montréal and McGill University), The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2006-2009;
    Gilder Lehrman Fellowship, The New-York Historical Society, 2008;
    Principal Investigator, “French Atlantic World and the Creation of the American Republic, 1789-1803,” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grants Program, 2005-2008;
    Principal Investigator, “Les émigrés français aux États-Unis et la transformation politique, économique, et diplomatique de la jeune république américaine, 1789-1803,” Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture, Québec, Établissement de nouveau professeurs-chercheurs, 2005-2008;
    Program in Early American Economy and Society postdoctoral fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia, 2005;
    Principal Investigator, “Entangling Alliances: Philadelphia’s International Revolutionary Networks and the Creation of Early American Political Culture,” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and l’Université de Montréal, Petite subvention/ Start-up Research Grant, 2004-2005;
    Delmas Fellowship, The New-York Historical Society, 2001;
    Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2001;
    Johns Hopkins Dean’s Fellowship, 2001;
    Fellowship for graduate study, The Johns Hopkins University, 1998-2002;
    Richard Hofstadter Fellowship, Columbia University, 1997-1998;
    Jacob Javits Fellowship, United States Department of Education, 1997-2001.

    Additional Info:
    Furstenberg formerly was a Visiting Professor, Université de Paris VII-Denis Diderot, and Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King’s College, Cambridge University.
    Furstenberg hasalso contributed to the New York Times, and Baltimore Sun, and has given commentary on CBC Radio, Radio Canada Première Chaîne, and LCI/ TVA Television.

    Personal Anecdote

    My grandfather on my mother’s side, Félix-Paul Codaccioni, was an historian. He taught in high schools in France for many years and then, when he completed his monumental thèse d’état, a two-volume work on the working class of Lille, an industrial city in the north of France where he had settled with his family, he began teaching at the University. For my grandfather, as for many Corsicans starting with his own father, education was road out of the grinding poverty of the rural peasantry; educational achievement was probably the single most important value for him.

    I grew up in the United States and only saw my grandfather every other year, when the family went to Corsica on vacation. (As a teacher, he was able to spend the summers in his ancestral home in a small village in the mountains there). No doubt misinterpreting my awkward shyness as intellectual profundity, he imagined I was interested in school and so he would, on occasion, try to mentor me. I have vivid memories of the two of us in the middle of the afternoon on the house’s balcony, me sitting on an uncomfortable chair facing my grandfather, my eyes stinging from the blinding white sun, sweating and miserable, as he droned on and on about Hegel’s dialectic-thèse, antithèse, synthèse… thèse, antithèse, synthèse-while I listened despondently to the other kids playing in the village, blissfully unaware of nineteenth-century German philosophy.

    I wish I could say it was he who inspired me to become an historian, but I think the truth is probably more complicated. Other, more powerful and direct influences intervened in college and graduate school to shape my professional choices and intellectual interests. What is strangely true, however, is that I seem to have lived the life that he imagined for himself.

    My grandfather always dreamed of moving to Canada. I have no idea why. Certainly he wasn’t enamored of the cold. I think it must have been the scale that caught his imagination: of the forests and mountains and lakes and rivers, and the great Saint Laurent in particular, all of it so different from the smallness and cramped life of postwar Europe in general and of arid Corsica in particular. My grandmother wouldn’t hear of moving to Canada, however, and so they never got further than the north of France.

    I, on the other hand, not only became a university professor of history, but went on to get a job teaching in French in Québec: exactly the life my grandfather would have chosen had if he had been able to follow through on his dreams. It is a curious fate for me; my education was in English in big-named American universities, and like most Americans I never gave Canada the slightest though-until I got a job and moved there. Historians as much as anyone else lack perspicacity when the benefits of distance and hindsight are absent, so I won’t even try to speculate about how it is that, without any conscious intent whatsoever, I fulfilled my grandfather’s dream.

    Quotes

    By François Furstenberg

  • If George had intended the delay in abolition to spare Martha various “disagreeable consequences,” his hopes were not borne out. In fact, George’s will entailed consequences more burdensome and terrifying for Martha than anything he had anticipated.
    In the Name of the Father JPG Martha ultimately took it upon herself to free her husband’s slaves early: some two years before her own death. But it was not humanitarian reasons that drove this early emancipation, the existing evidence suggests she disapproved of freeing slaves, nor was it from the expense or difficulty involved in supporting² the slaves. It was out of fear. It was found necessary, reported Martha¹s grandson, to free the slaves for prudential reasons. Hidden in this circumlocution was the fact that George;s deathbed emancipation had put Martha¹s life in jeopardy. As she and the slaves all recognized, the longer she lived, the longer their bondage extended. “In the state in which they were left by the General,” wrote Adams, “she did not feel as tho her Life was safe in their Hands, may of the [the slaves] would be told that it was [in] their interest to get rid of her.” She therefore was advised to set them free at the close of the year.
    Martha Washington, first First Lady, wife of the father of the nation, lived her last days among hundreds of enslaved people she called family, people she believed would try to kill her. — François Furstenberg in “In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation”
  • Four hundred and eighty million years ago, there was no Atlantic Ocean. Africa, Europe, and North America were all connected. North America straddled the equator, and what is now the Atlantic coast lay under water. As the Earth’s tectonic plates collided in this period of intense geological activity, the African plate slamming into the North American plate, the ocean floor buckled, and great sheets of bedrock began slowly rising up in the air. Humans would one day call these the Appalachian Mountains. Over the millions of years that followed, slices of rock crumpled and were thrust miles into the sky as the Appalachians reached exalted heights, nearly as tall as the present-day Himalayas. Eventually the continents began to separate. Vast plains and mountain chains were torn asunder, and water poured into the breach: thus, some 220 million years ago, the Atlantic Ocean was formed. The new ocean separated not just the new continents, but the already ancient Appalachian Mountains themselves. They were, one might say, the first Atlantic crossing. — François Furstenberg in “The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History, c. 1754-1815,” The American Historical Review, 113:2 (June, 2008)
  • About François Furstenberg

  • Starred Review. “How were the ideals that were articulated in America’s founding documents-freedom, democracy and government based on the consent of the governed-disseminated to the nation? That question animates this extraordinary new study by Furstenberg, an assistant professor of history at the Université de Montréal, which shows how popular print-broadsides, newspaper columns, schoolbooks, sermons-taught citizens “liberal and republican values,” and ultimately “create[d] a nation.” … In the deluge of founding father books, Furstenberg’s blend of high-brow intellectual history and popular culture studies stands out; rather than lionize Washington, it advances an important argument about his role in shaping American political identity.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “In the Name of the Father is an eminently readable and important book linking George Washington’s political philosophy in the early republic (and what others made of it), justifications for slavery, and the power of popular print culture in fashioning American nationalism…. This book is recommended reading for everyone concerned with slavery, racism, and American nationalism, as well as for students of American politics and of popular culture.” — Lorena Walsh, Journal of the Early Republic
  • “In this complex, smartly conceived volume, François Furstenberg offers an engaging reading of the early American republic. He links together, in a single interpretive structure, the emergence of an American nationalism centered on the cult of George Washington as the symbolic father of the country and of individual American lives; an individualism grounded in a Revolution-inspired belief in consent as the basis of liberty and the notion that personal autonomy is realizable only through purposeful rebellion against oppression; a continuing justification of slavery based on the perceived acceptance by blacks of their enslavement; and the pervasive power of popular, especially print, culture in inculcating those notions in the belief system of the American people… a novel and stimulating overview of the cultural politics of the early republic.” — John Howe, “Journal of American History”
  • “Drawing from recent scholarship on the history of the book and on nationalism, his analysis of ‘civic texts’ offers several new twists on the old debate about the relationship between liberalism and slavery in a nation ostensibly dedicated to individual autonomy.” — Scott Casper, “William and Mary Quarterly”
  • “Utilizing civic texts (including the Declaration of Independence and Washington’s farewell address), newspaper articles, and even paintings, he describes the slow but inexorable march toward a vision of what constituted an American identity. His treatment of slavery is particularly informative, as he asserts that the mental gymnastics required to reconcile slavery and republican principles would have devastating consequences.” — Jay Freeman, “Booklist”
  • “The verdict is in-Furstenberg has written a fine book… Sensible, readable, and artfully constructed, it traces the origins of Americans’ shared myths about their own nation.” — Benjamin Carp, “New England Quarterly”
  • Posted on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Gordon S. Wood: Was Washington ‘Mad for Glory’?

    wood_1-061010.jpgWashington-Custis-Lee Collection/Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA

    George Washington as Colonel of the Virginia Regiment; painting by Charles Willson Peale, 1772

    No two generals in the era of the early Republic appear to differ from one another more than George Washington and James Wilkinson. Although each man possessed considerable personal, political, and military skills and each at different times became commander in chief of the United States Army, the two generals seem to have little else in common. Washington was a revered figure in his own lifetime, someone who appeared to transcend the petty interests of ordinary men—a man of character, self-controlled, incorruptible, the epitome of selfless disinterestedness, and the savior of the new and fragile Union.

    By contrast, Wilkinson, who was twenty-five years younger than Washington, was always a controversial figure, vain, flamboyant, and widely criticized for his selfishness and his lack of moral character. Throughout most of his career in the US Army, even as its commander in chief, he remained a paid secret agent of the Spanish government, a devious, untrustworthy, and corrupt creature who, far from endeavoring to preserve the Union, threatened several times to break it up. While Washington is rightly celebrated as one of America’s greatest heroes, Wilkinson may be the most unscrupulous character in all of American history.

    But are the two men as opposite as they seem? Juxtaposing these two books suggests that Wilkinson and Washington may not be as different from one another as we have thought, or at least one of the authors wants us to think so.

    June 15, 2010: Obama’s First Oval Office Address on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

    The President delivers first Oval Office Address

    Doug Mills/The New York Times

    THE HEADLINES….

    • In Oval Office Speech, Obama Calls for New Focus on Energy Policy: President Obama delivered his first Oval Office address to the nation. President Obama summoned Americans on Tuesday to a “national mission” to move away from reliance on oil and develop alternative sources of energy, casting the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an imperative for Congress to act quickly to overcome “a lack of political courage and candor.” Speaking to a national television audience for the first time from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama also promised a long-term plan to make sure that the gulf states suffering from the oil spill are made whole again. He said he was appointing Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy and the former governor of Mississippi, to develop a Gulf Coast restoration plan in cooperation with states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, conservationists and gulf residents…. – NYT, 6-16-10
    • Obama, BP set for Gulf oil showdown: President Obama will have his showdown on Wednesday with BP top executives and says he will tell the company it must pick up the tab for the massive oil disaster in the Gulf. Obama vowed Tuesday to unleash whatever resources may be needed to fight the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and to keep the pressure on BP.
      “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes,” Obama said after two consecutive days surveying the Gulf Coast, which is threatened by a massive oil spill that began April 20 and continues to pump oil into the Gulf waters and worry into Gulf residents. In a prime-time speech to a national audience, the president predicted that, “in the coming days and weeks,” efforts to contain the leak “should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. CNN, 6-16-10
    • Gulf Coast welcomes Obama’s pledge to restore land: In an Oval Office address Tuesday night, Obama said he was committed to making sure southern Louisiana, which is hemorrhaging a football field of marshland every 38 minutes, and other coastline are saved. “We need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region,” Obama said. “The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that has already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats.” Obama appointed Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy and a former Mississippi governor, to lead the effort to develop a long-term Gulf Coast restoration plan. Obama said he wanted BP to “pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.”… – AP, 6-16-10
    • Oval Office speech: Obama’s ‘take charge’ moment in Gulf oil spill: In the Gulf oil spill crisis, President Obama has shied away from theatrical moments that symbolize he’s in charge. Tuesday’s Oval Office speech is his attempt to take charge on his own terms… – CS Monitor, 6-16-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    • Obama’s First Oval Office Address: A text of President Obama’s remarks on Tuesday on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as released by the White House:
      Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges. At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists. And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens. …
      …Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.
      But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.
      Tonight I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what we’re doing to clean up the oil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again. …
      …Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.
      Beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.
      I make that commitment tonight….
      …All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny -– our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there. We know we’ll get there.
      It’s a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.
      …The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it. Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. – NYT, 6-15-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Mike Littwin: Obama’s speech safe, when we need fierce urgency on energy: In what should be a surprise to no one, Barack Obama played it safe. It’s always funny to me when people call Obama a radical president when he is so clearly a cautious, incremental politician. If there were ever a moment for Obama to go big — as they like to say in Washington these days — this was it.
      If there’s anything that Obama needs to do at this moment, it is to make people look in a different direction. He needed to call up the spill- cam on the big Oval Office high-def wide-screen and say, “Look. You see that stuff spewing out of the ocean, heading toward our beaches? Does that look like clean energy to you? That energy is the past. We can’t afford to stay in the past. Tonight, we’re here to talk about the future.”
      In his speech, Obama did talk about the future. He talked about a new way and clean energy and the jobs that could be created. He talked about the fact he was open to new ideas on energy — and that the only plan he wouldn’t accept was the “consequences of inaction.”… – Denver Post, 6-16-10
    • Obama Faces ‘A Defining Moment’ in Oval Office Oil Leak Speech: As President Barack Obama began a two-day trip to survey oil leak damage along the Gulf Coast, Judy Woodruff gets several points of view about the president’s authority and public reaction related to the environmental disaster.
      JUDY WOODRUFF: For some additional perspective on the president’s handling of the oil spill, we are joined now by presidential historian and author Michael Beschloss, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communication and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post and contributor to MSNBC… – PBS Newshour, 6-15-10
    • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian: Well, in terms of substance, the oil is still spilling into the Gulf. So, the way people are going to look at this two years from now is going to be, how fast was this stopped, how much did he go after the people responsible, and, also, how much did he help the people, you know, people who were fishing in the Gulf and others, people involved in tourism, who were suffering from this? But as far as the — you know, what he’s done the last month-and-a-half in terms of talking to the public, there’s one way he could have done this which would have been different. And that goes back to Jimmy Carter and the Iran hostage crisis November of 1979. Carter said, as you well remember: I’m not going to leave the White House until this crisis is solved. I’m just going to spend 28 hours a day working on it. And the result was that his administration was chained to every twist and turn.
      He sure was. And so I think — this is a minority view in America right now, but I think it may not have been a bad idea for him to say, Barack Obama, a month-and-a-half ago: It may take a very long time to plug this leak. It’s going to be very frustrating. If I look as if I’m spending 24 hours a day trying to stop this, and it doesn’t happen, people are going to think I’m ineffective….
      Different with every president, because, especially with a new president like Barack Obama a year-and-a-half in office, we’re still learning things about him. And everyone has subliminal worries about every new president. In Barack Obama’s case, they may be, didn’t have enough executive experience, didn’t have enough national experience, maybe the temperament a little bit too laid back. So, the second you have got a crisis like this where people are frustrated, they immediately say, aha, you know, we’re seeing all those things in play, we had better worry about this president, sort of like George H.W. Bush in 1991. The economy was going into a bad recession. And he wasn’t giving the impression that he was on top of it. And, so, the narrative emerged the president is out of touch, and people connected that to an incident where he was seeing a supermarket checkout scanner. He said: Oh, isn’t that interesting? I have never seen that before. People said, Bush is so out of touch, he doesn’t even know the way most people shop. As it turned out, it was new technology, but something like that tends to get attached to worries that people have about a new president. That’s one thing that I think the administration has been very unsuccessful in managing. – PBS Newshour, 6-15-10
    • KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, director, Annenberg Public Policy Center: He’s working in a very difficult circumstance, in which what the public expects of him and what a public — what the president is able to do are two very different things. Today, he made a good start at establishing that he’s going hold his own agencies accountable, in particular by eating seafood for lunch. He suggested that it’s still safe to eat seafood from the Gulf, and suggested that the agencies under his control will police that vigilantly to ensure that we can continue to eat seafood, but also that we will watch carefully through these agencies about the clean water and clean air. So, there’s a beginning of a start of scaffolding up an argument to suggest that government has action it can take here. He’s also been arguing that he’s going to hold BP accountable. We wait to see whether in fact that’s going to happen.
      Crises create opportunities and they create presidential capacity. So, for example, right now, what we have are visuals that are extremely difficult for the president to displace: dying endangered waterfowl, oil spilling on to beaches and children trying to pick it up. You also have a situation in which he has trouble with the metrics. He talks about thousands and tens of thousands of workers and boats and equipment, when the oil is hemorrhaging in hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. But what he can do is harness all of that into a speech Tuesday night that is, for him, a speech the equivalent of delivering the Marshall Plan speech for Truman, the Monroe Doctrine speech. A house divided against itself cannot stand, the civil rights legislation speeches of Lyndon Johnson. He could give us the speech that talks about how this crisis is a defining moment for this people, and we will come out of it with a healthier planet, fueled by economies that have clean, safe energy, and he will tell us how we can get there, what the costs will be, and why we have to pay it. He can harness what he called in the campaign the fierce urgency of now, and control those perceptions. – PBS Newshour, 6-15-10

    Political Highlights June 15, 2010: Obama Dealing with the Fallout over Gulf Oil Spill

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

    President Obama Meets with Bipartisan Members of Congress in the   Cabinet Room

    President Barack Obama meets with, from left, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Cabinet Room of the White House to discuss the upcoming work period, the economy and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. June 10, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    • Hillary more likeable than her boss: The woman U.S. President Barack Obama once called “likeable enough” has actually surpassed her boss in likeability, the latest polling indicates. Depending on the poll, Americans like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton some 10 to 25 percent better than the president, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. For example, this month’s Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll found Obama with a 51 percent favorability rating compared to Secretary Clinton with favorability in the 60s…. – UPI, 6-15-10
    • Poll: 65% of Jewish Israelis say U.S. Jews should criticize Obama’s Mideast policy: B’nai B’rith survey also found 54% of Jewish Israelis believe Jewish advocacy groups who work with foreign governments should always support Israeli policy…. – Haaretz, 6-15-10
    • Poll: Obama’s gulf work gets thumbs down: More Americans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill than of his overall job performance, a Gallup Poll indicated Tuesday. Results indicated Obama’s rating for the oil spill was 40 percent, 7 percentage points lower than his overall job approval rating. More Americans disapprove than approve of his handling of the oil spill that began April 20 when an oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and sank two days later. In an earlier poll, Gallup said 53 percent of Americans called Obama’s efforts in responding to the spill “very poor” or “poor,” while 73 percent expressed the same sentiments about BP…. – UPI, 6-8-10
    • Fox News Poll: White House Could Have Done More, Moved Faster On Spill: Fifty-seven percent think the administration could have done more and reacted more quickly to the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s 20 percentage points higher than the 37 percent who think the administration did as much as it could as fast as it could.
      Not unexpectedly, most Republicans (72 percent) think the administration could have done more. A majority of independents (63 percent), as well as a substantial minority of Democrats (43 percent), agree.
      And while many voters — 36 percent — think the Obama administration is “up to the job” of fixing the problem in the gulf, a 54 percent majority thinks the administration is “in over its head.” Fox News, 6-10-10
    • Fla. Poll: Oil Spill Takes Toll on Obama: The oil spill is taking a toll on the president, a new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters shows. The poll, released today, shows that Floridians, by a 51%-42% margin, oppose more offshore oil drilling – a big shift from the 66%-27% support drilling received in an April 19 poll.
      At the same time, President Barack Obama’s job approval numbers plummeted to a negative 40%-54% in Florida, off from a 50%-45% approval-disapproval rating in April when he called for relaxing standards for offshore drilling. WSJ, 6-9-10

    THE HEADLINES….

    The President at a tele-town hall with seniors
    The President at a tele-town hall with seniors, Wheaton, Md.,, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 6/8/10
    • Obama to cap Gulf tour with Oval Office speech: President Barack Obama is capping two days in the suffering Gulf of Mexico with a solemn, high-stakes address to the nation that will lay out the enormous effort needed to right the multifaceted damage from the country’s worst environmental disaster. With the political import of Tuesday evening’s address clear, Obama for the first time will use the Oval Office as an austere backdrop for a speech in which he will assign himself and his administration the momentous task of bringing back the Gulf’s teeming wildlife and beauty to what it was before it was fouled by hundreds of millions of gallons of oil…. – AP, 6-15-10
    • Obama continues Gulf visit, prepares to address nation: President Obama will continue his Gulf Coast visit Tuesday with a stop in Florida’s Panhandle, where beaches have started to see signs of oil as crude continues to gush from a ruptured deepwater well. Obama, on his fourth trip to the region since oil began spewing from the well in April, is scheduled to return to Washington later Tuesday and address the nation about the situation from the Oval Office…. – CNN, 6-15-10
    • Republicans seek pay freeze for federal workers; a ‘cynical ploy,’ Democrats say: Looking to demonstrate their commitment to balancing the budget, Republicans are increasingly targeting the federal workforce. In the past month, congressional Republicans have tried to attach to several bills language that would limit pay increases for federal workers. This week, as part of a GOP amendment to a Democratic bill that would spend billions on unemployment benefits and help states fund their Medicaid programs, Senate Republicans are including a proposal that would freeze pay levels for the 2 million people who work for the government… – WaPo, 6-15-10
    • Arizona bill would deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants: A proposed Arizona law would deny birth certificates to children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents. The bill comes on the heels of Arizona passing the nation’s toughest immigration law. John Kavanagh, a Republican state representative from Arizona who supports the proposed law aimed at so-called “anchor babies,” said that the concept does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution. “If you go back to the original intent of the drafters … it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon (illegal) aliens,” said Kavanagh, who also supported Senate Bill 1070 — the law that gave Arizona authorities expanded immigration enforcement powers… – CNN, 6-15-10
    • The Big Tax Increase Facing Small Business Congress Wants to Collect $11B More in Taxes Over 10 Years: The President urges Congress to enact legislation that helps small businesses While a possible increase in taxes on the “carried interest” of hedge fund and private equity money managers is getting all the attention, in the same bill Congress is also creating a tax mess for small-business owners in the form of an $11 billion tax hike over the next 10 years. The tax increase was included in H.R. 4213, a peddler’s wagon of legislation (new spending, physicians’ reimbursement, extensions of expired tax breaks, etc.) that was passed by the House in a narrow vote just before Memorial Day and is now being considered by the Senate… – Forbes.com, 6-13-10
    • F.B.I. Opens Kennedy File: Most of the death threats made against Senator Edward M. Kennedy warned of shootings, but one claimed that a crossbow would be used. For years after two of his brothers were slain by assassins, Mr. Kennedy received repeated warnings that he would meet the same fate, according to thousands of pages of documents about Mr. Kennedy that were released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation…. The F.B.I. files on Mr. Kennedy — 2,352 pages covering 1961 to 1985 — are mostly devoted to the scores of threats against him, but they also pull back the curtain on other episodes before and after he became a senator. NYT, 6-15-10
    • Obama wants BP escrow fund for spill damage: As more oil washes ashore, a letter from 54 senators calls for the company to set aside $20 billion. In an effort to seize greater control of the gulf oil catastrophe, President Obama is prepared to compel BP executives to set up a multibillion-dollar escrow account to pay damage claims in the region, a senior White House official said Sunday…
      “Our mission is to hold them accountable in every appropriate way,” Obama advisor David Axelrod said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “He is going to be very clear about what our expectations are in terms of taking care of the people who’ve been damaged by this crisis.”…. – LAT, 6-14-10
    • Kagan confirmation would affect major tobacco case: It’s a simple matter of math: Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court has complicated the government’s effort to force the tobacco industry to cough up nearly $300 billion. If confirmed by the Senate as a justice, Kagan would have to sit out high court review of the government’s decade- old racketeering lawsuit against cigarette makers. That’s because she already has taken sides as solicitor general, signing the Obama administration’s Supreme Court brief in the case — an automatic disqualifier. Kagan is expected to step aside from 11 of the 24 cases the court has so far agreed to hear beginning in October…. – AP, 6-13-10
    • Schwarzenegger makes media rounds in D.C.: Fresh from his open primary ballot victory, he keeps the focus on his final year as governor, not what’s next for him. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, fresh from his victory in the passage of Proposition 14, spent a day last week hopping from one Washington, D.C., media outlet to another touting his success and his final year’s agenda. Schwarzenegger had pushed the open primary election system ordained in the ballot measure. It will allow all candidates in a primary to appear on a single ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to run against each other in the general election. It does not apply to presidential contests…. – LAT, 6-14-10
    • Obama Appeals to Congress for $50 Billion in Emergency Aid: President Obama is pressing Congress to approve emergency aid money to support economic recovery and help avoid widespread layoffs of public workers, the Washington Post reported Saturday. Congressional leaders received a letter from the president asking for almost $50 billion for distribution to state and local governments, saying that increased spending is “urgent and unavoidable,” the Post reported. The money would protect the jobs of teachers, police and firefighters.
      “Because the urgency is high—many school districts, cities and states are already being forced to make these layoffs,” Obama wrote, “these provisions must be passed as quickly as possible.” Fox News.com, 6-13-10
    • Heat on BP to improve oil spill response: BP Plc faced renewed U.S. pressure on Sunday to do more to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as the United States and Britain played down diplomatic tensions over the crisis.
      British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was up to the British energy giant, under pressure in the United States to suspend its dividend to help pay for the damage, to decide on its payout to shareholders.
      He also said that the British government was offering the United States large quantities of chemical dispersant to help clean up the spill…. – Reuters, 6-13-10
    • Bill Clinton still has touch as he aids President Obama, former president is back to save Democrats: It’s Bubba to the rescue. Former President Bill Clinton’s outsized presence is already a force on the 2010 campaign trail as Democrats scramble to save their hides in a rough political climate. He almost single-handedly reversed the fortunes of embattled Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln last week against an insurgent primary challenger. This week, he’s off to Las Vegas to hold a campaign rally for Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader in a hard fight to win reelection…. – NY Daily News, 6-13-10
    • Obama, British PM to discuss BP’s Gulf oil spill: The Gulf oil spill, with a British company the villain, is raising tensions on both sides of the Atlantic. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron planned to discuss the environmental catastrophe Saturday by telephone, hoping to ease what has become a growing rift between the two countries over the criticism of the well’s owner, BP PLC. As BP struggles unsuccessfully to halt the gushing oil that is bringing environmental chaos to the Gulf Coast, Obama has sharpened his criticism of the British company. He said he would have fired BP’s top executive if he were in charge, embraced the idea that the oil giant suspend its quarterly dividend and reproached BP for spending money on a public relations campaign. And occasionally Obama would refer to “British Petroleum,” although the company years ago began using only its initials and, in fact, is a far-reaching international corporation with extensive holdings in the United States, including a Texas refinery and a share of the Alaska oil pipeline…. – AP, 6-12-10
    • Top US senators: Obama, stand by Israel: The top two US senators are urging President Barack Obama to stand by Israel in the face of recent global pressure following the lethal raid on the Gaza-bound Marmara ship. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote a letter to the President, urging him to show strong support for Israel in international bodies, insist on the Jewish State’s right for self-defense, and look into the terror connections of the Turkish organization that led the violent Gaza sail… – YNet News, 6-12-10
    • Kagan Expressed Broad View of Religious Freedom: As an associate White House counsel from 1995 to 1996, Ms. Kagan provided advice to a president with his own political agenda, so it is hard to gauge how much her analyses reflected her own views or how they would apply if she had the authority of a Supreme Court justice. But since she has never served as a judge and has done only a limited amount of scholarly writing, the 43,000 pages released Friday offer a rare look at her legal thinking that may influence her coming confirmation hearings.
      The papers were the second batch released by the library, for a total of nearly 90,000 pages from her files as associate counsel and later deputy domestic policy director. The library plans to release another 70,000 pages of e-mail messages before the Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings June 28, but Republicans argue that they need more time to examine the material…. – NYT, 6-12-10
    • Bill Clinton: Another comeback for ‘Comeback Kid’: The former two-term president may have finally found a role in Obama world after struggling to fit in after the caustic Democratic presidential campaign that sullied his reputation. Clinton is heading up special projects for Haiti and outreach to North Korea for the White House. He was the closer in rural Pennsylvania last month, helping Democratic Rep. Mark Critz win a special election. His campaigning was a factor in Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s narrow victory in Tuesday’s Democratic runoff in Arkansas.
      Now, he’s hoping to rally voters for vulnerable Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the swing state of Nevada. Clinton was the headliner at a rally Thursday night, wondering out loud why Reid’s seat is in jeopardy. “Why would you give away the Senate majority leader who has delivered time and time and time again?’”‘ Clinton asked about 700 Nevada voters at the Andre Agassi College Prepatory Academy. Reid was in Washington… – AP, 6-11-10
    • Senators head to Gulf as local tempers flare: A delegation of U.S. senators head to the heart of coastal Louisiana Friday to assess the damage caused by the nearly two-month-long BP oil disaster.
      The four senators, Sens. Benjamin Cardin, David Vitter, Jeff Merkley and Barbara Mikulski, will be in Grand Isle, one of the early areas hit by the slick created by the underwater gusher. The senators, who are members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, will hold a news conference after their “oversight” operation along the Gulf…. – CNN, 6-11-10
    • Obama to meet with owners of small businesses: President Barack Obama meets with small business owners in the Oval Office to highlight his small business jobs initiatives. He’ll also make a statement Friday in the Rose Garden. The administration has made a series of proposals aimed at helping small businesses grow and hire new workers, and Obama says he’ll continue to urge Congress to act on them…. – AP, 6-11-10
    • Senate Rejects Republican Effort to Thwart Carbon Limits: The Senate on Thursday defeated a Republican-led effort to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from curbing greenhouse gases as lawmakers road-tested arguments for a future fight over climate change legislation. The Senate voted 53-47 to reject an attempt by Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, to block the E.P.A. from imposing new limits on carbon emissions based on its 2009 finding that such gases from industry, vehicles and other sources represent a threat to human health and the environment…. – NYT, 6-11-10
    • Lawmakers begin merging Wall St regulatory bills: House and Senate lawmakers began assembling a massive financial regulation bill on Thursday, dividing sharply along partisan lines as Democrats vowed to fend off efforts to weaken its major provisions. “This is a very strong bill and it is time we get it to the president’s desk for his signature,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said, kicking off a meeting of lawmakers selected to blend House and Senate versions into one bill. AP, 6-10-10
    • McCain to Snooki: I won’t tax your tanning bed: Arizona Sen. John McCain is taking to Twitter to slam President Barack Obama, this time in an exchange with a star from MTV’s hit reality series “Jersey Shore.” Snooki says, “McCain would never put a 10 percent tax on tanning, because he’s pale and he would probably want to be tan.”
      McCain, a skin cancer survivor, replied Wednesday on Twitter, saying “u r right, I would never tax your tanning bed! Pres Obama’s tax/spend policy is quite The Situation. but I do rec wearing sunscreen!”
      Snooki replied: “Haha Yes!!”… – AP, 6-11-10
    • US gets tough but not crippling Iran sanctions: The United States and its allies won approval for the toughest U.N. sanctions against Iran for refusing to negotiate on its suspect nuclear program — but they’re not the “crippling” penalties U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to pursue a year ago if U.S. attempts to engage Iran diplomatically failed…. – AP, 6-10-10
    • Obama pledges $400 million for Palestinians: Obama had planned the White House meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to talk mainly about Mideast peace. But after the aid flotilla assault, they ended up focusing on the blockade of Gaza…. – LAT, 6-10-10
    • Day 49: The Latest on the Oil Spill: The Interior Department issued new guidelines on Tuesday under which shallow-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico can resume. Virtually all offshore oil and gas operations were halted late last month, but the new standards will allow drilling in water that is less than 500 feet deep. All wells in deeper water will remain under a moratorium for at least six months while a presidential panel studies the Deepwater Horizon explosion and makes recommendations on whether and how to resume such drilling.
      The White House said President Obama would travel to Mississippi, Alabama and Florida on Monday and Tuesday to survey the response efforts…. – NYT, 6-9-10
    • Gulf oil hearings continue on Capitol Hill: Capitol Hill will be awash in oil disaster hearings Wednesday as the House and Senate tackle issues ranging from safety and cleanup to liability. Three committees and two subcommittees will discuss matters related to the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico and the oil industry. The hearings come as President Obama announced that he will make a fourth trip to the Gulf region next week and as environmental groups plan to hold a vigil later in June protesting offshore oil drilling…. – CNN, 6-9-10
    • Health-care debate still alive and well for parties: There was a year of hearings, speeches and protests. Three bills passed in the House to complete the process, and two in the Senate. President Obama held several events to commemorate signing the legislation into law. But the two parties are still arguing about health-care reform…. – WaPo, 6-8-10

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    • Poll: Dems losing independents New study finds favorability ratings slip for Cuomo, Schumer: Independent voters slipped away from some of the most popular Democratic incumbent political figures, a poll released Monday shows. Both Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general who is the party’s standard-bearer, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a figure of statewide and national prominence and a media fixture, saw their favorability ratings slip, particularly among independent voters. In a month, Cuomo’s rating dropped from 60 to 51 percent and Schumer’s from 54 to 41 percent… – Albany Times-Union, 6-15-10
    • Election speculation comes from all corners after S.C. primary: It’s the voting machines. No wait, it’s random-selecting voters. Or, maybe, shadowy Republican operatives. Or Democratic antagonists. Take your pick. Everyone’s got a theory about why Alvin M. Greene — an unemployed veteran and political newbie who didn’t trifle with campaign speeches or public appearances — handily won South Carolina’s Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Senate last week. Protests have been lodged and the White House has chimed in (senior presidential adviser David Axelrod called Greene’s win “a mysterious deal” on “Meet the Press”), yet the reason for the top shocker of the primary season remains anyone’s guess…. – WaPo, 6-14-10
    • Sandoval bridges GOP worlds Gubernatorial hopeful draws moderates, hard-liners: The historic Caughlin Ranch House in Reno, where Brian Sandoval celebrated his win over Gov. Jim Gibbons in the Republican gubernatorial primary, was a far cry from the hard, dusty patch of land in Searchlight where two months ago both candidates sought votes among hard-line Tea Party conservatives…. – Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6-14-10
    • Stutzman wins on 2nd ballot Caucus quickly determines 3rd district GOP nod: Sen. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, bested 14 other candidates to win the 3rd District Republican congressional nomination Saturday in a surprisingly swift two ballots. “Moving forward, this is going to take all of us in this room,” he told the 400 precinct committee members who had gathered at Indian Springs Middle School in Columbia City. “We cannot let (Nancy) Pelosi pick off the third district. If all of us band together, we can win on Nov. 2.”
      Stutzman will likely face Democrat Tom Hayhurst on two fall ballots Nov. 2. One will be a special election to fill the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Mark Souder’s term, which runs through Jan. 3, and the other will be for a new two-year term that starts after that. Journal Gazette (IN), 6-13-10
    • More Questions About Mysterious South Carolina Senate Candidate: David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior adviser, has added his voice to those saying they smell something fishy in a Democratic primary in South Carolina that selected a jobless man who faces felony obscenity charges as the party’s nominee for the Senate. “It was a mysterious deal,” Mr. Axelrod told David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” doubtless sharing a view held by many of the state’s Democrats. Asked whether the nominee, Alvin Greene, was a legitimate candidate, Mr. Axelrod replied, “It doesn’t appear so.” Mr. Greene, as Mr. Axelrod noted, had barely campaigned — perhaps not surprising, since he had raised no campaign funds and had hired no staff. “The whole thing is odd,” Mr. Axelrod said. “I don’t really know how to explain it, and I don’t think anybody else does either.” Asked whether Mr. Greene, 32, should bow out, Mr. Axelrod stopped just short of agreeing. “The Democrats of South Carolina deserve a strong, credible candidate,” he said. Until the “big mystery” of how Mr. Greene won Tuesday’s primary is resolved, he said, “I don’t think he can claim to be a strong, credible candidate.”… – NYT, 6-13-10
    • Tea party shaping Republican Party, fall faceoffs: The tea party movement shows some growing pains, but it still wields remarkable powers to shape the Republican Party and set up a fall election with unconventional candidates and stark choices for voters. In two high-profile primary elections Tuesday, establishment GOP candidates were stunned by come-from-behind winners backed by tea party activists and other conservatives who don’t necessarily associate with that loose-knit group.
      National Republican leaders are sifting through the results. Voter fervor on the right encourages them, but some fear their insurgent nominees might stray too far from the mainstream to win in November. The party purity drive has a weaker grip on the Democratic Party, as centrist Sen. Blanche Lincoln illustrated when she held off a union-backed challenger in Arkansas…. – AP, 6-12-10
    • The Fix: Republican wins give Democrats hope: A series of developments over the last month (or so) have brightened Democrats’ hopes in a handful of Senate races — although the overall national landscape suggests the party is still headed toward losses in the fall. Recent Republican primaries have been good to Democrats. Victories by tea party backed candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky mean those seats, once considered off the radar, are now back in play. WaPo, 6-11-10
    • Reid ad slams GOP nominee on Scientology, Medicare: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unleashed his first negative ad of the general election campaign Friday, depicting Republican Sharron Angle as a heartless extremist who would slash Social Security and Medicare for the elderly.
      The 30-second ad airing statewide also reminds voters that Angle once suggested inmates enter a drug rehabilitation program devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
      “Shockingly, Sharron Angle wants to wipe out Social Security,” a narrator says ominously in the commercial. “She’d cut benefits for everyone.” “What’s next?” the narrator asks… – AP, 6-12-10
    • Abortion veto puts Crist in the middle: Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the ultrasound abortion bill and drew the ire of anti-abortion advocates as well as some Democrats. Gov. Charlie Crist rejected a controversial abortion bill Friday, using his veto pen to repudiate the conservative Republicans who elected him and championed the legislation as “the most significant pro-life measure in Florida’s history.”
      The legislation required most women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound and listen to a doctor describe the fetus, unless they sign a form to opt out, and included a provision to ensure that tax dollars didn’t cover elective abortions…. – Miami Herald, 6-12-10
    • Was candidate involved in U.S. healthcare scam?: The GOP candidate for governor led Columbia/HCA when it defrauded the federal government. He was not charged, and it is unclear what, if anything, he knew at the time. Rick Scott’s opponents for governor are telling reporters to essentially fluff off a new poll Thursday that shows the former Columbia/HCA hospital CEO beating both Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary for governor and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in a hypothetical November match-up.
      Focus on the fraud, they say. The fraud. The fraud. “Rick Scott has spent $15 million in half as many weeks to fund his public image repair squad’s pricey and misleading paid media campaign,” McCollum spokesman Kristy Campbell said Thursday. “It’s no surprise he has skyrocketed in the polls since Floridians are just beginning to learn about his questionable past. His lead will evaporate when Floridians learn Rick Scott oversaw the most massive Medicare fraud scheme in American history.”… – Miami Herald, 6-11-10
    • Who’s Alvin Greene? State Asks After Vote: For a few hours this week, it looked as if South Carolina might ditch its never-fail reputation for political scandal in favor of a genuine history-making event. There was Nikki Haley, a lawmaker of Indian descent, beaming on election night with her husband and children after taking a major step toward becoming the first female governor of the state. It was a feel-good image to obscure the stain of a campaign marked by ethnic slurs, accusations of marital infidelity and yet more national marveling over how a single state can produce a string of political embarrassments as long as the Appalachian Trail.
      But then, the television cameras started rolling on Alvin Greene’s overgrown lawn. “Yeah, it’s been pretty nonstop for a few days,” said Mr. Greene, 32, in a phone interview Friday. Because everyone wants to know how Mr. Greene, an unemployed Army veteran who had been completely unknown until Tuesday, inexplicably defeated a heavily favored former legislator and judge to become the state’s Democratic nominee for the Senate — and the state’s latest political circus act…. – NYT, 6-11-10
    • S.C. lawmaker calls for investigations of Democratic primary, 2 other races: House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) called for federal and state investigations into alleged campaign irregularities in South Carolina after an unemployed Army veteran who lives with his parents won a Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate there. Alvin M. Greene, who has an outstanding felony obscenity charge pending, “was someone’s plant,” Clyburn said Thursday. Clyburn added that Greene was one of three individuals, all African American, whose congressional campaigns were designed to upend the Democratic primary process in the Palmetto State. The lawmaker also raised questions about the campaigns of Gregory A. Brown, who ran a vigorous but unsuccessful challenge against Clyburn in the 6th Congressional District, and Benjamin Frasier Jr., a perennial candidate who surprised observers by beating retired Air Force Reserve Col. Robert Burton in the 1st District…. – WaPo, 6-10-10
    • Whitman, Fiorina victories draw comparisons to Feinstein, Boxer wins in 1992: Despite the parallels, there are major contrasts between the elections themselves, the makeup of California’s electorate and the issues on voters’ minds…. – LAT, 6-10-10
    • Poll: Crist holding on to Senate race lead: One polls shows Charlie Crist maintaining his lead in the U.S. Senate race, while another finds the governor and Marco Rubio in a tie. Crist leads with 37 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent for Republican Marco Rubio and 17 percent for Democrat Kendrick Meek. It is the third major statewide poll since Crist’s April 29 announcement, and Crist has led all three…. – Miami Herald, 6-10-10
    • Unknown Senate candidate in SC faces felony charge: A day after an unemployed veteran charged with a felony shocked South Carolina’s Democratic establishment by winning the U.S. Senate primary, party officials were still scratching their heads: What happened?
      Greene was considered such a long shot that his opponent and media didn’t even bother to check his background. If they had, they would have discovered he faces a felony obscenity charge after an alleged encounter with a college student last fall.
      “The Democratic Party has chosen their nominee, and we have to stand behind their choice,” Greene told the AP at his home in Manning. “The people have spoken. We need to be pro-South Carolina, not anti-Greene.” AP, 6-10-10
    • In Tuesday’s Primaries, Three Messages From Three States: If you are looking for a unified theme out of Tuesday’s round of primaries, good luck. In states holding the biggest votes of the night there were decidedly different storylines and lessons. The tea party movement had some reason to celebrate, in Nevada particularly, but not in California, where its supporters were trounced. Even the widely accepted political storyline of 2010 – incumbents are in trouble – took a hit in Arkansas, for now anyway. Reading too much into primary results can be foolhardy. Voters, beyond the most engaged, are usually not fully tuned into the election until later in the season and Tuesday’s turnout numbers bear that out: 30 percent in Nevada, 25 percent in California, 15 percent in Arkansas.
      But the results in those three states do send some messages about those individual places for November. And the Patchwork Nation breakdown of the results is revealing…. – Newshour, 6-9-10
    • Calif. Voting Change Could Signal Big Political Shift: The time for tinkering is done. That was the message Californians sent when they voted Tuesday to radically rejigger elections in the nation’s most populous state. Under Proposition 14, a measure that easily passed, traditional party primaries will be replaced in 2011 with wide-open elections. The top two vote-getters — whatever their party, or if they have no party at all — will face off in the general election. Supporters argue that without parties picking candidates for the general election, moderates and independents will move to the fore, and voters will pay more attention to the electoral process. Critics of the measure say it will give a huge advantage to candidates who have the most money or the widest name recognition…. – NYT, 6-10-10
    • Ladies Roll Through Primaries in Arkansas, Nevada, and California Blanche Lincoln, Sharron Angle, Meg Whitman, and Carly Fiorina all advance: Tuesday was a day for the ladies. Four women won high-profile nominations—two in California, one each in Arkansas and Nevada, with a fifth in a good position to win her South Carolina gubernatorial runoff election in two weeks. Elsewhere, Georgia sent a new member (a man) to the U.S. House of Representatives, while Republicans tapped nominees in a handful of targeted congressional races. In the day’s biggest surprise, incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas dashed to the finish line ahead of Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the state’s Senate primary runoff. She earned 52 percent of the vote to Halter’s 48 percent. The result shocked political insiders who saw Lincoln trailing in recent polls…. – US News & World Report, 6-9-10
    • Consistent theme lacking in primaries: There was a wide variety of results from primary elections held in 11 states on Tuesday. Primary votes in 11 states this week helped set the table for November’s general elections, but don’t look for a theme menu with one cuisine from these results. It’s more of a food court. Outsiders winning? Many did, but veteran insiders won top races in Arkansas and Iowa. From coast to coast, the latest round of primaries shows that the electorate remains ready to challenge the status quo and the establishment, but also that state and local issues and the quirks of individual candidates still can drive elections in any state. The results also serve to remind that voter turnout in summer party primaries tends to be small, where organization often counts more than trends in national opinion…. – Miami Herald, 6-10-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    President Obama Calls British Prime Minister Cameron

    President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Saturday, June 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls on Senate Republicans to Allow a Vote to Protect Medicare Reimbursements Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, June 12, 2010 Weekly Address Washington, DC: … I’m absolutely willing to take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget on a more fiscally sustainable path. But I’m not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare. That’s just wrong. And that’s why in the short-term, Congress must act to prevent this pay cut to doctors.
      If they don’t act, doctors will see a 21% cut in their Medicare payments this week. This week, doctors will start receiving these lower reimbursements from the Medicare program. That could lead them to stop participating in the Medicare program. And that could lead seniors to lose their doctors.
      We cannot allow this to happen. We have to fix this problem so that our doctors can get paid for the life-saving services they provide and keep their doors open. We have to fix this problem to keep the promise of Medicare for our seniors so that they get the health care they deserve. So I urge Republicans in the Senate to at least allow a majority of Senators and Congressmen to stop this pay cut. I urge them to stand with America’s seniors and America’s doctors. – WH, 6-12-10
    • Obama takes aim at Republicans again on healthcare: President Barack Obama called on Republicans on Saturday to vote for a delay in cutting government Medicare insurance payments to doctors, taking aim at the opposition party in a renewed election-year push for his new healthcare law. “This year, a majority of Congress is willing to prevent a pay cut of 21 percent — a pay cut that would undoubtedly force some doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients altogether,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. Medicare is the government health program for the elderly. “But this time, some Senate Republicans may even block a vote on this issue. After years of voting to defer these cuts, the other party is now willing to walk away from the needs of our doctors and our seniors,” Obama said…. Reuters, 6-12-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Historians weigh in on released Kennedy FBI files: “Many people thought the FBI may have been digging into Ted Kennedy’s personal life. We’re so used to the FBI stories of the ’60s and ’70s being about Hoover bugging famous people’s bedrooms,” said historian Douglas Brinkley. “But what emerges is the FBI as the great protector of a US senator….
      While Kennedy politicians have always attracted a core of vocal dissenters, “I had no idea” of all the threats against the senator, said historian Robert Dallek. “I’m kind of surprised there would be so much rage at him.”… Boston Globe (6-15-10)
    • Julian E. Zelizer: For Obama, crisis may outweigh record: As Democrats move into the 2010 midterm elections and start thinking about 2012, the administration is struggling to deal with two difficult crises, both of which have generated concerns about the president’s response and the perceptions of him as a leader.
      The first is the oil leak in the Gulf, one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in American history. The second is an unemployment rate that continues to hover near 10 percent. The slow economic recovery has still failed to make a significant dent in the number of Americans who don’t have jobs. American voters are frustrated and angry.
      Democrats are counting on President Obama’s substantial legislative record to provide the best selling points on the campaign trail, enough to counter any concerns about his detached demeanor….
      But Obama can’t afford to wait to see what the outcome is. He must start Tuesday, with the address to the nation. He needs to act with greater resolve in response to the twin crises of his second year or he might find that the most impressive list of accomplishments doesn’t mean much when voters go into the ballot box.
      In his talk about the Gulf, Obama must stop complaining about the press or simply saying that he is doing everything possible.
      Instead, he must genuinely convey his frustration and concern about what is happening and lay out a specific agenda about what the federal government intends to do over the next few months to help bring the environmental crisis to an end and to diminish the risks that another one occurs soon. – CNN, 6-14-10
    • Obama Takes a Hard Line Against Leaks to Press: “The Baltimore Sun stories simply confirmed that the agency was ineptly managed in some respects,” said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian and author of “The Secret Sentry,” a history of the N.S.A. Such revelations hardly damaged national security, Mr. Aid said. – NYT, 6-12-10
    • Douglas Brinkley: Enviros give Obama a pass on Gulf spill: “The environmental movement as such has nowhere to turn but Obama,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “They’re feeling they have one person to do business with…..We’re down to like two Republican senators who want to deal with these environmental groups.” – Politico, 6-12-10
    • Michael Egan: Enviros give Obama a pass on Gulf spill: “There is a level of confusion,” said Michael Egan, an environmental historian at McMaster University in Ontario. “Part of it is they’re still trying to figure out how to work with the Obama administration, which is sounding more and more like a Clinton one—much to their chagrin.” “While they’re disappointed by a variety of Obama’s actions, the alternatives are much, much worse,” Egan said. – Politico, 6-12-10
    • William Jelani Cobb: Spelman College historian analyzes Obama: ‘So far I would give him a B’: So what should we make of Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency? And what does his journey tell us about the United States and how the country’s attitudes about race have evolved? Since Obama’s candidacy began, a barrage of writers and pundits have been trying to answer those questions. Now author William Jelani Cobb, an associate professor and chair of the history department at Spelman College, tries to tackle them in his new book, “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress.” Surprisingly, the book does not dwell on the president’s first year in office to provide clues. Instead it looks at candidate Obama’s peculiar relationship with the old guard of the civil rights movement and, among other things, the carefully scripted language he used about race during the campaign. In an edited conversation, Cobb, who just returned from a Fulbright teaching fellowship in Russia, talked about politics, paradoxes and possibilities…. – Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6-11-10
    • Historians Reactions: How Clinton and Bush Would Have Handled the Oil Spill: Obama’s taken considerable heat for his handling of the BP disaster. But would recent past presidents have done any better?… – Newsweek, 6-11-10
    • Michael Green: Nevada challenger can “beat Reid,” says Nevada historian: “Angle can beat Reid if she can avoid being defined as too right-wing even for conservatives, which, given her history, will be hard for her to avoid,” said Michael Green, a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada. “If even worse economic news came out, it presumably could help her.”… – NYT, 6-9-10
    • Conrad Black: Israel’s friends in Canada: Stephen Harper has shown foresight and political courage by turning Canada into Israel’s greatest friend in the world. Let us remember a few facts: This dreadful mess in the Middle East arose because the British sold the same real estate twice, simultaneously, to the Arabs and the Jews. They compounded this sleazy practice by denying access to Palestine to many helpless Jewish fugitives from the Nazis before, during and just after the Second World War…
      Israel is an admirable democracy, has fought courageously for its life, has built a small, barren, beleaguered country into an advanced prosperous state. Even so, too many Western leaders — including Barack Obama — sometimes truckle to militant Muslim sentiment when the two sides clash, as they did last week off the coast of Gaza. But not Mr. Harper.
      All Canadians can be proud that the country has a prime minister who does not grovel to the received international opinion on matters such as the Middle East. (He rendered the same service on the global-warming debate by not signing Canada prematurely onto one of the Doomdsay scenarios, that have become the subject of scientific reappraisal.) This is a huge improvement on the trendy pandering of Pierre Trudeau: the Third Way, North-South, his absurd arms-control proposals, facilitation of Castro’s war-making in Angola, veneration of the Nyerere economic miracle in Tanzania (a 90% decline in per capita income). On these matters, Stephen Harper has been a prophet with honour. – National Post, 6-12-10
    • David Greenberg: Presidential scholars see recent White House job offers as nothing new: “This kind of jockeying happens all the time in politics,” says David Greenberg, professor of history, journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. “Politicians are always trying to get people in and out of races, and they will use offers, inducements and even threats to do that.”… – The Hill, 6-8-10
    • Douglas Brinkley: Obama’s Swearing Nothing New for Presidents: “That was a unique moment in presidential history — to go on a morning show and use that kind of language,” historian Douglas Brinkley, who has written about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the beginnings of the conservation movement, told AOL News.
      “Kicking ass” has become “part of American parlance,” Brinkley said. “It’s not like using the F-word where mothers cringe. Football coaches and military people use it all day long.”
      Brinkley, who is following the BP disaster closely for his next book, rejected any hint of political calculation on Obama’s part. As he has learned more about BP ‘s safety record before the oil rig blowout and been “upping his game” against the energy giant in recent days, the president has been “like a volcano that’s been about to blow publicly,” Brinkley said. “His anger is not ginned up. It’s very real.” AOL News, 6-8-10
    • Robert Dallek: Obama’s Swearing Nothing New for Presidents: “Truman “got a lot of mileage out of plain speaking,” presidential historian Robert Dallek said….
      “The public finds it appealing that he’s being strong-willed and speaking his mind,” Dallek said. “But presidents need to be restrained and operate in rational, thoughtful ways as well. They can’t go half-cocked, explosive, emotional. That’s not very appealing to the public.”… – AOL News, 6-8-10
    First Lady Michelle Obama during the Anacostia Senior High School   commencement ceremony

    First Lady Michelle Obama sits with class valedictorian Jordan Smiley during the Anacostia Senior High School commencement ceremony at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. June 11, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Top Young Historians: 106 – Pekka Hämäläinen

    Top Young Historians

    Pekka Hämäläinen, 42

    Basic Facts

    Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara and Co-Director of Indigenous Studies Minor
    Area of Research: U.S. History, Borderlands, Native American History
    Education: Ph.D. in History, University of Helsinki, 2001
    Major Publications: Hämäläinen is the author of The Comanche Empire, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Paperback in 2009. Awarded the Recognition of Excellence, Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University. Winner of Pekka Hämäläinen JPG Bancroft Prize, Merle Curti Award, Caughey Western History Association Prize, Norris and Carol Hundley Award, William P. Clements Prize, Great Plains Distinguished Book Award, Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit, and Kate Broocks Bates Award. ForeWord Magazine’s History Book of the Year. An alternate selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, Book-of-the-Month Club 2, History Book Club, and Military Book Club. El imperio comanche. Translation of The Comanche Empire by Ricardo García. Peninsula Press, forthcoming 2010. He is currently working on The Shapes of Power: Frontiers, Borderlands, Middle Grounds, and Empires of North America, 1600-1900. Under contract with Yale University Press.
    Hämäläinen is the editor of When Disease Makes History: Epidemics and Great Historical Turnings Points, ed. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press,2006, and currently working on Major Problems in North American Borderlands History, ed. with Benjamin H. Johnson. Under contract with Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Hämäläinen is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Into the Mainstream: The Rise of a New Texas Indian History,” in Beyond Texas through Time: Evolving Interpretations, ed. Walter Buenger and Arnoldo DeLeon. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, forthcoming; “The Politics of Grass: European Expansion, Ecological Change, and Indigenous Power in the Southwest Borderlands,” William and Mary Quarterly 67 (April 2010), 173-208. Reprinted in Major Problems in North American Borderlands History, ed. Pekka Hämäläinen and Benjamin H. Johnson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, forthcoming; “Pathogens, Peoples, and the Paths of History,” in When Disease Makes History: Epidemics and Great Historical Turnings Points, 1-16, ed. Pekka Hämäläinen. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 2006; “The Rise and Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures,” Journal of American History 90 (Dec. 2003), 833- 862. Winner of Arrell Morgan Gibson Award. Reprinted in American Encounters: Natives and Newcomers from European Contact to Indian Removal, 1500-1850, 361-92, ed. Peter C. Mancall and James H. Merrell. New York: Routledge, 2006; and The American Indian: Past and Present, 6th ed., 53-77, ed. Roger L. Nichols. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008; “The First Phase of Destruction: Killing the Southern Plains Buffalo, 1790-1840,” Great Plains Quarterly 21 (Spring 2001), 101-114; “Beyond the Ideology of Victimization: New Trends in the Study of Native American-Euroamerican Relations,” Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 26 (Oct. 2001), 45-49; “Of Lethal Places and Lethal Essays,” with John R. Wunder, American Historical Review 104 (Oct. 1999), 1229-1234; The Western Comanche Trade Center: Rethinking the Plains Indian Trade System,” Western Historical Quarterly 29 (Winter 1998), 485-513. Winner of Bert M. Fireman Prize. Reprinted in Major Problems in American Indian History, 238-257, ed. Albert Hurtado and Peter Iverson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001; “Hevosen leviäminen ja sen vaikutukset Pohjois-Amerikan tasangoilla sekä Länsi-Afrikan savanneilla” [The Spread and Influence of the Horse on the North American Great Plains and the Western African Savanna], with Pekka Masonen, Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 21 (1996), 31-41.
    Awards: Hämäläinen is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
    Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, 2010-2012 (declined);
    Institut d’Etudes Avancées in Nantes, 2010-2011;
    Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, 2009-2010;
    Turku Institute for Advanced Study, University of Turku, 2009-12 (declined);
    Recognition of Excellence, Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University, 2009;
    Bancroft Prize in American History, the Trustees of Columbia University, 2009;
    Merle Curti Award for the best book on social and/or intellectual history, the Organization of American Historians, 2009;
    Caughey Western History Association Prize for the most distinguished book on the history of the American West, the Western History Association, 2009;
    Norris and Carol Hundley Award for the most distinguished book on any historical subject, the American Historical Association Pacific Branch, 2009;
    The William P. Clements Prize for the best non-fiction book on Southwestern America, the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, 2008;
    Great Plains Distinguished Book Award, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Great Plains Studies, 2009;
    Award of Merit for the best fiction or non-fiction book on Texas, the Philosophical Society of Texas, 2009;
    Kate Broocks Bates Award for the best book on Texas history prior to 1900, the Texas State Historical Association, 2008;
    History Book of the Year, ForeWord Magazine, 2009;
    Silver Medal, Independent Publisher Book Awards in History, 2009;
    Honorable Mention, PROSE Award in U.S. History and Biography/Autobiography, Association of American Publishers, 2009;
    Finalist for Carr P. Collins Award for the best book of non-fiction, the Texas Institute of Letters, 2009;
    Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, 2009;
    Arrell Morgan Gibson Award for the best essay on Native American history, the Western History Association, 2004;
    Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, 2003-2005;
    Most Distinguished Dissertation of the Year (all disciplines), the University of Helsinki, 2002;
    William P. Clements Center in Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, 2001-2002;
    Bert M. Fireman Prize for the best student essay published in the Western Historical Quarterly, the Western History Association, 1999;
    Fulbright Fellowship, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1995-1996.
    Additional Info:
    Formerly Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University, 2002-2004.

    Personal Anecdote

    This happened many times in 2006 and 2007:

    It is 2 AM, and I’m suddenly wide awake. I’ve had less than an hour of sleep, but the adrenaline jolt has eliminated any chance of getting more. I know the cause of my unwelcome alertness: panic. The writing is too slow, the tenure deadline is too soon, my kids are growing up too fast, and my insomnia is worse than ever. I suppress the urge to howl in frustration, and instead get dressed and leave the house. I walk the half-mile to the office, convinced that the night is ruined-as is the following day, which will find me exhausted and unable to think or write. I cling to the idea that if I get down just one half-decent sentence tonight, surely it must be better than nothing.

    I ended up staying in the office for twenty hours, writing more than I had managed in weeks. I couldn’t count on this pattern, but it happened often enough for me to finish the book and become a professional historian. I found writing my first book-a book that I knew would be controversial-a dreadful and debilitating task, and I don’t think I would have made it without those moments when expectations and self-criticism were temporarily suspended. Most of the thinking and conceptualizing happened while I was busy with other things. They still do. I sleep better these nights, but getting anything worthwhile on paper still requires mind tricks; insights only come when I’m preoccupied with things-running, hanging out with the kids, cleaning the house-that seemingly have nothing to do with the job.

    This, of course, is commonplace. Anyone who has tried to write on a sustained basis knows the workings of the subconscious. And they know that for mind tricks to work, they must catch one by surprise; they must be-or at least feel-thoroughly accidental. One can’t force them, or even be aware of them. One can only appreciate them in hindsight.

    Like almost all my friends in academia, I wrote my first book slightly scared and enormously annoyed, thinking that there was little in the way of method to my madness. I’m glad that I didn’t realize at the time that I did have a method, all along.

    Quotes

    By Pekka Hämäläinen

  • To understand the particular nature of Comanche imperialism, it is necessary to understand how Comanche ascendancy intertwined with other imperial expansions-New Spain’s tenacious if erratic northward thrust from central Mexico, New France’s endeavor to absorb the interior grasslands into its commercial realm, and the United States’ quest for a transcontinental empire. Comanches, to simplify a complex multistage process, developed aggressive power policies in reaction to Euro-American invasions that had threatened their safety and autonomy from the moment they had entered the southern plains. Indeed, the fact that Comanche territory, Comanchería, was encircled throughout its existence by Euro-American settler colonies makes the Comanches an unlikely candidate for achieving regional primacy. But as the Comanches grew in numbers and power, that geopolitical layout became the very foundation of The Comanche Empire JPG their dominance. Their overwhelming military force, so evident in their terror-inspiring mounted guerrilla attacks, would have allowed them to destroy many New Mexico and Texas settlements and drive most of the colonists out of their borders. Yet they never adopted such a policy of expulsion, preferring instead to have their borders lined with formally autonomous but economically subservient and dependent outposts that served as economic access points into the vast resources of the Spanish empire.
    The Comanches, then, were an imperial power with a difference: their aim was not to conquer and colonize, but to coexist, control, and exploit. Whereas more traditional imperial powers ruled by making things rigid and predictable, Comanches ruled by keeping them fluid and malleable. This informal, almost ambiguous nature of Comanches’ politics not only makes their empire difficult to define; it sometimes makes it difficult to see. New Mexico and Texas existed side by side with Comanchería throughout the colonial era, and though often suffering under Comanche pressure, the twin colonies endured, allowing Spain to claim sweeping imperial command over the Southwest. Yet when examined closely, Spain’s uncompromised imperial presence in the Southwest becomes a fiction that existed only in Spanish minds and on European maps, for Comanches controlled a large portion of those material things that could be controlled in New Mexico and Texas. The idea of land as a form of private, revenue-producing property was absent in Comanche culture, and livestock and slaves in a sense took the place of landed private property. This basic observation has enormous repercussions on how we should see the relationship between the Comanches and colonists. When Comanches subjected Texas and New Mexico to systematic raiding of horses, mules, and captives, draining wide sectors of those productive resources, they in effect turned the colonies into imperial possessions. That Spanish Texas and New Mexico remained unconquered by Comanches is not a historical fact; it is a matter of perspective. — Pekka Hamalainen in “The Comanche Empire” pp. 4-5.
  • “The rise of this Comanche-centric order and its ecological underpinnings illuminate the complex and unexpected ways in which transoceanic exchanges, biological encounters, and human ambition could intertwine to shape power relationships in early America. They form a counternarrative to conventional colonial histories by revealing a world where Indians benefited from Europe’s biological expansion, safeguarded their homelands by displacing ecological burdens on colonial realms, and debilitated European imperialism with imperial aspirations of their own. It is a counternarrative that expands the scope of indigenous agency from the social to the biological sphere because it shows how Indians could determine not only the human parameters of colonial encounters but also the ecological ones. As such it is a story that may help bridge the gap that separates the declensionist narratives of American Indian environmental history from the works that emphasize the resilience of indigenous polities and cultural forms. Native survival in colonial America was often a race against ecological degradation and the loss of land and its resources. As the rise of the Comanches shows, however, the outcomes of that contest could remain undetermined for a long time.” — Pekka Hämäläinen in “William and Mary Quarterly” (April 2010)
  • About Pekka Hämäläinen

  • “The Comanche Empire is a landmark study that will make readers see the history of southwestern America in an entirely new way.” — David J. Weber, author of “Bárbaros: Spaniards and Their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment”
  • “This exhilarating book is not just a pleasure to read; important and challenging ideas circulate through it and compel attention. It is a nuanced account of the complex social, cultural, and biological interactions that the acquisition of the horse unleashed in North America, and a brilliant analysis of a Comanche social formation that dominated the Southern Plains. Parts of the book will be controversial, but the book as a whole is a tour de force.” — Richard White, author of “The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815″
  • “The Comanche Empire is an impressive achievement. That a major Native power emerged and dominated the interior of the continent compels a re-thinking of well worn narratives about colonial America and westward expansion, about the relative power of European and Native societies, and about the directions of change. The book makes a major contribution to Native American history and challenges our understanding of the ways in which American history unfolded.” — Colin G. Calloway, author of One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West before Lewis and Clark
  • “For many readers, [The Comanche Empire] will be an eye-opener because of its vigorously advanced argument that for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Comanches created a mid-continental empire that controlled the economy of a huge part of the West, turned the northern Spanish and Mexican territories into its colonial appendages, and dominated the geopolitics of the both the Republic of Texas and, for a time, the United States in their imperial designs on the Southwest. If you are unused to thinking of American Indians as having this kind of agency in western history, The Comanche Empire will rearrange the furniture in your head.” — Dan Flores, “Montana: The Magazine of Western History”
  • “Perhaps we can simply stipulate that The Comanche Empire is an exceptional book-in fact, one of the finest pieces of scholarship that I have read in years. . . . Hämäläinen has given us a closely argued, finely wrought, intensely challenging book.” — Joshua Piker, William and Mary Quarterly
  • “Cutting-edge revisionist western history. . . . Immensely informative, particularly about activities in the eighteenth century.” — Larry McMurtry, “The New York Review of Books”
  • “A fascinating new book, details [the Comanches] unusual and colorful history. . . . Hämäläinen writes well and his narrative has an infectious verve and flow. . . . His broad themes are never in doubt, and the evidence he marshals is both compelling and convincing. He has rescued the Comanches from myth and distortion and given them their due in the sprawling epic that is our American story.” — John Sledge, “Mobile Press-Register” (AL)
  • “Comanche Empire is an impressive, well-written, and important study that should significantly influence future metanarratives, whether they include all or parts of Texas, the West, the Borderlands, or even general histories of the United States and Mexico.” — Ty Cashion, “Journal of Military History”
  • “Hämäläinen’s treatment of the complex relationships between the Comanches and other European and Native American societies is unique . . . Hämäläinen collates and narrates the events of the eastern and western frontiers through time in such an effective manner that the reader is swept in the flow of an almost seamless narrative.” — Mariah F. Wade, “Great Plains Quarterly”
  • “The Comanche Empire connects “the West,” understood by American historians to mean the trans-Mississippi Western United States, with “the West” as understood by world historians, through the materialist lens of world systems theory. What emerges is formerly unthinkable: a world of “reversed colonialism” in which the Comanche consciously created a functional empire by exploiting and controlling a huge geographic area and the several Euroamerican states that contested for it. . . . The construction and maintenance of this empire by the Comanche and their sometimes surprising allies, and its Carthaginian destruction by the massed might of US forces, form a grand narrative, convincingly told.” — John Harley Gow, “Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire”
  • The mere existence of a Native empire is important, but it is the impact of that indigenous imperialism on traditional perspectives of colonial North America and American western expansion that is truly critical. Demographic and geographic growth meant that Comancheria had eastern and western poles of power. But a political and cultural unity remained, and the Comanches still had the ability to counter-act any and all Spanish attempts to establish greater control over Texas and New Mexico. Indeed, by the early nineteenth century, Spanish administrators could not avoid the fact that Comanches had blunted or defeated all efforts at military intimidation or political manipulation. . . . The blueprint of Comanche empire relied on Comanche perspectives of space, and New Mexico and Texas can clearly be viewed as part of a growing Comanche dominion. Instead of a cohesive, if sparsely populated, northern colonial state, for example, Texas “spent its last years under Spanish rule as a raiding hinterland of the Comanches, who used it as a stockroom for their export-oriented livestock production system” (p. 187). This truly represents a crucial reconfiguration of political space in colonial North America. Just as notably, it reinforces the significance and impact of geographic perspective, a notion similarly enhanced by scholars like Daniel Richter.” — John O. Bowes, “Reviews in American History”
  • Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 11:31 PM

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