September 2010: Obama Presidency & Midterm Campaigns Roundup

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 and his economic team, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/15/10

 

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • A Pledge to America: The Fall 2010 Agenda
  • Fox News Poll: Voters Use Midterm Elections to Send Message to White House: With the balance of power in Congress at stake, many voters plan to register dissatisfaction with a Democratic- controlled White House – making the midterm elections a referendum on President Obama.
    A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that 41 percent will use their vote this year to express opposition to Obama’s policies, compared to 34 percent who describe their vote as expressing support. The message is even clearer among the swing group of independent voters: by an 11 percentage-point margin, independents will cast their ballot to express opposition (41 percent) rather than support (30 percent) for Obama.
    That’s not surprising given the lack of support for some of the administration’s policies. More voters favor rather than oppose repealing the new health care law (46-42 percent). That includes 24 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents who want the law repealed.
    And by a wide 54-36 percent margin, voters favor legislation stopping the government from spending the hundreds of billions of dollars of unspent stimulus money.
    While 57 percent say the Tea Party will not be a factor in their vote for Congress, fully 70 percent of voters support the “main issues the Tea Party has raised” — calling for lower taxes, less government spending and less government regulation. That includes 49 percent of Democrats.
    Those who will use their vote to make a statement on the Tea Party are more likely to cast their ballot as an expression of support for the movement rather than opposition (21-13 percent). It’s important to note the new poll finds just 13 percent consider themselves “part of” the Tea Party movement.
    Almost all voters — 86 percent — say it feels like the country is still in a recession…. – Fox News, 9-30-10
  • Factbox: Senate poll averages by Real Clear Politics: Republicans must sweep nearly all the competitive races to pick up the 10 seats needed for a majority in the Senate, where Democrats now hold a 59-41 edge.
    The polls show Republicans leading in races that could give them a net gain of eight seats, which would leave Democrats with a 51-49 edge. Republicans are close in several other races…. – Reuters, 9-28-10
  • Poll: Majority may vote against Obama in 2012: A new national poll suggests that a majority of Americans are considering voting against President Barack Obama in 2012, but the survey indicates Obama would come out on top if Sarah Palin is the Republican presidential nominee.
    According to Politico/George Washington University Battleground poll, 38 percent of those questioned say Obama deserves reelection as president, with 44 percent saying they will vote to replace Obama, 13 percent saying they will consider voting for someone else, and six percent unsure.
    The results of the survey are similar to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted early last month, in which 45 percent of registered voters said they would back Obama for re-election with 50 percent saying they would back the Republican presidential nominee.
    According to the Politico poll, if the 2012 presidential election were held today and Palin was the GOP nominee, 42 percent say they would definitely, probably, or maybe vote for the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, with 51 percent saying they would definitely, probably or maybe vote for Obama. Eight percent are undecided…. – CNN, 9-27-10
  • Poll: Democrats Brown, Boxer hold narrow leads: The Los Angeles Times-University of Southern California poll released Saturday shows Brown with support from 46 percent of likely voters, compared with 41 percent support for Republican Meg Whitman. Brown also fares well among Hispanics.
    Boxer is favored by 48 percent of likely voters, while 40 percent support Republican challenger Carly Fiorina…. – AP, 9-26-10
  • Poll: Rubio’s lead over Crist grows; Meek gains ground: With a little over a month remaining before the Nov. 2 election, the three-way race for U.S. Senate is turning into a two-man race — for second place. A statewide poll released Saturday night shows Republican Marco Rubio building on his lead over independent challenger Charlie Crist, while Democrat Kendrick Meek appears to be closing in on Crist in the closely-watched contest.
    Rubio is favored by 40 percent of likely voters, up from 38 percent last month; Crist’s support has dwindled to 28 percent from 33 percent, according to the Mason-Dixon Research & Associates survey of 625 likely Florida voters. The margin of error: plus/minus four percentage points. The poll found that Meek is gaining on Crist, with his support rising sharply to 23 percent of likely voters, up from 18 percent. Nine percent are undecided Miami Herald, 9-25-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Dems disliked, but so is GOP: In an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 60 percent disapprove of the job congressional Democrats are doing — yet 68 percent frown on how Republicans are performing. While 59 percent are unhappy with how Democrats are handling the economy, 64 percent are upset by the GOP’s work on the country’s top issue. Just over half have unfavorable views of each party.
    Most say President Barack Obama isn’t cooperating enough on the economy, yet even more accuse Republicans of the same thing. Former President George W. Bush and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — the only two Republicans the AP-GfK Poll tested — are both viewed negatively by more than half in the survey, worse than Obama’s marks. And people overwhelmingly fault Bush more than Obama for the recession…. – AP, 9-24-10
  • Dems keep wide lead over GOP in voter registration: Democrats continue to hold a wide registration lead of nearly 2.3 million voters over Republicans in California, despite aggressive efforts by the GOP to close the gap. A report released Friday by the secretary of state’s office showed the electorate holding roughly steady since the June primary, with 44.3 percent registered as Democrats, 30.9 percent as Republicans, and nearly 20.2 percent declining to state a party preference…. – AP, 9-17-10

THE HEADLINES….

West Wing Week

  • Emanuel’s Departure Set; Rouse to Replace Him: President Obama will give his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a send-off Friday as Mr. Emanuel officially announces his departure from the West Wing to run for mayor of Chicago, officials familiar with the decision said. The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, at his daily briefing on Thursday afternoon said that the president will give two personnel announcements on Friday morning from the East Room of the White House. Mr. Gibbs, admitting that he was being purposely “oblique,” would not confirm whether the announcements would concern Mr. Emanuel.
    The two officials, who declined to be named in advance of the official announcement, confirmed that Mr. Obama plans to name Pete Rouse, a senior adviser, to replace Mr. Emanuel. Mr. Rouse has been at the president’s side since Mr. Obama arrived in Washington nearly six years ago as a senator, serving as his chief of staff. NYT, 9-30-10
  • Jimmy Carter leaves Ohio hospital after 2-day stay: Former President Jimmy Carter has left an Ohio hospital on Thursday where he spent two days recovering from a viral infection doctors say likely gave him stomach problems. Carter waved to the cameras as he walked out of the emergency room and again from a vehicle as the motorcade passed the media…. – AP, 9-30-10
  • U.S. Works to Persuade Israel to Renew Settlement Freeze: Efforts to salvage Middle East peace talks were at full throttle on Thursday as American officials sought to persuade Israel to renew a West Bank settlement freeze with military hardware and diplomatic guarantees while urging the Palestinians to accept a partial end to Israeli building there through a separate set of inducements. So far, no formula had been found… – NYT, 9-30-10
  • House Passes 9/11 Health Care Bill: The House on Wednesday approved legislation to provide billions of dollars for medical treatment to rescue workers and residents of New York City who suffered illnesses from breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke at ground zero. The vote was 268 to 160, with 17 Republicans joining Democrats in support of the bill. Opposing the measure were 157 Republicans and three Democrats. Republicans raised concerns about the $7.4 billion cost of the program. The bill’s fate is unclear in the Senate. Republicans have enough votes to filibuster the measure, and Senate Democrats have not shown great interest in bringing the measure to the floor…. – NYT, 9-29-10
  • Jimmy Carter recovering from likely viral infection, doctors say: Former President Jimmy Carter, spending a second night at a Cleveland, Ohio, hospital, is recovering from a likely viral infection, according to a joint statement Wednesday from the hospital and the Carter Center. Carter, who suffered stomach distress Tuesday during a flight to Cleveland, was in “very good spirits” and will remain under doctors’ observation at MetroHealth Medical Center, the statement said. “His medical team … has determined that the likely cause was a viral infection that is now clearing up,” the statement said. “President Carter thanks all those who have expressed concern and sent greetings to him.”… – CNN, 9-29-10
  • Obama to headline rally for Maryland Gov. O’Malley: This will be the president’s first campaign event for a fellow Democrat since January…. – LAT, 9-29-10
  • In Obama’s backyard visits, GOP is the absent foe: A priest expressed concern to President Barack Obama about an unemployed parishioner. A businessman criticized Obama’s tax policy. A woman said her son and his friends, once inspired by Obama, “are losing their hope.” Obama addressed all those concerns, and more, during his two-day, four-state tour that ended Wednesday in Richmond. In the middle, he drew raucous cheers at a college rally in Wisconsin.
    “I know times are tough,” he told thousands of students at the University of Wisconsin on Tuesday. In 2008, he said, “the feeling was, well, this is just exciting. You got those nice ‘Hope’ posters.” “Sometimes it feels a long way from the hope and excitement that we felt on Election Day,” he said, but young voters’ involvement “can’t end with the vote that you cast in 2008.”… – AP, 9-29-10
  • Lawmakers Head for Exits After Prolific Session, Democrats Ready Final Push to Explain Record to Voters: House Minority Leader John Boehner, right, flanked by Minority Whip Eric Cantor, left, and GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Congress’s expected adjournment this week will leave many major issues unresolved, including the fate of expiring Bush-era tax cuts. Congress is adjourning early for the campaign home stretch, with Democrats on the defensive even as they end one of the most prolific legislative sessions in decades. Skittish Democratic lawmakers have been eager to leave Washington and address voters in an 11th-hour effort to explain—or distance themselves from—their party’s legislative record. Congress’s adjournment, expected late Wednesday or Thursday, will leave many major issues unresolved, including the fate of tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush, which expire at the end of this year. That unfinished business will likely fall to a lame-duck session in November, which is also expected to address legislation to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military and appropriations for the coming year. Also awaiting Senate action is the Start arms-reduction treaty with Russia…. – WSJ, 9-29-10
  • Rahm Emanuel: If he exits, an opportunity for Obama: Rahm Emanuel has played bad cop to the president’s good cop. Now, if Rahm Emanuel resigns, Obama could name a new right-hand man (or woman) to help him navigate the post-midterm reality…. – CS Monitor, 9-29-10
  • Emanuel White House departure for mayor’s race likely to come Friday: Rahm Emanuel likely will announce Friday that he is leaving his job as White House chief of staff to “explore” a run for mayor, sources said today.
    The White House is considering the possibility of announcing Emanuel’s decision to leave in the Rose Garden. The possible venue would appear to suggest that President Barack Obama will announce Emanuel’s departure personally, but those familiar with the discussions haven’t yet confirmed a participants list. Emanuel is expected to be back in Chicago next week to continue setting up a bid to succeed Mayor Richard Daley, who is not seeking re-election. He’ll go on a “listening tour” to hear what Chicago residents are concerned about, a source close to Emanuel said.
    An official announcement of Emanuel’s candidacy wouldn’t come until later, the source said. That’s a typical move for politicians looking to maximize news coverage of their campaigns. It’s not uncommon for high-profile candidates to dribble out news of their impending candidacies, make a formal announcement and then hold a campaign kickoff rally, all to attract more attention to their campaigns…. – Chicago Tribune, 9-29-10
  • Apathy could hurt Democrats, Obama says: President Obama delivered an impassioned argument to young voters Tuesday night, declaring that the changes he promised in 2008 are underway and that “now is not the time to give up.” Trying to recapture the enthusiasm that catapulted him into office, Obama returned to the proven format of a large college campus to launch a pre-election push for fellow Democrats. Speaking to what was once one of his most fervent fan bases – students – he unleashed a string of dire warnings about Republican control, arguing that his opponents are banking on Democratic indifference to return to power. “The biggest mistake we could make is to let disappointment or frustration lead to apathy . . . that is how the other side wins,” Obama said. “If the other side does win, they will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place.”… – WaPo, 9-29-10
  • Obama’s rescue mission in Madison: When President Obama steps onto the stage Tuesday evening at the University of Wisconsin, it will be back to the future. But for how long? The Madison rally likely will be a feel-good moment for Obama and those around him, a reminder of the glory days of 2008, when he drew 20,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 people in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign. But will Madison be remembered as the beginning of a Democratic rebound that could save the House and Senate from falling into Republican hands on Nov. 2 or just a fleeting moment of good music and stirring rhetoric in a bleak year for the White House?… – WaPo, 9-28-10
  • Obama cautious of D.C. public schools, but they worked for my kids: Could Obama’s children get as good an education in D.C. public schools as they’re getting at pricey Sidwell Friends? Here’s a look at that question through the experience of one family…. – CS Monitor, 9-28-10
  • Obama Returns to College Campus in Election Appeal to Students: President Barack Obama urged thousands of college students at a campaign-style rally last night to “stay fired up” and help Democrats hold back a Republican surge in November’s congressional elections. Obama returned to the University of Wisconsin in Madison seeking to energize a voting base that he used to help propel his campaign for president and direct it toward the party’s candidates for the House and Senate. “We need you to stay fired up,” Obama said at the event, which was broadcast to more than 200 other campuses. “We face another test and the stakes could not be higher.”… – Bloomberg, 9-28-10
  • Obama To Attempt To Dismantle GOP’s ‘Pledge To America': President Barack Obama will use stops in several states across the U.S. this week to attempt to dismantle plank-by- plank the Republican party’s “Pledge To America” governing platform. His trip is part of an overall push to revive voters ahead of tough midterm elections and characterize the GOP as unable to tackle the economy, an issue that has dogged his presidency and Democrats for months…. – WSJ, 9-27-10
  • Obama and Biden to student-age voters: Help!: ‘You can’t sit it out,’ President Obama told student journalists on Monday, speaking of the midterm election. He and Vice President Biden will visit college campuses Tuesday to rally student voters.
    Obama reached out to college journalists Monday, reminding them of the youth-oriented reforms he has implemented – such as taking student loans out of the private sector and allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 – and urging them to keep faith in the political process.
    “I want to send a message to young people across the country about how important this election is,” Obama said on a conference call with student journalists. The president acknowledged that the democratic process isn’t always “fun and games,” and referred to the highly partisan battles that have marked his tenure in office. “During that time, naturally, some of the excitement and enthusiasm started to drain away because people felt like, gosh, all we’re reading about are constant arguments in Washington and things haven’t changed as much as we would like as quickly as we’d like – even though the health-care bill got passed, and financial regulatory bill got passed, and we’ve brought an end to our combat mission in Iraq,” Obama said. “But still it seems as if a lot of the old politics is still operating in Washington.” “Change is always hard in this country,” he told the students, seeming to preview Tuesday’s pep rally – or perhaps even going back to his days as a community organizer, when it could be hard to convince people that if they worked together, they could make a difference…. – CS Monitor, 9-27-10
  • Prosecutor in Ted Stevens case commits suicide: A Justice Department prosecutor killed himself while under investigation over whether he and other attorneys in the prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens acted improperly in the case, officials said. Nicholas A. Marsh, 37, committed suicide on Sunday, two years after being part of the Justice Department team that convicted Stevens on corruption charges that were eventually thrown out. Marsh’s suicide was confirmed by his lawyer, Robert Luskin.
    “I think Nick loved being a prosecutor and I think he was incredibly fearful that this would prevent him from continuing to work for the Justice Department,” Luskin said Monday. “It’s incredibly tragic after all this time when we were on the verge of a successful resolution.”…. – AP, 9-27-10
  • Report: Significant cheating by FBI agents on exam: A Justice Department investigation has found that FBI agents, including several supervisors, cheated on an important test covering the bureau’s policies for conducting surveillance on Americans. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said Monday that his limited review of allegations that agents improperly took the open-book test together or had access to an answer sheet has turned up “significant abuses and cheating.” Fine called on the bureau to discipline the agents, throw out the results and come up with a new test to see if FBI agents understand new rules allowing them to conduct surveillance and open files on Americans without evidence of criminal wrongdoing….. – AP, 9-27-10
  • The Democratic Tax Retreat The economic policies of the last four years are being repudiated: Listen closely to the political debate in Washington these days, and you can hear the rumble of shifting tectonic plates. The economic policies that have dominated for the last four years are slowly being repudiated, and a new paradigm is struggling to emerge—or, more accurately, re-emerge. That’s the larger political meaning of the decision this week by House and Senate Democratic leaders to abandon a vote on the Bush-era tax rates before Election Day. Only a week ago, President Obama and his media supporters were asserting that they had Republicans caught in their class-war pincers: They’d lure the GOP into opposing an extension of lower tax rates for the middle class in order to defend lower tax rates for those making more than $200,000 a year. In the event, the Democrats have cut and run, lest they get blamed for voting for a tax increase in a slow-growth economy. This is how legislative majorities behave when they’ve lost the political argument and can sense their days are numbered. They lose their ideological nerve and try to save their own individual careers…. – WSJ, 9-27-10
  • Shaky Start on Mideast Peace Talks Is Latest Complication for Obama’s Foreign Policy Agenda: Three weeks after President Obama heralded the re-launch of Middle East peace talks, the administration is scrambling to keep negotiations from falling apart. The roadblock — in this case Israel’s decision to resume settlement construction in the West Bank — stands as the latest complication in the president’s drive to make his mark on the world stage. Though he won election on a wave of hope that international good will toward his candidacy would translate into foreign policy gains, the president has few diplomatic accomplishments to call his own. Aside from an arms control treaty with Russia that has not yet been ratified and a fourth round of United Nations sanctions on Iran, the president’s accomplishments have fallen mostly in the domestic column since he won a Nobel Peace Prize based on his diplomatic vision a year ago.
    “It’s almost a truism or a cliché … that the expectations were too high and they have not been met,” said David Pollock, a State Department adviser during the Clinton administration. With so little in the outbox of his foreign policy portfolio, a lot is riding on the peace talks. His announcement in early September that direct negotiations would resume marked arguably the biggest diplomatic endeavor of his presidency….. – Fox News, 9-27-10
  • Obama Signs Bill to Cut Taxes for Small Businesses: President Barack Obama signed legislation that will cut taxes and provide credit help for small businesses, calling it an essential step for job growth in a slow economy. Small businesses “have borne the greatest brunt of this recession” because of lower demand from consumers and less available credit,” Obama said. The government “can’t create jobs to replace the millions that we lost in the recession, but it can create the conditions for small businesses to hire more people,” the president said at the signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House…. – Business Week, 9-27-10
  • Obama Returns to Campaign Mode With Altered Team: On a Monday night in July, President Obama’s political advisers gathered for their weekly strategy session in a small, windowless, wood-paneled room in the West Wing. After 18 months marked by legislative victories but political setbacks, the question before them was how to re-energize the Democratic base – particularly young people who had turned out in droves for him in 2008.
    When Mr. Obama steps onto Library Mall at the University of Wisconsin at Madison on Tuesday for an old-fashioned get-out-the-vote rally, it will mark a return – albeit a limited one – to campaign mode for the president on a campus where more than 17,000 turned out to see him in the final, heady days of his White House run. Two years later, his political value diminished, Mr. Obama is trying to recapture that magic. Whatever effect he has, the public face of Mr. Obama’s campaigning masks a White House political operation that some Democrats say is not nearly as focused or driven as the machine that carried Mr. Obama to the presidency in the first place…. – NYT, 9-27-10
  • U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet: Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone. Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages. The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally…. – NYT, 9-27-10
  • Election-year politics confound tax-cut extension plan: Democrats and Republicans both say they want Bush-era tax cuts extended this year for most, if not all Americans. Then why has it been so hard to make it happen? The answer is election-year politics, with each party battling for any advantage in a climate of voter anger about politics-as-usual in Washington. At issue is who will get credit for what is considered the most likely outcome — the lower tax rates enacted in 2001 and 2003 getting extended permanently for Americans earning up to $250,000 per family or $200,000 as individuals…. – CNN, 9-26-10
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: Stephen Colbert was an ‘embarrassment': Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s ‘The Colbert Report,’ testifies before a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on a proposed agriculture jobs bill and immigrant farm workers. Even some Democrats thought Stephen Colbert’s Capital Hill routine was more gaffe than goof. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the Comedy Central star’s bit, which had some laughing and others groaning last week, “not appropriate.”
    “I think it was an embarrassment for Mr. Colbert more than the House,” the Maryland politician said on “Fox News Sunday.” “What he had to say was not the way it should have been said,” Hoyer added.
    The “Colbert Report” funnyman was invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a move that rankled some…. – NY Daily News, 9-26-10
  • Obama critical of GOP’s ‘Pledge to America': The president accuses Republicans of touting ‘the same worn-out philosophy: Cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests; and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself.’
    President Obama used his weekly radio address Saturday to rip the GOP’s recently unveiled “Pledge to America” manifesto, while a House Republican leader hit back in his own radio remarks.
    Obama accused Republicans of wanting “to put special interests back in the driver’s seat in Washington,” arguing that the latest GOP prescriptions are “grounded in the same worn-out philosophy: Cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests; and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself.”… – LAT, 9-25-10
  • Obama: Ahmadinejad’s speech ‘offensive’ and ‘hateful': President Barack Obama blasted his Iranian counterpart Friday for what he called offensive and hateful remarks about the September 11 attacks. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the United States for the 2001 terrorist attacks, an accusation that triggered a walkout Thursday by several United Nations delegates.
    “Well, it was offensive. It was hateful,” Obama said in part of an interview with BBC Persian released by the White House. “And particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of ground zero, where families lost their loved ones — people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation — for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable,” Obama said…. – CNN, 9-24-10
  • GOP’s Pledge to America has lots of new ideas, or does it?: On The Daily Show Thursday, comedian Jon Stewart examines the Pledge to America and experiences déjà vu. CS Monitor, 9-24-10
  • Will ‘Pledge’ Get Republicans to the Promised Land?: House minority leader John Boehner unveils “A Pledge to America,” a 45-page document detailing the Republicans’ new governing agenda. The 45-page document — laced with florid language about American ideals, inspirational quotations and glossy images — is a mix of policy proposals and campaign-season agitprop. “In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent,” the authors write. The pledge is divided into five sections: economic revival and job creation, government spending, health care, congressional reform and national security. In each area, Republican members promise a smaller, stingier government — the antithesis of “the tyranny of unchecked government action” practiced by the Obama Administration, as West Virginia Representative Shelley Moore Capito put it…. – Time, 9-24-10
  • How Sarah Palin Is Winning the War With(in) the GOP: Palin is now more popular nationally, more in demand by conservative groups as a speaker and far richer than she’s ever been. She has earned an estimated $9 million by talking and writing — her first book ended up being a best seller, thank you very much — and she has inked a reported $1 million annual contract with Fox News. Oh, and she’s become the most important independent endorser in a generation: her 16-11 win-loss record in the recent GOP primaries gives her a lot of political chits to call in if — just to suppose — she were to weigh a presidential run… – Time, 9-24-10
  • Pelosi says tax cut vote possible before election: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t ruling out a vote to extend soon-to-expire tax cuts before lawmakers go home to campaign in the next week, even though Senate Democrats have abandoned plans to vote before the Nov. 2 election…. – AP, 9-24-10
  • Colbert storms Capitol Hill for migrant workers: There’s nothing funny about the issue of migrant farm labor — unless Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert is discussing it.
    Colbert, accompanied by a media swarm, sarcastically testified on Capitol Hill Friday about the conditions facing America’s undocumented farm workers. The popular host of “The Colbert Report” told members of a House Judiciary subcommittee that he hoped to bring attention to the workers’ hardships. “I certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to C-SPAN 1,” he joked.
    “America’s farms are presently far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables,” he told the subcommittee, keeping in character with the arch-conservative he plays on television. “Now, the obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables. And if you look at the recent obesity statistics, many Americans have already started.” Colbert told the panel that “we all know there is a long tradition of great nations importing foreign workers to do their farm work.”
    “After all,” he said, “it was the ancient Israelites who built the first food pyramids. But this is America. I don’t want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian.” “My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants,” he declared. “He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That’s the rumor.”…. – CNN, 9-24-10
  • GOP ‘Pledge’ vows cuts, repeal of health care law: Pushing toward big gains on Nov. 2, House Republicans promised to end a slew of Democratic policies and restore Americans’ trust in government as they rolled out a campaign manifesto designed to show they’re listening to an angry public and are focused on creating jobs. “The land of opportunity has become the land of shrinking prosperity … Our government has failed us,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California declared. “We will take back our country. We will restore for a better future. This is our pledge to you.”
    At a hardware store in suburban Washington, senior House Republicans in shirt sleeves showed off the 21-page document they say would guide them should they gain a majority of seats in the midterm balloting five weeks away. The “Pledge to America” was filled with familiar proposals to slash taxes and spending and cut down on government regulation, as well as repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law and end his stimulus program. In a show of unity, Senate Republicans and Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, issued strong statements of support…. – AP, 9-23-10
  • Congress sends small business bill to Obama: Democrats controlling Congress are sending President Barack Obama a long-delayed bill to help struggling small businesses with easier credit and give them other incentives to expand and to hire new workers. The legislation passed by a 237-187 vote that split along party lines. It establishes a $30 billion government fund to help Main Street banks lend to small businesses and cut taxes on both big and small businesses. The legislation is aimed at easing a small-business credit crunch that worsened dramatically after the financial crisis two years ago. It’s a modest victory for Democrats, whose jobs agenda has otherwise mostly been stalled by Senate Republicans opposed to new spending programs…. – AP, 9-23-10
  • Obama, at UN, urges nations to support Middle East peace drive: In his second address as president to the annual opening of the UN General Assembly, Obama urges supporters of Palestinians to back their pledges with deeds, and asks Arab states to normalize ties with Israel. President Obama on Thursday implored the world not to sit on the sidelines of the relaunched Israeli-Palestinian negotiations but to actively support two parties that he said could, with courage, deliver an independent Palestine within a year. In his second address as president to the annual September opening of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Obama in particular upbraided the world’s many declared friends of the Palestinian people, whom he said are not doing enough to support a successful outcome in the talks. “Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges must now be supported by deeds,” Obama said, calling on Arab states in particular to give robust support to the Palestinian leadership and to “seize this opportunity” by normalizing relations with Israel as promised in the Arab Peace Initiative…. – CS Monitor, 9-23-10
  • GOP’s Pledge to America laced with ‘tea party’ slogans: Economically, the GOP’s Pledge to America, released Thursday, is aimed at small businesses, repealing health-care reform, for example. But the document is also a clear pledge to ‘tea party’ supporters: You can trust us…. – CS Monitor, 9-23-10
  • Obama tax plan: Who gets hit?: We’ve all heard that ‘nobody making less than $250,000′ gets a tax increase. But just how is President Obama defining that? President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the nation’s highest income households may not quite mean what you think. A closer look suggests that fewer people may get whacked than either Obama or his Republican critics suggest. And for many of the victims, the club won’t be the president’s plan to raise rates to 36 percent and 39.6 percent. Those rate hikes may be getting most of the attention, but the real cudgel would be higher taxes on capital gains and dividends going to high-earners…. – m CS Monitor, 9-23-10
  • Obama returns to stump for health care, this time to praise new law: Six rocky months after winning passage of the landmark health-care overhaul law, President Obama celebrated the half-year mark by assembling at a sunny, backyard gathering in the Virginia suburbs a sampling of Americans who he said are “already benefiting.” Yet even before he started touting early provisions of the law that take effect Thursday, the president sought to counter the belief among some that health care distracted him from addressing what many voters view as the more pressing matter: the economy. “Obviously the economy has been uppermost in our minds,” began Obama, speaking in his shirtsleeves on the back patio of the Falls Church home of Paul and Frances Brayshaw. “So much of our focus day-to-day is trying to figure out how do we just make sure that this recovery that we’re slowly on starts accelerating in a way that helps folks all across the country.”… – WaPo, 9-22-10
  • ‘She’s our friend': GOP reverses course, doesn’t demote Lisa Murkowski: Sen. Lisa Murkowski angered GOP colleagues by reentering the Alaska Senate race as a write-in candidate. But they didn’t have the heart to strip her of a leading role on the energy committee…. – CS Monitor, 9-22-10
  • “Decent Chance” Emanuel Will Leave White House in October, Source Says: There is a “decent chance” Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will leave the White House as soon as October of this year to run for mayor of Chicago, a senior White House official confirmed to CBS News, though the official stressed that no final decision has been made.
    Emanuel has been considering a move since earlier this month, when Richard M. Daley announced that he would not be seeking re-election to the post of Chicago Mayor – a job the top White House adviser has long had his eye on.
    And while President Obama has given Emanuel his blessing to leave the White House and throw his hat into the ring, he emphasized that Democrats have “a lot of work to do” in the next couple of months, and that he didn’t expect Emanuel to announce a decision until after November.
    “My expectation is, he’d make a decision after these midterm elections,” Mr. Obama said in a September 10 interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “He knows that we’ve got a lot of work to do. But I think he’d be a terrific mayor.”… – CBS News, 9-22-10
  • Obama economic advisor Lawrence Summers to step down at end of year: Larry Summers, known as a brilliant economic thinker with a prickly personality, will step down at the end of the year to return to Harvard University, where he had a controversial five-year stint as president…. – LAT, 9-21-10
  • Republicans block bill to lift military gay ban: Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked an effort by Democrats and the White House to lift the ban on gays from serving openly in the military, voting unanimously against advancing a major defense policy bill that included the provision. The mostly partisan vote dealt a major blow to gay rights groups who saw the legislation as their best hope, at least in the short term, for repeal of the 17-year-old law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If Democrats lose seats in the upcoming congressional elections this fall, as many expect, repealing the ban could prove even more difficult — if not impossible — next year. The Senate could take up the measure again during a lame-duck session after the elections, but a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hasn’t decided whether to do so… – AP,
  • House Republicans set to unveil policy agenda Thursday: House Republicans will release their long-awaited governing agenda on Thursday at an event at a hardware store in Sterling, Va., offering a set of proposals they would look to enact if they control Congress after the midterm elections. Attempting to rebut the Democrats’ charge that the GOP is the “Party of No,”about a dozen Republicans, led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), are expected to attend the unveiling. The campaign plan is modeled on the 1994 “Contract With America,” released by the party before it took the majority of seats in both chambers in that year’s elections…. – WaPo, 9-21-10
  • Bill Clinton: Economy, disasters imperil millions: Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday warned of the growing devastation of the global economic downturn and said the dangers posed by natural disasters around the world had been increased by the effects of climate change. The former president spoke in New York on the first day of the annual Clinton Global Initiative. The conference brings together leaders from government, business and philanthropy, who make financial commitments aimed at tackling poverty and disease around the world…. – AP, 9-21-10
  • Amid Bush Tax Cut Debate, Obama Tax Cut Quietly Nears Expiration: As Congress fights over whether to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, President Obama’s stimulus tax cut for middle class workers is in danger of expiring if lawmakers don’t act by the end of the year. While the debate over President George W. Bush’s tax cuts has raged in recent weeks, there’s hardly been any talk of extending Obama’s tax cuts, which benefit 95 percent of working Americans.
    “If the president and speaker wanted to make it a priority, we would see it on the floor next week,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, who didn’t say whether the Ohio Republican would support extending the Obama tax cut.
    But a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cried foul. “It’s hypocrisy coming from Republicans who opposed the recovery package, including one-third of the package that was tax cuts, to express concern for a Democratic proposal to help the middle class,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami told FoxNews.com…. – Fox News, 9-21-10
  • Kirsten Gillibrand the ‘hottest’ senator? What is Harry Reid thinking?: Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic senator from New York, is apparently the ‘hottest member’ of the Senate. So said Harry Reid in the latest in a series of gaffes by the majority leader… – CS Monitor, 9-21-10
  • First lady to headline 9 Democratic fundraisers: Michelle Obama is jumping into the midterm political fray in a big way: She’ll headline at least nine fundraisers in six states next month for endangered Democrats. That’s a fairly big commitment for a first lady who’s always said she’s not a political animal, but the White House insists Mrs. Obama is eager to get out there.
    And it’s no surprise that the Democrats are anxious to use the first lady’s star power: Polls show she’s more popular than her husband, President Barack Obama…. – AP, 9-21-10
  • Senate GOP moves to strip Murkowski of Energy post: Senate Republicans on Tuesday moved to strip Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski of her post as top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, further punishing her as she mounts a write-in bid to try to hold onto her seat.
    Murkowski already has stepped down from her leadership role in the GOP caucus and could lose her Energy Committee position as soon as Wednesday if the 41-member Republican caucus votes to remove her in a secret ballot. The events marked a swift downfall for Murkowski, who in her first full term rose to be Alaska’s senior senator and a powerful voice on energy issues and climate change…. – AP, 9-21-10
  • The recession is over! So where’s the party?: It turns out the recession ended more than a year ago. Feeling better now? The panel that determines the timing of recessions concluded Monday that this one ended — technically, anyway — in June 2009, and lasted 18 months. The duration makes it the longest since World War II. It may be over, but you won’t be hearing any cheers from the millions of Americans who are struggling to find a job. Or are worried about the ones they have. Or have lost their homes. Or are behind on the mortgage…. – AP, 9-20-10
  • The Plum Line: Dems close to vote on tax cuts: Okay, it looks like Senate Democrats are getting close to staging a major confrontation over whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. A senior Congressional aide tells me that the Senate Finance Committee, in tandem with Harry Reid’s office, is working on legislation that would “force a vote on middle class tax cuts.” “Dems will likely introduce a middle class tax cut package and ideally that would be voted on, whether as an amendment to a stand-alone piece of legislation or as an amendment to a bill,” the aide says, adding that the Dem leadership wants the bill on the floor “next week.”… – WaPo, 9-20-10
  • Lady Gaga Goes Political in Maine: There were no strobe lights, no outlandish costumes and only a mediocre sound system. But Lady Gaga was here, and the crowd jumped up and down, snapping photos as a whirl of platinum-blond hair emerged from an S.U.V. and walked up a concrete ramp to a tiny stage. “There she is,” a girl shrieked. Not the typical reception for someone who is on hand to deal with a Congressional filibuster. Lady Gaga, the pop music sensation whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, was here to make an impassioned speech to the crowd of college students, parents with small children, teenagers and service members calling for the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
    “Equality is the prime rib of America, but because I am gay, I don’t get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat my country has to offer,” Lady Gaga said, referencing a dress she wore last week to the MTV Video Music Awards that was made out of cuts of steak. “Shouldn’t everyone deserve to wear the same meat dress I do?” she said…. – NYT, 9-20-10
  • Obama hints at Summers, Geithner departures: President Obama on Monday hinted that he may be switching leadership on his White House economic team. John Harwood asked Obama at a “town hall” here: We’re coming up to the midterm election; have you asked your Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, and your top economic adviser, Larry Summers, to stay with you through the end of your term? Or might you make some changes?”
    Said Obama, “Well, look, I — I have not made any determinations about personnel. I think Larry Summers and Tim Geithner have done an outstanding job, as have my whole economic team. This is tough, the work that they do. They’ve been at it for two years. And, you know, they’re going to have a whole range of decisions about family that’ll factor into this as well. But the bottom line is — is that we’re constantly thinking, is what we’re doing working as well as it could? Do we have other options and other alternatives that we can explore?”… – Chicago Sun-Times, 9-19-10
  • GOP divided on how to replace health overhaul law: Republicans are promising to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul if they win control of Congress. But with what? Not even they know. Some have proposed major changes to workplace coverage, even turning Medicare into a voucher plan. Many prefer small steps that tiptoe around political land mines. Others want a clean start…. – AP, 9-19-10
  • Talking Tea Party Leader discusses county branch of movement: People are not asked their party affiliation at local Tea Party events. All are invited to attend, according to Mel McGinnis, temporary president of the Southern Tier Tea Party Patriots. The reason is similarly why McGinnis doesn’t want the movement to morph into a third party itself. It should be open to everyone, he believes, regardless of how they vote. “All people are asked is to come and see if the issues we’re talking about resonate with them,” McGinnis said. Specifically, McGinnis pointed to such areas of concern as spending policies, balanced budgets, fair taxation, decreased regulation and border security. “I think we in the Tea Party see the triangle of power inverted,” McGinnis said, “meaning that power now resides in Albany and Washington, not with we the people and our own county. We want to turn that triangle right-side up.”… – Observer Today, 9-19-10
  • Stewart, Colbert announce Washington rallies: Two Comedy Central funnymen are apparently entering into the partisan political fray with rallies of their own in the nation’s capital. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have set October 30 as the date for their respective rallies…. – CNN, 9-17-10
  • Bill Clinton: Obama is “Getting His Groove Back”: President Obama “was socked by the intensity of Republican opposition” in the past 20 months, but is “getting his groove back,” former President Bill Clinton said Sunday.
    Obama earned some friends across the aisle while he was in the Senate and pledged not to investigate the Bush administration, but he was wrong to think his presidency would attract some Republican support in Congress as a result, Clinton said. “It disoriented him for a while,” Clinton said.
    Speaking on two different Sunday morning news shows — NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’ “Face the Nation — the popular former president said that Obama believed that if he were successful legislatively it “would be reflected in a better political climate.”… – Fox News 9-19-10
  • Carter says Kennedy delayed health care years ago: Former President Jimmy Carter says Americans could have had comprehensive health care coverage decades ago if Sen. Edward M. Kennedy hadn’t blocked a plan Carter had proposed. Carter revisited the old spat in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” to be aired Sunday. Portions of the interview, prompted by the publication of his White House diary, were posted on the program’s website Thursday.
    “The fact is that we would have had comprehensive health care now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy’s deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed,” Carter said in the interview. “It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill.”
    Carter cast his Democratic rival as spiteful. “He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of life,” Carter said…. – AP, 9-17-10
  • Warren’s Role, Powers Could Be Loosely Defined: Elizabeth Warren’s job as assistant to the President and a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will allow her to play a central role in building the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. But the job description appears loosely defined and open to interpretation.
    President Barack Obama plans Friday to appoint Harvard Law School professor to the position. Ms. Warren first proposed the idea of a consumer financial-products regulator in 2007, and many Democrats wanted her to be the first person to lead the agency, a body created by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law enacted in July…. – WSJ, 9-17-10
  • Obama’s Tack on Iran Is Hard to Read: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, just last week, proclaimed that the world was entering “a new American moment when our global leadership is essential.” Presumably, that’s good news. But when it comes to leading, the task involves clarity, and on Iran’s sprint toward a nuclear weapon, there’s reason to see the Obama administration heading into confusion…. – NYT, 9-13-10
  • U.S. Urges Iraqis to Try New Plan to Share Power: The Obama administration is encouraging a major new power-sharing arrangement in Iraq that could retain Nuri Kamal al-Maliki as prime minister but in a coalition that would significantly curb his authority. The compromise plan was promoted in Baghdad last week by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., though at a time when American influence is waning and the United States continues to draw down troops. The new plan would alter the structure of Iraq’s government by bringing additional restraints to the authority of Iraq’s prime minister and establishing a new committee with authority to approve military appointments, review the budget and shape security policy…. – NYT, 9-9-10
  • Minister Wavers on Plans to Burn Koran: First, Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who set the world on edge with plans to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, said Thursday that he had canceled his demonstration because he had won a promise to move the proposed Islamic center near ground zero to a new location. Then, hours later, after learning that the project’s leaders in New York had said that no such deal existed, Mr. Jones backed away from his promise and said the bonfire of sacred texts was simply “suspended.”
    “I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans,” Mr. Obama said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He added that it could “greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan.”… – NYT, 9-9-10
  • Obama, in Rally Mode, Steps Up Jabs at G.O.P.: Seeking to rally his struggling party for the final weeks of the midterm election, President Obama delivered his most partisan speech of the campaign so far on Wednesday, casting Democrats as fighters for the middle class and Republicans as protectors of “millionaires and billionaires” and special interests.
    Mr. Obama called for letting the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire but making the rate cuts for the middle class permanent. And he suggested Republicans would hold “hostage” the extension of the middle-class rates to get the top rates extended as well…. – NYT, 9-8-10
  • Obama Is Against a Compromise on Bush Tax Cuts: President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies. Mr. Obama’s opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that the White House might be open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party’s weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled…. – NYT, 9-7-10
  • Obama Offers a Transit Plan to Create Jobs: President Obama, looking to stimulate a sluggish economy and create jobs, called Monday for Congress to approve major upgrades to the nation’s roads, rail lines and runways — part of a six-year plan that would cost tens of billions of dollars and create a government-run bank to finance innovative transportation projects. With Democrats facing an increasingly bleak midterm election season, Mr. Obama used a speech at a union gathering on Labor Day, the traditional start of the campaign season, to outline his plan. It calls for a quick infusion of $50 billion in government spending that White House officials said could spur job growth as early as next year — if Congress approves…. – NYT, 9-6-10
  • Leaders Call for Peace as Mideast Talks Begin: NYT, 9-2-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 9/22/10

 

  • In Alaska Senate race, ad aims at ‘Princess Lisa': A conservative nonprofit group is running radio ads in Alaska portraying U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski as a spoiled princess trying to hold onto a seat her father gave her. The ad by Pennsylvania-based Let Freedom Ring is airing in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. The group’s president, Colin Hanna, wouldn’t disclose the purchase price of the buy…. – AP, 9-29-10
  • AP Interview: Paladino says term won’t be ‘pretty': If politics is the art of compromise, no one told Carl Paladino. The Republican gubernatorial candidate, who tapped into a wellspring of voter anger to grab an unexpected primary win two weeks ago, was very clear on what the next four years would look like if he wins. In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, the real estate developer insisted he would limit himself to one four-year term and suggested that a little scorched earth probably wouldn’t be so bad. When asked how he could work with politicians he’s currently speaking out against, the 64-year-old made it clear he had no intention of doing so. “It’s not going to be pretty,” Paladino said of his time in office. “It’s going to be very confrontational.”… – AP, 9-27-10
  • New Study Shows N.Y. to Lose Two Seats, Florida to Gain Two: A new study of population figures offers some unexpected predictions on Congressional reapportionment, which will alter the balance of power of different regions of the country based on the 2010 census. The report by Election Data Services Inc. shows changes to the initial predictions about how many Congressional seats Minnesota, Missouri, New York and Florida will be allotted. The report states that change “was not evident as recently as nine months ago.”… – CQ Politics, 9-26-10
  • Tea Party Doesn’t Need Votes to Win U.S. Elections: With the U.S. midterm elections five weeks away, the Tea Party movement is already the big winner of 2010. This anti-government, grass-roots Republican offshoot has rattled the party establishment — making the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, the party’s most prominent 2012 presidential possibility — and has dominated the debate this campaign season.
    The Tea Partiers believe they are on the cutting edge of a revolution: the “future of politics,” as Ms. Palin says. More likely, they are a short-term catalyst for Republicans and a long-term problem…. – NYT, 9-27-10
  • Alaska Dem rival: Murkowski campaign a lost cause: The little-known Democrat in Alaska’s Senate race is labeling Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign as a lost cause. Scott McAdams told The Associated Press on Saturday that it’s “wishful thinking” on Murkowski’s part if she thinks she can overcome history — and other factors after her loss in last month’s GOP primary to Joe Miller — to pull off a win.
    She is “in the middle of a fight she can’t win,” he said, noting that other well-known Alaska politicians, including Wally Hickel and Ernest Gruening, failed in similar efforts. The last U.S. Senate candidate to succeed in such a bid was Strom Thurmond in 1954…. – AP, 9-25-10
  • NY gov GOPer: Cuomo lied about NYC mayor vote: The Republican candidate for New York governor is accusing his Democrat opponent Andrew Cuomo of lying for saying he once voted for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Cuomo has made his first direct hit against Carl Paladino in one of his new television ads…. – AP, 9-23-10
  • AP Sources: Sheriff will run for Chicago mayor: Tom Dart, the Cook County sheriff who made national headlines when he sued Craigslist, halted court-ordered evictions and headed a probe into the alleged resale of a historic cemetery’s burial plots, will run for mayor of Chicago, two people close to Dart said Wednesday. “He’s all the way in,” said one person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to talk publicly about Dart’s plans. “He’s decided to run.” The decision puts Dart toward the front of a pack of potential contenders exploring a campaign to replace Mayor Richard M. Daley, including White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun…. – AP, 9-22-10
  • To fend off Carl Paladino in New York, Andrew Cuomo gets angry: A recent poll showed Republican Carl Paladino narrowing the gap on Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the New York gubernatorial race. Cuomo has responded by showing his angry side…. – CS Monitor, 9-22-10
  • Sarah Palin, tea party candidate in 2012?: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) appears to be making a purposeful play in recent days to be the face of the “tea party” movement, a strategy that suggests what sort of candidacy she would run if she enters the 2012 presidential contest. Palin has largely demurred when asked about her 2012 ambitions (or lack thereof) — choosing to steer the conversation to the importance of electing Republicans this fall. But, in a speech to the Iowa Republican Party on Friday night and then again in a Web video released by her political action committee today, she seems to be sending clear hints about a national bid — and laying claim to the mantle of the tea party candidate if she does run…. – WaPo, 9-21-10
  • Harry’s Dream The Senate Majority leader sinks immigration to save his Nevada Senate seat: It could be worse. You could be Harry Reid, who has had the pleasure of spending the past year-and-a-half as Majority Leader taking the Democrats and his own Senate seat to the edge of the cliff. In the editorial above, we note Senator Reid’s fundraiser today with the propped-up Green industry. Yesterday he enlisted the entire Senate in a cynical get-out-the-Nevada-Hispanic-vote maneuver. Some 40 days before his tough election against Sharron Angle, Mr. Reid had attached an immigration measure called the Dream Act to the mammoth … – WSJ, 9-21-10
  • Obama to stump for Sestak in Philadelphia: President Barack Obama is heading to Pennsylvania to raise money for Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak. Sestak is locked in a tight race with Republican Pat Toomey six weeks before the midterm elections. Democrats see the Pennsylvania race as one that could not only determine which party controls the Senate, but also which way the key swing state might lean in 2012…. – AP, 9-20-10
  • US Chamber snubs GOP nominee in W.Va. Senate race: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its West Virginia counterpart have endorsed Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin’s bid for U.S. Senate, passing over his GOP opponent. The national group has largely backed Republicans this election cycle in races around the country…. – AP, 9-20-10
  • Can Christine O’Donnell win?: Amid the flood of coverage of Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell over the weekend — She dabbled in witchcraft! She canceled her appearances on Sunday shows! — one question was largely overlooked: Can she win? The answer — if past competitive Senate races in Delaware are any indication — is probably not. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
    In O’Donnell’s 53 percent to 47 percent statewide primary victory over Rep. Mike Castle in last week’s primary, she won two of the state’s three counties. She took 65 percent in Sussex County, the state’s southernmost county, and 64 percent in Kent County. Castle won New Castle County, the northernmost county in the state 58 percent to 42 percent…. – WaPo, 9-20-10
  • Top Republican Cites Concerns for GOP’s Senate Chances: A leading conservative senator voiced doubts over whether Republicans could gain control of the U.S. Senate in November’s midterm elections. Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) said that while Republicans could seize control of the U.S. House, “the chances of a [GOP] majority in the Senate may not be that great.” Mr. DeMint, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, said the reason was because fewer seats are in play. Republicans are expected to post big wins in the House and Senate this fall. But the size of the potential GOP gains remain unclear, especially in the wake of victories by tea party candidates over establishment-backed candidates in several GOP primaries…. – WSJ, 9-19-10
  • Murkowski Can Win as Write-In: The Hotline reports that Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was defeated in the Republican primary last month by Joe Miller, will run for the Senate as a write-in candidate against Mr. Miller and the Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams. The move is not entirely unexpected: Ms. Murkowski had not endorsed Mr. Miller, and instead had reportedly been in discussions with the Libertarian Party to appear on their ballot line. The Libertarians having refused her overtures, the only option remaining for Ms. Murkowski was to run as a write-in (Alaska, like most states, does not permit candidates to file for the ballot as independents after the party primaries have taken place). Can Ms. Murkowski win? Sure she can. There is plenty of precedent for write-ins being elected to the Congress, although fewer have done so successfully in recent years. Meanwhile, a poll by Public Policy Polling found Ms. Murkowski getting 34 percent of the vote against Mr. Miller’s 38 percent and Mr. McAdams’ 22 percent. Private polling has also shown Ms. Murkowski running closely with Mr. Miller, according to The Hotline…. – NYT, 9-17-10
  • After Delaware, G.O.P. Senate Takeover Appears Much Less Likely: Republicans, who are modest favorites to take over the House from Democrats, still have a chance to do the same in the United States Senate. But their odds have dropped significantly: from a 26 percent chance last week to 15 percent today, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecasting model. The main reason for the decline is the outcome of Tuesday’s Republican primary in Delaware, in which the insurgent candidate, Christine O’Donnell, defeated Michael N. Castle. Two recent polls, including one completed after the primary, show her trailing her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, by margins of 11 percent and 16 percent…. – NYT, 9-16-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama signs the Small Business Jobs Act

 

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 9/27/10

 

  • Obama again sounds call for longer school year Says underperforming teachers have “got to go”: With the public education system in crisis, President Obama called Monday for purging underperforming teachers and lengthening the school year so that the U.S. keeps pace with other advanced countries. He said more spending is needed to update textbooks, facilities and equipment, but added that money without reform would not solve the problems of education.
    “You can’t defend a status quo in which a third of our kids are dropping out,” Obama said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “You can’t defend the status quo when you’ve got 2,000 schools across the county that are dropout factories — and they really are — where more than half of the kids are dropping out.” “We’ve got to be able to identify teachers who are doing well [and] teachers who are not doing well. We’ve got to give them the support and the training to do well,” Obama said. “And, ultimately, if some teachers aren’t doing a good job, they’ve got to go.”
    “I’m a strong supporter of the notion that a union can protect its members and help be part of the solution, as opposed to part of the problem,” he said in the interview. “What is also true is that sometimes that means they are resistant to change when things aren’t working.”
    “We now have our kids go to school about a month less than most other advanced countries,” the president said. “And that month makes a difference. It means that kids are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer.”
    He added: “It’s especially severe for poorer kids, who may not be seeing as many books in their house during the summers. So the idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense.”… – LAT, 9-27-10
  • GOP Defends ‘Pledge to America': Republican leaders on Sunday sought to defend their new “Pledge to America” campaign agenda against charges from both conservatives and liberals that it is a vague rehash of GOP plans past. Asked to explain how they would keep their promise to both cut the deficit and extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which will expire at year end if not renewed by Congress, Republicans on Sunday said the key was economic growth and job creation.
    “Job one needs to be to create jobs,” Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “For heaven’s sakes, let’s not raise taxes on job creators.”
    “You have to get the economy going,” Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the senior Republican in the Senate, told ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.” “That’s the way you narrow the deficit. You get the economy going. You get government spending down. Throw a tax increase in there, and we’re going to have this recession go on who knows how long.”
    Republicans have described the pledge as a new promise to adhere to the philosophy of fiscal prudence, which they acknowledge having strayed from in the past. “We want smaller, less costly and more-accountable government,” House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio told “Fox News Sunday.”… – WSJ, 9-26-10
  • Text of Obama’s remarks to the UN: Text of President Barack Obama’s remarks to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, as provided by the White House…. – AP, 9-23-10
  • Clinton launches 6th year of initiative to help world’s poor: Former president Bill Clinton on Tuesday launched the sixth year of his annual conference which brings together leaders from government and the private sector to find ways to help the world’s poor. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was started in 2005 to help raise money and create practical solutions for the most intractable problems facing the developing world.
    “At the end of last year’s conference we had 1,700 commitments that have already had a positive impact on 300 million people,” Clinton said as this year’s meetings got underway. “More than 60 million women and children have better care, better access to education. We have had hundreds of energy initiatives, micro credit initiatives, cleaner water initiatives,” he said listing the effort’s achievements so far. “But we must continue,” the former president said, adding that more effort in particular must be devoted to reacting to natural disasters, after massive earthquakes this year in Chile and Haiti and cataclysmic flooding in Pakistan…. – AFP, 9-21-10
  • Top White House Economic Adviser to Depart: Lawrence H. Summers, who for nearly two years has been the architect of President Obama’s economic policies, is leaving the White House to return to Harvard University at the end of the year, the White House announced on Tuesday.
    Dr. Lawrence H. Summers, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, announced his plans to return to his position as University Professor at Harvard University at the end of the year.
    Dr. Summers is the chief White House advisor to the President on the development and implementation of economic policy. He also leads the President’s daily economic briefing.
    “I will always be grateful that at a time of great peril for our country, a man of Larry’s brilliance, experience and judgment was willing to answer the call and lead our economic team. Over the past two years, he has helped guide us from the depths of the worst recession since the 1930s to renewed growth. And while we have much work ahead to repair the damage done by the recession, we are on a better path thanks in no small measure to Larry’s wise counsel. We will miss him here at the White House, but I look forward to soliciting his continued advice and his counsel on an informal basis, and appreciate that he has agreed to serve as a member of the President’s Economic Advisory Board.”
    Dr. Summers said “I will miss working with the President and his team on the daily challenges of economic policy making. I’m looking forward to returning to Harvard to teach and write about the economic fundamentals of job creation and stable finance as well as the integration of rising and developing countries into the global system.”
    Dr. Summers oversees the coordination of economic policy making across the Administration, leads the President’s daily economic briefing and has been a frequent public spokesman for the Administration’s policies.
    Under Dr. Summers’s leadership, the National Economic Council has been at the center of economic policy making in the Obama Administration. He served as an architect of the Recovery Act and other job creation measures and the Financial Stability Program. As co-chair of the President Auto Task Force, he led the restructuring of the U.S. automobile industry. He has also played a leading role in managing our international economic relationships including China, developing the President’s health care plan, opening the broadband spectrum, and in international climate negotiations. – NYT, 9-20-10
  • O’Donnell: No Witchcraft Since High School: Christine O’Donnell addresses supporters after winning the Republican nomination for Senate in Delaware. Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell on Sunday chalked up her experimentation in sorcery to being a teenager, saying there’s no magical explanation to her 1999 confession that she “dabbled into witchcraft.” Speaking to Republican picnic-goers, the insurgent Tea Party candidate said she didn’t doing anything differently than lots of kids at that age.
    “I was in high school, how many of you didn’t hang out with questionable folks in high school? But no, there’s been no witchcraft since,” she said, shrugging off her dalliances with the dark arts. “Now let’s put that to rest and move on to what we’re going to do,” she said…. – AP, 9-19-10
  • On the midterm elections:
    “We’re going to lose seats. We’re not living in average times. When the economy is tough, that means that there’s volatility in the electorate. And we definitely see it. But I don’t think you’re going to see us lose either [chamber], because I think we’ve got good candidates. I think the Republicans are moving way to the right of the American electorate. And we’re pretty good at the field side of politics, which is what we’re focused on between now and November 2.” — Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, CNN’s “State of the Union”
    “The only reason we have a chance at a majority now is in large part for the candidates I’ve been supporting. If the Republican Party in the Senate was now symbolized by Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist, we would not have the energy behind our candidates anywhere in the country.” — Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, “State of the Union” CNN, 9-19-10
  • On Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign: “But what happened in my particular race, you had the Tea Party Express, this California-based group, come in at the last minute in a campaign, run a mudslinging, smear — just a terrible, terrible campaign, with lies and fabrications and mischaracterization. They came in, they dumped $600,000 into a small market here in Alaska, and they absolutely, clearly influenced the outcome of that election.” — Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, “State of the Union”
    “Absolutely no, she can’t win. Under the law, you have to carefully spell the name exactly correct. Everybody, go to your pencil and paper and write down the name Murkowski and see if you got it right. No, she’s going to lose. Now, the bigger, more important question is — Is she going to keep a Republican from winning?” – Former Bush adviser Karl Rove, “Fox News Sunday” CNN, 9-19-10
  • On the Tea Party: “The thing that bothers me about the Tea Party movement is two things. No. 1, according to the profiles and the studies that have been done, it’s being bankrolled by people who want to weaken the government so that there will be even more unaccounted-for private concentration of power, and that’s what got us in the mess we’re in in the first place. And the second thing that bothers me is that it’s hard to know where they stand on these specific issues.” — Former President Bill Clinton, CBS’s “Face the Nation” CNN, 9-19-10
  • “It may well be a fad unless it converts itself from a movement into something that is a real political organization that takes stands on positions.”
    “I still think that there is need for a two-party system and that the Republican Party still has strength in it. It has strength with respect to its feelings about foreign policy and defense policy and our place in the world. And I’m not happy with the rightward switch, shift that the party has taken and I’ve said that on many occasions. I’m not about to give up.”
    “I think he has lost some of the ability to connect that he had during the campaign. And it is not just me picking on the president. It’s reflected in the polling.” — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, “Meet the Press” CNN, 9-19-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Castigates GOP Leadership for Blocking Fixes for the Citizens United Decision
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As prepared for delivery Saturday, September 18, 2010 Washington, DC

    …Over the past two years, we have fought back against the entrenched special interests – weakening their hold on the levers of power in Washington. We have taken a stand against the worst abuses of the financial industry and health insurance companies. We’ve rolled back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. And we’ve restored enforcement of common sense rules to protect clean air and clean water. We have refused to go along with business as usual.
    Now, the special interests want to take Congress back, and return to the days when lobbyists wrote the laws. And a partisan minority in Congress is hoping their defense of these special interests and the status quo will be rewarded with a flood of negative ads against their opponents. It’s a power grab, pure and simple. They’re hoping they can ride this wave of unchecked influence all the way to victory.
    What is clear is that Congress has a responsibility to act. But the truth is, any law will come too late to prevent the damage that has already been done this election season. That is why, any time you see an attack ad by one of these shadowy groups, you should ask yourself, who is paying for this ad? Is it the health insurance lobby? The oil industry? The credit card companies?
    But more than that, you can make sure that the tens of millions of dollars spent on misleading ads do not drown out your voice. Because no matter how many ads they run – no matter how many elections they try to buy – the power to determine the fate of this country doesn’t lie in their hands. It lies in yours. It’s up to all of us to defend that most basic American principle of a government of, by, and for the people. What’s at stake is not just an election. It’s our democracy itself. – WH, 9-18-10
  • Tea party pick O’Donnell addresses conservatives: he tea party’s latest darling, Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, aligned herself squarely with the Republican Party’s social conservative base Friday in criticizing Democrats and “ruling class elites” in her first national appearance since her upset primary victory.
    “They’re trying to marginalize us and put us in a box,” O’Donnell said to cheers. “They’re trying to say we’re trying to take over this party or that campaign. They don’t get it. We’re not trying to take over our country. We are our country. We have always been in charge.”
    “The conservative movement was told to curl up in a fetal position and just stay there for the next eight years, thank you very much,” O’Donnell told her audience — and then added coyly: “Well, how things have changed.”
    She repeatedly struck a populist, outsider tone, dismissing the “D.C. cocktail crowd,” chiding the “Beltway popular crowd” and blistering “the ruling class elites.”
    “They call us wacky. They call us wing nuts. We call us ‘We the people,'” O’Donnell said, invoking conservative stalwart Newt Gingrich’s saying: “There are more of us than there are of them.”… – AP, 9-18-10
  • Obama to Congressional Black Caucus: Campaign not about electing a black president. Transcript: And I need you. I need you because this isn’t going to be easy. And I didn’t promise you easy. I said back on the campaign that change was going to be hard. Sometimes it’s going to be slower than some folks would like. I said sometimes we’d be making some compromises and people would be frustrated. I said I could not do it alone. This wasn’t just a matter of getting me elected, and suddenly, I was going to snap my fingers and all our problems would go away. It was a matter of all of us getting involved, all of us staying committed, all of us sticking with our plan for a better future until it was complete. (Applause.) That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward.
    Each and every time we’ve made epic change — from this country’s founding to emancipation, to women’s suffrage, to workers’ rights — it has not come from a man. It has come from a plan. It has come from a grassroots movement rallying around a cause. That’s what the civil rights movement made possible — foot soldiers like so many of you, sitting down at lunch counters, standing up for freedom; what made it possible for me to be here today — Americans throughout our history making our union more equal, making our union more just, making our union more perfect, one step at a time.
    That’s what we need again. I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back to your workplaces, to go to churches and go to the barbershops and got to the beauty shops, and tell them we’ve got more work to do. Tell them we can’t wait to organize. Tell them that the time for action is now, and that if each and every person in this country who knows what is at stake steps up to the plate, if we are willing to rise to this moment like we’ve always done, then together we will write our own destiny once more. – Chicago Sun-Times, 9-18-10
  • Obama aide: Palin may be ‘most formidable force’ in the GOP: A bunch of Republicans who may seek to replace President Obama are out and about today, and it sounds like the White House would like to dub Sarah Palin the front-runner.
    “I have no doubt that she is a formidable force in the Republican Party and may well be, in all honesty, the most formidable force in the Republican Party right now,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
    She can rally the very conservative elements of the Republican base. That was, I think as you mentioned, quite clear in her ability to impact who becomes the nominee in Delaware or in other places around the country …
    We saw her ability to draw quite big crowds. I don’t doubt that the Republican Party fundraiser will be quite the recipient of that big crowd tonight. And — and she — she’s always drawn big crowds back to — to 2008.
    You know, at some point, if she decides to become a contestant for president of the United States, there will be a whole series of questions that each (candidate) has to go through and answer for the people of Iowa, the people of New Hampshire, and throughout this country.
    I think it’s a healthy process to go through. – USA Today, 9-17-10
  • Palin Opens Up About Possible 2012 Run, Says She’s Willing to ‘Give It a Shot': Sarah Palin may be edging closer to a 2012 presidential run, telling Fox News “I would give it a shot” if the American people think she’s “the one.” The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee was in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday for the Reagan Dinner, a big GOP fundraiser in the heart of water-testing country for presidential candidates. Palin has remained coy about her ambitions, but she elaborated a bit in an interview with Fox News, attaching several conditions to the possibility of a 2012 presidential run.
    “If the American people were to be ready for someone who is willing to shake it up, and willing to get back to time-tested truths, and help lead our country towards a more prosperous and safe future and if they happen to think I was the one, if it were best for my family and for our country, of course I would give it a shot,” she said…. – Fox News, 9-17-10
  • The President, the Vice President, the First Lady and Dr. Biden: A Day of Service and Remembrance:
    The President: Nine years have now passed. In that time, you have shed more tears than we will ever know. And though it must seem some days as though the world has moved on to other things, I say to you today that your loved ones endure in the heart of our nation, now and forever.
    Our remembrance today also requires a certain reflection. As a nation, and as individuals, we must ask ourselves how best to honor them — those who died, those who sacrificed. How do we preserve their legacy — not just on this day, but every day?
    We need not look far for our answer. The perpetrators of this evil act didn’t simply attack America; they attacked the very idea of America itself — all that we stand for and represent in the world. And so the highest honor we can pay those we lost, indeed our greatest weapon in this ongoing war, is to do what our adversaries fear the most — to stay true to who we are, as Americans; to renew our sense of common purpose; to say that we define the character of our country, and we will not let the acts of some small band of murderers who slaughter the innocent and cower in caves distort who we are.
    They doubted our will, but as Americans we persevere. Today, in Afghanistan and beyond, we have gone on the offensive and struck major blows against al Qaeda and its allies. We will do what is necessary to protect our country, and we honor all those who serve to keep us safe.
    They may seek to strike fear in us, but they are no match for our resilience. We do not succumb to fear, nor will we squander the optimism that has always defined us as a people. On a day when others sought to destroy, we have chosen to build, with a National Day of Service and Remembrance that summons the inherent goodness of the American people.
    They may seek to exploit our freedoms, but we will not sacrifice the liberties we cherish or hunker down behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. They may wish to drive us apart, but we will not give in to their hatred and prejudice. For Scripture teaches us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
    They may seek to spark conflict between different faiths, but as Americans we are not — and never will be — at war with Islam. It was not a religion that attacked us that September day — it was al Qaeda, a sorry band of men which perverts religion. And just as we condemn intolerance and extremism abroad, so will we stay true to our traditions here at home as a diverse and tolerant nation. We champion the rights of every American, including the right to worship as one chooses — as service members and civilians from many faiths do just steps from here, at the very spot where the terrorists struck this building.
    Those who attacked us sought to demoralize us, divide us, to deprive us of the very unity, the very ideals, that make America America — those qualities that have made us a beacon of freedom and hope to billions around the world. Today we declare once more we will never hand them that victory. As Americans, we will keep alive the virtues and values that make us who we are and who we must always be. – WH, 9-11-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Commemorates the Ninth Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As prepared for deliveryn Saturday, September 11, 2010 Washington, DC

    On this day, we also honor those who died so that others might live: the firefighters and first responders who climbed the stairs of two burning towers; the passengers who stormed a cockpit; and the men and women who have, in the years since, borne the uniform of this country and given their lives so that our children could grow up in a safer world. In acts of courage and decency, they defended a simple precept: I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.
    And on this day, we recall that at our darkest moment, we summoned a sense of unity and common purpose. We responded to the worst kind of depravity with the best of our humanity.
    So, each year at this time, we renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act of terror and who continue to plot against us – for we will never waver in defense of this nation. We renew our commitment to our troops and all who serve to protect this country, and to their families. But we also renew the true spirit of that day. Not the human capacity for evil, but the human capacity for good. Not the desire to destroy, but the impulse to save.
    That is why we mark September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. For if there is a lesson to be drawn on this anniversary, it is this: we are one nation – one people – bound not only by grief, but by a set of common ideals. And that by giving back to our communities, by serving people in need, we reaffirm our ideals – in defiance of those who would do us grave harm. We prove that the sense of responsibility that we felt for one another was not a fleeting passion – but a lasting virtue.
    This is a time of difficulty for our country. And it is often in such moments that some try to stoke bitterness – to divide us based on our differences, to blind us to what we have in common. But on this day, we are reminded that at our best, we do not give in to this temptation. We stand with one another. We fight alongside one another. We do not allow ourselves to be defined by fear, but by the hopes we have for our families, for our nation, and for a brighter future. So let us grieve for those we’ve lost, honor those who have sacrificed, and do our best to live up to the values we share – on this day, and every day that follows. – WH, 9-11-10
  • Remarks by the President on the Occasion of Rosh Hashanah: As Jews in America and around the world celebrate the first of the High Holy Days I want to extend my warmest wishes for the New Year. L’shana Tova Tikatevu – may you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.
    Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the spiritual calendar and the birth of the world. It serves as a reminder of the special relationship between God and his children, now and always. And it calls us to look within ourselves – to repent for our sins; recommit ourselves to prayer; and remember the blessings that come from helping those in need.
    Today, those lessons ring as true as they did thousands of years ago. And as we begin this New Year, it is more important than ever to believe in the power of humility and compassion to deepen our faith and repair our world.
    At a time when too many of our friends and neighbors are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, it is up to us to do what we can to help those less fortunate.
    At a time when prejudice and oppression still exist in the shadows of our society, it is up to us to stand as a beacon of freedom and tolerance and embrace the diversity that has always made us stronger as a people.
    And at a time when Israelis and Palestinians have returned to direct dialogue, it is up to us to encourage and support those who are willing to move beyond their differences and work towards security and peace in the Holy Land. Progress will not come easy, it will not come quick. But today we had an opportunity to move forward, toward the goal we share—two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
    The scripture teaches us that there is “a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” In this season of repentance and renewal, let us commit ourselves to a more hopeful future.
    Michelle and I wish all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah a sweet year full of health and prosperity. – WH, 9-7-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Honors America’s Workers; Outlines Steps Taken to Strengthen the Middle Class
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, September 4, 2010 Weekly Address Washington DC:
    This Labor Day, we are reminded that we didn’t become the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness. We did it by rewarding hard work and responsibility. We did it by recognizing that we rise or we fall together as one nation – one people – all of us vested in one another. That is how we have succeeded in the past. And that is how we will not only rebuild this economy, but rebuild it stronger than ever before. – WH, 9-4-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President announces Elizabeth Warren
White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 9/17/10

 

  • Jackie Kennedy Onassis: America’s quintessential icon of style and grace: “She epitomized elegance in the post-World War II era,” says Rice University presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “There’s never been a first lady like Jacqueline Kennedy, not only because she was so beautiful but because she was able to name an entire era ‘Camelot.’ … No other first lady in the 20th century will be able to have the aura. She’s become an icon.” Although Kennedy was “in a league of her own,” Brinkley adds, “the closest to her is Michelle Obama, the way she comports herself with such dignity at all times.” USA Today, 9-26-10
  • Jackie Kennedy Onassis: America’s quintessential icon of style and grace: Perhaps the women also would have shared notes about the sometimes unkind attention paid even to popular first ladies. When Kennedy was in the White House, “She was the most popular woman in the world,” says Myra Gutin, an expert on first ladies and a communications professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. “With that came a great amount of criticism. She showed up at Easter services once in Palm Beach wearing sandals and no stockings, and people were just offended.” – USA Today, 9-26-10
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: The Historian’s Take on the Tea Party and the Media: Is the Tea Party one of the most successful scams in American political history?… The Tea Party is not the only small group in history to wield more power than you’d expect from its numbers. In 2008, Barack Obama did very well in party caucuses, which draw far fewer voters than primaries. And it was Lenin who offered the classic definition of a vanguard party as involving “people who make revolutionary activity their profession” in organizations that “must perforce not be very extensive.” But something is haywire in our media and our politics. Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian whose new book is “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History,” observed in an interview that there is a “hall of mirrors” effect created by the rise of “niche” opinion media. They magnify small movements into powerhouses, while old-fashioned journalism, which is supposed to put such movements in perspective, reacts to the same niche incentives…. – WaPo (9-23-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: Congress adjourns, but spending bills and Bush tax cuts still loom Lawmakers head home to face voters in the midterm elections, putting off big decisions – such as on extending the Bush tax cuts: “You’ve had a year when Congress has passed a lot of big bills that caused a lot of controversy and where the benefits aren’t yet apparent to voters,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The Democrats leave themselves in a vulnerable position. When Congress passed Medicare [in 1965], people were enrolled and getting benefits within the year.”
    “While the political logic behind postponing a decision on the tax cut for the wealthy is quite clear, there are pretty big political risks involved and the decision might leave Democrats more vulnerable in November to attack,” wrote Professor Zelizer of Princeton in a follow-up e-mail. – CS Monitor, 9-30-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Fight for middle class economic security: In an extraordinarily powerful moment last Monday, a middle class mother named Velma Hart confronted the president for whom she had enthusiastically voted.
    During the town hall, Hart expressed to President Obama her deep frustration with the current state of affairs: “I’ve been told that I voted for a man who said he’s going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people, and I’m waiting sir. I’m waiting. I just don’t feel it yet . . . I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?”
    With this simple question, Ms. Hart articulated a feeling that is shared by millions of Americans who are growing more desperate for our current economic situation to change….
    The sad truth is that even when this recession officially ends, the economic pain felt by millions of middle class Americans won’t go away. This is our new reality and one that has been building for decades. Restoring the security that middle class Americans enjoyed in the 1940s and 1950s — fighting a war for economic security — must be our central goal in years to come…. – CNN, 9-27-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Tea Party promises won’t last: Christine O’Donnell shocked the political establishment last week with her victory in the Republican Senate primary in Delaware against Rep. Mike Castle. Like most Tea Party activists, O’Donnell has embraced the anti-Washington rhetoric that has been popular among congressional candidates in the current political climate.
    She and other conservatives have criticized fellow Republicans, like Castle, for having become too comfortable in the nation’s capital, too willing to work through the normal political process and to compromise on core principles.
    “The people of Delaware have spoken. No more politics as usual,” she said upon declaring victory.
    This kind of anti-Washington rhetoric usually works well on the campaign trail, but it tends to vanish once a candidate is elected and starts the new job….
    Voters should be extremely skeptical about the kinds of promises that candidates such as O’Donnell are making. They have seen this movie before, and they know how it ends.
    In the end, voters should pay less attention to the anti-Washington rhetoric and take a closer look at the specific policies that these candidates hope to pursue. Doing so will allow voters to make a more realistic assessment of what their victories would mean for the nation. – CNN, 9-20-10
  • KARL ROVE: Democrats Run From Pelosi And the GOP prepares its ‘Pledge to America.': Sometimes the impending loss of power can cause people to say strange things. Consider House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told reporters last week, “I don’t really even have the time to pay attention” to the attacks on her. “This is what campaigns are about. I sort of, like, thrive on them.”
    Really? It’s hard to imagine Mrs. Pelosi likes the ads run by at least seven Democratic House incumbents distancing themselves from her agenda, such as the stimulus, cap and trade, and ObamaCare. Or the comments in recent weeks by Reps. Chet Edwards (a trusted Texas lieutenant), Heath Shuler (North Carolina) and Zack Space (Ohio), all of whom declined to support her re-election, saying they don’t even know who will run for speaker. Does she appreciate Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright, who said late last month, “Heck, she might even get sick and die”?… – WSJ, 9-23-10
  • JOHN FUND: The Carter-Obama Comparisons Grow Walter Mondale himself sees a parallel: Comparisons between the Obama White House and the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter are increasingly being made—and by Democrats.
    Walter Mondale, Mr. Carter’s vice president, told The New Yorker this week that anxious and angry voters in the late 1970s “just turned against us—same as with Obama.” As the polls turned against his administration, Mr. Mondale recalled that Mr. Carter “began to lose confidence in his ability to move the public.” Democrats on Capitol Hill are now saying this is happening to Mr. Obama.
    Comparisons between the Obama White House and the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter are increasingly being made by Republicans -and by Democrats. Video courtesy of Fox News.
    Mr. Mondale says it’s time for the president “to get rid of those teleprompters and connect” with voters. Another of Mr. Obama’s clear errors has been to turn over the drafting of key legislation to the Democratic Congress: “That doesn’t work even when you own Congress,” he said. “You have to ride ‘em.”
    Mr. Carter himself is heightening comparisons with his own presidency by publishing his White House diaries this week. “I overburdened Congress with an array of controversial and politically costly requests,” he said on Monday. The parallels to Mr. Obama’s experience are clear…. – WSJ, 9-22-10
  • HALEY BARBOUR: GOP, Tea Party Unity Spells Defeat For Obama Republicans should be grateful tea partiers did not run as third-party candidates and split the antistatist vote:
    Christine O’Donnell’s upset victory in last week’s Delaware GOP Senate primary has generated a lot of talk in the media about where the tea party and the GOP are headed. Tea party voters have been incited to political action by the policies of the Obama administration and the Pelosi- Reid Congress. These include a heretofore unimaginable federal spending spree, a failed package of stimulus programs, a government takeover of our health-care system, and the Democrats’ insistence on raising taxes, particularly on job creators, even though job creation is our country’s greatest need. Columnist Kim Strassel on the Democrats’ new November strategy. Also, columnist William McGurn on a new film about public education. Tea party voters are not only motivated by the effect these terrible policies are having on them—they are worried about America’s future. They fear that their children and grandchildren won’t inherit the same country they inherited from their parents and grandparents. What they know with certainty is that future generations will be saddled with paying back the trillions in debt that the Obama administration and Congress are running up with so little positive result. Replace “tea party” with “Republican” in every instance above, and each description would remain totally accurate. On the issues foremost in voters’ minds—the economy, jobs, spending, taxes, debt and deficits—the overwhelming majority of tea party voters and Republican voters are in strong agreement…. – WSJ, 9-21-10
  • The Conversation: Obama Press Conference Politico’s Ken Vogel Weighs in with ABC’s David Muir:
    President Obama held a news conference today, answering questions on a range of issues from the economy to the recent controversy surrounding a Florida pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11. It was Obama’s first press conference since May and his eighth since he assumed the presidency.
    Today on the Conversation, ABC News’ David Muir spoke with Politico’s Ken Vogel to get his take on the president’s comments as we approach the midterm elections.
    Obama repeatedly took aim today at Republicans for their opposition to his economic recovery plan, a theme that Vogel says will dominate the run up to midterm elections.
    “What we’re detecting is sort of a common meme among Democrats out on the campaign trail…’Republicans are offering no alternatives.’ In fact what they would offer is a return to the sort of Bush era economics.” Vogel said…. – ABC News, 9-10-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Bad timing could sink Democrats: With the real possibility of a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, many Democrats are starting to argue for budget cuts.
    In New Hampshire, Democratic Senate candidate Paul Hodes has called for $3 billion in cuts, saying, “For too long, both parties have willfully spent with no regard for our nation’s debt.”
    This criticism will become louder this week with the president’s proposal for a $50 billion infrastructure package to improve the nation’s roads, airports and railways. These budgetary pressures will only intensify if the political strength of conservatives increases following the midterm elections.
    But Democrats need to proceed with caution and avoid the pressure to target federal spending before the economy shows signs of stronger recovery. They should recall what happened in 1937 when a member of their party, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, decided to reduce federal spending to please fiscal conservatives and demonstrate that the New Deal had succeeded.
    The strategy severely backfired as the spending cuts helped to push the economy into a severe recession and did almost nothing to stop the growing criticism from his conservative opponents….
    In the coming months, Obama and Democrats will face a choice similar to the one FDR had to make in the spring of 1937. The temptation to cut spending will only intensify. But Obama should think hard about taking this path. As FDR learned, he might very well help send the country into a “double dip” recession.
    Given that unemployment is a major factor fueling electoral discontent with the Obama administration, he will do little to strengthen his approval ratings while conservative critics will only continue to attack. This would leave Obama and the Democrats in the worst of all possible worlds by 2012. – CNN, 9-7-10
  • The Presidency, Chained to the World: …[P]owerlessness in the face of economic free fall has emerged as a hallmark of the modern presidency. While Mr. Obama is facing a more acute economic crisis moment than his predecessors, characterized by a near depression, the truth is that every president going back to Jimmy Carter, at one point or another, has had to campaign or govern in an environment dominated by the same cyclical and stubborn factors — recession, unemployment, rising energy costs. And so perhaps Mr. Obama’s presidency, as it reaches its midway point, is best understood not in isolation, but rather as part of a longer and still undefined political moment….
    Historians have different ways of looking at the question. But in interviews, several hit on the same basic theme, which is that Mr. Obama and his immediate predecessors have been forced to contend with the erosion of self- sufficiency…. – NYT (9-11-10)
  • SAM TANENHAUS: God and Politics, Together Again: IT took only a day for a massive exercise in unity to become the latest salvo in the culture wars. The evangelicals movement grew as battles waged over social changes. The rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, Aug. 28, organized by Glenn Beck and held on the 47th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, was billed as a strictly religious affair, untainted by any political agenda. In keeping with the spiritual message, Mr. Beck omitted his customary attacks on President Obama and Congressional Democrats, who he has implied, more than once, are socialists (or worse) in disguise. But in an interview taped after the event and shown the next day on Fox News, which also broadcasts his popular nightly program, Mr. Beck, a Mormon, was back on the attack, this time criticizing Mr. Obama’s religious views…. – NYT, 9-4-10

History Buzz September 2010: Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars”

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. Her blog is History Musings

RELATED LINKS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

IN FOCUS:

  • Bob Woodward Potrayal of Obama Pleases White House: The new Bob Woodward book portrays President Obama as hard-nosed and demanding in the process of drafting a new U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan last year. And senior White House officials seem pleased by the portrait.
    “I think the book portrays a thoughtful, vigorous policy process that led us to a strategy to get us the best chance of achieving our objectives and goals in Afghanistan,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
    In an exchange with reporters on Air Force One as Mr. Obama flew to New York for two-and-a-half days of diplomacy at the United Nations, Gibbs said he hopes people read the book for themselves, as he said he did last night.
    Gibbs said Mr. Obama came into office facing an Afghanistan policy that was “neglected for seven years and badly under- resourced.” Gibbs said the president tried to shepherd a process “that was thoughtful and deliberative.”… – CBS News, 9-22-10
  • White House doesn’t dispute Woodward book’s portrayal of Obama: Bob Woodward book details Obama’s Afghan war exit plan “Obama’s Wars,” to be released Sept. 27, 2010, recounts how the president crafted his own strategy for a way out of Afghanistan.
    With juicy nuggets of the new Bob Woodward book on President Obama starting to emerge, the official White House reaction so far is: It’s just fine.
    Many of Obama’s senior advisers have already obtained and read the book, “Obama’s Wars,” and are satisfied with the image it conveys of the president, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
    “The President comes across in the [Afghanistan] review and throughout the decisionmaking process as a Commander in Chief who is analytical, strategic, and decisive, with a broad view of history, national security, and his role,” the official said in an e-mail…. – WaPo, 9-22-10
  • Washington Post scooped by New York Times on Bob Woodward story Great rival runs story on legendary Watergate reporter’s new book that spoils Post’s exclusive from its own journalist:
    The heavyweight bout between the New York Times and the Washington Post for the title of America’s leading newspaper has just seen the Post take another punch in the kidneys.
    To the Post’s immense embarrassment, it has been scooped by its great rival over a book written by one of its own journalists. And not just any journalist, either, but Bob Woodward, half of the famous Woodward and Bernstein team that broke the Watergate scandal.
    On Tuesday evening the New York Times website ran a news story by political correspondent Peter Baker reporting the juicy revelations in Woodward’s latest book, Obama’s War, detailing tensions within the White House over the direction of the conflict in Afghanistan.
    The book is not published until next week and the Washington Post had planned to run exclusive extracts. But Baker’s scoop forced it to scramble together a version of its own.
    The humiliation of being scooped under its own nose is the latest in a long line for the Post. In recent years it has lost a string of talented journalists to the NYT – including Baker, who left the Post in 2008 – while steep declines in circulation and advertising revenue have seen the Post shed staff and resources…. – Guardian, UK, 9-22-10

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Son of Dead Sea Scrolls Expert Is Convicted: The son of a prominent professor at the University of Chicago was convicted on Thursday of impersonating a New York University professor and other scholars who disagreed with his father’s theories on the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jurors took half a day to find the son, Raphael Haim Golb, a 50-year-old real estate lawyer, guilty on 30 of 31 counts, including identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment…. – NYT (10-1-10)
  • Brought to book with Orlando Figes: Next month sees the publication of Orlando Figes’s history of The Crimean war, Crimea: The Last Crusade. According to the blurb for his new book, Figes “re-imagines the extraordinary war, in which the stakes could not have been higher and which was fought with a terrible mixture of ferocity and incompetence”. It is ferocity and incompetence that have characterised Figes’s own extraordinary war with academics, and dominated the headlines earlier this year. The stakes could not have been higher…. – London Evening Standard (9-27-10)
  • Historians lobby for state signage to recognize Revolutionary War general Nathaniel Woodhull: Exactly 234 years ago this month, a Revolutionary War general died from wounds incurred during a defiant showdown with the British – a gripping tale of patriotism that began in Queens. But the spot where Nathaniel Woodhull was mortally wounded in 1776 does not bear tribute to the first high-ranking colonial officer to become a prisoner of war and die in enemy captivity…. – NY Daily News (9-28-10)
  • Plans for John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Tulsa Go Forward in U.S. House: Plans to designate the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Tulsa as part of the National Park System received a boost last Thursday when Oklahoma Republican John Sullivan introduced a bill to conduct a feasibility study on incorporating the park into the NPS. The park commemorates the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot and is named for Tulsa native John Hope Franklin, the late Duke historian and Presidential Medal of Honor winner. Dignitaries will assemble on October 27 to dedicate the park in his honor…. – HNN Staff (9-28-10)
  • A Trial on Identity Theft, With Scholarly Discourse: …Raphael Haim Golb, a 50-year-old real estate lawyer, seemed at times to take on the role of everything but criminal defendant as he testified in his own defense on Monday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Mr. Golb faces charges that he stole the identity of and impersonated a New York University professor and others who disagreed with his father’s theories about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls in an effort to discredit them…. – NYT (9-27-10)
  • Historian, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka calls Nigeria a failure: NOBEL Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has lamented the failure of Nigeria to manifest traits of a succeeding nation 50 years into independence. Speaking as guest speaker at the 50th Independence anniversary of Nigeria, organised by the Rivers State government in Port Harcourt on Monday, Professor Soyinka noted that the Nigerian nation had not been able to find the link between potential and fulfilment…. – Nigerian Tribune (9-28-10)
  • Polish group begins legal action against David Irving: A Polish organization began legal action this week to convict British Holocaust denier David Irving for “minimizing” the scale of Nazi atrocities, as the revisionist historian begins his controversial tours of the Nazi death camps in the country…. – Jerusalem Post (9-24-10)
  • Auschwitz museum rejects tour by Holocaust-denying historian: British historian and Holocaust-denier David Irving will not be permitted to give tours at Poland’s Auschwitz- Birkenau State Museum, museum officials said Tuesday after the controversial historian arrived in Poland to lead a tour of Nazi sites. “Proper actions” will be taken if Irving made statements that denied or played down the Holocaust while visiting Auschwitz, a museum spokesman told the Polish Press Agency PAP. “We cannot allow statements that harm the memory of the victims,” spokesman Bartosz Bartyzel told PAP…. – Guardian (UK) (9-21-10)
  • HNN article cited in historians’ petition to release Nixon transcript: Maarja Krusten’s HNN article “Why Aren’t All the Nixon Tapes Now Available,” originally published in February 2009, has been cited in a legal petition for the National Archives and Records Administration to unseal former president Richard Nixon’s 1975 testimony to a grand jury. The petition was spearheaded by Stanley Kutler, another regular contributor to HNN and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. Mr. Kutler has been involved in legal cases to release Nixon administration records since the early 1990s…. – HNN Staff (9-16-10)
  • Reports of baby Tsar remains ‘hoax’ – historian: The Russian historian Professor Andrei Sakharov has dismissed as a hoax reports from Kholmogory near the White Sea about the discovery of the remains of the Russian Emperor Ivan VI, who was killed on 1764 at 24 nearly 23 years after being deposed…. – Voice of Russia (9-13-10)
  • Historians Want Court To Unseal Nixon Testimony Unseal: A group of historians is asking the Washington federal district court to exercise its “inherent supervisory authority” to unseal the 1975 grand jury testimony of former President Richard Nixon.
    Historian Stanley Kutler, the American Historical Association, American Society for Legal History, Organization of American Historians, and Society of American Archivists filed a petition yesterday seeking the transcript of Nixon’s testimony on June 23 and June 25, 1975, and related documents of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. The records are at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md…. – LegalTimes (9-14-10)
  • Secret Corps of Filmmakers Documented Nuclear Bomb Tests: …While many of the scientists who made atom bombs during the cold war became famous, the men who filmed what happened when those bombs were detonated made up a secret corps….
    The images are getting “seared into people’s imaginations,” said Robert S. Norris, author of “Racing for the Bomb” and an atomic historian. They bear witness, he added, “to extraordinary and terrifying power.”… NYT (9-14-10)
  • Controversial historian David Irving outrages Poles with death camp tour: David Irving, the controversial historian, has outraged war veterans and survivors’ groups with a tour of sites related to the Nazi occupation of Poland.
    Irving will be shadowed by the Polish secret service as he takes a week-long guided trip round various sites related to the German occupation of Poland, including a trip to the notorious SS-run camp Treblinka, where more than 800,000 Jews died between 1942 and 1943. Telegraph (UK) (9-9-10)
  • Canadian historian doubts Franklin artifact came from that expedition: An old wooden box excavated from beneath an Arctic cairn is being flown unopened today to Ottawa from the Nunavut hamlet of Gjoa Haven. The Nunavut government launched the excavation after an Inuit family relayed oral history suggesting that the cairn contained records from the ill-fated 1845 expedition led by Sir John Franklin in search of the Northwest Passage…. – Montreal Gazette (9-6-10)
  • Harvard history department still lacks Latin American professors: After two unsuccessful searches to replace Harvard’s two endowed professorships in Latin American history, the history department will, for the second consecutive year, rely on visiting faculty to fill the two positions.
    While the history department awaits clearance from the University to launch another search in the spring, undergraduates hoping to write Latin American history theses and graduate students in the field continue to find creative ways to pursue their course of study…. – Harvard Crimson (9-7-10)
  • Brooklyn College Furor Is More Heated Online: Reading about it online, you would think that the controversy over this year’s assigned reading for students new to Brooklyn College would have led to fevered student and faculty protests by now, making the campus the latest to be roiled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    But so far at least, the furor over the book — “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America,” by Moustafa Bayoumi, an associate English professor at Brooklyn College – is unfolding a bit like the debate over the planned Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan: much of the intensity seems far afield, while the response in the neighborhood itself is more muted…. – NYT (9-1-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Deborah Kaplan: The Afterlife of My Husband Roy Rosenzweig’s Archive: Deborah Kaplan is an associate professor of English and cultural studies at George Mason University. She prepared a collection of Roy Rosenzweig’s essays, Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age, to be published by Columbia University Press this winter…. – CHE (9-26-10)
  • William Pfaff: Are Obama’s Hands Tied by Forces Beyond His Control?: A splendid and courageous new book, “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War,” by Andrew J. Bacevich of Boston University (and for many years previously, the U.S. Army), describes with lucidity the degree to which the power of the American presidency over war and peace has been weakened in our day, and, in important respects, superseded…. – Truthdig (9-28-10)
  • Roger Cohen: Listen to Tony Judt: Democracy Still Matters: It’s important to stanch the anti-democratic tide. Thugs and oppression ride on it. If anyone needs reminding of that, read the remarkable Tony Judt, the historian who brought the same unstinting lucidity to his death last month from Lou Gehrig’s Disease as he did to the sweep of 20th-century European history. Judt was a British intellectual transposed to New York whose rigorous spirit of inquiry epitomized Anglo-American liberal civilization. Nobody knew better the repressive systems that create captive minds. Nobody wrote more persuasively about the struggle against them for pluralism, liberty and justice…. – NYT (9-20-10)
  • Michael Hirsh: Our Best Minds Are Failing Us: …Recently, the National Science Foundation sent out a query asking economists and social scientists to draw up “grand challenge questions that are both foundational and transformative”—a request that one recipient, Andrew Lo, a highly regarded financial economist at MIT, says is a first in his experience. But one problem is that the economics profession “has gotten much more intolerant of divergence from orthodoxy,” says Philip Mirowski, an economic historian at Notre Dame. “The range in which dissent happens is so narrow. In a sense they still cannot imagine the system can operate to undermine itself. That is not a position that is allowed anywhere in the economics profession. The field got rid of methodological self-criticism. This Great Moderation stuff was just arrogance, hubris.” Indeed, the joke on economists, says one of them, Rob Johnson, is that they create simplistic models that depend on people behaving as rational actors motivated by self-interest, yet “they have a blind spot regarding themselves.” The way they squabble mulishly to defend now-indefensible positions is itself evidence of how flawed those rational-actor models are…. – Newsweek (9-16-10)
  • Jed Perl: Scholarly Hipsters?: Perspective—our perspective on world history—is the subject of [Daniel] Rosenberg and [Anthony] Grafton’s easygoing, brainy Cartographies of Time, a book that bears comparison with two of my favorite illustrated volumes of all time: Mario Praz’s Illustrated History of Furnishing (1964) and A. Hyatt Mayor’s Prints and People: A Social History of Printed Pictures (1971). What Rosenberg and Grafton have in common with Mayor and Praz is a feeling for the poetic powers of material culture, for the way that stylistic evolutions express changing worldviews. By looking at timelines and how their shape and form have morphed over the years, Rosenberg and Grafton manage to describe the evolving physiognomy of the historical imagination. This book does for timelines what Grafton’s glorious The Footnote: A Curious History did for footnotes. It takes intellectual confidence to compose a text that partners with pictures without overwhelming them—that allows the images to dance and sing. Mayor and Praz had that confidence. So do Rosenberg and Grafton…. – The New Republic (9-15-10)
  • Michel Martin: Professor Walters Taught Us All A Love For Country: …I was thinking about all that because I was thinking about Ronald Walters, a pre-eminent professor of political science and African-American studies, who died Sept. 10 of cancer. He was 72.
    At the time of his death, he was a professor at the University of Maryland, where he chaired the African American Leadership Institute. He had also taught at Brandeis and Syracuse universities but perhaps most notably at Howard University…. – NPR (9-13-10)
  • Plans made for 1968 Olympics in East and West Berlin, historian says: A plan existed to bring the 1968 Olympic Games to Berlin, which was divided by then East and West Germany, a sports historian said Saturday. But the Allies, along with the West German government, would not allow it. Christopher Young, who also heads German studies at the University of Cambridge, told the online edition of daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that the idea was the brainchild of eventual Chancellor Willy Brandt…. – Deutsche Welle (8-28-10)
  • Steven J. Zipperstein: The Two Tony Judts: Tony Judt, who died last month at the age of 62 after suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, was an unlikely celebrity academic. He was soft-spoken, dressed much like a graduate student, rarely appeared on television or radio, and derided postmodernism and ethnic studies. The finest of his many books, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (Penguin Press), published in 2005, is a prodigiously original, rather straightforward, dense (832 pages without footnotes in paperback) political history. His last book, Ill Fares the Land: a Treatise on Our Present Discontents (Penguin Press, 2010), was dictated over the course of a couple months as his illness progressed; it is a call to social austerity, to self-effacing, moderate, social-democratic principles—in short, a document of the conservative left…. – the CHE (9-5-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Bill Bryson: If Walls Could Talk: AT HOME A Short History of Private Life Many adults have a fantasy that if they could go back to college — now that the desire to party, drink and sleep around has faded to a burnished memory — they’d get so much more out of it. The publishing industry often reflects this wish. Every season brings offerings that are right at home on anyone’s continuing-ed syllabus: innovative, original ways to study world history through lenses trained on the minutiae of salt or cod, earthworms or spices, tea or telephones. Now, finally, for those of us who wrestled with Rocks for Jocks, pined amid Physics for Poets and schlepped through college on 101s of any and every subject — the beloved survey courses — here’s that most popular professor, Bill Bryson, with a fascinating new book, “At Home: A Short History of Private Life.” NYT, 10-8-10
  • When the City Defined Who’s Who: ETHAN MORDDEN mulled titling his latest social and cultural history “From Mrs. Astor to Truman Capote, or the Rise of New Yorkism in American Life.” Instead, he settled on a more generic (and inviting) title with a more specific subtitle: “The Guest List: How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication — From the Algonquin Round Table to Truman Capote’s Ball” (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99)…. – NYT, 10-8-10
  • Tony Blair: The Convert: A JOURNEY My Political Life The years since the end of the cold war divide into two very different ages. The first, the 1990s, was dominated by the rise of free markets and free trade across the globe. The second, since 9/11, has been defined by terrorism, counterterrorism, war and Islamic radicalism. Bill Clinton is the symbol of the first decade and George W. Bush of the second. Tony Blair is the only major political figure to span both eras, beginning his political life in the corridors of Davos and ending it in the mud flats of Basra. He tells both tales in his engrossing memoir, “A Journey,” but they never fuse into one larger story…. – NYT, 10-8-10
  • In Bob Woodward’s ‘Obama’s Wars,’ Neil Sheehan sees parallels to Vietnam: In another of his superbly reported insider accounts, “Obama’s Wars,” Bob Woodward recounts how a new president may well have embroiled himself in a war that could poison his presidency — just as his predecessor, George W. Bush, destroyed his with a foolhardy war in Iraq and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were ruined by the war in Vietnam. The grim mountains and deserts of Afghanistan are a boneyard of invading foreign armies. The British rulers of colonial India sent an Anglo-Indian army into Afghanistan in 1839 to establish it as a buffer state against the advances of imperial Russia in Central Asia. The enterprise faltered against Afghan resistance, and the main garrison at Kabul — about 4,500 troops and 12,000 family members and camp followers — decided to retreat back to India in January 1842. Afghan tribesmen fell upon them in the snows of the mountain passes and slaughtered them without pity. Only one man, a doctor named William Brydon, reached safety. A few others were spared as prisoners and subsequently rescued…. – WaPo, 10-3-10
  • Nicholas Phillipson: The Wealth of an Intellect: Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life Against this backdrop, it comes as something of a surprise to discover “Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life” by Nicholas Phillipson (Yale, $32.50). Mr. Phillipson, an honorary fellow in history at the University of Edinburgh, has written an unabashedly intellectual biography in which Smith’s economics thinking is only part — at times, a smallish part — of a larger, inherently philosophical story…. – NYT, 10-2-10
  • Andrew Cayton Reviews Ron Chernow: Learning to Be Washington: WASHINGTON A Life Today, books about Washington continue to appear at such an astonishing rate that the publication of Ron Chernow’s prompts the inevitable question: Why another one? An obvious answer is that Chernow is no ordinary writer. Like his popular biographies of John D. Rockefeller and Alexander Hamilton, his “Washington” while long, is vivid and well paced. If Chernow’s sense of historical context is sometimes superficial, his understanding of psychology is acute and his portraits of individuals memorable. Most readers will finish this book feeling as if they have actually spent time with human beings. Given Chernow’s considerable literary talent and the continued hunger of some Americans for a steady diet of tales of Washington and his exploits, what publisher could resist the prospect of adding “Washington: A Life” to its list?…. – NYT, 9-30-10Excerpt
  • Ron Chernow: Dusting Off an Elusive President’s Dull Image: WASHINGTON A Life When George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States, he had only one original tooth left. It was “a lonely lower left bicuspid,” according to Ron Chernow’s vast and tenaciously researched new biography. But Mr. Chernow was not content merely to write about the tooth and its larger implications, which range from questions about Washington’s apparent reticence in later life (did his dental troubles keep him from speaking?) to his harshly pragmatic attitude toward slavery (he purchased slaves’ teeth, perhaps for use in dentures). Mr. Chernow also paid a personal visit to the tooth at the medical library where it is stored…. – NYT, 9-28-10
  • David S. Reynolds Reviews Eric Foner: Learning to Be Lincoln: THE FIERY TRIAL Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery Do we need yet another book on Lincoln, especially in the wake of all the Lincoln volumes that appeared last year in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his birth? Well, yes, we do — if the book is by so richly informed a commentator as Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia. Foner tackles what would seem to be an obvious topic, Lincoln and slavery, and manages to cast new light on it…. – NYT, 9-30-10
  • Isabel Wilkerson: For blacks, the Great Migration north was a declaration of independence: THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration For African Americans, restriction of movement has long had profound meaning — and never more so than after the end of slavery. The flight of 6 million Southern blacks to the North between 1915 and 1970 was, as Isabel Wilkerson writes in “The Warmth of Other Suns,” “the first mass act of independence by a people who were in bondage in this country for far longer than they have been free.”… Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose own family made the trek north, puts a different face on what is known as the Great Migration. Those who made the momentous decision to leave the “Old Country,” as writer James Baldwin called the South, were as diverse and determined as those who passed through the way stations of Ellis Island…. – WaPo, 9-26-10
  • Three books on the Tea Party, reviewed by Steven Levingston: “Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America,” by Kate Zernike (Times, $25)
    “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History,” by Jill Lepore (Princeton Univ., $19.95)
    “Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System,” by Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen (Harper, $27.99) – WaPo, 9-26-10
  • Samuel Moyn: New Birth of Freedom: THE LAST UTOPIA Human Rights in History Human rights have come to dominate international discourse, but while this fact is often portrayed as the culmination of a centuries-old tradition, Samuel Moyn, a professor of history at Columbia University, takes a different view. The modern concept of human rights, he says in “The Last Utopia,” differs radically from older claims of rights, like those that arose out of the American and French Revolutions. According to Moyn, human rights in their current form — applicable to all and internationally protected — can be traced not to the Enlightenment, nor to the humanitarian impulses of the 19th century nor to the impact of the Holocaust after World War II. Instead, he sees them as dating from the 1970s, exemplified by President Jimmy Carter’s effort to make human rights a pillar of United States foreign policy…. – NYT, 9-24-10
  • Jimmy Carter, Julian E. Zelizer: Engineer of his own defeat: Jimmy Carter’s “White House Diary”: WHITE HOUSE DIARY, JIMMY CARTER Precisely whom we must thank for this sudden outpouring of books by and about Jimmy Carter — in addition to the two here under review, there is also “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: The Georgia Years 1924-1974,” by E. Stanly Godbold Jr. (Oxford Univ., $29.95) — but an outpouring it most certainly is, though how many readers actually will welcome it is uncertain. This is because the principal effect of Carter’s diary of his four White House years and Julian E. Zelizer’s brief assessment of them is to remind us that it was a difficult time for the country and that Carter, for all his strengths, was not the right man for the time…. – WaPo, 9-24-10
  • China’s WWI Effort Draws New Attention: Xu Guoqi is a professor of history at the University of Hong Kong. His book, Strangers on the Western Front: Chinese Workers in the Great War, will be published this year. He says that sending as Chinese laborers to the front was a brilliant strategy to link China with the West…. – Voice of America (9-23-10)
  • Craig Robertson: Book Review: The Passport in America: The Passport in America:The History of a Document Forced to evacuate our homes with only one portable essential, some of us would grab our passports. Not only do these seemingly magical certificates grant the bearer the right to cross friendly borders at will and to obtain government protection in case of trouble while overseas, they also offer a proof of citizenship in the modern age. “The Passport in America,” Craig Robertson’s provocative, if at times numbingly academic, study of this special document in American history, charts its general acceptance in tandem with the growth of the nation state and the various technologies — chiefly photography — that helped to shape modern notions of individual identity…. – NYT, 9-26-10
  • Jay Jennings: A Town, a Team, a Dream Deferred: CARRY THE ROCK Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City Historical relevance is not a problem in “Carry the Rock: Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City,” Jay Jennings’s informative but frustrating book, set on the campus of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. History, in fact, is every­where. Central High may be the most recognizable high school name in America; at Central in 1957, the nation witnessed the full fury of the Southern resistance to school desegregation, as images of soldiers escorting black children to their classes became as famous as the students’ nickname: the Little Rock Nine…. – NYT, 9-19-10
  • Rebecca Traister: Sexual Politics: BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY The Election That Changed Everything for American Women Sleeping a few blocks away was the journalist Rebecca Traister, author of “Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women,” a passionate, visionary and very personal account of the cultural ferment that accompanied the election of ’08. Traister was covering the convention for Salon. A colleague woke her by saying urgently, “McCain picked Palin.” Traister’s stupefied response, she writes, was “Michael Palin?” (the British comedian). She wasn’t joking. And after she heard Palin speak, she wasn’t laughing…. – NYT, 9-19-10
  • Ilyon Woo: At War With the Shakers: THE GREAT DIVORCE A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times Ilyon Woo has ably pieced together the story of this triangular struggle. She places the Chapmans’ battle in the context of similar contests: theirs was not the only family torn apart by one partner’s decision to join the Shakers. The sect insisted that wives could not join unless husbands also did. Initially, such a rule did not apply when spousal roles were reversed, but the Shakers’ experience with the resolute Eunice Chapman led them to make it ­universal…. – NYT, 9-19-10
  • H.W. Brands’s “American Dreams,” reviewed by Charles Kaiser: AMERICAN DREAMS The United States Since 1945 The story of the United States since 1945 offers a historian the opportunity to mine a rich narrative of steady change and dramatic transformation. With the end of World War II now 65 years behind us — and all of the 1960s at least 40 years old — this ought be a good time to offer new information and fresh insights into the political, social and cultural events that re-invented the country in the postwar period. “American Dreams” appropriately dates the beginning of the modern era to the first explosion of an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert in July 1945. Here, H.W. Brands, a history professor at the University of Texas, does a good job of making the familiar seem fresh: “Many of the observers were struck by the silence that surrounded the detonation. The astonishing display of light and color took place without a soundtrack — until the sonic waves reached the observation posts many seconds after the light waves.” As J. Robert Oppenheimer, the project’s director, wrote: “I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture . . . ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or the other.”… – WaPo, 9-17-10
  • Jonathan Schneer’s “The Balfour Declaration,” reviewed by Eugene Rogan: THE BALFOUR DECLARATION The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict British historian Jonathan Schneer has produced a remarkable book on this complex and divisive subject. His “Balfour Declaration” is engagingly written, adding to our knowledge of this frequently told story without ever taking sides. The novelty of the book lies in the way he tells the story. Schneer sets the Zionist struggle for recognition in the context of Britain’s conflicting promises to Arabs, Jews and its European allies as part of its desperate bid to defeat Germany in World War I. Britain supported these movements more for their utility to its own war effort than out of conviction…. – WaPo, 9-17-10
  • Rebecca Traister: In the 2008 election, Hillary Clinton lost but feminism won: BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY The Election That Changed Everything for American Women In the early pages of “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” Salon’s Rebecca Traister seems determined to alienate every female reader over 40. Had I fallen for her false start, I would have missed her considerable contributions to the ongoing feminist narrative described by Gloria Steinem as the “revolution from within.”… – WaPo, 9-17-10
  • Tall tales from history: Are historians best placed to write historical fiction?: Historians turning their hands to fiction are all the rage. Since Alison Weir led the way in 2006, an ever-growing number of established non-fiction writers – Giles Milton, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Harry Sidebottom, Patrick Bishop, Ian Mortimer and myself included – have written historical novels.
    So successful has been the experiment, with many of the books making the bestseller lists, that earlier this year Penguin bought two novels from Kate Williams, one of our finest young historians, for the staggering sum of £1m. Independent (UK) (8-13-10)
  • Review of Richard Overy’s “1939: Countdown to War”: This exceptionally lucid, concise and authoritative book (which publishes at the end of September) tells the story of “the extraordinary ten days of drama that separated the conclusion of the German-Soviet [non-aggression] pact early in the morning of 24 August [1939] and the late afternoon of 3 September when France joined Britain in declaring war on Germany.”… – WaPo, 9-12-10
  • Bob Dylan sings the songs of America [and Sean Wilentz analyzes him]: “No one ever seems to go in or out of that building,” says Sean Wilentz, pointing out Princeton’s Nassau Hall, a campus landmark old enough to have been held by the British during the Revolutionary War.
    It’s appropriate that this eminent American historian (“The Rise of American Democracy,” “The Age of Reagan”) is talking about spirits from the past and mysteries of the present. His new book, ” Bob Dylan in America,” (Doubleday) is about how the strains of American music and American history have come together in one man over the course of a nearly 50-year career. In Wilentz’s view, Dylan has served as a conduit for potent and nearly forgotten strands in American musical, folk and political culture. The Popular Front artists, the Beat writers, the forgotten blues singers discovered by John and Alan Lomax, these are some of the people whose work speaks through Dylan. And so, appropriate for a historian, the book is a vision of how the past becomes part of our living present…. – LA Times (9-5-10)
  • 2010 National Book Festival WaPo

FEATURES:

  • The real underground railroad: You are a runaway slave in antebellum America. Your name, age, height, and defining characteristics — whipping scars or redbone skin, jutting tooth or missing toes — have been circulated in a newspaper ad that offers $150 for your return. You’ve crossed the treacherous border states and, so far, eluded slave catchers. But you can feel their breath, and as you cross into New England, you’ve heard tell of a law giving anyone with a badge not just the power but the obligation to arrest you….
    That distorted image, scholars say, arose in large part because whites kept the most records about the effort. In that recorded history, “there’s a tendency to see runaway slaves as childlike, people who need to be taken care of. So you tend to get writings that position the experience in that way,” said Spencer Crew, a professor of history at George Mason University…. – Boston Globe (9-26-10)
  • Descendants of 1st black US doctor mark NYC grave: White descendants of the nation’s first professionally trained African-American doctor gathered in a cemetery on Sunday to dedicate a tombstone at the unmarked grave where he was buried in 1865. “Right now I feel so connected in a new way, to actually be here,” said Antoinette Martignoni, the 91-year-old great- granddaughter of James McCune Smith. “I take a deep breath, and I thank God, I really do. I am so glad to have lived this long.”… – WaPo (9-26-10)
  • Jesper Vaczy Kragh: Mentally handicapped Danes lobotomised until 1983: historian: Many mentally handicapped Danes, including children, were lobotomised between 1947 and 1983, and many died from the operation, a historian behind a soon-to-be-published book on the topic told Danish media Thursday. “Doctors did not count on curing them completely, but wanted to pacify them, perhaps to better their condition,” Jesper Vaczy Kragh told the Christian daily Kristelig Dagbladet. “The results of such operations generally were not good, and some 7.6 percent did not survive,” said the medical historian, behind a book on lobotomies set to be published in October…. – AFP (9-23-10)
  • Why is the city of Montgomery condemning the property of African-Americans along a civil rights trail?: …Over the last decade or so, dozens—perhaps hundreds—of homes in Montgomery have been declared blighted and razed in a similar manner. The owners tend to be disproportionately poor and black, and with little means to fight back. And here’s the kicker: Many of the homes fall along a federally funded civil rights trail in the neighborhood where Rosa Parks lived. Activists say the weird pattern may not be coincidence. “What’s happening in Montgomery is a civil rights crisis,” says David Beito, a history professor at the University of Alabama who, as chair of the Alabama State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, held hearings on the demolitions in April of last year…. – Slate (9-17-10)
  • Did the Blitz Really Unify Britain?: The defiance of Britain as it endured eight months of German bombing 70 years ago is etched on the collective memory and immortalised in the phrase “Blitz spirit”. But does this image of national unity tell the whole story?…
    Although there was some panic and chaos in those first few nights, says Juliet Gardiner, author of The Blitz: The British Under Attack, the term “Blitz spirit” typifies two qualities that emerged – endurance and defiance…. BBC Magazine (9-13-10)

PROFILES:

  • The birth of Latin American identity with two professors Martinez: As he stood beside the ornate tomb in Seville’s massive cathedral in southern Spain, Rubén Martínez didn’t know whether to curse or bless the man whose bones lie there.
    “It’s kind of like that classic mestizo dilemma,” Martínez said, using the traditional term denoting people of mixed European and indigenous American ancestry. “He’s my dad. I’m a bastard kid. I hate him, I love him.”…
    Martínez and filmmaker Carl Byker dig deep into the origins of Latin American identity, and the societies it shaped, in “When Worlds Collide,” a 90-minute documentary that will premiere at 9 p.m. Monday on PBS channels across the country, including KCET in Los Angeles…. – LA Times (9-27-10)
  • A historic moment for N. Korea watchers: …Seoul-based historian Andrei Lankov spent the early 1990s anticipating something that hasn’t happened. In his 30s at the time – “just a beginner,” Lankov recalled – he felt certain that North Korea would collapse after leader Kim Il Sung’s death. He planned his life around it. He craved the firsthand research that North Korea’s collapse would allow. He called it his “top academic ambition” to enter the nation that operated like a vault, turning the imagined into the tactile. He’s still waiting. Lankov speaks with unusual frankness about the limitations of his knowledge, even though he attended college in Pyongyang in the mid-1980s. (He was later blacklisted from reentry for 20 years, having been accused by Pyongyang of operating as a South Korean spy.)… – WaPo (9-27-10)
  • Keith Jeffery: Historian who explored MI6 secrets: Keith Jeffery, author of the first – and possibly only – official history of MI6, said today he had made a “Faustian pact” that had in some cases “overridden the imperatives of historical scholarship”. But he was given an offer he could not refuse – “the holy grail of the British archives”… – Guardian (UK) (9-21-10)
  • Sean Wilentz, Bringing It All Back Home: In Greenwich Village, not far from where Bob Dylan got his start—but in a chic Italian bistro, not a smoky dive like the late, lamented Gaslight Cafe—the Princeton historian Sean Wilentz is choking up, recalling when Dylan’s new recordings began to mean something to him again, after he’d drifted away from Dylan in the 1980s…. – CHE (9-5-10)

QUOTES:

  • Historians, writers in favour of Indian president opening Commonwealth Games: NEW DELHI: Should Britain remain the pre-eminent nation in the Commonwealth when the world order has been turned upside down from the days when the “sun never set on the British Empire”? With controversy raging over who will declare CWG-2010 open — representative of Queen Elizabeth or President Pratibha Patil — the question has come to the fore with shades of the old debate over equations between the colonial master and the colonised resurfacing…. – Times of India (9-28-10)
  • Young people in UK losing faith in retirement, according to Jeremy Black: Jeremy Black, professor of history at the University of Exeter, said younger people who were yet to retire were having to adjust to a dramatic change in fortunes.
    “The relationship between the generations has been transformed. Whereas it used to be the case that up and coming generations tended to be more prosperous then their parents, now we’re going to be in reverse,” he said…. – BBC News (9-7-10)
  • SC mimicking political branches, says Cambridge historian: David J. Garrow, a University of Cambridge historian, said the court had in this way started to mimic the political branches of government.
    “We are getting a composition of the clerk work force that is getting to be like the House of Representatives,” Professor Garrow said. “Each side is putting forward only ideological purists.”… – NYT (9-6-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Philip D. Zelikow: Germany’s international role is smaller, says reunification expert: Philip D. Zelikow worked on German reunification as a senior National Security Council official under President George H.W. Bush. Together with Condoleezza Rice, he is the author of “Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (1995).” Zelikow also served as executive director of the 9/11 Commission and as the top adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is currently the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia…. – Deutsche Welle (9-30-10)
  • A Q&A With Ambassador Michael Oren: What follows are questions for Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from Coach Kemper and IFE Journalism Interns…. – Huffington Post (9-28-10)
  • Taylor Branch on Jon Stewart’s great risk: Jon Stewart’s announcement last Thursday of his “Rally to Restore Sanity” on Oct. 30 has, not surprisingly, generated significant interest from “Daily Show” fans. (The current number of people signed up on the rally’s Facebook page is 140,000). But it also prompted some confusion, even from longtime fans. What is Stewart trying to achieve? Does this mark a more formal embrace of politics? Will this change the way he’s perceived?… – Salon (9-24-10)
  • Atlantic City: Empire or Fantasyland? An Interview with Bryant Simon: A new HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, premiered this weekend. Worlds away from what we see on Jersey Shore, it has reignited interest in New Jersey history and culture. Bryant Simon (author of Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America and Professor of History at Temple University) has been interviewed for the accompanying HBO documentary, and here we ask him some questions about the “dreamlike” place that is AC…. – OUPblog (9-20-10)
  • The Limits of Religious Tolerance: Scott Appleby on PBS – PBS (9-10-10)
  • Richard Evans dishes to the Guardian about Nazi book burnings: Throughout history, says Matt Fishburn, author of Burning Books, a chronicle of the phenomenon through the ages, most official book-burnings have been about “control”, to announce “what a regime stands for”. Like previous such ceremonies, the Nazi burnings (which Fishburn said, on their 75th anniversary in 2008, have since become “a cultural benchmark, a popular analogy and a common insult – to burn a book today is to be a ‘fascist’”) were, essentially, about “announcing what would be acceptable in future; shaping the new public sphere. The burnings were the symbol; the repressive legislation that came in their wake was what really enforced it.”… – Guardian (UK) (9-10-10)
  • How Bob Dylan Changed the ’60s–and Beyond with Sean Wilentz: Nearly half a century after he released his first album, Bob Dylan continues to release new albums (including, last year, a compilation of Christmas songs) and tour the country playing concerts. Sean Wilentz, an American history professor at Princeton University and “historian-in-residence” at BobDylan.com, traces Dylan’s influence on American culture in his new book, Bob Dylan in America. Here, he discusses how Dylan shaped his generation—and whether there’s a similar artist in today’s music scene…. – The Atlantic (9-9-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Harvard’s Annette Gordon-Reed recepient of MacArthur grant: …Annette Gordon-Reed, American historian, 51; Cambridge, Mass. Gordon-Reed changed the way scholars study the life of Thomas Jefferson, revealing his relationship with his slave Sally Hemings; she continues her discoveries in colonial interracial relationships…. – Chicago Tribune (9-27-10)
  • Historian David McCullough is Recipient of 2011 John Fitzgerald Kennedy Award in Holyoke: American historian David McCullough has been awarded the 2011 John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Award which is given out annually each March by the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee in western Massachusetts…. – Irish Massachusetts (Blog) (9-23-10)

SPOTTED:

  • Bryn Mawr College marks 125th year with conference on women’s education in a global context: Despite the progress made during the last century, in most places on Earth men continue to hold an overwhelming advantage. With few exceptions, when it comes to health, education, work, salaries, social status, and political power, women do not even come close to parity. That was just one of the stark facts in play as Bryn Mawr College convened an international conference Thursday – “Heritage and Hope: Women’s Education in a Global Context” – to help mark the 125th anniversary of the famed women’s school…. – Philadelphia Inquirer (9-24-10)
  • BOOK WORLD’S FESTIVAL RECOMMENDATIONS If you are fascinated by the history of race . . .: In “The History of White People,” Nell Irvin Painter (History & Biography at 11:10 a.m.) argues that “race is an idea, not a fact.” From ancient times to present day, she traces how that idea developed. The Greeks and Romans did not differentiate people by skin color, for instance, and as early Irish immigrants to America could attest, one might have white skin and still not qualify as “white.”… – WaPo, 9-17-10
  • National Book Festival author schedule: History & Biography: GORDON S. WOOD A professor of history at Brown University, Gordon S. Wood is the author of several critically acclaimed and widely read histories, including “Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different” and “The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History.” His book in the multi-volume Oxford History of the United States, “Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815,” was recently published. 10 a.m., Signing 11 a.m…. – WaPo, 9-17-10
  • BOOK WORLD’S FESTIVAL RECOMMENDATIONS If you are curious about noteworthy Americans . . .: A theme worth exploring at the National Book Festival is American Lives, which will have you gravitating between two pavilions: History & Biography and Contemporary Life. Former First Lady Laura Bush (History & Biography at 10:35 a.m.) returns to the festival she launched in 2001, modeling it on a similar event she started as first lady of Texas in 1995. You can begin your American Lives Day by listening to Mrs. Bush discuss her recently published memoir, “Spoken from the Heart.”… – WaPo, 9-17-10
  • Brown historian speaks before U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Tuesday launched what its leader ambitiously called “the start of a national conversation on formulating a new civil rights agenda for the 21st century,” but without significant input from mainstream civil rights organizations or the panel’s two Democratic members….
    James T. Patterson, a professor of history emeritus at Brown University in Providence, R.I., spoke before the commission about “the hailstorm of criticism” that Daniel Patrick Moynihan experienced when he wrote an internal report for the U.S. Department of Labor in 1965 called “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” Mr. Moynihan, a Democrat, served as a U.S. senator for New York before he passed away in 2003. His report, which was leaked to the press, said blacks had been mistreated because of racism. It also said that a “pathology” in low-income black families was impeding their economic success. As an example of that pathology, the report said that 25 percent of African-Americans were born out of wedlock at the time. It also characterized “black matriarchy” as a problem…. – Education Week (9-16-10)
  • William R. Polk travels to Afghanistan: In the past few weeks, this same William R. Polk — who has had a long career as professor, author, and foreign-policy advisor* in the intervening 52 years — traveled to Afghanistan to report on prospects there. Last week he sent a summary around privately to associates. With his permission, we are publishing his whole dispatch on our site. You can read it here. It is lengthy and discursive, but as I reached the end of each page I felt a grim compulsion to go on to the next…. – The Atlantic (8-31-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • 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:

  • 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:

  • Medieval history expert and dedicated Irish socialist Alf O’Brien, 72: ALF O’BRIEN, who has died aged 72, was a lecturer in the department of medieval history in University College Cork, a dedicated socialist and a leading authority on the life and times of medieval Ireland…. – Irish Times (9-4-10)
  • Ashton Welch, Gentle ‘Foe of Injustice,’ Dies at 68: Ashton W. Welch, an associate professor of history and longtime director of Creighton University’s black-studies program, died unexpectedly in his sleep on August 14. He was 68; the cause of death was not specified…. – CHE (9-26-10)
  • Richard Rodriguez Remembers Historian Franz Schurmann: Eminent scholar and historian Franz Schurmann, who co-founded Pacific News Service in 1970, passed away on August 20, 2010. Richard Rodriguez, a long-time editor and writer with PNS, remembered him in a powerful eulogy delivered Sept. 19 at UC Berkeley Alumni House…. – New American Media (9-21-10)
  • Robert Hohner, historian of the American South: Robert A. Hohner, a historian of early twentieth-century southern politics, died on August 8, 2010, at his home in London, Ontario. In an educational career interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy, Bob received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Duke University. After teaching briefly at the U.S. Naval Academy, Bob took a position in 1965 at the University of Western Ontario (uwo), where he remained in the Department of History until his retirement in 2001…. – OAH News (9-16-10)
  • Fathi Osman, Scholar of Islam, Dies at 82: Fathi Osman, an influential scholar who articulated a liberal version of Islam and published an authoritative guide to the Koran for non-Arabic readers, died on Sept. 11 at his home in Montrose, Calif. He was 82…. “He had two major projects,” said Reuven Firestone, a professor of medieval Jewish and Islamic studies at Hebrew Union College and a senior fellow of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. “The first was to make the case to non-Muslims that Islam is a complex civilization and should not be seen as a flat ‘other.’ The second, directed to Muslims, was to demonstrate through his scholarship that Islam is flexible and can accommodate modernity and still remain authentic to Islamic values and practices.”… NYT (9-19-10)
  • William H. Goetzmann, Pulitzer-Winning Historian, Dies at 80: William H. Goetzmann, who in a Pulitzer Prize-winning book overturned the idea of Western exploration in the 19th century as a series of random thrusts into the hinterland, finding instead that it was a far more systematic effort, died on Tuesday at his home in Austin, Tex. He was 80…. – NYT (9-11-10)
  • Former Canadian national archivist Jean-Pierre Wallot dies at 75: As national archivist during the advent of the Internet age, Jean-Pierre Wallot acted as conservator of Canada’s collective memory — from Karsh’s photographs to La famille Plouffe, a Quebec TV drama in the 1950s. Ottawa Citizen (9-12-10)
  • William H. Goetzmann, 80, Pulitzer Prize winner and UT professor: Historian William H. Goetzmann, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1967, and emeritus professor at the University of Texas died on September 7, 2010. His book Exploration and Empire , a study of the 19th century scientific exploration of the American West, won both the Pulitzer and Parkman prizes in history in 1967. His book on the art of the American West, The West of the Imagination co-authored with son William N. Goetzmann was the subject of a PBS television series by the same name in 1985. His most recent work, Beyond the Revolution (2009) traced the development of post-Revolutionary American thought…. – Austin American-Statesman (9-9-10)

September 6, 2010: Larry Sabato Predicts Republican Congress in November; Obama Officially Ends Combat in Iraq

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 in the Rose Garden
The President and his economic team in the Rose Garden, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 9/3/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Blacks, Young Voters Not Poised for High Turnout on Nov. 2 Republicans — and conservative Republicans in particular — are already tuned in to midterms: Minority and young voters made a significant mark on the 2008 presidential election with their high turnout; today, however, these groups appear to have reverted to previous levels of interest in voting in the context of midterm elections. Most notably, in contrast to 2008, when whites and blacks were about equally likely to say they were giving “quite a lot of” or “some” thought to the presidential election, whites are much more likely than blacks to be thinking about the 2010 elections: 42% vs. 25%, a gap exceeding those from recent midterm elections…. – Gallop.com, 9-3-10Center for Politics
  • Analysis: Democrats face grim election prospects: An unrelenting sour mood among voters has steadily eroded support for President Barack Obama’s Democrats, putting the party’s grip on Congress at growing risk two months before the November 2 election. Worries about the economy and plummeting confidence in Obama have Democrats on the defensive in dozens of once-safe races, sparking new predictions of a 1994-style sweep that would restore Republicans to power in the House of Representatives and even the Senate.
    “A big wave for Republicans is almost guaranteed in November barring some cataclysmic event,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who on Thursday increased his projected Republican gains in the House to 47 seats — enough to win a majority. “The political climate for Democrats has deteriorated badly over the summer,” Sabato said. “The rotten economy and President Obama’s failure to turn it around is killing Democrats.”
    Obama and Democrats got little help on Friday from the latest jobless report, which showed the unemployment rate inching up to 9.6 percent after employment fell for the third consecutive month…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • GOP will take over House, political guru Sabato predicts: The Democrats are likely to lose 47 seats and control of the House of Representatives in November’s elections, a top political analyst says in a new forecast Thursday. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, also says that the Democrats are likely to lose eight or nine seats in the Senate, eight governors’ offices and 300 to 500 seats in state legislatures.
    “The numbers are eye-catching. Republicans are dramatically gaining in all categories,” Sabato said in an interview. “It’s generated by a rotten economy and a strong conservative reaction against President Obama.”
    The analysis marks the first time this year that Sabato and the University’s Center for Politics have predicted a Republican takeover of the House. Sabato is one of the most consistently accurate election prognosticators. His final pre-election analysis in 2006 got the exact number of Democratic gains in the House and Senate and was off by only one in governors’ races. In 2008, he missed the final Electoral College count by only one, and missed the final House tally by only five seats.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition. It has simply been a matter of degree,” Sabato said in a written analysis released Thursday. “Had Democratic hopes on economic revitalization materialized, it is easy to see how the party could have used its superior financial resources, combined with the tendency of Republicans in some districts and states to nominate ideological fringe candidates, to keep losses to the low 30s in the House and a handful in the Senate.”
    With Labor Day looming, Sabato wrote, it’s now clear that the summer didn’t turn out as Democrats wanted. “Conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. “Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters – fair or not – it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Across the board, Sabato forecasts larger Democratic losses than he projected in the spring, when he and his Center for Politics predicted that the Democrats could lose 32 House seats. That would be a large setback, but Republicans must gain 39 seats to take control of the House. Democrats now control the House by 255-178, with two vacancies, one previously held by each major party. A switch of 47 seats would put the Republicans in charge by at least 226-209, assuming the two vacant seats remain in the same partisan control. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is in line to be the new speaker of the House. His party would chair all House committees, and would gain subpoena power to force the Obama administration to answer questions.
    At least one other nonpartisan analyst also is now predicting a Republican takeover of the House. University of Buffalo political scientist James Campbell forecasts that the Democrats will lose 51 or 52 seats. Sabato’s new forecast also envisions larger losses in the Senate: eight or nine, up from the seven seats he previously predicted. Republicans must gain 10 Senate seats to take control there, however…. -
    McClachy Newspapers, 9-2-10
  • James E. Campbell: UB professor predicts House will go to Republicans: A University at Buffalo political scientist with a sterling record of prognosticating presidential elections is predicting that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will turn over her gavel to the GOP come January. The presiding Democrats stand to lose about 51 seats in November, says James E. Campbell, professor of political science at UB. His prediction stems from a crystal ball filled with scientific equations based on polling and current events, all pointing to a stunning reversal of fortune for Democrats, who took over the House in 2006.
    “After two election setbacks, they are poised for a comeback,” Campbell says of Republicans. “Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even President Obama’s approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat gains by Republicans in the House.”
    In a paper he will deliver this week to the American Political Science Association meeting in Washington, Campbell analyzes a variety of political elements that he plugs into his final equation….
    “In June 2010, 42 percent of respondents told Gallup that they were conservatives, while 20 percent claimed to be liberals, and 35 percent said they were moderates,” he said. “The nearly even division in partisanship and the conservative tilt in ideology suggest that the current equilibrium in the electorate is far more Republican than the status quo in the House.” “Polls, primary turnouts, the emergence of the tea party movement, and Republican victories in 2009 [including Scott Brown’s 2010 Senate win in Massachusetts] are unmistakable stirrings of a revitalized right,” he concluded.
    “Although President Obama is not unpopular at this point [his approval ratings stand in the mid- 40s], neither does he have the strong approval ratings that would provide much help to his party in staving off significant midterm losses,” Campbell said. “There is still an outside chance the Democrats could hold on,” he said Saturday…. -
    Buffalo News, 9-2-10
  • Shock Prediction: GOP to Take House, Maybe Senate in 2010 Election UVA’s Larry Sabato also sees Republicans gaining eight governorships in his crystal ball: Typically cautious Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, is rocking the political world with a new “Crystal Ball” prediction: The GOP will win the House, making Ohio’s John Boehner speaker, might get a 50-50 split in the Senate, and will pick up some eight new governors.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition,” Sabato said in his latest prediction, issued Thursday. “But conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish, and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters—fair or not—it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Sabato on House elections: “Given what we can see at this moment, Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net. This is a ‘net’ number since the GOP will probably lose several of its own congressional districts in Delaware, Hawaii, and Louisiana. This estimate, which may be raised or lowered by Election Day, is based on a careful district-by-district analysis, plus electoral modeling based on trends in President Obama’s Gallup job approval rating and the Democratic-versus-Republican congressional generic ballot. If anything, we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains, if the election were being held today.”
    Sabato on the Senate: “In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react). GOP leaders themselves did not believe such a result was truly possible just a few months ago. If the Republican wave on November 2 is as large as some polls are suggesting it may be, then the surprise on election night could be a full GOP takeover. Since World War II, the House of Representatives has flipped parties on six occasions (1946, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1994, and 2006). Every time, the Senate flipped too, even when it had not been predicted to do so. These few examples do not create an iron law of politics, but they do suggest an electoral tendency.”
    US News, 9-2-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama meets with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jor

President Obama with leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan & Egypt, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/1/10

  • Obama to hold press conference next Friday: President Barack Obama will hold a press conference on Friday, September 10, the White House said on Thursday…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • Obama: New jobs numbers ‘positive’ but not enough: President Barack Obama welcomed news Friday of better-than-expected private sector job growth. But with the unemployment rate ticking upward nevertheless, he said he’d roll out new plans next week to spur the economy. Obama spoke after the Labor Department reported that private employers added 67,000 new jobs last month, and both July and June’s private-sector job figures were revised upward. Those numbers were better than first thought and pushed stock prices up.
    Standing with his economic team in the Rose Garden, Obama said the jobs report was “positive news, and it reflects the steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession. But it’s not nearly good enough.” “That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest,” the president said…. – AP, 9-3-10
  • Obama Declares an End to Combat Mission in Iraq: President Obama declared an end on Tuesday to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States has met its responsibility to that country and that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home.
    In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama balanced praise for the troops who fought and died in Iraq with his conviction that getting into the conflict had been a mistake in the first place. But he also used the moment to emphasize that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues — and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer.
    “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home,” Mr. Obama said. “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.”… – NYT, 9-1-10
  • Obama’s Oval Office Address: In Oval Office address last night, Obama said the country was turning the page on Iraq… But it’s still something we’ll have to return to — when violence continues and when judging whether the war was worth the sacrifice… Surprisingly, Obama used a good part of the speech to discuss the economy… He also talked about Afghanistan, his opposition to the war, and George W. Bush… What he didn’t say: whether the surge worked… Today, Obama turns the page from Iraq to Middle East peace, meeting individually with the heads of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt… The president makes statement to reporters at 5:20 pm ET… Murkowski concedes, becoming the seventh incumbent to lose a primary for re-election this cycle… Three takeaways on Pawlenty’s executive order… Profiling AZ-8… And Boxer and Fiorina debate…. – MSNBC, 9-1-10
  • Biden marks transfer of U.S. command in Iraq: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates helped usher in the next chapter for the United States in Iraq on Wednesday, presiding over a ceremony launching a new military operation designed to train, assist and advise the Iraqis.
    Biden said Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, but promised that “American engagement with Iraq will continue” with the new stability mission.
    “This change of mission, to state the obvious, would never have been possible without the resolve and tremendous sacrifice and competence of our military — the finest, if our Iraqi friends will forgive us, the finest fighting force in the world, and I would argue the finest fighting force that ever has existed,” Biden said. ….
    On Tuesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed Americans about the transition in a televised speech.
    “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people — a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization.”
    Obama said he was “awed” by the sacrifices of service members and their families and that the U.S. has met its responsibility.
    “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country,” Obama said. “We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”… – CNN, 9-1-10
  • Why Wall St. Is Deserting Obama: Daniel S. Loeb, the hedge fund manager, was one of Barack Obama’s biggest backers in the 2008 presidential campaign. A registered Democrat, Mr. Loeb has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Less than a year ago, he was considered to be among the Wall Street elite still close enough to the White House to be invited to a speech in Lower Manhattan, where President Obama outlined the need for a financial regulatory overhaul. So it came as quite a surprise on Friday, when Mr. Loeb sent a letter to his investors that sounded as if he were preparing to join Glenn Beck in Washington over the weekend.
    “As every student of American history knows, this country’s core founding principles included nonpunitive taxation, constitutionally guaranteed protections against persecution of the minority and an inexorable right of self- determination,” he wrote. “Washington has taken actions over the past months, like the Goldman suit that seem designed to fracture the populace by pulling capital and power from the hands of some and putting it in the hands of others.”… – NYT, 8-31-10
  • Blair: Bush world view had ‘immense simplicity’: Former U.S. President George W. Bush was a “true idealist” who displayed “genuine integrity and political courage,” former British prime minister Tony Blair reveals in his memoirs. Detailing the close professional and personal relationship which developed between the two leaders in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. and during the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Blair writes that Bush was “very smart” while having “immense simplicity in how he saw the world.” “Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership… he sincerely believed in spreading freedom and democracy,” he writes in “A Journey;” which hit book stores in the UK on Wednesday.
    But Blair, whose premiership overlapped the presidencies of Bush and Bill Clinton, reserves his warmest words for Bush’s Democratic predecessor, describing him as a “political soulmate” and “the most formidable politician I had ever encountered.” He also defends Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair. CNN, 9-1-10
  • Pawlenty Rejects “Obamacare” Funding for Minnesota: Attacking President Obama’s health care reforms from all angles, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty today issued an executive order directing state agencies to turn down any discretionary funding from the legislation. The health care reform package signed into law earlier this year “represents a dramatic attempt to assert federal command and control over this country’s health care system,” the potential Republican presidential candidate wrote in the executive order…. – CBS News, 9-1-10
  • NYC mayor disapproves of probe of mosque financing: New York’s mayor says an investigation by the state attorney general into the finances of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero would set “a terrible precedent.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s no reason for the government to investigate donations to religious organizations. Congressman Peter King disagrees. The ranking minority leader of the Homeland Security Committee says “a number” of terrorist plots have “emanated from mosques.” He cites the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as an example… – AP, 8-31-10
  • Glenn Beck rally attendance: calculating how many really showed up: Glenn Beck rally attendance has become hotly contested following Saturday’s event in Washington. But from Woodstock to the Million Man March, figuring out the number of people who show up at big events has never been easy. CS Monitor, 8-30-08
  • For New Orleans, Katrina anniversary is both solemn and festive: Dancing, singing, mourning, and crying mixed throughout New Orleans this weekend as the city showcased the progress made since Katrina and honored those who died…. – CS Monitor, 8-30-10
  • Biden in Iraq to mark end of U.S. combat mission The vice president will press Iraqi leaders to form a new government and reassure them that the U.S. is not abandoning the country, officials say. LAT, 8-30-10
  • Obama Dismisses Faith Rumors: President Obama said on Sunday that he was not worried that increasing and significant numbers of Americans believe he is Muslim.
    Mr. Obama attributed the spread of the rumors about his religion and birthplace to “a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly.” “We dealt with it when we were first running for the presidency,” he said. ‘There were those who said I couldn’t win as U.S. senator because I had a funny name and people would be too unfamiliar with it. “And yet we ended up winning that Senate seat in Illinois because I trusted the American people’s capacity to get beyond all this nonsense and focus on, ‘Is this somebody who cares about me and cares about my family and has a vision for the future?’” Mr. Obama said. “And so, I will always put my money on the American people. And I’m not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there.”… – NYT, 8-29-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Boxer, Fiorina debate: California economy is center stage: Sen. Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina faced off Wednesday night, drawing sharp distinctions between them. The Boxer, Fiorna debate was gaffe-free but too scripted, analysts say…. – CS Monitor, 9-2-10
  • Democratic party braced for midterm beating: Barack Obama’s party likely to lose heavily in November elections, polls suggest The Democratic party is staring at heavy losses in Congress and at the state level in the November midterm elections, according to several public opinion polls. The latest weekly survey from Gallup gives the Republicans a 10-point advantage – 51% to 41% – among registered voters. The lead is the Republican party’s largest so far this year and its widest margin in 68 years. The national poll, released this week, also found Republicans twice as likely to say they are “very” excited about voting in November, amid widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, where the unemployment rate is near double digits…. – Guardian UK, 9-1-10
  • Murkowski was ‘capable, energetic’ for Alaska: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s stunning defeat in the Alaska primary ends a 30-year family legacy of holding that seat, an era that spanned a majority of Alaska’s statehood. Joe Miller, a self-styled constitutional conservative backed by the Tea Party Express and former Gov. Sarah Palin, upset Murkowski in a close primary race. Miller had a more than 1,600-vote lead with outstanding ballots yet to count, but Murkowski conceded Tuesday night. There are multiple theories on what led to Murkowski’s demise — from her not taking Miller seriously or being aggressive enough, to Palin’s endorsement of Miller, to an abortion ballot measure that drew conservative voters to the polls…. – AP, 9-1-10
  • Palin returns to Iowa for GOP’s biggest fundraiser: Potential 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin will headline the Iowa Republican Party’s biggest annual fundraiser, party officials announced Tuesday in the state that launches the presidential nominating process. The Sept. 17 speech at the annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines will be the first Iowa appearance by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate since a brief book-signing stop last December. “I know Iowa Republicans will be energized and motivated by Governor Palin to stand up and fight for these principles all the way to Election Day and beyond,” said Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • 1980 revisited: Are upstart Republicans ready to be US senators?: Will Senate candidate Joe Miller be part of a 2010 Republican takeover in D.C. this fall? While we’re waiting for absentee and questioned primary ballots to be counted in Alaska, Carl Hulse of The New York Times wonders whether the November midterm election will bring results resembling that of 1980, when Republicans riding Ronald Reagan’s coattails — including Frank Murkowski, father of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski — surprised Democrats by taking over the U.S. Senate…. – Anchorage Daily News, 8-31-10
  • Murkowski narrows gap in US Senate seat in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski gained ground Tuesday on Republican challenger Joe Miller in their razor-thin GOP primary as Alaska began counting thousands of outstanding ballots. Murkowski trailed Miller by 1,294 votes in early counting Tuesday. She was down by 1,668 votes after the Aug. 24 primary. The contest has turned bitter in recent days with Miller accusing Murkowski of trying to steal the election by tampering with the vote. Murkowski shot back by saying Miller is paranoid and dealing in trumped-up, misleading rhetoric…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • Strategist: “Enthusiasm Gap” Between GOP, Dems: Says Republicans Have Midterm Advantage With Dems Facing “Toxic” Combination of Tea Party Activists, Economy, Afghanistan. The success in several primary races of far-right candidates backed by Tea Party activists, and the energetic crowd assembled in Washington last Saturday for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, indicate an “enthusiasm gap” that portends trouble for Democrats in November, according to a Republic strategist. Appearing on CBS’ “The Early Show” this morning, Dan Bartlett said, “The Tea Party and whoever else assembles with the Tea Party, like they did this weekend, is demonstrating that Republicans in this election cycle coming up in November have that advantage. “In midterm elections, that is a crucial difference.”…. – CBS News, 8-30-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President speaks to the Nation from the Oval Office
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/31/10
  • Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the End of Combat Operations in Iraq Oval Office:
    At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am incredibly proud of their service. And like all Americans, I’m awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.
    The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people, trained Iraqi Security Forces, and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians — and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people — Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.
    So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. Having drawn down 100,000 troops since taking office, a much smaller force will stay to train and assist the Iraqi forces during the transition period. All U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year….
    Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders — and hundreds of al Qaeda’s extremist allies — have been killed or captured around the world….
    Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle-class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
    And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it’s our turn. Now, it’s our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for — the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.
    Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.
    Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such valor. As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That’s why we’ve already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We’re treating the signature wounds of today’s wars — post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we’re funding a Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II — including my grandfather — become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it…. – WH, 8-31-10
  • Obama formally ends Iraq combat mission President says nation’s top priority now is repairing economy: President Barack Obama made it official Tuesday: Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the nation’s No. 1 priority is fixing the economy. “The end of our combat mission in Iraq” comes at “a time of great uncertainty for many Americans,” Obama said in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office of the White House.
    “But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment,” he added. “It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.”
    And it opens up another opportunity “to rebuild our nation here at home,” the president said, declaring that “now, it is time to turn the page.”… – MSNBC, 8-31-10Read the full text of the speech
  • Meghan McCain’s ‘Conflicting Feelings’ About Sarah Palin: Meghan McCain, who has tended to keep any strong feelings she may have about Sarah Palin to herself, opened up a bit on “Good Morning America” today while promoting her new book, “Dirty Sexy Politics.” McCain’s opinion on the former Alaska governor is of greater interest than most, since some Republicans blame Palin’s vice-presidential bid for derailing her father’s presidential campaign. “I do clearly state at the end that we did not lose because of her,” McCain said, referring to her book. When pressed by host George Stephanopoulos, McCain admitted to “conflicting feelings” about Palin and went on to discuss the way Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was mishandled by the campaign…. – WSJ, 8-31-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • KATHRYN OLMSTED: Why Americans love conspiracies: According to recent polls, large numbers of Americans are convinced of two things that are verifiably not true: that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and that Muslims are building a mosque at ground zero. A great many are also convinced that Obama was not even born in America. The tendency of most pundits and public officials is to dismiss these stories as the easily ignored theories of the lunatic fringe. But the “ground zero mosque” and “Obama-is-a-Muslim” stories have traction in the media for two reasons.
    First, they’re highly effective because they tap into deep, historic American anxieties about “un-American” agents within the republic — perhaps even within the White House. Second, these stories have some powerful sponsors in the media and in politics, sponsors who insinuate their paranoid theories into the mainstream debate to promote their own political goals. Americans have a special relationship to conspiracy theories involving insidious foreigners. Immigrants to America have brought a wider mix of religions and ethnicities and political histories than to any other New World country, and Americans have worried that their country is especially open —and vulnerable — to alien subversion. The historian Richard Hofstadter argued that there was a “paranoid style” in U.S. politics, prompted in part by Americans’ need to define themselves by casting out the un-Americans — or anyone who was not white, native-born and Protestant.
    Over the past two hundred years, frightened Americans have targeted Roman Catholics, Masons, Mormons, and Jews because these native groups were allegedly guided by the instructions of an alien power. Now, it’s the Muslims’ turn…. – Politico, 8-27-10
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