Political Highlights June 8, 2010: Super Tuesday Primaries, Obama & the BP Oil Spill, Support for Israel

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.


The President delivers the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 6/4/10


  • Poll: Americans want charges against BP Oil giant and federal government get negative ratings on spill response: Overall, 69 percent of those polled now say the government has done a “not so good” or “poor” job handling the spill. More polled, 81 percent, give low marks to BP for its response. (Some 59 percent give negative ratings to both the federal government and BP.)
    Criticism of the government and BP crosses party lines and spans the country. The Democratic discontent with the government’s response today — 56 percent give it low marks — contrasts with majority GOP support for federal efforts a few weeks after Katrina stuck in 2005…. – MSNBC, 6-7-10
  • Support for Confirming Kagan Trails That of Recent Nominees Forty-six percent want Senate to vote in favor of her nomination: A USA Today/Gallup poll finds just under half of Americans, 46%, in favor of the Senate’s confirming Elena Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. That level of support is generally lower than what Gallup has found when it first polled about other recent court nominations, trailing all others except Harriet Miers and Robert Bork. Gallop.com, 6-4-10
  • Poll shows big lead for Whitman over Poizner: Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s recent $500,000-a-day spending spree in her quest to become California’s governor appears to have paid off, with a new poll today showing that she holds a 2-to-1 lead over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner heading into the Republican primary election on Tuesday. Whitman leads Poizner by a seemingly insurmountable 51 to 25 percent, with 18 percent of voters undecided and another 6 percent preferring other candidates, according to the Field Poll of 511 Republican primary voters conducted May 27-June 2…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 6-4-10
  • George W. Bush joins Facebook: Former president George W. Bush’s Facebook page was set up around two weeks ago but made public Wednesday, rapidly climbing to more than 27,000 who “Liked” it by mid-afternoon. The first Facebook post was written in the third person, suggesting the page is being maintained by someone other than the president, as is common with Facebook pages for public figures:
    “Since leaving office, President Bush has remained active. He has visited 20 states and 8 countries; given over 65 speeches; launched the George W. Bush Presidential Center; participated in 4 policy conferences through The Bush Institute; finished the first draft of his memoir, “Decision Points”; and partnered with President Clinton to establish the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. More on his activities in future posts…”… – WaPo, 6-2-10George W. Bush’s Facebook Page
  • Study: voters see difference between Republican and GOP: Are you more inclined to vote for (or against) a Republican candidate than you are a GOP candidate?
    For example, 626 registered voters were asked whether they were planning to vote for the “Democratic” candidate for the Legislature or the “Republican” candidate. Then, a different batch of 626 voters was asked whether they would vote for the “Democratic” candidate or the “GOP” candidate.
    Same difference, right? In the first sample, 39 percent favored the Democratic candidate and 38 percent favored the Republican candidate. In the second sample, 42 percent chose Democrat and 37 percent chose GOP. The differences are small but interesting. A candidate wearing the “GOP” label instead of the Republican one would not do as well. Yet just two years ago, the same poll found the GOP label would benefit a candidate… – Bellingham Herald, 6-1-10
  • Tea Party has support of 40% of voters, poll shows: Forty percent of Michigan voters support the conservative Tea Party movement, and most of that support comes from Republicans, according to a new poll by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. Nearly three-fourths of Republicans said they like the ideas of the Tea Party, while 65% of Democrats oppose it. Independents are divided over the Tea Party: 27% support it, 27% oppose it and 26% are unsure what to think. Some 17% said the Tea Party movement — as opposed to the two major parties — most represents their political views, according to the poll of 600 likely Michigan voters…. – Detroit Free Press, 6-2-10


  • Obama pitching seniors on health bill: President Barack Obama is turning his attention back to his signature health care bill and trying to win over the most skeptical constituency: seniors. Obama was set to pitch the bill at a senior center in Wheaton, Md., on Tuesday. The event will be broadcast live and seniors will be able to listen by phone and ask questions at dozens of gatherings around the country…. – AP, 6-8-10
  • Biden says US looking at ‘new ways’ to address Israel’s Gaza blockade Vice President Joe Biden spoke about Israel’s Gaza blockade after meeting with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak today. But he did not say anything about reported election irregularities last week.
    After meeting President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt Monday, Vice President Joe Biden said the US is looking for “new ways” to handle the situation in Gaza. “We are consulting closely with Egypt, as well as our other partners, on new ways to address the humanitarian, economic, security, and political aspects of the situation in Gaza,” Mr. Biden said after the meeting, according to a statement released by the White House…. – CS Monitor, 6-7-10
  • More government hearings on oil spill set for Monday: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will open shop on the bayou Monday morning, holding a hearing in Chalmette, Louisiana.
    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a field hearing on “Local Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” near ground zero for the growing disaster.
    At about the same time, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government’s response manager to the oil spill disaster, will be in Washington briefing President Obama and the cabinet on the administration’s ongoing response to the incident…. – CNN, 6-7-10
  • Obamas attend Ford’s Theatre gala: resident Barack Obama said Sunday the legacy of the nation’s founding fathers has inspired freedom-seeking people around the globe for generations, including those rebuilding South Africa after the end of apartheid. Obama addressed an enthusiastic crowd at the annual Ford’s Theatre gala Sunday, where South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs received the theater’s Lincoln Medal. “There are few people more deserving of the Lincoln Medal, an honor bestowed on those who exemplify the particular focus, dedication and generosity of spirit of our 16th president,” Obama said of the two honorees. “There are few better examples of how the spirit of our founding fathers did more than just create a nation, it inspired people in every corner of the globe yearning to be free.”… – AP, 6-7-10
  • Election spooks lawmakers, curbs Congress spending: The 2010 elections have changed the direction of government only half way through the primary season, with voter anger and economic jitters causing lawmakers to balk at their most basic duties as well as key elements of President Barack Obama’s agenda…. – AP, 6-7-10
  • Obama vs. Oil; Chaos vs. Control: PRESIDENT Obama is that rare politician who is also a gifted writer, and he understands the power of a good metaphor. So you had to believe, on some level at least, that the president could appreciate the poetic significance of that cloud of oil, ubiquitous on cable television all last week, spewing endlessly from a 5,000- foot-deep puncture in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Obama’s administration, too, had been breached, and the accumulating cloud threatened to obscure its considerable achievements — particularly the comprehensive reforms of health care and federal education spending — as the president heads toward the halfway point in his term.
    The man-made catastrophe in the gulf does not yet constitute an existential threat to Mr. Obama’s presidency. (There’s not much Mr. Obama can do about it at this point, anyway, short of slapping on a scuba suit and sticking his hand in the pipe until the relief well is completed.) But then, it is never really one crisis that diminishes a president as much as a succession of crises, avoidable or not. And this might be the real danger for Mr. Obama’s administration — not that the spill itself remains unmanageable, but that it comes to represent a pattern in the public mind, a sense that too many dangers at once (mines and foreign economies collapsing, possible war on the Korean peninsula) seem to be gushing beyond his reach.
    As much as we talk about ideology and competence, our judgment of presidents doesn’t hinge on either of these things in isolation. What matters is the perception — or perhaps the illusion — that one is shaping events, rather than being shaped by them. The modern presidency, like the old “Get Smart” series, is about chaos versus control…. – NYT, 6-6-10
  • Fight looms over intelligence chief: He’s the right guy to ride herd over America’s intelligence operations. Or he’s a good guy, but the wrong one for that tough job. Those warring opinions emerged about James R. Clapper after President Obama said yesterday that he wants the Pentagon’s current intelligence chief to serve as director of national intelligence — the fourth since the post was created in 2004 — and wants the Senate to confirm him quickly.
    “Eminently qualified,” Obama described the blunt-spoken retired Air Force lieutenant general, offering his “complete confidence and support.”…. – Boston Globe, 6-6-10
  • Obama: Oil spill upends life for Gulf residents: President Barack Obama said Saturday that he will stand with Gulf Coast residents “until they are made whole” from the oil spill catastrophe.
    “These folks work hard,” Obama said. “They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe — one that’s not their fault and that’s beyond their control — their lives have been thrown into turmoil.” “It’s brutally unfair. It’s wrong. And what I told these men and women — and what I have said since the beginning of this disaster — is that I’m going to stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are made whole,” the president said…. – AP, 6-5-10
  • Obama to name new intelligence chief: President Barack Obama is set to nominate James Clapper, the Pentagon’s top intelligence, official to oversee the nation’s 16 spy agencies. Obama was expected to announce the nomination of Clapper, a retired Air Force three-star general, as national intelligence director in a Rose Garden ceremony Saturday…. – AP, 6-4-10
  • Michelle Obama calls on top chefs to inspire kids: First lady Michelle Obama recruited hundreds of chefs gathered on the South Lawn of the White House Friday to join her anti-obesity campaign and help schools serve healthier, tastier meals. Mrs. Obama is asking the chefs to partner with individual schools and work with teachers and parents to help educate kids about food and nutrition. She said healthy meals at schools are more important than ever because many children get most of their calories there…. – AP, 6-5-10
  • California Rep. Darrell Issa takes on role as Obama’s chief antagonist: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the man who radically changed California politics by helping fund the 2003 recall effort that lead to the removal of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and the election of fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, has become one of President Obama’s chief antagonists. From his perch as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has spent the last 15 months constantly blasting the Obama administration on nearly every controversy and calling for countless investigations that the Democratic-controlled committee refuses to order. But Issa is finally starting to hit some of his targets. He was one of the leading Republicans in pushing the White House to reveal more details about its discussions to persuade Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to forgo a Senate primary run against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in return for a possible government job. Sestak won the primary, and now another Senate candidate challenging an incumbent Democrat, Andrew Romanoff in Colorado, has acknowledged having similar discussions with White House officials. Issa has suggested the White House violated the law and may have offered Sestak “a bribe” in the process, assertions that have not been proved…. – WaPo, 6-4-10
  • Clinton records show many sides of Kagan: A few notes scribbled in the margins, some brief e-mails and occasional memos help paint only a faint picture of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan when she served as a domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. There’s a rough outline, but little definition. And as with many faded or blurry pictures, there’s just enough material for people to see what they want in the woman President Barack Obama has tapped for the Supreme Court.
    These snippets were among 46,500 pages of Kagan’s records that the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., released Friday in response to a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kagan’s confirmation hearing before the committee is scheduled to begin June 28…. – AP, 6-5-10
  • Obama under fire for election tactics with Sestak, Romanoff: The White House on Thursday dismissed charges that President Obama’s top aides have breached his pledge to run the most ethical and open administration in history by trying to entice Democrats in Pennsylvania and Colorado to skip races against favored incumbents.
    Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, are demanding an independent investigation of what they call inappropriately heavy-handed politics.
    Press secretary Robert Gibbs countered that the White House has every right to try to avert expensive and divisive intraparty primaries between Democrats, something it did by encouraging potential candidates to consider other options, including government jobs or appointments.
    “The president has an interest in ensuring that supporters don’t run against each other in contested primaries,” Gibbs said…. – USA Today, 6-3-10
  • White House: President Obama was unaware aides floated job offers to Andrew Romanoff: Hammered by accusations of playing politics, the White House claimed Thursday President Obama was unaware aides floated job offers to get a second lawmaker to quit a Senate race. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs denied the White House had engaged in any wrongdoing or secret back-room deals, contending the administration has not hidden the fact it doesn’t like Democratic Party primaries. “I do believe we’ve been transparent,” he said. But Gibbs sidestepped and evaded repeated questions on details of the contacts…. – NY Daily News, 6-4-10
  • Hugs, Handshakes at Blagojevich Corruption Trial Blagojevich jury shaping up as cross section of the voters who elected him Illinois governor: Rod Blagojevich started off his corruption trial in full campaign mode, greeting well-wishers with hugs and handshakes, while the judge began questioning potential jurors who emerged as a cross section of the middle American voters who first elected the former Illinois governor.
    U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel questioned 29 potential jurors in five hours Thursday at Blagojevich’s trial on charges of scheming to profit by selling or trading an appointment to the Senate seat that Barack Obama left to assume the presidency…. – AP, 6-4-10
  • White House faces more questions over dealmaking: The White House is facing fresh questions over back-room dealmaking. A Colorado Democrat has acknowledged that he was encouraged by one of President Barack Obama’s top advisers to apply for an international development job instead of challenging the candidate whom the president favored in a Senate race.
    A White House official says no formal offer was ever made and insists there was nothing inappropriate in the contacts… – AP, 6-3-10
  • Curtain lifting on Blagojevich corruption trial: Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sees the start of his corruption trial as the end of an 18-month ordeal that began with his humiliating arrest. Jury selection starts Thursday, and the federal courtroom is expected to be packed. Blagojevich told a radio audience recently that the government “is doing something very wrong” to him and his family and that it will be soon be over. The 53-year-old Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to charges of scheming to profit from his power to fill President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat…. – AP, 6-3-10
  • McCartney Is Honored at White House: A Beatle met the president when Sir Paul McCartney performed at the East Room of the White House on Wednesday night.
    Accepting the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, Mr. McCartney used the occasion to applaud President Obama. “Getting this prize would be good enough,” Mr. McCartney said. “But getting it from this president …” He smiled. He added that despite “difficult times” for the president, “you have billions of us who are rooting for you.” Then, with the first lady in the front row, Mr. McCartney sang “a song I have been itching to do at the White House,” he said. It was “Michelle.”
    A few minutes after the concert, Mr. McCartney returned to the microphone, thanking the Library of Congress and adding, “After the last eight years, it’s great to have a president who knows what a library is.”… – NYT, 6-2-10
  • Obama Says He’ll Push for Clean Energy Bill: President Obama said Wednesday that it was time for the United States “to aggressively accelerate” its transition from oil to alternative sources of energy and vowed to push for quick action on climate change legislation despite almost unanimous opposition from Republicans and continued skepticism from some Democrats.
    “If we refuse to take into account the full cost of our fossil fuel addiction — if we don’t factor in the environmental costs and national security costs and true economic costs — we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future,” Mr. Obama said. “The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.”
    Mr. Obama’s remarks were made to a group of about 300 local business owners and economic officials at Carnegie Mellon University. He used them to reiterate his call to roll back Bush administration tax breaks for oil companies and to make a broader case for his administration’s accomplishments heading into an election season. NYT, 6-3-10
  • LA County boycotts Arizona over immigration law: Los Angeles County on Tuesday became the latest government body to boycott Arizona to protest the state’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration. After a heated debate, the county’s board of supervisors voted 3-2 to ban new contracts with Arizona-based companies and review those that could be canceled. The county has more than $26 million in contracts with Arizona companies this year. Several California cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, have passed similar measures. The Arizona law, set to go into effect July 29, requires police enforcing another law to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally…. – AP, 6-2-10
  • Supreme Court reins in Miranda rules in case from Southfield: Silence isn’t golden, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a Southfield murder case, if you don’t speak up for your constitutional right to clam up. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that if a suspect has been read and understands his or her Miranda rights, police can interrogate him or her indefinitely, unless the suspect tells them outright that he or she is not talking to them. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing a dissent, said the decision “turns Miranda upside down,” referring to the procedure that requires police to inform suspects of their rights. At the University of Michigan Law School, criminal law expert Eve Brensike Primus said it “shifts the balance of power in the interrogation room.”… – Detroit Free Press, 6-2-10
  • Obama to meet Gulf oil spill panel chairmen: President Barack Obama plans to hold his first meeting with the co-chairmen of an independent commission investigating the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama was to meet Tuesday with Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and U.S. senator, and William K. Reilly, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, with a statement to reporters afterward, the White House said. The commission’s inquiry will range from the causes of the spill to the safety of offshore oil drilling and the functioning of government agencies that oversee drilling…. – AP, 6-1-10
  • White House prepares for worst as new effort to slow leak begins Administration defends itself against criticism that it has been too slow to act: The Obama administration scrambled to regroup on Sunday after the failure of the latest attempt to kill the gushing oil well. But administration officials acknowledged the possibility that tens of thousands of gallons of oil a day might continue pouring into the Gulf of Mexico until August, when two relief wells are scheduled to be completed.
    “We are prepared for the worst,” said Carol Browner, President Barack Obama’s climate change and energy policy adviser. “We have been prepared from the beginning.”… – Austin Statesman, 5-30-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • June 8 primaries: Races to watch: Several high-profile contests are in play Tuesday as voters in 12 states head to the polls to decide the fate of a two-term senator from Arkansas and a six-term South Carolina congressman, among others… – WaPo, 6-8-10
  • Super Duper Tuesday: What to Watch For: Welcome to the biggest primary day of the year! Eleven states — from California to Arkansas to Maine (and everywhere in between) — are voting today… – WaPo, 6-8-10
  • GOP to pick nominee for Harry Reid showdown: Nevada Republicans are picking a nominee to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The primary election on Tuesday sets the stage for an epic showdown with one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill. Republicans also must decide whether to nominate troubled Gov. Jim Gibbons for a second term or choose former federal judge Brian Sandoval to oppose Democrat Rory Reid, son of the powerful U.S. senator…. – AP, 6-8-10
  • In Lincoln’s struggle, a cautionary tale for centrist Democrats: If the defeat of Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) at his state party convention last month was an uprising of the conservative grass roots, and the loss three weeks ago by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) revealed the perils of a party switch, then the runoff fight that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) faces Tuesday is indicative of what happens when you cross a major — and majorly well-funded — interest group.
    Ostensibly, Lincoln’s opponent is Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But the practical reality is that she is running against a handful of major labor unions — the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to name two…. – WaPo, 6-6-10
  • Big States Dilute Tea-Party Strength Without More Cash and Organization, Movement May Be Unable to Repeat Small-Market Victories : The raucous and costly Republican primary races in California and Nevada, like those in other states, attest to the tea-party movement’s rising influence. But Tuesday’s votes in the two states will be the first big test of the movement’s promise and limits—and offer clues to its nationwide strength this fall…. – WSJ, 6-7-10
  • Candidates blitz state in final push for votes: In a last weekend of frenzied campaigning before the June 8 primary, candidates for statewide office marshaled last-minute ads, attacks – even visits from Karl Rove and a fictional “Queen Meg” – to appeal to voters in what’s been a record-breaking season of political spending. GOP billionaire and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who has spent a stunning $81 million on her gubernatorial primary effort, dropped a few more dollars Sunday by offering free barbecue and live music to supporters who showed up at rallies in Madera and Sacramento. Whitman, boosted in recent polls suggesting she’s got a 2-to-1 lead over State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, was accompanied by former Gov. Pete Wilson at the rallies… – SF Chronicle, 6-6-10
  • GOP worries about ‘tea party’ candidates’ broad appeal: Little-known candidates backed by the movement have shot into the national spotlight, but some Republicans are nervous about whether they will be able to beat their Democratic opponents in the fall…. – LAT, 6-4-10
  • What the Tea Partyers have yet to master: consensus: If Virginia’s 5th Congressional District is any indication of what the Tea Party movement can do for the conservative agenda, we may be in for a long liberal reign. The Tea Party faction has encouraged a large and diverse group of people to become more politically involved, but the major vulnerability of the movement is that the only thing those participating in it can agree on is that they do not like what is happening in Washington. The Tea Partyers’ distrust of career politicians and their divided support for self-proclaimed conservative candidates can only bode well for the opposition…. – WaPo, 6-4-10
  • Fla. Senate candidate tests politics, ethnicity: What is Marco Rubio’s stance on the Arizona immigration law? Does he favor amnesty for undocumented immigrants? “I don’t support amnesty,” Rubio says. “I support a legal immigration system.”
    A Cuban-American lawyer and former state House speaker, the 39-year-old Rubio has captured the attention of national Republicans hoping to attract Hispanic voters, a majority of whom voted for President Barack Obama in 2008. But it’s among Hispanic voters that some of Rubio’s conservative positions could prove divisive…. – AP, 6-4-10
  • New York G.O.P. Selects Candidate for U.S. Senate: Closing out a raucous and at times contentious state convention on Thursday, New York Republicans designated Bruce A. Blakeman, a lawyer and former Nassau County legislator, their preferred candidate to run against Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand this fall.
    A second candidate, David Malpass, a former chief economist at Bear Stearns, also earned enough votes to qualify for the primary ballot. But Joseph J. DioGuardi, a former New York representative, failed to make the threshold, and said he would seek a spot on the ballot through a petition drive.
    That sets up a split between New York’s Republicans and the Conservative Party, which has endorsed Mr. DioGuardi. In Democrat-dominated New York, it is hard for Republicans to win statewide office without the endorsement of the Conservative Party…. – NYT, 6-4-10
  • 7 candidates debate in race for Michigan governor A clash of ideas, flash of anger: There was some political blood on the floor of the Grand Hotel after Thursday’s two hours of debate among the seven candidates for governor, but, despite some personal attacks, much of the discourse focused on getting Michigan’s economy back on track.
    The candidates clashed over unions, taxes, jobs going to China, a bridge to Canada and even personal integrity, at times eliciting applause, boos and hisses from a bipartisan crowd of several hundred…. – Detroit Free Press, 6-4-10
  • Cox: No plans to resign after loss Republican chairman’s gubernatorial pick fails, putting future in doubt: If New York State has a “Mr. Republican,” Ed Cox would surely should fit the bill. Son-in-law of Richard Nixon, Cox has been enmeshed in GOP politics and policy for most of his adult life, serving elected Republicans from President Ronald Reagan to Gov. George Pataki. On Wednesday, however, Cox took on his own state Republican establishment — and lost. Cox’s handpicked gubernatorial candidate, Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy, failed to muster the 50 percent of the weighted delegate votes needed to get him on a primary ballot, where he would have challenged the rank-and- file’s top vote-getter, Rick Lazio…. – Albany Times-Union, 6-3-10
  • Griffith cites party switch for his loss: Incumbent says it was right on principle, plans to support Mo Brooks. Asserting that the polls showed he could have won as a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith on Wednesday said he instead sacrificed his “credibility” to act on his convictions. “I do not regret changing parties. I think politically it may have been a mistake,” Griffith said the morning after losing the Republican primary to challenger Mo Brooks. “On principle, it was the right thing to do, and I’m happy about it.”… – The AL Huntsville Times, 6-3-10
  • Nevada Democrats ask FEC for Lowden probe: Nevada Democrats on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about Republican Sue Lowden’s spending that they say violates campaign finance laws. Lowden’s campaign manager told a Las Vegas newspaper last week that “we’re spending money as it comes in,” including at least $18,000 that could be spent only if she makes it past the June 8 primary. “We have enough to win, but we’re not going to come out of this primary with cash on hand,” Robert Uithoven told the Review-Journal last week. That was enough to raise the flag for Nevada Democrats trying to defend Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader who faces a tough haul to re-election. AP, 6-2-10
  • Prosecutor wins NM GOP gubernatorial primary: Prosecutor Susana Martinez has won the Republican nomination for New Mexico governor. She’ll face Democrat Diane Denish in a general election race deciding who becomes the state’s first female governor…. – AP, 6-2-10
  • Dem seeking to be first black Ala. gov loses: A candidate lost his bid to become Alabama’s first black governor in the state’s Democratic primary, while voters in another race there ousted a congressman months after he switched from the Democratic party to the GOP. In the Alabama governor’s race, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis was overwhelmed by a white Democratic primary opponent who had garnered support from the state’s four major black political groups. Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks won the Democratic primary with 62 percent of the vote to Davis’s 38 percent, with 96 percent of the precincts reporting…. – AP, 6-2-10
  • Alabama Voters Reject Coalition Bid: Representative Artur Davis of Alabama, who sidestepped the state’s black political leadership in hopes of building a diverse coalition of voters in his campaign for governor, was rejected Tuesday by Democratic primary voters, with the state agriculture commissioner, Ron Sparks, seizing a decisive victory. NYT, 6-2-10
  • Party-switching Ala. congressman loses GOP primary: Alabama’s Republican U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, who switched from the Democratic Party last year, has been defeated in his district’s GOP primary. Tea party-backed congressional candidate Mo Brooks won with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in a three-candidate field. He said Griffith called late Tuesday to congratulate him on his win in the 5th District. AP, 6-2-10
  • Don’t Write Off These Races Yet: Democrats are reveling in the primary losses of candidates preferred by the National Republican Congressional Committee in the last couple of weeks. But they only have to look back four years to see that upset primary winners can get elected to Congress…. – CQ Quarterly, 6-1-10
  • GOP’s California Conundrum Campbell Looks Strong vs. Boxer, but His Views on Social Issues Hurt in Primary: Tom Campbell’s somewhat liberal views on social issues may make him the California Republican with the best chance of unseating Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November, but those views may hurt him in the state’s GOP primary June 8. Mr. Campbell, a former five-term congressman from Silicon Valley, calls himself a “moderate” Republican. He supports abortion rights and gay marriage, contrary to the positions of his major GOP rivals, former Hewlett- Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore… – WSJ, 6-1-10
  • Ill. Sen. hopeful questioned about military claim: On a weekend dedicated to honoring military service, Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk found himself on the defensive over his past claims that he was named the U.S. Navy’s intelligence officer of the year, an award he never won. For years, Kirk and his staff have said he was officer of the year. Now, the Republican, who’s in a tough race for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, acknowledges that isn’t true and says his official biography incorrectly described an award won by his unit, not Kirk personally. Kirk’s Democratic opponent called it proof that Kirk is a “typical Washington politician” who can’t be trusted. Some veterans scolded Kirk on Sunday…. – AP, 5-30-10
  • Ex-congressman won’t run again for Hawaii seat: Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Case said Sunday he won’t run again for the Hawaii congressional seat won by a Republican candidate in a special election last week. Case’s announcement at the state Democratic Party convention likely gives state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa a clear shot at winning the party’s nomination in the Sept. 18 primary — and gives Democrats a better chance of winning again in the district where President Barack Obama was raised. Hanabusa would face Charles Djou in November. The former Honolulu City councilman became the first Republican in nearly 20 years to win a congressional seat from Hawaii when he won the May 22 special election…. – AP, 5-30-10
  • 2 SC gov hopefuls consider Confederate flag move: Only two of the six Democrat and Republican governor hopefuls say they would consider moving the Confederate flag that flies in front of the South Carolina Statehouse. The flag has been in place since 2000 after a deal was brokered to move it from the Statehouse dome and House and Senate chambers. Now the banner flutters beside a monument to Confederate soldiers, in view of a busy intersection in the capital city.
    Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Robert Ford played a key role in the flag compromise and likes the flag where it is. The other two Democrats – Education Superintendent Jim Rex and Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen – are open to talking about moving it. The four Republicans running said they doubt there’s support to move the flag again…. – AP, 5-30-10


  • I would have fired BP chief by now, Obama says Ex-EPA lawyer brands oil company as ‘recurring environmental criminal’: President Barack Obama would have fired BP’s CEO Tony Hayward over controversial comments downplaying the Gulf oil spill — if the executive had been working for him.
    During an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s TODAY to be broadcast Tuesday, the president added his voice to calls for Hayward’s resignation amid claims from a former EPA lawyer that BP is a “recurring environmental criminal.”
    “He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements,” Obama told TODAY.
    Obama also defended himself against criticism about his handling the disaster, saying he had been in the Gulf a month ago before “most of these talking heads were even paying attention.”
    “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar,” the president added. “We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”… – MSNBC, 6-8-10
  • Brown launches defense of Israel: “I don’t need polling or political strategists to help define a nuanced stance on Israel,” Brown said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “We are engaged in a worldwide struggle against radical, violent jihad. It is the defining issue of our time. Our best friends and the strongest allies in this fight are in the State of Israel.” “Let’s remember – Israel is our ally. Israel is a democracy,” Brown added. “Hamas is a terrorist group with clear and genuine intentions of destroying Israel’s way of life.” Brown made the remarks at a leadership dinner sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The event was closed to the press, but Brown’s staff released a copy of his prepared remarks…. – Boston Globe, 6-6-10
  • James R. Clapper Jr. as DNI: “Four Decades of Service”: Today, I am proud to announce my choice for the next Director of National Intelligence —- James Clapper. With four decades of service to America, Jim is one of our nation’s most experienced and most respected intelligence professionals.
    That’s why I ordered a series of reforms to strengthen intelligence earlier this year, and that’s why I’ll be looking to Jim to ensure that we have the most capable and efficient intelligence community possible. Intelligence must be collected and analyzed quickly. It must be shared and integrated effectively. And it must be acted upon decisively. That’s what I expect as President, and that’s what our national security demands…. – WH, 6-5-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Outlines Administration Response Efforts to the BP Oil Spill from Grand Isle, LA:
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, June 5, 2010 Weekly Address Grand Isle, Louisiana
    I’m speaking to you from Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana, one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle’s Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners….
    Now, over the last few days BP has placed a cap over the well, and it appears they’re making progress in trying to pump oil to the surface to keep it from leaking into the water. But as has been the case since the beginning of this crisis, we are prepared for the worst, even as we hope that BP’s efforts bring better news than we’ve received before. We also know that regardless of the outcome of this attempt, there will still to be some spillage until the relief wells are completed. And there will continue to be a massive cleanup ahead of us.
    So we will continue to leverage every resource at our disposal to protect coastlines, to clean up the oil, to hold BP and other companies accountable for damages, to begin to restore the bounty and beauty of this region – and to aid the hardworking people of the Gulf as they rebuild their businesses and communities. And I want to urge all Americans to do what you can as well – including visiting this area. The vast majority of beaches are pristine and open for business.
    These are hard times in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast, an area that has already seen more than its fair share of troubles. But what we have also seen these past few weeks is that – even in the face of adversity – the men and women of the Gulf have displayed incredible determination. They have met this terrible catastrophe with seemingly boundless strength and character in defense of their way of life. What we owe the people of this region is a commitment by our nation to match the resilience of all the people I’ve met along the Gulf Coast. That is our mission. And it’s one we will fulfill. WH, 6-5-10
  • Biden: Israel Has Right to Stop Gaza Ships: Vice President Joe Biden backed Israel’s right to board ships bound for Gaza to prevent weapons smuggling on Wednesday, but said Washington remained concerned about the plight of Palestinians there. The U.S. has been careful in its response to the deadly raid and has not joined the international condemnation of Israel’s use of force to stop the ships after its commandos were attacked as they rappelled down from helicopters.
    “Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest,” Biden said in an interview on PBS’s “Charlie Rose” show, while reiterating the Obama administration’s support for a transparent, impartial investigation of what happened…. – Fox News, 6-3-10
  • Remarks by the President After Meeting with BP Oil Spill Commission Co-Chairs Rose Garden: We have an obligation to investigate what went wrong and to determine what reforms are needed so that we never have to experience a crisis like this again. If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change. If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed. If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region….
    We’re continuing our efforts on all fronts to contain the damage from this disaster and extend to the people of the Gulf the help they need to confront this ordeal. We’ve already mounted the largest cleanup effort in the nation’s history, and continue to monitor — minute to minute — the efforts to halt or capture the flow of oil from the wrecked BP well. Until the well is stopped, we’ll multiply our efforts to meet the growing threat and to address the widespread and unbelievably painful losses experienced by the people along the Gulf Coast. What’s being threatened — what’s being lost — isn’t just the source of income, but a way of life; not just fishable waters, but a national treasure…. WH, 6-2-10
  • Sarah Palin: Israeli Flotilla: Don’t Take Mainstream Media Coverage at Face Value: The media, as usual, seems to be reporting only one side of the Israeli Flotilla incident. Don’t trust the mainstream media to give you both sides of a story fairly… you must seek out fair reporting to ensure you have all the information.
    As far too many in the media, and in various governments, rush to condemn Israel, we must put the recent events off Israel’s coast into the right perspective. This “relief” convoy was not about humanitarian aid, as the liberal mainstream media keeps reporting. The whole operation was designed to provoke Israel, not to provide supplies to Palestinians held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Anyone who sees the video of Israeli commandos being attacked as they land on that ship knows the people aboard were vicious thugs, not “peace activists.” The media insults our intelligence with their outright mischaracterization of who these enemies are…. Sarah Palin on Facebook, 6-1-10


  • Julian Zelizer: Why Obama should forget ‘change you can believe in’: Congressional Democrats have been warning President Obama to tone down his anti-Washington rhetoric.
    While the president has continued to expound on his campaign themes about the need to change the way Washington works, many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill have been uncomfortable with this posture. Speaker Pelosi and others have asked him to focus his fire on Republicans rather than the system of which they are a part….As one political strategist told The Washington Post, “They’ve tried to influence these races and nobody’s listening . . . A sitting president who arguably still had some political capital to spend was not able to prevent some pretty divisive primaries.”
    Assuming Obama can survive the frenzy without damage, these episodes might convince Obama to listen more carefully to his Democratic colleagues, railing less against the Washington in which he now governs and focusing more on his policy agenda and the differences that he sees with the GOP. The rhetoric against politics as usual becomes increasingly stale from a politician who is as deeply immersed in the system as anyone else. – CNN, 6-7-10
  • Simon Schama’s advice for Barack Obama, Sack the advisers, says historian: At a debate on Obama’s America, the historian Simon Schama had some advice for the US president. “He is really hopeless, disastrous, feeble at telling the American story. One example would be in the way the right wing has managed to represent bank regulation as bank bailout. Obama has been somewhat soft and soggy. American politics ought to be about the noble clash of ideas, but can also be about soggy mud wrestling. Obama seems reluctant to take up the knuckle dusters … He has failed to come up to scratch on what happens next to the great American democratic experiment. I really think he should fire his chief advisers, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel.” Guardian UK, 5-31-10
  • Julian Zelizer: The legacy of ‘drill, baby, drill’: The impact of the oil spill in the Gulf Coast is starting to be made vivid by the steady flow of still images and video that capture this catastrophe. For example, Phillippe Cousteau, the grandson of Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, dove into the oil spill, wearing protective gear. He captured horrifying video images of what has been taking place beneath the sea. A debate is already unfolding about whether President Obama has been effective in his response. Is this Obama’s Katrina, as some commentators have asked? The president has come under fire, primarily from Republicans, but also from a growing number of environmental advocates, for being too slow to act.
    Recent news reports have revealed the Obama administration has been as negligent in its oversight of drilling as the previous administration.
    The debate over President Obama’s performance will continue, and his success or failure at stopping the gusher will determine how much damage this disaster inflicts on his presidency. …
    President Obama must not only stop this immediate leak, but must be certain to fix the policies that allowed this kind of risky drilling to take place. This does not just entail putting new rules on the books but also making sure they will be enforced. Only then can the government diminish the risk of this happening again. CNN, 6-1-10

History Shorts: Historian David M. Kennedy delivers presentation at Paly

Source: The Paly Voice, 6-8-10

Stanford University history professor David Kennedy made his annual presentation to the Palo Alto High School AP United States History classes on Wednesday, May 19.

Beginning his visit with a light-hearted presentation of humorous excerpts from student essays, Kennedy, co-writer of the renowned U.S. History text book, “The American Pageant,” proceeded to lecture on the nature and origins of history.

“History is not [a] universal law,” Kennedy said. “It is distinguishable from science and it is distinguishable from literature.”….READ MORE

History Shorts: Sheldon Hackney: Former University President bows out at Penn

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, 6-8-10

SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer
Sheldon Hackney, former Penn president and Humanities Endowment chairman.

With the laudatory farewell dinner behind him, his last papers graded, commencement over, and much of the packing done, Sheldon Hackney poured black coffee from a thermos and savored one of his last days in his frumpily elegant office in College Hall.

Seated at the long wood table where he has taught seminars for 15 years, surrounded by awards, honors, and books, the long, lanky, professorial Hackney seemed to fit comfortably and timelessly.

But his gig is up. The former University of Pennsylvania president and history professor retired at the end of the spring semester and is leaving Philadelphia this month, selling his condominium at 42d and Pine Streets and moving to his home on Martha’s Vineyard. “It’s time,” he said. “My powers are receding a bit.”… READ MORE

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