OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:
IN FOCUS: STATS
- USA Today poll puts Obama approval at 41%: Public support for President Obama’s Afghanistan war policy has plummeted amid a rising U.S. death toll and the unauthorized release of classified military documents, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows. Support for Obama’s management of the war fell to 36%, down from 48% in a February poll. Now, a record 43% also say it was a mistake to go to war there after the terrorist attacks in 2001. Only 41% of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll since he took office in January 2009. In Gallup’s separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45% Monday…. – Gallop, USA Today, 8-3-10
- President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Daily Public Schedules Now Online – WH Schedules
- Fox News Poll: Republicans Garner 11-Point Lead in Midterms: With less than 100 days until the midterm elections, American voters would give the edge to Republicans by an 11 percentage-point margin if the Congressional election were today. Yet a majority doesn’t think a Republican takeover of Congress would lead to positive change.
A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that if Americans were heading to the voting booth today, they would back the Republican candidate in their district over the Democrat by 47-36 percent. Two weeks ago the Republicans had a slimmer 4-point advantage (41-37 percent)…. – Fox News, 7-29-10
- Obama would lose Presidential election to Republican – ANY Republican – if held today: poll: Two-plus years before the 2012 election, a Republican candidate — any Republican candidate — has a better chance of being President than current White House occupant Barack Obama does. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll , Americans would rather vote for an unnamed Republican than Obama in 2012 by a 39% to 36% margin.
Obama’s approval rating is now at an all-time low. According to the poll, 44% of Americans approved of the president, while 48% disapproved. Just two months ago, 48% of voters approved while 43% did not.
“It was a year ago, during the summer of 2009 that America’s love affair with President Barack Obama began to wane,” said Peter A. Brown., assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. And it is the confidence of those critical independent voters he is losing the most. “Today, his support among Democrats remains strong, but the disillusionment among independent voters, who dropped from 52% to 37% approval to 52% to 38% disapproval in the last 12 months, is what leads to his weakness overall when voters start thinking about 2012.”… – NY Daily News, 7-22-10
- Obama: Officials shouldn’t ‘demagogue’ immigration issue: President Obama said today that public officials who “demagogue” the immigration issue are only making it harder to address “a national problem.”
“I understand the frustration of people in Arizona,” Obama said. “But what we can’t do is demagogue the issue, and what we can’t do is allow a patchwork of 50 different states, or cities or localities, where anybody who wants to make a name for themselves suddenly says, ‘I’m going to be anti-immigrant, and I’m going try to see if I can solve the problem ourself.’ This is a national problem.”
“We’ve got a lot of debt,” Obama said. “We’ve got a lot of deficit. Now the Republicans have said that this is their No. 1 concern. I’m going to call them on their bluff. I want to see their ideas for how we’re going to deal with these issues. I’m going to have a bunch of ideas.” USA Today, 8-1-10
- Obama gives himself a grade of ‘incomplete’ after 18 months: It’s still too early to judge his administration, President Barack Obama says. In an interview broadcast on the CBS “Sunday Morning” program, Obama gave himself a grade of “incomplete” on the first 18 months of his presidency.
While citing some accomplishments, Obama said the true measure of success will be when the economy has rebounded fully and people are feeling better about it.
“We still have a long way to go,” Obama said…. – CNN, 8-1-10
- Ethics trials highlight racial tensions in Congress: Proceedings slated for House members Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel could create a rift between the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democratic leaders…. – LAT, 8-1-10
- Rangel using 3-way defense against ethics charges: To rebut a lengthy list of alleged ethical misdeeds, Rep. Charles Rangel is trotting out this three-way defense: I didn’t do it. I did it, but was inattentive. Others lawmakers were allowed to do the same thing without penalty. It’s an approach that nervous Democrats are watching closely in one of the most politically explosive cases in years. Should it go to a public trial this fall, smack in the middle of the election season, and should his defense fall short, that won’t help Democratic candidates forced to defend their party’s ethics against Republican campaign attacks…. – AP, 8-1-10
- Obama to sell auto bailout good news in Michigan: President Barack Obama said Friday that the recent turnaround for U.S. automakers vindicated his unpopular decision to bailout the industry. With Americans facing a still-limping economy and potentially pivotal congressional elections in three months, Obama is seizing on the positive new trends in the auto industry as evidence of broader economic good news. He launched an intensive campaign to highlight the story as a concrete area of improvement with direct ties to his administration’s actions.
“This industry is growing stronger,” Obama declared from the floor of Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant, which recently added a second shift of production to the tune of about 1,100 jobs. “You are proving the naysayers wrong.” AP, 7-30-10
- NY reps. spar in House over 9/11 responder bill: The House’s rejection of bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust has opened a sharp rift between two New York congressmen, Republican Peter King and Democrat Anthony Weiner.
The verbal jousting came on the House floor Thursday night as the vote neared. The results fell largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure, but it failed to win the needed two- thirds majority…. – AP, 7-30-10
- Andy Griffith’s new role: pitching health care law: Actor Andy Griffith has a new role: pitching President Barack Obama’s health care law to seniors in a cable television ad paid for by Medicare. The TV star — whose role as sheriff of Mayberry made him an enduring symbol of small-town American values — tells seniors that “good things are coming” under the health care overhaul, including free preventive checkups and lower- cost prescriptions for Medicare recipients…. – AP, 7-30-10
- Rangel to Stand Trial Before House Panel in Ethics Case: The House ethics committee laid out 13 charges of House rules violations against Representative Charles B. Rangel on Thursday, and began the process for a rare public trial on the charges.
The move came after Mr. Rangel, a veteran congressman, failed to reach a settlement to avoid the rare and potentially embarrassing proceeding before the committee gathered at 1 p.m.
Mr. Rangel’s lawyers continued to hope they could still settle the case.
The charges against Mr. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, include multiple breaches of the House ban on accepting gifts of more than $50 and of the requirement that members act at all times in a way that reflects creditably on the House…. – NYT, 7-29-10
- Senator says 6,600 Arlington graves may have been mismanaged: As many as 6,600 graves at Arlington Cemetery, the historic and hallowed burial place for fallen U.S. soldiers, may be “unmarked, improperly marked or mislabeled,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said Thursday…. – CNN, 7-29-10
- Ousted USDA employee Sherrod plans to sue blogger: Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will sue a conservative blogger who posted a video edited in a way that made her appear racist…. – AP, 7-29-10
- WikiLeaks controversy hovers, but House passes war funding bill: WikiLeaks documents barely made a dent in Congress’s decision to continue funding a surge of US forces into Afghanistan. The House passed the measure 308 to 114…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-10
- Parts of Ariz. Immigration Law Blocked by Judge: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton Blocks Controversial Sections of Arizona’s Immigration Law from Taking Effect… – CBS News, 7-28-10
- Bush tax cuts: Keep some, allow others to expire: With the economy still struggling and worries about the deficit continuing, Congress must carefully evaluate and revise tax policy…. – LAT, 7-28-10
- Jury gets case in Blagojevich corruption trial: Rod Blagojevich’s fate was in the hands of jurors Wednesday as they prepared to begin deciding whether the impeached Illinois governor tried to sell a nomination to President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat and schemed to use his political power for personal gain. Jurors, weighing evidence against the second Illinois governor in a row to be charged with corruption in office, first received lengthy instructions from the judge on how their deliberations should be conducted — including one instruction that they are not to consider the fact that Blagojevich did not testify. “I’m not expecting” a speedy verdict, Judge James B. Zagel said earlier…. – AP, 7-28-10
- Obama to make history with appearance on ‘The View’: President Obama becomes the first sitting president to appear on a daytime talk show when he records a pre-taped interview with the ladies of The View on Wednesday. The interview will touch on topics including his administration’s accomplishments, jobs, the economy, the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and family life inside the White House. The segment is scheduled to air Thursday… – CNN, 7-28-10
- Obama on ‘The View’: ratings blockbuster or presidential epitaph?: Daytime talk show has political observers split over whether Obama on ‘The View’ will help or hurt his image.
President Barack Obama’s chat with the ladies of ABC’s daytime talk show, “The View” – taped Wednesday for air on Thursday – has got more than a few media mavens, brand experts and public relations pros in a tizzy. Depending on your, well, viewpoint, Mr. Obama on “The View” is either committing political suicide, making a master marketing move, or contributing to the decline of western civilization, specifically, the United States…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-10
- Paterson won’t face charges in aide’s incident: New York’s former chief judge says Gov. David Paterson shouldn’t face criminal charges for calling a woman who later dropped domestic violence charges against a key adviser. Retired Judge Judith Kaye said in a report Wednesday that the aide could still face prosecution. But she says the Democratic governor’s actions did not constitute witness tampering…. – AP, 7-28-10
- Obama: Nothing new in leaked Afghan documents: President Barack Obama says he is concerned about the massive leak of sensitive documents about the Afghanistan war, but says the papers don’t reveal any concerns that were not already part of the debate. In his first public comments on the matter, Obama said the disclosure of classified information from the battlefield “could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations.” But he said the papers fail to generate any information that hadn’t already been explored as part of the White House’s revamped war effort. AP, 7-27-10
- Obama says WikiLeaks disclosure is reason for concern but doesn’t reveal new issues: Gibbs: Leaked documents a potential threat The White House says the release of 91,000 secret military documents is a breach of federal law and a potential threat to U.S. military personnel. President Obama said Tuesday that the disclosure of “sensitive information from the battlefield” is reason for concern, but that the documents leaked this week about the Afghanistan war do not fundamentally reveal new issues. His remarks came as the Pentagon announced it is launching a criminal probe — led by the Army — to discover the source of the leak, in which 92,000 documents were posted on WikiLeaks.org…. – WaPo, 7-27-10
- Obama says he still supports climate legislation: Despite setbacks on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama said Monday he still supports the need for broad climate legislation. Speaking in the Rose Garden following a bipartisan meeting of congressional leaders, Obama said the energy bill making its way through Congress now is “an important step in the right direction.” But, he said, “I want to emphasize that it’s only the first step.” He pledged to keep pushing for passage of a comprehensive energy policy overhaul that addresses climate change. “Our current energy policy is unsustainable,” Obama said…. – AP, 7-27-10
- Rangel, ethics panel lawyers talking settlement: New York Democrat Charles Rangel is making a last-minute effort to settle his ethics case and prevent a trial that could embarrass him and damage the Democratic Party. The House ethics committee chairman, Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California, says the secret talks are between Rangel’s attorney and the non-partisan staff of the committee. She heads the full ethics committee and also the panel that would decide in a trial whether charges of ethical misconduct could be proved…. – AP, 7-27-10
- Closing arguments to begin in Blagojevich trial: Contrasting styles of the attorneys likely to produce fireworks… – LAT, 7-26-10
- Dudley’s path followed unusual turns to CEO of BP: Bob Dudley’s sudden rise to the top at BP PLC shows how the Gulf oil spill has dramatically changed the fortunes of people from local fishermen to corporate executives. Seen as an unlikely candidate just a few months ago, Dudley is set to become the first American to lead the oil giant in its century long history. Dudley will become CEO on Oct. 1 and try to salvage the company’s reputation and investments in the United States. On a phone call with reporters on Tuesday, Dudley said he understands the complexity of rebuilding BP’s image and financial strength. He said BP will emerge as a slimmer but stronger company. Dudley believes the investigation will show “individual misjudgments” by experienced people and “multiple failures” of equipment involving several companies led to the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. “I think it is a very complicated industrial accident,” he said…. – AP, 7-26-10
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….
- GOP looks to erase Democrats’ comfy House majority: No fewer than 65 House seats across the country — an overwhelming majority held by Democrats — are at risk of changing political hands this fall, enough to bolster Republican hopes of regaining power. Even more races could become competitive as voters look to blame someone for the sluggish economy and take out their frustration on the Democrats who run the government. Already enough seats are in play that Republicans could gain the 39 they need to reclaim the House…. – AP, 8-1-10
- Ed Rendell: Obama Could Get Primary Challenge in 2012: There has been plenty of speculation about which Republicans will enter the race to challenge President Obama in the 2012 presidential elections. But on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” yesterday, Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell threw a curveball into the discussion when he suggested that Mr. Obama could face a challenge from within his own party if he were to escalate U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. While the governor didn’t point to any specific potential primary challengers, he implied that Mr. Obama would need to keep his word on beginning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 to avoid a challenge from the left.
“[A primary challenge] is really possible,” Rendell told Pat Buchanan. “It depends on how far it [the war in Afghanistan] deteriorates.” He added: “But if we start to begin to reduce our presence, I think that’s probably enough to keep an anti-war candidate out of the race.”… — CBS News, 7-28-10
- Dems election strategy: Equate GOP and tea party: The Democrats’ national chairman on Wednesday trotted out his party’s fall election strategy to limit potential GOP gains, claiming Republican goals are inseparable from the tea party’s, from killing off Medicare to abolishing the departments of Education and Energy. Republicans brushed off Tim Kaine’s attack and struck back at the Democrats who run Washington, saying their “arrogant agenda” has so frustrated voters that they want a new party in charge…. – AP, 7-28-10
- Could Palin survive a New Hampshire drubbing in ’12? A new poll suggests trouble for her in the first-in-the-nation primary state: PPP is out with a new poll that purports to show Sarah Palin dragging down the GOP’s top Senate prospect in New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte. Palin raised eyebrows recently by endorsing Ayotte, the party establishment’s preferred choice, and snubbing a candidate with more obvious Tea Party credentials in the September GOP primary. But PPP’s new data shows Ayotte, who has led the presumptive Democratic nominee, Rep. Paul Hodes, by wide margins all year, suddenly losing support among moderate voters, with her overall lead over Hodes dropping to three points…. – Salon.com, 7-27-10
- Jeb Bush chided for attending Rand Paul event: A Kentucky Democrat running for U.S. Senate says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is tarnishing his family legacy by appearing at a fundraiser on behalf of Republican Rand Paul. Bush is set to attend a fundraiser for Paul’s U.S. Senate campaign in Louisville on Monday, the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Jack Conway says Bush is helping a candidate that doesn’t fully support the act, which was signed into law by Bush’s father, former Republican President George H.W. Bush…. – WaPo, 7-26-10
- Tancredo plans switch from GOP to run for Colo gov: Former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo plans to switch parties and run for Colorado governor on the American Constitution Party ticket, his spokesman said Monday. WaPo, 7-26-10
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Michigan. The Hamtramck GM plant is one of nine that GM recently kept open during a scheduled summer shutdown in production. July 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
- Weekly Address: President Obama Hails Successes of the Restructuring of the Auto Industry, Calls on GOP Leaders to Stop Blocking Aid for Small Businesses
emarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Saturday, July 31, 2010 Detroit, Michigan
Hello everyone. I’m speaking to you from the GM auto plant here in Detroit, Michigan, where a hopeful story is unfolding in a place that’s been one of the hardest hit in America….
…There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do before folks here and across the country can feel whole again. But what’s important is that we’re finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions we made pay off. And if we had listened to the cynics and the naysayers – if we had simply done what the politics of the moment required – none of this progress would have happened.
Still, even as these icons of American industry are being reborn, we also need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s small businessmen and women, as well — particularly since they’re the ones who create most of the new jobs in this country.
As we work to rebuild our economy, I can’t imagine anything more common-sense than giving additional tax breaks and badly-needed lending assistance to America’s small business owners so they can grow and hire. That’s what we’re trying to do with the Small Business Jobs Act – a bill that has been praised as being good for small businesses by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. It’s a bill that includes provision after provision authored by both Democrats and Republicans. But yesterday, the Republican leaders in the Senate once again used parliamentary procedures to block it. Understand, a majority of Senators support the plan. It’s just that the Republican leaders in the Senate won’t even allow it to come up for a vote.
That isn’t right. And I’m calling on the Republican leaders in the Senate to stop holding America’s small businesses hostage to politics, and allow an up-or-down vote on this small business jobs bill.
At a time when America is just starting to move forward again, we can’t afford the do-nothing policies and partisan maneuvering that will only take us backward. I won’t stand here and pretend everything’s wonderful. I know that times are tough. But what I also know is that we’ve made it through tough times before. And we’ll make it through again. The men and women hard at work in this plant make me absolutely confident of that.
So to all the naysayers out there, I say this: Don’t ever bet against the American people. Because we don’t take the easy way out. That’s not how we deal with challenge. That’s not how we build this country into the greatest economic power the world has ever known. We did it by summoning the courage to persevere, and adapt, and push this country forward, inch by inch. That’s the spirit I see in this plant today, and as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I will keep fighting alongside you until we reach a better day. – WH, 7-30-10
- Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Palin disapprove of Obama’s ‘View’ visit: “I have mixed feelings about that,” said O’Donnell, 48, on her Sirius XM radio show Wednesday, the day before Obama’s episode aired. “I don’t really think sitting presidents should go do fluffy daytime TV shows. Maybe an hour on Oprah or something,” said O’Donnell, adding, “although I’m happy for them. That’s a good booking.”
Sarah Palin also criticized the appearance. On Twitter yesterday, she wrote: “President w/no time to visit porous US/Mexican border to offer help to those risking life to secure us,but lotso’ time to chat on The View?” – USA Today, 7-30-10
- Obama seeks his “mojo” on daytime TV’s “The View”: President Barack Obama tried to revive his common touch on Thursday with a mainly light-hearted appearance on daytime television where five women hosts grilled him about his Blackberry, Lindsay Lohan and the Afghan war.
“If we get our mojo back over the next several months, then I am absolutely confident that we are going to be doing terrific, but we’re going to have to make some fundamental structural changes as we go along,” he said.
“When you feel as if every single initiative that we’re doing is subject to Washington politics instead of ‘is this good for the country,’ that can be frustrating,” he said.
“If you’ve got chaos … in this region where there’s no functioning government and warlords and terrorist affiliates are able to operate, that is going to be that much tougher for us to make sure that they are not attacking us,” Obama said.
“I have a Blackberry, but only 10 people have (access to) it,” he said. “And I’ve got to admit it’s no fun, because they think it’s going to be subject to the presidential records act, so nobody sends me the juicy stuff.” – Reuters, 7-29-10
- Obama defends education policies to critics: Challenging civil rights organizations and teachers’ unions that have criticized his education policies, President Barack Obama said Thursday that minority students have the most to gain from overhauling the nation’s schools. “We have an obligation to lift up every child in every school in this country, especially those who are starting out furthest behind,” Obama told the centennial convention of the National Urban League…. – WH, 7-29-10
- America stands with Pakistan after plane crash: Obama: US President Barack Obama offered his “deepest condolence” on Wednesday to families and friends of the 152 people killed in a plane crash near Islamabad, which included two Americans. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those touched by this horrible accident,” Obama said in a statement. “The American people stand with the people of Pakistan in this moment of tragedy.”… – AFP, 7-28-10
- Kerry plays down significance of leaked war documents: Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday the importance of Afghanistan war documents leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.org should not be overstated.
“I think it’s important not to over-hype, or get excessively excited about the meaning of those documents,” Kerry, D-Massachusetts, told the committee. The senator called the leak of the documents “unacceptable.” “It breaks the law and equally importantly it compromises the efforts of our troops, potentially, in the field and has the potential of putting people in harm’s way,” he said…. – CNN, 7-27-10
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
- Julian Zelizer: Afghan leaks hand Obama new political nightmare: “It makes Bush’s problems his problems. There is no way (Obama) can really separate himself from it,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history at Princeton University.
“People will have suspicions about what is going on now.”…
“The political energy gets sucked out of your administration,” said Zelizer. “We are entering a politically difficult period for this president over the war.” – AFP,
- Why Some Republicans Want to ‘Restore’ the 13th Amendment: No, it’s not about slavery; like so much of our politics these days, it’s about Barack Obama…. – Newsweek, 7-27-10
- Julian Zelizer: Why Obama’s fate is tied to congressional Democrats: Last weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to the Netroots Nation convention, telling liberals to remain supportive of the Obama administration.
Speaking of achieving landmark legislation on health care and financial regulation, Pelosi said, “The leverage has changed. This doesn’t happen in a Republican Congress. … Understand what is at risk when we go into these elections 100 days from tomorrow.”…
The president has not been sensitive enough to the fact that his fate rests on the fate of congressional Democrats. Obama can’t separate himself from his party regardless of how much his agenda and political interests might differ from theirs. This is particularly true in an age of intense polarization, when winning bipartisan support is virtually impossible on most legislation….
If the president can’t do more to improve economic conditions and continues to hand his party colleagues politically explosive bills over the coming years, bad feelings can become as big a problem for this White House as the opposition it faces from the other side of the aisle. – CNN, 7-28-10
- Joe Klein: Democrats Are Different: It’s hard to imagine two prominent Republican pollsters slagging a sitting Republican President. And yet here we have Pat Caddell, who gave Jimmy Carter to the world, and Doug Schoen, who helped salvage a second term for Bill Clinton, disgorging an incendiary and outrageous argument against Barack Obama on the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page. (Actually, both Caddell and Schoen are more emeritus than active when it comes to polling, but no matter.)
The argument is that Barack Obama is divisive. One reason he is divisive, they say, is that he supports immigration reform. George W. Bush supported immigration reform. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has supported immigration reform. Plenty of enlightened Republicans do–for moral reasons and, in the case of the Journal, for valid economic reasons. But Obama supports it–they aver, with zero evidence–solely for political reasons. He wants to gin up the Latino vote. One wonders–and I know I’m going out on a real limb here–if it is possible that the President supports immigration reform because it is the right thing to do. Caddell and Schoen don’t even mention the possibility…. – Time, 7-28-10
President Barack Obama talks with small business owners, from left, Brian Bovio, Dave Thornton, and Catherine Horsburgh at the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J. The President is visiting Edison to discuss the economy and urge Congress to pass support for small businesses. July 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)