OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:
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.
IN FOCUS: THE PRESIDENT’S BIRTHDAY
- Obama gets to test his game against hoops greats: Every hoops fan dreams of that one special birthday when his pro-ball heroes gather on a court to see if he’s got game. President Obama had that chance Sunday, assembling a virtual dream team of college and pro basketball players for a presidential pickup game in front of wounded veterans and participants in a White House mentoring program. Obama, who turned 49 on Wednesday, took to the court for a game with a stunning list of all-stars, including Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, LeBron James, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Maya Moore, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Bill Russell, Etan Thomas, Dwyane Wade and David West. The game was closed to the media… – WaPo, 8-8-10
- Obama’s ladies phone in happy birthday wishes: President Barack Obama got a couple of birthday presents that didn’t need unwrapping, and the White House says they were the highlight of his day. Obama turned 49 on Wednesday. Spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president got birthday wishes by telephone from first lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Sasha, who are visiting Spain. And daughter Malia, who is away at camp, used her allotted phone time to call around lunchtime to wish her dad a happy birthday…. – AP, 8-5-10
- Obama celebrates with Chicago friends (including Oprah): President Obama enjoyed a birthday dinner last night with some old Chicago friends, including one very prominent one: Oprah Winfrey. The talk show queen and friend Gayle King joined Obama at the Chicago restaurant graham elliot (the name really is in small letters, so you know it’s fancy). Long-time pals Eric Whittaker, Marty Nesbitt, and Valerie Jarrett also helped Obama celebrate his 49th birthday, as a crowd of about 75 people gathered on the street in the River North neighborhood. Obama — dark jacket, white shirt, no tie — spent more than three hours at the restaurant and left about 10:50 p.m…. – USA Today, 8-5-10
- Obama celebrates with Chicago friends: Obama had to celebrate with friends because his family is spread out across the globe. Wife Michelle and daughter Sasha are vacationing in Spain, while daughter Malia is at camp — and all checked in throughout the day, as reported by spokesman Robert Gibbs:
The President received two phone calls, first from the First Lady and Sasha, who, as you know, are traveling, to wish him a happy birthday …. I think everyone knows that, much to the President’s chagrin, Malia is away at camp. She gets one phone call during that time away, and she used that phone call around lunchtime today to call in and wish her Dad a happy birthday. And needless to say, both those calls were the highlights of his day. – USA Today, 8-5-10
- Obama to have belated birthday bash: President Barack Obama may be celebrating his 49th birthday Wednesday without his wife and daughters, but CNN has learned there will be a hush-hush party at the White House on Sunday with close family and friends to make it up to him. Two top White House aides confirmed the belated birthday bash on the condition of anonymity because the details are a state secret around the corridors of the West Wing.
“There will be some stuff Sunday,” a top adviser to the president said vaguely without giving away any of the details…. – CNN, 8-4-10
KAGAN CONFIRMED AND SWORN IN AS THE 112TH JUSTICE
- Kagan Is Sworn in as the Fourth Woman, and 112th Justice, on the Supreme Court: Elena Kagan was sworn in on Saturday as the 112th person, and fourth woman, to serve on the Supreme Court, continuing a generational and demographic transformation of the nation’s highest bench.
In keeping with tradition, Ms. Kagan first took the constitutional oath given to a wide array of officials and then the judicial oath administered to those wearing the robe. Joined by family and friends in the Supreme Court building, she swore to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”
The low-key formal ceremony came two days after she was confirmed by the Senate and a day after President Obama marked her ascension with a jubilant televised celebration in the East Room of the White House. She was Mr. Obama’s second successful nominee to the court, and her approval by the Senate was taken as a jolt of validation for a White House battered by political and economic troubles…. – NYT, 8-8-10
- Kagan sworn in as fourth woman on Supreme Court: Elena Kagan was sworn in Saturday as the 112th justice and fourth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath to Kagan in a brief private ceremony at the court. Kagan, joined by family and friends, pledged to faithfully and impartially uphold the law. Afterward, she smiled broadly as a crowd of onlookers stood and applauded. “We look forward to serving with you,” Roberts said…. – AP, 8-7-10
- Elena Kagan sworn in as Supreme Court justice: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath two days after her confirmation by the Senate. She is not expected to dramatically alter the ideological makeup of the court…. – LAT, 8-7-10
- Brewing legal disputes could define Kagan’s early tenure: Reporting from Washington– This summer, as Elena Kagan quietly moved toward confirmation to the Supreme Court, three major legal disputes took shape that could define her early years. The justices soon will be called upon to decide whether states like Arizona can enforce immigration laws, whether same-sex couples have a right to marry and whether Americans can be required to buy health insurance. Kagan’s record strongly suggests she will vote in favor of federal regulation of immigration and health insurance and vote to oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians. What is less clear is whether she will be voting with a center-left majority that includes Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, or as liberal dissenter on a court whose five Republican appointees outvote the four Democratic appointees…. – LAT, 8-8-10
- Kagan celebrates with Obama, to be sworn Saturday: A beaming Elena Kagan and President Barack Obama on Friday celebrated her imminent ascension to the Supreme Court with jokes and references to the irreverent sense of humor she put on display during her Senate confirmation hearing.
An audience in the East Room of the White House, filled with Kagan’s friends and extended family, along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, screamed with joy and applauded as Obama introduced “Justice Elena Kagan.” Kagan, 50, holds the title of U.S. solicitor general for one more day.
“While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it,” Obama said of his second successful appointment to the court…. – AP, 8-6-10
- Obama on Kagan: ‘This is a good day’: After receiving some so-so news on unemployment this morning, President Obama got to kick back today and celebrate the elevation of his second Supreme Court justice. “This is a good day,” Obama said in a ceremony for Elena Kagan, who on Saturday will be sworn in as the high court’s 112th justice. Noting that he appointed Kagan as U.S. solicitor general two years ago, Obama said: “While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can all agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it.”… – USA Today, 8-6-10
- Senate confirms Kagan as 112th justice: The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the Supreme Court’s 112th justice and the fourth woman in its history, granting a lifetime term to a lawyer and academic with a reputation for brilliance, a dry sense of humor and a liberal bent.
The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens.
Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate’s two independents to support Kagan. In a rarely practiced ritual reserved for the most historic votes, senators sat at their desks and stood to cast their votes with “ayes” and “nays.”
Kagan watched the vote with her Justice Department colleagues in the solicitor general’s conference room, the White House said. Obama, traveling in Chicago, said her confirmation was an affirmation of her character and judicial temperament, and called the addition of another woman to the court a sign of progress for the country…. – AP, 8-5-10
- Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by the President and Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: These folks may not agree on much, but they’ve all been impressed, as I have, by Elena’s formidable intellect and path-breaking career — as an acclaimed scholar and presidential advisor, as the first woman to serve as Dean of the Harvard Law School, and most recently as Solicitor General. They admire how, while she could easily have settled into a comfortable practice in corporate law, she chose instead to devote her life to public service. They appreciate her even-handedness and open-mindedness, and her excellent — and often irreverent — sense of humor.
These are traits that she happens to share with the last Solicitor General who went on to become a Supreme Court Justice — one for whom Elena clerked, and whom she considers one of her heroes — Justice Thurgood Marshall. And we are very proud to have Justice Marshall’s widow here today joining us. (Applause.)
In a tribute she wrote after Justice Marshall’s death, Elena recalled how she and her fellow clerks took turns standing guard when his casket lay in state at the Supreme Court — and how 20,000 people stood in a line that stretched around the block to pay their respects. They were people from every background and every walk of life: black, white, rich and poor, young and old. Many brought their children, hoping to impress upon them the lessons of Justice Marshall’s extraordinary life. Some left notes, some left flowers. One mourner left a worn slip opinion of Brown v. Board of Education.
It is, to this day, a moving reminder that the work of our highest Court shapes not just the character of our democracy, but the most fundamental aspects of our daily lives — how we work, how we worship, whether we can speak freely and live fully, whether those words put to paper more than two centuries ago will truly mean something for each of us in our time. – WH, 8-6-10
- Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: Finally, I want to thank my family and friends. I have a lot of family here today — my brothers and sister-in- law, a nephew, a niece, aunts, uncles, cousins — and I have a great many friends here as well. You came from all over the country as soon as you heard the Senate had approved my nomination. And I’m moved and deeply grateful for your support.
And all around me in this room, I feel the presence of my parents. I wouldn’t be standing here today if not for their love and sacrifice and devotion. And although my parents didn’t live to see this day, what I can almost hear them saying — and I think I can hear Justice Marshall saying this to me right now as well — is that this appointment is not just an honor. Much more importantly, it is an obligation — an obligation to protect and preserve the rule of law in this country; an obligation to uphold the rights and liberties afforded by our remarkable Constitution; and an obligation to provide what the inscription on the Supreme Court building promises: equal justice under law.
Tomorrow, I will take two oaths to uphold this solemn obligation: one, to support and defend the Constitution; and the other, to administer justice without respect to persons, to the rich and poor alike.
Today, Mr. President, I will simply say to you and to everyone here and across the nation that I will work my hardest and try my best to fulfill these commitments and to serve this country I love as well as I am able. – WH, 8-6-10
IN FOCUS: STATS
- Bush Pushes Back Memoirs So GOP Isn’t Hurt In Midterms, Friends Say: George W. Bush pushed back publication of his memoirs, “Decision Points,” out of fear that a public reminder of his presidential legacy would hurt Republicans heading into November’s midterm elections, Bush’s friends tell the Financial Times. The FT reports that Bush refused to allow publication in September, which would have been a better time to unveil his book from a sales perspective. Instead, it’s slated to hit stores on Nov. 9, one week after Election Day. Bush isn’t scheduled to give any interviews for the book tour until Nov. 8.
For their part, Random House’s Crown group said they made the call to delay “Decision Points,” concluding, “From a media perspective the period leading up to the midterm elections is a very noisy and crowded space and we believe the president’s book will be better served by being launched following that time.” Huff Post, 8-4-10
President Barack Obama signs the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office, Aug. 3, 2010. Joining the President are, from left, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, of Ill., Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
- Obama touts benefits to Medicare from health law: President Barack Obama says Medicare will exist for many more years, thanks to new legislation that helped put the health care program for America’s seniors on stronger financial footing. Seniors already are benefiting from that new health care law, said Obama, noting that many have received $250 rebates to help buy medicine, for example. Obama said the law and efforts by his administration to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse both in Medicare and across government generally are making the program stronger and cutting health care costs for seniors.
“Medicare isn’t just a program,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet message. “It’s a commitment to America’s seniors — that after working your whole life, you’ve earned the security of quality health care you can afford.” “As long as I am president, that’s a commitment this country is going to keep” he said. AP, 8-7-10
- Why GOP reaction is muted as judge affirms gay marriage rights: GOP conservatives may not be itching for a culture war over a judge’s decision overturning California’s gay marriage ban. Economic issues, not cultural ones, are their focus heading into Election 2010…. – CS Monitor, 8-7-10
- Jobs report puts a damper on Obama’s effort to keep the message positive: President Obama spent much of the week harvesting bits of good news from some of his short- and longer-term initiatives…. – WaPo, 8-6-10
- Gay Marriage Ruling a Challenge for Both Parties: A federal judge’s decision on Wednesday overturning Proposition 8 — California’s ban on same-sex marriage — has tossed a largely unwanted issue into the middle of the November midterm elections…. – NYT, 8-6-10
- Romer says her White House departure long planned: Christina Romer, the departing chief of President Barack Obama’s economic advisory council, cast disagreements among key players on the White House economic team as a healthy part of reaching tough policy decisions.
“Everybody knows we’re all strong personalities,” Romer told The Associated Press on Friday. “We don’t hesitate to have a very aggressive back and forth. But I think one of the things that we have done is absolutely find our groove. We’re a wonderful team.” “I think we’ve served the president well,” Romer said. “He likes to hear different points of view. And we think it helps us get to the best policy.” AP, 8-6-10
- President Obama’s beliefs meet his policy, Prop 8 ruled unconstitutional: A federal judge in California ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional right to equal protection, the first step in a legal struggle that is widely expected to end at the Supreme Court. Judging by the White House statement after a federal judge struck down California’s Proposition 8 on Wednesday, you might think President Obama supports the rights of gays to marry. The president “has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans,” the White House said. But Obama does not endorse gay marriage. As a candidate for president, he consistently said marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman…. – WaPo, 8-5-10
- Obama and gay marriage — a tricky balancing act: A federal judge’s decision to strike down California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban doesn’t make things any easier for President Obama. Obama opposed the ban when California voters approved Proposition 8 back in 2008, but he also opposes the concept of gay marriage — a tricky balancing act he will have to maintain as the issue works its way through the appeals courts.
“The president does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples, and benefits and other issues, and that has been effectuated in federal agencies under his control,” White House aide David Axelrod said today on MSNBC. “He supports civil unions, and that’s been his position throughout. So nothing has changed.”
Obama opposed Proposition 8 because “he felt that it was divisive,” Axelrod said. “He felt that it was mean-spirited.”
Social conservatives who oppose gay marriage probably won’t back Obama in any event because of such other issues as abortion…. – USA Today, 8-5-10
- Fallout Begins After Senate’s Failure to Act on Energy, Oil Spill: After the worst oil leak in U.S. history and months of heated negotiations on energy and spill-response legislation, senators will head home for the August recess empty-handed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to bring back the spill bill or a broader measure in September, but even narrowed legislation may not pass with a cluttered legislative calendar and the November elections looming…. – NYT, 8-5-10
- Jobs bill to stop teacher layoffs nears approval: Legislation to provide billions to save the jobs of teachers and other public workers is on track to pass the Senate, helped along by the votes of a couple of GOP moderates. Democrats cracked a GOP filibuster on Wednesday, and the House was being called back from its summer break for an expected final vote next week to help cash-strapped states and school districts…. – AP, 8-5-10
- Judge overturns California gay marriage ban: A federal judge overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, the latest twist in a legal saga which could have nationwide implications for the divisive social issue. In a written opinion, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in favor of rights activists who argued that a November 2008 referendum which barred gays and lesbians from tying the knot was discriminatory and therefore violated the US Constitution. The referendum, known as Proposition 8, was passed by a 52 percent majority only six months after California’s Supreme Court overturned a previous ban on same-sex weddings triggering a flood of same-sex marriages…. – AFP, 8-4-10
- Senate jobs bill clears key hurdle: Senate Democrats on Wednesday overcame Republican opposition and cleared the way for a $26 billion measure to help states ease their severe budget problems and save the jobs of tens of thousands of teachers and other public employees. The bill advanced by a 61-38 tally that ensures the measure will pass the Senate on Wednesday or Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that she will call the House back into session next week for a final vote that would deliver the bill to President Barack Obama. His larger jobs agenda was curtailed by Republicans who argue against the spending it would entail…. – AP, 8-4-10
- GOP Senators Push to End Birthright Citizenship: The 14th Amendment is fast becoming the latest front in America’s bitter immigration debate. Key GOP senators, led by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, have suggested repealing a clause that gives automatic citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. Instead, they propose denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants (sometimes called “anchor babies”), thereby ending one of the perceived incentives for people to cross the border. Conservative TV host Lou Dobbs believes it’s a step too far, but on Wednesday, Sen. John McCain signaled a willingness to consider the idea…. – Newsweek, 8-4-10
- Missouri vote puts health care back in crosshairs: Missouri voters’ overwhelming opposition to requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance puts one of the least popular parts of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law back in the political crosshairs. Even if the vote sets no legally binding precedent, it will help mobilize foes of Obama’s agenda in the fall midterm elections, and that could make a difference in some states with close congressional races that could decide the balance of power in Washington. On Tuesday, Missouri voters cast 71 percent of their ballots in favor of a state measure to bar the government from requiring people to carry health insurance, and penalizing those who don’t…. – AP, 8-4-10
- Real Reason Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston Split?: Bristol To People Magazine: Levi May Have Gotten Another Woman Pregnant – CBS News, 8-4-10
- Majority of senators back Kagan on eve of vote: Elena Kagan has won the support of a majority of senators on the eve of a vote to confirm her as the Supreme Court’s fourth woman. At least 51 senators have announced they will back Kagan in the vote expected Thursday. President Barack Obama named the 50-year-old solicitor general to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens. She’s drawn the support so far of all but one Democrat — Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska — plus one independent and five Republicans…. – AP, 8-4-10
- Senate Opens Debate on Kagan: The Senate on Tuesday opened floor debate of on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Democrats praised her as a sagacious legal mind and a refreshing choice from outside the usual ranks of federal judges, while Republicans denounced her as a liberal partisan who would use her perch on the high court to bend the law to her political views.
Ms. Kagan, the solicitor general and former dean of Harvard Law School, was chosen by President Obama to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. She is all but certain to be confirmed, with the Senate Democratic majority virtually unanimous in support and Republicans pledging not to filibuster. A vote is planned by the end of this week, and may happen as soon as Thursday…. – NYT, 8-3-10
- Jobs, Kagan Are Top Priority for Senate Democrats With the August recess closing in, Harry Reid is pushing his agenda: It’s August and that means Senate Democrats have only a few days left on their legislative agenda before they head home for a month-long recess. With the bulk of Republicans against them on key matters, it could be another fruitless week in the upper chamber, at least as far as voters are concerned…. – US News & World Report, 8-2-10
- Obama Says GOP Has Same Ideas As Ex-Pres George W Bush: President Barack Obama, speaking at a fundraising event for the Democratic party in Atlanta, said the Republican party hasn’t differentiated itself from former President George W. Bush. “They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas–not one,” Obama said to applause. Obama rarely refers to his predecessor by name during speeches, preferring instead to say “the previous administration.”… – WSJ, 8-2-10
- McCain is Clapper stopper: Sen. John McCain is blocking James Clapper’s nomination for U.S. intelligence chief until he gets a requested report, an aide to the Arizona Republican says…. – UPI, 8-2-10
- National intelligence director nomination blocked: A spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain says the senator is blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the director of national intelligence. Spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan says the Arizona Republican has requested a specific report from retired Air Force Gen. James R. Clapper. Buchanan declined the provide any details about the report but said it was not related to Clapper or his views. Buchanan said McCain will continue to put a hold on Clapper’s nomination until he provides the report. AP, 8-2-10
- MIT students helped WikiLeaks suspect, hacker says: Adrian Lamo, the former computer hacker who tipped off federal authorities to WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning, says two men in the Boston area have told Lamo in phone conversations that they assisted Manning. Lamo said both men attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but he refused to identify them because, he said, at least one of them has threatened him. One of these men allegedly told Lamo they gave encryption software to Manning and taught the Army private how to use it, Lamo said….. – CNN, 8-2-10
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….
- RNC adopts new 2012 presidential primary schedule: The Republican National Committee adopted a new schedule for the 2012 presidential primaries Friday, agreeing to a plan worked out in concert with Democrats and designed to delay the start of the campaign season. The proposal, drafted by a special RNC panel, gained approval from more than the necessary two-thirds of the committee’s 168 members…. – WaPo, 8-6-10
- GOP to Launch “Fire Pelosi” Bus Tour: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele tried to energize his party today with the announcement that the RNC is sponsoring a “Fire Pelosi” bus tour this fall. Steele appeared at the RNC convention in Kansas City, Missouri with a red “Fire Pelosi” cap on, the Associated Press reports. “Get on the bus!” he yelled on stage, next to a cardboard bus that read, “Need a job? Fire Pelosi.”… – CBS News, 8-6-10
- Mo., Mich., Kan., choose candidates in primaries: Voters had no shortage of options in choosing party nominees in Tuesday’s primaries as they focused on successors to Republican senators in Kansas and Missouri and term-limited Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Five Republicans and two Democrats were vying to succeed Granholm in Michigan, a state reeling from the economic downturn. Three Democrats and nine Republicans were running in Missouri’s Senate race, and four Republicans and five Democrats were competing for their party’s Senate nominations in Kansas.
Ballots were even more crowded — with up to as many as nine candidates in some cases — in House races in all three states…. – AP, 8-3-10
- Term limits will hobble more Republicans than Democrats: State’s term limits law will hobble more Republicans than Democrats in the upcoming November elections, according to the Montana Secretary of State…. – Belgrade News, 8-3-10
- Weekly Address: President Obama Highlights Benefits to Seniors Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Saturday, August 7, 2010 Washington, DC:
Forty-five years ago, we made a solemn compact as a nation that senior citizens would not go without the health care they need. This is the promise we made when Medicare was born. And it’s the responsibility of each generation to keep that promise.
That’s why a report issued this week by the Trustees who oversee Medicare was such good news. According to this report, the steps we took this year to reform the health care system have put Medicare on a sounder financial footing. Reform has actually added at least a dozen years to the solvency of Medicare – the single longest extension in history – while helping to preserve Medicare for generations to come….
We’ve made Medicare more solvent by going after waste, fraud, and abuse – not by changing seniors’ guaranteed benefits. In fact, seniors are starting to see that because of health reform, their benefits are getting better all the time.
And as reform ramps up in the coming years, we expect seniors to save an average of $200 per year in premiums and more than $200 each year in out of pocket costs, too…. So we are no longer accepting business as usual. We’re making tough decisions to meet the challenges of our time. And as a result, Medicare is stronger and more secure. That’s important. Because Medicare isn’t just a program. It’s a commitment to America’s seniors – that after working your whole life, you’ve earned the security of quality health care you can afford. As long as I am President, that’s a commitment this country is going to keep…. – WH, 8-7-10
- Palin: Obama ‘in over his head’: Sarah Palin’s critiques of President Obama continue to draw buzz. Just a few days after saying Obama lacked the “cojones” to tackle illegal immigration, Palin told Fox conservative talk show host Sean Hannity that Obama simply isn’t up to the job:
I think he’s quite complacent. And I think he’s in over his head. And I think he has poor advisers around him. And I think he’s really in flux kind of when it comes to what his governing philosophy actually is. Some of this, though, is a result of he not having much experience and then a complicit media and maybe some voters who chose to not to allow him to be vetted very closely. – USA Today, 8-6-10
- Mitch McConnell: After November, Legislation Is ‘Going To Have To Be Center Right’: “What I hope we are going to have after November is more balance, more balance, which would give us the opportunity to do things together that simply were missing when you have this kind of disparity,” McConnell said. “But, I’m not going to be very interested in doing things left of center. It is going to have to be center right. I think the president is a flexible man. I’m hoping he will become a born-again moderate.” – Huff Post, 8-5-10
- Obama salutes promised end of US combat in Iraq: Nearing a milestone in the long and divisive Iraq war, President Barack Obama on Monday hailed this month’s planned withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops — “as promised and on schedule” — as a major success despite deep doubts about the Iraqis’ ability to police and govern their country.
Portraying the end of America’s combat role in the 7-year war as a personal promise kept, Obama said Iraq will have 90,000 fewer U.S. troops by September than when he took office — a steady homeward flow he called “a season of homecomings.” But there could still be more fighting involving U.S. forces.
“The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq,” the president said in a speech to the national convention of the Disabled American Veterans. “But make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing — from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats.”… – AP, 8-2-10
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
- At the White House, Losing a Game of Phone Tag: The White House switchboard — able to conjure up Santa Claus at a moment’s notice for a young Caroline Kennedy — is famous for its ability to track down anyone, anywhere, anytime. But last week, both the White House and the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, were unable to muster that switchboard magic to reach Shirley Sherrod….
“I was astonished,” said Richard Reeves, a professor at the University of Southern California and the author of several books about the presidency. “It seems impossible to me that the president can’t get to people anytime he wants to.”…
Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University, had his own take: “It may be a metaphor for a kind of societal incompetence, where a 20-year-old intern for CNN or Fox or MSNBC can track down the main players, when the federal government can’t.”… – NYT (7-25-10)
- Julian Zelizer: Don’t give Obama blank check on war: Despite all the questions surrounding the war in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats have not challenged the administration’s policies since President Obama announced a surge of troops in 2009….
Democrats don’t want Afghanistan to become a political problem for Obama. Their party is having enough trouble as a result of the recession and the deficit that they don’t want to give their opponents one more issue to run on. Democrats, who have suffered for decades when being attacked as “weak on defense,” also fear that any questions about the war will open them up to those attacks again….
Democrats can’t continue to write a blank check for this president. They must use the power of oversight and investigation to start addressing the problems with the war strategy and to create pressure on the administration to strengthen its military plans for the coming year. They can’t simply trust the president do just to the right thing. Too often, when Congress has remained silent, presidents have made huge mistakes — and it has taken decades for the nation to recover…. – CNN, 8-3-10