Political Headlines: Congress, Boehner Urge Obama to Act Quickly on Budget Agreement

112TH CONGRESS


Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

 

  • Political Headlines: Congress, Boehner Urge Obama to Act Quickly on Budget Agreement: House Republicans arrived at the White House on Wednesday for a meeting with the president to focus on the debt limit.
    Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that Congress and the White House should try to reach an agreement within the next month that would combine an increase in the federal debt limit with deep spending cuts, and he called on President Obama to play a larger role in negotiations.
    In a meeting with reporters after a White House session between House Republicans and the president, Mr. Boehner said a budget deal well in advance of the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling could avoid the prospect of adverse market reactions.
    “This really needs to be done over the next month if we are serious about no brinksmanship and no rattling investors,” Mr. Boehner said.
    “The president could engage himself,” he added. “I’m willing. I’m ready. It is time to have the conversation. It is time to play large ball, not small ball.”
    A bipartisan team of lawmakers from the House and Senate has been meeting with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to fashion a budget agreement that could clear the way for a vote to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit, a step Mr. Boehner and other Republicans say they will not take without corresponding spending cuts. The speaker said the group was making marginal progress but at its current pace would brush up against the August deadline.
    Mr. Boehner said he had had no discussions with the White House about involving the president in the negotiations.
    As the Biden negotiations have been unfolding, it was considered likely that Mr. Boehner would have to agree on any package negotiated by lawmakers who included Representative Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican and majority leader. Aides said Mr. Boehner’s comments were not meant to be critical of the Biden talks…. – NYT, 6-2-11

Political Highlights May 22, 2011: Obama Addresses AIPAC — Reaffirms His Position on Israel’s 1967 Borders — Canada Objects, Palin, & Gingrich Criticize

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama to AIPAC: Israelis, Palestinians should negotiate a new border: President Obama said his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the pre-1967 lines did not mean the future state of Palestine would have those exact borders.
    “By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said on Sunday morning to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides.”
    Last week, Obama said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks should be based on the pre-’67 lines, with mutually agreed swaps. He also said the difficult issues of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees should be deferred for later. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called such borders “indefensible.”
    “If there is a controversy, it’s not based on substance,” Obama said Sunday. “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.”… – JTA, 5-22-11
  • Obama Challenges Israel to Make Hard Choices: President Obama struck back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in a speech to a pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday, defending his stance that talks over a Palestinian state should be focused on Israel’s pre-1967 borders, along with negotiated land swaps, and challenging Israel to “make the hard choices” necessary to bring about a stable peace.
    Mr. Obama, speaking before a conference of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, offered familiar assurances that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s long-term security was “ironclad.” But citing the rising political upheaval near Israel’s borders, he presented his peace plan as the best chance Israel has to avoid growing isolation.
    “We cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace,” Mr. Obama said. The world, he said, “is moving too fast.”
    Administration officials said it would be up to Mr. Obama, during an economic summit in Paris next weekend, to try to talk his European counterparts out of endorsing Palestinian statehood in a coming United Nations vote, a prospect that would deeply embarrass Israel. Some French officials have already indicated that they are leaning toward such an endorsement.
    “He basically said, ‘I can continue defending you to the hilt, but if you give me nothing to work with, even America can’t save you,’ ” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and a fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.
    The appearance by Mr. Obama on Sunday punctuated a tense week in which he and Mr. Netanyahu made their separate cases about Palestinian statehood to American audiences. Mr. Netanyahu will address the same group on Monday and will speak before Congress on Tuesday at the invitation of Republican lawmakers…. – NYT, 5-22-11
  • Obama seeks to reassure Israel on Mideast policy in speech at AIPAC conference: President Obama sought to reassure Israel and its supporters of “ironclad” U.S. support Sunday in a speech to a Jewish lobbying group that also warned that time could be running out for a peace accord with Palestinians.
    Obama, wading afresh into a topic that evoked anger from Israeli leaders last week, insisted again that 1967 boundary lines should be the starting point for talks on a new Palestinian state. But he allowed that the dividing line would be negotiated to accommodate Israeli settlements and security needs.
    “Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at its annual conference in Washington.
    While sticking to the views he outlined in a Middle East policy speech Thursday, Obama more clearly aligned his position on borders to one espoused by the George W. Bush administration in 2004. The Bush White House had concluded that a return to the precise boundaries that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War was “not realistic,” because of the presence of large Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
    Acknowledging that Israel faced “hard choices” and security risks, Obama argued that stalling on peace negotiations posed even greater dangers for the country’s survival. The Arab Spring movement and changing demographic forces — including growing numbers of Palestinians west of the Jordan River — present long-term challenges to Israel that will be resolved only by the creation of separate homelands for Jews and Palestinians, he said.
    “No matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option,” he said. “The status quo is unsustainable.”
    “No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction,” he said.
    Obama said he was not surprised by the uproar over his Thursday speech but added that “if there is controversy, it is not based on substance.”
    “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately,” he said. “I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.:”… – WaPo, 5-22-11
  • Obama to AIPAC: I won’t back down on Israel-Palestine border issue: Speaking to AIPAC Sunday, President Obama repeated his position that Israel-Palestine peace negotiations must acknowledge the 1967 borders as a starting point. But he also emphasized that US commitment to Israel’s security is ‘ironclad.’
    President Obama is not backing down on how to solve the Israel-Palestine border issue in achieving peace in the Middle East.
    Speaking Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – which identifies itself as America’s leading pro-Israel lobby – Obama reiterated his stance: Any negotiation has to begin by acknowledging the 1967 borders before the Six-Day War in which Israel occupied land in Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.
    Speaking to AIPAC Sunday, Obama sought to clarify what he had meant on Thursday regarding the 1967 borders.
    “By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said. “It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”
    “The ultimate goal is two states for two people,” he said, “Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people – and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people – each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.”… – CS Monitor, 5-22-11
  • Mideast Obama restates call for ‘1967 lines’ in Israeli-Palestinian talks: Unwilling to retreat from Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry outbursts, Barack Obama warned thousands of ardent pro-Israelis that finding a lasting peace with Palestinians begins with Israel’s pre-1967 frontiers.
    The U.S. President’s tone was soothing and his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee placatory, but he didn’t budge from his statement last week that has sparked a furor and the remarkable spectacle of an Israeli prime minister publicly disputing an American president in the Oval Office.
    As Mr. Obama reiterated Sunday, it remains the obvious – if not explicitly stated position by any previous president – that negotiating boundaries for a Palestinian state begins with Israel’s frontiers before the lightning war of June 1967, when Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan, seizing and occupying the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the revered walled city of old Jerusalem.
    “If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance,” Mr. Obama said, added that he has said nothing new or startling, although his reference to “1967 lines” drew scattered boos from the audience that has been explicitly told to respectively receive speakers, even if they disagree.
    “It was my reference to the 1967 lines – with mutually agreed swaps – that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now,” Mr. Obama said. He said his position has been “misrepresented” although he didn’t call out Mr. Netanyahu – who will deliver his own version of the way forward Monday to the 10,000-plus AIPAC at the most powerful pro-Israeli group’s annual convention. (The blunt-speaking Israeli leader – whose relationship with Mr. Obama has ranged from distant to frosty – will give a speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress.)
    “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace.” “Delay will undermine security,” he added…. – The Globe & Mail, 5-22-11
  • Obama Quotes Talmud at AIPAC, Tells Hamas “Release Shalit”: In an address aimed at placating his disgruntled Jewish supporters, President Barack Obama told his audience of over 10,000 at the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday that “a strong and secure Israel is in the interest of the United States and the bond between our two vibrant democracies must be nurtured.”
    He maintained that he did not say anything fundamentally new in his Thursday speech, when he mentioned the “1967 borders” as a basis for future peace
    Taking intense criticism from pro-Israel supporters since then, when he called for Israel to negotiate a future Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, he sought to heal wounds by enumerating actions taken by the US to foster Israel’s security…. – Virtual Jerusalem Post, 5-22-11
  • Obama, at AIPAC, takes on the 1967 borders issue: An interesting morning at the AIPAC policy conference. Then again, how could it not be with President Barack Obama addressing more than 10,000 participants only days after giving a major policy address on the Middle East?
    I half expected a purely political speech, reaffirming his strong support for Israel, using key slogans like Israel’s qualitative military edge and banging away at Iran, and avoiding his call the other day for peace negotiations kith the Palestinians based on the 1967, with negotiated land swaps.
    In an almost stern tone, he referred to how his comments have been “misrepresented” – presumably by those pro-Israel activists who say he called for a return to the exact borders of 1967, which polite critics call “indefensible” and less polite ones call “Auschwitz borders.”
    He said that “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means that “the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.”
    Then, an almost chiding tone: “If there’s a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel would only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.”
    His core argument: with the winds of change sweeping across the Arab world, with growing attempts to delegitimize Israel – which he promised his administration would “steadfastly” oppose – and with the Palestinian effort to bypass direct negotiations with its UN General Assembly gambit, the “status quo is unsustainable” and time is running out…. – The NY Jewish Week, 5-22-11
  • Protests Break Out at AIPAC During Obama’s Speech: KnightNews.com has a crew in Washington D.C. where protests against Israeli and US foreign policy are breaking out outside the AIPAC convention.
    KnightNews.com ilive streamed video of the protests, and we have concluded the live stream to go inside the conference and get video interviews with the other side. An updated video story with both sides will be posted as soon as possible. The protests came before, during and after US President Barack Obama spoke at the conference…. – Knight News, 5-22-11
  • ’67 lines not top Mideast peace hurdle: US lawmaker: Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist remains the primary impasse for Mideast peace, and not the recently revised dispute over territorial lines, the Republican US House majority leader said Sunday.
    Representative Eric Cantor, the most senior Jewish member in House history, also told the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference that it was time for the Arab world and Palestinians in particular to stop “scapegoating” Israel and to earn their statehood by renouncing violence.
    A Palestinian “culture infused with resentment and hatred” over the Jewish state is stymieing the peace process, which has all but frozen in recent months, and whose future is in turmoil with the Palestinian Authority recently signing a unity pact with Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist group.
    “It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” Cantor said told some 10,000 delegates at AIPAC’s annual policy conference.
    “This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the ’67 lines,” he said to a rousing standing ovation.
    “And until Israel’s enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible.”… – AFP, 5-22-11
  • Several GOP presidential hopefuls to attend AIPAC Conference: As President Barack Obama’s Mideast speech this week came under fire from many in the Republican Party for not being supportive enough of Israel, several GOP prospective presidential candidates will be appearing this week at a major event sponsored by a key American Israeli lobbying organization.
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will attend a policy conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Ari Goldberg, a spokesman for the group, confirmed to CNN.
    Obama will be making his first appearance as president before an AIPAC event when he addresses the conference Sunday morning. Several leading members of Congress are also scheduled to speak at the event…. – CNN, 5-21-11
  • Palin slams Obama, supports Israel: Former Alaska governor says US should defend Israel against enemies, adds her primary goal is to make sure Obama not reelected
    Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin slammed Barack Obama’s Mideast policy speech, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does not need to be lectured by President Obama on the importance of peace. He understands it.”
    In an interview for Fox News on Saturday, Palin went on to speak in support of the Jewish state: “Anyone who studies history, studies the Old Testament, studies geography understands that Israel now is surrounded by enemies at all times,” she said. “It should be now that America takes a stand in defending our enemies in Israel.
    “More than ever we should be standing strong with Israel and saying ‘No, you don’t have to divide Jerusalem, you don’t have to divide your capital city,’” she added.
    She continued to attack Obama, saying his foreign policy “really makes no sense.”
    “I’m going to call him our temporary leader because my goal is to make sure that President Obama is not reelected in 2012,” she said.
    Palin, who has yet to decide whether to run for president in the coming elections, wasn’t the only Republican to express disapproval of Obama following his tense weekend meeting with Netanyahu.
    Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a prominent contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said that Obama “threw Israel under the bus.”
    “He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace,” Romney said.
    Tim Pawlenty, another Republican presidential hopeful, called Obama’s demand for Israel to return to 1967 borders a “disaster waiting to happen.”… – YNet News, 5-22-11
  • Ottawa won’t back Obama’s Mideast peace proposal: The Harper government is refusing to join the United States in calling for a return to 1967 borders as a starting point for Mideast peace, a position that has drawn sharp criticism from Canada’s staunch ally Israel.
    At a briefing ahead of the upcoming G8 summit in France, federal officials said the basis for the negotiations must be mutually agreed upon.
    Israel quickly rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal for the talks to be guided by the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps.
    “What the government of Canada supports is basically a two-state solution that is negotiated,” a senior federal official said. “If it’s border, if it’s others issues, it has to be negotiated, it cannot be unilateral action.”
    Pressed by reporters, federal officials said both the Israelis and the Palestinians have to decide on their bottom lines, which the Israelis have said will not include a return to the 1967 border.
    “If the two parties are of the view that this is a starting point, that is fine for them,” said the federal official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
    The Prime Minister’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, added that Canada’s position continues to be the search for a two-state solution.
    “No solution, ultimately, is possible without both parties sitting down, negotiating and agreeing on what that final outcome will look like,” he said…. – The Globe & Mail, 5-22-11
  • Israel ‘approves new West Bank settler homes': Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has approved the construction of 294 new homes in Beitar Ilit settlement on the occupied West Bank, anti-settlement NGO Peace Now reported on Sunday.
    It also said that work had started on more than 2,000 settler homes since the end in September of Israel’s 10-month freeze on Jewish construction on Palestinian land.
    Peace Now made its announcement as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington preparing to address the US Congress and a powerful pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
    It said Barak has also approved building of homes for the elderly and a shopping centre in the settlement of Efrat…. – AFP, 5-22-11

QUOTES

  • Remarks by the President at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2011 Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C.: THE PRESIDENT: ….Now, I’m not here to subject you to a long policy speech. I gave one on Thursday in which I said that the United States sees the historic changes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa as a moment of great challenge, but also a moment of opportunity for greater peace and security for the entire region, including the State of Israel.
    On Friday, I was joined at the White House by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we reaffirmed — (applause) — we reaffirmed that fundamental truth that has guided our presidents and prime ministers for more than 60 years — that even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable — (applause) — and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad. (Applause.)
    A strong and secure Israel is in the national security interest of the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, although we do both seek a region where families and children can live free from the threat of violence. It’s not simply because we face common dangers, although there can be no denying that terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons are grave threats to both our nations.
    America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place — and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds, we understand that preserving the security for which our forefathers — and foremothers — fought must be the work of every generation. As two vibrant democracies, we recognize that the liberties and freedoms we cherish must be constantly nurtured. And as the nation that recognized the State of Israel moments after its independence, we have a profound commitment to its survival as a strong, secure homeland for the Jewish people. (Applause.)
    We also know how difficult that search for security can be, especially for a small nation like Israel living in a very tough neighborhood. I’ve seen it firsthand. When I touched my hand against the Western Wall and placed my prayer between its ancient stones, I thought of all the centuries that the children of Israel had longed to return to their ancient homeland. When I went to Sderot and saw the daily struggle to survive in the eyes of an eight-year-old boy who lost his leg to a Hamas rocket, and when I walked among the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, I was reminded of the existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map — face of the Earth.
    Because we understand the challenges Israel faces, I and my administration have made the security of Israel a priority. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies. (Applause.) It’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels. (Applause.) And that includes additional support –- beyond regular military aid -– for the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. (Applause.) A powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation — a powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation which has already intercepted rockets from Gaza and helped saved Israeli lives. So make no mistake, we will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge. (Applause.)
    You also see our commitment to our shared security in our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.) Here in the United States, we’ve imposed the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. (Applause.) At the United Nations, under our leadership, we’ve secured the most comprehensive international sanctions on the regime, which have been joined by allies and partners around the world. Today, Iran is virtually cut off from large parts of the international financial system, and we’re going to keep up the pressure. So let me be absolutely clear –- we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
    Its illicit nuclear program is just one challenge that Iran poses. As I said on Thursday, the Iranian government has shown its hypocrisy by claiming to support the rights of protesters while treating its own people with brutality. Moreover, Iran continues to support terrorism across the region, including providing weapons and funds to terrorist organizations. So we will continue to work to prevent these actions, and we will stand up to groups like Hezbollah, who exercise political assassination and seek to impose their will through rockets and car bombs.
    You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel. (Applause.) As I said at the United Nations last year, “Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate,” and “efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.” (Applause.)
    So when the Durban Review Conference advanced anti-Israel sentiment, we withdrew. In the wake of the Goldstone Report, we stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself. (Applause.) When an effort was made to insert the United Nations into matters that should be resolved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, we vetoed it. (Applause.)
    And so, in both word and deed, we have been unwavering in our support of Israel’s security. (Applause.) And it is precisely because of our commitment to Israel’s long-term security that we have worked to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. (Applause.)
    Now, I have said repeatedly that core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties. (Applause.) And I indicated on Thursday that the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace. (Applause.) No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction. (Applause.) And we will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements. (Applause.) And we once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years. (Applause.)
    And yet, no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option. The status quo is unsustainable. And that is why on Thursday I stated publicly the principles that the United States believes can provide a foundation for negotiations toward an agreement to end the conflict and all claims — the broad outlines of which have been known for many years, and have been the template for discussions between the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians since at least the Clinton administration.
    I know that stating these principles — on the issues of territory and security — generated some controversy over the past few days. (Laughter.) I wasn’t surprised. I know very well that the easy thing to do, particularly for a President preparing for reelection, is to avoid any controversy. I don’t need Rahm to tell me that. Don’t need Axelrod to tell me that. But I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu, I believe that the current situation in the Middle East does not allow for procrastination. I also believe that real friends talk openly and honestly with one another. (Applause.) So I want to share with you some of what I said to the Prime Minister.
    Here are the facts we all must confront. First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories. This will make it harder and harder — without a peace deal — to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state.
    Second, technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace.
    Third, a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.
    And just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There’s a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab World — in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe. And that impatience is growing, and it’s already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.
    And those are the facts. I firmly believe, and I repeated on Thursday, that peace cannot be imposed on the parties to the conflict. No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state. And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. (Applause.) Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate. That is my commitment; that is my pledge to all of you. (Applause.)
    Moreover, we know that peace demands a partner –- which is why I said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist. (Applause.) And we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and for their rhetoric. (Applause.)
    But the march to isolate Israel internationally — and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations –- will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative. And for us to have leverage with the Palestinians, to have leverage with the Arab States and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success. And so, in advance of a five-day trip to Europe in which the Middle East will be a topic of acute interest, I chose to speak about what peace will require.
    There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations. Since questions have been raised, let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday — not what I was reported to have said.
    I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps — (applause) — so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
    As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself –- by itself -– against any threat. (Applause.) Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. (Applause.) And a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign and non-militarized state. (Applause.) And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated. (Applause.)
    Now, that is what I said. And it was my reference to the 1967 lines — with mutually agreed swaps — that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now. And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.
    By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.) That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.) It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people — (applause) — and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people — each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. (Applause.)
    If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. (Applause.) The world is moving too fast. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.
    Now, I know that some of you will disagree with this assessment. I respect that. And as fellow Americans and friends of Israel, I know we can have this discussion.
    Ultimately, it is the right and the responsibility of the Israeli government to make the hard choices that are necessary to protect a Jewish and democratic state for which so many generations have sacrificed. (Applause.) And as a friend of Israel, I’m committed to doing our part to see that this goal is realized. And I will call not just on Israel, but on the Palestinians, on the Arab States, and the international community to join us in this effort, because the burden of making hard choices must not be Israel’s alone. (Applause.)
    But even as we do all that’s necessary to ensure Israel’s security, even as we are clear-eyed about the difficult challenges before us, and even as we pledge to stand by Israel through whatever tough days lie ahead, I hope we do not give up on that vision of peace. For if history teaches us anything, if the story of Israel teaches us anything, it is that with courage and resolve, progress is possible. Peace is possible.
    The Talmud teaches us that, “So long as a person still has life, they should never abandon faith.” And that lesson seems especially fitting today.
    For so long as there are those across the Middle East and beyond who are standing up for the legitimate rights and freedoms which have been denied by their governments, the United States will never abandon our support for those rights that are universal.
    And so long as there are those who long for a better future, we will never abandon our pursuit of a just and lasting peace that ends this conflict with two states living side by side in peace and security. This is not idealism; it is not naïveté. It is a hard-headed recognition that a genuine peace is the only path that will ultimately provide for a peaceful Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and a Jewish state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. (Applause.) That is my goal, and I look forward to continuing to work with AIPAC to achieve that goal.
    Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you. – Transcript
  • Gene Simmons Slams President Obama’s Israel Policy: ‘He Has No F-Ing Idea What The World Is Like’Breitbart, 5-22-11
  • Sarah Palin Criticizes Obama on Israel; Calls Him ‘Temporary Leader': In an interview with Fox News’ Judge Jeanine on Saturday, Palin spoke in support of the Jewish state, saying, “Anyone who studies history, studies the Old Testament, studies geography understands that Israel now is surrounded by enemies at all times.
    “It should be now that America takes a stand in defending our friends in Israel.”
    Obama has been drawing fire from Republicans after delivering a major speech on Thursday. In it, he stated, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
    Also rejecting Obama’s stance, Palin stated on Fox, “To tell Israel that now they have to pull back from their homeland, that they have to concede even more, and that they have to negotiate with terrorists, with Hamas, having been a part now joining in the unity government under Palestinian authority, we’re flirting with disaster under President Obama’s very clouded, very murky foreign policy as it applies to Israel.”
    What the U.S. should be doing more than ever is “standing strong with Israel and saying, ‘No, you don’t have to divide Jerusalem, you don’t have to divide your capital city,’” she continued.
    Palin commented, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not need to be lectured by President Obama on the importance of peace. He understands it.”
    “I’m going to call him a temporary leader, because my goal is to make sure that President Obama is not reelected in 2012,” she said on Fox.
    “We the people need to rise up, saying we’ll take a stand for Israel. We’ll be on their side, no matter if our ‘temporary leader’ sides with terrorists and demands Israel negotiate with terrorists.
    “Until President Obama is replaced by a president who understands the importance of treating our friends right and being strong against our enemies – until that happens – it’s ‘We the People’ who have to rise up and make sure that Israel knows they have friends here.”… – Christian Post, 5-21-11
  • Newt Gingrich Leads Criticism on Obama’s Israel-Palestine Remarks: Republican presidential hopeful and Catholic convert Newt Gingrich has labeled President Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian policy a “disaster” during Sunday’s CBS program “Face the Nation.”
    Outspoken Gingrich said Obama’s remarks were “extraordinarily dangerous,” and further stated that “a president who can’t control his own border probably shouldn’t lecture Israel about their border.”
    Gingrich was referring to Obama’s comments this week that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations be based on border demarcations from before the six-day war in 1967, in which Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip among other territories. Furthermore, he stated that potential agreements should include land swap deals to reflect changes over recent decades.
    Gingrich said on “Face the Nation:” “I think that defining the 1967 border would be an act of suicide for Israel. They are totally non-defensible.
    “You have Hamas, which is a terrorist organization whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel. The idea that somehow we’re supposed to be neutral between Hamas and Israel is fundamentally flawed and I do not believe that we should have any pressure on Israel as long as Hamas’ policy is the destruction of Israel and as long as missiles are being fired into Israel and terrorists are preparing to try to kill Israelis.”
    Gingrich is not the only one condemning Obama’s stance towards Israel; Congressman Ron Paul has also issued a blistering critique of Obama’s recent proposals.
    “Unlike this President, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs,” the Texas Republican said in a press statement.
    “There can only be peace in the region if those sides work out their differences among one another. We should respect Israel’s sovereignty and not try to dictate her policy from Washington,” he added…. – Christian Post, 5-22-11
  • MK Katz Warns AIPAC, ‘Obama Put a Gun to Israel’s Head': “Don’t fall for U.S. President Barack Obama’s magical oratory. He put a gun to Israel’s head and asked it to commit suicide,” National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz MK wrote the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Sunday.
    The legislator continued, “I urge you not to be captured by his magic tongue because he actually is asking you for your votes and your money.”
    MK Katz wrote to AIPAC committee members, “The People of Israel, in the Diaspora for 2,000 years, developed a sense of who loves us and who hates us. President Obama knows very well that former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban described the 1967 borders as ‘Auschwitz borders.'”
    “The People of Israel will not fall for the false charm of posters, slogans, cellophane wrappers of sweetened drugs of death”, he concluded. – Israel National News, 5-22-11
  • Livni on Obama speech: US and Israel have shared interests: Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Sunday commented on US President Barack Obama’s speech to AIPAC earlier, saying “The principle of Israel’s security and the need to arrive at a two-state solution, one of which is the State of Israel, is first of all an Israeli interest. Therefore, we need to be going in this direction in our partnership with the US.”
    “It’s important to understand that the entire world looks at the relationship between Israel and the United States, especially those who still do not accept our existence here. And part of Israel’s deterrence capability comes from the understanding that we are working together [with the US]. Therefore, there is a very important message coming from Washington these days,” Livni said.
    She stressed, “The things that Obama mentioned represent a long-standing American policy. We have shared interests. This is very important to Israel, so that it can once and for all advance the process to prevent unilateral moves at the United Nations.” – JPost, 5-22-11
  • Eric Cantor: Israel is America’s Most Loyal Ally: Republican Eric Cantor, the GOP majority leader in the House of Representatives, addressed the attendees of the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.
    Speaking of his immigrant roots and of his pride of being Jewish, Cantor told the audience that “America needs Israel as it is our most stable and loyal ally,” adding that “America must do everything in its power to protect Israel. It is okay to vilify Israel but it is not okay to scapegoat Israel.”
    He addressed the conflict between Israelis and Arabs and said that the root of the conflict is not the so-called 1967 lines (the 1949 armistice lines which defense experts have said would be indefensible), but rather the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel. Israel wants to live in peace, said Cantor, but PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has to stop promoting hate and should come to the negotiating table. Until that happens, noted Cantor, there can be no peace, particularly with Hamas being part of the PA government…. Israel National News, 5-22-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: Despite the talk about “Obama’s Mideast speech” Thursday, I actually heard two separate addresses. In the first, President Barack Obama offered vague nostrums about the “Arab spring,” best summarized in three words: Democracy is good. Obama transitioned awkwardly to the second speech, about Israelis and Palestinians, saying: “Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.” In this section, the professorial president turned from airy abstractions to problematic particulars. Although it was impossible to predict America’s next move in the Arab world from the speech’s first part, we now know exactly how an Israel-Palestine peace treaty would look if Obama could dictate it and those annoying people who live there would just follow….
    Even more problematic was his call for “the borders of Israel and Palestine” to “be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” These words not only seem to contradict George W. Bush’s vow to Ariel Sharon based on decades of American policy, but the deification of 1967 boundaries lacks historical nuance in a region obsessed with nuance and history.
    The logical starting point in advocating a two-state solution comes by acknowledging that in the region particular borders shifted and populations moved. Anyone who talks about people frozen in place for centuries or borders as if they were permamarked on a map is either a fool or a fanatic. Bible-based Israelis must admit that the boundaries of Biblical land of Israel, varied, just as passionate Palestinians must admit that the boundaries of Palestine-Israel in the twentieth-century alone shifted repeatedly.
    We cannot undo history and we must move forward, from 2011, trying to minimize disruptions to populations while maximizing satisfaction on both sides. Rather than trying to freeze one random moment in historical time, demography and the current status quo should be our guides, tempered by sensitivity, creativity, and a touch but not too much historicity. Obama’s overlooked line about the “growing number of Palestinians [who] live west of the Jordan River,” explains why each of the two clashing people should have a state. Peace will work if it passes the test of what Obama called populism, working logically for many people today, not at some random point from the past.
    Obama did speak beautifully about “a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future.” Alas, this speech did not do enough to buttress the forces of hope over hate, and by feeding the 1967 obsession, Obama himself was too shackled to one unhelpful perspective on the past.

Political Highlights May 19, 2011: President Obama’s Speech on the Middle East Advocates Israel Returning to Pre-1967 Borders — Israel Reacts

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS

  • Obama Backs Mideast Plan Based on 1967 Borders: Declaring that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation,” President Obama said that a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must embody two sovereign states based on pre-1967 borders.

THE HEADLINES….

  • As Obama Endorses ’67 Borders, Netanyahu Objects: President Obama’s endorsement on Thursday of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute based on the 1967 borders — the first time an American president has explicitly endorsed those borders as the baseline for negotiations over a Palestinian state — prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to push back and the Palestinian leadership to call an urgent meeting.
    Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement just before boarding a plane to Washington that while he appreciated Mr. Obama’s commitment to peace, he “expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of American commitments made to Israel in 2004 which were overwhelmingly supported by both houses of Congress.”
    Those commitments came in a letter from President George W. Bush that stated, among other things, that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” which was another way of describing the 1967 boundaries…. – NYT, 5-19-11
  • Obama Endorses 1967 Borders for Israel: Seeking to harness the seismic political change still unfolding in the Arab world, President Obama for the first time on Thursday publicly called for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would create a non-militarized Palestinian state on the basis of Israel’s borders before 1967.
    “At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent that ever,” he said.
    Although Mr. Obama said that “the core issues” dividing Israelis and Palestinians remain to be negotiated, including the searing questions of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees, he spoke with striking frustration that efforts to support an agreement had so far failed. “The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome,” he said.
    The outline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement came in what the president called “a moment of opportunity” following six months of political upheaval that has at times left the administration scrambling to keep up. The speech was an attempt to articulate a cohesive American policy to an Arab Spring that took a dark turn as the euphoria of popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt gave way to violent crackdowns in Bahrain and Syria, a civil war in Libya and political stalemate in Yemen…. – NYT, 5-19-11
  • Obama Speech Backlash on Call to Reinstate 1967 Mideast Borders: President Obama’s call this afternoon for Israel and Palestine to redraw boundaries based on 1967 lines has already generated backlash.
    “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation,” the president said in a wide-ranging, Mideast speech at the State Department.
    “The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
    The suggestion landed with a thud in Israel, where some skeptics worry that such a border makes the country less secure. The country will object to any “indefensible” borders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
    “The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel’s existence,” said Netanyahu, who is expected to arrive here in Washington Friday.
    Netanyahu’s office tweeted its clear disapproval of the president’s reference to the 1967 borders.
    “Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress,” the office wrote on Twitter. “Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.”… – ABC News, 5-19-11
  • Obama pledges new aid to Mideast nations embracing democracy: Under pressure from key allies to act more decisively on several volatile issues in the Middle East and North Africa, President Obama on Thursday promised new U.S. aid to nations that embrace democracy while he also condemned attacks on demonstrators, notably in Syria.
    Saying that the future of the United States is bound to the region in a number of ways, Obama said he was focused on “how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security.”
    In what was billed as a major speech meant to define U.S. interests in the region amid the wave of change known as the Arab Spring, Obama was unveiling a series of economic initiatives to encourage democracy there, including aid for Tunisia and a total of $2 billion in debt relief and loan guarantees for Egypt’s fledgling government.
    Speaking at the State Department before an audience of U.S. diplomats, administration officials and foreign envoys, Obama made his first broad attempt to place the region’s wave of popular uprisings, which have swept away autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt and threatened several others, in the context of American interests and values. Aides said he felt it was importrant to address the armed rebellion in Libya, the uprising in Syria and the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
    The speech was aimed in part at reassuring allies alarmed by what they perceive as drift in Obama’s policy in the rapidly changing region, after weeks when Osama bin Laden’s killing and a domestic debate over the national debt took center stage…. – WaPo, 5-19-11
  • Obama Lays Out U.S. Policy on Arab World Amid Uprisings: With a backdrop of continuing anti-government protests in the Arab world and criticism from some corners over a perceived uneven U.S. response, President Obama said in a major policy speech Thursday that the U.S. would use its influence and economic power to support the region’s transitions to democracy.
    “Our message is simple: if you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States,” he said.
    The president said that for decades, the United States has pursued a set of interests, including countering terrorism, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, securing the flow of commerce and security in the region, and standing up for Israel’s security along with pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.
    And while the U.S. would continue to do these things, “we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind,” he said.
    President Obama also acknowledged that “we have learned from our experience in Iraq just how costly and difficult it is to impose regime change by force — no matter how well-intended it may be.”… – PBS Newshour, 5-19-11
  • Barack Obama throws full US support behind Middle East uprisings: • President unveils shift in US policy towards Arab countries
    • ‘Status quo not sustainable,’ he warns region’s autocracies
    • Sets out two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    • Tells Syria’s Assad to lead transition or ‘get out of way’
    Barack Obama has sought to realign US policy on the Middle East, promising to shift from the long-held American backing for autocratic regimes to support for pro-democracy movements – and pledging to set out the shape of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
    “The status quo is not sustainable,” Obama said in a major speech at the state department in Washington on Thursday, the first on the Middle East since he spoke in Cairo in 2009.
    In a speech dubbed Cairo 2, he threw US weight behind the protesters, saying: “We face a historic opportunity. We have embraced the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator … After decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.”
    He was addressing criticism that America has moved too slowly in response to the pro-democracy movements sweeping the region.
    As well as support for the newly emerging democracies in Egypt and Tunisia, he criticised long-term US allies such as Bahrain, where America has a large naval base, for its suppression of democracy movements…. – Guardian UK, 5-19-11
  • President Obama has message for Mideast regimes: We’ll give you aid, if you promote reform: President Obama proposed billions in economic aid Thursday to reward Mideast regimes that reform, delivering a much-hyped speech on U.S. policy toward a region rocked by upheaval.
    “Square by square, town by town, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights,” Obama told an audience at the U.S. State Department. “And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics, security, by history, by faith.”
    Obama embraced the sea change triggered in Tunisia and vowed to support the growing freedom movement across the Arab world.
    “We have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals,” Obama said.
    “The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they’re built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.”… – NY Daily News, 5-19-11
  • Obama Addresses ‘Extraordinary Change’ in Middle East, North Africa: ‘In Libya, we had a mandate to take action,’ says President Obama. ‘Syrian government must stop unjustified arrests of protesters.’
    U.S. President Barack Obama has welcomed the “extraordinary change” taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, but said too many countries have met the calls for change with violence.
    Mr. Obama, speaking Thursday at the State Department, said the most extreme example is Libya, where he said Moammar Gadhafi launched a war against his own people. He said thousands of people would have been killed in Libya if the United States and its partners did not act.
    He said Syria has also chosen the “path of murder and mass arrests.” Mr. Obama called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to either lead a transition to democracy or “get out the way.” He called on the Syrian government to stop shooting protestors, allow peaceful protests and stop unjust arrests.
    Mr. Obama noted that in the last six months two leaders have been replaced in the Middle East and North Africa, and he said “more may follow” as people rise up to demand their basic rights.
    He said it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region and support a transition to democracy. He said that effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia…. – VOA, 5-19-11
  • The speech that signals a Washington-Jerusalem collision: Analysis: The tone of Netanyahu’s response to the Obama speech made clear that he disliked it more than he liked it.
    US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seemed on a collision course following Obama’s speech Thursday night where the president called for a return to the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed-upon land swaps.
    Netanyahu’s position, which he highlighted in an unexpectedly negative response to the president’s speech, is that the 1967 lines are indefensible.
    Although Obama made an effort to give some points to Israel and some to the Palestinians, in the final analysis he essentially adopted the Palestinian position that the 1967 lines – and not defensible borders – should be the baseline of any agreement.
    Obama also adopted the Palestinian position that was a point of sharp contention during the proximity, or indirect, talks last year: that the negotiations should start with borders and security. Israel’s position was that all the core issues, including Jerusalem and the refugee issue, should be discussed simultaneously so that the Palestinians, and not only Israel, will have to make concessions.
    Obama also seemed to rule out a long-term Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, as Netanyahu has demanded, saying the Palestinian state should border on Egypt, Israel and Jordan – meaning that the Palestinians, and not Israel, would control the border to the east.
    The elements of the speech that were pleasant to Netanyahu’s ears were the US president’s call for a return to negotiations; his unequivocal dismissal of the Palestinian effort to isolate Israel at the UN in September by bringing a resolution calling for recognition of a Palestinian state; his questioning of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation; and his strong words of commitment to Israel’s security.
    But the tone of Netanyahu’s response to the overall speech made clear that he disliked it more than he liked it – and all this before his five-day trip to Washington began. – JPost, 5-19-11
  • Netanyahu: ‘67 borders ‘indefensible': Benjamin Netanyahu responded to President Obama’s call for negotiations based on the 1967 borders by saying those borders are “indefensible” for Israel.
    Instead, the Israeli prime minister urged Obama to reaffirm commitments made by President George W. Bush regarding Israel’s borders.
    “Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state.”
    In his Thursday policy address at the State Department, Obama had said that the borders of a “sovereign, nonmilitarized” Palestinian state “should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
    Netanyahu’s office said in response that he “expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress.”
    “Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines, which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. “Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel.”
    The statement also reiterated the prime minister’s insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people” and that Israel retain a military presence along the Jordan River.
    Obama contradicted one element of that in his speech when he said he envisions a permanent Palestinian state with a border with Jordan.
    Netanyahu’s statement also said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “seeks a Palestinian state in order to continue the conflict with Israel,” citing his unity agreement with Hamas and recent statements by the Palestinian leader. – JTA, 5-19-11
  • Israeli leader reacting to Obama speech: West Bank pullout would leave Israel indefensible: In his speech, Obama endorsed the Palestinian position on the borders of their future state, saying it should be based on Israel’s lines before the 1967 Mideast war. Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the fighting, and the Palestinians claim those areas for their state.
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas planned to convene a meeting with senior officials as soon as possible to decide on the next steps, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
    Abbas is determined “to give President Obama’s effort and that of the international community the chance they deserve,” Erekat said.
    The U.S., the international community and even past Israeli governments have endorsed a settlement based on the 1967 lines, but Obama was far more explicit than in the past. His position appeared to put him at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has not accepted the concept.
    Reacting to Obama’s speech, Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a full withdrawal from the West Bank, saying the 1967 lines were “indefensible” and would leave major Jewish settlements outside Israel. Netanyahu rejects any pullout from east Jerusalem…. – WaPo, 5-19-11
  • Obama: Israel must act boldly: In major policy speech, President Obama says ‘Israel must act boldly to advance lasting peace,’ stresses status quo ‘unsustainable.’ Border between Israel, Palestinians to be based on 1967 lines, he says
    Israel must act boldly in order to advance a peace agreement with the Palestinians, President Barack Obama said in his highly anticipated Mideast policy speech Thursday, presenting his vision for future negotiations.
    “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation,” he said.
    “There are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward (on peace,)” Obama said. “I disagree… the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever.”
    Obama blamed both Israel and the Palestinians for failing to meet expectations in their pursuit of peace thus far.
    “Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks,” he said.
    Turning his attention to the Jewish State, the president stressed that America’s friendship with Israel “is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values.”
    Obama noted that America’s committed to Israel’s security is “unshakable,” but added that “precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.”… – YNet News, 5-19-11
  • Obama: 1967 borders with swaps should serve as basis for negotiations: President Obama said the future state of Palestine should be based on the pre-1967 border with mutually agreed land swaps with Israel.
    In his address Thursday afternoon on U.S. policy in the Middle East, Obama told an audience at the State Department that the borders of a “sovereign, nonmilitarized” Palestinian state “should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
    Negotiations should focus first on territory and security, and then the difficult issues of the status of Jerusalem and what to do about the rights of Palestinian refugees can be breached, Obama said.
    “Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and secuertiy does not mean it will be easy to come back to the table,” Obama said, noting the new unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, a group foreswarn to Israel’s destruction.
    “How can one negotiate with a party that shows itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?” Obama said. “Palestinians have to provide a credible answer to that question.”
    The U.S. president did not announce a specific initiative to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.
    The speech, which focused mostly on the Arab democracy movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world, marked the first time Obama formally declared that the pre-Six Day War borders should form the basis of negotiations. – JTA, 5-19-11
  • Obama: Israel-Palestine Borders Should Be on 1967 Lines: In his speech on Thursday morning regarding Middle East policy, American President Barack Obama declared that a two-state solution is imperative to the security of the middle east, and that the borders must be based on the 1967 borders of the state of Israel with agreed upon territorial exchange. This, the president claims will provide “security” for both sides.
    “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
    As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.”
    The President also stated that nothing can go forward without full Palestinian recognition of the state of Israel on the side of the Palestinians, as well as full cooperation and change of policy from Hamas. Hamas recently signed a formal accord with its opposing party Fatah, and while no leader has yet been named to head this new party, it is clear that this new marriage of Palestinian leaders is not in Israel’s best interest as Hamas has declared repeatedly that all Jews should be killed and Israel does not actually exist.
    Recently, a Hamas official stated that while Hamas is willing to accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, it will not agree to recognize Israel formally as the “future generations” must be given the opportunity to “liberate the lands.”
    Briefly addressing the upcoming declaration of a unilateral Palestinian state by the United Nations in September, President Obama reiterated American support of Israel multiple times. “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection… Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums.” – Virtual Jerusalem, 5-19-11
  • Obama: Israel, Palestine borders must be based on 1967 lines: Obama says status quo in Mideast and North Africa is not sustainable, stresses U.S. opposes use of violence, oppression against people of the region.
    President Barack Obama said Thursday that the U.S. endorses the Palestinians’ demand for their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.
    “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state. “
    U.S. President Barack Obama urged Palestinians and Israelis to renew peace talks on Thursday, and stressed that the Palestinians’ efforts to delegitimize Israel will fail.
    “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state,” Obama said. “Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.”
    “As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.”… – Haaretz, 5-19-11
  • Obama: America’s future bound to Middle East: President Barack Obama says the future of the U.S. is bound to the Middle East and North Africa by the forces of economics, security, history and fate.
    Obama opened a major speech on U.S. policy in the region by trying to tell Americans why it matters to them even though the countries “may be a great distance from our shores.”
    He made the comments at the State Department Thursday in speech meant as his first comprehensive response to revolts sweeping the Arab world. It was aimed at audiences in the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa, where the State Department was providing simultaneous translation in Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew.
    In his remarks, Mr. Obama addressed the Israel-Palestine conflict, and, in a move that will likely infuriate Israel, endorsed the Palestinians’ demand for their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war. Israel says the borders of Palestinian state have to be determined through negotiations.
    Mr. Obama sided with the Palestinians’ opening position a day ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to referring to the 1967 borders.
    Until Thursday, the U.S. position had been that the Palestinian goal of a state based on the 1967 borders, with agreed land swaps, should be reconciled with Israel’s desire for a secure Jewish state through negotiations…. – CBS News, 5-19-11
  • ZOA to AIPAC: Withdraw Obama invite: The Zionist Organization of America urged AIPAC to rescind its invitation to President Obama after he called for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the basis of 1967 lines, saying Obama is the most hostile U.S. president ever to Israel.
    “We urge AIPAC to rescind the invitation for President Obama to speak and we urge friends of Israel and enemies of Islamist terrorism to contact your Members of Congress to fight against Obama’s anti-Israel policy,” said the ZOA’s statement Thursday. ZOA President Morton Klein added, “President Obama is the most hostile president to Israel ever.”
    Obama is set to address the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday.
    The ZOA statement on Thursday “strongly condemned President Obama’s Mideast speech given today promoting and supporting the establishment of a Hamas/Fatah/Iran terrorist state on the Auschwitz 1967 indefensible armistice lines.”
    Obama called for negotiations to be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps.Obama is the first president to explicitly call for such a basis for negotiations, although predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have alluded to it.
    Other Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, praised Obama’s speech for rejecting any unilateral attempt to declare Palestinian statehood and for criticizing Fatah for its pact with Hamas.
    Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. Netanyahu is also set to speak to AIPAC. – JTA, 5-19-11
  • What Arabs want to hear (or not hear) from Obama speech: In contrast with Obama’s major speech two years ago in Cairo, today’s address on the Middle East has generated little interest in Egypt. But Libyans and Syrians have higher hopes…. – CS Monitor, 5-19-11
  • Obama’s Middle East Speech Has Many American Audiences: Thursday’s speech by President Obama on the upheaval in the Middle East is aimed at a global audience. But it will also play out in a domestic — and political — context as Mr. Obama seeks a second term in the White House.
    Since taking office, Mr. Obama has sought to strike a balance between reaching out to the Muslim world while also combating terrorism and pushing for progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The as-yet unfulfilled promise of that approach, which he described in a speech in Cairo in 2009, helped win him the Nobel Peace Prize early in his presidency.
    But the effort to construct a cohesive narrative for American voters about his administration’s efforts in the region has proved more difficult. The peace process has been largely halted. The move away from Bush-era terrorism policies has gone more slowly than expected. And the uprisings in the Arab world have forced case-by-case decisions that sometimes appear contradictory…. – NYT, 5-19-11
  • Obama’s Middle East speech — how far will he go?: We know many of the topics President Obama will discuss in this morning’s Middle East speech. The question is: How far will he go?
    For example, we suspect Obama will talk about the sanctions his government slapped yesterday on Syrian President Bashar Assad. But will he call on Assad to step aside in light of his government’s attacks on pro-democracy protesters?
    Obama is also expected to call for revived peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, despite recent clashes between the two. But how much pressure will he put on either side, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coming to town for a presidential meeting on Friday?
    We know that Obama will announce plans for new economic aid to Tunisia and Egypt, countries that actually threw off authoritarian governments earlier this year; but how much money does that involve?… – USA Today, 5-19-11
  • Obama Speech to Test Extent of U.S. Influence: When President Barack Obama outlines his vision of U.S. policy in the Middle East today, his challenge will be to get people in the region to care.
    The excitement generated by Obama’s call two years ago for a “new beginning” in U.S.-Arab relations evaporated as people waited for changes that haven’t come, said Robert Danin of the Council on Foreign Relations and others who study the region.
    As protests have swept the Arab world, toppling some leaders and challenging others, U.S. influence has been diminished by a response seen as cautious and inconsistent, Danin and other analysts said. And the U.S. has suffered some very public diplomatic setbacks in dealing with Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and the Israelis and Palestinians.
    “It’s not clear what the United States says right now matters to the people of the Middle East,” Danin said. “The people of the Arab world are more interested in seeing what the United States does, not what it has to say.”… – Bloomberg, 5-19-11
  • Focus Is on Obama as Tensions Soar Across Mideast: Few game-changing proposals are emerging to defuse tensions in the Middle East as a busy week of diplomacy unfolds with President Obama’s address to the region and his meeting with Israel’s prime minister.
    Against the backdrop of Middle East uprisings that have intensified animus toward Israel and growing momentum for global recognition of a Palestinian state, American and Israeli officials are struggling to balance national security interests against the need to adapt to a transformative movement in the Arab world.
    The White House unveiled a $2 billion multiyear economic aid package for Egypt, which officials say would largely shift existing funds. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel prepared to arrive in Washington with a package that he hoped would shift the burden of restarting the peace process to the Palestinians.
    Mr. Obama, who is set to address Americans — and, more significantly, Muslims around the world — from the State Department on Thursday morning, may yet have something surprising up his sleeve. One administration official said that there remained debate about whether Mr. Obama would formally endorse Israel’s pre-1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations over a Palestinian state, a move that would send an oratorical signal that the United States expected Israel to make concessions…. – NYT, 5-18-11

QUOTES

  • Moment of Opportunity: President Obama on the Middle East & North Africa: In a major speech at the State Department, President Obama laid out his vision for a new chapter in American diplomacy as calls for reform and democracy spread across the Middle East and North Africa. He made clear that the United States will support people who call for democracy and reform and leaders who implement them, will oppose violence in cracking down on protests and efforts to limit the rights of minorities, and continue to work for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
    Fact Sheet: Economic Support for the Middle East and North Africa Fact Sheet: “A Moment of Opportunity” in the Middle East and North AfricaWH, 5-19-11
  • TEXT: Obama’s Mideast Speech: Following is a text of President Obama’s prepared speech on the Middle East, delivered on Thursday in Washington, as released by the White House:
    I want to thank Hillary Clinton, who has traveled so much these last six months that she is approaching a new landmark – one million frequent flyer miles. I count on Hillary every day, and I believe that she will go down as of the finest Secretaries of State in our nation’s history.
    The State Department is a fitting venue to mark a new chapter in American diplomacy. For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change take place in the Middle East and North Africa. Square by square; town by town; country by country; the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights. Two leaders have stepped aside. More may follow. And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security; history and faith.
    Today, I would like to talk about this change – the forces that are driving it, and how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security. Already, we have done much to shift our foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts. After years of war in Iraq, we have removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there. In Afghanistan, we have broken the Taliban’s momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue transition to Afghan lead. And after years of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader – Osama bin Laden.
    Bin Laden was no martyr. He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate – an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change. He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy – not what he could build.
    Bin Laden and his murderous vision won some adherents. But even before his death, al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life. By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands…. – NYT, 5-19-11
  • Clinton introduces Obama address, says US vital in Mideast: Opening US President Barak Obama’s Middle East speech on Thursday, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that the “president’s clear vision, and pure principles” show the “indispensable role [the US] must play in the Middle East.”
    Clinton said “America’s leadership is more essential than ever,” and that the “US must lead in a new and innovative way.” She thanked the State Department, where Obama was speaking, for doing work “engaging with citizens in the streets and through social networks as [Middle East citizens] move from protests to politics.”… – JPost, 5-19-11
  • Netanyahu’s Office Tweets Disapproving Response to President Obama’s Speech: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office twitter account — run by Dr. Eitan Eliram, new media director of the prime minister’s office –- sent out a rapid succession of tweets stating clear disapproval with the president’s reference to the 1967 borders:
    “Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace. Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state… cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state,” the tweets state. “That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress. Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines. Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel. Without a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem outside the borders of Israel, no territorial concession will bring peace. Equally, the Palestinians, and not just the United States, must recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and any peace agreement with them must end all claims against Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu will make clear that the defense of Israel requires an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River.”… – ABC News, 5-19-11
  • Mitt Romney: Obama threw Israel ‘under the bus’ in speech: President Obama “has thrown Israel under the bus,” potential rival Mitt Romney said in a statement responding to the president’s speech on Middle East policy Thursday
    The former Massachusetts governor criticizes Obama for endorsing a call for Israel to withdraw to borders that were in place before the 1967 war in the interests of achieving peace.
    “He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace,” Romney said. “He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.”… – LAT, 5-19-11
  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R), another candidate seeking to challenge Obama, later reacted more broadly to the policy Obama outlined for the region: “No speech can make up for the lost time and opportunity President Obama has squandered,” he said. “The current administration needs to come to terms with its confused and dangerous foreign policy soon, as clarity and security are the necessary conditions of any serious and coherent American set of policies.”
  • President Obama’s Suicide Speech for Israel: McCotter’s Statement re President Obama’s Middle East Speech: In response to President Obama’s address on the Middle East and North Africa, U.S. Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter (MI) has issued the following statement:
    In his latest lecture to the Middle East, an ideologically purblind President Obama has again failed to acknowledge the facts on the ground, much to the detriment of American and Israeli strategic interests.
    …Such strategic celerity, though, is lacking in the Obama Administration. For, as is becoming abundantly clear, its missteps and missed opportunities stem from the President’s inconstant commitment to the strategic partnership that founds America’s Middle Eastern policies for our national security and regional peace: the American-Israeli alliance.
    Israel is a market-based, liberal democracy that protects the lives and property of its people, including its minorities.
    Israel is America’s key strategic ally in the region. Israel enhances our defense capabilities; provides us a secure foothold in the strategically important and turbulent Middle East; and has supported our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by sharing its military technology and its intelligence on hostile forces.
    Israel is under a constant and increasing threat from terrorist forces, such as Hamas and Hezbollah; instability on its borders; and the hatred of hostile nations, notably Iran and Syria, that seek our ally’s demise.
    Already, due to the Obama administration’s bungling, radical political forces in Egypt are promising to press for the abrogation of the Camp David accords with Israel, both as a matter of law and a matter of fact.
    Inexcusably, the President’s opining and overtures have caused America’s and Israel’s shared strategic interests to decline in the Arab world – as has, not ironically, America’s popularity.
    Now must end the Obama Administration’s pressure upon our ally to make dangerous strategic concessions, which the President has done since entering office. Indeed, from day one the President has misunderstood and mangled the peace process, demanding concessions on Israeli settlements that the Palestinians had never made a precondition in negotiations. In return, all the President has reaped is the Palestinian National Authority pulling out of negotiations and endeavoring to have the United Nations foist a Palestinian state upon Israel without any direct negotiations. Moreover, the President’s “policies” have done nothing to stem the Palestinian national authority allying with the terrorists of Hamas, who are pledged to Israel’s destruction.
    Today’s speech repeats the injurious canards of forcing unilateral concessions on Israel; and claiming Hamas is becoming “moderate”. This is naïve at best, and, in reality, a foolish and dangerous misreading of a terrorist group that is America’s and Israel’s enemy. Instead, The President should have made clear that, if the Palestinian Authority chooses Hamas, it has turned its back on peace and forfeited American support, aid and assistance.
    Bluntly, a continued destabilization of Israel’s security is a strategic sellout of the highest order, and a breaking of our solemn promise to our ally.
    Mideast peace will not result from arbitrarily and unilaterally imposed solutions that will, in consequence, only further destabilize the region. Peace will come when the Palestinians and the Arab nations accept Israel as a Jewish state, abandon their dreams of eradicating it; stop demonizing Israel; cease teaching their children to hate it; and, conversely, tolerate and protect the minorities in their midst. When this happens, the Israelis will have a true partner in peace, one with whom they can mutually work for liberty, prosperity and security in that long troubled land.
    Thus, to do otherwise in our strategic partnership with Israel, however unwittingly, would reveal President Obama’s failure to acknowledge President Kennedy’s sage advice: “The surest path to war is the path of weakness and disunity.”
    No, in the interests of peace and American and Israeli security, the President must acknowledge the truths underpinning our alliance; recognize those facts on the ground endangering our alliance; and, so doing, commence strengthening the foundations of the American-Israeli alliance; and the very hopes for Middle East peace. – The Hill, 5-19-11
  • Republican Jewish Committee: JC Executive Director Matt Brooks: RJC Concerned about Obama’s Call for Israel to Return to 1967 borders: Today the President called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based “on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Those borders, actually the 1949 armistice lines, are physically indefensible, as numerous military experts have plainly stated. Asking Israel to return to those borders is unacceptable and places Israel in a vulnerable and dangerous position.
    President Bush, in his 2004 letter to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon memorializing the position of the United States, made it clear that, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”
    President Bush spoke often about Israel’s need for secure and defensible borders and recognized Israel’s legitimate claim to certain high-population Jewish areas, such as the immediate suburbs of Jerusalem, which are beyond the 1949 armistice line. In contrast, President Obama has consistently condemned even the building of housing in municipal Jerusalem itself. It is, in fact, President Obama’s insistence on a settlement freeze as a pre-condition to negotiations, more than anything else, that doomed his administration’s peace-making efforts. That stand emboldened Palestinian extremists, damaged the PA’s ability to negotiate, and forced Israelis to question the sincerity of the administration’s friendship.
    With that immediate history in mind, we are concerned that when President Obama speaks of “the 1967 borders,” he means borders for Israel that are much less secure and defensible and that put Israel at risk. – RJCHQ, 5-19-11
  • B’nai B’rith International commends and critiques: B’nai B’rith International commends President Obama for clearly reiterating U.S. support for Israel. The president noted the relationship between the United States and Israel is rooted in shared history and values and he strongly asserted that the commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable, while he affirmed that Israel is a Jewish state.
    It was also encouraging that the president spoke against unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, a measure the Palestinians are planning to bring before the United Nations in September….
    B’nai B’rith is concerned that the president is prejudging the outcome of the peace process by publicly calling for pre-1967 borders as a basis for a Palestinian state, with land swaps. Discussion about this difficult issue should be reserved for direct negotiations between the parties.
    Though he noted the issue of Palestinian refugees, B’nai B’rith is disappointed that the president failed to mention the one million Jewish refugees created at the same time. The issue of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is often overlooked. JTA, 5-19-11
  • Reactions to Obama’s Middle East speechLAT, 5-19-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, on Fox News: “This is a radical shift in US policy toward Israel. Frankly, the 1967 lines are not defensible. …… Israel today is 45 miles wide. You put us back to the ’67 lines, we are eight miles wide.”
  • Politico Arena: Did Obama lay out cohesive Middle East policy?Politico, 5-19-11
  • Was Obama’s speech too tough on Israel? Republican criticism mounts: Congressional appropriators voiced doubts about some aspects of Obama’s speech. But the most pointed criticism was from the GOP. ‘Obama has thrown Israel under the bus,’ Mitt Romney said…. – CS Monitor, 5-19-11
  • Tevi Troy: Three Reasons That Obama’s Speech Will Worry the Jewish Community: Laura Meckler had a piece in this morning’s Wall Street Journal about Jewish donors’ warning Obama not to push Israel too hard in his Middle East speech today. If she’s right about Jewish discomfort with Obama’s Middle East policies — and I think she is — Jewish donors and voters alike will not be comforted by Obama’s speech.
    There were three main problems with the address. The first is the way in which Obama explained the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It is notable that when Obama said, “Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks,” he put the Israeli action first. A plausible interpretation of this is that, in Obama’s view, Palestinians walked away as a result of Israel’s settlement activity, and the Palestinian walkaway is therefore justified.
    Second is that Obama did not demand an end to Palestinian misbehavior so much as predict, in a removed way, that such behavior will not serve them well:
    For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.
    Compare this with Bush’s starker and more direct words on the subject in his June 24, 2002, speech:
    And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
    When it comes to Israel, however, Obama returns to demand, rather than predictive, mode, saying that “Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.
    Third, Obama placed few limits on his support for a two-state solution. He also minimized Israel’s security concerns and limited Israel’s negotiating leverage by calling for a state with 1967 borders, instead of letting the parties themselves hash out the parameters. Again, compare this with the words of Bush, who rightly made American support for a Palestinian state contingent on concrete Palestinian actions:
    If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine.
    All of this is not accidental. Presidential speeches are written and rewritten so that they convey specific messages.
    For these reasons, Obama has ample reason to worry about a poor reception when he speaks to a very pro-Israel audience at AIPAC this Sunday. In addition, Obama’s campaign goal of raising $1 billion becomes much harder if he loses major Jewish fundraisers. While Bush’s 2004 improvement in the polls among American Jews was relatively small — from 19 percent support in 2000 to 24 percent in 2004 — Bush also poached a number of significant fundraisers from the Democratic side because of his pro-Israel stance.
    Finally, Obama has reason to fear a poorer showing in the overall Jewish vote in 2012. More important, though, it’s not just Jewish voters Obama needs to worry about. Polls have consistently shown that Americans in general are supportive of Israel. Jews are only 2 percent of the population, but the percentage of Israel backers who will be going to the polls in 2012 will be much higher. – NRO, 5-19-11
  • Snap analysis: Obama’s Mideast speech had political message too: It may not have been a campaign speech, but President Barack Obama’s foreign policy address on Thursday sent a series of political messages that could resonate in his 2012 race to retain the White House.
    Standing in front of a row of American flags at the State Department, Obama directed his comments on U.S. policy to populations throughout the Middle East and North Africa, offering economic and political support for democratic reform.
    But the president had another target audience: voters at home.
    By spelling out U.S. positions on the war in Libya, violence in Syria, and roadblocks in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Obama addressed specific interest groups and crucial independent voters who use foreign policy as a criteria at the ballot box.
    Here is a look at the political implications of Obama’s speech:
    1) Prodding the peace process forward….
    2) Showing leadership on Libya — and Syria?…
    3) Using the optics…
    4) Making the Arab Spring relevant to America…. – Reuters, 5-19-11
  • In Obama’s Middle East Speech, a little something for everyone to hate: President Barack Obama may have impressed much of the Arab world with his 2009 Cairo speech. But today’s effort won’t be remembered nearly as fondly…. – CS Monitor, 5-19-11
  • President Obama Rewards Hamas: President Obama delivered an unprecedented rebuke of the Israeli people by an American president today. In words that were designed to reach more Muslim citizens than United States citizens, Obama called Israel’s legitimate West Bank settlements an “occupation”; and by calling for a return to the 1967 borders, he is calling for a divided Jerusalem. He continued to press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and, subsequently, with the “unity government” the PA has formed with the terrorist group, Hamas.
    It’s extremely troubling that President Obama would side with the Palestinian Authority in an effort to jump-start peace talks in the Middle East. President Obama is not the negotiator-in-chief for the Middle East and to make sweeping demands and characterizations not only hurts the peace process but also damages U.S.-Israeli relations.
    For decades, Israel has been our most important ally in the region. Sadly, with the President’s remarks, and decision to side with the Palestinian Authority, it appears he no longer believes that is the case. By endorsing the “unity government” he has rewarded Hamas – a terrorist organization that calls for the elimination of the Jews…. – Liberty Alerts, American Center for Law and Justice, 5-19-11
  • Obama speech greeted with skepticism, apathy in Mideast: President Obama’s vow that the United States will “stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights” in the Middle East was received with a mix of apathy and skepticism by people in the region who watched the speech Thursday night.
    Some said they saw little news or any discernible shift in policy from an administration that has struggled to formulate a coherent response to the wave of popular uprisings roiling the region this spring.
    “My hope was for an unqualified apology” for Obama’s perceived support of dictators, said Hossam Bahgat, a Cairo human rights activist who was among a handful of people who got up from his table to watch the speech at a popular downtown cafe. “And I thought only Obama could do that.”
    Baghat said he was expecting stronger words from a president who delivered a speech at Cairo University two years ago that left many in the Middle East feeling that the United States was backing away from its commitment to support democratic reform in the region.
    “The overwhelming sense was one of deja vu,” Bahgat said. “I kept waiting for Cairo II, but all I heard was Cairo I.”… – WaPo, 5-19-11
  • Digesting Obama’s speech—some goes down easy, some hard: Within hours of President Obama’s Middle East policy speech, Israeli leaders and Jewish groups on the left and right were picking through his remarks on Israel, alternately praising, fretting and criticizing.
    The big news was that Obama called for negotiations based on the pre-1967 lines, with land swaps.
    “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states,” he said.
    That prompted a round of fretting in Israel and among some American Jewish groups: Why did he say 1967 instead of 1949, when Israel’s armistice lines were established? Why did Obama bring up borders at all? Is there a difference between “lines” and “borders?”
    Obama also said negotiations should start by focusing on territory and security; the status of Jerusalem and the question of Palestinian refugees would come later. That prompted another round of fretting about those two issues.
    But there was also relief. Israel and Jewish groups were pleased Obama said he’s not happy about Fatah’s pact with Hamas. He talked about Israel as a Jewish state, and rejected “delegitimization.” He talked about a demilitarized Palestine.
    What was missing in all the Thursday afternoon quarterbacking was the bigger picture: Obama talked about Israeli-Palestinian peace as part of his larger speech on U.S. policy in the region because he believes consideration of the Middle East is impossible without advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace.
    “At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever,” Obama said. “That’s certainly true for the two parties involved.”
    Obama believes U.S. interests in the region will be advanced through democratization and development, but that it won’t happen unless the Israelis and the Palestinians get it together.
    The rebuke to Israelis and Palestinians for failing to reach accord was implicit but unmistakable at a time when the Palestinians and Israelis appear determined to go divergent ways. Israel’s government would prefer incremental advances to an interim solution, while the Palestinians appear to be seeking unilateral statehood by September.
    The rebuke is all the sharper on the eve of a visit to Washington by Benjamin Netanyahu; the Israeli prime minister had hoped the meeting would help restore the focus to the threat of Iran.
    Netanyahu’s statement in response to Obama’s speech knocked back the president’s key demands, point by point.
    “The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state,” Netanyahu said, a direct reference to Obama’s call for a “viable Palestine, a secure Israel.”
    The Israeli leader went on to make it clear that the speech did not go far enough in extending reassurances that the Obama administration would protect Israel’s interests during negotiations.
    Netanyahu wanted Obama to go as far as President George W. Bush did in 2004.
    “Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress,” the statement said.
    In his letter that year, Bush called it “unrealistic” to expect Israel to return major population centers, although he, like Obama, said the final-status negotiations should include mutually agreed land swaps. Netanyahu apparently wants to hear the same moral support for retaining some settlements that his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, extracted from Bush.
    Also of concern for Netanyahu was how Obama left out Bush’s rejection of a Palestinian “right of return.” All Obama would say was that the issues of refugees and Jerusalem were “wrenching and emotional” and should be left for later.
    Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League national director, praised the speech as a “strong outline of principles” but said Obama didn’t get what the stakes of the refugee issue are for Israel.
    “Jerusalem is emotional, yes,” he said. “Refugees is not emotional — it’s strategic.” – JTA, 5-19-11
  • Jonathan S. Tobin: Obama on Thin Ice With Jewish Voters: The White House has gotten the message that even many stalwart Jewish Democratic donors are not happy with his attitude toward Israel. Should he decide to make Israel pay for a “reset” with the Arab world, the backlash will not be inconsiderable.
    As the Journal rightly notes, most Jews are not one-issue voters. Most are liberals as well as partisan Democrats who care more about other issues, which means Obama is likely to retain a majority of Jewish votes in 2012 no matter what he does to Israel. But his advisors understand that another blow-up with Israel will hurt vital fundraising efforts. It could also cost him some Jewish votes. Even an increase in the Jewish vote going to the GOP from McCain’s paltry 22 percent to a number in the mid-30s could be important in pivotal states like Pennsylvania and Florida.
    Obama can, as he will in his speech to AIPAC on Sunday, point to the fact that the strategic alliance with Israel has not been weakened on his watch with respect to aid aimed at improving Israel’s defenses. Despite his hostility to Israel’s government and his foolish persistence in believing that more Israeli concessions will convince intransigent Palestinians to make peace, he has avoided a complete meltdown with Jerusalem though that is largely because Netanyahu has refused to take the bait and snipe back. But, if, as the Journal reports, over 40 percent of Jews would consider voting for someone other than Obama next year, the president must weigh the dubious diplomatic benefits of pressuring Israel against the certainty that such a policy will come with a not inconsiderable political price tag. – Commentary, 5-19-11
  • Obama and the Jews, 2012: You know the 2012 presidential race has started when… you start seeing stories about whether President Obama has to worry about losing Jewish votes and Jewish money.
    Check out this headline from The Wall Street Journal: “Jewish Donors Warn Obama on Israel.”
    The story is short on any examples of one-time major Obama supporters who have or are considering pulling their support.
    That said, it quotes at least one major Obama backers who have warned that campaign that it may have a problem:
    One top Democratic fund-raiser, Miami developer Michael Adler, said he urged Obama campaign manager Jim Messina to be “extremely proactive” in countering the perception in the Jewish community that Mr. Obama is too critical of Israel. He said his conversations with Mr. Messina were aimed at addressing the problems up front. “This was going around finding out what our weaknesses are so we can run the best campaign,” said Mr. Adler, who hosted a fund-raiser at his home for Mr. Obama earlier this year. …

    The WSJ also reports that top Friend of Obama Penny Pritzker has been tapped to look into the issue — though it’s unclear if this is a well-run campaign doing its homework or reflects a “Houston we have a problem” mode:
    The Obama campaign has asked Penny Pritzker, Mr. Obama’s 2008 national finance chairwoman, to talk with Jewish leaders about their concerns, Ms. Pritzker said. So far, she said, she’s met with about a half dozen people. She said the campaign is in the process of assembling a larger team for similar outreach.

    Ken Solomon, an Obama fund-raiser and CEO of the Tennis Channel, told WSJ that “any problems were minimal and that most Jewish voters were concerned about many issues, not just Israel.”
    Meanwhile, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is quoted as saying Obama could face a problem with unhappy Jewish donors sitting on their hands and their wallets:
    “It’s that people hold back, people don’t have the enthusiasm and are not rushing forward at fund-raisers to be supportive,” he said. “Much more what you’ll see is holding back now.” – JTA, 5-19-11

  • DANNY DANON: Making the Land of Israel Whole: OVER the past few months, analysts in Israel and abroad have warned that Israel will face what Defense Minister Ehud Barak has termed a “diplomatic tsunami.” In September, the Palestinian Authority plans to bring the recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 boundary to the United Nations General Assembly for a vote. The Palestinians’ request will almost certainly be approved.
    While most voices in the Israeli and international news media are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to grant major concessions to the Palestinians to forestall such a move, he should in fact do the opposite: he should annex the Jewish communities of the West Bank, or as Israelis prefer to refer to our historic heartland, Judea and Samaria.
    In 1995, as part of the Oslo accords, Israel and the Palestinians agreed that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” If the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and prime minister, Salam Fayyad, decide to disregard this section of the accords by seeking United Nations recognition of statehood, it would mean that Israel, too, is no longer bound by its contents and is freed to take unilateral action.
    The first immediate implication would be that all of the diplomatic and security assistance that Israel provides to the Palestinians would be halted, and the transfer of tax revenues — upward of $1 billion per year — would end permanently. This alone could threaten the very existence of the Palestinian Authority.
    Second, a United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood would give Israel an opportunity to rectify the mistake we made in 1967 by failing to annex all of the West Bank (as we did the eastern half of Jerusalem). We could then extend full Israeli jurisdiction to the Jewish communities and uninhabited lands of the West Bank. This would put an end to a legal limbo that has existed for 44 years.
    In addition to its obvious ideological and symbolic significance, legalizing our hold on the West Bank would also increase the security of all Israelis by depriving terrorists of a base and creating a buffer against threats from the east. Moreover, we would be well within our rights to assert, as we did in Gaza after our disengagement in 2005, that we are no longer responsible for the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, who would continue to live in their own — unannexed — towns.
    These Palestinians would not have the option to become Israeli citizens, therefore averting the threat to the Jewish and democratic status of Israel by a growing Palestinian population.
    While naysayers will no doubt warn us of the dire consequences and international condemnation that are sure to follow such a move by Israel, this would not be the first time that Israel has made such controversial decisions…. – NYT, 5-19-11
  • LAURA MECKLER: Jewish Donors Warn Obama on Israel: Jewish donors and fund-raisers are warning the Obama re-election campaign that the president is at risk of losing financial support because of concerns about his handling of Israel.
    The complaints began early in President Barack Obama’s term, centered on a perception that Mr. Obama has been too tough on Israel.
    Some Jewish donors say Mr. Obama has pushed Israeli leaders too hard to halt construction of housing settlements in disputed territory, a longstanding element of U.S. policy. Some also worry that Mr. Obama is putting more pressure on the Israelis than the Palestinians to enter peace negotiations, and say they are disappointed Mr. Obama has not visited Israel yet.
    One top Democratic fund-raiser, Miami developer Michael Adler, said he urged Obama campaign manager Jim Messina to be “extremely proactive” in countering the perception in the Jewish community that Mr. Obama is too critical of Israel.
    He said his conversations with Mr. Messina were aimed at addressing the problems up front. “This was going around finding out what our weaknesses are so we can run the best campaign,” said Mr. Adler, who hosted a fund-raiser at his home for Mr. Obama earlier this year…. – WSJ, 5-19-11
  • Deciphering Obama’s mideast speech: President Obama’s speech on the Middle East this morning is an attempt to put the Arab Spring into context– and also, in effect, to hit the “reset button” on U.S. policy in the region. Administration officials say they have tried to tackle each uprising in a deliberate fashion, with a

Texas Rep. Ron Paul announces candidacy for president

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

Texas Rep. Ron Paul announced on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that he will seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas campaigns with his son, Rand Paul for the Senate in Kentucky on October 2, 2010.Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

  • Tea party godfather Ron Paul running for president: Texas Rep. Ron Paul announced today that he will run for the GOP nomination for president in 2012, the third attempt for the man known on Capitol Hill as “Dr. No” for his enthusiasm for bashing runaway spending and government overreach…. – AP, 5-13-11
  • Ron Paul enters the race: Texas Rep. Ron Paul announced Friday that he will run for the GOP nomination for president in 2012, the third attempt for the man known on Capitol Hill as “Dr. No.”… – WaPo, 5-13-11
  • Rep. Paul Launches 2012 Bid, Hopes Third Time’s the Charm (The Morning Line): Rep. Ron Paul made it official Friday, becoming the second full-fledged presidential candidate in the GOP’s 2012 field, coming on the heels of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s move Wednesday…. – PBS Newshour, 5-13-11
  • Does the Tea Party Make Ron Paul Mainstream?: Ron Paul was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool. A candidate of the fringe and the Libertarian college-age set in 2008, the 75-year-old representative from Texas announced his second run for the Republican nomination for president during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday.
    But if Mr. Paul remains the same, blunt-spoken, small-government rabble-rouser that he was four years ago, he and his top aides are betting that the times — and the Republican primary electorate — have changed in the interim.
    “Time has come around to where the people are agreeing with much of what I’ve been saying for 30 years,” Mr. Paul said on ABC. “The time is right.” – NYT, 5-13-11
  • Ron Paul announces 2012 Presidential run. Ten things to know about him: Ron Paul is hoping the third time’s the charm. The Texas congressman declared his (third) candidacy for president Friday on ‘Good Morning America.’ The ‘intellectual grandfather’ of the tea party movement is a constitutional purist who’s as popular among his fervent followers as he is disliked by the GOP establishment. He’s a dark horse pushing for an upset victory….. CS Monitor, 5-13-11

May 9, 2011: Newt Gingrich Plans Republican Presidential Candidacy Announcement on Wednesday

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Spokesman: Newt Gingrich to announce presidential bid Wednesday via Facebook and Twitter
  • Gingrich to announce run for White House: Newt Gingrich’s Republican allies from his days as House speaker welcomed the news Monday that he plans to formally launch his presidential campaign Wednesday. Former Louisiana representative Bob Livingston, who was to succeed Gingrich as speaker in 1998, said that Gingrich would be an exciting addition to the field and that he would likely support the Georgia Republican.
    “Will he immediately unify everybody in the country? Probably not,” Livingston said. “But I think that he’s got a better understanding of some of the deeper issues that affect the country than most candidates do, and for that reason, I think it’s a good idea that he’s running.”
    Gingrich plans to announce his candidacy via Facebook and Twitter, according to spokesman Rick Tyler. Gingrich will follow those social media announcements with an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, a speech at the Georgia Republican Party Convention on Friday and an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday…. – USA Today, 5-9-11
  • Gingrich expected to announce candidacy in wake of Paul’s Iowa visit, office opening: Former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich is expected to officially announce his presidential candidacy for 2012 Wednesday, according to his Facebook page.
    “I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run. Thank you for your support. Be sure to watch Hannity this Wednesday at 9pm ET/8pm CT. I will be on to talk about my run for President of the United States,” said the Facebook message.
    Gingrich’s announcement will come a day after fellow potential GOP presidential contender and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, visits Iowa to open a campaign office in Ankeny. Paul participated in last week’s debate in South Carolina, but has yet to officially declare his candidacy for 2012…. – Iowa Independent, 5-9-11
  • Gingrich joins Republican presidential field Former House speaker has name recognition, but carries some negative political baggage: Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Republican powerhouse in the 1990s, announced that he was joining the race for the party’s presidential nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. He also brings considerable negative political baggage: three marriages, resignation under an ethics cloud while leader of the House and a tendency to shoot-from-the-hip when speaking.
    In 1994, Gingrich led the Republican Party to its first House majority in 40 years. But any Republican candidate could face insurmountable difficulties in defeating the incumbent Obama, who remains personally popular with Americans and has seen his job approval rating rise notably in the early days after the killing of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden…. – AP, MSNBC, 5-10-11
  • Gingrich Run Reflects His Sense of History: Whatever can Newt Gingrich be thinking? That’s the question a lot of political handicappers are asking now that Newt, as he is universally known in Washington, has decided to enter the 2012 campaign, with an announcement expected on Wednesday. Until recently, most of my colleagues assumed that the former speaker of the House, who flirted with running four years ago, was merely doing the same thing now, just to stay in the news….. – NYT, 5-10-11
  • Gingrich Set to Run, With Wife in Central Role: Callista Bisek’s friends from rural Wisconsin were stunned when, well over a decade ago, she confided that she was secretly dating an older, married man: Newt Gingrich. Still in her 20s when they met, Ms. Bisek had been raised in a town of 1,500, the only child of a meat packer and a secretary. A churchgoing Roman Catholic, she had attended a Lutheran college where she practiced piano five hours a day. “Is this the wisest course for you to be taking?” Karen Olson, her best friend, recalled asking.
    Today, Ms. Bisek is Mrs. Gingrich, married for 11 years, but perhaps best remembered for the six-year affair that contributed to her husband’s political downfall. His critics cast Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, as a hypocrite who sought to impeach a president over infidelity while engaging in it himself with Ms. Bisek, who was a Congressional aide…. – NYT, 5-10-11
  • Bio Box: 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich — AP NAME: Newton Leroy Gingrich
    AGE: 67. Born in Harrisburg, Pa.; June 17, 1943.
    EDUCATION: B.A. History, Emory University; M.A. and Ph.D., Tulane University,
    FAMILY: Wife, Callista, Two daughters, Kathy Gingrich Lubbers and Jackie Gingrich Cushman, from his first marriage.
    CAREER: Taught history at West Georgia College in Carrollton, Ga. Also taught at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. Elected to Congress in 1978. Re-elected 10 times. In 1994, Gingrich led Republicans to control of the U.S. House and was elected speaker. He stepped down from Congress in 1999. Gingrich has formed a network of business and not-for-profit groups. He has written numerous books, made documentary films and worked as a political commentator for Fox News.
    QUOTE: “Our best leaders have reminded us that we have a moral obligation to the cause of freedom and that the cause of freedom is the cause of all mankind.”
  • Newt Gingrich to (finally) make it official: Politico Arena, 5-9-11

May 5, 2011: Obama Visits 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/5/11

STATS & POLLS

  • For Obama, Big Rise in Poll Numbers After Bin Laden Raid: Support for President Obama rose sharply after the killing of Osama bin Laden, with a majority now approving of his overall job performance, as well as his handling of foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
    The glow of national pride seemed to rise above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46 percent last month.
    But euphoria was tempered by a sense of foreboding: more than six in 10 Americans said that killing Bin Laden was likely to increase the threat of terrorism against the United States in the short term. A large majority also said that the Qaeda leader’s death did not make them feel any safer. Just 16 percent said they personally felt more safe now…. – NYT, 5-5-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama giving NY its moment of justice on bin Laden: From the heart of the shocking terror strike on America, President Barack Obama will try to bury the memory of Osama bin Laden by honoring those who died in the fiery Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In private talks with families and a somber ceremony at ground zero, Obama is out to let New York have its own moment of justice. Obama heads to New York City on Thursday after sharply rejecting calls for him to release photos of a slain bin Laden so the world could see some proof of death. The president said he would not risk giving propaganda to extremists or gloat by publicizing grotesque photos of a terrorist leader shot in the head. To those who keep on doubting, Obama said, “You will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • Obama in NY: We never forget, we mean what we say: Solemnly honoring victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, President Barack Obama hugged survivors, thanked the heroes of one of the nation’s darkest days and declared Thursday that the killing of Osama bin Laden after all these years was an American message to the world: “When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.” On a brilliant blue-sky day, one of reflection more than celebration, Obama offered New Yorkers a moment of their own. Standing at the gritty construction site of ground zero, where the towers fell and a memorial now rises, the president laid a wreath of red, white and blue flowers for the nearly 3,000 who died as he marked a turning point for the nation and this city of steely resilience. For Obama, the day was about the importance of being in New York in the aftermath of the successful raid to find and kill bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader. Obama addressed families who have watched and wondered for nearly a decade whether the government would track down its most infamous enemy…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • In NYC, Obama says Osama mission ‘sent a message': Visiting New York just days after the mastermind of the 2001 attack on the city was killed U.S. special forces, President Obama on Thursday told police and firefighters the terrorist’s death is proof that American justice has a long reach. In surprise visits to the “Pride of Midtown” firehouse, which lost 15 men in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks nearly a decade ago, and then later at the 1st Precinct police station in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Obama said the Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden Sunday in Pakistan did it “in the name of your brothers that were lost.”
    “What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say,” the president told the firefighters. He also visited with family members of victims of the attack and laid a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. Along the roads his motorcade was greeted by cheering crowds… – Washington Times, 5-5-11
  • After bin Laden death, Obama visits Ground Zero: Days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama met New York firefighters and police on Thursday and visited Ground Zero to offer comfort to a city still scarred by the September 11 attacks. His predecessor, George W. Bush, just three days after hijacked planes destroyed the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, had stood bullhorn in hand in the smoldering wreckage to declare, “The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” Almost a decade later, in a bookend to that historic visit, Obama came to New York to say that promise had been kept. He said the killing of bin Laden told the world “that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.”
    Obama visited Engine 54 in midtown, which with 15 deaths lost more members on 9/11 than any other firehouse, before heading to Lower Manhattan to talk with police and lay a wreath at Ground Zero, the Twin Towers site, where he also met with victims’ families. Obama told firefighters at the “Pride of Manhattan” firehouse, “I wanted to just come here to thank you.” “This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago,” he said. “It didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act — ‘ that they received justice…. – Reuters, 5-5-11

QUOTES

  • The President in NYC: “When We Say We Will Never Forget, We Mean What We Say”:
    To the firefighters: This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago. Obviously we can’t bring back your friends that were lost, and I know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them, but have also over the last 10 years dealt with their family, their children, trying to give them comfort, trying to give them support.
    What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say; that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party; it didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act — that they received justice.
    So it’s some comfort, I hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those extraordinary risks going into Pakistan, that they were doing it in part because of the sacrifices that were made in the States. They were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost.To the police: And so since that time I know a lot of you have probably comforted loved ones of those who were lost. A lot of you have probably looked after kids who grew up without a parent. And a lot of you continue to do extraordinary — extraordinarily courageous acts without a lot of fanfare. What we did on Sunday was directly connected to what you do every single day. And I know I speak for the military teams, the intelligence teams that helped get bin Laden in saying that we know the sacrifices and courage that you show as well, and that you are part of the team that helped us achieve our goal, but also help us keep our citizens safe each and every day.
    So I couldn’t be prouder of all of you. I couldn’t be more grateful to you. And I hope that you know that the country will continue to stand behind you going forward, because there are still going to be threats out there and you’re still going to be called on to take courageous actions and to remain vigilant, and you’re going to have an entire country behind you when you do it. – WH, 5-5-11

April 30, 2011: Obama Punks Trump, Adversaries at White House Correspondents Dinner

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama hit on everyone from Donald Trump to Matt Damon. | Reuters

IN FOCUS: WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ DINNER

  • In his speech, Barack Obama trumps adversaries: On his way into the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night, Donald Trump made a bold prediction: “I wouldn’t think [Obama] would address me.”
    Trump, who continues to boast his presidential aspirations, was one of the dinner’s highest-profile attendees, but he also bore the brunt of the burns from both the night’s two entertainers: President Barack Obama and “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers.
    “Donald Trump is here tonight,” said Obama. “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, ‘Did we fake the moon landing?’ ‘What really happened on Roswell?’ And ‘Where are Biggie and Tupac?'”…. – Politico, 4-30-11
  • The Top Five Zingers at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner: “Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well Matt, I just saw ‘The Adjustment Bureau,’ so right back at ya, buddy.” – Barack Obama
    [After showing a clip of ‘The Lion King’] “I want to make this clear to the Fox News table: That was a joke. That was not my real birth video. That was a children’s cartoon. Call Disney if you don’t believe me. They have the original long-form version.” – Barack Obama
    Jon Hamm looks the way every Republican thinks they look. Zach Galifianakis is also here. Zack Galifianakis looks the way every Republican thinks every Democrat looks. – Seth Meyers
    Donald Trump has been saying he will run for president as a Republican – which is surprising since I just assumed he would be running as a joke. – Seth Meyers
    “[Trump has] said he’s got a great relationship with ‘the blacks.’ Unless the Blacks are a family of white people, I bet he’s mistaken.” – Seth Meyers
  • Obama’s White House correspondents dinner act shatters YouTube record: With nearly 7 million views in just five days, President Obama’s speech at the White House correspondents dinner Saturday is now the most-watched Obama public speech on YouTube, C-SPAN said Thursday. The video shows Obama poking fun at the recent birth certificate controversy and his reliance on a teleprompter. But perhaps its biggest selling point is Obama’s roasting of would-be presidential rival Donald Trump…. – YouTubeLAT, 5-5-11
  • Obama video at press dinner reaches top of YouTube list: President Obama’s skewering of Donald Trump at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner last week didn’t just produce a lot of laughs — it also went viral. The president’s comedy routine, captured by C-SPAN, is now the most-watched YouTube video of Obama speaking in public. The video from the April 30 dinner has been viewed more than 6.7 million times on YouTube, surpassing then-candidate Obama’s speech about race relations in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008. President Obama poked fun at his potential rivals at the 2011 White House correspondents dinner. C-SPAN just happened to be the designated TV camera at the event, providing “pool” coverage for all networks. Howard Mortman, communications director for C-SPAN, notes that it only took the dinner video five days to reach the No. 1 “Obama video” spot on YouTube…. – USA Today, 5-5-11
  • “The President’s Speech” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner: We also need to remember our neighbors in Alabama and across the South that have been devastated by terrible storms from last week. (Applause.) Michelle and I were down there yesterday, and we’ve spent a lot of time with some of the folks who have been affected. The devastation is unimaginable and is heartbreaking and it’s going to be a long road back. And so we need to keep those Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers. But we also need to stand with them in the hard months and perhaps years to come.
    I intend to make sure that the federal government does that. And I’ve got faith that the journalists in this room will do their part for the people who have been affected by this disaster –- by reporting on their progress, and letting the rest of America know when they will need more help. Those are stories that need telling. And that’s what all of you do best, whether it’s rushing to the site of a devastating storm in Alabama, or braving danger to cover a revolution in the Middle East.
    You know, in the last months, we’ve seen journalists threatened, arrested, beaten, attacked, and in some cases even killed simply for doing their best to bring us the story, to give people a voice, and to hold leaders accountable. And through it all, we’ve seen daring men and women risk their lives for the simple idea that no one should be silenced, and everyone deserves to know the truth.
    That’s what you do. At your best that’s what journalism is. That’s the principle that you uphold. It is always important, but it’s especially important in times of challenge, like the moment that America and the world is facing now. – WH, 4-30-11

April 28, 2011: President Obama Announces New National Security Team

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 4/28/11

IN FOCUS: OBAMA NAMES NEW NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM

  • Officials: Obama to shuffle national security team: The White House says President Barack Obama will make personnel announcements Thursday, and officials tell The Associated Press the president will unveil a major shuffling of his national security team…. – AP, 4-28-11
  • A look at Obama’s new national security team: The main figures in President Barack Obama’s national security shuffle….
    LEON PANETTA, 72…
    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, 58…
    RYAN CROCKER, 61…
    MARINE CORPS LT. GEN. JOHN R. ALLEN, 57 –
    AP, 4-28-11
  • Obama’s day: A new war council: This afternoon, Obama will unveil a national security team, formally nominating CIA Director Leon Panetta to be the new secretary of Defense to replace the retiring Robert Gates. Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, will move to the CIA to replace Panetta. USA TODAY notes that Obama “may be reshuffling his national security team, but he’s sticking to the same game plan: fighting insurgents and terrorists with a closely coordinated military-intelligence complex.”… – USA Today, 4-28-11
  • >In one stroke, a new Obama national security team: The reshuffled national security team President Barack Obama introduced on Thursday will be charged with fighting not only the overseas war in Afghanistan but also budget battles on the home front over Pentagon spending that has ballooned into a fat target for deficit hawks. His own re-election campaign approaching, Obama turned to a cast of familiar and respected officials for the most sweeping reworking of his national security team since the opening weeks of his presidency. He invoked the political upheaval and violence roiling the Middle East, the nearly 10-year-old Afghan war and the hard cost-cutting decisions ahead as the country tries to reduce its crushing debt.
    “Given the pivotal period that we’re entering, I felt that it was absolutely critical that we had this team in place so that we can stay focused on our missions, maintain our momentum and keep our nation secure,” Obama said at the White House…. – AP, 4-28-11
  • Panetta and Petraeus in Line for Top Security Posts: President Obama will reshuffle his national security team on Thursday, naming Leon E. Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as defense secretary and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, to lead the C.I.A., administration officials said Wednesday. The appointments, set in motion by the impending retirement of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, are the most significant realignment of Mr. Obama’s war council and could have important implications for the American strategy in Afghanistan as well as for the troubled relationship with Pakistan…. – NYT, 4-27-11
  • Obama sending Panetta to Pentagon, Petraeus to CIA: In a major national security reshuffle, President Barack Obama is sending CIA Director Leon Panetta to the Pentagon to replace Robert Gates, a widely praised Bush holdover, and replacing Panetta at the spy agency with Gen. David Petraeus, the high-profile commander of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Obama’s changes, expected to be announced at the White House on Thursday, also will include a new ambassador and war commander in Afghanistan. However, they don’t signal any major adjustment in the president’s Afghan strategy or the fight against violent extremism. The moves cement a planned drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in July and allow Obama to replace Gates, a Republican, with a Democrat with partisan credentials. That appointment also diminishes speculation that Petraeus might become a Republican presidential challenger in 2012…. – AP, 4-27-11
  • President Obama Announces New Members of his National Security Team: I want to begin by saying a few words about the devastating storms that have ripped through the southeastern United States. The loss of life has been heartbreaking, especially in Alabama. In a matter of hours, these deadly tornadoes, some of the worst that we’ve seen in decades, took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, even entire communities. Others are injured and some are still missing, and in many places the damage to homes and businesses is nothing short of catastrophic.
    We can’t control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it. And I want every American who has been affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover. And we will stand with you as you rebuild….
    Still, we confront urgent challenges. In Iraq we’re working to bring the rest of our troops home as Iraqis secure their democracy. In Afghanistan we’re moving into a new phase, transferring responsibility for security to Afghan forces, starting to reduce American forces this summer, and building a long-term partnership with the Afghan people.
    As people across the Middle East and North Africa seek to determine their own destiny, we must ensure that America stands with those who seek their universal rights, and that includes continuing to support the international effort to protect the Libyan people. And here at home, as we make the hard decisions that are needed to reduce America’s debt, we cannot compromise our ability to defend our nation or our interests around the world…. – WH, 4-28-11Transcript

April 28, 2011: President Obama Silences “Birthers” & Donald Trump by Releasing Birth Certificate

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: BIRTHER’S, TRUMP & PRESIDENT OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE

  • WH calls questions on Obama birthplace distraction: The White House says questions about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate are an unfortunate distraction when so many other serious issues like high gas prices are bedeviling the country.
    Press Secretary Jay Carney said in response to a reporter’s questions Tuesday that most Americans “would be appalled” that White House officials are spending any time discussing Obama’s birth certificate given numerous other problems to contend with…. – AP, 4-26-11
  • Obama, hoping to end ‘sideshow,’ offers birth form: Confronting growing doubts that could undermine his re-election bid, President Barack Obama on Wednesday delivered an extraordinary rebuttal to those questioning whether he was born in the United States and eligible to hold office, producing a detailed birth certificate and pleading for a long “sideshow” to end…. – AP, 4-27-11
  • Obama Releases ‘Long Form’ Birth Certificate: President Obama on Wednesday posted online a copy of his “long form” birth certificate from the State of Hawaii, hoping to finally end a long-simmering conspiracy theory among some conservatives who have asserted that he was not born in the United States and was not a legitimate president….
    “The president believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country,” Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, wrote on the Web site Wednesday morning. Mr. Pfeiffer said on the site that Mr. Obama had authorized officials in Hawaii, who had routinely made available a shorter version of the birth certificate, to release the longer, more complete document.
    “Over the last two and a half years, I have watched with bemusement,” President Obama said in brief remarks at the White House. “I’ve been puzzled by the degree to which this thing just kept on going.” Mr. Obama said there would be a “segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.” But he said that he was “speaking to the vast majority of the American people as well as to the press — we do not have time for this kind of silliness.”… – NYT, 4-28-11
  • Hawaii government hands over Obama’s birth records: Until this week, Hawaii officials said they wouldn’t release original birth records for anyone, under any circumstances. Even if it was President Barack Obama. Then they heard from the president himself.
    “I am writing to request two certified copies of my original certificate of live birth,” the president wrote on White House letterhead, dated April 22.
    State officials then decided to make an exception to a 2001 policy that prohibited anyone from getting a photocopy of an original birth certificate. They usually hand out computer-generated versions. Obama’s waiver was the first since 2001. Officials said it would be the last…. – AP, 4-27-11
  • Hawaii government hands over Obama’s birth records: Until this week, Hawaii officials said they wouldn’t release original birth records for anyone, under any circumstances. Even if it was President Barack Obama. Then they heard from the president himself.
    “I am writing to request two certified copies of my original certificate of live birth,” the president wrote on White House letterhead, dated April 22.
    State officials then decided to make an exception to a 2001 policy that prohibited anyone from getting a photocopy of an original birth certificate. They usually hand out computer-generated versions. Obama’s waiver was the first since 2001. Officials said it would be the last…. – AP, 4-27-11
  • In NH, Trump takes credit for Obama birth info: After weeks of suggesting Barack Obama was born in Africa, Donald Trump hastened to boast that he had forced the Democratic president to release a detailed Hawaii birth certificate disproving that claim, painting an apparent setback as a victory within minutes of arriving in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
    The developer and reality TV show host, who is considering a White House run, again showed the difficulty establishment Republicans are having in controlling the early stages of their wide-open nominating contest. He also proved himself a nimble messenger, or spinner.
    “Today I am very proud of myself because I have accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,” Trump told reporters Wednesday shortly after his black and red helicopter, emblazoned “TRUMP” on the side, touched down in Portsmouth.
    He arrived not long after the White House released the president’s long-form birth certificate from Hawaii. He said he was honored “to have played such a big role in hopefully — hopefully — getting rid of this issue. Now, we have to look at it, we have to see, is it real.”… – AP, 4-27-11
  • Analysis: Obama had no choice in ‘birther’ fight: Confronting doubters who harbor questions about his place of birth, President Barack Obama chose to defy one of his White House’s own rules: Don’t get dragged into the news skirmish of the day. This time, he decided he had to. In an extraordinary step, the White House produced a copy of his detailed Hawaii birth certificate Wednesday after obtaining a special waiver from the state to make it public. For his allies and even many of his political critics, it was about time.
    The debate over his birth was becoming a media preoccupation. Celebrity developer Donald Trump, who took the lead in sowing doubts about Obama’s birth, was gaining a following as he flirted with a Republican presidential bid. A recent poll showed two-thirds of all Republicans — and smaller percentages of independents and Democrats — believing Obama was born overseas or voicing uncertainty about his place of birth.
    Standing in front of cameras in the White House briefing room Wednesday, the president sought to rise above the fray by first succumbing to it. “We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshow and carnival barkers,” Obama said…. – AP, 4-28-11
  • Widow says husband is doctor on Obama certificate: Ivalee Sinclair learned about her husband’s brush with history at the same time as the rest of the world. On Wednesday, the widow of Honolulu obstetrician David Sinclair printed a copy of President Barack Obama’s full birth certificate from the Internet, and said she recognized the familiar left-handed cursive on the document.
    “It’s my husband’s signature,” she said referring to the name signed below that of Obama’s mother in the spot for “signature of attendant.”
    Obama released the birth certificate in response to long-running questions about whether he was actually born in the United States and eligible to be president. Sinclair, who died in 2003 at 81, had an obstetrics and gynecology practice in Honolulu and delivered babies all over Hawaii when Obama was born in 1961, said his son Karl Sinclair, 55, of Kailua…. – AP, 4-28-11
  • President Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate: In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the internet. That birth certificate can be seen here (PDF)….. – WH, 4-27-11Transcript
  • Text of Obama’s remarks on his birth certificate: The text of President Barack Obama’s remarks Wednesday about the release of his long-form birth certificate, as provided by the White House:
    Hello, everybody. Now, let me just comment, first of all, on the fact that I can’t get the networks to break in on all kinds of other discussions — (laughter.) I was just back there listening to Chuck — he was saying, it’s amazing that he’s not going to be talking about national security. I would not have the networks breaking in if I was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it.
    As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth. Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign. And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going. We’ve had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.
    We’ve posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see. People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate. And yet this thing just keeps on going.
    Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on, at any given day and I’ve got other things to do. But two weeks ago, when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.
    And so I just want to make a larger point here. We’ve got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there who are still looking for work. Everybody is still suffering under high gas prices. We’re going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions about how we invest in our future but also get a hold of our deficit and our debt — how do we do that in a balanced way.
    And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important debates. And there are going to be some fierce disagreements — and that’s good. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And I am confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have.
    But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted. We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other. We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.
    We live in a serious time right now and we have the potential to deal with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids proud. And I have every confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come out on top just like we always have. But we’re going to have to get serious to do it.
    I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them — not on this. – 4-27-11
  • Imani Perry: Some blacks see racism in ‘birther’ questions: “The stress of feeling constantly called into question, constantly under surveillance, has emotional and physical consequences for us,” said Imani Perry, a professor at Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. “It also puts us in the position of not being able to be constituents, with respect to our politicians, because we feel we have to constantly protect the president. … You see people attacking him, and he’s the president, what happens to those of us who are not the president?”… – AP, 4-28-11

Political Highlights: President Obama Answers Questions @ Facebook Townhall

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The President at a town hall meeting at Facebook HQ

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 4/20/11

IN FOCUS

  • Obama and Facebook in Warm Embrace: He introduced himself as “the guy who got Mark Zuckerberg to wear a jacket and tie.” “I’m very proud of that,” President Obama quipped as he walked onto a stage at Facebook headquarters on Wednesday, and sat next to Mr. Zuckerberg. Both men then proceeded to take off their jackets. About an hour later, Mr. Obama, whose visit here forced Silicon Valley types to button down a bit, left with a far more casual item of clothing that has become de rigueur in some tech circles: a hoodie given to him by Mr. Zuckerberg. Of course, the Facebook logo was printed on it.
    In the interim, Mr. Obama conducted a town-hall-style meeting at Facebook, and on Facebook, in front of a largely friendly audience. He took questions from company employees in a cavernous room turned into auditorium and from Facebook users over the social networking service, with Mr. Zuckerberg acting as moderator.
    Mr. Obama delivered sharp attacks against Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin who drafted a budget proposal heavy on spending cuts and tax cuts, and talked about the economy, health care, education and immigration reform. Throughout the largely staged event, Mr. Obama and Mr. Zuckerberg appeared almost chummy with each other…. – NYT, 4-20-11
  • Obama likes Facebook. Facebook likes Obama: President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg have updated their Facebook status: They are in a relationship.
    “Sorry, I’m kind of nervous,” the Facebook founder confessed to the crowd at the start of Wednesday’s town hall meeting his company arranged with the White House. “We have the president of the United States here!”….
    Obama’s appearance in Palo Alto lent the presidential seal to the company, a sign that, after its sensational rise, it is being embraced by Washington as a major corporate player. In return, Facebook’s imprimatur helps Obama restore his luster among young voters as he begins his reelection campaign.
    A Harvard University poll released last month found that 18- to 29-year-olds say they are more likely to vote for Obama than a Republican by 38 percent to 25 percent. That’s well short of 2008 levels, when he won the 18-29 demographic by 34 percentage points.
    The Facebook-inspired movie “The Social Network” was playing on Air Force One as Obama flew to California Wednesday. “As you all know, dating back to the president’s first campaign for the presidency there’s a great focus on social media,” White House press secretary Jay Carney reminded reporters aboard.
    One asked if the appearance at Facebook headquarters could “be construed as an effort to also promote Facebook.” “Absolutely not,” Carney said, in an answer that was itself something of a Facebook promotion. “I mean, Facebook has half a billion users. . . More people than you can possibly imagine.”
    Of those 500 million users, just under 45,000 were “attending” Obama’s town hall at the scheduled start time. Participation may have been suppressed by the requirement that you had to click the button saying you “like” the White House.
    “Did you know you have to ‘like’ the White House page to attend?” one user posted on the town hall page. “I have a big problem with liking anything from this White House never mind the fact that they would then have a record that we ‘liked’ them.”
    But at Facebook’s headquarters, there was no hesitation about liking Obama. “Since he’s one of the most popular people on Facebook with 19 million ‘likes,’ we feel like he’s coming home,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “So, welcome home, Mr. President.” Sanberg added, playfully: “Even though it’s Facebook, no poking the president.”…. – WaPo, 4-20-11
  • Obama, Before Facebook Crowd, Presses G.O.P. on Budget: President Obama on Wednesday opened a Western front in his war against House Republicans’ budget, telling an appreciative audience at Facebook headquarters here that the plan is radical, short-sighted and would reduce annual federal deficits at the expense of the nation’s poor and powerless. In a town-hall-style forum with the 26-year-old Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, Mr. Obama seized on a question about the House-passed budget to mount a long, withering indictment. The questioner, an employee of the social networking company, noted that some news media accounts suggested that the sponsor of the Republican budget, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, is “bold and brave” for proposing the deep spending cuts.
    “The Republican budget that was put forward I would say is fairly radical,” Mr. Obama said. “And I wouldn’t call it particularly courageous.” He added: “I do think Mr. Ryan is sincere. I think he’s a patriot. I think he wants to solve a real problem, which is our long-term deficit. But I think that what he and the other Republicans in the House of Representatives also want to do is change our social compact in a pretty fundamental way.”
    “Nothing is easier,” Mr. Obama said, “than solving a problem on the backs of people who are poor, or people who are powerless and don’t have lobbyists or don’t have clout.”… – NYT, 4-20-11
  • U.S. Finances Are ‘Unsustainable,’ Obama Says at Facebook Town Hall Event: President Barack Obama, on a cross- country trip to sell his deficit reduction plan, said yesterday that the nation’s finances are “unsustainable.” At a campaign-style town hall meeting at the headquarters of Facebook Inc., Obama described the House Republicans’ budget plan as “fairly radical” and said members of both political parties in Washington need to work together to start reducing the federal deficit in a “balanced way.” “We have an unsustainable situation,” he said. “We face a critical time where we are going to have to make some decisions — how do we bring down the debt in the short term, and how do we bring down the debt over the long term?”…. – Bloomberg, 4-20-11
  • President Obama talks tech, budget, deficit at Facebook: President Barack Obama expanded on his fiscal message Wednesday at a virtual town hall meeting at Facebook’s headquarters here. In what felt like a campaign stop, the one-hour event, which was streamed live on the White House’s Facebook page, Obama discussed the budget deficit, fiscal responsibility, investments in technology, health-care reform, the housing crisis and the power of social media.
    “If we don’t have a serious (plan) to attack the deficit, we will have an even bigger problem” of investors pulling back when the economy starts to perk up, Obama said. “We could slip back into a recession.”… – USA Today, 4-20-11
  • Obama pokes fun at Facebook’s Zuckerberg: President Obama began his “town hall” event at Facebook’s offices on Wednesday with an anecdote….. That kicked off a very cordial hour-long conversation and seemed to loosen up the sometimes chilly technology prodigy. Zuckerberg stumbled during his opening remarks. “Sorry, I’m kind of nervous,” he said after a flub in his introduction. For Obama, Wednesday was a chance to connect with both Silicon Valley influencers and young people in one poke. Throughout his answers, Obama related his typical talking points — federal deficit, education, healthcare and immigration — to those two groups…. – CNN, 4-20-11
  • Obama rips GOP budget plan at Facebook event: Hoping to rekindle excitement among younger voters, President Obama spoke at a town hall-style meeting hosted by Facebook on Wednesday and asked for help in beating back Republican budget proposals that he denigrated as “radical.”
    Obama sat on a stage next to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who served as moderator and funneled largely friendly questions to a president who makes extensive use of social media in reaching out to voters. Obama took credit for Zuckerberg’s attempt to clean up for the occasion. The 26-year-old billionaire swapped his signature hoodie for a jacket and tie. “My name is Barack Obama and I’m the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie,” he said.
    Taking questions submitted through Facebook and from an audience of company employees, Obama advised listeners not to get “frustrated’’ by protracted debates in Washington. He conceded that some of his 2008 voters might be asking why progress on many issues hasn’t come sooner. But he urged them not to give up on his agenda. “I know that some of you who might have been involved in the campaign or been energized back in 2008, you’re frustrated that, gosh, it didn’t get done fast enough and it seems like everybody’s bickering all the time,” he said. “Just remember that we’ve been through tougher times before.”… – LAT, 4-20-11
  • Obama seeks friends for deficit-reduction plan at Facebook: President Obama on Wednesday ramped up his criticism of the Republican Party’s budget proposal, calling it “radical” and “not courageous” in a town hall meeting at the headquarters of Facebook. To a generally friendly audience at the social networking Web site’s sprawling corporate campus, the president outlined how his plan to reduce the deficit through spending cuts and raising taxes on the rich would be done without sacrificing what he described as key social safety nets.
    Obama shared the stage with Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who asked questions of his own before allowing a Facebook employee to pose one. Zuckerberg then read questions submitted by users of Facebook who watched the event through a live online stream. The president’s at-times combative answers contrasted with the jocular mood of the event. “Even though it’s Facebook, no poking the president,” chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg joked, referring to a Facebook feature. When Obama said wealthy taxpayers such as Zuckerberg and himself should pay their share, the youthful Facebook CEO quipped, “I’m cool with that,” to an outburst of laughter and applause from the audience of high-tech executives, Democratic politicians and Facebook employees… – LAT, 4-20-11
  • Facebook members find Obama event ‘not great': Despite the promise that President Obama’s first Facebook town hall would open a new level of two-way communication with his constituents, social-networking technology didn’t add much to the conversation.
    Obama answered just eight questions during Wednesday’s hour-long session at Facebook’s secondary headquarters building in Palo Alto, an event that was streamed on the Facebook Live video page.
    But some of those questions came from Facebook employees who won a company lottery for the chance to sit in the live audience. That left hundreds of questions posted on the event’s Facebook wall unanswered…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 4-20-11

    QUOTES FROM TOWNHALL

President Obama with a sweatshirt given to him by Mark Zuckerberg,<br />
the founder of Facebook, at a townhall meeting in Palo Alto, Calif., on<br />
Wednesday.

Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times President Obama with a sweatshirt given to him by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, at a townhall meeting in Palo Alto, Calif., on Wednesday.

  • Obama at Facebook. Townhall transcript REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT A FACEBOOK TOWN HALL Facebook Headquarters Palo Alto, California 1:58 P.M. PDT: THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much, Facebook, for hosting this, first of all. (Applause.) My name is Barack Obama, and I’m the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie. (Applause.) Thank you. (Laughter.) I’m very proud of that. (Laughter.)
    MR. ZUCKERBERG: Second time.
    THE PRESIDENT: I know. (Laughter.) I will say — and I hate to tell stories on Mark, but the first time we had dinner together and he wore this jacket and tie, I’d say halfway through dinner he’s starting to sweat a little bit. It’s really uncomfortable for him. So I helped him out of his jacket. (Laughter.) And in fact, if you’d like, Mark, we can take our jackets off. (Applause.)
    MR. ZUCKERBERG: That’s good.
    THE PRESIDENT: Woo, that’s better, isn’t it?
    MR. ZUCKERBERG: Yes, but you’re a lot better at this stuff than me. (Laughter.)
    THE PRESIDENT: So, first of all, I just want to say thank you to all of you for taking the time — not only people who are here in the audience, but also folks all over the country and some around the world who are watching this town hall.
    The main reason we wanted to do this is, first of all, because more and more people, especially young people, are getting their information through different media. And obviously what all of you have built together is helping to revolutionize how people get information, how they process information, how they’re connecting with each other.
    And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you’ve got citizens who are informed, who are engaged. And what Facebook allows us to do is make sure this isn’t just a one-way conversation; makes sure that not only am I speaking to you but you’re also speaking back and we’re in a conversation, were in a dialogue. So I love doing town hall meetings. This format and this company I think is an ideal means for us to be able to carry on this conversation.
    And as Mark mentioned, obviously we’re having a very serious debate right now about the future direction of our country. We are living through as tumultuous a time as certainly I’ve seen in my lifetime. Admittedly, my lifetime is a lot longer than most of yours so far. This is a pretty young crowd. But we’re seeing, domestically, a whole series of challenges, starting with the worst recession we’ve had since the Great Depression. We’re just now coming out of it. We’ve got all sorts of disruptions, technological disruptions that are taking place, most of which hold the promise of making our lives a lot better, but also mean that there are a lot of adjustments that people are having to make throughout the economy.
    We still have a very high unemployment rate that is starting to come down, but there are an awful lot of people who are being challenged out there, day in, day out, worrying about whether they can pay the bills, whether they can keep their home.
    Internationally, we’re seeing the sorts of changes that we haven’t seen in a generation. We’ve got certain challenges like energy and climate change that no one nation can solve but we’re going to have to solve together. And we don’t yet have all the institutions that are in place in order to do that.
    But what makes me incredibly optimistic — and that’s why being here at Facebook is so exciting for me — is that at every juncture in our history, whenever we face challenges like this, whether it’s been the shift from a agricultural age to a industrial age, or whether it was facing the challenges of the Cold War, or trying to figure out how we make this country more fair and more inclusive, at every juncture we’ve always been able to adapt. We’ve been able to change and we’ve been able to get ahead of the curve. And that’s true today as well, and you guys are at the cutting edge of what’s happening.
    And so I’m going to be interested in talking to all of you about why this debate that we’re having around debt and our deficits is so important, because it’s going to help determine whether we can invest in our future and basic research and innovation and infrastructure that will allow us to compete in the 21st century and still preserve a safety net for the most vulnerable among us.
    But I’m also going to want to share ideas with you about how we can make our democracy work better and our politics work better — because I don’t think there’s a problem out there that we can’t solve if we decide that we’re going to solve it together.
    And for that, I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to you. And instead of just giving a lot of long speeches I want to make sure that we’ve got time for as many questions as possible.
    So, Mark, I understand you got the first one…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 4-20-11
  • Notable quotes from President Obama’s Facebook visit: “My name is Barack Obama, and I’m the first guy to get Mark Zuckerberg to wear a jacket and tie.”
    “What makes me incredible optimistic is that at every juncture in our history, we’ve always been able to adapt.”
    “The housing market is the biggest drag on the economy.”
    “If we don’t have a serious (plan) to attack the deficit, we will have an even bigger problem” of investors pulling back when the economy starts to perk up.
    “Immigration in this country has always been complicated. We are a nation of immigrants and laws. And sometimes the laws are unfair.”
    “If we bring high-skilled immigants to come here, why wouldn’t we want them to stay? They are job generators. We don’t want them starting an Intel in China or France. We want them starting them here.”
    “Our education system has to do a better job of math and science education for women, Hispanics and blacks.”
    “I want people to think of the next big Internet breakthrough as the next moon launch.”
    “We have to lift our game up for the Internet, math and science.”…. – USA Today, 4-20-11
  • The President’s Facebook Town Hall: Budgets, Values, Engagement: And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you’ve got citizens who are informed, who are engaged. And what Facebook allows us to do is make sure this isn’t just a one-way conversation; makes sure that not only am I speaking to you but you’re also speaking back and we’re in a conversation, we’re in a dialogue.
    Q Hi, Mr. President. Thank you so much for joining us today. I am originally from Detroit, Michigan, and now I’m out here working at Facebook. So my question for you kind of builds on some of the things we were just talking about. At the beginning of your term you spent a lot of time talking about job creation and the road to economic recovery, and one of the ways to do that would be substantially increasing federal investments in various areas as a way to fill the void left from consumer spending. Since then, we’ve seen the conversation shift from that of job creation and economic recovery to that of spending cuts and the deficit. So I would love to know your thoughts on how you’re going to balance these two going forward, or even potentially shift the conversation back.
    THE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re exactly right that when I first came into office our number-one job was preventing us from getting into another Great Depression. And that was what the Recovery Act was all about. So we helped states make sure that they could minimize some of the layoffs and some of the difficult budget choices that they faced. We made sure that we had infrastructure spending all around the country. And, in fact, we made the biggest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System.
    We made the largest investment in history in clean energy research, and it’s really paying off. For example, when I came into office, we had about 2 percent of the advanced battery manufacturing here in America. And as everybody here knows, what’s really holding us back from my goal of a million electric vehicles on the road is that battery technology is still tough. It’s clunky; it’s heavy; it’s expensive. And if we can make significant improvements in battery technology then I think the opportunities for electric vehicles, alternative vehicles that are much cheaper — our opportunities are limitless.
    So those were all investments that we made in the first two years. Now, the economy is now growing. It’s not growing quite as fast as we would like, because after a financial crisis, typically there’s a bigger drag on the economy for a longer period of time. But it is growing. And over the last year and a half we’ve seen almost 2 million jobs created in the private sector.
    Because this recession came at a time when we were already deeply in debt and it made the debt worse, if we don’t have a serious plan to tackle the debt and the deficit, that could actually end up being a bigger drag on the economy than anything else. If the markets start feeling that we’re not serious about the problem, and if you start seeing investors feel uncertain about the future, then they could pull back right at the time when the economy is taking off.
    So you’re right that it’s tricky. Folks around here are used to the hills in San Francisco, and you’ve driven — I don’t know if they still have clutch cars around here. Anybody every driven a clutch car? (Laughter.) I mean, you got to sort of tap and — well, that’s sort of what we faced in terms of the economy, right? We got to hit the accelerator, but we’ve got to also make sure that we don’t gun it; we can’t let the car slip backwards. And so what we’re trying to do then is put together a debt and deficit plan that doesn’t slash spending so drastically that we can’t still make investments in education, that we can’t still make investments in infrastructure — all of which would help the economy grow.
    In December, we passed a targeted tax cut for business investment, as well as the payroll tax that has a stimulus effect that helps to grow the economy. We can do those things and still grow the economy while having a plan in place to reduce the deficit, first by 2015, and then over the long term. So I think we can do both, but it does require the balanced approach that I was talking about.
    If all we’re doing is spending cuts and we’re not discriminating about it, if we’re using a machete instead of a scalpel and we’re cutting out things that create jobs, then the deficit could actually get worse because we could slip back into another recession.
    And obviously for folks in Detroit, where you’re from, they know that our investments can make a difference because we essentially saved the U.S. auto industry. We now have three auto companies here in America that are all turning a profit. G.M. just announced that it’s hiring back all of the workers that it was planning to lay off. And we did so, by the way, at the same time as we were able to increase fuel efficiency standards on cars for the first time in 30 years. So it can be done, but it takes a balanced approach. (Applause.)… – WH, 4-20-11

Phones Out at Facebook Town Hall

Members of the audience take pictures as President Barack Obama participates in a town hall meeting moderated by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. April 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

April 13, 2011: President Obama Unveils Deficit Reduction Budget Plan

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: OBAMA UNVEILS DEFICIT REDUCTION BUDGET PLAN

  • Obama unveils plan to reduce borrowing by $4 trillion over the next 12 years: President Obama unveiled a framework Wednesday to reduce borrowing over the next 12 years by $4 trillion — a goal that falls short of targets set by his deficit commission and House Republicans — and called for a new congressional commission to help develop a plan to get there. In his most ambitious effort to claim the mantle of deficit cutter, Obama proposed sharp new cuts to domestic and military spending, and an overhaul of the tax code that would raise fresh revenue. But he steered clear of fundamental changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the primary drivers of future spending….
  • Obama’s Debt Plan Pairs Cuts With Higher Taxes on Rich: In a speech on Wednesday, President Obama called for cutting the nation’s budget deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, countering Republican budget plans with what he said was a more balanced approach that relies in part on tax increases for the wealthy as well as on spending cuts.
    In a speech that serves as the administration’s opening bid for negotiations over the nation’s fiscal future, Mr. Obama conceded a need to cut spending, rein in the growth of entitlement programs and close tax loopholes, officials said shortly before he spoke.
    But he also insisted that the government must maintain what he called investment in programs that are necessary to compete globally. And he made clear that, despite his compromise with Congressional leaders in December, Mr. Obama would fight Republicans to end lowered tax rates for wealthy Americans that have been in place since President George W. Bush championed them in the last decade…. – NYT, 4-13-11
  • Obama’s Debt Plan Sets Stage for Long Battle Over Spending: President Obama made the case Wednesday for slowing the rapid growth of the national debt while retaining core Democratic values, proposing a mix of long-term spending cuts, tax increases and changes to social welfare programs as his opening position in a fierce partisan budget battle over the nation’s fiscal challenges.
    After spending months on the sidelines as Republicans laid out their plans, Mr. Obama jumped in to present an alternative and a philosophical rebuttal to the conservative approach that will reach the House floor on Friday. Republican leaders were working Wednesday to round up votes for that measure and one to finance the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
    Mr. Obama said his proposal would cut federal budget deficits by a cumulative $4 trillion over 12 years, compared with a deficit reduction of $4.4 trillion over 10 years in the Republican plan. But the president said he would use starkly different means, rejecting the fundamental changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by Republicans and relying in part on tax increases on affluent Americans…. – NYT, 4-13-11
  • A Meeting with Bipartisan Leadership on Fiscal Policy: This morning, the President and the Vice President hosted a meeting with bipartisan House and Senate Leadership in the Cabinet Room to discuss the fiscal policy vision that President Obama laid out in a speech at George Washington University this afternoon.
    In the speech, the President proposed a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over twelve years. It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission, and builds on the $1 trillion in deficit reduction proposed in the 2012 budget. At the same time, it will protect the middle-class, defend our commitments to seniors, and make the smart investments we need to create good jobs and grow our economy…. – WH, 4-13-11

QUOTES

  • Obama’s Speech on Reducing the Budget (Text): Following is a text of President Obama’s debt-reduction speech, delivered on Wednesday at George Washington University, as released by the White House… – NYT, 4-13-11
  • The Country We Believe In: Improving America’s Fiscal Future Remarks by the President on Fiscal Policy George Washington University Washington, D.C.: What we’ve been debating here in Washington over the last few weeks will affect the lives of the students here and families all across America in potentially profound ways. This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page; it’s about more than just cutting and spending. It’s about the kind of future that we want. It’s about the kind of country that we believe in. And that’s what I want to spend some time talking about today….
    This vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said, there’s nothing “serious” or “courageous” about this plan. There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. That’s not a vision of the America I know.
    The America I know is generous and compassionate. It’s a land of opportunity and optimism. Yes, we take responsibility for ourselves, but we also take responsibility for each other; for the country we want and the future that we share. We’re a nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI Bill and we saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives. That’s who we are. This is the America that I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit our investment in our people and our country.
    To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.
    So today, I’m proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years. It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission that I appointed last year, and it builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget. It’s an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table — but one that protects the middle class, our promise to seniors, and our investments in the future.
    So this is our vision for America -– this is my vision for America — a vision where we live within our means while still investing in our future; where everyone makes sacrifices but no one bears all the burden; where we provide a basic measure of security for our citizens and we provide rising opportunity for our children….
    But I also know that we’ve come together before and met big challenges. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill came together to save Social Security for future generations. The first President Bush and a Democratic Congress came together to reduce the deficit. President Clinton and a Republican Congress battled each other ferociously, disagreed on just about everything, but they still found a way to balance the budget. And in the last few months, both parties have come together to pass historic tax relief and spending cuts.
    And I know there are Republicans and Democrats in Congress who want to see a balanced approach to deficit reduction. And even those Republicans I disagree with most strongly I believe are sincere about wanting to do right by their country. We may disagree on our visions, but I truly believe they want to do the right thing.
    So I believe we can, and must, come together again. This morning, I met with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to discuss the approach that I laid out today. And in early May, the Vice President will begin regular meetings with leaders in both parties with the aim of reaching a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit and get it done by the end of June….
    But no matter what we argue, no matter where we stand, we’ve always held certain beliefs as Americans. We believe that in order to preserve our own freedoms and pursue our own happiness, we can’t just think about ourselves. We have to think about the country that made these liberties possible. We have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community. And we have to think about what’s required to preserve the American Dream for future generations.
    This sense of responsibility — to each other and to our country — this isn’t a partisan feeling. It isn’t a Democratic or a Republican idea. It’s patriotism…. – WH, 4-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

Breaking: Senate Republican Leader McConnell says expects budget deal shortly…

‎`Let’s be very clear about this: if the government shuts down, it’s either because Democrats are pretending that a previously non-controversial provision is suddenly out of bounds. Or they refuse to take another baby step in the direction of balancing the government checkbook, something we know the American people want. Neither reason is worth a shutdown — especially when neither side actually wants one.’

www.mcconnell.senate.gov

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Friday regarding negotiations to reduce Washington spending….
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looks down after talking about the budget in the Capitol in Washington April 7, 2011. The U.S. Congress on Thursday neared a budget deal to avert a looming government shutdown but disputes over abortion and environmental issues posed late hurdles to a final agreement. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Budget deadline looms

Facing a midnight deadline, the White House and Congress are working furiously to break a budget deadlock and prevent a federal government shutdown that would idle hundreds of thousands of workers.  Full ArticleVideo

Budget Showdown 2011

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

With just over a day left for negotiations before the government will shutdown and despite working all night Congressional Republicans and Democrats have still not come to an agreement for the 2011 Budget. Last night President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at the White House, declaring some progress, still there was no agreement.

Although Obama opposes the measure Speaker Boehner and Republicans are working on a week extension to prevent the shutdown on midnight Saturday. At issue is the 7 million difference between the Democrats proposed 33 million and the Republicans 40 million in spending cuts.

The shutdown would affect 800,000 federal workers and all aspects of the government.

The last government shutdown was in November 1995 and January 1996, when Democrat Bill Clinton was President and Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the Republican Congress. The clash over the 1996 budget caused a government shutdown for 21 days.

Geraldine Ferraro: First woman Vice Presidential candidate dies at age 75

Source: WaPo, 3-26-11

Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro, 75, passed away Saturday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital, surrounded by her family. The cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for 12 years.

Ms. Ferraro earned a place in history as the first woman and first Italian-American to run on a major party national ticket, serving as Walter Mondale’s Vice Presidential running mate in 1984 on the Democratic Party ticket.

Political Highlights March 20, 2011: US & UN Launch Airstrikes Against Libya Leader Moammar Gaddafi

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

US & UN LAUNCH AIRSTRIKES AGAINST LIBYA LEADER  MOAMMAR GADDAFI

IN FOCUS

The President on Libya
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/18/11

 

 

  • Attacks begin on Libyan air defense sites: An international coalition launched its first strikes on Libya Saturday to destroy the country’s air and missile defense systems and prevent further attacks by the Libyan government on its citizens and rebels in and around the rebel held city of Benghazi, a senior U.S. military official said.
    More than two dozen warships and a large number of war planes from several countries made up the initial strike force, which was led by the U.S. military’s Africa command, the official said, speaking in an embargoed briefing a few hours before the operation began.
    “The key first strikes would be on the coast because that is where the integrated air and missile defense systems,” the official added.
    The first wave included sea-launched U.S. cruise missiles and the deployment of U.S. electronic warfare aircraft. — WaPo, 3-19-11
  • Obama: Gaddafi must comply with U.N. resolution or face military action: President Obama said an international coalition, including the U.S., will take military action against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi if he does not comply with a U.N. resolution aimed at protecting Libyan civilians. Obama said Gaddafi has been given “ample warning” and laid out a series of actions Libya must take, saying “these terms are not negotiable.” — WaPo, 3-18-11
  • U.N. approves ‘all necessary measures’ to protect Libya’s civilians: On a 10 to 0 vote with five abstentions, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the international community to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.
    The resolution demands an “immediate cease-fire in Libya, the complete end of violence and all attacks against and abuse of civilians,” and unspecified action to protect “civilians and civilian population areas under threat of attack.” It also establishes a ban on all flights in the airspace of Libya except for humanitarian and evacuation flights. — WaPo, 3-17-11
  • Poll: Public narrowly approves of Obama’s handling of Libya: A poll released Monday shows that a slight plurality of the American public approves of President Obama’s handling of the ongoing civil strife in Libya. Forty-five percent of respondents in CNN/Opinion Research poll said they approve of the president’s handling of the conflict compared to 40 percent who said they disapprove. Fifteen percent said they have no opinion…. – The Hill, 3-14-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

  • West backs off calls for Libya regime change as Qaddafi warns of ‘long war': French, US, and British airstrikes have crippled Libyan coastal defenses and air abilities as the largest coalition of military force since the Iraq war enters its second day…. – CS Monitor, 3-20-11
  • With Libya, is ‘Obama doctrine’ on war emerging?: Barack Obama entered the White House responsible for two wars he had inherited. Now, as Iraq winds down and Afghanistan drags on, he finds himself at the outset of possible US combat in Libya.
    As a result, while any “Obama doctrine” regarding the use of US military force has yet to be declared, one seems to be emerging.
    Obama’s actions in this case have been deliberate, indicating a clear hesitance to be out front in yet another war in a Muslim country…. – CS Monitor, 3-19-11
  • Defiant Libyan Leader Vows ‘Long War’ As Coalition Air Strikes Pound Libya: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound was hit by a missile strike late today,as a barrage of airstrikes by US and European militaries destroyed Libyan defenses, rocked the capitol of Tripoli…. – ABC News, 3-20-11
  • With no-fly zone in Libya now, US-led coalition freer to attack: Missile attacks on Libyan air defenses have freed US jets to attack ground targets. But questions remain, including the use of human shields and the chance that Qaddafi might remain in power…. – CS Monitor, 3-20-11
  • First wave of allied assault: 112 cruise missiles: U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses Saturday and a senior American defense official said it was believed substantial damage was inflicted. In the strikes, 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya’s air force. While U.S. defense officials cautioned that it was too early to fully gauge the impact of the onslaught, the official said that given the precision targeting of the Navy’s cruise missiles, they felt that Libya’s air defenses suffered a good deal of damage…. – AP, 3-19-11
  • First wave of allied assault: 112 cruise missiles: U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses, firing 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles Saturday at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya’s air force. In announcing the mission during a visit to Brazil, President Barack Obama said he was reluctant to resort to force but was convinced it was necessary to save the lives of civilians. He reiterated that he would not send American ground troops to Libya.
    “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy,” he said in Brasilia…. – AP, 3-19-11
  • Allies launch Libya force as Gadhafi hits rebels: French fighter jets fired the first shots at Moammar Gadhafi’s troops on Saturday, launching the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war in support of an uprising that had seemed on the verge of defeat.
    In the hours before the no-fly zone over Libya went into effect, Gadhafi sent warplanes, tanks and troops into Benghazi, the rebel capital and first city to fall to the rebellion that began Feb. 15. Then the government attacks appeared to go silent…. – AP, 3-19-11
  • Gadhafi vows ‘long war’ after US, allies strike: A defiant Moammar Gadhafi vowed a “long war” after the U.S. and European militaries blasted his forces with airstrikes and over 100 cruise missiles, hitting air defenses and at least two major air bases early Sunday, shaking the Libyan capital with explosions and anti-aircraft fire. Despite the strikes, Gadhafi’s troops lashed back, bombarding the rebel-held city of Misrata with artillery and tanks on Sunday, the opposition reported…. – AP, 3-19-11
  • Paris hosts world leaders in critical Libya talks: Leaders from the Arab world, Africa, the United States and other Western powers are holding urgent talks in Paris Saturday over possible military action against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces…. – AP, 3-19-11
  • Obama to Gadhafi: Stop or face military action: President Barack Obama demanded Friday that Moammar Gadhafi halt all military attacks against civilians and said that if the Libyan leader did not stand down the United States would join in military action against him. Still, Obama also said the United States “is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya.”… – AP, 3-18-11
  • Giuliani mocks Obama as foreign policy weakling: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose drive-by approach to campaigning in New Hampshire drove his 2008 presidential campaign into the ground, is setting the stage for a do-over. Giuliani, who says he hasn’t decided whether he’s running again, sounded a lot like a candidate when he spoke at a GOP fundraiser in Manchester on Friday night…. – AP, 3-18-11
  • Obama to Gadhafi: Stop or face military action: President Barack Obama demanded Friday that Moammar Gadhafi halt all military attacks on civilians and said that if the Libyan leader did not stand down the United States would join other nations in launching military action against him. However, Obama also said the United States “is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya.” In a brief appearance at the White House, Obama said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would travel to Paris on Saturday to join allies in discussing next steps in Libya, where Gadhafi has pressed a brutal crackdown against rebels trying to end his 42-year reign…. – AP, 3-18-11
  • Amid uncertainty, allies prepare for no-fly zone: The United States, France and Britain told Libya’s leader Moammar Gadhafi to withdraw his troops from formerly rebel-held areas and halt any attacks on civilians there, as warplanes that could strike this north African country moved into the Mediterranean region.
    President Barack Obama went even further, saying that if the Libyan leader did not stand down the United States would join other nations in launching military action against him…. – AP, 3-18-11
  • Obama endorses military action to stop Gadhafi: After weeks of hesitation and divisions among his advisers, President Barack Obama on Friday endorsed military action against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, saying U.S. values and credibility are at stake to stop “the potential for mass murder” of innocents.
    The U.S. military, which is already stretched thin by two wars and an expanding effort to assist disaster victims in Japan, would take a supporting role, Obama said, with European and Arab partners in the lead. He explicitly ruled out sending American ground forces into the North African nation…. – AP, 3-18-11
  • Officials say US readying for no fly Zone in Libya: Congressional officials say the Obama administration is readying plans to participate in a no-fly zone in Libya with the help of Arab countries in anticipation of a United Nations Security Council resolution. These officials said Thursday they expected the effort to enforce a no-fly zone and ground Moammar Gadhafi’s air force could begin within a few days if the UN takes action by day’s end…. – AP, 3-17-11
  • US readying plans to enforce Libya no-fly zone: The Obama administration was readying plans to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya with the help of Arab countries, officials said Thursday as the United Nations Security Council voted to authorize the move. These officials, who spoke after a closed-door briefing in Congress, said they expected the attempt to ground Moammar Gadhafi’s air force could begin by Sunday or Monday. The effort likely would involve jet fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft…. – AP, 3-17-11
  • Diplomacy Stalls as Libya Rebels Face Pro-Qaddafi Forces: Military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi cranked up military and psychological pressure on the rebels on Monday, offering amnesty to those who surrendered their weapons but bombing a strategic linchpin in the east and invading a rebel-held town in the west…. – NYT, 3-15-11
  • US eyes Libyan opposition, allies call for action: Under pressure from allies and growing calls for military intervention in Libya, the Obama administration held its first high-level talks with the Libyan opposition on Monday but remained undecided about exactly how much support to lend a group it still knows little about while turmoil and uncertainty increase across the Arab world…. – AP, 3-14-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Sarah Palin touches down in Israel; set to meet with Prime Minister on Monday: Israel got its first official glimpse of Sarah Palin. The former Vice Presidential candidate arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday as part of her whirlwind trip that many think is meant to bolster her foreign policy credentials leading up to a possible 2012 presidential run.
    She visited India earlier this week. Sporting what appears to be a necklace with the Jewish symbol of a Star of David, the Alaska resident visited the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray.
    She also toured Jerusalem’s Old City and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
    “Israel is absolutely beautiful and it is overwhelming to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith and I am so grateful to be here,” the devout Christian told reporters. “I’m very thankful to know that the Israeli and American link will grow in strength as we seek peace along with you.”
    Despite meeting with the country’s leader, she is technically traveling as a private citizen and has been coy about whether she hopes to be traveling as something other than that come 2012.
    “I don’t think there needs to be a rush to get out there as a declared candidate,” she said earlier this week. “It’s a life-changing decision.”… – NY Daily News, 3-20-11
  • Obama takes in Rio with Libya on his mind: President Barack Obama played grand tourist to Rio de Janeiro’s vivid extremes on Sunday, traveling from brilliant beaches to a notorious slum even as he monitored U.S. military strikes in faraway Libya.
    With his whole family in tow on the second day of a Latin American tour meant to knit economic and cultural ties, the president visited the City of God shantytown that gained fame after a movie by the same name won Oscar nominations. At a community center in the heart of the jostling slum of 40,000 the president plunged into the lives of children there, playing soccer with kids and watching enthralled at a dazzling martial arts display. The president shed his coat and tie, rolled up his sleeves and dribbled one-on-one soccer with one surprised boy. Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia got involved, too, kicking a ball around with the kids…. – AP, 3-20-11
  • Obama’s juggle: Libya war and Latin America: As American missiles struck Libya, President Barack Obama doggedly promoted his Latin American agenda Saturday, praising Brazil as a soaring economic force and brimming market for trade. Back home, his message was all but lost in the roar over the Libyan conflict.
    “The United States doesn’t simply recognize Brazil’s rise; we support it enthusiastically,” Obama said from this capital city as he launched a five-day outreach mission that will also take him to Chile and El Salvador. He began in Brazil as a sign of solidary between the two largest democracies and economies in the Americas, and he sought to break through here with his themes of bold cooperation on energy, education and trade…. – AP, 3-19-11
  • Obama arrives in Brazil, begins Latin America tour: President Barack Obama has landed in Brasilia, the highland capital of Brazil, for the start of a three-country, five-day tour of Latin America to promote greater economic ties and improved regional security…. – AP, 3-19-11

QUOTES

  • Watch Live: President Obama Speaks on Human Rights in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The President’s trip to Latin America this weekend focuses on the importance of strengthening our economic partnership with the region to create good jobs at home, as he discussed in his weekly address. This afternoon, President Obama will deliver a speech at Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil to discuss the deeply held values and interests that bind our countries together — a relationship that is particularly important because of Brazil’s role as a rapidly emerging power on the global stage. – Watch the President’s remarks live at 1:30 PM EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
  • John McCain: Obama should have acted faster: Earlier action, the senator said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” would have been more effective in weakening the grip of the controversial leader, who’s deployed his forces against rebelling civilians. “He waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it,” McCain said of the president. “But now, it is what it is. And we need, now, to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that it didn’t – we didn’t act much more quickly, and we could have.” “If we had taken these — this step a couple of weeks ago, a no-fly zone would probably have been enough,” he said. “Now, a no-fly zone is not enough. There needs to be other efforts made.” “There’s a lot of things we can do besides just the air power component of it,” McCain said. Politico, 3-20-11
  • Remarks by the President on Libya: “Today We are Part of a Broad Coalition. We are Answering the Calls of a Threatened People. And We are Acting in the Interests of the United States and the World”: Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.
    In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people. That coalition met in Paris today to send a unified message, and it brings together many of our European and Arab partners.
    This is not an outcome that the United States or any of our partners sought. Even yesterday, the international community offered Muammar Qaddafi the opportunity to pursue an immediate cease-fire, one that stopped the violence against civilians and the advances of Qaddafi’s forces. But despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity. His attacks on his own people have continued. His forces have been on the move. And the danger faced by the people of Libya has grown.
    I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.
    So we must be clear: Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced. That is the cause of this coalition.
    As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners. And as I said yesterday, we will not — I repeat — we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.
    As Commander-in-Chief, I have great confidence in the men and women of our military who will carry out this mission. They carry with them the respect of a grateful nation.
    I’m also proud that we are acting as part of a coalition that includes close allies and partners who are prepared to meet their responsibility to protect the people of Libya and uphold the mandate of the international community.
    I’ve acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed. But make no mistake: Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world. WH. 3-19-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Robert Hunter: Success of Libya air strikes depends on Middle East perception, ISU history professor says: Last weekend’s coalition effort to stop Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi’s clampdown on his opposition will only succeed if the Middle East perceives it as beneficial to government protestors, said Robert Hunter, professor of history. “This means that Obama and the other leaders must not authorize ‘boots on the ground,’ that is, no U.S. or other Western troops in Tripoli or anywhere else,” said Hunter, who has lived in and written extensively about the Middle East.
    Hunter said the operation would not have happened at all without initial support of the Arab League, a group of Middle Eastern countries sharing common diplomatic interests. Originally formed in 1945, the league now consists of 22 countries, including Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.
    “Otherwise, this operation might have been perceived as yet another Western imperialist intervention in the Middle East,” he said. “The Arab League, some of whose states are as autocratic as Ghaddafi’s government, supported it because they are all under pressure from their peoples and did [not] want to be seen as out of line with the ‘street’.”
    Hunter said big questions loomed for U.S. involvement in the coalition. “If we degrade Ghaddafi’s military but he is able to hold onto power in the western part of Libya, what then?” he said. “The temptation may be to remove him by use of special forces or strikes… Something like this might change perceptions in the region.” — Indiana Statesman, 3-20-11
  • Kenneth Levin: Self-Reflection and Self-Blame; Israel and Obama: Much has been written about President Obama’s reported statement to a Jewish group earlier this month that Israelis should search their souls concerning the quest for peace. In this offensive comment and related remarks, Obama once more put the onus on Israel for the absence of movement towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while he characterized Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas as eager for a fair deal.
    In fact, Abbas has used the mosques, media and schools under his control to militate against any genuine peace. The message conveyed by all three is that Jews have no historical connection to any part of Palestine, that they are mere usurpers whose presence must be expunged, and that it is the duty of every Palestinian to pursue that goal. In addition, Abbas has personally praised terrorists who have killed Israelis as the ideal all Palestinians should strive to emulate and has explicitly endorsed efforts to delegitimize Israel and its right to exist within any borders.
    But Obama’s hostility to Israel appears impervious to all such realities. Perhaps this should not be surprising, as his jaundiced view of America’s traditional role in world affairs is hardly more responsive to counter-evidence. Thus, he pursues the reining in of American leadership, and the reaching out to those who wish America ill, even as his doing so entails, among other travesties, allowing Muammar Gaddafi to slaughter most of his way back to full control of Libya; promising carrots to Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir despite the continuing genocide in Darfur; and doing nothing meaningful to help the bloodied people of Iran throw off the totalitarian yoke of their nation’s theocracy…. – American Thinker, 3-20-11
  • BENYAMIN KORN: Palin Doctrine Emerges as Arab League Echoes Her Demarche on Libya: The call by the Arab League for Western military intervention in an Arab state — in this case asking that a UN “no-fly zone” be imposed over Libya – is not only without precedent but it puts in formal terms what Governor Palin stated three weeks ago should have been America’s response to the political and humanitarian crisis now unfolding there.
    The former GOP vice presidential candidate was being interviewed on February 23rd on national television by Sean Hannity on a range of issues. On the Libya crisis, she proposed a no-fly zone to protect the armed and un-armed opposition to the Qaddafi regime. Mrs. Palin’s formulation had been blogged about for nearly a week when it was echoed by the man who, before the Iraq war, had led the Iraq democratic movement in exile, Ahmed Chalabi…. – NY Sun, 3-16-11

March 10, 2011: Scott Walker Battles Unions; Republicans Pass Bill Restricting Collective Bargaining

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

WISCONSIN UNION WARS

Protests

Protesters fill the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Wednesday night. (Michael P. King / Associated Press)

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; file photo

    IN FOCUS:

    THE HEADLINES….

       

    • In Wisconsin Battle on Unions, State Democrats See a Gift: After nearly a month of angry demonstrations and procedural maneuvering in the State Capitol here, Gov. Scott Walker won his battle on Thursday to cut bargaining rights for most government workers in Wisconsin. But his victory, after the State Assembly passed the bill, also carries risks for the state’s Republicans who swept into power last November. Democratic-leaning voters appeared energized by the battle over collective bargaining on a national stage. The fight has already spurred a list of potential recall elections for state lawmakers this spring. Protesters are planning more large demonstrations this weekend…. – NYT, 3-10-11
    • In Wisconsin, GOP maneuver pushes anti-union bill forward: Senate Republicans omit financial provisions from legislation to curb public workers’ collective bargaining rights, skirting a requirement that a quorum be present…. – LAT, 3-10-11
    • Divisive Wisconsin union-busting bill set to pass: A bill to bust Wisconsin’s public workers unions that sparked mass protests and led Democratic lawmakers to flee the US state was set for approval on Thursday after a Republican legislative maneuver. Republican state senators appeared to end the weeks-long standoff by stripping all references to the budget from the bill, which allowed it to pass without the legislative quorum required for fiscal measures. The bill was to be taken up by the Republican-led state Assembly — which approved a similar previous measure — at 11:00 am (1600 GMT) on Thursday… – AFP, 3-10-11
    • Wis. GOP bypasses Dems, cuts collective bargaining: The Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, approving an explosive proposal that had rocked the state and unions nationwide after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber’s missing Democrats.
      All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair bill” — a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall…. – AP, 3-9-11
    • Did Wisconsin Senate choose nuclear option in collective-bargaining fight?: Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate vote to strip key public-sector unions of collective bargaining rights, despite the fact that no Democrats were present. The vote is a bid to protect core budget cuts to public-employee benefits, Republicans say. But is that necessary?… – CS Monitor, 3-09-11
    • Is Gov. Scott Walker’s offer enough for a deal with rogue ‘Wisconsin 14’?: Governor Walker has released emails with some of the absentee ‘Wisconsin 14′ that show he’s willing to compromise – on some issues, to some extent…. – CS Monitor, 3-9-11
    • Wis. gov. proposes union compromise in e-mails: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has offered to keep certain collective bargaining rights in place for state workers in a proposed compromise aimed at ending a nearly three-week standoff with absent Senate Democrats, according to e-mails released Tuesday by his office.
      The e-mails, some dated as recently as Sunday, show a softened stance in Walker’s talks with the 14 Democrats who fled to Illinois to block a vote on his original proposal that would strip nearly all collective bargaining rights for public workers and force concessions amounting to an average 8 percent pay cut…. – AP, 3-8-11
    • Hard Stance Seems Softer In E-Mail Of Governor: For weeks, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has publicly held firm to his plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights for most public workers, despite the protests of union supporters. But e-mail messages released Tuesday between representatives of Mr. Walker and some Senate Democrats who oppose the measure suggest that Mr. Walker has privately considered tempering at least some limited elements of those bargaining changes.
      Mr. Walker’s initial proposal, which set off a firestorm of debate in Wisconsin and beyond, would allow collective bargaining on matters of wages only, limit raises to the Consumer Price Index, keep contracts to one year and require unions to vote annually to determine whether most workers still wish to be members.
      The e-mails show that as recently as Sunday evening Mr. Walker’s representatives appeared willing to agree to some changes…. – NYT, 3-9-11
    • Walker blames unions for standoff Governor thinks national labor leaders barring deal: Gov. Scott Walker blamed national labor organizers Monday evening for scuttling attempts at compromise with 14 Democratic senators who fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on a budget-repair bill that would take away most collective bargaining rights of public workers. Citing a Wall Street Journal report, Walker said Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) indicated Sunday that the Democrats would return to Wisconsin. But he said that changed Monday.
      The governor said he doesn’t know what happened, but he suspects it was union leaders who are influencing the 14 Democrats. “I don’t have this on firsthand knowledge. My guess is he got a phone call from one of the union bosses in D.C. who said, ‘You cannot go back there and let them have a vote,’ ” Walker said… – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-7-11
    • Why ‘Wisconsin 14′ are ready to return: They think they’re winning: Wisconsin’s 14 Democratic absentee state senators indicate they’re ready to return – because they think they’ve already won the war, if not this battle…. – CS Monitor, 3-7-11
    • Lawmaker: Wisconsin Democrats returning soon: The Democratic senators who fled are convinced that Republicans will be severely hurt if Walker’s plan is passed…. The State Senate Democrats who left Wisconsin to block a vote on a bill that would severely curb collective bargaining for most public employees are planning to return soon, one of the lawmakers said…. – WaPo, 3-7-11
    • Wisconsin’s Walker dismisses Democratic overture: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dismissed as “ridiculous” a request on Monday from the leader of absent Senate Democrats to meet and negotiate a compromise in their standoff over Republican plans to limit public sector union powers…. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker blasted the leader of the state’s Senate Democrats as an obstacle in getting some of the Democrats to return and vote on his budget proposal…. – Reuters, 3-7-11
    • Unions winning battle for public opinion in Wisconsin: According to a new Pew Poll, Forty-two percent of people said they favor unions, while 31 percent take Walker’s side and another nine percent take neither side in the skirmish. WaPo, 3-1-11
    • Supporters of Wisconsin anti-union bill hold rally: About 700 people have rallied in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his plan to take away collective bargaining rights from public workers have rallied in Madison. The Sunday rally at a Madison arena was organized by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity…. – AP, 3-6-11
    • Michael Moore rallies Wis. pro-union protesters: Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight against Republican efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling thousands of protesters that “Madison is only the beginning.” “We’re going to do this together. Don’t give up. Please don’t give up,” filmmaker Michael Moore told the Wisconsin protesters, who have swarmed the Capitol every day for close to three weeks. Moore told the crowd they’ve galvanized the nation against the wealthy elite and compared their fight to Egypt’s revolt…. – AP, 3-5-11
    • Wis. governor warns of layoffs, talks to Democrats: Thousands of Wisconsin state workers were bracing for layoff notices Friday as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and absent Democrats remained in a standoff over a budget balancing bill that would also strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
      Walker said he would issue 1,500 layoff notices Friday if at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats doesn’t return from Illinois to give the Republican majority the quorum it needs to vote. Senate Republicans voted Thursday to hold the missing Democrats in contempt and force police to bring them back to the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald canceled Friday’s floor session, saying in a statement that Republican senators want time to allow law enforcement to adjust their staffing levels and “help the Capitol to return to something of a sense of normalcy.”… – AP, 3-4-11
    • In Midwestern union strongholds, residents torn over proposals to curb union benefits, powers: There once was a time when Harry and Nancy Harrington _ their teenage children in tow _ walked the picket line outside the nursing home where she was a medical aide, protesting the lack of a pension plan for the unionized work force. But those days of family solidarity are gone…. – AP, 3-5-11
    • Wisconsin governor begins process to lay off 1,500: 57 percent of likely voters in Wisconsin disapprove of the job Walker is doing, while 43 percent approve. Of those who disapprove, 48 percent strongly disapprove…. – WaPo, 3-5-11
    • Protesters leave Wis. Capitol after 17-day sit-in: Pro-union protesters who had been camping out at the Wisconsin Capitol for 17 days vacated the building peacefully late Thursday after a judge ordered the building closed at night but ruled the state was wrong to restrict access to the building during the day. With a group hug, and singing “Solidarity Forever,” about 50 protesters grabbed their sleeping bags, pillows and drums and left through two rows of Democratic state lawmakers and others who thanked them for their efforts…. – AP, 3-3-11
    • Wisconsin Senate votes to detain absentee DemocratsCNN, 3-3-11
    • RNC ad links Obama to ‘union bosses': The Republican National Committee on Wednesday began airing a television ad in Wisconsin that blames President Barack Obama and “union bosses” for standing in the way of economic reform.
      The ad is an effort to bolster Republican Gov. Scott Walker as he tries to push through a measure that would take away most collective bargaining rights for state employees.
      Obama has not been to Wisconsin since the protests began. But he has called Walker’s proposal an assault on unions and urged other governors not to vilify public workers. Obama’s political arm at the Democratic National Committee also helped mobilize demonstrators in coordination with unions…. – AP, 3-2-11
    • AFL-CIO leader: Wisconsin fight energizing unions: In trying to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state workers, Wisconsin’s governor may have unintentionally given the American labor movement the lift it needed after years of decline.
      “We’ve never seen the incredible solidarity that we’re seeing right now,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters Tuesday at the federation’s headquarters. “People are giving us another look now,” he said. “It’ll be up to us to keep it going and continue defining ourselves in ways the American public will support.”… – AP, 3-2-11
    • Wisconsin governor to lay out budget: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s explosive proposal to take nearly all collective bargaining rights away from most public workers represents just one piece of his vision for the state’s future…. – AP, 3-1-11
    • Rallies support fight against Wis. anti-union billAP, 2-27-11
    • Volunteers help Wis. protesters keep up the fightAP, 2-26-11
    • By keeping his distance, has Obama played Wisconsin right?: With the battle of Wisconsin reverberating in union halls across the country, Obama has refrained from weighing in forcefully on a core Democratic issue. Analysts say he has played it right… – CS Monitor, 2-25-11
    • Wisconsin GOP wins Round 1 over unions, but final victory still eludes: The Wisconsin GOP-led Assembly approved a bill Friday to sharply curtail the power of public employee unions. But the battle for public opinion, in Wisconsin and the nation, goes on, with the state Senate yet to vote…. – CS Monitor, 2-25-11
    • Some Republicans soften tough talk on unionsAP, 2-24-11
    • State troopers sent to find Wisconsin DemocratsAP, 2-24-11
    • Wis. Democrats filibuster to halt anti-union billAP, 2-23-11
    • In Wisconsin, the real struggle is over power: Protesters rest inside the Wisconsin State Capitol on Monday as their standoff with Republican lawmakers over union rights entered its second week with no possible resolution on the horizon…. – WaPo, 2-21-11
    • Wisconsin: Ground zero in battle over clout of labor unions in US: At stake in the fight between unions and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the perception of public-sector unions and how much clout they’ll retain in an era of tight budgets for state and local government…. – CS Monitor, 2-19-11
    • State budget fights fire up union; Obama involved: Organized labor is trying to re-energize and take advantage of the growing backlash from the wave of anti-union sentiment in Wisconsin and more than a dozen other states. President Barack Obama and his political machine are offering tactical support, eager to repair strained relations with some union leaders upset over his recent overtures to business…. – AP, 2-19-11

    QUOTES

       

    • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: Walker acknowledged the protests, but said “their voices cannot drown out the voices of the countless taxpayers who want us to balance our budgets and, more importantly, to make government work for each of them.”

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

       

    • Rosemary Feurer: Wisconsin’s Legacy of Labor Battles: One of the key authors of that federal legislation was the chief of labor relations at Allis-Chalmers, a Milwaukee-area farm equipment and machine manufacturing company that had fended off an epic strike earlier that year. Now the nation is watching to see which side wins in the battle between Mr. Walker and the flood of unions, local and national, that has surrounded the Capitol to fight him.
      “The play by the governor is part of a longer history and a longer struggle over ideas and social policy,” said Rosemary Feurer, a labor historian at Northern Illinois University. “When I see this I think, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.”
      In her book, “Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950,” Professor Feurer recounts how companies in the electrical industry in St. Louis started a network known as the Metal Trades Association in the first part of the 20th century to fight union organizing. The association had been alarmed by union protests that erupted violently with the Haymarket Square riot in 1886 and the demands for an eight-hour day, which started with the 1894 Pullman strike in Illinois — an early effort by Eugene V. Debs, the former Indiana legislator and future Socialist Party candidate for president.
      “That left a legacy of the 1930s and ’40s for employers to form deep right-wing networks,” Professor Feurer said.
      That network, she argues, was the precursor to the Midwestern groups that have now been assisting the fight against the unions in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana: the Bradley Foundation, based in Milwaukee, and Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kan. David H. and Charles G. Koch, the billionaire brothers behind the energy and manufacturing conglomerate that bears their name, have been large donors to Mr. Walker in Wisconsin, as has their advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, which first opened an office in Wisconsin in 2005…. – NYT, 3-6-11
    • Julian Zelizer: By keeping his distance, has Obama played Wisconsin right?: “The biggest danger in some ways was for him to be consumed by this issue,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “That hasn’t happened.”… – CS Monitor, 2-25-11

    February 22, 2011: Rahm Emanuel Elected Chicago’s Next Mayor

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

    Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

    Rahm Emanuel, who has worked behind the scenes for other politicians, celebrated his victory in Chicago on Tuesday night.

    STATS & POLLS

    • Emanuel’s Win: Voting Stats: Emanuel amassed 55.2 percent with 99.5 percent of city precincts counted, above the 50 percent-plus benchmark he needed to win outright to avoid an April runoff. Gery Chico had 24 percent, with Miguel del Valle at 9.3 percent and Carol Moseley Braun at 9 percent. Two lesser-known candidates, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William “Dock” Walls, received 2.5 percent combined.
      Emanuel won 40 of the city’s 50 wards, getting more than 70 percent of the vote in the heavily populated lakefront wards. Emanuel also won with more than 50 percent of the vote in wards with large African-American populations, racking up margins of at least 2-to-1 over the major black candidate, Braun.
      Chico won the remaining 10 city wards. They were primarily Latino-heavy wards on the Southwest Side, where he was raised, and the West Side. Chico, Daley’s former chief of staff, also won the 19th and 41st wards, both with large populations of police and firefighters, whose unions endorsed him. Still, Chico’s vote advantage over Emanuel in those wards was not significant.
      Turnout was 41 percent, nearly 10 points lower than election officials predicted. – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-11
    • Rahm Emanuel: a visual history Timeline of Rahm Emauel’s life Timeline of Rahm Emauel’s life

    THE HEADLINES….

    • Chicago’s next mayor: Emanuel Ex-presidential adviser avoids runoff with 55%: Rahm Emanuel, a top adviser to two U.S. presidents who returned to Chicago just months ago, swept into the mayor’s office Tuesday, inheriting a city reeling from recession and promising to reshape City Hall.
      He achieved what was once considered almost unthinkable, collecting a majority of support against five opponents in the first Chicago election without a sitting mayor on the ballot since 1947.
      In a city with its share of racial divisions, Emanuel appealed to voters across those lines. He won the predominantly white wards of his former congressional district on the North and Northwest sides. And the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama also scored substantial margins in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.
      “All I can say, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home,” Emanuel, who faced a high-profile legal challenge to his residency, told a packed room at a plumbers union hall on the Near West Side. “Because of the people of Chicago, this is the warmest place in America.”… – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-11
    • Emanuel beats rivals to become next Chicago mayor: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.
      Emanuel trounced all opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin that allowed him to avoid an April runoff. He needed more than 50 percent to win outright.
      It was the city’s first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.
      Emanuel called the victory “humbling” and said the outgoing mayor had “earned a special place in our hearts and our history.”
      But he added: “We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they are going to find work, we have not won anything.”… – AP, 2-22-11
    • Emanuel Triumphs in Chicago Mayoral Race: Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman who worked for two presidents, was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, marking a new path for a city that has, for 22 years, been led by a singular, powerful force, Richard M. Daley.
      Mr. Emanuel, who will take office in May, won 55 percent of the vote against five other candidates. That allowed him to avoid a one-on-one runoff election in April that had been seen by some opponents as their best chance to defeat Mr. Emanuel. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, his closest competitor, Gery J. Chico, a former chief of staff to Mr. Daley, got 24 percent of the vote.
      “Tonight we are moving forward the only way we truly can — together as one city with one future,” Mr. Emanuel told a crowd at a union hall west of downtown.
      Mr. Emanuel, 51, is known to nearly everyone here — less, perhaps, for his years as a congressman from the North Side than for his ties to President Obama, a fellow Chicagoan whom he served as White House chief of staff. Mr. Obama congratulated Mr. Emanuel on Tuesday evening, saying, “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder.”… – NYT, 2-22-11
    • Emanuel Makes History in Win Succeeding Daley as Chicago Mayor: Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago congressman who served two Democratic presidents in the White House, won a decisive victory to become his hometown’s next mayor following the two-decade tenure of Richard M. Daley.
      Emanuel captured 55 percent of the vote in a field of six yesterday to take leadership of the third-most populous U.S. city. Chicago’s first Jewish chief executive faces a declining population, city pension shortfalls and a 2012 budget deficit forecast at more than $600 million.
      The mayor-elect, 51, is the first top aide to President Barack Obama elected to office. He overcame a legal challenge to his residency and questions about his Chicago pedigree, and by getting more than 50 percent of the vote, avoided a runoff.
      “Thank you Chicago for this humbling victory,” Emanuel said in a victory speech at a union hall on the city’s west side. “You sure know how to make a guy feel at home.”
      The vote marked the approaching end of 22 years of rule by Daley, 68, who is retiring in May. He and his father, Richard J. Daley, ran Chicago for 43 of the past 55 years…. Bloomberg, 2-22-11
    • Emanuel Wins Election Becoming Chicago’s First Jewish Mayor: Rahm Emanuel won the Chicago mayoral election today in convincing fashion collecting the required 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
      With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff, garnered close to 55 percent of the vote. Gerry Chico finished with 24 percent of the vote while Miguel Del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun finished third and fourth.
      Emanuel is the first mayor elected in the city since 1989 when Richard Daley began his 20 year run. He is now the first Jewish mayor elected in Chicago’s history.
      Emanuel started his campaign in November after resigning from his post under the Obama Administration. – NewsOne, 2-22-11

    QUOTES

    • Rahm Emanuel’s victory speech: Thank you, Chicago, for this humbling victory.
      All I can say, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home.
      What makes this victory most gratifying is that it was built on votes from every corner of the city, from people who believe that a common set of challenges must be met with a common purpose.
      It’s a victory for all those who believe that we can overcome the old divisions and the old ways that have held Chicago back.
      It is easy to find differences, but we can never allow them to become divisions.
      Tonight we are moving forward in the only way we truly can. Together. As one city, with one future.
      And after five months, campaigning across this city and talking to thousands of Chicagoans from every community and every walk of life …
      (Interruption from crowd: “We did it for you!”)
      No, we did it for our city. We did it for our city. We did it for the place we call home.
      I am more convinced than ever that we can meet the great challenges before us.
      I can say that because for all its beauty and bounty, the key to Chicago’s greatness, it is what it’s always been since my grandfather came here in 1917, it’s you. It’s the hard-working, plain-speaking folks who share a love for their city and a determination to keep it strong and to make it a place their children one day can call home.
      I share that love and I am determined with your help to meet our challenges head on and to make a great city even greater.
      Tonight, I congratulate all my opponents and their supporters. I know that they too were driven by their love for our city, Chicago. And are determined to make sure that our city works for all its people. I look forward to drawing on their insights, their energy, their experiences in the years to come, and in the days to come.
      Because while this election was hard-fought, it was only the beginning.
      My sense, and I know it’s your sense, we have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until that child can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety, we haven’t won anything. Or until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they’re going to find work, we have not won anything.
      The real work of building a better future begins tonight.
      And I intend to enlist every living one of you, ever one of you in our city, because the plural pronoun “we” is how we’re going to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
      We need safer streets in all our communities, because I do not want to see another child’s name on a memorial killed by gun violence.
      We need stronger neighborhood schools.
      We need our parents involved in their kids’ education and off the sidelines and involved with them, because our teachers cannot do it without the partner in that home.
      The most important door a child walks through is the front door to that home for the education. That is where they learn right from wrong and the value of education. And our teachers in the classroom deserve that partner.
      We need to attract and grow good jobs today and tomorrow. And we need to confront the budget deficit that threatens our future, not by burdening Chicagoans and Chicago families with more taxes they cannot afford, but by reinventing city government so city government works for the taxpayers.
      These are the challenges we need to set Chicago on the right course for the future. With a budget that is balanced and a playing field that is fair. I’m proud that we have never hidden the truth in this campaign. We said it’s time for tough choices because denial in the face of challenge is no strategy for success. But we also told Chicagoans that our fate, our future, is in our hands.
      I just spoke with Mayor Daley.
      (To crowd: “How are ya?”)
      I just gotta tell you, I just saw Lola Parker, who I have seen her son play great basketball at Simeon. She has been my date every Saturday night while Amy and the kids are doing their homework. How are ya?
      I just spoke to Mayor Daley, who proved that the right kind of leadership can make Chicago a world-class city while other cities around us faltered. Nobody has ever loved Chicago more or served it with greater passion or commitment. This city bears his imprint and he has earned a special place in our hearts and our history.
      Tonight, we thank Mayor Daley for a lifetime of service to his beloved city and we wish him and Maggie, Maggie who we all love, all the best in their future.
      Rich Daley is the only mayor a whole generation of Chicagoans has known. And let’s be honest, it’s an impossible act to follow, yet we have to move forward. And we know we face serious new challenges and overcoming them will not be easy. It requires new ideas, cooperation and sacrifice from everyone involved.
      As we move forward to address the great challenges before us, we must make sure every community in Chicago is heard and included and has a chance to participate in that future.
      I look forward to working with tens and thousands of dedicated public servants. Those like my uncle Les, who patrol our streets, who teach our children and fulfill so many vital functions to meet our current challenges and to do it in a way that is fair to them and fair to the taxpayers who pay all of us.
      And while not all the contests are settled, I want to reach out tonight to the members of the next City Council. We have a chance for a new partnership that will serve our city and its taxpayers well. So thank you, Chicago, for this vote of confidence in our future.
      I want to say a special thanks to my family. To Zachariah, Ilana and Leah who have joined me on the campaign in the recent days at churches, L stops, diners and actually calling voters to ask them for a vote. I want to make a special thing to my best friend, my wife Amy. Who has
      My wife Amy, who has kept our family together and who has been our rock through all of this.
      I want to thank my campaign committee, which includes outstanding community leaders like firefighter Annette Holt who gave something back to her city. And Firefighter Pat Kehoe, principals Zipporah Hightower and Kathleen Kennedy-Kartheiser, Community leaders like Juan Rangel, Robert Kohl and Reverend Alvarez and former Rep. Judy Erwin, my dear friend.
      Your faith in me is a huge source of strength.
      I also want to thank the children I met along the way, Jeremy, Martel and DiJuan (spellings unconfirmed), who showed just how important it is that we fight for a better future.
      I also want to thank all the elected officials who are here with us tonight and have been great leaders and friends to our neighborhoods and our city. Secretary of State Jesse White; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who I started working when I left college with; and Congressman Quigley and all the others who have committed their time and their (inaudible).
      I also want to thank … I have also just talked to President Obama, who sends you his love and affection for his hometown.
      And if I can take a personal moment, during this campaign I’ve been to over 110 L stops around the city.
      (Someone in the crowd said, “You forgot one,” Emanuel responded “That’s surprising to me”).
      Now we are known as the Windy City, we’re known as a cold place in the middle of winter that’s down in your bone. But I can tell you something, having been on every 110 L stops. 110 platforms when it’s 20 below with the wind-chill. Because of the people of Chicago, this is the warmest place in America.
      Now I want you to remember, let’s continue to work together to make sure Chicago remains the greatest city on earth.
      I want to thank you and tomorrow morning, I’m going to see you on that L stop.
      Thank you and God bless you. – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-11
    • President Barack Obama: “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder. Rahm will be a terrific mayor for all the people of Chicago.”
    • Rahm to Obama: I couldn’t have done it without you: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel turned President Obama’s glowing send-off into a near-endorsement that helped Emanuel claim a majority of the black vote.
      On Tuesday, Emanuel got a congratulatory phone call from his former boss — and he told the crowd at his victory party about it.
      “I also want to thank — and I just talked to President Obama, who sends you his love and affection for his hometown,” Emanuel said as the crowd erupted in applause.
      Emanuel told Obama he couldn’t have won without his help, said David Axelrod, who served with Emanuel in the White House…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 2-22-11

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago: Emanuel’s campaign drew support from each of the city’s main racial and ethnic groups — blacks, whites and Hispanics — and that will benefit him. “He will still have big challenges working with the city council and dealing with the structural deficit, Simpson said. – Bloomberg, 2-22-11

    February 15, 2011: President Obama Unveils Massive $3.7 Trillion 2012 Budget, Republicans Vow Cuts

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

    Drew Angerer/The New York Times

    President Obama spoke about the budget and education at Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology in Baltimore on Monday. He was flanked by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at left and Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, at right.

    STATS & POLLS

    THE HEADLINES….

    • Obama’s Budget Focuses on Path to Rein in Deficit: With President Obama’s release on Monday of a budget for next year and House action this week on a Republican plan for immediate deep spending cuts, the nation is getting its clearest view since the president took office of the parties’ competing visions of the role of government, the urgency of addressing the deficit and the best path to long-term economic success.
      Mr. Obama used his budget for the fiscal year 2012 and beyond to make the case for selectively cutting spending while increasing resources in areas like education and clean energy initiatives that hold the potential for long-term payoffs in economic growth. With this year’s deficit projected to hit a record, $1.6 trillion, he laid out a path for bringing down annual deficits to more sustainable levels over the rest of the decade…. – NYT, 2-15-11
    • Obama budget: Some cuts, not the slashes GOP asks: Putting on the brakes after two years of big spending increases, President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget plan Monday that would freeze or reduce some safety-net programs for the nation’s poor but turn aside Republican demands for more drastic cuts to shrink the government to where it was before he took office….. – AP, 2-15-11
    • Highlights of Obama’s 2012 spending plan: Obama sends plan to Capitol Hill; goal is to get funding in place by start of 2012 fiscal year… Plan includes a significant increase in education funding… Plan decreases discretionary resources for the Department of Transportation…. It trims funding for African Development and Inter-American Foundations by nearly 20%
      President Obama’s spending plan is just the first step in a process that will involve no less than 40 congressional committees, 24 subcommittees, countless hearings and a number of floor votes in the House and Senate, with the aim of getting funding in place for the federal government by the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year October 1.
      Congress never passed a budget for the current fiscal year, and the government has been running on a “continuing resolution,” which expires March 4. House Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet over cuts to current programs and threaten to shut down the government if they don’t get their way.
      After Obama sends his 2012 plan to Capitol Hill, House and Senate budget committees each pass their own budget resolutions, which set caps on spending and establish revenue targets and generally serve as five- to 10-year blueprints for congressional priorities…. – CNN,
    • Obama budget resurrects rejected tax increases: President Barack Obama’s budget proposal resurrects a series of tax increases on certain corporations and the wealthy that were largely ignored by Congress when Democrats controlled both chambers. Republicans, who now control the House, are signaling they will be even less receptive.
      The plan unveiled Monday includes tax increases for oil, gas and coal producers, investment managers and U.S.-based multinational corporations. The plan would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000. Wealthy taxpayers would have their itemized deductions limited starting in 2012, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes…. – AP, 2-14-11
    • Showtime for House Republican spending cuts: One day after President Barack Obama presented Congress with his $3.7 trillion budget, the focus shifts on Tuesday to Washington’s more immediate spending needs and a controversial spending-cut bill that Republicans hope to pass in the House of Representatives.
      The House legislation, cobbled together by Republicans after weeks of intraparty fighting, would cut about $61 billion from current spending in a bill to fund government activities through the rest of this fiscal year that ends on September 30.
      The spending being proposed would be equal to a 14 percent cut from last year…. – Reuters, 2-15-10
    • House Republicans counter Obama budget plan with much deeper cuts: On Monday, President Obama made his statement about how the government ought to change its spending habits: a gradual plan that minimizes immediate pain by phasing in cuts over a decade.
      Starting Tuesday, House Republicans will move forward with a very different approach, one intended to be viewed as radical and painful. Their proposal deals not with theoretical deficit targets set far in the future but with the final seven months of this year’s budget, a period left in flux by congressional inaction.
      House Republicans want to cut $61 billion from the budget, which would amount to the most significant government contraction since the end of World War II. Decried as “dire” and “disturbing” by Democrats, the plan has become a test for how far Republicans are willing to go in order to deliver on the promise of fiscal austerity that GOP candidates pledged to voters last year.
      “It’s big, and it’s real and it can impact people’s lives,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday of the House legislation. “But we have a budget deficit right now of nearly $1.5 trillion. We have a lot of work to do.”… – WaPo, 2-15-11
    • Obama budget: $3.7 trillion FY ‘12 blueprint calls for key ‘investments’; red ink surges: Trying to balance the need to rein in deficits with his belief that spending now on education and other priorities will pay off in the long term, President Obama on Monday sent Congress a $3.7 trillion budget blueprint for 2012 that makes some short-term fixes but puts off heavy lifting on Social Security and Medicare.
      The budget acts as an update on the current fiscal year, as well as a plan for the future, and it shows the federal government will run a record $1.645 trillion deficit in 2011, slimming down to $1.101 trillion in 2012 and continuing the red ink for the foreseeable future, though at lower levels.
      After massive spending during his first two years in office, Mr. Obama proposed some tax increases and strategic spending cuts for 2012, such as in low-income energy assistance and student aid. But he also called for boosting spending on transportation and education – needs the president said cannot be sacrificed even in the face of the deficit…. – Washington Times, 2-14-11
    • Obama budget sets up spending fight Proposed cuts too small for GOP’s fiscal hawks: President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion 2012 budget that would boost spending in Michigan on items like education and energy, while cutting things like heating assistance for the poor and Great Lakes cleanup in an effort to bring the federal deficit under control. White House officials said Obama’s budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in October would trim the federal deficit by $1.1 trillion over a decade, and produce about a $1.6 trillion budget hole for this year. The plan now goes to Congress, where it’s likely to encounter stiff opposition from Republicans who have said they want deeper cuts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who will fight for programs and tax breaks benefiting their districts… – The Detroit News, 2-15-11
    • Editorial: The Obama Budget: On paper, President Obama’s new $3.7 trillion budget is encouraging. It makes a number of tough choices to cut the deficit by a projected $1.1 trillion over 10 years, which is enough to prevent an uncontrolled explosion of debt in the next decade and, as a result, reduce the risk of a fiscal crisis.
      The questions are whether its tough choices are also wise choices and whether it stands a chance in a Congress in which Republicans, who now dominate the House, are obsessed with making indiscriminate short-term cuts in programs they never liked anyway. The Republican cuts would eviscerate vital government functions while not having any lasting impact on the deficit.
      What Mr. Obama’s budget is most definitely not is a blueprint for dealing with the real long-term problems that feed the budget deficit: rising health care costs, an aging population and a refusal by lawmakers to face the inescapable need to raise taxes at some point. Rather, it defers those critical issues, in hopes, we assume, that both the economy and the political environment will improve in the future…. – NYT, 2-15-11
    • President Obama’s budget kicks the hard choices further down the road: THE PRESIDENT PUNTED. Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided. “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices,” the president said in his budget message. “A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.” His budget would keep the country on that course…. – WaPo, 2-15-11

    QUOTES

    • The President Unveils a Budget to Win the Future for Our Kids: And I just came to Parkville on a day where we are unveiling our budget, and I’m doing so for a reason. But before I do that I just want to thank Principal Buddy Parker, who is showing us around, as well as Susan Yoder, the eighth grade science teacher who we just visited with in her classroom.
      Over the last few weeks I’ve traveled the country, talking about what we need to do to win the future; talked about the need to invest in innovation, so that the next big idea is discovered here in the United States of America. I’ve talked about the need to invest in high-speed rail and high-speed Internet, so that companies can move goods and information faster than ever. And this week, I’ll be talking about the need to invest in education -– in places like Parkville -– so that every American is equipped to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world.
      These investments are an essential part of the budget my administration is sending to Congress. Because I’m convinced that if we out-build and out-innovate and out-educate, as well as out-hustle the rest of the world, the jobs and industries of our time will take root here in the United States. Our people will prosper and our country will succeed.
      But I’m also convinced that the only way we can make these investments in our future is if our government starts living within its means, if we start taking responsibility for our deficits. That’s why, when I was sworn in as President, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. The budget I’m proposing today meets that pledge -– and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade. We do this in part by eliminating waste and cutting whatever spending we can do without.
      As I start — as a start, I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years. This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending — domestic discretionary spending — to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let me repeat that. Because of our budget, this share of spending will be at its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President. That level of spending is lower than it was under the last three administrations, and it will be lower than it was under Ronald Reagan.
      Now, some of the savings will come through less waste and more efficiency. To take just one example, by getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots and government-owned properties we no longer need, we can save taxpayers billions of dollars. And when it comes to programs we do need, we’re making them work better by demanding accountability. Instead of spending first, and asking questions later, we’re rewarding folks inside and outside government who deliver results. And to make sure that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, I’ve pledged to veto any bill that contains earmarks.
      Still, even as we cut waste and inefficiency, this budget freeze will require some tough choices. It will mean cutting things that I care deeply about — for example, community action programs in low-income neighborhoods and towns, and community development block grants that so many of our cities and states rely on. But if we’re going to walk the walk when it comes to fiscal discipline, these kinds of cuts will be necessary…. – WH, 2-14-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Jack Lew: The 2012 Budget: Today, the President sent to Congress his budget for the 2012 fiscal year. This document is built around the simple idea that we have to live within our means so we can invest in the future. Only by making tough choices to both cut spending and deficits and invest in what we need to win the future can we out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.
      This is the seventh Budget that I have worked on at OMB, and it may be the most difficult. It includes more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction – two-thirds from spending cuts — and puts the nation on a path toward fiscal sustainability so that by the middle of the decade, the government will no longer be adding to our national debt as a share of the economy and will be paying for what it spends – and will be able to sustain that for many years afterwards.
      The President has called this budget a down payment because we will still have work to do to pay down the debt and address our long-term challenges. But it is a necessary and critical step for we cannot start to move toward balance and to cutting into the size of our debt until we first stop adding to it – and that is what this Budget does…. – WH, 2-14-11
    • Barack Obama: “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices. A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.”
    • Barack Obama: “As we move to rein in our deficits, we must do so in a way that does not cut back on those investments that have the biggest impact on our economic growth, because the best antidote to a growing deficit is a growing economy. So even as we pursue cuts and savings in the months ahead, we must fund those investments that will help America win the race for the jobs and industries of the future – investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure.”
    • Eric Cantor: This week, the House will consider H.R. 1 – historic legislation that will reduce spending by at least $100 billion over the next seven months. This is the largest spending cut in modern history. These are not easy cuts, but we are finally doing what every American has to do both at home and at work – begin a path towards living within our means.
    • John Boehner: President Obama’s latest budget will destroy jobs by spending too much, borrowing too much, & taxing too much. The American people have made it clear they want Washington’s job-crushing spending binge to end. To help our economy get back to creating jobs, we need to liberate it from the shackles of Big Government and out-of-control spending. H.R. 1, on the House floor this week, will help do this.
    • Mitch McConnell: Senator McConnell comments on the President’s Budget: After two years of failed Stimulus programs and Democrats in Washington competing to outspend each other, we just can’t afford to do all the things the administration wants to do. The President has said he wants us to ‘Win the Future.’ But this budget abdicates the future. It simply spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.
    • Sarah Palin: The Truth Behind the White House’s Budget Spin: Today the White House finally produced its proposal for the 2012 budget. Beware of the left’s attempt to sell this as “getting tough on the deficit,” because as an analysis from Americans for Tax Reform shows, the White House’s plans are more about raising taxes and growing more government than reducing budget shortfalls.
      The fine print reveals a White House proposal to increase taxes by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If you want to know how minuscule their proposed $775 million-a-year budget “cuts” really are, please look at this chart. The proposed cuts are so insignificant – less than 1/10 of 1% of this year’s $1.65 trillion budget deficit – that they are essentially invisible on the pie chart. That speaks volumes about today’s budget.
      UPDATE: As J.D. Foster of the Heritage Foundation points out: “…the President proposes a budget that keeps the federal government on a thoroughly irresponsible and unsustainable course.” Please read the Heritage Foundation article and understand the $775 million in proposed cuts noted above are what the White House’s budget director Jacob Lew identified as reflecting what they perceive as some “tough calls.” Yet, as noted, they are a drop in the bucket; and the White House’s total proposed cuts for this year are still not at all enough to make us solvent.

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • What the Budget Cuts Say About Obama: President Obama’s proposed budget would cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion in 10 years, with about two-thirds coming from spending cuts and one-third from added revenue. The House Republicans have called for much broader cuts of $2.5 trillion in 10 years.
      Both plans are primarily political statements, since neither is likely to be carried out without significant compromise. While the G.O.P. has long promoted itself as the party of fiscal conservatism, neither it nor the president makes cuts to costly entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
      How is Mr. Obama positioning himself in the battle to define his party as fiscally responsible? His plan cuts programs that liberals support, like Pell grants, home-heating aid and environmental spending. What do these cuts say about his political strategy or approach?… -
    • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary Obama’s budget a deficit enabler?: It boggles the mind that the Obama administration would put forward a budget with a trillion dollar deficit that does not address the long-term fiscal morass facing our entitlement programs. Blaming the Republicans for not coming forward with more specific cuts first will not fly; in the strange Kabuki dance of the budget process, it is incumbent on the administration to release its own budget first. Republicans will have their own chance, in the form of the forthcoming battle over the annual Congressional Budget Resolution, to show where they stand on the issue. – Politico, 2-14-11

    Egypt in Crisis: Hosni Mubarak Steps Downs, Cedes Power to Military — US & Obama Reacts

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    CRISIS IN EGYPT & MIDDLE EAST:

    Ed Ou for The New York Times

    Demonstrators in Cairo rejoiced Friday upon hearing that President Hosni Mubarak had been toppled after 18 days of protests against his government.

    IN FOCUS

    • Egypt News— The ProtestsNYT
    • Hosni MubarakNYT
    • Latest Updates on EgyptNYT

    THE HEADLINES….

       

    • Egypt’s generals impose martial law — Egypt day 20: Aftermath of a regime change: Ruling council says it will run the country for six months or until elections are held; tensions flare as military evicts protesters in Tahrir Square.
      Egypt’s generals imposed martial law on Sunday, dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution, moves that many of the protesters who helped topple President Hosni Mubarak said were necessary to excise a rotten form of government.
      The sweeping actions appeared to have their desired effect of calming the national mood. Under a celebratory facade, Egypt has remained on edge since Mubarak was forced to abdicate Friday, as uncertainty grew over the revolution’s next stages…. – WaPo, 2-13-11
    • Middle East nations scramble to contain unrest: Governments step up political concessions, dole out benefits or prepare the riot police in attempts to keep order after the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which showed people that strongmen may not be needed to protect against sectarian violence or Islamic extremism…. – LAT, 2-13-11
    • Revolutionary art gives expression to Egyptians’ hopes: In the midst of the protests, a small group of artists, playwrights and poets in Tahrir Square helped give expression to Egyptians’ angers and frustrations. Now they focus on their victory and hopes for the future…. – LAT, 2-13-11
    • As Egypt Calms Down, So Do Israeli Nerves: As Israelis began to adjust to the departure of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, their staunchest and longest- standing regional ally, the alarm and anxiety that Israel has been projecting seemed to give way on Sunday to more nuanced tones, as well as some hints of admiration for the Egyptian people and sympathy for their cause.
      “It is difficult not to be awed by the new spirit, the hope and the optimism that gushed forth out of Egypt,” wrote Ben Caspit, a prominent Israeli commentator, in the newspaper Maariv on Sunday. “By the courage of the masses. By the wisdom of the army, by the fight that Mubarak gave (many would have broken before he did). By the comparatively dignified way in which the Egyptian people swept out one of its greatest heroes, who became one of the strongest and most-hated rulers in the modern history of this ancient people.”
      The front page of the popular newspaper Yediot Aharonot was taken up entirely by a picture of Egyptians celebrating, with the headline “A New Egypt.”… – NYT, 2-12-11
    • U.S. seeks to maintain stability in Egyptian power vacuum: The Obama Administration’s standing in the Middle East is largely dependent now on Egypt’s success in transforming its toppled government into a secular democracy. As throngs of Egyptians celebrated the resignation of embattled President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday, Western officials wondered whether the transfer of power would help — or hurt — the U.S.
      “The hard part begins now,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution. Egypt has been one of America’s strongest allies in the Middle East and Mubarak has played a major role in maintaining peace with Israel. The army said it would respect Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel until a new government is established. Riedel said the U.S. must maintain a strong presence in Egypt’s transition by “building a broad coalition that includes the army and the politicians that can prepare for elections and reboot the economy while avoiding quarreling with Israel.”… – Washington Examiner, 2-12-11
    • 18 days of protest culminate in Mubarak’s ouster: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down Friday and handed over power to the military, his nearly three decades of iron rule ended by a groundswell of popular protests that began January 25. In a somber one-minute announcement on state television, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak’s resignation and said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will “run the affairs of the country.”
      As Suleiman spoke, deafening cheers erupted among tens of thousands of Egyptians who thronged the streets of Cairo. It was a moment they had sought throughout long, often tense days of demonstrations — some of them violent — that demanded Mubarak’s departure.
      It was also a moment that many in the Arab world’s powerhouse nation had not dared contemplate. Chants of “Egypt is free!” and “God is great!” rose from the crowds, dizzy in the honeymoon of their success. Some waved Egyptian flags; others honked horns; still others set off fireworks as they savored the scene…. – CNN, 2-11-11
    • ‘Egypt is Free’ chants Tahrir after Mubarak quits: Cries of “Egypt is free” rang out and fireworks lit up the sky over Cairo’s Tahrir Square where hundreds of thousands danced, wept and prayed in joyful pandemonium Friday after 18 days of peaceful pro-democracy protests forced President Hosni Mubarak to hand over power to the military, ending three decades of authoritarian rule.
      Ecstatic protesters hoisted soldiers onto their shoulders and families posed for pictures in front of tanks in streets flooded with people streaming out to celebrate. Strangers hugged each other, some fell to kiss the ground, and others stood stunned in disbelief. Chants of “Hold your heads high, you’re Egyptian” roared with each burst of fireworks overhead.
      “I’m 21 years old and this is the first time in my life I feel free,” an ebullient Abdul-Rahman Ayyash, born eight years after Mubarak came to power, said as he hugged fellow protesters in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square…. – AP, 2-11-11
    • Egypt Erupts in Jubilation as Mubarak Steps Down: Egypt erupted in a joyous celebration of the power of a long repressed people on Friday as President Hosni Mubarak resigned his post and ceded control to the military, ending his nearly 30 years of autocratic rule.
      Shouts of “God is Great” competed with fireworks and car horns around Cairo after Mr. Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced during evening prayers that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders, bowing to a historic popular uprising that has transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world.
      Protesters hugged and cheered and shouted, “Egypt is free!” and “You’re an Egyptian, lift your head.”… – NYT, 2-11-11
    • As Mubarak resigns, Yemenis call for a revolution of their own: Thousands of secessionists protested in Yemen today in an example of how disparate movements across the Middle East are tapping the anti-regime fervor for their own disparate aims…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-11
    • Obama Presses Egypt’s Military on Democracy: President Obama declared on Friday that “Egypt will never be the same” after the street revolution that deposed President Hosni Mubarak, but warned the military council taking over the country that it will now have to “ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people.”
      He also offered Egypt “whatever assistance is necessary” to pursue changes that would lead to democracy. Saying that the protesters have “bent the arc of history,” he likened their accomplishments to those of the Germans who tore down the Berlin Wall and the Indonesians who led an uprising that brought democracy to their country.
      Mr. Obama barely mentioned Mr. Mubarak, a longtime ally of the United States, and did not offer thanks for his efforts to help carry out United States policy in the region…. – NYT, 2-11-11
    • Boehner credits Obama for handling of Egypt crisis: House Speaker John Boehner says on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that he thinks the president responded to the ‘very difficult situation’ in Egypt about as well as possible. Potential GOP presidential candidates believe otherwise.
      House Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday he thought the Obama administration handled “a very difficult situation” in Egypt about as well as possible, undercutting potential Republican presidential candidates who have charged that President Obama botched the U.S. response to a popular revolt against a key ally…. – LAT, 2-13-11
    • Israel fears loss of a crucial ally with Mubarak’s fall: Israel is concerned that the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will give rise to the Muslim Brotherhood and create an ‘encirclement’ of hostile states.
      For Israelis, Mubarak has been absolutely crucial to their sense of regional stability. Through wars and uprisings, Mubarak adhered to the peace treaty with Israel, chastising DON’T CHASTISE THAT… Arab radicals that the days of Egypt warring with Israel were over. Egypt joined Israel in blockading the Gaza Strip in a bid to undermine its Hamas rulers and was a de facto ally against the spread of Iranian influence in the region.
      Unlike the US, Israel did not turn against Mubarak during the crisis. In fact, according to a Haaretz report, Israel called on the US and Europe to curb their criticism of Mubarak ”in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt” and the wider Middle East…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-11
    • Quiet Worries as Israel Watches an Ally Depart: As the streets of Gaza exploded with celebration on Friday night with masked Hamas militants marching defiantly to cheer the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Israelis reacted with quiet and deep concern because the regional leader on whom they had relied most was suddenly gone. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintained the same studied silence it has sustained for more than two weeks on the assumption that nothing it said could serve its interests: if it praised the pro- democracy movement, it would be seen as disloyal to its ally, Mr. Mubarak. If it favored Mr. Mubarak, it would be dismissed as a supporter of dictatorships.
      But behind the scenes, officials willing to share their thoughts anonymously expressed worry because they believed that whoever followed Mr. Mubarak would be less friendly to Israel. “We don’t know who will be running things in the coming months in Egypt, but we have to keep two things in mind,” one top official said. “The first is that the only example we have of this kind of thing in the region is Iran in 1979. You can’t take that out of your mind. The second is that if Egypt pulls back in any way from its peace with Israel, it will discourage anyone else in the region, including the Palestinians, from stepping forward. So the regional implications for us are significant.”… – NYT, 2-11-11
    • Biden calls Mubarak resignation ‘pivotal moment': Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that the Egyptian people will shape their country’s future following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
      Speaking at the University of Louisville, Biden called Mubarak’s decision to relinquish power an “historic day for the people of Egypt” and a “pivotal moment in history.”
      Biden’s midday speech was delayed about a half-hour after Mubarak’s sudden decision to shift authority to the military following waves of mass protests demanding his resignation. Near the start of his 50-minute talk, Biden said the aspirations of the Egyptian protesters must be met. “The transition that’s taking place must be an irreversible change in a negotiated path toward democracy,” he said…. – AP, 2-11-11
    • Military Caught Between Mubarak and Protesters: Even as pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo have riveted the world’s attention for 17 days, the Egyptian military has managed the crisis with seeming finesse, winning over street protesters, quietly consolidating its domination of top government posts and sidelining potential rivals for leadership, notably President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal.
      Then came Thursday, a roller coaster of a day on which the military at first appeared to be moving to usher Mr. Mubarak from the scene — and then watched with the world as Mr. Mubarak clung to his title, delegating some powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice president and former longtime intelligence chief.
      The standoff between the protest leaders and Mr. Mubarak, hours before major demonstrations set for Friday, could pose a new dilemma for military commanders. Mr. Suleiman called for an end to demonstrations, and Human Rights Watch said this week that some military units had been involved in detaining and abusing protesters. But by most accounts, army units deployed in Cairo and other cities have shown little appetite for using force to clear the streets…. – NYT, 2-10-11
    • Mubarak speaks, but little changes: Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak addressed his country Thursday night amid rumors that he might step down, sparking dramatic change. He did not, and in the end, what had changed was little more than the belief that Mubarak would relinquish power.
      — Mubarak stood firm, sweeping away hours of speculation that his resignation was imminent. “I am going to adhere … to the decision of shouldering the responsibility in defending the constitution and the national interest of the people until the transfer of power and the transfer of responsibility, which is going to be to the one that the people will choose as their leader in transparent and free elections where guarantees are going to be there for full transparency and for freedom,” he said.
      — The “dialogue” begun last week will continue until a “peaceful transfer of power” is completed after the September elections…. – CNN, 2-10-11
    • Obama’s advisors split on when and how Mubarak should go: White House aides acknowledge that the differing views among Obama’s team of advisors has resulted in a mixed message on Egypt. The Obama administration’s shifting response to the crisis in Egypt reflects a sharp debate over how and when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should leave office, a policy decision that could have long-term implications for America’s image in the Middle East.
      After sending mixed signals, the administration has appeared to settle on supporting a measured transition for easing Mubarak out of power. That strategy, which remains the subject of vigorous debate inside the administration, calls for a Mubarak crony, Vice President Omar Suleiman, to lead the reform process…. – LAT, 2-9-11
    • More Egypt protesters turn out, drawn by Google’s Wael Ghonim: Released Google executive Wael Ghonim emerges as an impassioned but reluctant symbol of resistance.
      Wael Ghonim stood on a tiny stage in a corner of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a spindly figure in a sea of tens of thousands of anti-government protesters, his shouts of “Long live Egypt!” rippling out before evaporating in the noisy squall.
      As the head of Google marketing operations in the Middle East, the gaunt 30-year-old seemed an unlikely figure to command special attention Tuesday, a day when the movement to topple President Hosni Mubarak drew one of its biggest crowds yet. But his role in organizing online opposition to Mubarak, and his highly publicized release after 12 days in the custody of Egypt’s security services, had turned Ghonim, temporarily at least, into an icon of Egyptian resistance…. – LAT, 2-9-11
    • Despite retreats, Egypt regime’s core stands firm: Egypt’s regime has offered a string of concessions in the face of the strongest threat yet to its rule, but so far nothing that uproots its entrenched monopoly on power.
      The power elite has ruled for six decades, backed by a constitution it wrote, state media it controls and millions of Egyptians who depend on its patronage. In the face of a popular uprising, it has shown dogged resilience in what opponents say is a campaign to break anti-government protests and preserve the regime’s authority after President Hosni Mubarak leaves the stage.
      In an example of the levers it can pull, the government announced a 15 percent raise Monday for some 6 million public employees — a potent message to almost a quarter of Egypt’s labor force about where their loyalties should lie. Leading the effort is Vice President Omar Suleiman, a canny former intelligence chief with vast experience in international negotiations, who has promised to carry out change…. – AP, 2-7-11
    • West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition: The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, backing his attempt to defuse a popular uprising without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power. American officials said Mr. Suleiman had promised them an “orderly transition” that would include constitutional reform and outreach to opposition groups. “That takes some time,” Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton said, speaking at a Munich security conference. “There are certain things that have to be done in order to prepare.”… – NYT, 2-5-11
    • Egypt feels the cost of protest: A report released Friday estimates that Egypt is losing $310 million daily from the protests. On Cairo streets, Concerns range from tomato prices to the future of tourism and jobs…. – CS Monitor, 2-5-11
    • To ensure order, Obama officials back slow-motion change in Egypt: The Obama administration joined other Western nations Saturday in endorsing embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s gradual exit from power and, in a shift, urged Egyptians to back the power transition Mubarak and his closest advisers have set in motion.
      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a security conference, touted the transition concept, a strategy that tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters in Cairo appear to reject in favor Mubarak’s immediate ouster. “I think it’s important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now-Vice President Omar Suleiman,” Clinton said. “That is what we are supporting, and hope to see it move as orderly but as expeditiously as possible, under the circumstances.”… – Miami Herald, 2-5-11
    • Does the US really want Mubarak to go?: The dramatic events in Egypt and the wider Middle East have inevitably overshadowed the meeting of policy-makers gathered at the annual Security Conference here in Munich. This was the first face-to-face opportunity for key figures like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to exchange views on the upheavals in the Arab world. Only one prominent speaker at the conference – former Republican US presidential candidate John McCain – was ready to state in explicit terms that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must go now.
      By and large though it is the Obama administration’s more nuanced line that represents the consensus here. The emphasis is upon process rather than personality – the need for an orderly transition towards a truly democratic society…. – BBC, 2-5-11
    • Egypt: Secretary of State Clinton warns of ‘perfect storm': Secretary of State Clinton warns of a “perfect storm of powerful trends” across the region, including a young population, political repression, economic disparity, and dwindling supplies of oil and water….
      Speaking from a security conference in Munich, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned of a “perfect storm of powerful trends” across the region, including a young population, political repression, economic disparity, and dwindling supplies of oil and water.
      “This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region,” Clinton said in her speech Saturday. “Some leaders may believe that their country is an exception – that their people will not demand greater political or economic opportunities, or that they can be placated with half-measures,” she said. “In the short term, that may be true; but in the long term that is untenable.”… – CS Monitor, 2-5-11
    • Egypt crisis: Death toll at 11, health ministry says; 916 injured: Demonstrators continued to gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Saturday morning in defiance of a government- imposed curfew.
      Read full coverage of the unrest in Egypt updated continually by CNN reporters worldwide.
      See also this strong roundup of timely, insightful views on the wave of upheaval in the Arab world…. – CNN, 2-4-11
    • Mubarak hangs on after mass protests in Egypt: Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians marched peacefully in Cairo on Friday to demand an immediate end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, but there was no sign of the army or the president’s U.S. allies forcing him out just yet.
      With the unrest entering its 12th day, protesters camped out in Tahrir Square, the hub of demonstrations in the heart of Cairo, prepared on Saturday to wait him out.
      “Mubarak must go, Mubarak must go” and “Hold your ground, God is with us,” someone shouted over a loud speaker, after a brief burst of heavy gunfire shortly before 2 a.m. local time…. – Reuters, 2-4-11
    • White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit: The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.
      Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.
      The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
      Senior administration officials said that the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak in an effort to persuade the president to step down now…. – NYT, 2-3-11
    • Israel ponders border security, enlarged military amid Egypt unrest: Israelis are looking fearfully beyond the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, expecting it will force them to stiffen security across an extensive southwestern border and perhaps reoccupy a strategic corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
      In the long term, it may require Israel to expand its military force and budget if a new Egyptian government comes under the sway of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, or otherwise casts into doubt the long-standing peace accord between the two nations.
      Israel has relied for three decades on the assumption that it would never again fight a land war against the Arab world’s most populous state, or worry about Egypt openly supporting militants in the Gaza Strip or elsewhere…. – WaPo, 2-4-11
    • Canada’s cautious position on Egypt linked to support for Israel: On the surface, the Conservative government’s statements on the crisis in Egypt might seem a carbon copy of those churned out by the White House. But there has been one major difference — and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s staunch support for Israel and strong backing within Canada’s Jewish community could offer clues about why.
      President Barack Obama’s administration, along with major European countries, have called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside now and allow for a transition of power. But the Canadian government has markedly refrained from asking for Mubarak’s ouster. Instead, it has spoken in broad terms about the need to respect human rights and a peaceful transition to democracy.
      Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon on Thursday condemned the detention of Canadian journalists in Cairo, but did not wade into the question of Mubarak’s presidency.
      During an emergency House of Commons debate late Wednesday night, Conservative MPs repeatedly noted their concerns about Israeli security and the need to uphold the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace accord. “In order for us, here in Canada, to recognize and support the future Egyptian government, it must meet four basic conditions: first, it must respect freedom, democracy and human rights, particularly the rights of women; second, it must recognize the State of Israel; third, it must adhere to existing peace treaties; and fourth, it must respect international law,” Cannon said…. – Canadian Press, 2-2-11
    • Kerry-McCain resolution calls on Mubarak to step down: Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain are calling on embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic government. The two former presidential candidates, Kerry in 2004 and McCain in 2008, have been among the leading voices of their parties on international affairs in general and the violent unraveling of Egypt’s power structure specifically. The two co-wrote a resolution, passed by the Senate on a voice vote tonight, that calls on Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government…. – Boston Globe, 2-3-11Resolution Copy
    • Yemen’s President Is Latest To Vow Exit: President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he won’t run for re-election when his term ends in 2013, and that he won’t attempt to pass on the presidency to his son, abruptly ending his bid to change the constitution to erase all term limits on the post. Opposition leaders called the president’s concessions insufficient and urged their supporters to join renewed mass protests Thursday. Ahead of that rally, most major commercial banks in the capital, San’a, reported large withdrawals from thousands of citizens, as fears grow that the protest will turn violent.
      Separately, Jordan’s largest political group, the Islamic Action Front, said it plans mass protests Friday over the appointment of a new prime minister, Maruf Bakhit, who started talks Wednesday on the formation of a new government…. – WSJ, 2-3-11
    • Obama Continues to Monitor Tense Egypt Situation: President Obama returned to the White House after a brief trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday, and has been holding more consultations with his advisers on the situation in Egypt. The United States pressed harder on the Egyptian government and military to stop a wave of violence.
      The president moved quickly past members of the press corps without comment, and into the Oval Office where over the past few days of the Egyptian crisis he has met with advisers and spoken twice by telephone with President Hosni Mubarak.
      In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Mubarak referred to those conversations and said, according to excerpts, while he is a “very good man” Mr. Obama didn’t understand the culture of Egypt. In the same interview, Mr. Mubarak said he was “very unhappy” with violence in Egypt, which he blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, but said he could not step down and risk the chaos he says would ensue…. – VOA, 2-3-11
    • US, UK condemn attacks on journalists in Egypt: The United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of foreign reporters covering protests against President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.
      U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned assaults on American journalists in Cairo as concern rose about the possibility of an intensified round of rioting on Friday.
      “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said, reading a statement…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
    • Tens of thousands turn out for rival rallies in Yemen: Anti-government protesters in Sana are met with a competing rally across town by the president’s supporters, who get logistical support from the army…. – LAT, 2-3-11
    • Egypt’s VP uses state TV to blame unrest on ‘foreign agendas': Egypt’s new Vice President Omar Suleiman took to state TV Thursday night to make a play for Mubarak to hang on until presidential elections in September…. – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
    • The Arab reform dodge: Cosmetic concessions aren’t enough: LIKE EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak, Arab rulers around the Middle East are trying to head off the swelling popular discontent in their countries while retaining political control…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
    • GOP divided over Obama response to Egypt: As chaos roils Egypt, Republican lawmakers and the GOP’s potential presidential candidates are divided over President Barack Obama’s response though united in concern that an Islamic regime could rise to power in a nation that is an important U.S. ally in the precarious Middle East.
      Compared with recent verbal sparring on domestic issues, the debate between Democrats and Republicans on Egypt is somewhat muted. That’s perhaps because the two parties differ little over U.S. policy toward Egypt. Both view the country as a linchpin to a peaceful Middle East. And while supportive of democracy there, both also express concern about the influence of extremists in a post-Mubarak government, a particular worry of Israel.
      Trying to set the tone for their party, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the country’s two top elected Republicans, have deferred to the Democratic president. They are signaling an unwillingness among the GOP leadership in Congress to pick a fight, in line, at least on this issue, with the tradition that politics stops at the waters’ edge in the midst of foreign crises. “America ought to speak with one voice,” said McConnell…. -
    • The Pentagon View of Egypt: What the Uprising Means for the U.S. MilitaryABC News, 2-3-1
    • Why Obama’s position on Egypt’s Mubarak was too little, too late: The images that have come out of Egypt over the past week are stunning: tens of thousands of largely unarmed protestors facing tanks, teargas, and live ammunition and who are still demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down. But throughout the upheaval, the United States response has been guarded, if not inadequate. After days of tepid statements and measured acknowledgements of the Egyptian people’s “legitimate grievances,” even an eventual call for “free and fair elections,” the Obama administration would still not publicly call for Mr. Mubarak’s departure…. – CS Monitor, 2-2-11
    • Journalists Are Targets of Violence in Cairo: As chaos gripped central Tahrir Square in Cairo on Wednesday, journalists covering the scene on the ground found themselves the targets of violence and intimidation by demonstrators chanting slogans in favor of President Hosni Mubarak. One prominent American television correspondent, Anderson Cooper of CNN, was struck in the head repeatedly.
      Reporters Without Borders said it had received dozens of confirmed reports of violence against local and international journalists in Egypt. Tala Dowlatshahi, a spokeswoman for the group, said to “expect more foreign journalists to be targeted.” The attacks were reported by Al Jazeera, CNN and Twitter users almost as soon as violent clashes began in the square, also known as Liberation Square, eliciting a strong condemnation from the White House and the State Department…. – NYT, 2-2-11
    • Uprising in Egypt Splits U.S Conservatives: Glenn Beck blasts the uprising in Cairo as a threat to our way of life. Michelle Goldberg on how the rebellion is splitting U.S. conservatives—and the fallout for the 2012 presidential campaign. Plus, full coverage of Egypt’s protests…. – The Daily Beast, 2-1-11
    • Obama Urges Quick Transition in Egypt: President Obama declared on Tuesday night that an “orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now,” but he stopped short of demanding that President Hosni Mubarak leave office immediately. Mr. Obama used his four-and-a-half minute speech from the Cross Hall of the White House to embrace the cause of the protestors in Egypt far more fully than he has at any previous moment since the uprising against Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year-rule began.
      He praised the Egyptian military for refusing to fire on the protestors. And by declaring that Mr. Mubarak had to begin the process of transition immediately, he seemed to be signaling that the United States would not stand by if Mr. Mubarak tried to slow-walk the process, or manipulate its results.
      But if he pushed Mr. Mubarak, he did not shove him. Mr. Obama said there would be “difficult days ahead,” a clear signal of recognition that the transition period could be messy. Only a few hours before, Mr. Mubarak had declared he would not run for re-election, but planned to stay in office through September. Mr. Obama never discussed that timetable in his public response, and he did not declare exactly what steps he wants the Egyptian leader to take to start the process of transition.
      But he made clear that the process started by the protestors could not be reversed. “We’ve born witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country,” Mr. Obama said, casting it as a natural successor to other moments of transition in a society that goes back thousands of years…. – NYT, 2-1-11
    • Israel wary of transition in Egypt, concerned about regional stability: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s quickening collapse and increasing political turmoil in Jordan have prompted concerns in Israel that its historic peace treaties with those countries may not withstand the convulsion sweeping the region.
      A change of power in Egypt and instability in Jordan could have profound consequences for Israel, which depends on the peace accords – its only two with Arab countries – as a cornerstone of its security. The treaties struck by Israel with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994 remain unpopular among the residents of the two Arab nations, and Israel has relied on the strength of Mubarak’s regime and the Jordanian monarchy to keep them intact.
      Not all of the recent developments have been bad from the Israelis’ perspective: Newly appointed Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman has become a trusted interlocutor on regional security issues, and the United States will push to ensure that the peace accords remain in place. But the fast pace of events may change how Israel perceives its position, and make it less willing to offer territorial concessions as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians. The country is still digesting the rise in Lebanon of a new government chosen by the Shiite Hezbollah, one of its chief antagonists, and may now sense instability on all sides.
      Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened top intelligence analysts and senior cabinet members in Tel Aviv for a day of urgent consultations Tuesday to weigh the changes underway in Egypt and assess the strength of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, an Israeli official said. Abdullah sacked his cabinet Tuesday amid clamors for more economic and political reform. After the meetings, Netanyahu said the international community “must demand that any Egyptian government preserve the peace accord with Israel.”… – WaPo, 2-1-11
    • Quiet Acts of Protest on a Noisy DayNYT, 2-1-11
    • Israel shocked by Obama’s “betrayal” of Mubarak: If Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday. Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness.
      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel’s President Shimon Peres is not a minister.
      “We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak,” he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. “I don’t say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East.”… – Reuters, 1-31-11
    • Turbulence Rocks an Israeli Ally: The street revolt in Egypt has thrown the Israeli government and military into turmoil, with top officials closeted in round-the-clock strategy sessions aimed at rethinking their most significant regional relationship. Israel’s military planning relies on peace with Egypt; nearly half the natural gas it uses is imported from Egypt; and the principle of trading conquered land for diplomatic ties began with its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.
      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt more than with any other foreign leader, except President Obama. If Mr. Mubarak were driven from power, the effect on Israel could be profound. “For the United States, Egypt is the keystone of its Middle East policy,” a senior official said. “For Israel, it’s the whole arch.”… – NYT, 1-30-11
    • Clinton Calls for ‘Orderly Transition’ in Egypt: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure. Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, insisted that Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.” And she emphasized that elections scheduled for this fall must be free and fair. President Obama reinforced that message in phone calls on Saturday and Sunday to other leaders in the region, including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as the administration tried to contain the regional reverberations…. – NYT, 1-30-11
    • U.S. cautiously prepares for post-Mubarak era: Mindful of other allies in the region, U.S. officials have been careful not to abandon the Egyptian leader, urging him to implement a transition to democracy. But they are also preparing for the possibility of his ouster…. – LAT, 1-30-11
    • What impact will the uprising in Egypt have on the Middle East, the U.S., Canada, China, and the EU? The Mark’s experts weigh in.The Mark News, 2-2-11

    QUOTES

       

    • Obama’s Remarks on the Resignation of Mubarak: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s remarks on Friday, after President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt announced his resignation, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 2-11-11
    • Remarks by the President on Egypt: THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.
      By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.
      The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.
      The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary — and asked for — to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity — jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.
      Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.
      We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.
      We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”
      We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” — “We are peaceful” — again and again.
      We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.
      And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.
      We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
      And above all, we saw a new generation emerge — a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.
      This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.
      And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.
      As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.
      Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.
      The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world. – WH, 2-11-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • LIEBERMAN STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT MUBARAK’S RESIGNATION: Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) today issued the following statement in response to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak:
      “President Mubarak’s decision to step down today marks the beginning of an extraordinary new chapter in the history of a great and ancient nation – a hopeful chapter that the people of Egypt, through peaceful and courageous protest, have secured the freedom and opportunity to write for themselves. The United States has had a longstanding friendship and partnership with Egypt; now that partnership must be applied to support the successful, orderly transition to genuine democracy that the Egyptian people desire. I hope that the Egyptian army – which has displayed such admirable professionalism and restraint during the historic events of recent days – will seize the opportunity to reach out to the opposition and make them a full partner in jointly developing a roadmap and timetable for transition, which should include the immediate suspension of the emergency law, legal enshrinement of the right to free speech and other fundamental freedoms, and preparations for free, fair, and inclusive elections that are internationally- monitored and meet international standards.”… – Lieberman Senate
    • SENATOR JOHN McCAIN APPLAUDS PRESIDENT MUBARAK FOR STEPPING DOWN: “I applaud President Mubarak’s decision to step down. This was obviously a very difficult decision for President Mubarak, but it is the right decision for Egypt. History will note that President Mubarak’s last action in office was in the best interest of the country he loves.
      While this is a welcomed event, the Egyptian people are clearly saying that President Mubarak’s resignation should be the beginning, not the end, of their country’s transition to democracy. I completely agree. For the Egyptian people to achieve the legitimate and enduring democratic change they seek, representatives from Egypt’s pro-democracy parties and movements must be included in the transition government. In advance of elections later this year, Egyptians must be free to exercise their universal rights peacefully – to speak and express themselves without interference, including over the internet; to organize independent political parties; to register candidates of their choosing for office; and to participate in elections that are free and fair by international standards.
      In the days ahead, the Egyptian military will continue to have a critical role in maintaining order and stability while allowing their fellow Egyptians to exercise their universal rights in peace. The Egyptian people are demanding a meaningful and irreversible transition to democracy, and I urge the Egyptian military to faithfully support and secure the coming process of political change in Egypt.
      The United States stands fully ready to assist the Egyptian people and government as they begin the hard work of democratic reform.” – McCain Senate
    • Press Secretary Gibbs on Egypt, Violence & Journalists: During his gaggle with the press aboard Air Force One, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opens the session with pointed remarks about recent developments in Egypt…. – WH, 2-3-11
    • Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.
      And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.
      First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.
      Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.
      Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.
      Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
      Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
      Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.
      Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.
      To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.
      There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum — a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day. – WH, 2-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Time for Mubarak to ‘step down': US Senator McCain: Top US Senator John McCain, shortly after talks with President Barack Obama, urged embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to “step down and relinquish power.” “Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres Mubarak 2 step down (and) relinquish power,” McCain said in a post on the microblogging site Twitter roughly an hour after discussing the bloody political crisis in Egypt with Obama. “It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people (and) its military,” said the lawmaker, Obama’s rival for the US presidency in 2008 and the top Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee…. – AFP, 2-2-11

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

       

    • Egypt protests: US conservatives divided on how to view them: Egypt’s street revolution represents a threat to the US and the capitalist system, some tea party icons say, while in the GOP establishment others see it as the spread of freedom to the Arab world.
      “The newer voices in the Republican Party – the Becks and Palins – have been the most vocal in warning about this [Egyptian] revolution,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University. Their attack is not just on Mr. Obama, he says, but on Mr. Bush’s foreign policy aims to promote freedom in the Arab world. “Beck says that’s not going to happen,” Mr. Zelizer says. “It’s just going to be fundamentalism.”… – CS Monitor, 2-9-11
    • Julian E. Zelizer: Should top U.S. goal be democracy?: When the Egyptian people took to the streets of Cairo to protest the oppressive government of President Hosni Mubarak, they instantly challenged one of the most powerful strains of U.S. foreign policy thinking.
      In American diplomatic circles, the “realists” have long argued that the U.S. must be primarily focused on national self-interest, rather than concentrating on trying to promote democracy and human rights in other countries….
      The realists have been highly skeptical about Egypt. They warn that revolution in Egypt could open the door to Islamic fundamentalism, as in Iran in 1979, and cost the U.S. and Israel one of their most loyal allies.
      Should the Egyptians be able to withstand the response of the Mubarak government and be able to establish a truly democratic and secular government, the results would be dramatic. These turbulent weeks could be remembered in the same way the nation remembers the late 1980s and early 1990s, when conditions that seemed inevitable in the Soviet empire suddenly were not.
      However, if Mubarak stifles the revolution, or fundamentalism takes hold, realists will, for a long time, point to Egypt as the prime example of why we cannot hope for much better than the status quo when it comes to the Middle East. – CNN, 2-7-11
    • New York Times: Room For Debate: Mubarak’s Role and Mideast Peace: What does the crisis in Egypt mean for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?… – NYT, 2-1-11
    • Gil Troy: Anxiety and Skepticism: Egypt’s uprising has already undermined most Israelis’ sense of security and their willingness to take risks for peace with the Palestinians. Israelis now worry about the biggest risk they ever took for peace: the withdrawal from Sinai in 1982.
      A radical Egypt downgrading or abrogating its peace treaty with Israel would top the litany of failed peace-making attempts and reinforce the argument of right-wing skeptics against trading land for peace with the Palestinians. Moreover, a hostile Egypt would reinforce the sense of betrayal so many Israelis have felt since 2000, as the failure of the Oslo peace process triggered a wave of Palestinian terror, the withdrawal from Lebanon boosted Hezbollah, and disengagement from Gaza brought Hamas to power.
      Israelis have longed for greater intimacy with the Egyptian people, always speaking of “peace with Egypt” not with Mubarak. Yet this “cold peace” has been government to government not people to people. Israelis have accepted the limits, given their alternatives.
      Mubarak’s Egypt has served as an important counterweight to Ahmadinejad’s Iran. The recent Wikileaks documents suggested some of the benefits Israel enjoyed from its alliance with Mubarak, including diplomatic support, intelligence sharing and military cooperation. Most important have been decades of non-belligerency. With the loss of that sense of security on its southern border, Israelis will be much more reluctant to cede control of their eastern border to an independent Palestine.
      This week’s hysterical headlines in the Israeli press about the potential loss of Egypt, the dip in Tel Aviv stocks, the debate about whether President Obama can be trusted to support American allies, all suggest that Israel’s strategic doctrine is being hastily rewritten.
      The prospects of peace become even more unlikely if Egypt turns Islamist. Israel’s safest border will suddenly look menacing. Hamas will look stronger in Gaza with an Islamist Egyptian regime not even pretending to try to stop the flow of arms. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will look like a less viable peace partner with fundamentalism ascendant, and any pro-peace or pro-Western Palestinians demonized as collaborators. Moreover, Israeli policymakers will feel caught, doubting Mahmoud Abbas as another unelected autocrat while fearing the popular Palestinian street more than ever.
      Israelis find themselves once again in dissonance with the international community. Many Israelis wish they could wholeheartedly support this popular move against an aging dictator. But the bitter experience of the last ten years suggests that skepticism is in order. – NYT, 2-1-11
    • Niall Ferguson Explains Why Egypt Is More Like Iran Than Berlin: This revolution in Egypt is more likely to result in something like Iran, than it is to be like the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, according to Niall Ferguson. Speaking to the German daily Handesblatt, Ferguson says that because the forces for democracy in Egypt are not well organized, Islamic fundamentalism will have a chance at success… – Business Insider, 1-31-11
    • How did the U.S. get in bed with Mubarak? Q&A with Joel Beinin: Salon.com interview with Joel Beinin, a Middle East history professor at Stanford who studies Egypt and who spent several years at the American University in Cairo in the 2000s.
      How far back can the roots of the current alliance be traced?
      It goes back to the aftermath of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war when, following the near-victory of Syria and Egypt, Henry Kissinger engaged in many rounds of shuttle diplomacy, which resulted in a separation of forces agreement between Israel and Egypt. Those were the first steps which led ultimately to the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty, which was signed in 1979. That was not at first what the Carter administration wanted to have happen. They wanted at first for something to be included on the Palestinian issue, but it wasn’t, so they just said, “OK, this is what we can get.”… – Salon, 1-29-11
    • Khaled Fahmy: Mubarak Fails to Quell Protests as Turmoil Spreads to Yemen: “I expect the demonstrations to continue,” said Khaled Fahmy, professor of history at American University in Cairo, in a telephone interview. “He really hasn’t offered much. What I’ve seen is that he has burned bridges. There is no trust between him and the people.” SF Chronicle/Blomberg, 2-2-11
    • Yale History prof sign letter to Obama regarding Egypt: As protests against the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak continue in Egypt, three Yale professors joined over 150 academics in signing an open letter to President Barack Obama yesterday, calling on Obama to support Egypt’s democratic movement. The letter reads:
      For thirty years, our government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Egypt and around the world have spoken. We believe their message is bold and clear: Mubarak should resign from office and allow Egyptians to establish a new government free of his and his family’s influence. It is also clear to us that if you seek, as you said Friday ‘political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,’ your administration should publicly acknowledge those reforms will not be advanced by Mubarak or any of his adjutants.
      Alan Mikhail, an assistant professor of history who researches Egypt during the Ottoman period, said he saw the letter as a “small gesture” academics could make, regardless of whether it sways Obama’s opinion.
      “It seems like a small gesture that I as a historian could do, to show support for the people in Egypt who are protesting, and sometimes putting their lives on the line, for a better society and a better government,” Mikhail said. “Is [Obama] going to read it? I have no idea. He’s a very busy guy.”… – Yale Daily News, 2-2-11
    • Kent Schull: Professor to students: Write your members of Congress about Egypt: In an effort to support the millions of Egyptians protesting their authoritarian government, one University of Memphis professor is asking students to flock to their keyboards. Kent Schull, assistant history professor, has expertise in modern Middle East history and said he thinks students should write to their state and U.S. representatives.
      “These people are really trying to get a better life for themselves, and that resonates with all of us,” he said. “We all want basic freedoms that we all feel we have a right to, and this is what the Egyptian people want, and I think the United States has to put the Egyptian people’s interest ahead of our own international interest.”
      “You have a huge gap between the rich and poor,” he said. “Egypt has a lot of its money coming from tourism and from small manufacturing depths from agricultural production, and the people that control that — they have a lot of money, but the vast majority of the population is very poor.”
      Schull said that the U.S.-Egypt alliance is based, in part, on geography and natural resources. “Egypt has been a very close trade partner with the United States,” he said. “(It’s) a very close political partner for trying to keep stability within the Middle East. Without Egypt as an ally, then it would be very tough to get Saudi Arabia’s oil to us.”
      The U.S. doesn’t want Egyptian people viewing it as a country that funds a dictator, Schull said. “The U.S. has been walking this fine line and probably needs to throw its support very squarely behind the Egyptian people going for democratic change,” he said. Schull said that the more representatives and senators hear from Americans about supporting these Egyptian protests, the more likely it is that “maybe they’ll listen.”… – Daily Helmsman, 2-2-11
    • Charles Wilkins: Wake Forest Professor: Economy Plays Role In Egyptian Protests: The violence is escalating in Cairo. Protestors for and against President Hosni Mubarak are clashing, surrounded by burning buildings and gun fire. Hundreds have been hurt since Wednesday when the protests turned violent. So what’s causing the un-rest in Egypt? Wake Forest University Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History, Charles Wilkins, says it started with pent up anger and the resentment of Egypt’s government
      The economy also plays a role. “Economics of it are very important. We have high unemployment, we have low wages and high cost of living. We have basically a housing shortage,” says Charles Wilkins. “It’s a young generation that’s actual rebeling. This is a politically active and aware population that want to see change.”
      Wilkins also credits the internet with helping protestors coordinate their efforts and making them more powerful. He says the protests in Tunisia a few weeks ago gave Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians the courage to question their governments…. – WFMY News 2, CBS Newspath, CNN Newsource, 2-3-11
    • Historians worry about Egyptian antiquities: The fighting has intensified in Tahrir Square. It has become a battle field. That is where the Egyptian Museum is located, filled with antiquities and the history of Egypt. There are concerns among historians about the fate of the museum and its huge collection.
      “In a situation like this where anything could happen you are always worried,” Professor Carol Redmount director of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley said.
      “On the one hand in a situation like this you are always concerned, these things are irreplaceable, they’re national treasure, international treasures, they tell is about our human history,” Redmount said. “But the Egyptian people will do whatever they can to protect it.”
      Redmount has reason to be concerned. Earlier this week vandals broke into a museum and smashed statues and glass. It is likely the next wave will steal items.
      “You can try to sell it on the antiquities market, now everyone is going to be looking for these things on the antiquities market,” Redmount said. “They’ve been looting the site with shovels, which is better than bulldozers, at the same time we don’t know how much damage has been done,” Redmount said… – ABC Local SF, 2-2-11

    February 4, 2011: Crisis & Protest in Egypt; President Obama, U.S. and the World React

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    CRISIS IN EGYPT & THE MIDDLE EAST:

    The President Discusses the Situation in Egypt
    White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/1/11

    IN FOCUS

    • Egypt News— The ProtestsNYT
    • Hosni MubarakNYT
    • Latest Updates on Day 10 of Egypt ProtestsNYT

    THE HEADLINES….

    • White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit: The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.
      Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.
      The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
      Senior administration officials said that the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak in an effort to persuade the president to step down now…. – NYT, 2-3-11
    • Israel ponders border security, enlarged military amid Egypt unrest: Israelis are looking fearfully beyond the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, expecting it will force them to stiffen security across an extensive southwestern border and perhaps reoccupy a strategic corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
      In the long term, it may require Israel to expand its military force and budget if a new Egyptian government comes under the sway of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, or otherwise casts into doubt the long-standing peace accord between the two nations.
      Israel has relied for three decades on the assumption that it would never again fight a land war against the Arab world’s most populous state, or worry about Egypt openly supporting militants in the Gaza Strip or elsewhere…. – WaPo, 2-4-11
    • Canada’s cautious position on Egypt linked to support for Israel: On the surface, the Conservative government’s statements on the crisis in Egypt might seem a carbon copy of those churned out by the White House. But there has been one major difference — and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s staunch support for Israel and strong backing within Canada’s Jewish community could offer clues about why.
      President Barack Obama’s administration, along with major European countries, have called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside now and allow for a transition of power. But the Canadian government has markedly refrained from asking for Mubarak’s ouster. Instead, it has spoken in broad terms about the need to respect human rights and a peaceful transition to democracy.
      Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon on Thursday condemned the detention of Canadian journalists in Cairo, but did not wade into the question of Mubarak’s presidency.
      During an emergency House of Commons debate late Wednesday night, Conservative MPs repeatedly noted their concerns about Israeli security and the need to uphold the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace accord. “In order for us, here in Canada, to recognize and support the future Egyptian government, it must meet four basic conditions: first, it must respect freedom, democracy and human rights, particularly the rights of women; second, it must recognize the State of Israel; third, it must adhere to existing peace treaties; and fourth, it must respect international law,” Cannon said…. – Canadian Press, 2-2-11
    • Kerry-McCain resolution calls on Mubarak to step down: Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain are calling on embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic government. The two former presidential candidates, Kerry in 2004 and McCain in 2008, have been among the leading voices of their parties on international affairs in general and the violent unraveling of Egypt’s power structure specifically. The two co-wrote a resolution, passed by the Senate on a voice vote tonight, that calls on Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government…. – Boston Globe, 2-3-11Resolution Copy
    • Yemen’s President Is Latest To Vow Exit: President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he won’t run for re-election when his term ends in 2013, and that he won’t attempt to pass on the presidency to his son, abruptly ending his bid to change the constitution to erase all term limits on the post. Opposition leaders called the president’s concessions insufficient and urged their supporters to join renewed mass protests Thursday. Ahead of that rally, most major commercial banks in the capital, San’a, reported large withdrawals from thousands of citizens, as fears grow that the protest will turn violent.
      Separately, Jordan’s largest political group, the Islamic Action Front, said it plans mass protests Friday over the appointment of a new prime minister, Maruf Bakhit, who started talks Wednesday on the formation of a new government…. – WSJ, 2-3-11
    • Obama Continues to Monitor Tense Egypt Situation: President Obama returned to the White House after a brief trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday, and has been holding more consultations with his advisers on the situation in Egypt. The United States pressed harder on the Egyptian government and military to stop a wave of violence.
      The president moved quickly past members of the press corps without comment, and into the Oval Office where over the past few days of the Egyptian crisis he has met with advisers and spoken twice by telephone with President Hosni Mubarak.
      In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Mubarak referred to those conversations and said, according to excerpts, while he is a “very good man” Mr. Obama didn’t understand the culture of Egypt. In the same interview, Mr. Mubarak said he was “very unhappy” with violence in Egypt, which he blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, but said he could not step down and risk the chaos he says would ensue…. – VOA, 2-3-11
    • US, UK condemn attacks on journalists in Egypt: The United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of foreign reporters covering protests against President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.
      U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned assaults on American journalists in Cairo as concern rose about the possibility of an intensified round of rioting on Friday.
      “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said, reading a statement…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
    • Tens of thousands turn out for rival rallies in Yemen: Anti-government protesters in Sana are met with a competing rally across town by the president’s supporters, who get logistical support from the army…. – LAT, 2-3-11
    • Egypt’s VP uses state TV to blame unrest on ‘foreign agendas': Egypt’s new Vice President Omar Suleiman took to state TV Thursday night to make a play for Mubarak to hang on until presidential elections in September…. – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
    • The Arab reform dodge: Cosmetic concessions aren’t enough: LIKE EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak, Arab rulers around the Middle East are trying to head off the swelling popular discontent in their countries while retaining political control…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
    • GOP divided over Obama response to Egypt: As chaos roils Egypt, Republican lawmakers and the GOP’s potential presidential candidates are divided over President Barack Obama’s response though united in concern that an Islamic regime could rise to power in a nation that is an important U.S. ally in the precarious Middle East.
      Compared with recent verbal sparring on domestic issues, the debate between Democrats and Republicans on Egypt is somewhat muted. That’s perhaps because the two parties differ little over U.S. policy toward Egypt. Both view the country as a linchpin to a peaceful Middle East. And while supportive of democracy there, both also express concern about the influence of extremists in a post-Mubarak government, a particular worry of Israel.
      Trying to set the tone for their party, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the country’s two top elected Republicans, have deferred to the Democratic president. They are signaling an unwillingness among the GOP leadership in Congress to pick a fight, in line, at least on this issue, with the tradition that politics stops at the waters’ edge in the midst of foreign crises. “America ought to speak with one voice,” said McConnell…. -
    • The Pentagon View of Egypt: What the Uprising Means for the U.S. MilitaryABC News, 2-3-1
    • Why Obama’s position on Egypt’s Mubarak was too little, too late: The images that have come out of Egypt over the past week are stunning: tens of thousands of largely unarmed protestors facing tanks, teargas, and live ammunition and who are still demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down. But throughout the upheaval, the United States response has been guarded, if not inadequate. After days of tepid statements and measured acknowledgements of the Egyptian people’s “legitimate grievances,” even an eventual call for “free and fair elections,” the Obama administration would still not publicly call for Mr. Mubarak’s departure…. – CS Monitor, 2-2-11
    • Journalists Are Targets of Violence in Cairo: As chaos gripped central Tahrir Square in Cairo on Wednesday, journalists covering the scene on the ground found themselves the targets of violence and intimidation by demonstrators chanting slogans in favor of President Hosni Mubarak. One prominent American television correspondent, Anderson Cooper of CNN, was struck in the head repeatedly.
      Reporters Without Borders said it had received dozens of confirmed reports of violence against local and international journalists in Egypt. Tala Dowlatshahi, a spokeswoman for the group, said to “expect more foreign journalists to be targeted.” The attacks were reported by Al Jazeera, CNN and Twitter users almost as soon as violent clashes began in the square, also known as Liberation Square, eliciting a strong condemnation from the White House and the State Department…. – NYT, 2-2-11
    • Uprising in Egypt Splits U.S Conservatives: Glenn Beck blasts the uprising in Cairo as a threat to our way of life. Michelle Goldberg on how the rebellion is splitting U.S. conservatives—and the fallout for the 2012 presidential campaign. Plus, full coverage of Egypt’s protests…. – The Daily Beast, 2-1-11
    • Obama Urges Quick Transition in Egypt: President Obama declared on Tuesday night that an “orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now,” but he stopped short of demanding that President Hosni Mubarak leave office immediately. Mr. Obama used his four-and-a-half minute speech from the Cross Hall of the White House to embrace the cause of the protestors in Egypt far more fully than he has at any previous moment since the uprising against Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year-rule began.
      He praised the Egyptian military for refusing to fire on the protestors. And by declaring that Mr. Mubarak had to begin the process of transition immediately, he seemed to be signaling that the United States would not stand by if Mr. Mubarak tried to slow-walk the process, or manipulate its results.
      But if he pushed Mr. Mubarak, he did not shove him. Mr. Obama said there would be “difficult days ahead,” a clear signal of recognition that the transition period could be messy. Only a few hours before, Mr. Mubarak had declared he would not run for re-election, but planned to stay in office through September. Mr. Obama never discussed that timetable in his public response, and he did not declare exactly what steps he wants the Egyptian leader to take to start the process of transition.
      But he made clear that the process started by the protestors could not be reversed. “We’ve born witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country,” Mr. Obama said, casting it as a natural successor to other moments of transition in a society that goes back thousands of years…. – NYT, 2-1-11
    Netanyahu and Mubarak
    Reuters Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, left, and President Hosni Mubarak at a meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on Jan. 6.
    • Israel wary of transition in Egypt, concerned about regional stability: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s quickening collapse and increasing political turmoil in Jordan have prompted concerns in Israel that its historic peace treaties with those countries may not withstand the convulsion sweeping the region.
      A change of power in Egypt and instability in Jordan could have profound consequences for Israel, which depends on the peace accords – its only two with Arab countries – as a cornerstone of its security. The treaties struck by Israel with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994 remain unpopular among the residents of the two Arab nations, and Israel has relied on the strength of Mubarak’s regime and the Jordanian monarchy to keep them intact.
      Not all of the recent developments have been bad from the Israelis’ perspective: Newly appointed Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman has become a trusted interlocutor on regional security issues, and the United States will push to ensure that the peace accords remain in place. But the fast pace of events may change how Israel perceives its position, and make it less willing to offer territorial concessions as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians. The country is still digesting the rise in Lebanon of a new government chosen by the Shiite Hezbollah, one of its chief antagonists, and may now sense instability on all sides.
      Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened top intelligence analysts and senior cabinet members in Tel Aviv for a day of urgent consultations Tuesday to weigh the changes underway in Egypt and assess the strength of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, an Israeli official said. Abdullah sacked his cabinet Tuesday amid clamors for more economic and political reform. After the meetings, Netanyahu said the international community “must demand that any Egyptian government preserve the peace accord with Israel.”… – WaPo, 2-1-11
    • Quiet Acts of Protest on a Noisy DayNYT, 2-1-11
    • Israel shocked by Obama’s “betrayal” of Mubarak: If Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday. Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness.
      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel’s President Shimon Peres is not a minister.
      “We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak,” he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. “I don’t say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East.”… – Reuters, 1-31-11
    • Turbulence Rocks an Israeli Ally: The street revolt in Egypt has thrown the Israeli government and military into turmoil, with top officials closeted in round-the-clock strategy sessions aimed at rethinking their most significant regional relationship. Israel’s military planning relies on peace with Egypt; nearly half the natural gas it uses is imported from Egypt; and the principle of trading conquered land for diplomatic ties began with its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.
      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt more than with any other foreign leader, except President Obama. If Mr. Mubarak were driven from power, the effect on Israel could be profound. “For the United States, Egypt is the keystone of its Middle East policy,” a senior official said. “For Israel, it’s the whole arch.”… – NYT, 1-30-11
    • Clinton Calls for ‘Orderly Transition’ in Egypt: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure. Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, insisted that Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.” And she emphasized that elections scheduled for this fall must be free and fair. President Obama reinforced that message in phone calls on Saturday and Sunday to other leaders in the region, including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as the administration tried to contain the regional reverberations…. – NYT, 1-30-11
    • U.S. cautiously prepares for post-Mubarak era: Mindful of other allies in the region, U.S. officials have been careful not to abandon the Egyptian leader, urging him to implement a transition to democracy. But they are also preparing for the possibility of his ouster…. – LAT, 1-30-11
    • What impact will the uprising in Egypt have on the Middle East, the U.S., Canada, China, and the EU? The Mark’s experts weigh in.The Mark News, 2-2-11

    QUOTES

    Anti-government protestors gather in Cairo's central Tahrir Square on Thursday. New clashes erupted as anti-government protesters came face-to-face with Egyptian President Hosni Mubaraka's supporters. 

    Anti-government protestors gather in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Thursday. New clashes erupted as anti-government protesters came face-to-face with Egyptian President Hosni Mubaraka’s supporters.
    • Press Secretary Gibbs on Egypt, Violence & Journalists: During his gaggle with the press aboard Air Force One, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opens the session with pointed remarks about recent developments in Egypt…. – WH, 2-3-11
    • Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.
      And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.
      First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.
      Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.
      Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.
      Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
      Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
      Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.
      Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.
      To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.
      There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum — a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day. – WH, 2-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Time for Mubarak to ‘step down': US Senator McCain: Top US Senator John McCain, shortly after talks with President Barack Obama, urged embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to “step down and relinquish power.” “Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres Mubarak 2 step down (and) relinquish power,” McCain said in a post on the microblogging site Twitter roughly an hour after discussing the bloody political crisis in Egypt with Obama. “It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people (and) its military,” said the lawmaker, Obama’s rival for the US presidency in 2008 and the top Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee…. – AFP, 2-2-11

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • New York Times: Room For Debate: Mubarak’s Role and Mideast Peace: What does the crisis in Egypt mean for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?… – NYT, 2-1-11
    • Gil Troy: Anxiety and Skepticism: Egypt’s uprising has already undermined most Israelis’ sense of security and their willingness to take risks for peace with the Palestinians. Israelis now worry about the biggest risk they ever took for peace: the withdrawal from Sinai in 1982.
      A radical Egypt downgrading or abrogating its peace treaty with Israel would top the litany of failed peace-making attempts and reinforce the argument of right-wing skeptics against trading land for peace with the Palestinians. Moreover, a hostile Egypt would reinforce the sense of betrayal so many Israelis have felt since 2000, as the failure of the Oslo peace process triggered a wave of Palestinian terror, the withdrawal from Lebanon boosted Hezbollah, and disengagement from Gaza brought Hamas to power.
      Israelis have longed for greater intimacy with the Egyptian people, always speaking of “peace with Egypt” not with Mubarak. Yet this “cold peace” has been government to government not people to people. Israelis have accepted the limits, given their alternatives.
      Mubarak’s Egypt has served as an important counterweight to Ahmadinejad’s Iran. The recent Wikileaks documents suggested some of the benefits Israel enjoyed from its alliance with Mubarak, including diplomatic support, intelligence sharing and military cooperation. Most important have been decades of non-belligerency. With the loss of that sense of security on its southern border, Israelis will be much more reluctant to cede control of their eastern border to an independent Palestine.
      This week’s hysterical headlines in the Israeli press about the potential loss of Egypt, the dip in Tel Aviv stocks, the debate about whether President Obama can be trusted to support American allies, all suggest that Israel’s strategic doctrine is being hastily rewritten.
      The prospects of peace become even more unlikely if Egypt turns Islamist. Israel’s safest border will suddenly look menacing. Hamas will look stronger in Gaza with an Islamist Egyptian regime not even pretending to try to stop the flow of arms. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will look like a less viable peace partner with fundamentalism ascendant, and any pro-peace or pro-Western Palestinians demonized as collaborators. Moreover, Israeli policymakers will feel caught, doubting Mahmoud Abbas as another unelected autocrat while fearing the popular Palestinian street more than ever.
      Israelis find themselves once again in dissonance with the international community. Many Israelis wish they could wholeheartedly support this popular move against an aging dictator. But the bitter experience of the last ten years suggests that skepticism is in order. – NYT, 2-1-11
    • Khaled Fahmy: Mubarak Fails to Quell Protests as Turmoil Spreads to Yemen: “I expect the demonstrations to continue,” said Khaled Fahmy, professor of history at American University in Cairo, in a telephone interview. “He really hasn’t offered much. What I’ve seen is that he has burned bridges. There is no trust between him and the people.” SF Chronicle/Blomberg, 2-2-11
    • Yale History prof sign letter to Obama regarding Egypt: As protests against the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak continue in Egypt, three Yale professors joined over 150 academics in signing an open letter to President Barack Obama yesterday, calling on Obama to support Egypt’s democratic movement. The letter reads:
      For thirty years, our government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Egypt and around the world have spoken. We believe their message is bold and clear: Mubarak should resign from office and allow Egyptians to establish a new government free of his and his family’s influence. It is also clear to us that if you seek, as you said Friday ‘political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,’ your administration should publicly acknowledge those reforms will not be advanced by Mubarak or any of his adjutants.
      Alan Mikhail, an assistant professor of history who researches Egypt during the Ottoman period, said he saw the letter as a “small gesture” academics could make, regardless of whether it sways Obama’s opinion.
      “It seems like a small gesture that I as a historian could do, to show support for the people in Egypt who are protesting, and sometimes putting their lives on the line, for a better society and a better government,” Mikhail said. “Is [Obama] going to read it? I have no idea. He’s a very busy guy.”… – Yale Daily News, 2-2-11
    • Kent Schull: Professor to students: Write your members of Congress about Egypt: In an effort to support the millions of Egyptians protesting their authoritarian government, one University of Memphis professor is asking students to flock to their keyboards. Kent Schull, assistant history professor, has expertise in modern Middle East history and said he thinks students should write to their state and U.S. representatives.
      “These people are really trying to get a better life for themselves, and that resonates with all of us,” he said. “We all want basic freedoms that we all feel we have a right to, and this is what the Egyptian people want, and I think the United States has to put the Egyptian people’s interest ahead of our own international interest.”
      “You have a huge gap between the rich and poor,” he said. “Egypt has a lot of its money coming from tourism and from small manufacturing depths from agricultural production, and the people that control that — they have a lot of money, but the vast majority of the population is very poor.”
      Schull said that the U.S.-Egypt alliance is based, in part, on geography and natural resources. “Egypt has been a very close trade partner with the United States,” he said. “(It’s) a very close political partner for trying to keep stability within the Middle East. Without Egypt as an ally, then it would be very tough to get Saudi Arabia’s oil to us.”
      The U.S. doesn’t want Egyptian people viewing it as a country that funds a dictator, Schull said. “The U.S. has been walking this fine line and probably needs to throw its support very squarely behind the Egyptian people going for democratic change,” he said. Schull said that the more representatives and senators hear from Americans about supporting these Egyptian protests, the more likely it is that “maybe they’ll listen.”… – Daily Helmsman, 2-2-11
    • Charles Wilkins: Wake Forest Professor: Economy Plays Role In Egyptian Protests: The violence is escalating in Cairo. Protestors for and against President Hosni Mubarak are clashing, surrounded by burning buildings and gun fire. Hundreds have been hurt since Wednesday when the protests turned violent. So what’s causing the un-rest in Egypt? Wake Forest University Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History, Charles Wilkins, says it started with pent up anger and the resentment of Egypt’s government
      The economy also plays a role. “Economics of it are very important. We have high unemployment, we have low wages and high cost of living. We have basically a housing shortage,” says Charles Wilkins. “It’s a young generation that’s actual rebeling. This is a politically active and aware population that want to see change.”
      Wilkins also credits the internet with helping protestors coordinate their efforts and making them more powerful. He says the protests in Tunisia a few weeks ago gave Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians the courage to question their governments…. – WFMY News 2, CBS Newspath, CNN Newsource, 2-3-11
    • Historians worry about Egyptian antiquities: The fighting has intensified in Tahrir Square. It has become a battle field. That is where the Egyptian Museum is located, filled with antiquities and the history of Egypt. There are concerns among historians about the fate of the museum and its huge collection.
      “In a situation like this where anything could happen you are always worried,” Professor Carol Redmount director of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley said.
      “On the one hand in a situation like this you are always concerned, these things are irreplaceable, they’re national treasure, international treasures, they tell is about our human history,” Redmount said. “But the Egyptian people will do whatever they can to protect it.”
      Redmount has reason to be concerned. Earlier this week vandals broke into a museum and smashed statues and glass. It is likely the next wave will steal items.
      “You can try to sell it on the antiquities market, now everyone is going to be looking for these things on the antiquities market,” Redmount said. “They’ve been looting the site with shovels, which is better than bulldozers, at the same time we don’t know how much damage has been done,” Redmount said… – ABC Local SF, 2-2-11

    January 25, 2011: President Obama Gives 2011 State of the Union Address

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

    2011 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

    • White House — State of the Union 2011
    • State of the Union – NYT
    • State of the Union — Washington Post
    • Factchecker: Analysis of the speech
    • Who Sat Where: The State of the Union Seating Chart: Many lawmakers broke the tradition of sitting with their own parties at the State of the Union address. – NYT, 1-26-11
    • Patterns of Speech: 75 Years of the State of the Union Addresses: In 2010, President Obama was the first modern president to use the words “bubble,” “supermajority” and “obesity” in a State of the Union speech. But other words have a longer history. Below, a historical look at the number of times presidents have used selected words in their State of the Union addresses (or analogous speeches) from 1934 to 2010…. – NYT
    • Live Blog: State of the Union Remarks ReleasedNYT, 1-25-11
    • The State of the Union and You: On Tuesday, January 25, at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol. We have been working on a number of ways citizens can get involved in the State of the Union and ask their questions of President Obama and senior Administration officials. You can find all the details on the brand new State of the Union page.
      Here’s the lineup of events next week. Be sure to tune in to watch the speech live at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and find a way get involved.
      Tuesday at 9 PM: Live Stream of the State of the Union Watch the live stream of the State of the Union Address on WhiteHouse.gov.
      Tuesday Immediately After the Speech: Open for Questions Immediately following the State of the Union Address, stay tuned for a live Open For Questions event where Senior White House officials will answer your questions about key issues addressed in the speech live from the White House…. – WH, 1-21-11

    THE HEADLINES….

       

    • Obama’s ‘Union': ‘Move together or not at all': Pleading for unity in a newly divided government, President Barack Obama implored Democratic and Republican lawmakers to rally behind his vision of economic revival for an anxious nation, declaring in his State of the Union address Tuesday night: “We will move forward together or not at all.”… – AP, 1-25-11
    • Obama: ‘The future is ours to win': President Obama sought to rouse the nation from complacency in his State of the Union address Tuesday, urging innovation and reforms that he said are vital to keep the United States a global leader…. – WaPo, 1-26-11
    • FACT CHECK: Obama and his imbalanced ledger: The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other…. – AP, 1-26-11
    • Obama Sees Global Fight for U.S. Jobs: President Obama called on Tuesday night for Americans to unleash their creative spirits, set aside their partisan differences and come together around a common goal of out-competing other nations in a rapidly shifting global economy. In a State of the Union address to a newly divided Congress, Mr. Obama outlined what his advisers called his “plan to win the future” — a blueprint for spending in key areas, like education, high-speed rail, clean-energy technology and high-speed Internet to help the United States weather the unsettling impact of globalization and the challenge from emerging powers like China and India.
      But at the same time he proposed deficit-cutting measures, including a five-year freeze in spending on some domestic programs. He laid out a philosophy of a government that could be more efficient but is still necessary if the nation is to address fundamental challenges at home and abroad. Over the next decade, he said, his approach would reduce the deficit by $400 billion.
      His message seemed intended to elevate his presidency above the bare-knuckled legislative gamesmanship that defined the first two years of his term. With one eye toward his 2012 re-election campaign, he made the case that the nation had at long last emerged from economic crisis and could now confront longer-term issues. And after taking on an identity among many voters as a big-government liberal, he sought to reclaim the positioning he rode to the presidency in 2008, as postpartisan, pragmatic leader.
      “At stake right now is not who wins the next election — after all, we just had an election,” Mr. Obama said. “At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.”
      The speech was light on new policy proposals, reflecting both political and fiscal restraints on the administration after two years in which it achieved substantial legislative victories but lost the midterm elections, failed to bring the unemployment rate below 9 percent and watched the budget deficit rise sharply…. – NYT, 1-25-11
    • State of the Union: Obama’s salmon joke makes a splash: The president’s snappy one-liner about fishy bureaucracy breaks up a sometimes plodding State of the Union address. Twitter users and armchair commentators eagerly take the bait.
      President Obama broke up a sometimes plodding State of the Union address Tuesday night with a snappy one-liner about excessive bureaucracy.
      “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” he quipped. “And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”… – LAT, 1-26-11
    • Obama Counters G.O.P. With Plan to Extend Spending Freeze: By proposing a two-year extension to the three-year domestic spending freeze he called for a year ago, President Obama sought to quickly counter Republican demands for deeper cuts to shrink government and reduce annual budget deficits…. – NYT, 1-26-11
    • Obama touts steps to support military families: President Barack Obama is announcing new government-wide initiatives to support military families, including programs aimed at preventing suicide and eliminating homelessness…. – AP, 1-25-11
    • Obama Seeks Bipartisan Effort to Curb Debt, Invest in Education, Internet: President Barack Obama, saying “the future is ours to win,” urged Congress to invest in education, high-speed rail and Internet access while warning that the nation risks being buried under a mountain of debt.
      In his annual State of the Union address, Obama stressed that Americans are turning a corner on the worst recession since the Great Depression and bringing troops home from wars on two fronts. He challenged a divided Congress to put partisanship and divisiveness behind and “do big things.” “Sustaining the American dream has never been about standing pat,” Obama said in his 62-minute speech to a joint session of Congress. “It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.”… – Bloomberg, 1-26-11
    • State of the Union: Republicans say it’s business as usual: They dismiss Obama’s State of the Union address as a push for another round of federal spending. Rep. Paul Ryan formally rebuts the speech with calls for spending cuts…. – LAT, 1-26-11
    • Republicans clamor for spending cuts: The nation faces a crushing burden of debt and is on course for an economic disaster without dramatic action to wrestle the budget deficit under control, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Tuesday in the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
      And such spending cuts must start immediately as the price of getting GOP conservatives to cast a painful vote to increase the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills this spring, Ryan said.
      “Our nation is approaching a tipping point. We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century,” Ryan said in televised remarks. “The days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first,” Ryan added.
      Ryan is the point man in the new House GOP majority’s drive to rein in spending and bring the budget closer to balance. Tuesday’s speech was the highest profile assignment yet for a wonky former congressional staff aide who has evolved into one of his party’s brightest stars…. – AP, 1-26-11
    • Two G.O.P. Responses Point to Potential Fault Lines: The crosscurrents inside the Republican Party were on fresh display Tuesday evening with the unusual sight of two lawmakers delivering responses to the State of the Union address. In the party’s official reply, which immediately followed President Obama’s speech, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the country faced “a crushing burden of debt.” He vowed that Republicans, after assuming control of the House this year, would honor their pledge to provide Americans “a better choice and a different vision.”
      “Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified — especially when it comes to spending,” Mr. Ryan said, striking a conciliatory tone as he vowed to work with the president to find cuts. “So hold all of us accountable.”
      But Mr. Ryan, who was designated by Speaker John A. Boehner to respond to the president, did not have the last word. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who founded the Tea Party Caucus last year, gave a response of her own in a message to the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups of activists.
      “For two years,” Ms. Bachmann said, “President Obama made promises, just like the ones we heard him make this evening, yet still we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.”… – NYT, 1-26-11
    • Bachmann’s Speech Will Push Tea Party Goals: It is a Washington tradition that on the night the president gives his annual address to Congress, a member of the opposition gives a formal response. Tonight, there will be a response to the response. Representative Michele Bachmann, who has styled herself as the leader of the Tea Party movement within the House, plans to give her own rebuttal to President Obama’s speech following the official reply given by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee…. – NYT, 1-25-11
    • State of the Union as homecoming dance: Who went with whom?: What started out as an earnest symbol of bipartisan unity — Republicans and Democrats sitting together at Tuesday’s State of the Union address turned into. . . an “After School Special” about bipartisan unity. Sen. Mark Udall first proposed the idea of crossing the aisle because, he said, the SOTU had become “like a high school pep rally.” (With “you lie!” instead of “rah rah!” and mandatory standing O’s instead of cheerleader pyramids) This year it was like. . . well, a second-grade Valentine exchange, or the homecoming dance? The endless hype — who asked who? who got dissed? — played out over a couple days of tweets, press releases, cutesy cable-news stand-ups and strategic leaks, creating the illusion for Washington’s chattering class that something historic was happening. Guess what, guys? No one’s going to care tomorrow…. – WaPo, 1-26-11
    • Obama State of the Union: Spending, but restraint: Trying to lift the nation and his own political fortunes, President Barack Obama on Tuesday sought to promote a jobs agenda blending concentrated spending and a fresh bid to control the country’s staggering debt. He faced a more skeptical and divided Congress and an electorate demanding results in an economy-heavy State of the Union address…. AP, 1-25-11
    • Factbox: Foreign policy issues Obama may address in speech: oreign policy seldom makes headlines in the State of the Union speech but President Barack Obama cannot avoid it with U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan and American diplomats trying, with no obvious success, to curb nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea… – Reuters, 1-25-11
    • Obama challenges Republicans on cuts, spending: President Barack Obama will challenge Republicans Tuesday to adopt limited spending cuts and invest in new research and education to generate a job-creating “Sputnik moment” for America in a speech designed to revitalize his leadership.
      Obama, seeking to assure Americans weary of 9.4 percent unemployment and fearful of rising debt, was to lay out his plan to reinvigorate economic growth in a State of the Union address at 9 p.m.
      At the midpoint of his four-year term and now preparing for his 2012 re-election campaign, Obama will seek to strike a centrist tone and say that what’s at stake is “not who wins the next election.” “At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded,” he will say, according to White House excerpts…. – Reuters, 1-25-11
    • Ryan Is Republican Point Man House Budget Chairman Will Deliver Rebuttal to Obama, Craft Spending Cuts: When Rep. Paul Ryan delivers the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, many viewers will get their first look at a man whom GOP leaders are trusting to manage a central policy issue—how to cut the federal budget—that could shape the party’s image for years…. – WSJ, 1-24-11
    • Obama’s speech will expose partisan divide on spending: President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech will emphasize “winning the future” for America by strengthening the nation’s ability to compete in a changing world, according to White House talking points provided Monday by a Democratic source. Tuesday night’s annual speech to Congress, a nationally televised event considered the president’s biggest address of the year, brings together the three branches of government for an assessment of where America stands and where it is heading.
      “The president will lay out a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world,” said the White House talking points. “He will talk about the need to take responsibility for our deficits, by investing only in what makes America stronger and cutting what doesn’t, and reforming our government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century.”… – CNN, 1-24-11
    • State of the Union: It’s the economy, again: Standing before a nation clamoring for jobs, President Barack Obama will call for targeted spending to boost the economy but also for budget cutting in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, his first in a new era of divided political power.
      To a television audience in the tens of millions, Obama will home in on jobs, the issue of most importance to the public and to his hopes for a second term. Though war and other concerns bid for attention, the president has chosen to lean heavily on the economy, with far less emphasis on Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and foreign affairs.
      Specifically, Obama will focus on improving the education, innovation and infrastructure of the United States as the way to provide a sounder economic base. He will pair that with calls to reduce the government’s debt — now topping a staggering $14 trillion — and reforming government. Those five areas will frame the speech, with sprinklings of fresh proposals.
      Yet no matter how ambitious Obama’s rhetorical reach, his speech at the halfway point of his term will be viewed in the context of his new political reality…. – AP, 1-24-11
    • Obama to Press Centrist Agenda in His Address: President Obama will outline an agenda for “winning the future” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, striking a theme of national unity and renewal as he stresses the need for government spending in key areas and an attack on the budget deficit.
      “My No. 1 focus,” he said, “is going to be making sure that we are competitive, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future.”
      “These are big challenges that are in front of us,” Mr. Obama also said in the video, sent to members of Organizing for America, his network of supporters from the 2008 campaign. “But we’re up to it, as long as we come together as a people — Republicans, Democrats, independents — as long as we focus on what binds us together as a people, as long as we’re willing to find common ground even as we’re having some very vigorous debates.”… –
      NYT, 1-23-11
    • Tensions rise between Supreme Court, politicians: The moment lasted about 20 seconds. But its political reverberations have endured for a year and exemplify today’s knotty confluence of law, politics and public perception.
      At last year’s State of the Union speech Jan. 27, with six Supreme Court justices in attendance, President Obama denounced a recent campaign-finance ruling, saying it reversed a century of precedent and warning that it would “open the floodgates” for corporate spending on elections. Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true.” That tense moment has been viewed on youtube.com more than 650,000 times in the past year. It was singularly controversial but not the only headline-grabbing interaction between members of the political branches and the Supreme Court in the past twelve months.
      A series of events, most recently Justice Antonin Scalia’s acceptance of an invitation to speak to Tea Party members, has made clear that against the backdrop of an increasingly polarized Washington and the 24-hour media frenzy, interactions between justices and the two elected branches have become more politicized…. – USA Today, 1-24-11
    • State of Union Near, Republicans Draw Line on Spending: Congressional Republicans, seeking to recapture the debate over the country’s economic recovery in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address, warned Sunday that they would oppose any new spending initiatives and press ahead with their plans for budget cuts in every realm of government, including the military…. – NYT, 1-23-11
    • State of the Union speech to focus on jobs: Obama: President Barack Obama said on Saturday he would use his annual State of the Union address to urge both parties to act to lift U.S. growth and create more jobs.
      “My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future,” he said in a video e-mailed to members of his Organizing for America grassroots movement.
      Obama’s speech on Tuesday to a joint session of the U.S. Congress will show how he plans to rise above the political gridlock that marked his first two years in the White House, shaping his 2012 re-election prospects…. – Reuters, 1-22-10
    • Obama touts U.S. innovation in State of the Union preview: In his weekly address, Obama hails American economic potential and efforts to ‘win the future.’ In their response, Republicans focus on the repeal of the healthcare overhaul law.
      President Obama hailed the economic potential of increased American exports and green technology Saturday, previewing themes expected to be at the heart of his second State of the Union address Tuesday night. In his weekly address, Obama referred to Wednesday’s state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his own trip to a General Electric plant in New York on Friday as examples of how innovation and opening new overseas markets to American products will help “win the future.”
      “Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn’t discourage us,” he said. “We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy.”
      Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a doctor, pressed the Democrats who still control the Senate to bring a repeal bill up for a vote in the chamber. “We are now one step closer to victory in the fight for a healthcare policy that puts Americans first — not Washington,” he said. “Our job won’t be done until we repeal and replace this bad law.”… – LAT, 1-22-10
    • A ‘state of the union’ fight ahead over US government spending: How furiously to cut government spending is likely to be a major point of departure between Obama, who gives the State of the Union address on Tuesday, and congressional Republicans…. – CS Monitor, 1-22-10
    • Obama’s economic agenda: Boost US competitiveness: Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama will put job creation and American competitiveness at the center of his State of the Union address, promoting spending on education and research while pledging to trim the nation’s soaring debt.
      Obama hopes this framework will woo Republicans as he searches for success in a divided Congress and will sway a wary private sector to hire and spend money it’s held back. The economy is on firmer footing than when he took office two years ago, and his emphasis on competitiveness signals a shift from policies geared toward short-term stabilization to ones with steady and long-term growth in mind.
      Obama will speak to a Congress shaken by the attempted assassination of one of their own. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head two weeks ago during an event in her district in Tucson, Ariz.
      The president has appealed for more civility in politics, and in a nod to that ideal, some Democrats and Republicans will break with tradition and sit alongside each other in the House chamber Tuesday night during a joint session of Congress…. – AP, 1-22-10
    • In this year’s State of Union, seating could blur party lines: Flash-forward now to the Congress of today, the Era of I-Hate-Your-Guts-And-Want-To-Rip-Your-Lungs-Out-You- Unpatriotic-Jerk. Weary of a climate that has grown so toxic that Congress should earmark money for a political Hazmat team, some lawmakers have a solution. When President Barack Obama comes to Capitol Hill Tuesday night to deliver the State of Union speech to a joint session of Congress, Democrats and Republicans should sit together, not in opposing camps of red and blue. The opposing camps idea has been the tradition since 1913, when Woodrow Wilson became the first president since Thomas Jefferson to personally deliver the annual speech to Congress…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
    • Obama’s Tuesday speech to stress economy, civility: President Barack Obama, midway through his term and mindful of positioning himself for next year’s re-election campaign, will use the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night to recast himself to voters and regain the confidence of centrists and independents. Expect the economy to serve as the major focus of the speech, both short-term job creation and his plans for long- term stability, with a secondary theme being a call for civility and compromise.
      “The great majority of the speech will be on the steps that the president believes our country has to take to continue that economic recovery,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
    • GOP taps Paul Ryan to give rebuttal to Obama’s speech: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a rising Republican star who’s stirred controversy with his approach to budget-cutting, will give the GOP response Tuesday to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. The choice is aimed at showcasing the commitment of Republicans, who earlier this month took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years, to deficit reduction.
      Previous Republican responses to Obama’s State of the Union addresses were given by governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
      Ryan, 39, a seventh-term Wisconsin Republican, is known for his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for reducing federal budget deficits that includes permitting younger workers the option of setting aside Social Security tax payments for “personal retirement accounts.”
      In addition, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of the tea party movement, will deliver a separate reaction to Obama’s speech on behalf of the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups. The broadcast, following Obama and Ryan, will be broadcast on live streaming video at http://www.TeaPartyExpress.org or at http://www.TeaPartyHD.com…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
    • Scenarios: Possible themes in Obama’s State of Union speech: President Barack Obama faces a new political reality when he gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday: greater Republican power in Congress that will hamper his ability to make sweeping policy proposals. So the president, a Democrat, will make an even greater attempt to highlight areas of common ground with the opposition party on areas that are priorities for both sides such as boosting the economy and reducing the deficit. Here are a few potential areas he may touch upon…. – Reuters, 1-21-11

    QUOTES

       

    • Text Obama’s Second State of the Union: Following is the transcript for President Obama’s second State of the Union address on Tuesday, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 1-25-11Mp3 Download
    • Text The Republican Response: Following is the prepared remarks of Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was expected to give the official Republican response to President Obama’s second State of the Union address, as released by the House speaker’s office… – NYT, 1-25-11
    • Remarks of President Barack Obama — As Prepared for Delivery: …Now, by itself, this simple recognition won’t usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.
      I believe we can. I believe we must. That’s what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they’ve determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all — for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.
      At stake right now is not who wins the next election — after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.
      We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.
      But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.
      That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together.
      We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.
      But we have more work to do. The steps we’ve taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession — but to win the future, we’ll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making…. READ MORE
    • Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader on “Fox News Sunday.”: “With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night. This is not a time to be looking at pumping up government spending in very many areas.”

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

       

    • Beverly Gage: Obama was supposed to be the “new FDR.” (Remember that Time magazine cover in 2008, complete with Obama holding a long Rooseveltian cigarette?) And certain aspects of his speech echo FDR’s New Deal agenda, such as the call for public works and infrastructure development. But FDR grew more radical on economic issues during his first term, culminating in the passage of Social Security and the Wagner labor relations act in 1935. With this speech, Obama is deliberately moving in the opposite direction. Cases in point: his call to lower the corporate tax rate and to freeze federal spending (though, one should note, FDR did gesture toward balancing the budget). Still, the two men do share at least one overarching characteristic: groping toward the middle. In Roosevelt’s case, that meant finding a path that would save the U.S. from fascism on one side and communism on the other. By comparison, Obama’s job should be simple. But FDR had one advantage that Obama may never see again: a unified and supportive Democratic Congress.
      So it turns out that Obama isn’t FDR. He’s Dwight Eisenhower, worried about Sputnik. Obama’s call for investment in science and higher education is vital, given the desperate state of Sputnik-era educational jewels like the University of California system. But it’s worth remembering, when we make these historical analogies, what much of that earlier round of Cold War investment was really about: military supremacy over the Soviet Union. It remains to be seen if Obama can muster the political capital for that scale of investment absent a pressing Cold-War-style military threat. – PBS Newshour, 1-26-11
    • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Kumbaya Congress a sham?: Obviously, sitting together is just a small symbolic act that is unlikely to do much about polarization in Washington. But it is unclear why Broun would want to attack a symbolic act that both sides have called for. At several points, Republicans have turned calls for civility into claims that Democrats are unfairly attacking the GOP. This won’t sit well with the independent voters whom the party will need in 2012. Better they should focus on the very real policy disputes that exist between the parties
    • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary Kumbaya Congress a sham?: Civility in politics has to start somewhere, and a little neighborliness in the halls of Congress seems like a good place to begin. Even if Rep. Broun is right about there somehow being nefarious motives behind the invitations for Democrats and Republicans to sit together, the Republic – and the Republicans – can survive granting the president of the United States a respectful reception at his State of the Union address.
    • Julian E. Zelizer: What Obama can learn from Clinton, Reagan: Many political analysts are urging President Obama to give a State of the Union Address that is conciliatory toward Republicans and that acknowledges that voters are unhappy with the direction of his policies.
      Ever since he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts in a compromise with Republicans, his poll numbers have been improving, and Obama has filled several key positions in his administration with moderate Democrats. There is reason to think that the president will continue this path….
      He can use this opportunity to answer some of the big questions surrounding his presidency. He can explain how and when the government can solve certain problems better then markets. He can explain to Americans how his health care bill will help contain costs for citizens. He can share with the country how he balances concerns over the deficit with the need to stimulate the economy and what exactly is the path he envisions toward a stronger economy.
      By tackling these and other questions, Obama has to use this opportunity to explain himself and his presidency, providing voters a stronger understanding of who he is and what policies he will defend as he enters into discussion with a Republican House…. – CNN, 1-24-11
    • ‘State of the Union’ Could Mark Turning Point for Obama, Historian Says: President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union address comes at a critical moment in his presidency and could set the tone in Washington for years to come, says a presidential historian at the University of Indianapolis. This won’t be the first State of the Union delivered amid economic woes and stiff partisan opposition, Associate Professor Edward “Ted” Frantz says. Previous examples include Bill Clinton in 1995, Ronald Reagan in 1983 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1935.
      “The fundamental challenge for Roosevelt was getting business interests to trust him, and they never did,” Frantz says. In that case, however, Roosevelt was able to continue his New Deal economic reforms with the help of large Democratic majorities in Congress, an advantage Obama does not have…. – Newswise, 1-24-11

    Leading up to President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address

    2011 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    The President gives the 2010 State of the Union Address
    • State of the Union – NYT
    • The State of the Union and You: On Tuesday, January 25, at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol. We have been working on a number of ways citizens can get involved in the State of the Union and ask their questions of President Obama and senior Administration officials. You can find all the details on the brand new State of the Union page.
      Here’s the lineup of events next week. Be sure to tune in to watch the speech live at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and find a way get involved.
      Tuesday at 9 PM: Live Stream of the State of the Union Watch the live stream of the State of the Union Address on WhiteHouse.gov.
      Tuesday Immediately After the Speech: Open for Questions Immediately following the State of the Union Address, stay tuned for a live Open For Questions event where Senior White House officials will answer your questions about key issues addressed in the speech live from the White House…. – WH, 1-21-11
    • Obama’s speech will expose partisan divide on spending: President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech will emphasize “winning the future” for America by strengthening the nation’s ability to compete in a changing world, according to White House talking points provided Monday by a Democratic source. Tuesday night’s annual speech to Congress, a nationally televised event considered the president’s biggest address of the year, brings together the three branches of government for an assessment of where America stands and where it is heading.
      “The president will lay out a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world,” said the White House talking points. “He will talk about the need to take responsibility for our deficits, by investing only in what makes America stronger and cutting what doesn’t, and reforming our government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century.”… – CNN, 1-24-11
    • State of the Union: It’s the economy, again: Standing before a nation clamoring for jobs, President Barack Obama will call for targeted spending to boost the economy but also for budget cutting in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, his first in a new era of divided political power.
      To a television audience in the tens of millions, Obama will home in on jobs, the issue of most importance to the public and to his hopes for a second term. Though war and other concerns bid for attention, the president has chosen to lean heavily on the economy, with far less emphasis on Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and foreign affairs.
      Specifically, Obama will focus on improving the education, innovation and infrastructure of the United States as the way to provide a sounder economic base. He will pair that with calls to reduce the government’s debt — now topping a staggering $14 trillion — and reforming government. Those five areas will frame the speech, with sprinklings of fresh proposals.
      Yet no matter how ambitious Obama’s rhetorical reach, his speech at the halfway point of his term will be viewed in the context of his new political reality…. – AP, 1-24-11
    • Obama to Press Centrist Agenda in His Address: President Obama will outline an agenda for “winning the future” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, striking a theme of national unity and renewal as he stresses the need for government spending in key areas and an attack on the budget deficit.
      “My No. 1 focus,” he said, “is going to be making sure that we are competitive, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future.”
      “These are big challenges that are in front of us,” Mr. Obama also said in the video, sent to members of Organizing for America, his network of supporters from the 2008 campaign. “But we’re up to it, as long as we come together as a people — Republicans, Democrats, independents — as long as we focus on what binds us together as a people, as long as we’re willing to find common ground even as we’re having some very vigorous debates.”… –
      NYT, 1-23-11
    • Tensions rise between Supreme Court, politicians: The moment lasted about 20 seconds. But its political reverberations have endured for a year and exemplify today’s knotty confluence of law, politics and public perception.
      At last year’s State of the Union speech Jan. 27, with six Supreme Court justices in attendance, President Obama denounced a recent campaign-finance ruling, saying it reversed a century of precedent and warning that it would “open the floodgates” for corporate spending on elections. Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true.” That tense moment has been viewed on youtube.com more than 650,000 times in the past year. It was singularly controversial but not the only headline-grabbing interaction between members of the political branches and the Supreme Court in the past twelve months.
      A series of events, most recently Justice Antonin Scalia’s acceptance of an invitation to speak to Tea Party members, has made clear that against the backdrop of an increasingly polarized Washington and the 24-hour media frenzy, interactions between justices and the two elected branches have become more politicized…. – USA Today, 1-24-11
    • State of Union Near, Republicans Draw Line on Spending: Congressional Republicans, seeking to recapture the debate over the country’s economic recovery in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address, warned Sunday that they would oppose any new spending initiatives and press ahead with their plans for budget cuts in every realm of government, including the military…. – NYT, 1-23-11
    • State of the Union speech to focus on jobs: Obama: President Barack Obama said on Saturday he would use his annual State of the Union address to urge both parties to act to lift U.S. growth and create more jobs.
      “My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future,” he said in a video e-mailed to members of his Organizing for America grassroots movement.
      Obama’s speech on Tuesday to a joint session of the U.S. Congress will show how he plans to rise above the political gridlock that marked his first two years in the White House, shaping his 2012 re-election prospects…. – Reuters, 1-22-10
    • Obama touts U.S. innovation in State of the Union preview: In his weekly address, Obama hails American economic potential and efforts to ‘win the future.’ In their response, Republicans focus on the repeal of the healthcare overhaul law.
      President Obama hailed the economic potential of increased American exports and green technology Saturday, previewing themes expected to be at the heart of his second State of the Union address Tuesday night. In his weekly address, Obama referred to Wednesday’s state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his own trip to a General Electric plant in New York on Friday as examples of how innovation and opening new overseas markets to American products will help “win the future.”
      “Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn’t discourage us,” he said. “We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy.”
      Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a doctor, pressed the Democrats who still control the Senate to bring a repeal bill up for a vote in the chamber. “We are now one step closer to victory in the fight for a healthcare policy that puts Americans first — not Washington,” he said. “Our job won’t be done until we repeal and replace this bad law.”… – LAT, 1-22-10
    • A ‘state of the union’ fight ahead over US government spending: How furiously to cut government spending is likely to be a major point of departure between Obama, who gives the State of the Union address on Tuesday, and congressional Republicans…. – CS Monitor, 1-22-10
    • Obama’s economic agenda: Boost US competitiveness: Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama will put job creation and American competitiveness at the center of his State of the Union address, promoting spending on education and research while pledging to trim the nation’s soaring debt.
      Obama hopes this framework will woo Republicans as he searches for success in a divided Congress and will sway a wary private sector to hire and spend money it’s held back. The economy is on firmer footing than when he took office two years ago, and his emphasis on competitiveness signals a shift from policies geared toward short-term stabilization to ones with steady and long-term growth in mind.
      Obama will speak to a Congress shaken by the attempted assassination of one of their own. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head two weeks ago during an event in her district in Tucson, Ariz.
      The president has appealed for more civility in politics, and in a nod to that ideal, some Democrats and Republicans will break with tradition and sit alongside each other in the House chamber Tuesday night during a joint session of Congress…. – AP, 1-22-10
    • In this year’s State of Union, seating could blur party lines: Flash-forward now to the Congress of today, the Era of I-Hate-Your-Guts-And-Want-To-Rip-Your-Lungs-Out-You- Unpatriotic-Jerk. Weary of a climate that has grown so toxic that Congress should earmark money for a political Hazmat team, some lawmakers have a solution. When President Barack Obama comes to Capitol Hill Tuesday night to deliver the State of Union speech to a joint session of Congress, Democrats and Republicans should sit together, not in opposing camps of red and blue. The opposing camps idea has been the tradition since 1913, when Woodrow Wilson became the first president since Thomas Jefferson to personally deliver the annual speech to Congress…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
    • Obama’s Tuesday speech to stress economy, civility: President Barack Obama, midway through his term and mindful of positioning himself for next year’s re-election campaign, will use the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night to recast himself to voters and regain the confidence of centrists and independents. Expect the economy to serve as the major focus of the speech, both short-term job creation and his plans for long- term stability, with a secondary theme being a call for civility and compromise.
      “The great majority of the speech will be on the steps that the president believes our country has to take to continue that economic recovery,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
    • GOP taps Paul Ryan to give rebuttal to Obama’s speech: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a rising Republican star who’s stirred controversy with his approach to budget-cutting, will give the GOP response Tuesday to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. The choice is aimed at showcasing the commitment of Republicans, who earlier this month took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years, to deficit reduction.
      Previous Republican responses to Obama’s State of the Union addresses were given by governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
      Ryan, 39, a seventh-term Wisconsin Republican, is known for his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for reducing federal budget deficits that includes permitting younger workers the option of setting aside Social Security tax payments for “personal retirement accounts.”
      In addition, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of the tea party movement, will deliver a separate reaction to Obama’s speech on behalf of the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups. The broadcast, following Obama and Ryan, will be broadcast on live streaming video at http://www.TeaPartyExpress.org or at http://www.TeaPartyHD.com…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
    • Scenarios: Possible themes in Obama’s State of Union speech: President Barack Obama faces a new political reality when he gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday: greater Republican power in Congress that will hamper his ability to make sweeping policy proposals. So the president, a Democrat, will make an even greater attempt to highlight areas of common ground with the opposition party on areas that are priorities for both sides such as boosting the economy and reducing the deficit. Here are a few potential areas he may touch upon…. – Reuters, 1-21-11

    Senator Joseph Lieberman Retiring in 2012

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN RETIRING IN 2012

    • Joe Lieberman to retire in 2012: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will retire in 2012, according to two Democratic sources familiar with the decision. Lieberman is expected to announce his decision tomorrow.
    • No Fifth Term for Lieberman: Mr. Lieberman, 68, whose term is up in January 2013, has chosen to retire rather than face a difficult campaign for re-election, according to aides and others who spoke to the senator on Tuesday.
      “He believes that if he were to run for re-election it’d be a tough fight,” said Marshall Wittmann, a member of Mr. Lieberman’s Senate staff. “He’s confident he could’ve won that fight. He’s had tough fights before. But he wants to have a new chapter in his life.”
      News of Mr. Lieberman’s plans surfaced on the same day that Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, announced he would retire.
      Democrats say the decision by Mr. Lieberman, which his office declined to confirm, increases the likelihood that their party will capture his seat next year. Among other things, Democrats noted that President Obama, who won Connecticut overwhelmingly in 2008, would be on the ballot in 2012…. – NYT, 1-18-11
    • Lieberman Decision Could Set Off a Wild Race: Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut plans to announce Wednesday he will not seek a fifth term in office, setting the stage for what will likely be a wide-open Democratic primary and perhaps another deep-pocketed campaign by former wrestling executive Linda McMahon.
      Mr. Lieberman’s decision would end a remarkable and unusual political career when his current term expires in January 2013. His independence has made him an important factor in close Senate votes, but it has not endeared him to the Democrats and left-leaning independents in his state…. – WSJ, 1-18-11

    Remembering R. Sargent Shriver: Peace Corps Founder Dies at 95

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    REMEBERING SARGENT SHRIVER: PEACE CORPS FOUNDER, DIES AT 95

    JOB WELL DONE! Robert Sargent Shriver...

    • R. Sargent Shriver has died: Robert Sargent Shriver, the former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential nominee, has passed away.
    • Sargent Shriver, former Peace Corps director, Dies — NYT Slideshow
    • R. Sargent Shriver, Peace Corps Leader, Dies at 95: R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, a United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday in Bethesda, Md. He was 95. Mr. Shriver was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2003 and on Sunday was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he died. He had been in hospice care in recent months after his estate in Potomac, Md., was sold last year.
      White-haired and elegantly attired, he attended the inauguration of his son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Republican governor of California in the fall of 2003. Mr. Schwarzenegger is married to Maria Shriver, a former NBC News correspondent. But in recent years, as his condition deteriorated, Mr. Shriver was seldom seen in public. He emerged in one instance to attend the funeral of his wife of 56 years, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of John F. Kennedy; she died in 2009 in Hyannis, Mass., at the age of 88…. – NYT, 1-18-11
    • ‘Sarge’ Shriver, founder of Peace Corps, dead at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., founder of the Peace Corps and husband of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died yesterday after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
      The 95-year-old former vice-presidential candidate, known fondly as “Sarge,” “went to heaven to join the love of his life,” the family said in a statement.
      Shriver died at a Maryland hospital surrounded by his five children — Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark and Anthony — their spouses and 19 grandchildren. His death came less than two years after his wife died in August 2009 at age 88.
      “He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful and compassionate place,” the family statement read. “We will miss him forever.” – Boston Herald, 1-18-11
    • Sargent Shriver, founding director of Peace Corps, dies at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., husband of the late Eunice Kennedy and father of five children, spent more than seven decades in public service.
      R. Sargent Shriver, who was tapped to create the Peace Corps by his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy and crafted 1960s-era programs that remain cornerstones in the federal government’s efforts to combat poverty, died Jan. 18 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, a family spokesman said. He was 95 and had Alzheimer’s disease.
      A Yale-educated lawyer from a prominent Maryland family, Mr. Shriver was a businessman and aspiring political leader when he married Eunice Kennedy in the early 1950s. He served in three presidential administrations, including a stint as U.S. ambassador to France, and ran for president and vice president. His ambitions were as much propelled as they were frustrated by his connection to his in-laws, the powerful political dynasty from Massachusetts.
      When the family received word in 1964 that President Lyndon B. Johnson was considering Mr. Shriver as a running mate, Eunice balked. “No,” she reportedly said, and then invoked her brother Robert’s name. “It’s Bob’s turn.” Kennedy aide Ken O’Donnell was more straightforward, telling Mr. Shriver that if any of the inner circle were to run, it would be Bobby – not “half a Kennedy.”
      Still, it was Mr. Shriver’s status as an almost-Kennedy that landed him the role for which he is perhaps best known, as the leader of the Peace Corps during its infancy…. – WaPo, 1-18-11
    • Shriver family gave voice to ‘silent epidemic’ Public figure’s battle with Alzheimer’s helped normalize disease: Battling Alzheimer’s disease is often a private struggle, with few champions who speak on behalf of patients and their loved ones. But the family of R. Sargent Shriver, who died Tuesday, helped shed light on the disease and spur support and research for its causes.
      Since his diagnosis in 2003, the family of the influential public servant and founder of the Peace Corps had sought to change the public perception of people with Alzheimer’s so they would not be viewed as victims, said geriatrician William Thomas, professor at UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging.
      “Instead, he was a person living with Alzheimer’s, and that’s an absolutely crucial distinction,” Thomas said. “What the Shrivers were about were sort of normalizing this disease. It is important for people of stature, like the Shrivers, to step into the light and to be seen and to tell their story, because so many other people feel like they can’t do that.”… – LAT, 1-18-11
    • Statement by the President on the Passing of Sargent Shriver: I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad. His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time. – WH, 1-18-11

    January 12, 2011: Obama as the Nation’s Consoler / Comforter-In-Chief in Speech at Tucson Shooting Memorial Service, Palin Causes Uproar Invoking the Term ‘Blood Libel’

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

    The President & First Lady after his remarks in Tucson

    IN FOCUS:

    THE HEADLINES….

    • President Obama in Tucson: “The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us”: Last night the President spoke to an emotional crowd at a memorial event in Tucson, Arizona. The grief for the victims of the tragic shooting there was overwhelming, but so too was the admiration for the heroes who risked their lives to prevent even greater loss, as well as the hope for the survivors to see full recoveries. The President asked those in the hall and across America to channel their emotions toward the pursuit of a more perfect union, saying that “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”… – WH, 1-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • How Obama’s Tucson Speech Elevated the Political Debate: In Tucson Wednesday night, it sounded like a campaign rally. A memorial service is no place for the cheers and applause. But the noise was perfect. Not because the president’s words were powerful, though they were, but because the scene matched this moment of noisy distractions. The solemnity of the event was interrupted in the same way the period after the shooting has been interrupted by the political debate. The president’s job was to move past both–to get a message out and through the noise so the country could hear. If it can be done, he did it.
      The president memorialized the dead and celebrated the heroes. He could have stopped there. He could have decided not to tarnish their memory with politics. He made another decision, using just enough politics and the power of his office to build a memorial to their lives by calling the rest of us to live up to their example. That they are deserving of our good example. That was the message. He used that expression when talking about our children but it was his request of the country. “What, beyond prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward? How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?”… – Slate, CBS News, 1-13-11
    • Obama Calls for New Era of Civility in U.S. Politics: President Obama offered the nation’s condolences to the victims of the Tucson shooting rampage, urging Americans on Wednesday to draw a lesson from the lives of the fallen and the actions of the heroes and usher in a new era of civility in their memory.
      The president, speaking at a memorial service at the University of Arizona on Wednesday evening, eulogized the six people who were killed here on Saturday and asked Americans to pray for the wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who the authorities say was the target of an attempted assassination. He sought to elevate his remarks above the politics of the moment, challenging all Americans to take a lesson from the tragedy.
      The memorial service, which was carried on all broadcast and cable television networks, was a largely upbeat celebration to the lives of the fallen. The officials who delivered remarks before the president were interrupted by applause from the audience of 14,000, which included many students. The crowd included retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a native of Arizona, as well as Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl and Gov. Jan Brewer, all Republicans.
      Mr. Obama spoke after stopping to visit Ms. Giffords in her hospital room. He said he was told that shortly after his visit, Ms. Giffords opened her eyes for the first time…. – NYT, 1-12-11
    • President Obama Calls for Talk That Heals, Not Wounds: President Obama traveled to Tucson Wednesday to help memorialize those who died in Saturday’s shooting rampage, and to honor those who are still struggling with their wounds. He clearly chose to stay above the fray of the partisan commentary that has been flinging across television and computer screens over the last several days, but he didn’t shy away in joining the call for a more civil discourse…. – PBS Newshour, 1-12-11
    • Tucson shootings: Let us heal together, Obama says at memorial event: President Obama comforted a community suffused with grief and summoned the nation to recommit to a more civil public discourse as he delivered a eulogy Wednesday evening urging Americans to talk with each other “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
      Evoking memories of the six killed here Saturday, Obama seized upon the mass shooting at a congresswoman’s supermarket meet-and-greet to tackle directly the subject of the nation’s harsh political dialogue. He sharply decried the “politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”… – WaPo, 1-12-11
    • Obama urges Americans to unite in tragedy’s wake: At a memorial in Tucson, the president pays tribute to the victims and heroes of the weekend shooting spree. He also reports that Rep. Giffords, whom he visited earlier, opened her eyes for the first time since she was shot… – LAT, 1-12-11
    • Obama honors Arizona victims and heroes: President Obama urged a divided nation Wednesday to come together in memory of six fellow Americans who lost their lives in Saturday’s mass shooting.
      “What we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another,” Obama said during a memorial service at the University of Arizona-Tucson. Obama said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. — seriously wounded in the attack — opened her eyes for the first time during his visit to the hospital.
      “She knows we’re here, and she knows we love her, and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey,” Obama said.
      The president spent most of his time talking about the victims but did allude to the political controversy surrounding the shooting…. – USA Today, 1-12-11
    • Glenn Beck praises Obama for Tucson speech. Can partisan pause last?: Some of President Obama’s sharpest critics – from Glenn Beck to Pat Buchanan – spoke positively of his speech at the memorial service in Tucson Wednesday. But the collegial tone will be tested next week with a repeal of health- care reform on the docket.
      Pat Buchanan, who wrote speeches for President Nixon, called it “splendid.” Michael Gerson, chief speechwriter under President George W. Bush, says “it had a good heart.” Fox News panelists Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer, and Chris Wallace all voiced praise. Some conservatives have suggested that Mr. Obama should have given such a speech sooner after last Saturday’s shooting rampage at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s event for constituents.
      And then there’s talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who suggested a more craven reason for the timing of the speech. He accused Obama of waiting to deliver his message of “civility” until the polling data were in, confirming that most Americans don’t buy a connection between the shooting and heated political rhetoric. But even in his populist conservative manner, he found an indirect way to acknowledge some positives in the speech. “Fox loved it,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “The Fox All Stars, when this was done, were slobbering over the speech. It was predictable. They were slobbering for the predictable reasons – it as smart, it was articulate…. It was everything the educated, ruling class wants their leaders to be and sound like.”… – CS Monitor, 1-13-11
    • Some question pep rally atmosphere at Obama speech: What was billed as a memorial for victims of the Arizona shooting rampage turned into a rollicking rally, leaving some conservative commentators wondering whether President Barack Obama’s speech was a scripted political event. Not so, insisted the White House and host University of Arizona.
      Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday he and other aides didn’t expect the president’s remarks at the school’s basketball arena to receive as much rousing applause as it did. Gibbs said the crowd’s response, at times cheering and shouting, was understandable.
      “I think part of the grieving process is celebrating the lives of those that were lost, and celebrating the miracles of those that survived,” he said. The university said it did the planning with minimal input from the White House. The school paid for the event, including $60,000 for 10,000 T-shirts bearing the words “Together We Thrive,” which were handed out for free. The money will not come student tuition, fees or tax dollars…. – AP, 1-13-11
    • President Obama to Lead Nation in Mourning at Memorial Service: President Obama was poised Wednesday to honor the victims and heroes of the Arizona shooting rampage at a memorial service in Tucson. Nearly 30,000 people gathered at the University of Arizona’s football stadium, the McKale Memorial Center, for the nighttime service, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
      One of the first speakers at the service was Daniel Hernandez Jr., an intern for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who has been called a hero for applying pressure to the Arizona Democrat’s wound after she was shot in the head. He delivered a brief but spirited speech in which he said he wasn’t a hero but rather the first responders to the attack and surgeons who saved Giffords’ life.
      “The one thing we have learned from this great tragedy is we have come together,” he said. “On Saturday we all became Tucsonians. On Saturday, we all became Arizonans. And above all, we all became Americans.”
      The crowd in the main venue warmed up with a number of live performances, though “Amazing Grace” was almost drowned out by cheers as the surgeons treating the victims of the massacre were escorted to their seats…. – Fox News, 1-12-11
    • Obama’s role at Tucson memorial service tonight: healer-in-chief: At Tucson memorial service Wednesday, Obama shoulders the duty of trying help a shaken nation heal. After the apparent targeting of a US congresswoman, what will he say? What should he say?
      President Obama on Wednesday travels to Tucson, Ariz., to shoulder a sad responsibility: serving as healer-in-chief of the United States.
      It is a responsibility that too many of his predecessors had to shoulder during their own terms. When assassins strike, or a space shuttle explodes, or terrorists attack the nation, voters look to the White House to honor the victims of the tragedy and to try to explain how strength can be drawn from grief.
      Now it is Mr. Obama’s turn as he speaks Wednesday night from the city where a mass shooting left six dead, a congresswoman gravely injured, and the nation shaken.
      “Every person in the city of Tucson – and I trust in the state and the nation – recognizes the importance of the president of the United States coming to help us pray and heal from this [terrible] tragedy,” said Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup on Wednesday…. – CS Monitor, 1-12-11
    • Palin Joins Debate on Heated Speech With Words That Stir New Controversy: Sarah Palin broke her silence on Wednesday and delivered a forceful denunciation of her critics in a video message about the Arizona shootings, accusing commentators and journalists of “blood libel” in a frenzied rush to blame heated political speech for the violence.
      As she sought to defend herself and seize control of a debate that has been boiling for days, Ms. Palin awakened a new controversy by invoking a phrase fraught with religious symbolism about the false accusation used by anti- Semites of Jews murdering Christian children. It was unclear whether Ms. Palin was aware of the historical meaning of the phrase.
      “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own,” Ms. Palin said. “Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
      The video from Ms. Palin, running nearly eight minutes, was recorded in her home television studio in Alaska and released early Wednesday morning. Her words dominated the political landscape for nearly 12 hours before President Obama arrived in Tucson to speak at a memorial service honoring the six dead and 14 injured in the shootings…. – NYT, 1-12-11
    • Palin Calls Criticism ‘Blood Libel': The term blood libel is generally used to mean the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. That false claim was circulated for centuries to incite anti-Semitism and justify violent pogroms against Jews. Ms. Palin’s use of the phrase in her video, which helped make it rapidly go viral, is itself attracting criticism, not least because Ms. Giffords, who remains in critical condition in a Tucson hospital, is Jewish. Reaction to Ms. Palin’s video was swift… – NYT, 1-12-11
    • Palin’s ‘blood libel’ remark overwhelms message: It was a well-crafted message preaching unity — and mined with a “blood libel” that blew it all apart. Sarah Palin’s video message Wednesday, her first substantial commentary since Saturday’s shooting in Tucson that critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six others, at first appeared to succeed in reconciling two American precepts that have seemed irreconcilable in recent days: a common purpose and a rough- and-tumble political culture….
      The question, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School, was whether using a charged term like blood libel reinforced Palin’s legitimate argument at the unfair targeting of the right wing in the days after the shooting – or whether using the term undercuts the point. “It distracts from her argument, which is thoughtful,” Jamieson told JTA. “If you are trying to get an audience to rethink, you don’t inject this particular historic analogy.”… – JTA, 1-13-11
    • Palin slammed for using ‘blood libel’ term: Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” to decry blaming conservatives for the Arizona shooting has raised the ire of some in the Jewish community…. – JTA, 1-12-11
    • Sarah Palin’s ‘blood libel’ claim stirs controversy: Sarah Palin’s newest Facebook page video scolds critics who say her high-firepower rhetoric could have contributed to Saturday’s Arizona shooting rampage. But her use of an emotionally-charged phrase has spawned a controversy all its own.
      Palin called herself the victim of “blood libel” — the original term for blaming Jews for the death of Jesus and an anti-Semitic rallying call that led to countless deaths of Jews, primarily in Europe and Russia.
      Many rabbis called her remarks insensitive, ill-chosen and offensive to Holocaust survivors and other victims of anti-Semitism. Palin’s new video “was like waving a red flag,” said Rabbi David Sapperstein, executive director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “It concerns us. It escalates the intensity of the rhetoric, rather than calming it down. It seems to me she’s missed an opportunity at real leadership.”
      Palin aide Rebecca Mansour said the former Alaska governor stands by her video. “There has been an incredible increase in death threats against Gov. Palin since the tragedy in Arizona, since she’s been accused of having the blood of those victims on her hands,” Mansour said. “When you start to accuse people of having the blood of innocent people on their hands, it incites violence.”… – USA Today, 1-12-11
    • ‘Blood libel’ has particular, painful meaning to Jewish people: The phrase used by Sarah Palin against her detractors usually refers to the false accusations made for centuries against Jews, often to malign them as child killers — and sometimes leading to massacres of their communities.
      In saying her critics “manufactured a blood libel,” Sarah Palin deployed a phrase linked to the false accusations made for centuries against Jews, often to malign them as child killers who coveted the blood of Christian children.
      Blood libel has been a central fable of anti-Semitism in which Jews have been accused of using the blood of gentile children for medicinal purposes or to mix in with matzo, the unleavened bread traditionally eaten at Passover. The spreading of the blood libel dates to the Middle Ages — and perhaps further — and those allegations have led to massacres of Jewish communities for just as long.
      The term blood libel carries particular power in the Jewish community, though it has taken on other shades of meaning. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday that “while the term blood libel has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.” LAT, 1-12-11
    • Sarah Palin’s charge of ‘blood libel’ spurs outcry from Jewish leaders: Sarah Palin’s remarks Wednesday in which she accused critics who would tie her political tone to the Arizona shootings of committing a “blood libel” against her have prompted an instant and pronounced backlash from some in America’s Jewish community. The term dates to the Middle Ages and refers to a prejudice that Jewish people used Christian blood in religious rituals…. – LAT, 1-12-11
    • Palin death threats rise to unprecedented levels: Death threats to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin have increased to unprecedented levels in the wake of Saturday’s shooting in Tucson, an aide tells ABC News…. – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
    • Krauthammer on debating Palin’s use of ‘blood libel': ‘Have we completely lost our minds?': It has been over four days since a shooting in Tucson that claimed six lives and injured 14, including Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. However, one of the dominating themes of the day is a debate over former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s response. On Fox News Channel’s Wednesday broadcast of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer questioned the sanity of this debate, which involved Palin accusing “journalists and pundits” of manufacturing “a blood libel.”
      “[T]he fact is that even the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League in expressing a mild rebuke to Palin for using this admitted itself in its statement that the term ‘blood libel’ has become part of English parlance to refer to someone falsely accused,” Krauthammer said. “Let’s step back for a second. Here we have a brilliant, intelligent, articulate, beautiful, wife, mother and congresswoman fighting for her life, in a hospital in Tucson, and we’re having a national debate over whether the term ‘blood libel’ can be used appropriately in a non-Jewish context? Have we completely lost our minds?”… – Daily Caller, 1-13-11

    112TH CONGRESS

     

     

    • John Boehner, House speaker, picks RNC cocktail party over Tucson, Arizona shooting memorial: House Speaker John Boehner is taking heat from some Democrats after skipping out on Wednesday’s memorial service for the shooting victims in Arizona and instead hosting a cocktail party for the Republican National Committee. The Ohio Republican turned down President Obama’s invitation to travel on Air Force One to Tucson, Politico reported.
      “It is disrespectful for Speaker Boehner to skip joining the President’s and bipartisan congressional delegation to the Tucson Memorial so he could host a Washington D.C. cocktail party for RNC members,” a Democratic leadership aide told the political website.
      But the reception was billed as a chance for the Boehner to meet with RNC delegates in his new role as House leader. “Yesterday, Rep. Giffords’ colleagues on both sides of the aisle honored her and mourned those who were lost,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner told the Daily News. “The Speaker felt his place was here in the House, with them,” He added that Boehner left his RNC event before Obama spoke in Arizona and watched the President’s speech…. – NY Daily News, 1-13-11
    • Arizona shootings won’t isolate lawmakers, John Boehner tells House: As the House prepares to pass a resolution honoring the Tucson shooting victims — including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — Speaker John Boehner says the attack won’t stop members from ‘being among the people we serve.’… – LAT, 1-12-11
    • House tribute to Giffords: ‘Violence cannot silence': House Speaker John Boehner has formally introduced a resolution paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the Arizona shooting spree that left her gravely wounded and six others dead. The four-page resolution is simply written, with sections honoring Giffords, each of the deceased, the wounded, and people such as Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez and event attendee Patricia Maisch who tried to save lives and apprehend the shooter.
      The resolution offers the condolences of the House and reaffirms the belief of lawmakers “in a democracy in which all can participate and in which intimidation and threats of violence cannot silence the voices of any American.” The first of the deceased recognized in the “whereas” clauses is Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest of those slain. The 9-year-old girl and her life story have captured the nation’s attention. As the House resolution states, Christina was at Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” event on Saturday because she had “an avid interest in government.”
      Boehner will gavel the House to order on Wednesday and then open four to six hours of debate on the resolution. A bipartisan prayer service honoring Giffords and the Arizona shooting victims will be held at 1 p.m. ET…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
    • House Resolution Honors Heroes, Victims of Tucson Tragedy:
      112TH CONGRESS
      1ST SESSION H. RES. ___
      Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011.
      IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
      Mr. BOEHNER submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on lll
      RESOLUTION
      Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011.
      Whereas on January 8, 2011, an armed gunman opened fire at a “Congress on your Corner” event hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, killing and wounding at least 14 others…. – ABC, 1-11-11

    QUOTES

    https://i0.wp.com/newshour.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/2011/01/12/108011528_homepage_lede.jpg

     

    • Text Obama’s Remarks in Tucson: Following is a text of President Obama’s prepared address on Wednesday to honor those killed and wounded in a shooting on Jan. 8, as released by the White House….
      But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
      Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
      For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.
      So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future….
      That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.
      And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic. So deserving of our love.
      And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle…. – NYT, 1-12-11
    • Michelle Obama: An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson: Dear parents, Like so many Americans all across the country, Barack and I were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of violence committed in Arizona this past weekend. Yesterday, we had the chance to attend a memorial service and meet with some of the families of those who lost their lives, and both of us were deeply moved by their strength and resilience in the face of such unspeakable tragedy….
      And that’s something else we can do for our children – we can tell them about Christina and about how much she wanted to give back. We can tell them about John Roll, a judge with a reputation for fairness; about Dorothy Morris, a devoted wife to her husband, her high school sweetheart, to whom she’d been married for 55 years; about Phyllis Schneck, a great-grandmother who sewed aprons for church fundraisers; about Dorwan Stoddard, a retired construction worker who helped neighbors down on their luck; and about Gabe Zimmerman, who did community outreach for Congresswoman Giffords, working tirelessly to help folks who were struggling, and was engaged to be married next year. We can tell them about the brave men and women who risked their lives that day to save others. And we can work together to honor their legacy by following their example – by embracing our fellow citizens; by standing up for what we believe is right; and by doing our part, however we can, to serve our communities and our country. – WH, 1-13-11
    • Sarah Palin: America’s Enduring Strength: ….The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.
      Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
      There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure…. – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 1-12-11Video
    • The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement that, in part, came to Ms. Palin’s defense, Abraham Foxman, the group’s national director, said in a statement: “It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder, Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks.” But Mr. Foxman added that “we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase ‘blood-libel.'” He called it a phrase “fraught with pain in Jewish history.” – NYT, 1-12-11
    • Benyamin Korn, Director Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin: “Sarah Palin got it right, and we Jews, of all people, should know a blood libel when we see one. Falsely accusing someone of shedding blood is a blood libel, whether it’s medieval Christians accusing Jews of baking blood in Passover matzahs, or contemporary Muslim extremists accusing Israel of slaughtering Arabs to harvest their organs, or political partisans blaming conservative political figures and talk show hosts for the Tucson massacre.”
    • David Harris, president of the National Democratic Jewish Council, in a statement: “Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a ‘blood libel’ against her and others. This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries — and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today.”
    • Simon Greer, president of Jewish Funds for Justice: “The term ‘blood libel’ is not a synonym for ‘false accusation,’ It refers to a specific falsehood perpetuated by Christians about Jews for centuries, a falsehood that motivated a good deal of anti-Jewish violence and discrimination. Unless someone has been accusing Ms. Palin of killing Christian babies and making matzoh from their blood, her use of the term is totally out of line.”
    • Benyamin Korn: Op-Ed: Blame real inciters, not Palin and Tea Parties: Extreme rhetoric can inspire extreme behavior, even violence. But there isn’t a shred of evidence that anything that anyone on the political right — or left — said or wrote inspired Jared Lee Loughner to launch his deadly rampage in Arizona…. – JTA, 1-13-11
    • Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush in Pundit Wire: “The term ‘blood libel’ is so unique, and so tinged with the context of anti-Semitism, that its use in this case — even when Ms. Palin has a legitimate gripe — is either cynically calculated to stimulate media interest or historically illiterate. It is therefore distracting to Ms. Palin’s underlying message, which is one of sympathy for the victims and outrage that she and others are being accused of inspiring a mass murderer.”

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Historian Douglas Brinkley says Tucson will be a place in ‘history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s': As the shock wanes from the aftermath of Saturday’s Tucson tragedy, how might this event be remembered historically? According to noted historian Douglas Brinkley, a fellow at the Baker Institute and a professor of history at Rice University, it will rank up there with one of the bloodiest times in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Era in Alabama, including the September 15, 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma.
      “Well you know Tucson now is one of these places people are going to talk about in history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s,” Brinkley said. “It seems like a war zone spot and if you go to Selma or Birmingham today, they cope with that past. They have museums and memorials. This is the beginning of the healing for that community of Tucson and it’s very significant that President Obama’s coming, and hugging people, talking to people – making them know he feels the pain of the entire community and the nation.”… – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
    • Obama Offers Words of Comfort at Arizona Shooting Memorial: This is a moment in which he speaks for the country as a whole, and when the rhetoric succeeds, we, as a country, feel a sense of renewal; the moment of destruction is translated into a moment of recommitment to our basic democratic ideals. — Kathleen Hall Jamieson
      Edward Widmer, a former speech writer for President Bill Clinton, and a historian at Brown University; and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, tell us how Obama goes about writing and delivering such an important speech…. – The Take Away, 1-12-11Mp3 Download
    • In Times of Tragedy, Presidents Often Called on as ‘Comforters-In-Chief': President Obama’s address in Tucson will echo a broader role presidents must play as leaders of national mourning. Jim Lehrer looks back on presidential responses to national crises with historian Michael Beschloss and Ellen Fitzpatrick, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. – PBS Newshour, 1-12-11Mp3
    • ELLEN FITZPATRICK, professor, University of New Hampshire: I think it’s true in the sense of various kinds of national tragedies like the explosion of the Challenger, one example, of course, an obvious one. But, in acts of political violence, there’s an interesting history to this. In 1935, when Senator Huey Long was assassinated, President Roosevelt issued a two-sentence statement upon that occasion, saying that he deeply regretted this attack on Long and that violence was un-American.
      But, in 1968, when Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in the midst of a presidential campaign, President Johnson gave a national address in which he decried the climate of violence, the rhetoric of extremism in the country. He called for Congress to enact gun control laws. And it was really, actually, quite a powerful speech. It was a different speech in many ways, which I think are more common in recent years, in which the themes really are of the nation speaking through its president its condolences to the victims and trying to bring the country together in this moment of national mourning.
      And today, of course, the newspapers were filled with discussions of what President Obama would say. So, there’s a greatly heightened attention to the president in his role as the chief executive of our country, as in some sense the person who we look to for moral leadership at a moment like this.
      These tragedies, unfortunately, have happened all across our country. But for the people that live locally and experience them very — very immediately, there’s a kind of visceral response and a worry that their — the place that they live will be associated, as if somehow violence and irrationality and this horrific attack would be something that would be restricted to one place, and not symptomatic of some sort of deeper problem. One of the interesting themes in the presidential addresses on these occasions is that they try to personalize the victims of these tragedies very often to make them real people, and so that everyone will understand the nature of the loss that is sustained in these mass murder events. Presidents very often have done that. And they often reach out to children who, tragically, have been so deeply impacted by these events, in this case, a young — young child losing her life.
    • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: But, you know, mthe founders said one of the jobs of a president is head of state. That’s a unifying function. Another part of it is prime minister, essentially, which is divisive. And, so, especially in the wake of an election loss like Barack Obama’s, it’s a moment that he can show that he can do a very good job of unifying the country in explaining what has happened. And there’s the echo — you had it in your report — Bill Clinton in 1995. He had lost both houses of Congress. Many people were saying, was he relevant? He gave a very moving speech that caused people to think, maybe there’s more to Clinton than I thought.
      Well, one of them is, you don’t shoot members of Congress. And anyone who doesn’t agree with that doesn’t deserve to be in this country at all. So, there really are. And the sweet thing is that we’re living in this poisonous time. There’s so much conflict. Everyone seems to be cynical. There’s still something in Americans that causes them, even if it’s a president they didn’t vote for, to listen to what a president says and say, how does he see this? What is he going to tell us about what this means?
    • Gil Troy: The Political Fight after the Arizona Gunfight: Right Target, Wrong Trigger: The Tucson, Arizona, rampage left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded, six citizens dead, and millions of Americans jumping to the right conclusions for the wrong reasons. Yes, we need more civility in our politics. But no, we should not use one crazy gunman’s random fixations and horrific violence to trigger the kind of reform modern political culture needs.
      I confess, having written in 2008 Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, calling for centrism and civility, I am tempted to flow with the conventional wisdom this time. Right after this mass shooting at one of Gifford’s “Congress on Your Corner” citizen meet-and-greets, preaching pundits began blaming the vitriol in general, and Republicans in particular. The fact that Sarah Palin’s website featured Giffords’s district in crosshairs in in 2010, supposedly symbolized everything wrong with politics today….
      Recently, in Tucson, Arizona, a sweet nine-year-old girl named Christina Taylor Green was elected to her student council. Born on September 11, 2001, Christina was always a particularly welcome symbol of hope to her friends and family. Last Saturday, a neighbor invited Christina to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and “see how democracy works.” Christina ended up murdered, shot in the chest.
      We should cultivate a politics of civility, not because of the insane murderer but because we all want to show “how democracy works,” in Christina’s memory, to honor Gabrille Giffords’ lifework, and for our common good… – 1-11-11
    • Julian E. Zelizer: Extremism is a vice, not a virtue: …The shooting may have been the result of mental illness without any connection to recent political debates. But, given the political climate, it has immediately stimulated debate about the dangers of extremism in American politics.
      In an age that has fueled all sorts of extremist organizations and writers — facilitated by the ease of reaching an audience over the internet — the major political parties need to take extremely strong stands against fringe organizations that promote violence or use incendiary rhetoric to target opponents.
      Extremist organizations have always existed in American politics, but the internet is now giving them an easy forum to reach national audiences quickly…. – CNN, 1-12-11

    %d bloggers like this: