Political Headlines February 12, 2013: Former VP Dick Cheney: President Barack Obama ‘wanted to take us down a peg’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Cheney: Obama ‘wanted to take us down a peg’

Source: Washington Post (blog), 2-12-13

In an interview aired Tuesday with CBS’s Charlie Rose, former Vice President Dick Cheney described President Obama’s military and foreign policy as designed to damage the Unites States’ capabilities and reduce its influence in the world….READ MORE

Political Buzz March 24, 2012: Former Vice President Dick Cheney Recovering After Heart Transplant Surgery

POLITICAL BUZZ

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. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

POLITICAL HEADLINE NEWS:

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Former Vice President Dick Cheney in February 2011.

IN FOCUS: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY RECOVERING AFTER HEART TRANSPLANT SURGERY

Aide: Former Vice President Dick Cheney recovering from heart transplant: Former Vice President Dick Cheney is recovering at a Virginia hospital after a heart transplant, AP reports.
Cheney was on the transplant waiting list for more than 20 months. He suffered his fifth heart attack in 2010…. – WaPo, 3-24-12

  • Cheney recovering after heart transplant: Former vice president Dick Cheney, a 71-year-old with a long history of cardiovascular problems, had a heart transplant Saturday and is recovering at a Virginia hospital. Not even Cheney knows the donor’s identity.
    An aide to Cheney disclosed the surgery after it was complete. She said the ex-vice president, who has suffered five heart attacks over the years, had been waiting for a transplant for more than 20 months.
    “Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift,” aide Kara Ahern said in a written statement.
    Former president George W. Bush was in touch with the Cheney family Saturday, spokesman Freddy Ford said. “He and Mrs. Bush are thrilled that the surgery went well, and they are keeping VP Cheney in their prayers for a full and speedy recovery,” Ford said…. – USA Today, 3-24-12
  • Aide says Cheney had heart transplant: Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant Saturday, after five heart attacks over the past 25 years and countless medical procedures to keep him going. Cheney, 71, waited nearly two years for his new heart, the gift of an unknown donor.
    An aide to Cheney disclosed the surgery after it was over, and said the ex-vice president was recovering at a Virginia hospital.
    “Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift,” aide Kara Ahern said in a written statement that was authenticated by several of the Republican politician’s close associates.
    Cheney was recovering Saturday night at the intensive care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., after surgery earlier in the day…. – AP, 3-24-12
  • Cheney Recovering After Getting a New Heart: Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant on Saturday after 20 months on a waiting list, and was recovering in a Virginia hospital, a statement from his office said.
    Mr. Cheney, 71, who has suffered five heart attacks and was in end-stage heart failure, was recovering in the intensive care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.
    “Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift,” said the statement from an aide, Kara Ahern. Mr. Cheney and his family thanked doctors and staff at that hospital and at George Washington University Hospital in Washington for “their continued outstanding care,” the statement said…. – NYT, 3-25-12
  • Dick Cheney receives heart transplant: Former Vice President Dick Cheney received a heart transplant on Saturday, his office announced. A statement from the former vice president’s office said Cheney is now recovering in the Intensive Care Unit of Inova Fairfax … – CBS News, 3-24-12
  • Cheney recovering from heart transplant surgery: Former GOP Vice President Dick Cheney is recovering from heart transplant surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia, a spokeswoman said Saturday evening. In 2010, Cheney had a left ventricular assist device implanted for treatment of … – Fox News, 3-24-12
  • Dick Cheney undergoes heart transplant surgery: Former Vice President Dick Cheney was recovering Saturday evening after undergoing heart transplant surgery, his office said. Cheney, 71, was recovering at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia…. – CNN, 3-24-12
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney has heart transplant: The 71-year-old has a long history of heart ailments and had been on a waiting list for more than 20 months. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has received a heart transplant in Virginia after more than 20 months on a waiting list…. – LAT, 3-24-12
  • Cheney gets heart transplant, in intensive care: Former Vice President Dick Cheney was recovering on Saturday after undergoing heart transplant surgery, a once risky procedure whose survival rates have improved over the years. The 71-year-old Republican…. – Reuters, 3-24-12

History Buzz August 29, 2011: Reviews — Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s No Holds Bar Memoir of the Bush Administration “In My Time” — Will Have “Heads exploding all over Washington”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

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.

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

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HISTORY BOOK NEWS: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY’S NO HOLDS BAR MEMOIR ON THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

IN MY TIME A Personal and Political Memoir By Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney Illustrated. 565 pages. Simon & Shuster, Threshold Editions. $35.

Browse & Search Inside, Full Text of Dick Cheney’s IN MY TIME A Personal and Political Memoir

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, former Vice President Dick Cheney delivers an unyielding portrait of American politics over nearly forty years and shares personal reflections on his role as one of the most steadfast and influential statesmen in the history of our country.
The public perception of Dick Cheney has long been something of a contradiction. He has been viewed as one of the most powerful vice presidents—secretive, even mysterious, and at the same time opinionated and unflinchingly outspoken. He has been both praised and attacked by his peers, the press, and the public. Through it all, courting only the ideals that define him, he has remained true to himself, his principles, his family, and his country. Now in an enlightening and provocative memoir, a stately page-turner with flashes of surprising humor and remarkable candor, Dick Cheney takes readers through his experiences as family man, policymaker, businessman, and politician during years that shaped our collective history….
Eyewitness to history at the highest levels, Cheney brings to life scenes from past and present. He describes driving through the White House gates on August 9, 1974, just hours after Richard Nixon resigned, to begin work on the Ford transition; and he portrays a time of national crisis a quarter century later when, on September 11, 2001, he was in the White House bunker and conveyed orders to shoot down a hijacked airliner if it would not divert.
With its unique perspective on a remarkable span of American history, In My Time will enlighten. As an intimate and personal chronicle, it will surprise, move, and inspire. Dick Cheney’s is an enduring political vision to be reckoned with and admired for its honesty, its wisdom, and its resonance. In My Time is truly the last word about an incredible political era, by a man who lived it and helped define it—with courage and without compromise. — Publisher Description, Simon & Shuster

    • Cheney’s memoir: heads really did explode: Critics – including former Secretary of State Colin Powell – fulminate over Dick Cheney’s memoir.
      “Even the cover [of Dick Cheney’s memoir] is daunting,” writes US News and World Report critic Susan Milligan, noting that it features “a grimacing Cheney inside the White House, looking like he’s deliberately trying to scare away the tourists.”
      Dick Cheney’s anticipated book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” hit bookstores today and – no surprise – like the man himself, it’s already creating a stir.
      The 46th vice president spends the bulk of the book, co-written with his daughter, Liz Cheney, defending his controversial policies and practices, promising more than once that he has no regrets and would repeat his actions “in a heartbeat.”… – CS Monitor, 8-30-11

“Not only do [critics] want apologies. They want the apologies to be on matters they disagreed with you on — on policy.
It’s not good enough if you say, ‘Well, when I was a young man, I had a misspent youth. I got kicked out of Yale twice, arrested twice for driving under the influence.’ I had to straighten my life out. It’s a pretty big mistake that I admit, and talk about very freely in my book. That’s not good enough: It’s got to be some policy issue where they disagreed with you. And I’m not apologetic with respect to the policies of the Bush administration. I think we basically got it right.
I didn’t say no mistakes. But … from the standpoint of what I wanted to put down, what I knew about, what I was intimately involved in, I think we got it right.” — Former Vice President Dick Cheney in an Interview with Politico

    • Dick Cheney’s last campaign: ‘We got it right’: His last campaign is an unyielding defense of his legacy, after years of reveling in what he calls his “Darth Vader image.” Dick Cheney says he knew critics and historians would tear apart his new book, but that he wrote it so his seven grandchildren would know why he did what he did…. – Politico, 8-31-11
    • Dick Cheney versus Colin Powell: Memoir feeds the feud: Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s new memoir, ‘In My Time,’ has passages critical of Colin Powell. The former secretary of State took his shots on Sunday, and Cheney is jabbing back.
      Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday defended the way he treats ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell in his new memoir “In My Time”.
      Mr. Cheney told interviewer Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” that while there are passages in the book critical of Mr. Powell, there are also chapters about how well the pair worked together at the Pentagon when Cheney was secretary of Defense and Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
      “So there’s a lot of very positive stuff in there. But a balanced account, I think, also required me to put down what my opinion was, and that’s what I’ve done,” said the ex-veep.
      Cheney’s memoir is being officially released Tuesday. Among its most notable overall themes is that the Bush administration cabinet was a team of rivals, a group of antagonists who disagreed with each other – or at least with Vice President Cheney – and fought and backstabbed in the best Washington bureaucratic traditions…. – CS Monitor, 8-30-11
    • Leaving Regrets to Others, Cheney Speaks: In an interview on NBC’s “Dateline,” former Vice President Dick Cheney says that his new book, “In My Time,” will have “heads exploding all over Washington.” Whatever readers think of Mr. Cheney’s politics, their heads are more likely to explode from frustration than from any sense of revelation. Indeed, the memoir — delivered in dry, often truculent prose — turns out to be mostly a predictable mix of spin, stonewalling, score settling and highly selective reminiscences.
      The book, written with his daughter Liz, reiterates Mr. Cheney’s aggressive approach to foreign policy and his hard-line views on national security, while sidestepping questions about many of the Bush administration’s more controversial decisions, either by cherry-picking information (much the way critics say the White House cherry-picked intelligence in making the case to go to war against Iraq) or by hopping and skipping over awkward subjects with loudly voiced assertions. It’s ironic that Mr. Cheney — who succeeded in promulgating so many of his policy ideas through his sheer mastery of bureaucratic detail — should have written a book that is often so lacking in detail that it feels like a blurred photograph…. – NYT, 8-26-11
    • Cheney’s memoir: few apologies, some evasion, and critical words for Condi Rice: An early review of Cheney’s “In My Time” suggests that readers of the memoir will react more with frustration than with anger. In Cheney’s view of history, the war in Iraq was one of the most significant accomplishments of the Bush administration. … – CS Monitor, 8-25-11
    • Dick Cheney memoir ‘In My Times’ has no apologies: Former Vice President Dick Cheney takes quite a few shots — and makes no apologies — in his long-anticipated autobiography, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” which will be out Tuesday. The book, written with his daughter Liz Cheney…. – Politico, 8-26-11
    • Expected and Unexpected: Dick Cheney’s Memoir Edition: According to his memoir, In My Time, which was “obtained” before its release next week by the New York Times, Dick Cheney urged President George W. Bush to bomb a Syrian … – New York Magazine, 8-25-11
    • Dick Cheney Adds Cable News, CBS and ‘The View’ to His Book Tour Schedule: Former Vice President Dick Cheney is preparing to embark on a major book tour media blitz… – mediabistro.com, 8-25-11
    • Cheney Gears Up Publicity Tour for Memoir: Former Vice President Dick Cheney will emerge from private life next week for a publicity blitz surrounding his 576-page memoir, “In My Time,” and there are few major media outlets in print, radio and television that he will overlook. … – NYT, 8-24-11
    • Bush, Cheney, Rice steal the headlines: Former vice president Dick Cheney is stealing the headlines with his upcoming book, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir. The book hits the stands next week but is already being previewed. Cheney’s unapologetic memoirs defend his administration’s most controversial decisions, including its allegation that Saddam Hussein sought uranium in Africa to build weapons of mass destruction, the surge of additional troops into Iraq and the use of harsh interrogation tactics to get information from suspected terrorists…. – USA Today, 8-26-11

“I didn’t set out to embarrass the president or not embarrass the president. If you look at the book, there are many places in it where I say some very fine things about George Bush. And believe every word of it.” — Dick Cheney, 70, told NBC’s Jamie Gangel in an intervoiew airing August 29, 2011

    • Dick Cheney says memoir will have heads ‘exploding’: Dick Cheney is already promising there will be “heads exploding all over Washington” when his new book hits stores Tuesday.
      The 46th vice president made that declaration in an interview with NBC — portions of which were aired on the Today Show Wednesday morning — as he embarked on a media blitz to promote the book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.”
      The memoir discusses Cheney’s health, the Sept. 11 attacks, his secret resignation letter, and his thoughts about President George W. Bush and other prominent characters from the Bush White House, NBC reports…. – LAT, 8-25-11
    • A political junkie’s guide to Cheney’s memoir: Since the book leaked, much of the coverage on Dick Cheney’s memoir has focused on the portions he devotes to national security and foreign affairs during his time as vice president. But Cheney’s political career began well before 2000…. – Politico, 8-28-11
    • Dick Cheney’s reading list: A man’s character lives in the books he loves. So perhaps the search for the soul of Dick Cheney should lead to the books that mean enough to him to merit a mention in his new memoir, “In My Time,” which is due out Tuesday. … – WaPo, 8-26-11
    • Dick Cheney’s book is different and it’s because he’s the author: In this book cover image released by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” by Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, is shown. (AP Photo/Threshold Editions) (Anonymous – AP) Dick Cheney’s new book has set off a predictable beehive of political gossip in Washington, as the eight years of the Bush administration and its actors are again being prosecuted in the court of public opinion.
      The former vice president’s book, which is harshly critical of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former CIA director George Tenet and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, follows in a long line of political tell-alls from the people involved….
      But Cheney’s memoir could be quite different — if it’s actually the kind of pull-no-punches tell-all that it’s supposed to be — and it’s potential for shock-and-awe has everything to do with the author…. – WaPo, 8-25-11
    • ‘In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir’ by Dick Cheney: If this book were read by an intelligent person who spent the past 10 years on, say, Mars, she would have no idea that Dick Cheney was the vice president in one of the most hapless American administrations of modern times. There are hints, to be sure, that things did not always go swimmingly under President George W. Bush and Cheney, but these are surrounded by triumphalist accounts of events that many readers — and future historians — are unlikely to consider triumphs.
      This is not surprising. The genre of statesman’s memoir rarely produces self-criticism, or even much candor. Apparently, the point is to redeem your large advance from the publisher with a brisk, self-complimenting account of your life and times, with emphasis on your moment in the limelight. There should, of course, be a dash of “news” and a few frank passages about your true feelings — about others, not yourself.
      For Cheney and his daughter Liz, whom Cheney describes as “my collaborator and the CEO of our book team,” the only real point of writing about the vice presidential years is to make clear how right Cheney always was, and how wrongheaded were his critics and bureaucratic rivals. More than once he tells us he would do again exactly what he did the first time, “in a heartbeat.” He acknowledges no serious regrets about anything.
      This big book is not just about being vice president. Its first 255 pages are devoted to Cheney’s eventful life before the day Bush asked him to lead the effort to find him the right running mate for the 2000 campaign…. – WaPo, 8-29-11
    • In memoir, Cheney defends decisions, Bush as president: Former vice president Richard B. Cheney provides an unapologetic defense of the George W. Bush administration in his memoir to be released next week, including explanations of his own decisions on contested national … – WaPo, 8-26-11
    • ‘In My Time’: Dick Cheney’s Unapologetic Memoir: Call it spin, score settling or setting the record straight: Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s new memoir of his extraordinary political career is out next week. Robert Siegel talks with Charlie Savage of the New York Times. … – NPR, 8-26-11
    • Dick Cheney memoir ‘In My Time’ already making waves: Dick Cheney’s memoir “In My Time,” to be published next week, tells the story of Cheney’s time in Washington and the White House. While the title of the book might indicate he was in charge, he was a two-term vice president under George W. Bush. … – LAT, 8-26-11

“I’m glad members of my family are giving their version of what it was like to serve our country. I did the same thing….
Eventually, objective historians will analyze our administration and will draw objective conclusions.” — Former President George W. Bush in an interview with “Fox & Friends”

    • George W. Bush: I’m fine with Cheney’s memoir: While former Vice President Dick Cheney’s new memoir has garnered some vociferous criticism from some members of his administration, former president George W. Bush says he’s fine with the book — and “glad” to see that members of his administration are telling their stories.
      The book, which paints unflattering portraits of several of Cheney’s former colleagues, has already ruffled the feathers of prominent former Bush administration officials like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell.
      Mr. Bush, however, said he wasn’t bothered by the memoir…. – CBS News, 9-1-11
    • Bush Takes the High Road on Cheney’s Book: Former President George W. Bush is taking a tolerant view of a new book by his vice president, Dick Cheney. Bush told Fox and Friends this morning that he encourages members of his administration to give their version of events during his eight-year presidency, even if they disagree.
      In his book, In My Time, Cheney has some negative things to say about former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, which they dispute. But Bush said, “I’m glad members of my ‘family’ are giving their version of what it was like to serve the country…I did the same thing. I put my version out there” in a memoir published last year. [Vote: Is Cheney Taking Cheap Shots in His New Memoir?]
      Bush repeated his long-time assessment that it will take many years to put his administration into proper perspective. “Eventually objective historians will analyze our administration and draw objective conclusions,” he said.
      He declined to give his preference on who should be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, saying that he will “remain an observer, an interested observer.” And he didn’t criticize his Democratic successor, Barack Obama…. – US News, 9-1-11
    • Is Cheney Taking Cheap Shots in His New Memoir? Dick Cheney’s memoir ‘In My Time’ attacks many former colleagues: Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir In My Time hit book stores Tuesday and while on the publicity tour he promised that it would cause “heads exploding all over Washington.” In the book, he stands by the controversial waterboarding interrogation technique, reveals that he had a letter of resignation sitting in his desk drawer in case his health failed him , and recalls the details of his personal experience of 9-11. However, what is exploding most heads is the attacks he launches at other Republicans. [See a photo gallery of Bush’s legacy.]
      Cheney claims Arizona Sen. John McCain once angrily stormed out of the room during a discussion of interrogation techniques and the vice president mocks McCain for interrupting his 2008 presidential campaign to return to Washington to address the financial crisis. Cheney calls Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “naïve” for her attempts to negotiate with North Korea and recounts a time when welled up with tears in his office over the Nigerian uranium scandal. Cheney insinuates that he was behind Rice predecessor Colin Powell’s 2004 resignation, saying it was “for the best” even though Powell claims that he always planned to serve as Secretary of State for only one term…. – US News, 8-30-11

“I kept the president fully and completely informed about every in and out of the negotiations with the North Koreans. You can talk about policy differences without suggesting that your colleague somehow misled the president. You know, I don’t appreciate the attack on my integrity that that implies.” — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

    • Condi Rice fires back at Dick Cheney: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins Colin Powell in protesting claims made by Dick Cheney in his memoir.
      The heads are still exploding from former vice president Dick Cheney’s recently published memoir.
      The latest blow-up, on Wednesday, came from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
      Rice spoke out against several claims about her in Cheney’s book, “In My Time: A Personal and Professional Memoir,” saying that she viewed it as an “attack on my integrity.”
      In an interview with Reuters Wednesday, Rice protested Cheney’s suggestion that she had misled President George W. Bush about nuclear diplomacy with North Korea…. – CS Monitor, 9-1-11

“So there’s a lot of very positive stuff in there, but a balanced account also requires me to put down what my opinion was and that’s what I’ve done.” — Former Vice President Dick Cheney

“It’s not necessary to take these kinds of barbs and then try to pump a book up by saying, ‘Heads will be exploding.'” I think it’s a bit too far. I think Dick overshot the runway with that kind of comment, if that’s how he plans to sell his book.
From what I’ve read in the newspapers and seen on television it’s essentially a rehash of events of seven or eight years ago. Mr. Cheney had a long and distinguished career and I opened his book that’s what he would focus on, not these cheap shots that he’s taking at me and other members of the administration who served to the best of our ability for President Bush.
It was clear by 2004 that the team was not functioning as a team. And we had different views, and not just views, not views that could be reconciled. And so I said to the president that I would be leaving at the end of the year, after the election, and he ought to take a look at his whole team to try to resolve all these issues.” — Colin Powell on CBS’s “Face the Nation”

    • Dick Cheney defends his comments on Colin Powell: Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday defended comments in his new memoir about Colin Powell, saying his take on the former secretary of state is “basically all very positive” and noting that he supported him for promotion to various military positions.
      Cheney, whose long-anticipated autobiography “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir” hit shelves Tuesday, sat down for a live interview with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show. Lauer did not directly ask Cheney to respond to Powell’s criticism this weekend that the former vice president’s book takes “cheap shots” at him and some of his other colleagues from George W. Bush’s administration.
      Lauer asked Cheney about parts of the book where he takes Powell to task for his opposition to the Iraq War. Cheney responded that in the three chapters in which he details his tenure as secretary of defense working with Powell, “there’s a lot of very positive stuff” and noted that he recommended the general for several jobs in the military…. – Politico, 8-30-11
    • Colin Powell: Dick Cheney Taking ‘Cheap Shots’ In Book (VIDEO): Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is accusing former Vice President Dick Cheney of taking “cheap shots” at him and others in a new book. Powell was the nation’s top diplomat during the first four years of the Bush Administration…. – Huff Post, 8-28-11
    • Powell: Cheney “overshot the runway” in book: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that former Vice President Dick Cheney took “cheap shots” in his forthcoming memoir, and that he was taking his aggressive promotional techniques “a bit too far.” Powell, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation”…. – CBS News, 8-28-11
    • Powell Accuses Cheney of Cheap Shots: Powell told CBS’ Face the Nation that former Vice President Dick Cheney took “cheap shots” at him in Cheney’s new memoir, In My Time. Cheney writes that Powell undermined President George W. Bush by criticizing the administration. … – Daily Beast, 8-28-11
    • Powell: Cheney ‘Overshot the Runway,’ Took ‘Cheap Shots’: In an interview on Face the Nation this morning, former Bush secretary of state Colin Powell responded to leaked criticism appearing in former vice president Dick Cheney’s forthcoming memoir…. – National Review Online, 8-28-11
    • The Chapter That Went Missing From Dick Cheney’s Book: Dick Cheney’s hyper-hyped autobiography is short on revelations (it turns out that the “secret undisclosed location” was his house) but long, very long, on excuse making when it comes to the wars of whim into which he steered the United States. … – The Nation, 8-26-11
    • Cheney says he pushed to bomb Syria: From the Dick Cheney memoir, the former Vice President says he pressed President George W. Bush to bomb Syria in June 2007, but he was outnumbered by other advisers who were snakebit over the “bad intelligence” about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction…. – Politico, 8-25-11
    • Cheney: I wanted to bomb Syrian reactor in ’07: Dick Cheney urged then-President George W. Bush to bomb Syria in 2007, according to the former vice president’s new memoir. According to the New York Times, which obtained an advance copy of the new book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir…. – JTA, 8-28-11
    • Cheney Says He Urged Bush to Bomb Syria in ’07: Former Vice President Dick Cheney says in a new memoir that he urged President George W. Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian … – NYT, 8-24-11
    • Reading the Pictures: Cheney’s Audacious Memoir Cover (And Claim to the Empire): Well, it’s hard not to be impressed by Cheney’s cojones (and the spiteful swipe at Bush) given the cover photo of his new memoir. Situated in the President’s residence, Cross Hall and the famous red carpet is the space associated with the President of the United States, the backdrop and sanctum recognized, in the American eye, with presidential addresses and presidential processions down the gallery.
      Of course, the dimensions of Cheney’s “top drawer” ego have never been a secret. Perhaps it’s his deteriorating health, though, that motivated this kind of imperial parting shot, compelled to emphasize how much he, not Bush, was the “vision guy” and the true top dog…. – Huff Post, 8-26-11

“I did it because I was concerned that — for a couple of reasons … One was my own health situation. The possibility that I might have a heart attack or a stroke that would be incapacitating. And, there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice-president who can’t function.”

    • Dick Cheney Memoir Reveals Secret Resignation Letter: In his new memoir, In My Time, former Vice President Dick Cheney talks about a secret letter of resignation that he wrote only two months into office. Worried about his health, he wrote the letter in March 2001 and locked in a safe. – mediabistro.com, 8-25-11
    • Cheney kept secret signed resignation letter while vice president: Former Vice President Dick Cheney kept a signed letter of resignation locked in a safe throughout most of his eight years in the White House, he revealed in an interview to air next week on NBC…. – CBS News, 8-24-11

“It’s important for us not to get caught up in the notion that you can only have popular methods of interrogation if you want to run an effective counter-terrorism program. The fact is it worked. We learned valuable, valuable information from that process and we kept the country safe for over seven years.” — Former VP Dick Cheney

    • Cheney: ‘No regrets’ about waterboarding suspects CBS News, 8-28-11
    • Former VP Cheney says waterboarding justified in interest of protecting national security: Former Vice President Dick Cheney says there’s no contradiction in advocating harsh interrogation tactics against suspected US enemies and opposing those practices when used against American citizens. … – AP, 8-30-11
    • Cheney: Bush authorized leak on Iraq: Dick Cheney writes in his forthcoming book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” that he was surprised to learn that President George W. Bush had personally authorized a leak about Iraq strategy to a Washington Post columnist — a disclosure … – Politico, 8-28-11
    • Bush’s Unanswered 9/11 Questions: By the time the president wrote his 2010 memoir, the call from the vice president had become a call he made to Cheney. Bush’s snap authorization, moreover, had by then transmogrified into a well thought-out plan. “I called Dick Cheney as Air Force One … – Daily Beast
    • Cheney reveals his ‘undisclosed location’: Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney disappeared and was whisked off to a “secure, undisclosed location” to protect his safety. But Cheney never confirmed where exactly he hunkered down. That is, until now.
      Cheney confirms in his new memoir, “In My Time,” that some of the speculation was correct–one of his “undisclosed locations” was his residence in Northwest Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reports.
      Which, in turn, means Joe Biden was right. Vice President Biden told the world in 2009 that he discovered the bunker beneath his home during a tour of his new house. Biden revealed during the 2009 Gridiron Club dinner that the room was located “behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment,” Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift wrote at the time.
      In the book, Cheney says that in addition to his D.C. home, the other undisclosed locations were at his home in Wyoming and at Camp David, the presidential retreat.
      Cheney writes that he was surprised by the interest in the location, noting a “Saturday Night Live” skit that placed him in a cave in Afghanistan, according to the Post…. – Yahoo News, 8-26-11
    • Cheney opposed decision to save GM: Former Vice President Dick Cheney says he opposed the decision to save General Motors Corp. from collapse in December 2008. In a new memoir “In My Time” published Tuesday by Simon & Schuster, Cheney says he disagreed with President George W. Bush…. – The Detroit News, 8-30-11

“I began my trip with a stop in London to visit one of America’s closest and best allies in the war on terror, British prime minister Tony Blair. I have tremendous respect for Prime Minister Blair. He is a Labour party liberal and I am a conservative Republican, and we didn’t always agree on strategy or tactics. But America had no greater ally during our time in office. His speeches about the war were some of the most eloquent I’ve been privileged to hear.”

“The president wanted to be absolutely clear that if he decided to go to war, we would finish the job. We would remove Saddam Hussein, eliminate the threat he posed and establish a representative government.”

“At the request of the British, I had called a number of the Tories, including Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader. He was, on this issue, a rock of support for Blair.”

    • Dick Cheney autobiography heaps praise on Tony Blair: Dick Cheney, vice-president to George W Bush, pays tribute to ‘one of America’s closest and best allies in the war on terror’….
      In the 565-page In My Time, Cheney is unrepentant about the most controversial decisions taken by the White House, from the waterboarding of Guantánamo Bay detainees to the invasion of Iraq…. – Guardian UK, 8-30-11
    • Dick Cheney speaks out in new memoir: Dick Cheney, one of the most polarizing figures in recent history, has published a memoir. In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir covers Cheney’s 40-year career in American politics, and includes some keen and controversial insights into the George W. Bush administration, in which Cheney served as vice president of the United States.
      Cheney claims that, thanks to his memoir, “heads are going to be exploding all over Washington.” Cheney uses the 565 pages to defend his most controversial policies, including the 2003 decision to invade Iraq, the use of extreme interrogation tactics such as waterboarding and his failed attempt to convince Bush to bomb Syria.
      Cheney was a powerful, controversial and ambitious figure in American politics, perhaps even more divisive than the president he served. As a result, his memoir should be a very controversial and inflammatory read — much like the man himself…. – CBC, 8-28-11

EXCERPTS

“I was deeply disappointed. I understood that a pardon for Libby was unlikely to be well received in the mainstream media and that it wouldn’t be of short-term help to those around the president who were focused on generating positive press about his last days in office. But in the long term, where doing the right thing counts, George W. Bush was, in my view, making a grave error. …George Bush made courageous decisions as president, and to this day I wish that pardoning Scooter Libby had been one of them.” — On President George W. Bush

“Powell seemed more comfortable talking about poll numbers than he was recommending military options. … I brought the meeting to a close, and afterward, although we normally operated on a first-name basis, I addressed Powell formally. ‘General,’ I said, ‘I need some options.’ The business we were about was deadly serious, and I wanted him to understand he was receiving an order.” — On Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Cheney was Defense secretary in the George H.W. Bush administration

“I was under the impression that the president had decided against a public apology, and was therefore surprised a few days later when National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told the White House press pool, ‘We wouldn’t have put it in the speech if we had known what we know now.’ The result was the conflagration I had predicted. … Rice realized sometime later that she had made a major mistake by issuing a public apology. She came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted I had been right. Unfortunately, the damage was done.” — On White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice

“I was also disappointed on June 2, 2004, when Tenet, citing personal reasons, told the president he would be leaving. The Senate Intelligence Committee was soon to issue a report that many thought would be critical of Tenet, and I suspected that entered into his thinking. The president had kept Tenet on when we came into office, a move I had supported. Throughout the intelligence mistakes of Tenet’s tenure, the president and I had backed him. For him to quit when the going got tough, not to mention in the middle of a presidential campaign, seemed to me unfair to the president, who had put his trust in George Tenet.” — On CIA Director George Tenet

“As I read Brent’s piece, I found myself thinking that it reflected a pre-9/11 mind-set. … Brent was quoted later saying he believed I had changed since we’d worked together in the first Bush administration. In reality, what had happened was that after an attack on the homeland that had killed three thousand people, the world had changed.” — On Brent Scowcroft

“He went home instead. … At one point my friend Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma asked why the executive branch had the right to decide when members of Congress, a coequal branch of government, could come back to Washington. ‘Because we’ve got the helicopters, Don,’ I told him.” — Prologue: Cheney opens by describing his experiences on Sept. 11, including the refusal of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, who as president pro tempore of the Senate was next in the presidential line of succession after the speaker, to move to a secure location.

“Who RETRACTS a concession? In 1976, the election had also been very close, and we had decided to sleep on it and see how things looked in the morning before, making any decision about conceding to Carter. I thought that if the Gore campaign had been any kind of a professional operation, they would have realized how close the vote was and wouldn’t have conceded in the first place. But to concede and then take it back was amateur hour. And the fact of the concession hurt Gore, I believe, as we headed into the recount.”

“I picked up the phone and called Jim Baker [the night of the Supreme Court decision]. ‘Hello, Mr. Vice President- elect,” he said. ‘Thank you, Jim,’ I said, ‘and congratulations to you. You did a hell of a job. Only under your leadership could we have gone from a lead of eighteen hundred votes to a lead of one hundred fifty votes.’ He laughed heartily. He knew and I knew that his leadership in Florida had been vital.”

“After one late-night rally, my six-year-old granddaughter, Kate, climbed into the seat next to me on the campaign plane. ‘Grandpa,’ she said, ‘if you win, will you come to school as my show-and-tell?’ ‘You only want me if I win?’ I asked. ‘Yep,’ she answered. … [S]o on a snowy February morning, I was Kate’s show-and-tell. My impression was that most of her fellow first-graders were more interested in my Secret Service agents than in Kate’s old grandpa, but I’ll never forget the huge smile on her face as I walked into the classroom.”

“[A]nd why apologize when the British had, in fact, reported that Iraq had sought a significant amount of uranium in Africa? THE SIXTEEN WORDS WERE TRUE.”

“Our choice incensed the White House press pool and the rest of the mainstream media … But … the last thing on my mind was whether I was irritating the New York Times.”

“And, it pains me to note, so did his boss, Colin Powell, whom Armitage told he was [Robert] Novak’s source on October 1, 2003. Less than a week later, … there was a cabinet meeting. … [T]he press came in for a photo opportunity, and there were questions about who had leaked the information that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. The president said he didn’t know, but wanted the truth. Thinking back, I realize that one of the few people in the world who could have told him the truth, Colin Powell, was sitting right next to him.”

“Given the opposition of politicians and the public to putting more troops in Iraq, George Bush was truly courageous to order a new strategy and the surge of troops to carry it out. The next ten months ratified his brave decision. Our troops, together with the Iraqis, defeated the insurgency, dealt a severe blow to al Qaeda, and created a secure environment so that the Iraqi political process could begin to take hold. When historians look back, George Bush’s decision will stand out as one that made a difference for millions and put history on a better track.”

“It is impossible for me not to make a comparison with George Bush in 2007. When President Bush surged troops into Iraq, he encountered significant pressures to reverse course, but he continued in the face of opposition, increasing American forces in order to implement the counterinsurgency strategy that enabled us to prevail. He did not allow domestic political considerations to interfere with his responsibilities as commander in chief.”

“I remember thinking how grounded the president was through the whole economic ordeal. He kept perspective and was very good at handling pressure. He dealt effectively with some of the most difficult and complex issues any president has had to face.”

“I have some medical choices to make in the future, but I’m doing well for now. … I have some fishing planned. … I have reached the biblical three score and ten, and a man who can look back on the things I have seen and the people I have known has no grounds for complaint.”

“My daughter Liz was my collaborator and the CEO of our book team. … It is a rare blessing to have reason to spend so many hours of quality time telling your daughter about your life and work. My wife, Lynne, and my daughter Mary helped with the book as well, making this truly a family project … Mary Matalin has lived this project since its inception … We all treasure her wise counsel and her friendship. … Bob Barnett was a skillful representative … and we have benefited from his sage counsel every step of the way.”

Political Shorts: George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” a Bestseller, Library Ground-Breaking

  • Booming sales for Bush book ‘Decision Points’: The Decider has written a blockbuster. Random House Inc. says former President George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” sold 775,000 copies through its first week of publication. Random House made the announcement Tuesday. In the book, the two-term president discusses the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, his decisions to send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq and the response to Hurricane Katrina. An initial print run of 1.5 million copies has been increased to 1.85 million. E-book sales alone are 100,000. Random House said last week that opening-day sales of “Decision Points” were its highest since former President Bill Clinton’s “My Life” debuted in 2004…. – AP, 11-16-10
  • Bookend to a Presidency George W. Bush Breaks Ground on a Library, Museum and Policy Center in Texas: George W. Bush and 3,000 fans celebrated his return to the spotlight Tuesday during a ground-breaking ceremony at Southern Methodist University, where plans to build his presidential library have divided the campus. Mr. Bush, who left office with low approval ratings and spent two years in relative seclusion, has recently worked to burnish his image, giving interviews to Oprah Winfrey and the Today Show’s Matt Lauer to promote his book “Decision Points.”
    “Staying out of current affairs and politics does not mean staying out of policy,” Mr. Bush said to the crowd gathered under a large white tent. “I strongly believe that the principles that guided our service in public office are the right principles to lead our country in the future.” Mr. Bush said a public policy institute attached to the library would promote those principles, as well as improve free markets, global health, political freedom and education.
    Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who used a cane to climb to the dais, made a dig at the Obama administration, calling the presidential center “the only shovel-ready project in America,” drawing laughs. The president’s wife, Laura Bush, an SMU graduate, also attended, as did former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe…. – WSJ, 11-16-10
  • Bush and Cheney, Together Again at Groundbreaking: With the turn of a shovel and a few turns of phrase, former President George W. Bush culminated an elaborately orchestrated return to the public stage on Tuesday with a presidential library groundbreaking and a reunion with former Vice President Dick Cheney. In a rare public appearance since a long hospital stay earlier this year, former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared much thinner. In their first public appearance together since leaving office, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney heaped praise on each other, putting behind them the tension of their final days in the White House when they fought over the president’s refusal to pardon the vice president’s ex-chief of staff. In his new memoir, Mr. Bush wrote that he worried that the fight had fractured their friendship.
    Addressing a crowd of 2,500 supporters and Bush administration veterans, Mr. Cheney said the response to Mr. Bush’s book showed that the country had begun to re-evaluate him. “Two years after you left office, judgments are a little more measured than they were,” Mr. Cheney said. “When times have been tough or the critics have been loud, you’ve always said you had faith in history’s judgment, and history is beginning to come around.”
    Mr. Bush responded by hailing his No. 2 and recalling the decision to ask him to be the running mate in 2000. “As I stand here,” Mr. Bush said, “there is no doubt in my mind he was the right pick then, he was a great vice president of the United States and I’m proud to call him friend.”… – NYT, 11-16-10

July 12, 2010: Financial Regulation Overhaul Set to Pass & Obama meets with Benjamin Netanyahu

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President & Senate Democratic Leaders before final votes on Wall Street Reform, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/13/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Obama White House tries to turn around bad poll numbers: The polls aren’t looking good for President Obama. ABC News says 51% would prefer to see a Republican Congress elected in November, as a check on Obama. A CBS News poll says only 13% of Americans say Obama’s economic plan has helped them personally…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • After 18 months of Obama, Americans already feeling fonder of Dick Cheney, less so of Al Gore: The new Gallup Poll, released overnight, shows that a near-majority of Americans now views almost-president Gore unfavorably (49%), while 44% are favorable, down 14 points since his Nobel Prize glory days of 2007. As the most recent former White House No. 2, Cheney had the most to improve in favorable ratings. And, actually, he did improve the most in the opinion of surveyed Americans.
    Cheney’s robust unfavorable rating melted 11 points during the past 18 months of the Democrat duo of Obama-Biden to 52% now. While the Republican’s favorables surged from their low point of 30% all the way up to an impressive 36% now. That’s a stunning 20% improvement. LAT, 7-14-10
  • VP Favorable Ratings: Gore Down; Cheney, Biden Flat Americans more negative than positive toward Gore, Cheney: Americans’ current views of former Vice President Al Gore have become significantly more negative compared with three years ago, and are among the worst for him in more than a decade. The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore’s image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him. All three party groups are less favorable toward Gore now compared with 2007, though his rating has declined more among Republicans (from 32% to 16%) and independents (from 57% to 43%) than among Democrats (from 79% to 72%)… – Gallop.com, 7-14-10
  • Poll finds Pennsylvania Senate race in dead heat: Pennsylvania’s Senate race is dead even, with Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey both drawing 43% of support in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
    At this point in the race, momentum appears to be on Sestak’s side. He was down 2 percentage points in May and 8 percentage points in an April survey by Quinnipiac.
    “Congressman Joe Sestak, a decided underdog who knocked off U.S. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, has now closed an 8-point gap in the last three months to tie Pat Toomey,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • Crist leads 3-way Senate race in Florida: Florida Governor Charlie Crist holds a narrow edge over Republican Marco Rubio in a three-way Senate race dominated by economic worries, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
    Crist, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent after Rubio mounted a primary challenge against him, leads Rubio 35 percent to 28 percent. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails with 17 percent less than four months before the November election for the open Senate seat.
    Crist holds a similar 34 to 29 percent edge over Rubio in a three-way race against Democrat Jeff Greene, who is locked in a tough party primary fight with Meek. The Florida primary will be held August 24.
    In the race to succeed Crist as governor, Republican Rick Scott leads Democrat Alex Sink by 34 percent to 31 percent. But Sink leads slightly, 31 percent to 30 percent, when matched against Republican Bill McCollum. McCollum and Scott are waging a bitter Republican primary race…. – Reuters, 7-13-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Shakes Hand with Jacob Lew, His Nominee for OMB   Director

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Jack Lew to replace Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag during a statement to the press in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House July 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy: U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration’s policies… – Reuters, 7-14-10
  • Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • White House Official: Recovery Act Has Created 3 Mln Jobs: The Obama administration’s stimulus push has saved or created about 3 million jobs and is on track to save an additional 500,000 by the end of the year, according to a new report by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • For Obama, more on legislative priorities: President Barack Obama is discussing legislative priorities with Democratic congressional leaders for a second day Wednesday. The president met with the Senate Democratic leadership on Tuesday. On Wednesday it’s the House Democrats’ turn. Obama is getting the meetings in before Congress takes its August break…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • Sarah Palin rebuts NAACP charge of Tea Party racism: Using her favored and unorthodox means of communicating with nearly 2 million followers via her Facebook page, Sarah Palin Tuesday night expressed sadness over an as yet unpublished NAACP convention resolution accusing Tea Party activists of tolerating racist elements in their midst. The former Republican governor of Alaska, who appears to be positioning herself for a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination using the disgruntled Tea Party’s concerns over expanding and fiscally irresponsible government as a major portion of her base, said:
    I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand. – 7-14-10
  • As NAACP aims to stay in national debate, charge of tea party racism draws fire: One thing is clear as the NAACP gathers this week for its 101st annual meeting: The civil rights organization is intent on being seen as still relevant. Even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sent out a Twitter message and posted a statement on her Facebook page, helping to make the NAACP convention a hot topic on conservative Web sites. She condemned the organization’s passage of a resolution denouncing what it called “racist elements” within the “tea party” movement…. – WaPo, 7-14-10
  • Pelosi, White House Feud Over Gibbs’ House Prediction: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the driving force behind the Obama agenda in Congress, sharply criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting late Tuesday, according to Democratic sources.
    Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs’ careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs’ unwelcome handicapping of House races.
    “How could he [Gibbs] know what’s going on in our districts?” Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. “Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House.”… – Fox News, 7-14-10
  • Obama To Nominate Former Clinton Official To Head OMB: President Barack Obama plans to nominate a former Clinton administration official to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is grappling with how to best reduce a $1.4 trillion deficit while the economy is on shaky ground. Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, who ran OMB from 1998 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton… WSJ, 7-13-10
  • Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • Senior Republican wins weeklong delay on Kagan: The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed scheduled action Tuesday to send Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, setting a panel vote for next week.
    Republicans insisted on the delay, saying they needed more time to review Kagan’s written answers to questions they posed to her after her confirmation hearings, and to inquire still further into how she would behave as a justice…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning ‘tea party’ supporters: Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls “explicitly racist behavior” by supporters of the “tea party.” The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism…. – WaPo, 7-13-10
  • Obama looks to Bush’s worldwide strategy on AIDS: President Barack Obama is trying to bring home some of the much-lauded strategies his predecessor used to fight AIDS around the world. The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • US should better define, counter Islamic extremism: The Obama administration’s recent move to drop rhetorical references to Islamic radicalism is drawing fire in a new report warning the decision ignores the role religion can play in motivating terrorists. Several prominent counterterror experts are challenging the administration’s shift in its recently unveiled National Security Strategy, saying the terror threat should be defined in order to fight it. The question of how to frame the conflict against al-Qaida and other terrorists poses a knotty problem. The U.S. is trying to mend fences with Muslim communities while toughening its strikes against militant groups. In the report, scheduled to be released this week, counterterrorism experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argue that the U.S. could clearly articulate the threat from radical Islamic extremists “without denigrating the Islamic religion in any way.” President Barack Obama has argued that words matter, and administration officials have said that the use of inflammatory descriptions linking Islam to the terror threat feed the enemy’s propaganda and may alienate moderate Muslims in the U.S…. – AP, 7-12-10
  • Congress returns from recess to even more of the same: Congress will return this week from the July 4th recess to a pile of unfinished business. Yes, the same might be said of every Congress returning from every recess since lawmakers wore wigs and tights. But this time it could be a big problem, especially for the party in power. When Barack Obama took office and the Democrats took control of Washington, they made ambitious promises about how much they’d get done, with or without Republican help. Now, with relatively few working days left before the November midterm elections (in part because lawmakers granted themselves another long break beginning at the end of July), they might not be able to convince skeptical, frustrated voters that they delivered — and that they deserve to stay in charge…. – WaPo, 7-11-10
  • U.S. might launch 2nd suit against Arizona immigration law, Holder says: 2nd lawsuit weighed on immigration law. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that if the federal government does not stop Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, it might launch a second legal challenge to combat any racial profiling that occurs. The Obama administration is suing Arizona over the law, set to take effect July 29, which would make it a state crime for someone to be in the country illegally. During “lawful stops,” local law enforcement officers will be required to question people about their immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they might be illegal immigrants. WaPo, 7-11-10
  • Governors: Obama’s Immigration Suit Is ‘Toxic’: Democratic governors expressed “grave” concerns to White House officials this weekend about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, warning it could cost the party in crucial elections this fall, The New York Times reported late Sunday. The closed-door meeting took place at the National Governors Association in Boston on Saturday, according to two unnamed governors who spoke to the Times. “Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs, and all of a sudden we have immigration going on,’” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, was quoted as saying. “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.” The Arizona law, which is facing a U.S. Justice Department challenge, requires police to question people about their immigration status while enforcing other laws if there’s reason to suspect someone is in the country illegally….. – Fox News, 7-12-10
  • With votes looming, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan plays it cool: With committee and floor votes beginning this week on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, skeptical lawmakers could not resist the opportunity to search for a weak point that might provoke last-minute controversy. Six Republican senators submitted questions that produced 74 pages of written responses from Kagan. In ritual form, her answers — released Friday — were finely sanded to avoid any clamor. Kagan carefully hewed to the themes she struck at last month’s hearings: In cases in which she voiced opinion, she said, it was that of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she once worked…. – WaPo, 7-10-10
  • Obama changes VA rule to help vets get stress disorder aid: War-zone veterans will no longer have to submit specific evidence to get benefits and treatment for post-traumatic stress….- LAT, 7-11-10
  • PM: Israel-US alliance strong: “The alliance between Israel and the US is stable and strong. It has the support of the American administration and people,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Sunday. Netanyahu said that he reiterated to Obama “Israel’s desire to proceed immediately to direct negotiations with the PA, with the goal being to advance the diplomatic process and try to reach a peace agreement.”… – JPost, 7-11-10
  • Governors avoid debate on Arizona’s immigration law: The topic’s not on their convention agenda, but it’s on everyone’s mind as demonstrators rally nearby…. – LAT, 7-11-10
  • No full Social Security benefits until age 70?: Young Americans might not get full Social Security retirement benefits until they reach age 70 if some trial balloons that prominent lawmakers of both parties are floating become law. No one who’s slated to receive benefits in the next decade or two is likely to be affected, but there’s a gentle, growing and unusually bipartisan push to raise the retirement age for full Social Security benefits for people born in the 1960s and after. The suggestions are being taken seriously after decades when they were politically impossible because officials – and, increasingly, their constituents – are confronting the inescapable challenge of the nation’s enormous debt…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-11-10
  • Obama turns a corner on Middle East peace: Two bits of good news emerged during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brief visit to Washington this week: First, that Netanyahu and President Barack Obama publicly reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israeli relations, and, second, that Netanyahu said he expects direct talks with the Palestinians to begin soon. Both items suggest a maturing of the Obama administration’s foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East, and may even portend real results soon. Israel has been participating in indirect negotiations with the Palestinians through former Sen. George Mitchell since Obama named him a special envoy last year…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-10-10
  • In spy swap, agents were pawns in a practiced game: In the rapid-fire spy swap, the United States and Russia worked together as only old enemies could. Less than two weeks after the FBI broke the spy ring in a counterintelligence operation cultivated for a decade, 10 Russian secret agents caught in the U.S. are back in Russia, four convicted of spying for the West have been pardoned and released by Moscow, and bilateral relations appear on track again. In describing how the swap unfolded, U.S. officials made clear that even before the arrests, Washington wanted not only to take down a spy network but to move beyond the provocative moment…. – AP, 7-10-10
  • U.S.-Russia spy swap is complete: The speed of the exchange has some wondering what was behind the deal…. – LAT, 7-9-10
  • Going Nuclear: Romney vs. Obama (and Kerry): Yesterday Mitt Romney blasted Barack Obama via a Washington Post op-ed denouncing Obama’s nuclear Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia as the president’s “worst foreign policy mistake yet.” Romney complains that the Russians “badly out-negotiated” Obama and came out with a decided strategic advantage in the treaty, including the power to walk away from the treaty if the U.S. presses too far ahead with missile defense systems. Today, John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, hit back at Romney (also in the Post), calling his argument “baloney,” and tossing in some tart insults:
    I have nothing against Massachusetts politicians running for president. But the world’s most important elected office carries responsibilities, including the duty to check your facts even if you’re in a footrace to the right against Sarah Palin. More than that, you need to understand that when it comes to nuclear danger, the nation’s security is more important than scoring cheap political points…. – Time, 7-7-10
  • Relief well drilling ahead of schedule: While workers keep drilling the wells, the battle over President Barack Obama’s effort to suspend deepwater drilling moves Thursday to a federal appeals court in Louisiana. Oral arguments in a case that challenged the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling start in the afternoon in New Orleans. An advocacy group called Alliance for Justice made a pre-emptive strike against the court on Wednesday. It released a scathing report alleging that many appeals court judges have extensive ties to the oil industry, including the three-judge panel that will preside over the drilling ban hearing. As the case proceeds, others hope the seas will be calm enough for vessels to return to cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. CNN, 7-8-10
  • Department of Justice seeks injunction against Arizona immigration law: In a lawsuit filed July 6 in federal court in Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice made good on its promise to challenge Arizona’s immigration law. Arizona law S.B. 1070, due to take effect July 29, was challenged on the basis that it unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, accoridng to a July 6 news release from the Department of Justice.
    In the brief, the administration said that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country,” the release said.
    The Department of Justice has requested a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, the news release said. The department believes law’s operation will cause irreparable harm, the release said.
    “Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in the news release. “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety.” The Packer, 7-6-10
  • President Obama wants injunction to stall Arizona’s controversial new immigration law: The Obama administration sued Arizona on Tuesday to kill, or at least stall, the state’s hotly disputed new law allowing local cops to target suspected illegal immigrants. In seeking an injunction to block the law from going into effect July 29, Attorney General Eric Holder said he sympathized with Arizonans and others who are “frustrated with illegal immigration.”
    But “setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility,” Holder declared, and “seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.” His lawsuit said it’s also flat-out unconstitutional, usurping federal power to control the borders…. – NY Daily News, 7-7-10
  • Obama trying carrot, not stick, on Netanyahu: Netanyahu got off easy in Washington: He left strengthened by Obama and without having to make any real concessions. Haaretz, 7-7-10
  • Obama Bypassing Senate for New Medicare Chief: Obama to use a recess appointment to put a new director in place for Medicare and Medicaid… – ABC News, 7-7-10
  • Obama Returns to Missouri, Site of Slim 2008 Loss: For some in President Obama’s White House, Missouri remains the state that got away, nearly two years after his election. Mr. Obama was the first Democrat since 1964 to win Indiana and the first since 1976 to win North Carolina. But his loss in Missouri by the narrowest of slivers (fewer than 4,000 votes) was of special disappointment. After all, the state has sided with the winner of the presidential race in nearly every election in the past century. Who would wish to be remembered for breaking that sort of trend? Now, even as President Obama juggles a barrage of dire matters, relatively calm Missouri seems to continue to carry some particular attention for the White House. This week, Mr. Obama will be in the state again, raising money in a competitive Senate campaign in a challenging political season for Democrats…. – NYT, 7-6-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Outsider Wins Alabama GOP Gov Nomination: Self-described outsider Robert Bentley won Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night over establishment candidate Bradley Byrne with a strong showing in rural areas.
    In the unofficial count, Bentley had 56 percent of the vote to Byrne’s 44 percent with 83 percent of the precincts reporting. Bryne ran strong in the state’s four big counties, but Bentley outperformed Byrne in small counties, including areas where Tim James and Roy Moore did well when they ran third and fourth in the June 1 Republican primary…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • GOP candidate Angle rallies GOP against Reid: U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle on Friday denounced Majority Leader Harry Reid as a “desperate man” who was distorting her conservative record while ignoring a state that leads the nation in joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies. A day after President Barack Obama delivered a mocking indictment of her candidacy at a rally in Las Vegas, Angle accused the president and Reid of pushing billions of dollars in stimulus spending while Nevada struggles with “an economy that is a disaster.”… – AP, 7-10-10
  • Democrats digging harder than ever for dirt on Republicans: The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates’ unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money…. – WaPo, 7-6-10
  • Once a withdrawn teen, SC man now takes on senator: Alvin Greene earned the nickname “turtle” in high school — a quiet, withdrawn boy who was smart when he applied himself but rarely took a chance and tried to put himself in comfortable situations. Nearly four weeks ago, the 32-year-old unemployed military veteran turned South Carolina’s political scene upside down when he won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. And unlike that high school student, he’s taking a big chance: running against powerhouse Republican Sen. Jim DeMint…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • Poll: Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown in virtual tie: California’s race for governor is a dead heat, as Republican Meg Whitman’s massive advertising blitz coupled with Democrat Jerry Brown’s lo-fi campaign have raised doubts about Brown and cut his lead among Latino voters and other key Democratic constituencies, a Field Poll released today shows.
    Brown leads Whitman 44 to 43 percent in the poll, with 13 percent undecided, according to Field’s survey of 1,005 likely voters. The poll, conducted June 22 to July 5, has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
    But billionaire Whitman’s relentless advertising campaign has helped sour voters’ views of Brown, with 40 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him – up from 25 percent in March 2009. Still, 42 percent view him favorably…. – SF Chronicle, 7-6-10
  • Feingold faces unexpectedly tough race: Add Russ Feingold to the list of Senate Democrats who find themselves in unexpectedly tough races, the latest evidence of the GOP’s success in widening the playing field that President Barack Obama’s party has to defend.
    The Wisconsin Democrat faces a wealthy political newcomer with early backing from tea party activists in a state that has many independent voters and is known for doing its own thing. Likely GOP nominee Ron Johnson is running an outsider’s campaign in a year that seems to favor outsiders…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • McCain’s Immigration Shift: ‘Many’ Should Be Sent Back: A lot has changed since 2007, when John McCain was the #1 immigration compromiser in the U.S. Senate, leading the way with a large, bipartisan bill that would have given illegal immigrants an opportunity to become U.S. citizens while beefing up border security….
    Now, McCain finds himself in a different political situation, and so does the immigration issue. McCain lost the 2008 election, during which he was sharply criticized as an immigration liberal by his GOP primary rivals, and he’s facing a primary challenge from Tea-Party-style candidate J.D. Hayworth. As a national issue, immigration has heated up after Arizona passed its new law and as a drug war has raged in Mexico…. – The Atlantic, 7-6-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/9/10

  • Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
    What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
    Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
    This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10
  • President Obama & President Fernandez Meet on Trade, Drug-Trafficking, and HaitiWH, 7-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address July 10, 2010
    …Today, we’ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we’ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.
    But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.
    Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.
    So we’re changing the way things are done.
    On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Ric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.
    This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.
    It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. WH, 7-10-10
  • Treasury Secretary Geithner on Wall Street Reform: “All Americans Have a Stake in Reforms”: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on PBS NewsHour last night to discuss, among other items, the financial reform bill that is awaiting final passage by the Senate when they return from recess next week. In his conversation with NewsHour host Jim Lehrer, Secretary Geithner expressed confidence that the Congress will soon deliver a strong bill to President Obama’s desk… – WH, 7-7-10
  • Obama thanks Europe for renewing anti-terrorist financing program: The United States welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to join the Council and Commission of the European Union in approving a revised agreement between the United States and the European Union on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP). We look forward to the Council’s completion of the process, allowing the agreement to enter into force on August 1, 2010, thus fully restoring this important counterterrorism tool and resuming the sharing of investigative data that has been suspended since January 2010. The threat of terrorism faced by the United States and the European Union continues and, with this agreement, all of our citizens will be safer.
    The TFTP has provided critical investigative leads — more than 1,550 to EU Member States — since its creation after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These leads have aided countries around the world in preventing or investigating many of the past decade’s most visible and violent terrorist attacks and attempted attacks, including Bali (2002), Madrid (2004), London (2005), the liquids bomb plot against transatlantic aircraft (2006), New York’s John F. Kennedy airport (2007), Germany (2007), Mumbai (2008), and Jakarta (2009).
    This new, legally binding agreement reflects significant additional data privacy safeguards but still retains the effectiveness and integrity of this indispensable counterterrorism program.
    Protecting privacy and civil liberties is a top priority of the Obama Administration. We are determined to protect citizens of all nations while also upholding fundamental rights, using every legitimate tool available to combat terrorism that is consistent with our laws and principles. – USA Today, 7-8-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Allan Lichtman: Scholar’s “13 Keys” Predict Another Obama Win: Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…. – American University, 7-14-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Sarah Palin likes government too: During a speech at an event called “Freedom Fest,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin warned Tea Party activists that while government spending was a bad thing, conservatives should not go too far and start calling for reductions in the military budget.
    While Palin told the crowd in Norfolk, Virginia, “Something has to be done urgently to stop the out-of-control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine,” she also told them, “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military.”
    Palin’s speech touched on a historic problem for the conservative movement. Ever since conservatives embraced a hawkish stance toward national security policy in the early Cold War in the late 1940s and started to challenge Democrats for not being tough enough, national security has always been the poison pill for anti-government conservatism.
    Despite all their rhetoric about the dangers of government intervention and the virtues of private markets, conservatives have rather consistently supported an expansion of the government when it comes to national security….
    But when it comes to Republicans, Palin’s recent comments at the conservative rally show why voters should take right-wing arguments about the dangers of government with a grain of salt. While conservative activists like to talk about a choice between big government and small government, the real debate is over what kinds of government we must have, what our priorities should be, and where our federal money should be directed…. – CNN, 7-12-10
  • The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth: Runaway government spending, not declining tax revenues, is the reason the U.S. faces dramatic budget shortfalls for years to come…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton “Bringing down the House? Why is the White House warning of a Republican takeover of Congress?”: If the White House starts to talk about the other party gaining control of Congress or about how terrible midterms usually are, then they are trying to manage expectations. The White House has depended on the Democratic House to move its legislative agenda. Having votes on Capitol Hill is better than a foil and the perception of weakness…. – Politico, 7-12-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama’s ‘we’ philosophy collides with capitalism’s ‘me’: Business leaders accuse President of using failures of a few to justify expansion of government regulatory authority…
    For McGill University political historian Gil Troy, Mr. Obama’s attacks on business put him well within a presidential tradition that goes back at least as far as Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. But they also betray his particular world view and a career spent entirely outside the private sector.
    “Not only does Barack Obama lack corporate experience, but his defining experiences were as a community organizer, public interest lawyer and law lecturer,” Prof. Troy said in an interview. “That puts him ideologically, structurally and professionally in opposition to business.”
    Mr. Obama, Mr. Troy continued, is “trying to convince Americans of the efficacy of government. He’s enough of a [Ronald] Reagan baby to know that is not necessarily the easiest sell to make. So, if [the economic crisis] is not a God-given opportunity, it’s at least a Goldman Sachs-given opportunity to make that sell.”… – Globe & Mail, 7-9-10
  • Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan’s Road Map: For now, the road map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Sen. Jim DeMint praised it in his book “Saving Freedom.” Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”… – Washington Examiner, 7-11-10
  • Kennedy’s clout could grow on high court: David Garrow, a Cambridge University historian who has written about the court, said the 74-year-old Kennedy already writes a disproportionate share of the court’s big decisions and will have even more chances to do so now because he can assign opinions to himself…. – AP, 7-11-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Senate bill to repeal health reform lacks backing from Republican leaders: “Unified party positions are better than divided party positions,” Julian Zelizer, a congressional expert at Princeton University, said in an e-mail. “When the GOP is not all on board with legislation,” he added, Democrats can argue “Republicans calling for repeal are on the wrong track.”
    “Equally important, in an age of party unity, when divisions like this emerge it suggests [what] pollsters are saying: there is support for the healthcare bill in red America,” he said. The Hill, 7-5-10

President Barack Obama Talks with President Leonel Fernandez of   the Dominican Republic Following Their Meeting in the Oval Office

President Barack Obama talks with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic following their meeting in the Oval Office July 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Michael Beschloss & Richard Norton Smith: Their Commentary on the Republican Convention

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 9-06-04

Michael Beschloss & Richard Norton Smith: Their Commentary on the Republican Convention

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern.

As part of PBS’s coverage of the Republican National Convention in New York last week, historians Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith provided historical perspective. The first day of the convention the discussion focused on war presidents, the second on party perspectives, the third on the effect of outside events on the course of the election, and the fourth on acceptance speeches. The following is a summary of their commentaries.

Day One: War Presidents

The discussion on the first day of the convention focused on war presidents, the advantages and disadvantages of being a war president. In their discussion on Abraham Lincoln’s re-election effort in 1864, Beschloss commented on Lincoln’s fear that he would lose the election because of the lack of decisive victories, but argued that “people were larger-minded enough to see he was doing it the right way.” Smith noted that the Republican Party this year is not attempting to broaden its appeal in the same dramatic ways the party undertook in 1864, when Lincoln insisted on running with a Southern Democrat.

Smith saw parallels between Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election and George W. Bush’s. Smith pointed out the various strategies that Nixon employed to change the subject from Vietnam. He brought hundreds of thousands of troops home, “casting himself as a peacemaker.” He opened up U.S. Soviet relations and U.S.
China relations. He proposed “ending the draft, which of course had been at the heart of much of the intense opposition to the war.”

Beschloss noted that Nixon had additionally distracted the public from the war by having his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, claim that “we believe that peace is at hand.” Beschloss said that this was “cheap politics that presidents should not follow.”

Another parallel the historians discussed was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s re-election campaign in 1944. Beschloss argued that the parallels were suggestive. Despite tangible successes in the war, Roosevelt was being scrutinized as officials probed the reason the nation had been caught sleeping when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Thomas Dewey in a speech “suggested that Roosevelt was in some way responsible for Pearl Harbor,” which Beschloss pointed out put Roosevelt in a “very risky situation.”

In commenting on the Vietnam War and the 1968 campaign Beschloss claimed that “Nixon was pretending that he was likelier than [Hubert] Humphrey to pull troops out of Vietnam if he was elected. A lot of peaceniks voted for Nixon, bizarrely enough, and Humphrey who would have really done that, was scared into suggesting in public that he followed Johnson on the war because Johnson called him up and said, ‘Hubert, you oppose me on Vietnam, I’m going to dry up every Democratic dollar from Maine to Hawaii.’ Humphrey was already broke, he couldn’t do it.”

Day 2: Party Perspectives

On the second day of the convention California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Laura Bush spoke. Both historians observed that Governor Schwarzenegger’s views on social issues do not resemble the positions of that other famous Republican actor turned governor of California, Ronald Reagan.
Beschloss said Schwarzenegger’s liberal social views most clearly reminded him of California Governor Earl Warren. Schwarzenegger, according to Smith, is “post ideological” and “transcend[s] party labels in a lot of ways.” But the governor also resembles Reagan in the way he can get away with such comments as “girley men.”

Beschloss argued that that there may be a future for Schwarzenegger in presidential politics “if the Constitution is amended some day and if the Republican Party does feel it wants to move back to the center.” They thought he might be particularly helpful winning the immigrant vote. Schwarzenegger is sponsored by Pete Wilson, who supported propositions in the 1990s that were considered hostile to immigrants. Smith said Schwarzenegger, an immigrant himself, could change the perception that party is anti-immigrant.

Also discussed was the issue of first ladies as a political asset in a campaign. Smith mentioned that after Betty Ford’s explosive “60 Minutes” interview, conservatives were concerned that she might cost Ford the presidency. But she may indeed have helped improve Ford’s support among women; “by 1976 there were buttons all over the country that read Betty’s husband for president.” In regard to the present first lady Beschloss commented that “Laura Bush speaks rarely on politics, so when she speaks people listen.” Some of her views differ with the president’s and may be more liberal, helping Bush win over centrists. Smith agreed that “a lot of people find it reassuring to think that someone that close to the president, maybe shares some of the concerns.” Lady Bird Johnson according to Smith also “managed to straddle the divide between a traditionalist and activist.”

Day 3: The Importance of Outside Events on the Course of the Election

On the third night the discussion focused on events outside the candidates’ control that can affect the election, including the possibility of an October Surprise.
According to Smith, Johnson’s 1964 campaign worried about Walter Jenkins, “who was a very close aide to President Johnson, [who] was arrested in a YMCA in Washington under compromising circumstances.” When news leaked out about the arrest the Goldwater conservatives believed they could make a strong case that the country faced moral decay under LBJ. But foreign issues quickly wiped the Jenkins story off the front pages. China, noted Smith, “successfully tested their first nuclear device; and in Moscow the politburo overthrew Nikita Khrushchev.” Beschloss added that the World Series and a change in government in London also helped Johnson.

Beschloss argued that for events like these to influence an election the contest has to be close “in those last weeks in October; and it also has to be an event that’s really at the center of the campaign.” Such was the case in 1968 when on October 31 Johnson halted bombing in the Vietnam with peace a possibility, “so for a couple of days, Humphrey zoomed in the polls, and then the South Vietnamese government said they would not negotiate, and Humphrey plunged,” and he lost the election. Beschloss said it was not clear if a terrorist attack on the United States in October would help or hurt President Bush.

Smith pointed out that events helped Lincoln in 1864. By August Lincoln did not believe he could win. However, when the Democratic Convention met and “they adopted a peace platform, calling for a negotiated end to the war and repeal of the Emancipation Proclamation, that shocked millions of voters. And then, two days after that convention, General Sherman took Atlanta.” Winning the war was possible and Lincoln’s “victory became almost a forgone conclusion.”

Beschloss observed that in 1992 Lawrence Walsh indicted members of the Bush administration in connection with the Iran-contra scandal, and suggested George H.W. Bush was more involved than originally believed. “Bush the elder had been getting traction on the issue of honesty and integrity against Bill Clinton. At that moment his polls began to go down, and there was not much chance that he would win.” In 2000 Bush’s son’s integrity was also cast in doubt at the last moment when it was revealed that he had been arrested for drunk driving in the mid-1970s.

Another case of a revelation in the last week prior to an election that hurt the candidate’s chance for winning according to Smith came in 1976, during the Ford-Carter race. By the last weekend of the campaign Ford had managed to turn a thirty-three point deficit in the polls into a one-point lead. Ford claimed there was an economic recovery, but when unemployment statistics came out that suggested otherwise, this “caused second thoughts in enough voters so that at the very last minute they moved back and Jimmy Carter narrowly won.”

Beschloss discussed the origin of the term October Surprise. He traced it back to the 1980 campaign and the Iran hostage crisis. “The Reagan people were worried that Jimmy Carter would commit some kind of October surprise, meaning something that would suddenly cause the hostages to be released and Carter to win the election against Ronald Reagan.” There was also suspicion that vice presidential candidate George Bush “flew to Paris in an SR-1 spy plane to have a secret meeting with some French people and some Iranians to try to foil this.”

Day 4: Acceptance Speeches

In anticipation of the President’s acceptance speech the discussion focused on “what makes a great re-nominating acceptance speech, or one a president or his campaign may come to regret.” In the last century the acceptance speech that has perhaps made the most lasting impression was Roosevelt’s in 1936, though Smith added that “that year FDR could have read the phone book and he would have carried every state but Maine and Vermont.” According to Smith “the incumbent has one advantage–they always go second. And the other advantage is, they’re an incumbent. Truman was able to use this advantage as to not run against “Tom Dewey, his nominal opponent, he ran against the so-called do-nothing 80th Congress. He said he was going to call them into session on what they called Turnip Day back in Missouri. He put the ball in their court knowing Congress would not adopt the liberal platform and then driving a wedge right down the middle between Dewey and his allies.”

Beschloss noted that Clinton’s 1996 speech, which “was 66 minutes, [was] one of the most boring speeches I have ever heard.” It was “this laundry list of proposals like cleaning up toxic waste dumps, it wasn’t very interesting.” But the purpose of the speech was to get the voters who would watch the speech for a couple of minutes to tune in, and hear a few proposals that would prompt them to vote for Clinton, and “the speech worked in that sense.” On the other hand Smith pointed out that Bush the elder failed to do the job in 1992. He had given his speech at a negative kind of convention, where “the economy was in the doldrums” and because of his foreign policy strengths he appeared disengaged on domestic policy. Smith commented that “he got up there and he had a speech that frankly was a bit of a mishmash, not very thematically coherent.”

Beschloss said that in Nixon’s speech in 1972 “the language was not memorable, but what he was conveying was with the I’m the guy who made the opening to China, who was doing diplomacy with Russia, on the verge of ending the Vietnam War. If you all want to throw that away, fine with me but I don’t think you should.” Smith brought up FDR’s speech in 1944. “FDR gave a war speech. He didn’t speak at the convention hall. It was announced he was speaking from an undisclosed location. A military installation on the West Coast.” In Beschloss’s opinion, “the one thing is that if a wartime president makes himself seem indispensable he can get Americans to vote for him even if they may not like his domestic policies.”

Wrap-up

In his reaction to President Bush’s acceptance speech, Smith said it was “sort of a state of the union address, plus an inaugural address, it had a lot of policy but it was also very personal.” Bush’s speech focused on policy primarily, and was a “Reaganesque speech in the optimism, in looking to the future.” Smith “thought it was a very powerful speech. We won’t know for two months whether it worked or not, but it certainly worked tonight.”

Beschloss said it helped establish Bush’s position on issues: “there’s no chance that he’s going to be accused of having failed to present an agenda for the second term, a very long list of domestic proposals.” As for foreign policy, what Bush’s speech communicated was that “We’re staying on the offensive, striking terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.” The tone reminded Beschloss of offensive military policy harking back to the Cold War era Republican campaigns from 1972 to 1988, when the Republicans would stress that their party was tougher on communism and more trustworthy on defense than the Democrats. “We are in a war, a fight for our lives; I, George W. Bush, I’m the one who can keep you safe, John Kerry can’t for all sorts of reasons. And if people believe that they are likely to forgive a lot of things they don’t like about George Bush, even domestically. If people see it that way he’s going to win the election.”

Smith said that “much of that week you had a feeling that there was an attempt to blur” the differences with the Democrats by trotting out moderates. But Bush’s speech was “actually very ambitious, an attempt to recast the Republican Party and conservatism generally, almost along Thatcherite lines. You know, I think of Margaret Thatcher when you hear about the ‘ownership society.’ That’s more than a slogan, potentially. That’s a fairly radical redefinition of conservatism.”

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