Political Highlights January 1, 2011: Looking Towards 112th Congress & Republican House — Obama’s Hawaii Vacation — Chicago’s Mayoral Campaign

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 111TH & 112TH CONGRESS:

The President records the Weekly Address

STATS & POLLS

  • CNN Poll: Americans more optimistic about the world in 2011: Americans are looking forward to the new year with much more optimism about the state of the world than they did a year ago, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday also indicates Americans’ optimism regarding their own personal lives is down a bit from last year.
    Sixty-three percent of people questioned in the poll say they are hopeful about what the new year holds in store for the world in general, up 12 points from last December, with 35% saying they are fearful, down 13 points.
    “On the home front, Americans are just as optimistic, with 64% saying they are hopeful about their own personal lives in the new year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But that number is down from 69% who felt that way 12 months ago.”
    The survey indicates a gender gap, with seven of ten men saying they are optimistic about the state of the world in 2011, 11 points higher than the 59% of women who say they feel that way. And according to the poll, Democrats and Republicans are more positive about the state of the world in the new year than independent voters…. – CNN, 12-31-10
  • Poll: Fewer hope for Obama success: Americans are less supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies than they were a year ago, but a majority of those surveyed in a new poll still hope his policies will be successful.
    In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday, 61 percent of Americans surveyed said they hope Obama’s policies succeed. A year ago, 71 percent hoped for Obama’s policy success.
    Those surveyed were also less confident that the president’s policies would succeed, with 44 percent saying they would and 47 percent saying they would fail. A year ago, 52 percent of Americans said they thought Obama’s policies would be successful, while 41 percent said they thought his policies would fail.
    Fifty-one percent of Americans said they think the GOP majority in the House of Representatives will be a good thing for the country, while 42 percent said they think it will be a bad thing…. – Politico, 12-30-10
  • Poll: Majority rooting for Obama, GOP wants him to fail: Sixty-one percent of Americans, from all ethnic backgrounds, income groups and age levels, hope that President Obama’s policies will succeed, according to a new Opinion Research poll for CNN. Two groups disagree.
    By a 61 percent to 27 percent margin – exactly the reverse of the poll’s overall numbers – Republicans hope that the president’s policies will fail. Fifty-one percent of self-described Conservatives are also hoping for failure.
    The nation’s 44th president gets positive marks as a person in the Opinion Research findings. “Would you say you approve of him or disapprove of him?” asked a question in the survey.
    Seventy-three percent answered “Approve,” and just 22 percent “Disapprove.” In job approval, however, the latest Gallup Poll has Americans evenly divided: 47 percent give thumbs up to Obama while 46 percent disapprove…. – Seattle PI, 12-29-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Spending showdowns will test new Congress leaders: Two early showdowns on spending and debt will signal whether the new Congress can find common ground despite its partisan divisions or whether it’s destined for gridlock and brinkmanship that could threaten the nation’s economic health. Not all of the bickering in the 112th Congress that convenes Wednesday will be between Republicans and Democrats. House Republicans, back in power after four years in the minority, will include numerous freshmen whose unyielding stands on the deficit, in particular, could severely test soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner’s ability to bridge differences and pass major bills.
    His first big challenge will come in February, when Congress must pass a huge spending bill to keep the government running. Many House Republicans — veterans and newcomers alike — have pledged to cut discretionary domestic spending by up to $100 billion.
    Even if they agree on a plan, it probably will be changed by the Senate, where Democrats will hold 53-47 edge. And President Barack Obama can veto almost any bill he opposes during the next two years.
    Before Boehner, R-Ohio, deals with Democrats’ objections, he may have trouble getting his own 241-member caucus to agree on what to cut, and how deeply. Republicans have a history of promising far more cuts in spending than they deliver. Some conservative activists and commentators are tired of it…. – AP, 1-11-11
  • Obama asks Republicans to help him revitalize economy: In his weekly radio address, Obama speaks of a ‘shared responsibility’ for Democrats and Republicans. He pledges to work in good faith with the GOP as it assumes more power when Congress reconvenes on Wednesday.
    President Obama called on Republicans to be equal partners in his efforts to jump-start the nation’s fragile economy in the new year, pledging to work in good faith with the party as it prepares to assume greater power in Washington.
    In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said economic data showed the economy has been “gaining traction” for months, and said his personal resolution for 2011 was to “do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class.” While tending to the short-term recovery, the president said lawmakers also must continue making investments that will ensure the nation’s long-term prosperity. Days before Republicans will be sworn in as the majority party in the House of Representatives, Obama said it is now a “shared responsibility” of both parties to do so.
    “Here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver,” Obama said…. – LAT, 1-1-11
  • Obama Is Serious About His Vacation. And, Please, No Shirtless Shots: President Obama has accomplished something extraordinary during his Hawaiian escape from Washington: his White House has gone dark for more than a week. Here on Oahu, where Mr. Obama and his family are staying in a luxury oceanfront rental home in the sleepy town of Kailua, the president is cloaked in the comfort of a news-free zone. The public does not see much of him, except for when he is zipping by in his armored sport utility vehicle, and it does not much seem to care. Images of the president at leisure — sharing a Hawaiian shave ice with daughters Malia and Sasha, golfing, dining out with his wife — have trickled out, orchestrated by aides who have also taken care to allow pictures of the president at church and visiting the troops on Christmas Day. His advisers calculate that there has been roughly one photo opportunity every day and a half…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Tea Party Activists Angry at G.O.P. Leaders: As Tea Party politicians prepare to take their seats when the 112th Congress convenes this week, they are already taking issue with Republicans for failing to hold the line against the flurry of legislation enacted in the waning weeks of Democratic control of the House of Representatives and for not giving some candidates backed by Tea Party groups powerful leadership positions…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Cities Around the World Mark New Year; Napolitano Spends Holiday with Troops: 2011 has begun in New Zealand and Australia with massive fireworks displays at Sky Tower in Auckland and across the Sydney skyline. Asian nations rung in the new year — traditionally, in Japan, where some ventured to offer prayers at Buddhist temples, and for the very first time officially in Hanoi, which normally reserves celebrations for the Tet, the lunar new year beginning in February.
    Days after an unusually severe winter blizzard blanketed New York city, revelers were preparing to watch the Times Square Ball drop at midnight EST as higher temperatures began turning the accumulated snow into a wet slush.
    Napolitano to Spend New Year’s with Troops in Afghanistan Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is in Kabul to celebrate the new year with troops, the first stop in a tour through Qatar, Israel and Belgium. Napolitano will meet with officials to discuss the flow of funds for terrorist activities and efforts to boost aviation security in light of two cargo bombs that were intercepted en route to the U.S…. – PBS Newshour, 12-31-10
  • Holder, diplomats expected at Gray mayoral inauguration: U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder and more than 60 members of the diplomatic community are expected to attend Vincent C. Gray’s swearing-in as the District’s next mayor Sunday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, according to sources familiar with the planning for the inauguration. Holder, who met with Gray shortly after the Nov. 2 general election, will administer the oath to D.C. Council- Chairman-elect Kwame Brown (D), who will also be sworn in that day. Eric T. Washington, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, is expected to swear in Gray, according to the sources, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the preparations…. – WaPo, 12-31-10
  • Roberts Urges Obama and Senate to Fill Judicial Posts: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. called on President Obama and the Senate on Friday to solve what he called “the persistent problem of judicial vacancies.”
    “We do not comment on the merits of individual nominees,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote on Friday. “That is as it should be. The judiciary must respect the constitutional prerogatives of the president and Congress in the same way that the judiciary expects respect for its constitutional role.” But he identified what he called a systemic problem.
    “Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” he said. The upshot, he said, was “acute difficulties for some judicial districts.”
    The chief justice noted that the Senate recently filled a number of vacancies. Including 19 recently confirmed judges, the Senate has confirmed 62 of Mr. Obama’s nominees. There are 96 federal court vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts…. – NYT, 12-31-10
  • Even Snow Has Politics: Some major East Coast cities are still struggling to recover from snowstorms that battered the region on Sunday and Monday. In New York, many streets remain unplowed and angry residents have criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the city’s slow response. Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker has, meanwhile, been praised nationally for his personal handling of the blizzard. Host Michel Martin speaks with NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving about the politics of snow…. – NPR, 12-30-10
  • Mississippi Gov “unethical” over jail release: surgeon: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour acted unethically when he suspended a woman’s life sentence on condition she donate a kidney to her sister, a prominent transplant surgeon said on Thursday. Barbour agreed to free sisters Gladys and Jamie Scott, who have served 16 years of a double life sentence for an armed robbery in which nobody was hurt and $11 was stolen. The case has drawn national attention.
    A condition of Gladys Scott’s release is that she donate a kidney to her sister in an operation that should be performed urgently, Barbour said in a statement on Wednesday. She had agreed to be a donor for her sister, who requires dialysis. Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, is considering whether to run for president in 2012…. – Reuters, 12-30-10
  • Kidney parole condition raises ethical questions: A debate is unfolding over an unusual offer from Mississippi’s governor: He will free two sisters imprisoned for an armed robbery that netted $11, but one woman’s release requires her to donate her kidney to the other. The condition is alarming some experts, who have raised legal and ethical questions. Among them: If it turns out the sisters aren’t a good tissue match, does that mean the healthy one goes back to jail?
    Gov. Haley Barbour’s decision to suspend the life sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott was applauded by civil rights organizations and the women’s attorney, who have long said the sentences were too harsh for the crime. The sisters are black, and their case has been a cause celebre in the state’s African-American community…. – AP, 12-30-10
  • Former Obama ‘car czar’ makes $10 mln graft payment: An investor once tapped as US President Barack Obama’s “car czar” has agreed to pay 10 million dollars to New York state after being accused of graft, officials said Thursday. US watchdogs accused Steven Rattner of participating in a widespread kickback scheme to get investments from the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the city’s biggest pension fund.
    “Mr. Rattner will pay 10,000,000 dollars in restitution to the State of New York and be banned from appearing in any capacity before any public pension fund within the State of New York for five years,” a statement from New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo said.
    Rattner had earlier agreed to settle similar charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, by paying 6.2 million dollars, without admitting or denying guilt. On Thursday he expressed hope that a line had been drawn under the issue. “I am pleased to have reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s Office, which allows me to put this matter behind me.”… – AFP, 12-30-10
  • Christine O’Donnell: Why she’s no Sarah Palin: Christine O’Donnell, who faces allegations of improper use of campaign funds, seems to be cut from the same cloth as Sarah Palin. Where they may differ is the ability to withstand adversity…. – CS Monitor, 12-31-10
  • Some GOP stalwarts defend first lady’s anti-obesity campaign from Palin’s shots: Some Republicans watching the cluttered 2012 presidential field may have found an unlikely point of disagreement: the first lady and flab…. In a recent broadcast of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the former governor, high school basketball player and avid runner prepared s’mores (ingredients: marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate bars and graham crackers) and said the treat was “in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”
    In fact, the first lady has never suggested that sweets be banned from the dinner table, cafeteria or campground. She says she tells her daughters, Sasha and Malia, that “dessert is not a right” and that meals should be balanced with fruits and vegetables.
    In a recent interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to promote her latest book, Palin again dismissed Obama’s anti-obesity effort as “some politician or politician’s wife’s priorities,” which amount to what she has in the past called a “nanny state run amok.” She told Ingraham that the first lady should “get off our back and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God- given rights to make our own decisions.” And, apparently, to make as many s’mores as they want.
    Palin’s criticism tracks closely with those of many other conservatives who have complained of government overreach and consider Obama’s initiative and the recently passed child nutrition law as intrusions into the school cafeteria…. – WaPo, 12-29-10
  • Hawaii’s governor wants to reveal Obama birth info: Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to find a way to release more information about President Barack Obama’s Hawaii birth and dispel conspiracy theories that he was born elsewhere. Abercrombie was a friend of Obama’s parents and knew him as a child, and is deeply troubled by the effort to cast doubt on the president’s citizenship. The newly elected governor will ask the state attorney general’s office about what can be done to put an end to questions about Obama’s birth documentation from Aug. 4, 1961, spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Tuesday.
    “He had a friendship with Mr. Obama’s parents, and so there is a personal issue at hand,” Dela Cruz said. “Is it going to be done immediately? No, the first thing on our list is the economy.” It’s unclear what Abercrombie could do because Hawaii’s privacy laws have long barred the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who doesn’t have a tangible interest…. – AP, 12-28-10

111TH & 112TH CONGRESS

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner, center, and top Republicans must prove themselves in 2011.

  • Bipartisanship or Gridlock? Despite Breakthroughs, Lawmakers Face Rocky Session in 2011: With a divided Congress moving into Washington, President Obama’s New Year’s resolution might be to channel his inner uniter. Perhaps the White House will cool it on the John Boehner taunting and telling Republicans to “sit in back.” But no matter the president’s tone, civility and cooperation will be a heavy lift considering all the outstanding legislative fights lawmakers, new and old, are eager to wage. While the president and his allies deftly cleared away a massive tax-cut extension package, the Russian nuclear arms treaty and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” at the end of the lame duck, that just made room for new disagreements. Political analysts say hopes for a new era of bipartisanship could yield to the more established Beltway tradition of gridlock.
    Here’s a sampling of the rumbles Americans can expect to see out of Washington in 2011…
    Health Care Post-Game…
    Out of Afghanistan?…
    Oversight Overload…
    Deficit Reduction vs. Stimulus and Jobs Creation…
    2012 Gamesmanship….
    Climate Regulation Backlash… – Fox News, 12-31-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • The Manchurian Candidate: When Barack Obama posted Jon Huntsman to Beijing, it looked like a crafty way to sideline a 2012 rival. Don’t bet on it.
    …Now, it appears, the ambassador is ready to make some noise of his own. Sitting in the echo-y living room of his new Washington home, Huntsman, a tall, lean man with silver hair and impeccable posture, pauses only briefly when faced with the question of presidential aspirations. “You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” he says. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.” Asked whether he is prepared to rule out a run in 2012 (since it would require him to campaign against his current boss), he declines to comment.
    The winking response—about as close to a hat-in-ring announcement as you’ll get from a sitting member of the incumbent’s administration—could just be a hollow cry for attention. But sources close to Huntsman (who requested anonymity to speak freely without his permission) say that during his December trip to the U.S., he met with several former political advisers in Washington and Salt Lake City to discuss a potential campaign. “I’m not saying he’s running,” says one supporter who has worked with him in the past. “But we’re a fire squad; if he says the word, we can get things going fast.” What’s more, Huntsman tells NEWSWEEK that when he accepted the ambassadorial appointment, he promised his family they would “come up for air” sometime in 2010 to decide how much longer they would stay in Beijing. “I’m not announcing anything at all,” he says. But he sure seems to be hinting…. – Newsweek, 1-4-10
  • Ex-Senator Is Now the Only Black Hopeful in a Chicago Race: Danny K. Davis, a longtime United States representative, has dropped out of the race to become Chicago’s mayor, creating the situation that black leaders here had for months been clamoring for: a campaign that includes only one major African-American candidate.
    Carol Moseley Braun, a former senator, became that candidate this weekend, as Mr. Davis announced his plans to step aside and to support Ms. Braun. The Rev. James T. Meeks, the pastor of a large South Side church, quit his campaign about a week ago.
    Pressure to unite around one African-American candidate has been bubbling here for months, in part out of fear that the city’s black vote would be split — diminishing its influence and all but ensuring that a white candidate (like Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff) or a Latino candidate (like Gery Chico, a former board of education leader) might win on Feb. 22…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Braun left as main black candidate in Chicago race: Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, has emerged as the sole prominent African American candidate in the Chicago mayor’s race after the withdrawal of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis. Davis’ decision, announced at a New Year’s Eve news conference, followed weeks of pressure from many African American leaders who believe that only a consensus black candidate can beat former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other prominent contenders in the race to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.
    And on Saturday morning, Davis and State Sen. James Meeks, who ended his own run for mayor days ago, appeared at a rally at the Rainbow Push Coalition with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., his son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush to drum up support for Braun.
    “We believe that our community needed to see some unity . . . they needed to see togetherness and we need one African American candidate for mayor of the city of Chicago.,” Meeks said to loud applause…. – AP, 1-1-11
  • Davis to drop out of mayor’s race, support Braun: source: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is expected to drop out of the race for mayor of Chicago tonight and throw his support behind former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, a source said. Davis’ campaign would not confirm the dramatic development, but did acknowledge the congressman has scheduled a 7 p.m. news conference at his downtown office. Davis’ departure would clear the way for Braun to run as the only major African American candidate. Braun had been pressing her fund-raising advantage with Davis, releasing a list of black business leaders who have pledged to support her Friday. Braun’s campaign was apparently able to persuade Davis that she would be better able to compete financially with Rahm Emanuel…. – Chicago Sun_Times, 12-31-10
  • Miller says he’s ending legal fight, conceding Alaska election: Republican Joe Miller is ending his fight over Alaska’s Senate seat, conceding the race to his bitter rival, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Miller’s decision, announced Friday at a news conference in Anchorage, comes one day after the state certified Murkowski as the winner. He had the option of appealing a federal judge’s ruling or lodging a formal contest to the election results. While he said he believes he is right about the law, he said it was “very unlikely” an appeals court would side with him and that he had to accept “practical realities.” Ultimately, Miller said, “the courts have spoken.”… – AP, 12-31-10
  • African-American leaders search for unity in mayoral race Davis, Braun meet with Jesse Jackson in an attempt to find the best black candidate for February election African-American leaders search for unity in mayoral race: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun both insisted Thursday that they would keep running for Chicago mayor, despite renewed calls by black leaders to unite behind a single candidate who could improve the odds of an African-American winning the February election.
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson brokered a roughly four-hour meeting Wednesday night with Davis and Braun at his Rainbow PUSH headquarters that was also attended by several ministers, business leaders and politicians. Among them was U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who is backing Braun, and state Sen. Rickey Hendon, who is backing Davis. Jackson said he talked with the candidates about who has the best chance in the election as well as where they stand on myriad issues facing the city, but neither Davis nor Braun budged.
    “They know it’s going to be difficult to get two candidates through the race. There will be two losers and no winner,” Jackson said. “It’s difficult to get one camel through the eye of the needle. It’s impossible to get two.”… – Chicago Tribune, 12-30-10
  • Bill Clinton urged not to pick sides in Chicago: Rep. Danny Davis has a message for former President Bill Clinton: Stay out of the Chicago mayor’s race. Davis, a Democrat, is one of many candidates seeking to succeed Richard Daley as mayor. But so is Rahm Emanuel, who worked for Clinton and, most recently, President Obama. Davis, one of the more prominent black candidates in the race, warned Clinton could risk damaging his relationship with African Americans if he takes sides in Chicago.
    “The African-American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship may be fractured and perhaps even broken should former president Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago’s black community,” Davis said in a statement…. – USA Today, 12-29-10
  • Alaska certifies Murkowski’s write-in Senate victory: The state of Alaska certified Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski’s victory over Tea Party favorite Joe Miller on Thursday, nearly three months after the incumbent won the race with an unconventional write-in campaign.
    The certification document was signed in the state capitol in Juneau by Governor Sean Parnell and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, a spokeswoman for Parnell said. “It’s been certified. The governor signed the certificate and the lieutenant governor notarized it,” Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said. “From there it gets on a plane tonight with Gail.” Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai will carry it personally to the Secretary of the Senate, who must receive it by noon Monday, Leighow said. It will be hand-carried by a state employee to Washington, D.C. so that it can be delivered to the Secretary of the Senate by Monday, the deadline to ensure Murkowski is sworn in for the start of the new Congress…. – Reuters, 12-30-10
  • New governors scale back inaugural celebrations: In Georgia, between 4,000 and 5,000 people are expected to attend an invitation-only gala on Jan. 10, the day of Republican Nathan Deal’s inauguration. While at least a third of the nation’s 26 new governors are collecting sizable contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals to finance inaugural celebrations next month, some are scaling back plans or adding events that encourage community service.
    “It’s a sign of the times that governors, new governors especially, don’t want to appear ostentatious,” says Joe Heim, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “Being frugal is more of the mode these days. The recession may be over with, but millions of people are out of work yet.”… – USA Today, 12-29-10
  • O’Donnell faces federal investigation: A top Delaware Republican confirms to POLITICO that former Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is under federal investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds. The Associated Press first reported Wednesday that O’Donnell was the target of a federal criminal probe, quoting an anonymous source.
    A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware did not immediately return a call for comment, but a top state Republican said he was aware of the investigation, which likely centers around a complaint that was sparked by a Washington-based watchdog group and supported by top GOP officials in the state.
    “I was told by the state party chairman that the complaint he filed was alive and under investigation after the election,” said the GOP source.
    The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging O’Donnell used campaign contributions to pay her own personal expenses. Several of O’Donnell’s former campaign workers have also charged that the tea party favorite used donations to pay personal expenses, including rent for her home, which she argued doubled as campaign headquarters…. – Politico, 12-29-10

QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Democrats and Republicans Have Shared Responsibility to Move America Forward Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House January 1, 2011:
    Hello, everybody. As we close the books on one year and begin another, I wanted to take a moment today to wish you a very Happy New Year and talk a little bit about the year that lies ahead.
    At the start of 2011, we’re still just emerging from a once-in-a-lifetime recession that’s taken a terrible toll on millions of families. We all have friends and neighbors trying to get their lives back on track.
    We are, however, riding a few months of economic news that suggests our recovery is gaining traction. And our most important task now is to keep that recovery going. As President, that’s my commitment to you: to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class. That’s my resolution for the coming year.
    Still, even as we work to boost our economy in the short-term, it’s time to make some serious decisions about how to keep our economy strong, growing, and competitive in the long run. We have to look ahead – not just to this year, but to the next 10 years, and the next 20 years. Where will new innovations come from? How will we attract the companies of tomorrow to set up shop and create jobs in our communities? What will it take to get those jobs? What will it take to out-compete other countries around the world? What will it take to see the American Dream come true for our children and grandchildren?
    Our parents and grandparents asked themselves those questions. And because they had the courage to answer them, we’ve had the good fortune to grow up in the greatest nation on Earth.
    Now it’s our turn to think about the future. In a few days, a new Congress will form, with one house controlled by Democrats, and one house controlled by Republicans – who now have a shared responsibility to move this country forward. And here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver.
    As I’ve said since I first ran for this office, solving our challenges won’t be quick or easy. We have come through a difficult decade; one of new threats and new trials we didn’t expect when it began. But a new year and a new decade stretch out before us. And if we just remember what America is capable of, and live up to that legacy, then I’m confident that we are poised for a period of progress – one in which our economy is growing, our standing in the world is rising, and we do what it takes to make sure America remains in the 21st century what it was in the 20th: the greatest country in the world.
    Thanks for listening. And Happy New Year. — WH, 1-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • O’Donnell angrily denies misusing campaign funds The ‘tea party’-backed Senate candidate from Delaware calls a federal inquiry a ‘thug-politic tactic.’: Christine O’Donnell, who was backed by the conservative “tea party” movement in her unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat from Delaware, denied Thursday that she had misused campaign funds, and she criticized opponents for pursuing a federal investigation into her spending.
    “There’s been no impermissible use of campaign funds whatsoever,” O’Donnell said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “You have to look at this whole thug-politic tactic for what it is.”
    Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, O’Donnell was more explicit, castigating mainstream Republicans and Democrats. “This is part of the political apparatus who want to make sure that this anti-establishment movement is stopped in its tracks,” O’Donnell said. “They are trying to discredit me.”… – LAT, 12-30-10
  • Juan Williams: Palin not on same ‘intellectual stage’ as Obama: Fox News contributor Juan Williams said Sunday that Sarah Palin “can’t stand on the intellectual stage” with President Obama. Williams, in his role as an analyst on Fox News Sunday, was breaking down the Republican presidential field, which he saw as weak.
    “There’s nobody out there, except for Sarah Palin, who can absolutely dominate the stage, and she can’t stand on the intellectual stage with Obama,” Williams said…. – WaPo, 12-29-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Will Obama’s lame-duck dealmaking survive in the new year?: Even with the deep partisan divide, Obama and Congress worked together in the lame-duck session. But pressure on the president from the left and right will grow in the new year.
    President Obama and Congress proved during the lame-duck session that they can work together to resolve big and thorny issues, but that remarkable show of bipartisanship in all likelihood will be short-lived.
    The Democrats don’t own the House anymore, and their Senate majority is smaller. In securing the $858 billion tax-cut and unemployment-benefit package, Mr. Obama cashed in his one big bargaining chip with the Republicans: allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to continue even for the wealthiest taxpayers. He also infuriated his liberal base.
    “He doesn’t have much to bargain with come January,” says historian Julian Zelizer, at Princeton University…. – CS Monitor, 12-31-10
  • What Republicans have done — and what they need to do: After being left for dead in the wake of the 2008 election, Republicans staged a stunning comeback over the past year. Winning back the House and gaining a significant number of seats in the Senate in November gives them another stab at governing. The energized GOP, added to Americans’ discontent with the way the country is headed, played a large factor in the midterm election wins.
    “Almost nobody broke ranks, and they kept up their attacks on Democrats,” historian and CNN.com Opinion columnist Julian Zelizer wrote. “Republicans have remained united in their opposition to President Obama’s policies as well, charging that he has undertaken a socialistic experiment by expanding government and criticizing the administration for being left of center.”… – CNN, 12-30-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Christie’s political snowpocalypse?: Large snowstorms create moments when many Americans want government to take charge. The need for public service becomes very clear to people of all income levels and social backgrounds. Everyone can get stuck in a snowstorm. When mayors and governors fail to tackle this kind of crisis it becomes a negative mark on their leadership record. To have juxtaposed images of the governor in sunny Disney World will make for some good ads come reelection time. – Politico Arena, 12-29-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Lame-duck sessions the ‘new normal’?: The lame duck session was a win in that Obama received approval for unemployment benefits, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the ratification of START. But the victories came with a huge price tag — the extension of the Bush tax cuts which will vastly increase the size of the deficit and set up a difficult political environment in the coming year where Republicans will put Obama on the defensive. The deficit will allow the GOP to switch the agenda toward the politics of spending reduction and Social Security reform which will open up significant tensions within the Democratic Party…. – Politico Arena, 12-23-10
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Political Highlights December 28, 2010: Obama celebrates Christmas in Hawaii with Military families — Looking towards the 112th Congress & the 2012 Presidential Election

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 111TH & 112TH CONGRESS:

The President records the Weekly Address

STATS & POLLS

  • White House Holidays: Simple Gifts
  • Optimism for Obama Should Come With Caution: For as poorly as President Obama’s Democrats performed on Nov. 2, you can find several assessments of his re-election chances that seem doggone optimistic….
    Has the public taken on a more favorable view of Mr. Obama since the Democrats’ defeat? The evidence here is mixed, but for the time being points toward “no.” Mr. Obama’s Gallup approval rating reached 49 percent late last week — the highest it had been since July — but other surveys show it about flat, and the overall trend shows little change.
    On the other hand, Mr. Obama’s approval rating had already been “stuck” at about 45 or 46 percent several months ahead of the midterms and had not been declining; most of the damage to Mr. Obama and the Democrats had come in 2009. Given how hardened partisan attitudes have become, it may be that Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are liable to fluctuate within a relatively narrow range…. – NYT, 12-28-10
  • Obama, Clinton ‘most admired’ in 2010: US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were the “most admired” man and woman in the United States in 2010, according to an annual Gallup poll.
    Obama led the field of male candidates with 22 percent, followed by former presidents George W. Bush (five percent) and Bill Clinton (four percent). They were followed by post-Apartheid South African leader Nelson Mandela and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, each with two percent.
    Obama has held the title since 2008, after he won the election and became the first African-American US president. That year he was the “most admired” by 32 percent of those polled.
    Hillary Clinton held onto the title of “most admired” woman for the ninth straight year after largely dominating the poll over the last two decades. This year she led with 17 percent, followed by conservative former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin with 12 percent and TV titan Oprah Winfrey with 11 percent. They were trailed by First Lady Michelle Obama with five percent and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice with two percent…. – AP, 12-26-10
  • A timeline of Schwarzenegger’s tenure: Key moments in the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger… – AP, 12-25-10
  • Schwarzenegger leaves mixed legacy in California: Arnold Schwarzenegger landed in the governor’s office after announcing his upstart bid on late night TV and railing against government spending during raucous campaign rallies — at one playing a spirited round of air guitar to the rock anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
    Then the world’s best known action star, Schwarzenegger conveyed an image of invincibility, persuading Californians that anything was possible if only they had the right mindset. “I know how to sell something,” he said then. As he would come to learn, selling a political idea is one thing. Delivering on it is quite another.
    In high Hollywood style, Schwarzenegger made bold commitments to cut through Sacramento’s dysfunctional political system and put the state on a path to prosperity. But his celebrity quickly ran aground on the shoals of bureaucracy, entrenched politics and something Schwarzenegger had never faced before — angry detractors who didn’t hesitate to attack him publicly…. – Fox News, 12-25-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kailua on Christmas

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet service men and women, along with their families, during Christmas dinner in the mess at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kailua, Hawaii, December 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Lawmakers Finance Pet Projects Without Earmarks: No one was more critical than Representative Mark Steven Kirk when President Obama and the Democratic majority in the Congress sought passage last year of a $787 billion spending bill intended to stimulate the economy. And during his campaign for the Illinois Senate seat once held by Mr. Obama, Mr. Kirk, a Republican, boasted of his vote against “Speaker Pelosi’s trillion-dollar stimulus plan.”
    Though Mr. Kirk and other Republicans thundered against pork-barrel spending and lawmakers’ practice of designating money for special projects through earmarks, they have not shied from using a less-well-known process called lettermarking to try to direct money to projects in their home districts…. – NYT, 12-28-10
  • In ‘Daily Show’ Role on 9/11 Bill, Echoes of Murrow: Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause? Mr. Stewart declined to comment on the passage of the bill. And does that make that comedian, Jon Stewart — despite all his protestations that what he does has nothing to do with journalism — the modern-day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow?
    Certainly many supporters, including New York’s two senators, as well as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, played critical roles in turning around what looked like a hopeless situation after a filibuster by Republican senators on Dec. 10 seemed to derail the bill. But some of those who stand to benefit from the bill have no doubt about what — and who — turned the momentum around…. – NYT, 12-27-10
  • Assange signs book deals worth more than £1m: Julian Assange has signed book deals worth more than £1m in the US and UK, to allow the WikiLeaks founder to cover his legal fees and maintain the whistleblowing site. He will be racing a disgruntled former colleague to release an autobiography telling his side of the WikiLeaks story. Both books are to be published by divisions of Random House next year….
    The controversy did not dissuade readers of Time magazine voting Mr Assange their “person of the year” for his campaign for freedom of information and radical transparency from governments…. – Financial Times, 12-27-10
  • Barack Obama Visits Troops on Christmas Day: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dropped by a Marine Corps base in Hawaii on Christmas Day, shaking hands with servicemen and women, taking photos, and hearing Christmas tales from children. Obama made the unannounced 40-minute visit while on his 11-day family vacation to Kailua Bay, Hawaii, his home state, according to Reuters.
    The first family and hundreds of Marines and their families were enjoying Christmas dinner in the hall decked with Christmas decorations. “Merry Christmas, Mr. President!” one boy said to Obama, who was with Michelle Obama. “No, she’s Mrs. President,” Obama said to the children, according to CNN…. – Epoch Times, 12-26-10
  • Obamas attend church in Hawaii: President Obama and his family attended church Sunday in Hawaii, making one of their few public appearances since he arrived here Thursday.
    The Obamas went to the St. Michael’s Chapel, the church at the Marine base a few miles from where the family is staying. About 100 people were in attendance, and they clapped when the first family walked in. At the service, churchgoers sang “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.” In his sermon, chaplain Steve Moses joked about a recent heart ailment. Moses said he went for a routine physical but was instead told he needed to have surgery on his heart. God must have put him through that surgery to ensure he would not have a heart attack while preaching in front of a president, Moses said. Moses said this story illustrated his message that God is either protecting people from something “far worse” or preparing them for “something greater.”
    The Sunday morning stop at church was unusual for Obama, at least in the past two years. The president is a Christian and frequently speaks about the role of faith in his life, but has not attended services often or become a member of a church in the Washington area…. – WaPo, 12-26-10
  • Sunday Church for the Obamas: President Obama, whose Hawaiian vacation has included golfing, beach-going and visiting the troops on Christmas Day — as well as his regular economic and intelligence briefings — took time out Sunday morning to go to church with his family. About 100 parishioners were in attendance when the Obamas arrived at St. Michaels, the chapel on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where Mr. Obama greeted troops during Christmas dinner on Saturday. “Joy to the World” was being sung by a full band, and those in attendance clapped as the family walked in.
    Mr. Obama is not a particularly regular churchgoer when he is in Washington, and questions about his faith — he is Christian, but polls have shown that many Americans mistakenly believe he is Muslim — have come up repeatedly during his presidency. His aides say he prays daily, and he has attended chapel while at Camp David…. – NYT, 12-26-10
  • The next Congress: Action or just argument?: When the 112th Congress convenes on Jan. 5, it will have a decidedly new look, a feisty new attitude and a penchant for partisanship. Republicans will have their biggest House of Representatives majority since the Truman administration in the late 1940s, and, they believe, a mandate to slash spending dramatically and overturn President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law. But their chances of success are dim, since Democrats will still control the White House and the Senate. That makes the potential for getting serious work done in 2011 difficult to predict.
    “The 112th Congress is going to be a mix of cooperation and conflict, “said John Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif…. – McClatchy Newspapers
  • President Obama, ‘Lame Duck’ Democratic Congress bask in Zadroga bill, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell success: In a swift and improbable political turnaround, the lame-duck Congress has revived a dead-duck President, pols and pundits believe. “There was nothing lame about this Congress,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) quipped about the flurry of bills passed in the final days of the postelection session.
    President Obama, left limping after the Republicans scored a huge victory in the November midterm elections, was the major beneficiary. Democrats managed to get their ducks in a row and help resuscitate Obama with some luck – and some well-played chess just weeks after what Obama bemoaned as a “shellacking” in the elections.
    “Pundits wanted to write him off, but President Obama went right back to work and we delivered,” said Gillibrand, who gained national attention for championing the 9/11 health care bill and an extension of unemployment benefits. Political scientists have taken notice.
    “It’s official. Like it or not, this lame-duck session is the most productive of the 15 held since [World War] II,” noted University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.
    A new CNN poll showed a majority of Americans have reversed course and say Obama is again taking the country on the right track…. – NY Daily News, 12-26-10
  • A Firmly Drawn Presidential Line Between Work and Play: If there is one thing President Obama craves during his leisure time, it is privacy. Mr. Obama arrived on the island of Oahu in the middle of the night as Wednesday turned into Thursday and slipped on a green lei as he descended the steps of Air Force One. Then he sped off in an S.U.V. toward this laid-back residential community on the windward side of the island, far from the bustle of Waikiki Beach, where the bulk of his traveling White House stays, in Honolulu, the city he lived in as a boy. Then, the most visible man in America promptly dropped out of sight.
    Mr. Obama’s disappearance behind the palm trees reveals much about his presidential style, and also his thinking about how to balance work and play. He tends to separate the two, as much as any president can. Other presidents, especially those who owned secluded homes or vacation retreats, often mixed them, using their homes outside Washington as tools of the presidency — another means of advancing their goals and agendas…. – NYT, 12-25-10
  • President begins vacation with a smile: Almost immediately after he walked off Air Force One early Thursday morning, a relaxed-looking President Obama had a green lei around his neck and a smile on his face. It was the first sign that while the president will be working while he is on vacation, it’s not a “working vacation.” Administration aides emphasized that the president wanted real down time after an intense two-month period after Election Day, and Obama started his 11-day trip with several hours of golf Thursday. He spent much of Friday afternoon at the beach with his daughters, Sasha and Malia.
    Forced to delay his vacation by five days as Congress worked on a series of the president’s top priorities, Obama added a day on the back end. He will now depart for Washington on Jan. 2, instead of Jan. 1 as originally scheduled.
    White House spokesman Bill Burton said Obama would spend time “recharging his batteries, spending time with family and dealing with presidential duties.”
    To be sure, a president is never truly off. He has spoken to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about a nuclear weapons treaty between the United States and Russia that the Senate ratified on Wednesday. Obama receives a daily national security briefing.
    And the president is spending some time preparing for a critical stage of his presidency in which he must work with a House now controlled by the GOP and start laying the groundwork for his reelection campaign in 2012. Aides said he is reading “President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime,” a biography by Lou Cannon, as well as a biography of former president Bill Clinton by Taylor Branch…. – WaPo, 12-25-10
  • Bruno’s Lawyers Ask Court to Overturn His Conviction: Lawyers for Joseph L. Bruno, the longtime Republican leader of the New York State Senate, have asked a federal appeals court to overturn his conviction on fraud charges, following a landmark Supreme Court decision that whittled down the law under which he was found guilty, and to prohibit the government from retrying him. The appeal, filed on Thursday in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, was an expected development in the labyrinthine legal case of Mr. Bruno, 81, who ruled the Senate for almost 14 years before resigning in 2008 amid a federal corruption investigation. He was convicted in 2009 in Federal District Court in Albany on two counts of fraud for failing to disclose lucrative payments he had received from businessmen seeking help in the Legislature…. – NYT, 12-25-10
  • Obama, Congress end ’10 with blast of bipartisanship: Shaken by a historic election in which angry voters canceled Democratic control of the House, lawmakers of both parties and President Obama tried something new: They consulted each other. They cooperated. And finally, they compromised.
    From tax cuts to a nuclear arms treaty and the repeal of the ban on openly serving gay soldiers, Congress and the Obama White House closed up their respective shops and headed out for the holidays with an uncommonly full bag of accomplishments. Bipartisanship was one of them.
    “That progress is … a reflection of the message the voters sent in November, a message that said it’s time to find common ground on challenges facing our country,” Obama said before joining his family in Hawaii. “It’s a message that I will take to heart in the new year, and I hope my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same.”… – AP, 12-25-10
  • Obama administration on alert for holiday terror threats: President Obama may be relaxing on vacation in Hawaii, but his counterterrorism team remains at work in hopes of keeping things quiet over the holidays. John Brennan, the White House adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security, convened a conference call today with more than half a dozen other top officials to review the steps being taken to guard against terrorism. That includes close coordination with foreign nations such as Yemen, whose president, Ali Abdallah Saleh, spoke with Brennan by phone Thursday. The two discussed ways to strengthen the cooperation between their counterterrorism operations in light of threats against the United States and other nations by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula… – USA Today, 12-24-10
  • White House confirms Sarkozy visit January 10: French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Washington next month and hold talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama on January 10, the White House said Friday. “I can confirm” the French leader’s visit, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told AFP, without providing further details. The Elysee presidential palace announced Thursday that Sarkozy would visit the US capital to discuss the agendas of next year’s G8 and G20 summits with Obama…. – AFP, 12-24-10
  • Vice President Joe Biden sees growing acceptance of gay marriage: Joe Biden compares the nation’s evolving views on gay marriage to the military’s acceptance of gays and lesbians serving openly…. – LAT, 12-24-10
  • Biden says gay marriage ‘inevitable’: Vice President Joe Biden says the country is evolving on the issue of gay marriage and he thinks it’s inevitable there will be national consensus. He said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday the same thing is happening with the issue of marriage that happened with gays’ service in the military…. – AP, 12-24-10
  • For Obama, ‘lame duck’ Congress ends on high note: It may have ended in a lame-duck session with Democrats set to lose their majority in January, but the first US Congress of the Obama era was among the most prolific in 40 years
    The legislative accomplishments were anything but lame in the post-election period, according to analysts and even some of President Barack Obama’s Republican adversaries who begrudged him some late 2010 victories, including a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia and repeal of a ban on openly gay troops.
    Having described his Democrats’ drubbing at the ballot box in November as a “shellacking”, Obama headed to a Hawaii vacation this week on a high, savoring the latest in a litany of legislative victories that marked his first two years in office…. – AFP, 12-23-10
  • Chastened, unpopular Congress rallies in lame duck: In the middle of a House debate, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky handed the woman in charge of the rules a paper bag. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., peered inside, saw the bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon and laughed. Indeed, a shot of something strong might help make sense of a prolific Congress that seemed to break the rules of political physics. Democrats were punished by voters for a long list of accomplishments, then rallied with a post- election session that was anything but lame.
    Among the lessons of 2010: Being the opposite of a “do-nothing Congress” can produce just as much loathing and election losses for the party in control of government. And bipartisanship in President Barack Obama’s Washington is possible, if fleeting.
    “Congress and the administration simply failed to listen to the American people,” incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement as lawmakers left town. “Beginning on Jan. 5, the American people are going to watch their Congress do something differently.”
    “I’m not naive,” Obama told reporters this week. “I know there will be tough fights in the months ahead…. – AP, 12-23-10
  • For Hawaii governor, discrediting anti-Obama ‘birthers’ is a top priority: Democrat Neil Abercrombie, who knew Obama’s parents, is determined to torpedo the conspiracy theory. Underlying his effort may be a desire to dispel the view that Hawaiians aren’t Americans in the same way as mainlanders…. – LAT, 12-23-10
  • Obama vacation: What flavor shave ice will he order?: President Obama joined his family in Hawaii late Wednesday, anticipating an 11-day vacation. Forget tax-cut deals and nuclear weapons treaties. The Obama vacation is all about shave ice. President Obama has made it to Hawaii to join his wife, daughters, and dog on vacation. He arrived just before midnight Wednesday, local time, after winging in on Air Force One from Washington following a press conference. In his first official act of relaxation, he donned a green lei after he stepped off the plane.
    Now all the US political world is holding its breath as it awaits the results of an important policy decision the president is likely to make at some point during his projected 11 days in an island paradise. The question facing Obama is this: What flavor of shave ice will he pick at Island Snow?… – CS Monitor, 12-23-10

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden on Christmas Day at Walter Reed

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden visit with troops and their families on Christmas Day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., December 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

111TH & 112TH CONGRESS

  • AP Exclusive: Jackson Jr says ‘everyone has erred’: Illinois Congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr. says he’s a “public servant” not a “perfect servant.” The Democrat tells The Associated Press that even as he’s been dogged by links to disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and questions about his relationship with a female “social acquaintance,” he’s never deviated from his mission of bringing jobs to his Chicago area district. Jackson says he carries the burden of his “personal shortcomings” even as he tries to help others…. – AP, 12-25-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Signs of doubt about Palin, from the right: The Wall Street Journal editorial page has taken Sarah Palin to task for her overreaction to Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity. This is not only notable by itself, but it has sparked similar criticism from other conservative sources. It’s interesting that she’s drawing this kind of fire from my fellow righties. Palin, the Journal writes, sees a big government plot in Mrs. Obama’s campaign. On her reality show, she served her family “smores,” saying, “This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”…
    In Palin’s defense, Michelle Obama has gone much farther than merely urging parents to provide healthy food for their kids, as when she blurted out, “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.” This isn’t mentioned in The Journal editorial. Still, the point of the piece was valid: Palin overreacted, and in the process raised even more doubts among those who don’t believe she’s electable…. – Kansas City Star, 12-28-10
  • Governor: Palin e-mails won’t be released ’til May: The Alaska governor’s office says it needs until May 31 to release potentially thousands of e-mails sent and received by former Gov. Sarah Palin. By that time, more than 2 1/2 years will have elapsed since media outlets, including The Associated Press, requested the e-mails. Palin has been out of office since July 2009…. – WaPo, 12-28-10
  • Republican Drops a Tack in Alaska Senate Race: Joe Miller said late Sunday that he would no longer try to prevent the certification of the Alaska Senate race, but he did not concede and he did not congratulate the unofficial winner, Senator Lisa Murkowski. Unofficial results show Ms. Murkowski winning the race by more than 10,000 votes, and she is expected to be sworn in for her new term on Jan. 5. But a stay in federal court, in response to a lawsuit by Mr. Miller, has prevented state election officials from certifying her as the winner. The state and Ms. Murkowski have repeatedly expressed concerns that Mr. Miller’s legal challenges could leave Alaska with just one senator when Congress reconvenes in January…. – NYT, 12-27-10
  • Bill Clinton to campaign for Emanuel in Chicago In January, former president to stump for Emanuel in mayor’s race: Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Chicago in January to campaign for mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel. Before serving in President Barack Obama’s White House and representing the North Side of Chicago in Congress, Emanuel worked in Clinton’s administration as a senior adviser for policy and strategy. Clinton is scheduled to headline a public event that highlights Emanuel’s role in passing a crime bill that put 100,000 more cops on the street nationally. The visit is expected to be Clinton’s first in the new year and election cycle…. – Chicago Tribune, 12-25-10
  • Chicago election board upholds Emanuel’s residency: A panel of three commissioners votes to keep the former White House chief of staff in the city’s mayoral race, saying he meets the residency requirement. But this is not the final say. Chicago election commissioners voted Thursday to keep Rahm Emanuel on the city’s February mayoral ballot, ruling that the former White House chief of staff meets the residency requirement. The election board, however, is not expected to have final say on the issue. The objectors have a week to appeal the board’s 3-0 decision to the Cook County Circuit Court. The case could wind its way through the court system for weeks, including the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court. “It has not been established that the candidate, a resident of Chicago, abandoned his status as such a resident,” hearing officer Joe Morris wrote of Emanuel’s time in Washington. “In any event, his absence from Illinois during that time in question is excused, for purposes of the safeguarding and retention of his status as a resident and elector, by express operation of Illinois law.”… – LAT, 12-23-10
  • Meeks withdraws from Chicago mayor’s race: Illinois state Sen. James Meeks withdrew his candidacy for Chicago mayor on Thursday, and he urged other African- American candidates to follow his lead and rally what he called a divided black community around a single candidate. The surprise Christmas week announcement came a day after he met to discuss the idea of a unity candidate from the city’s large African-American community with fellow Democratic candidates U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, both of whom are black.
    “My friends, I come before you today to say that our city – and our community – is divided,” Meeks said in a statement. “As long as our community remains divided and splintered – to the specific advantage of the front-running, status quo candidates – we will never see things improve. We need to speak with one voice.”
    While the idea of a consensus African-American candidate has been discussed for weeks, Meeks has stumbled in recent days while courting voters and he won little support in a recent poll. He said in his statement he had no plans to endorse any other candidate, and his spokeswoman said he would not have any further comment as he planned to spend the holidays with his family…. – AP, 12-23-10

QUOTES

West Wing Week

  • Behind the Scenes with the Kennedy Center Honorees: Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey and More: Every year around the holidays, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts selects and celebrates individuals who have, through their lifetime achievement in the arts, contributed to enriching and enhancing culture in America. On December 5th, 2010, the Kennedy Center Honors 33rd Annual National Celebration of the Arts was held and videotaped for a television broadcast, which airs tonight on CBS. Before the gala event at the Kennedy Center, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a reception for this year’s recipients in the East Room of the White House. Watch this video which features behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the honorees at the White House – Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Bill T. Jones, and Jerry Herman….. – WH, 12-28-10
  • Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend Christmas Greeting and Urge Americans to Support the Troops and Their Families: Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Weekly Address The White House December 25, 2010:
    THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, everybody. Michelle and I just wanted to take a moment today to send greetings from our family to yours. 

    THE FIRST LADY: This is one of our favorite times of year. And we’re so fortunate to be able to celebrate it together in this wonderful home.
    This is the “People’s House.” So Barack and I try to open it to as many people as we can, especially during the holiday season.
    This month, more than 100,000 Americans have passed through these halls. And the idea behind this year’s theme, “Simple Gifts,” is that the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don’t cost a thing – the comfort of spending time with loved ones…the freedoms we enjoy as Americans… and the joy we feel upon giving something of ourselves.
    So in this time of family, friends, and good cheer; let’s also be sure to look out for those who are less fortunate, who’ve hit a run of bad luck, or who are hungry and alone this holiday season.

    THE PRESIDENT: Because this is the season when we celebrate the simplest yet most profound gift of all: the birth of a child who devoted his life to a message of peace, love, and redemption. A message that says no matter who we are, we are called to love one another – we are our brother’s keeper, we are our sister’s keeper, our separate stories in this big and busy world are really one.
    Today, we’re also thinking of those who can’t be home for the holidays – especially all our courageous countrymen serving overseas.
    That’s the message I delivered when I visited our troops in Afghanistan a few weeks ago – that while you may be serving far from home, every American supports you and your families. We’re with you. And I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander in Chief.
    Today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen make up the finest fighting force in the history of the world. Just like their predecessors, they do extraordinary things in service to their country. What makes that all the more remarkable is that today’s military is an all-volunteer force – a force of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives.

    THE FIRST LADY: That’s right. As First Lady, I’ve had the honor to meet members of our military and their families on bases and in communities all across the country. I’ve gotten to know husbands and wives doing the parenting of two while their spouse is on another deployment…children trying their best in school but always wondering when mom or dad is coming home…patriots putting their lives on hold to help with a loved one’s recovery…or carry on the memory of a fallen hero.
    When our men and women in uniform answer the call to serve, their families serve, too. And they’re proud and glad to do it. But as long as that service keeps the rest of us safe, their sacrifice should also be our own. Even heroes can use a hand, especially during the holidays.

    THE PRESIDENT: So we’re encouraging Americans to ask what you can do to support our troops and their families in this holiday season. For some ideas on how to get started, just visit Serve.gov.

    THE FIRST LADY: You’ll see that you don’t need to be an expert in military life to give back to those who give so much to us. There are countless ways to contribute by harnessing your unique talents.
    If you live near a base, you can reach out through your local school or church. If you don’t, you can volunteer with organizations that support military families. And anybody can send a care package or pre-paid calling card to the front lines, or give what’s sometimes the most important gift of all: simply saying “thank you.”

    THE PRESIDENT: America’s brave servicemen and women represent a small fraction of our population. But they and the families who await their safe return carry far more than their fair share of the burden. They’ve done everything they’ve been asked to do. They’ve been everything we’ve asked them to be. And even as we speak, many are fighting halfway around the globe – in hopes that someday, our children and grandchildren won’t have to.
    So let’s all remind them this holiday season that we’re thinking of them – and that America will forever be here for them, just as they’ve been there for us.
    And on behalf of Michelle, Malia, Sasha…
    THE FIRST LADY: and Bo…
    THE PRESIDENT: and Bo…have a very Merry Christmas.
    THE FIRST LADY: and an even happier New Year. – WH, 12-25-10TranscriptMp4Mp3

  • The President’s Press Conference: “The Most Productive Post-Election Period We’ve Had in Decades”: First of all, I’m glad that Democrats and Republicans came together to approve my top national security priority for this session of Congress – the new START Treaty. This is the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades, and it will make us safer and reduce our nuclear arsenals along with Russia. With this treaty, our inspectors will also be back on the ground at Russian nuclear bases. So we will be able to trust but verify; and to continue to advance our relationship with Russia, which is essential to making progress on a host of challenges – from enforcing strong sanctions on Iran, to preventing nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. This treaty will enhance our leadership to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and seek the peace of a world without them.
    In the last few weeks, we also came together across party lines to pass a package of tax cuts and unemployment insurance that will spur jobs, businesses, and growth. This package includes a payroll tax cut that means nearly every American family will get an average tax cut next year of about $1,000 delivered in their paychecks. It will make a difference for millions of students, and parents, and workers, and people still looking for work. It’s has led economists across the political spectrum to predict that the economy will grow faster than they originally thought next year.
    In our ongoing struggle to perfect our Union, we also overturned a 17-year old law and a longstanding injustice by finally ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. As I said earlier today, this is the right thing to do for our security. And it is the right thing to do, period.
    In addition, we came together across party lines to pass a food safety bill – the biggest upgrade of America’s food safety laws since the Great Depression. And I hope the House soon joins the Senate in passing a 9/11 health bill that will help cover the health care costs of police officers, firefighters, rescue workers, and residents who inhaled toxic air near the World Trade Center on that terrible morning, and the days that followed.
    So, I think it’s fair to say this has been the most productive post-election period we’ve had in decades, and it comes on the heels of the most productive two years we’ve had in generations. – WH, 12-22-10TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

West Wing Week

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Race could backfire on the right: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a possible Republican presidential candidate, recently caused a major stir. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, he referred to race relations while growing up in Mississippi this way: “I just don’t remember it as being that bad.”
    Of course, his state was one of the most racially explosive sections of the country in the days of segregation and the start of the civil rights movement.
    In the same interview, Barbour also tried to distinguish the citizens councils of his hometown from the Ku Klux Klan, even though historians have amply documented how citizens councils spent much of their energy using economic, and sometimes physical, intimidation to prevent racial integration. Although Barbour sought to clarify his remarks when they triggered a political firestorm, the fallout is likely to continue given the long and complicated history of conservatism.
    With these statements, Barbour tapped directly into one of the most problematic aspects of the modern conservative tradition: the interest among some on the right to resist racial and ethnic pluralism. The comments come at an inopportune time.
    In recent months, there have been questions about the degree to which racial politics has influenced Tea Party activists and some Republican politicians. The heated debates about illegal immigration and the proposed construction of an Islamic cultural center near ground zero brought out some of the uglier elements of the conservative movement. At some of the early Tea Party events, there were placards that drew on explicitly racial imagery of the nation’s president.
    The conservative political tradition has revolved around many issues other than race….
    Conservatives should think long and hard about nominating a Republican who cannot demonstrate, once and for all, without any question, that he or she fully understands the history of racial inequality in this country and appreciates the centrality of a pluralistic America…. – CNN, 12-27-10
  • Stephen Hess: For Obama, ‘lame duck’ Congress ends on high note: “The 111th Congress is one of the most productive Congresses in American history, certainly since Lyndon Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ and the programs that were passed in the mid-1960s,” Stephen Hess, an expert on American politics at the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, told AFP. “History will tell over time the value of what (Congress has done) but in terms of sheer production it is really an exceptional record.”… – AFP, 12-23-10
  • David Gergen: Obama’s stunning turnaround: Voters who flocked to the Republican banner seven weeks ago are probably scratching their heads, wondering, “Who really won in November?” After handing the president and Congressional Democrats the worst drubbing in more than half a century, they can only watch in disbelief as Obama has reeled off a series of unexpected victories.
    A new stimulus bill, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and now START — who would have believed that this shirt- tail session of Congress would have been so triumphant? They call it “lame duck” but it was anything but lame.
    What happened? One answer, I would submit, is that the president and his team found a better approach to governing: Instead of relying on the Democratic caucus in each chamber to deliver, they built up coalitions of their own that swayed public opinion in their direction and gave them leverage in Congress…. – CNN, 12-22-10

Political Highlights November 15, 2010: Obama’s Asia Trip, Possible Deal with Israel, Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Run, and Nancy Pelosi Retains Democratic Leadership

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 & MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010:

The President speaks at the University of Indonesia
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/10/10

STATS & POLLS

  • Better News For Palin: PPP’s newest batch of 2012 Republican primary polls conducted right before last week’s election finds Mitt Romney ahead in the critical early state of Florida, Tim Pawlenty surprisingly weak in his home state of Minnesota, and Sarah Palin posting leads in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Maine…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Republican election win fails to excite public: poll: The Republican Party may have excited conservatives when it recaptured the House of Representatives in last week’s midterm elections but a recession-jilted public is less than enthused, according to a poll released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
    The survey found that 48 percent of those polled were happy with the Republican victory.
    This compared to 60 percent who said they were happy in 2006 when the Democrats regained majorities in both branches of Congress and the 57 percent who applauded the historic 1994 midterm gains for the Republican Party that saw them take control of the legislature for the first time in 40 years.
    “The nature of the victory itself is a little different because the Republicans this time only captured one chamber as opposed to the whole Congress,” said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Research Center. “One of the things that you see here is that we have seen these transitions of power before and they are happening more frequently and so it is not so novel,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • Poll: 77% say elections more negative than 2006 campaign: Americans believe the midterm elections were more negative than the 2006 campaign, a new Pew Research Center poll says. Nearly 8 in 10 voters, or 77%, say there was more mudslinging and negative campaigning than in previous elections. That compares with 69% after the elections four years ago.
    The 2010 elections may be remembered in history for these images: attacks on President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voters clamoring for less government and taxes participating in Tea Party rallies, and people railing against “Obamacare” and the new health insurance law. Most important, this election was about the economy. So maybe it’s not surprising that the low grades for Campaign 2010 weren’t partisan: 70% of Republicans, 79% of Democrats and 81% of independents said this political season was more negative than in 2006… – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Nine Congress and governor races not yet decided: Here are the congressional and gubernatorial races that remain uncalled after Tuesday’s election… – WaPo, 11-10-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Palin most polarizing of 2012 crowd: Sarah Palin is the most polarizing of the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, while impressions of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney lean more positive, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. As for the rest — Pawlenty, Barbour, Thune, Daniels — most Americans say, “Who?”
    Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, is the best-known and most divisive of the bunch. In the wake of her high-profile role in endorsing candidates all over the country, 46 percent of Americans view her favorably, 49 percent unfavorably, and 5 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
    Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the 2008 GOP Iowa caucus, received the highest favorability rating, 49 percent. About one in four people has no opinion of him, and 27 percent view him unfavorably.
    Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran in 2008, had similar results. Nearly a quarter of all Americans have no opinion about him, while 46 percent view him favorably, and 31 percent unfavorably.
    In terms of winning the 2012 nomination, the question is how Republican-leaning Americans view the contenders. Palin comes out on top. Among adults who identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, 79 percent view her favorably, and 17 percent unfavorably.
    These findings worry many Republican officials. The poll suggests Palin might be able to win the nomination. But among independents_they could be the deciding factor in the general election — just 43 percent hold a favorable view of Palin, compared with 61 percent with a positive view of Obama…. – AP, 11-10-10
  • 2010: An Aligning Election: Elections with results as dramatic as those of Tuesday night are sometimes referred to as “realigning elections.” The term — although somewhat ambiguous and overused — usually refers to a case in which one or another party not only gains a significant amount of power, but also, in which coalitions are shifted, the signature of which is usually that the rising party performs particularly well in certain geographic regions or among certain demographic groups.
    The 1980 election, for instance, arguably marked the beginning of a long-term shift toward Republicans in America’s suburbs, with Jimmy Carter’s share of the suburban vote dropping from 53 percent in 1976 to 37 percent in 1980: the 16-point swing against Mr. Carter was about twice the one he suffered in cities or rural areas. Likewise, in 1994, the shift against Democrats was particularly sharp in the South: 19 of the 52 representatives which they lost having come from that part of the country.
    The 2010 elections, by contrast, were remarkable for their orderliness — and they tended to reinforce, to an almost uncanny degree, existing political coalitions.
    Below is a chart that arranges America’s 435 congressional districts from those (on the left) which gave the highest percentage of their vote to Barack Obama in 2008 to those (on the right) which gave the highest share to John McCain; the chart then compares which party each district had elected to the House before and after Tuesday night…. – NYT, 11-8-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama at a Press Conference at the G20 Summit at    Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea

President Barack Obama answers questions during a press conference at the G20 Summit at Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea, November 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Netanyahu Backs U.S. Proposal for Freeze: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask cabinet ministers to support a U.S. proposal to extend restrictions on building in Jewish settlements for 90 days in exchange for a package of incentives from Washington, according to Israeli officials. If approved by the Israeli government, the deal could help revive peace talks with the Palestinians, which collapsed at the end of September when a 10-month period of building restrictions expired and Israel refused to extend it. Also Sunday, one of Israel’s most senior intelligence officials issued a stark warning that without immediate and meaningful progress toward peace, the Palestinian security services, which have earned consistent Israeli praise in recent months, could rapidly start to unravel. In a rare briefing to a small group of journalists, the intelligence official said there was a window of between three months and a year to show progress toward peace. “If there will not be real progress, I believe we can find that sometime within three months, six months or one year from now, that the functioning of the Palestinian security system is in a very different place,” the intelligence official said. “In order to keep the legitimacy and functioning of the Palestinian security system we need real progress in the peace process.”… – WSJ, 11-14-10
  • Obama calls latest Israeli plan promising: President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the prospect of a new settlement freeze in the disputed West Bank as a promising step toward peace, urging Israelis and Palestinians to get back into serious negotiations quickly. An upbeat president also pledged to return to the basic principles that drove his thinking when he first came to the White House, including sticking to a more bipartisan tone and better explaining his decisions to the American people. He spoke of moving from an “obsessive focus” on policy and making changes to his approach after a humbling midterm election.
    “The fact that we are out of crisis — although still obviously in a difficult time — I think will give me the capacity,” Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One at the end of long Asia trip.
    On the Mideast, Washington’s new proposal for reviving peace talks includes a 90-day ban on housing starts in West Bank settlements — but not in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. The goal is to give the two sides a three-month period to shape borders of side-by-side states, a daunting, elusive mission.
    Obama commended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a “very constructive step” toward creating an environment for peace. “I think it’s a signal that he’s serious,” Obama said…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • White House, GOP look for middle ground on taxes: The White House and Republican lawmakers set the terms for a looming tax debate Sunday, coalescing around a possible temporary extension of existing income tax rates that would protect middle class and wealthy Americans from sharp tax increases next year. Top White House adviser David Axelrod stressed that President Barack Obama opposes a “permanent” extension of current tax rates for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and married couples making more than $250,000. But Axelrod, appearing on two Sunday television talk shows, was carefully silent on the possibility of extending current tax rates for the short term. He said he wants to leave negotiations to Obama and members of Congress. “The bottom line is he wants to sit down and talk about this,” Axelrod said. “There is no bend on the permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”… – AP, 11-14-10
  • US asks Israel for 90-day settlement building moratorium: Netanyahu discusses possibility of halting building with septet; in exchange, US would support Israel in the UN and give 20 fighter jets; request does not include e. Jerusalem. The US asked Israel to freeze all new settlement construction begun after September 26th for a 90-day period in exchange for support in the United Nations and 20 additional advanced fighter planes worth $3 billion, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The principles of this agreement designed to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, were relayed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his inner cabinet, a forum of seven ministers, on Saturday night and will be explained to the full cabinet on Sunday. The US said that if the deal was accepted it would not request an additional settlement freeze. The request does not include east Jerusalem…. – Jpost, 11-13-10
  • Obama and Republicans find common ground on ‘earmarks’: The president and GOP House leaders agree that curtailing or eliminating the provisions would be a step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,’” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    In his radio address Saturday, Obama said that curtailing or eliminating earmarks would be a first step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,’” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    “Earmarks have become a symbol of a dysfunctional Congress and serve as a fuel line for the culture of spending that has dominated Washington for too long,” said Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive incoming House speaker, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), likely the next majority whip. “We welcome President Obama’s remarks on earmark reform, and we call upon him to urge congressional Democrats to vote on a similar measure next week,” they said…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Justices Leave Military Gay Ban in Place: The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy restricting openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving will remain in force while a legal challenge is considered by a federal appeals court, the United States Supreme Court declared Friday. In an unsigned, two-paragraph order, the justices denied a request by the Log Cabin Republicans, the group trying to overturn the law, to reinstate an order by a federal district judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, that prohibited enforcement during the appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had ruled, however, that the military could continue enforcement during the appeal, and on Friday the Supreme Court agreed. The decision did not address the merits of the case.
    The Supreme Court order noted that the newest justice, Elena Kagan, “took no part in the consideration or decision” of the application; she may have recused herself because she was involved in the case as solicitor general, the position she held before President Obama nominated her to the court…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Obama Tells Business Leaders That U.S. Is `Here to Stay’ in Asian Markets: President Barack Obama told Japanese business leaders that the U.S. is “here to stay” in Asia as he neared the end of a 10-day trip across the region. Speaking to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s CEO Business Summit in Yokohama, Japan, Obama said engagement with Asia is a “jobs strategy,” important to his goal of increasing U.S. exports and spurring economic growth around the world.
    “We don’t want to lose the opportunity to sell our goods and services in fast-growing markets. We don’t want to lose the opportunity to create new jobs back home,” he said according to the prepared text of the speech. “When it comes to this growing, sprawling region of the world, the United States is here to stay.”
    Obama is in Japan for the APEC leaders meeting on a trip that has taken him to India, Indonesia and South Korea. At each stop he’s highlighted the need to boost exports in Asia’s rapidly growing economies in order to create jobs at home, where the unemployment rate has been 9.5 percent or higher for the last 14 months.
    Obama told the hundreds of Japanese chief executives gathered at the conference that he makes “no apologies” for trying to bring jobs to the U.S. through trade, but that economic growth in any country is good for others.
    “There’s no need to view trade, commerce, or economic growth as zero sum games, where one country always has to prosper at the expense of another,” he said. “If we work together, and act together, strengthening our economic ties can be a win-win for all of our nations.”… – Bloomberg, 11-12-10
  • Obama seeking compromise on Bush tax cuts: With tax breaks for millions of Americans set to expire Dec. 31, President Obama has opened the door to a compromise with Republicans, signaling a new willingness to accept tax breaks for the wealthy to avoid immediate tax hikes across the board. But as lawmakers head back to town next week for their first battle since this month’s congressional elections, no one is sure just how far Obama is willing to go.
    In recent days, the White House has appeared to vacillate on the expiring tax cuts, swerving from a humble tone of capitulation back to one of defiance. On Wednesday, White House senior adviser David Axelrod seemed to suggest in an interview with the Huffington Post that Obama was poised to acquiesce to GOP demands to extend all the tax cuts in tandem, saying “we have to deal with the world as we find it.”
    On Friday, Obama pushed back, telling reporters with him on a trip to South Korea that “that is the wrong interpretation.” “Here’s the right interpretation: I want to make sure that taxes don’t go up for middle-class families starting on January 1,” Obama said. “That’s my number one priority for those families and for our economy.”…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Obama, GOP could meet halfway on foreign policy: Voters gave no clear direction to U.S. foreign policy in this month’s congressional elections, leaving President Barack Obama and his strengthened Republican opponents plenty of room in which to find common ground — or duke it out over pressing international challenges. Senior GOP lawmakers say Republicans will challenge Obama over his approach to Iran’s nuclear program, and are balking at Senate approval of a new nuclear arms control accord with Moscow. They’ll help cushion Obama, however, against criticism of his Afghanistan war strategy from his own Democratic Party’s liberal wing. Afghanistan “is one area where Republicans feel comfortable standing with the president,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Halifax International Security Forum, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Nov. 6… – Miami Herald, 11-12-10
  • After G20, Obama says his global influence is intact: President Obama asserted Friday that the punishment his party took in midterm elections has not damaged his ability to advance U.S. interests overseas, saying his Asia trip has shown that many countries still want to work with the United States. In a news conference following the Group of 20 summit, Obama said the United States, while still the world’s most powerful economy, can no longer dictate the terms of how the world does business, especially after a global economic turndown that many blame on American policies. But he said his relationships with fellow heads of state have evolved during his two years in office – relying less on the novelty of his election and the enthusiasm it generated than on a shared view of where the global economy should be heading…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Deficit report favors ‘do-nothing Congress’ Debt-to-GDP ratio benefits from inaction: Buried inside the wide-ranging blueprint put out this week by the respected co-chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan commission to slash the federal deficit is a powerful argument for doing nothing. The commission’s recipe of tax increases, spending cuts, elimination of popular tax breaks and reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits continued to roil Washington on Thursday, as both liberals and conservatives condemned some of the painful steps contained in the draft proposal to reduce federal red ink over the coming decades. But the report, offered by Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, also demonstrates that Congress and Mr. Obama can take a major chunk out of the deficit without passing a single bill or issuing a single veto…. – The Washington Times, 11-11-10
  • Action, not talk: Deficit panel pushes Dems, GOP: The leaders of the deficit commission are baldly calling out the budget myths of both political parties, challenging lawmakers to engage in the “adult conversation” they say they want. Their plan — mixing painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare with big tax increases — has no chance of enactment as written, certainly not as a whole. But the commission’s high profile will make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to simply keep reciting their tax and spending talking points without acknowledging the real sacrifices that progress against government deficits would demand. It’s time for both conservatives and liberals to “put up or shut up,” says Jon Cowan, head of the centrist-Democratic group Third Way, which praised the bold new proposals and urged politicians to show courage. Republicans failed to produce their often-promised deficit reductions when they controlled the government, Cowan said, and Democrats refuse to acknowledge that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare must be trimmed…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Clinton offers Netanyahu security pledge on peace talks: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Israel’s security requirements would be fully taken into account in any peace deal with the Palestinians. In a move that could allow Netanyahu to persuade his governing coalition to back a new freeze on Israeli settlement construction, Clinton and the visiting Israeli leader ended a marathon round of talks in New York with a strong declaration of Washington’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and to peace in the region.”
    “The prime minister and the secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals,” the two sides said in a joint statement, which did not mention the settlement issue directly. But Clinton repeated that the peace talks — which have hit an impasse over the settlement issue — could yet yield an independent Palestine living next to Israel “with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
    “Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement,” the joint statement said…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • As G-20 begins, Obama gets few concessions from other leaders: Obama predicts that leaders will reach ‘a broad-based consensus’ on trade and currency issues, but the opening session of the summit offers little evidence that other nations are willing to help the U.S…. – LAT, 11-11-10
  • SKorea-US trade chiefs end talks as Obama arrives: South Korea and the United States ended a third day of talks aimed at jump-starting a long-stalled trade agreement, offering no clues on progress a day before their presidents meet. Washington and Seoul have been holding what are seen as make-or-break negotiations to infuse new life into the deal to slash tariffs and other barriers to trade that was signed in 2007 when previous administrations were in power. It remains unratified by lawmakers in both countries…. – Business Week, 11-10-10
  • Netanyahu defiantly answers Obama’s warning over construction in East Jerusalem: The Israeli leader’s sharp words come hours after Obama, in Indonesia, said new construction could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clashed publicly with President Obama on Tuesday over Israeli construction in disputed East Jerusalem, throwing a teetering Mideast peace effort deeper in doubt. Responding to criticism from Obama, Netanyahu struck a defiant tone in commenting on plans to build 1,300 more Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, saying his government had never agreed to limit construction in the city. “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the capital of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and the planning and building policy in Jerusalem.”
    Netanyahu’s statement came hours after Obama warned that the new construction, announced by Israel on Monday, could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort began in early September. Obama made the remarks a few hours after arriving in Indonesia, his boyhood home for four years, where he was set to deliver the second major speech Wednesday in his outreach to the Muslim world.
    “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations, and I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make that extra effort involved to get a breakthrough,” Obama said. “Each of these incremental steps end up breaking trust.”
    Israel also is moving ahead with 800 units in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, Israeli news reports said Tuesday. Netanyahu’s pronouncement was consistent with Israeli policy, yet his sharp tone may embarrass Obama at a moment of vulnerability. Obama is visiting the world’s largest Muslim country, and the rebuke may again raise questions in the Muslim world about how much influence the American leader really has on a priority issue. The disagreement also comes a week after Obama suffered a setback in the midterm elections, which gave Republicans, who are likely to be sympathetic to Netanyahu’s point of view, majority control of the House of Representatives. Some Israeli officials and U.S. analysts had predicted before the election that Netanyahu might feel emboldened to push back on Obama if the Democrats fared poorly…. – LAT, 11-9-10
  • No Charges in Destruction of C.I.A. Interrogation Tapes: Central Intelligence Agency officials will not face criminal charges for the destruction of dozens of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, the Justice Department said Tuesday. After a closely watched investigation of nearly three years, the decision by a special federal prosecutor is the latest example of Justice Department officials’ declining to seek criminal penalties for some of the controversial episodes in the C.I.A.’s now defunct detention and interrogation program. The destruction of the tapes, in particular, was seen as so striking that the Bush administration itself launched the special investigation after the action was publicly disclosed…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • Obama trip welcomes India to high table of global influence: President Obama left India with reassurances of his strong support for a ‘strategic partnership’ – as well as strong words about his commitment to free trade…. – CS Monitor, 11-9-10
  • Fed Global Backlash Grows China and Russia Join Germany in Scolding; Obama Defends Move as Pro-Growth: Global controversy mounted over the Federal Reserve’s decision to pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, with President Barack Obama defending the move as China, Russia and the euro zone added to a chorus of criticism. Mr. Obama returned fire in the growing confrontation over trade and currencies Monday in a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, taking the unusual step of publicly backing the Fed’s decision to buy $600 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds—a move that has come under withering international criticism for weakening the U.S. dollar…. – WSJ, 11-8-10
  • Obama heads to Indonesia, finally: President Barack Obama finally heads to Jakarta on Tuesday for a visit during which he will seek to boost U.S. security and trade ties with Indonesia, and also reach out to the larger Islamic world. His visit to a country where he spent four years of his childhood comes after two previously scheduled trips were put off because of problems at home — in March as he fought to pass his healthcare overhaul law and in June as he faced the cleanup of the massive BP oil spill. The delays disappointed and angered some Indonesians, and even this visit had been in some doubt because of concerns about volcanic ash from repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi volcano. Indonesia is important destination for Obama for a variety of strategic and personal reasons, aides said. Its importance as a U.S. ally is on the rise, even if the joy over Obama’s election has faded since he became president almost two years ago. Indonesia is an emerging economy, a democracy, a member of the G20 and the world’s most populous Muslim country…. – Reuters, 11-8-10
  • Obama boosts India for ‘rightful place in world’: Deepening America’s stake in Asian power politics, President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, hoping to elevate the nation of a billion people to “its rightful place in the world” alongside an assertive China.
    Obama’s declaration, delivered to the pounding applause of India’s parliament members, spoke to a mission broader than the makeup of one global institution. By spending three packed days in India, announcing trade deals, dismissing job-outsourcing gripes and admonishing India’s rival Pakistan, Obama went all in for an ally whose support he hopes to bank on for years.
    “I want every Indian citizen to know: The United States of America will not simply be cheering you on from the sidelines,” Obama said inside the soaring legislative chamber of the capital city. “We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, because we believe in the promise of India.”… – AP, 11-8-10
  • Diplomacy, Diwali, dinner on Obama’s agenda in India: A female tribal leader working to get more girls into classrooms, in a rural society that places boys first. A former civil servant running a website to battle corruption. Schoolchildren who got the first couple dancing for the Hindu festival Diwali.
    These were some of the Indians whom President Obama met Sunday on the second day of his four-nation Asia tour. The issues raised highlight the massive challenges facing this poor but fast-growing nation of 1.1 billion people, to whom Obama promised he would elevate the U.S.-India partnership “to an entirely new level.”
    He also faced the sensitive question of Pakistan-based terrorism, when asked, at a town-hall-style meeting with students, the question on many Indians’ minds: Why hasn’t the USA declared Pakistan a terrorist state? Obama stressed the need to work with Islamabad “to eradicate this extremism that we consider a cancer within the country that can potentially engulf the country.”… – 11-7-10
  • Fresh Slate at the Pentagon Lies Ahead for Obama: With critical decisions ahead on the war in Afghanistan, President Obama is about to receive an unusual opportunity to reshape the Pentagon’s leadership, naming a new defense secretary as well as several top generals and admirals in the next several months…. – NYT, 11-7-10
  • Obama calls India creator, not poacher, of US jobs: Searching for help half a world away, President Barack Obama on Saturday embraced India as the next jobs-creating giant for hurting Americans, not a cheap-labor rival that outsources opportunity from the United States. “For America, this is a jobs strategy,” Obama said of his emphasis on trade, although it could stand as a motto for his 10-day trip. He is spending Sunday with young people in Mumbai and then heading onto meetings in New Delhi, the capital, before shifting later in the week ahead to Indonesia and economic talks in South Korea and Japan…. – AP, 11-6-10
  • Obama Invokes Gandhi, Whose Ideal Eludes Modern India: President Obama and his wife, Michelle, with Usha Thakkar, director of Mani Bhavan, the Gandhi Museum in Mumbai, “He is a hero not just to India, but to the world,” the president wrote in a guest book on Saturday in Gandhi’s modest former home in Mumbai, now the Mani Bhavan museum. Yet if paying homage to Gandhi is expected of visiting dignitaries, Mr. Obama’s more personal identification with the Gandhian legacy — the president once named him the person he would most like to dine with — places him on complicated terrain…. – NYT, 11-7-10

112TH CONGRESS

  • Democrats avoid House leadership battle Nancy Pelosi helps craft an accord with potential rivals that will make her the minority leader: House Democrats, already hurting from their election shellacking, averted a potentially ugly leadership fight Saturday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco helped broker an agreement that paves the way for her to remain Democratic leader, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland to remain in the party’s second-ranking position of minority whip, and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to take the new title of assistant leader. Democrats who will serve in the new Congress will vote on their leaders Wednesday. The arrangement, which Pelosi announced in a letter to her party’s rank and file, averts a clash between Hoyer, whose appeal to more conservative Democrats is seen as crucial to helping the Democrats win back control of the House in 2012, and Clyburn, a black member who is popular with the liberal base…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • House Democrats Avoid Fight on No. 2 Position: Updated: Shuler Considers Run Top House Democrats said late Friday night that they had settled on an arrangement that avoided a divisive fight for the No. 2 position in the party when it reverts to the minority in January. In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would nominate Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to be the No. 3 Democrat when the party holds an internal party election on Wednesday. “Over the past four years, Congressman Clyburn’s effective leadership in the whip’s office was crucial to our passage of historic legislation on jobs, health care, veterans and Wall Street reform on behalf of the American people,” Ms. Pelosi said…. – NYT, 11-13-10
  • Ambition is curbed, but Democrats still have a lame-duck agenda: With a few weeks left in control of both houses of Congress, Democrats are pressing a scaled-back agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and possibly repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday to begin a complicated lame-duck session that will mark the last time Democrats will be in control of Congress for the foreseeable future….
    Despite electoral losses that handed control of the House to Republicans and diminished Democrats’ majority in the Senate, Democratic leaders are pressing an agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and perhaps repeal the ban on openly gay men and women serving inthe military.
    Yet nothing is certain in the new political climate. As many as 80 incoming House Republicans elected two weeks ago will arrive in town for freshman orientation in advance of their January swearing-in ceremony, and some plan to join a rally Monday to protest the Democrats’ plans.
    In addition, lawmakers who will be members of the 112th Congress will vote for their leaders next week. Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to become the next House speaker, while Democrats will decide whether to retain the outgoing speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as their leader. In the Senate, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to remain majority leader, with Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to continue leading the GOP…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Rahm: It’s on Presumptive front-runner makes official entry into race for mayor: As Rahm Emanuel made his entry into Chicago’s mayoral race official Saturday, a major theme of his campaign echoed off the school gymnasium walls: He is the tenacious leader Chicago needs during tough times. The former North Side congressman and White House chief of staff laid out a broad agenda, declaring he’d work to help generate jobs, improve education and decrease crime at a juncture in the city’s history when all three need to be addressed.
    “The choices we make in the next few years will define Chicago for future generations. They will determine whether we remain a world-class city — or fall back,” he told 250 supporters jammed in the gym at Coonley Elementary School. “The question in this election is who has the experience, imagination and strength to see a better future for Chicago? And who has the determination to see that vision through the end?” While providing few specifics in an 18-minute speech, Emanuel did say increasing taxes to address the city’s continued budget woes isn’t on the table. Still, Emanuel hinted at service cuts by promising that “necessary changes” and “tough choices” will be made and residents will “share in the sacrifices.”… – Chicago Tribune, 11-13-10
  • Recount Could Trap Pawlenty in Governor’s Mansion: Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has been gearing up for a bid for the Republican presidential nomination for months. He chose not to run for re-election as governor. He has hit the early-state circuit. Everything is ready once he leaves office on Jan. 3. Except for this: He may not be able to leave. Under Minnesota law, the governor’s term extends as long as it takes to swear in a successor, even if a recount takes months. And that could just happen.
    The race to replace Mr. Pawlenty between the Democrat Mark Dayton and the Republican Tom Emmer ended last Tuesday in what is becoming a regular outcome in the North Star state — a virtual tie. Out of about 2.1 million votes cast, Mr. Dayton leads Mr. Emmer by about 8,500 votes, less than the half-percentage point margin that mandates an automatic recount.
    That recount will start on Nov. 27 and is scheduled to last until early December, at which point the trailing candidate could choose to challenge the recount by filing a lawsuit. Mr. Emmer’s advisers and state Republicans have made it clear they will do so if they feel they have a legitimate case.
    “If we are behind and we think that there are issues with the recount, we could file a contest,” said Tony Sutton, the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. “We’re not looking to kick this past the first of the year. We are not going to do things to throw stuff against the law and see what sticks.”… – NYT, 11-13-10
  • No. 2 House Democrat Will Try to Retain Post: Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Monday that he would try to hold on to that position when his party slips into the minority next year as the leadership of House Democrats remained in turmoil one week after devastating election losses…. – NYT, 11-8-10
  • Hoyer collecting liberal support in whip bid: Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) continued Tuesday to collect high-profile endorsements from his party’s liberal wing in his bid to become House minority whip, trying to counter the impression that his candidacy is built around support from moderate-to-conservative Democrats. Seven Democratic committee chairmen issued a letter Tuesday endorsing Hoyer’s candidacy for the No. 2 post in the House leadership, including a trio of the leading legislative liberals: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).
    Hoyer, currently the majority leader, has publicly touted his momentum in his campaign against Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), unveiling a string of key endorsements. With Tuesday’s rollout – first reported by Politico – Hoyer now has nearly 50 public endorsements, almost halfway to the roughly 95 or so supporters he will need to win the secret ballot later next week.
    Clyburn, currently the majority whip, the No. 3 post in the majority, has about 10 public endorsements but is also expected to collect the lion’s share of the roughly 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus. He has won some key backing, including Monday’s endorsement by Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who is the highest-ranking Latino member of congressional leadership…. – WaPo, 11-9-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Congressman Danny Davis announces bid for Chicago mayor: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a veteran Chicago politician, struck populist tones as he declared his candidacy for mayor today, saying he will bridge the gap between wealthy and struggling communities.
    “Notwithstanding the economic climate, we the people, we the grassroots, everyday people, we the policeman, we the postman, we the clerks. . . can exercise our God-given rights to participate, be involved and make decisions about ourselves and our city,” Davis said at a rally held in a ballroom of the Hotel Allegro downtown.
    The announcement felt a little like a church service. Davis started with an invocation, and some of his 200 supporters gathered in the ballroom engaged in a call and response as Davis and others spoke.
    While Davis offered few policy details, he said he would create jobs and economic development opportunities and attempt to “save our children from lifetimes of drug use, abuse, (and) incarceration.”
    “I know that everyone in our city is concerned about balancing the budget and finding ways to keep our city solvent,” he said. “I don’t pretend at the moment to have the answers to all of our financial problems. . . but I can assure you that we have a team of researchers and experts looking at the issues and preparing recommendations.” … – Chicago Tribune, 11-14-10
  • Miller: Ballot fight unlikely if math doesn’t work: Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller is watching absentee ballots from military voters as he takes his next steps in Alaska’s still-undecided Senate race….
    The state has so far recorded more than 98,500 write-in ballots cast. Saturday marked the fourth day of a write-in ballot hand count that could stretch well into next week, with thousands of absentee and questioned ballots yet to be combed through.
    The count Saturday showed Murkowski with 74,449 votes, or 89.6 percent of the write-in vote undisputedly — a trend that has largely held throughout the process. Another 7.9 percent was credited to her tally over challenges by Miller observers, generally for things like misspellings of her name or penmanship. Murkowski’s campaign believes it needs to win at least 90 percent of the unchallenged vote to declare victory. Miller’s vote total, as of Friday night, was 87,517…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • Paging Jeb Bush — for 2012: In fact, some folks in the GOP are so convinced that there is a Bush renaissance in the offing that they’re hoping to turn that wave into another White House victory for the Bush family. That’s right. If the era of Bush fatigue is really over, then here comes baby brother. Jeb Bush, the popular former two-term governor of Florida, is being mentioned as a viable Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012, although he has denied having an interest in running.
    (Both Bush brothers will be guests on a special edition of State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Sunday at 8 and 11 p.m. ET.)
    While Jeb has his share of detractors, he also seems to have the same knack for bringing people together that his big brother had for driving them apart. And, with the Tea Party ready to go to war with the GOP establishment in the political equivalent of a cage match for control of the Republican Party, that skill set could come in handy…. – CNN, 11-12-10
  • Murkowski confident in re-election chances: If wrestling with a variety of spellings for write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s name isn’t enough, officials counting ballots in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race are also dealing with such oddball entries as “Donald Duck,” ”Elmo” and “Revolt.”
    Those ballots were quickly tossed Friday even as a count showed the Republican incumbent maintaining a healthy 90 percent of the write-in vote.
    Saying she feels “pretty good about the direction” the tally is headed, Murkowski expressed confidence that she’ll pull off an improbable write-in victory over Republican nominee Joe Miller.
    So far, the state has recorded 98,565 write-in votes and 87,517 votes for Miller. Murkowski has been getting about 90 percent of write-in votes. Another 7.6 percent have been apparent votes for Murkowski that have been challenged, generally by observers for Miller for things like penmanship issues and misspellings.
    The hand count is scheduled to go through the weekend and run well into next week to determine if Murkowski got enough write-in votes to win…. – AP, 11-13-10
  • Michigan Republican Anuzis to challenge RNC’s Michael Steele: Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis announced Friday that he will run for chairman of the Republican National Committee, making him the first official challenge to current leader Michael Steele. Anuzis said in a statement that the decision for him was not easy, since he regards Steele as a “friend and colleague.” “As someone who believes in loyalty, my natural instinct would be to sit this out,” Anuzis wrote. “But the simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business.”… – Yahoo News, 11-12-10
  • Reagan Library to Host First Republican Debate for 2012 Primary: What took so long? It’s been over a week since the 2010 vote and debate plans are finally being made for the presidential election in two years. The first Republican primary debate is set for spring 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
    “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his Presidential Library,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a press release. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.” NBC News and Politico will be the event’s media partners. No Republicans have announced their intentions to challenge President Obama. Among names being floated are Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
    “The fact that we are already talking about the 2012 presidential race only foreshadows how invested and deeply rooted America will be in the political discussion come next spring,” NBC News President Steve Capus…. – Politics Daily, 11-11-10
  • Nancy Reagan to host debate for 2012 GOP hopefuls: Republicans hoping to take back the White House in 2012 will have an audition of sorts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Former first lady Nancy Reagan announced today she will invite the leading 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls to a debate at the library in spring 2011. The debate will be co-hosted by NBC News and Politico. “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his presidential library,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement. A second Republican debate will be held at the library before the Super Tuesday primaries….. – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Murkowski returning to Alaska amid ballot count: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is returning to Alaska as election workers continue tabulating write-in ballots that will help determine whether she wins re-election. Anchorge Daily News, 11-11-10
  • Nurkowski? Makowski? Murckoski? Counting the Write-In Votes in Alaska: “Liza Makowski?” “Challenge.” So said Terry Campo, an observer working on behalf of Joe Miller, the Republican Senate candidate, as he hovered over a table where two election workers on Wednesday helped sift through more than 230,000 ballots cast in the Alaska Senate race. The question looming over the warehouse in this remote state capital: will Senator Lisa Murkowski become the first write-in candidate elected to the Senate since 1954? Write-in votes have a clear lead over Mr. Miller, but the process of actually seeing whose name is on them did not begin until Wednesday. The count is expected to last until at least Friday – but a court fight could last much longer…. – NYT, 11-10-10
  • 2012 Senate races pose challenge to President Obama: The votes are still being counted in some states for this year’s congressional elections, but already some political types are sweating the 2012 contests in the Senate. An analysis by The National Journal discusses a “civil war” brewing for Republicans in 2012, since the anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement roiled the GOP this year.
    There’s also been some sniping between Rep. Spencer Bachus and former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin about the Tea Party’s role in the 2010 elections. Palin has pushed back on the Alabama Republican’s comment that “Palin cost us control of the Senate” with her support of candidates such as Christine O’Donnell, who was defeated in her bid for a Delaware Senate seat. But some 2012 Senate races aren’t just interesting for Republicans. The contests also pose a challenge to Democrats and President Obama, especially in some of the states he won in 2008. In all, Democrats will have to defend 23 Senate seats including the two held by independents who vote with them. Republicans hold 10 Senate seats up for grabs in two years…. – USA Today, 11-10-10
  • Republicans Maneuver to Oust Their Leader: Turning their attention to the 2012 presidential election, Republican leaders are digging in for a battle over control of the Republican National Committee, judging that its role in fund-raising, get-out-the-vote operations and other tasks will be critical to the effort to topple President Obama. Some senior party officials are maneuvering to put pressure on Michael Steele, the controversial party chairman, not to seek re-election when his term ends in January or, failing that, to encourage a challenger to step forward to take him on…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • GOP lawmaker: Palin cost party control of Senate: Questioned about those comments on Tuesday, a spokesman for Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama said the remarks had been taken out of context but didn’t retract them. Bachus, in line to become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, initially blamed Palin last week at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon. According to the Shelby County Reporter, he said the Senate would be in Republican hands if not for losses by tea party candidates endorsed by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee.
    “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. He added that while tea party candidates did well in House races, “they didn’t do well at all” in Senate contests.
    In a statement Tuesday, Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson said the congressman was expressing a widely held belief that stronger Republican candidates could have won in states such as Delaware and Nevada, where Republicans Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle lost. “That’s a lesson going forward,” Johnson said. “As the article noted, (Bachus) was extremely complimentary of the tea party movement and Governor Palin in crediting them with the great turnout of conservatives that led to many of the successes on Tuesday.” “He said that the tea party, rather than being criticized, is on the same page as many in the country, including independents, in cutting spending, lowering taxes and limiting the size of government,” Johnson added…. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • Joe Miller: Cautiously optimistic on prospects: Alaska Senate hopeful Joe Miller says he’s cautiously optimistic about his prospects for winning on the eve of the absentee ballot count. Election workers plan to begin tallying more than 30,000 absentee ballots Tuesday; the counting of write-in ballots will begin Wednesday. Initial returns from last week’s election showed Miller trailing write-ins by more than 13,000 votes. Sen. Lisa Murkowski ran as a write-in following her loss in the GOP primary to Miller. It’s not clear how many of those votes are for her or how many for her were properly cast. Murkowski has sounded confident, telling supporters they’d “made history.” But Miller tells The Associated Press this is premature, and says her hiring of a “high-power” legal team suggests she’s nervous. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • 12 in 2012: Jim DeMint Earns His Stripes as Tea Party Power Broker: Senator Tea Party, as Jim DeMint is sometimes known, is a moniker the first-term senator began wearing before the Tea Party became a household name. It’s also a description that has pushed the South Carolina Republican out of the shadows and into the forefront of electoral politics.
    “I’m proud to be called Senator Tea Party. I feel like I’m giving a voice to people who are very frustrated that Washington’s not listening,” DeMint told Fox News.
    This fall, DeMint, who was just re-elected to his second term in the Senate, took his commitment to making Washington listen out on the campaign trail – and not merely in his own race. He endorsed high-profile conservatives and donated millions from his political action committee to failed Senate candidates Ken Buck of Colorado, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware as well as successful contestants Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky…. – Fox News, 11-9-10
  • Clyburn: Pelosi has a role in House leadership: Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a place in the Democratic leadership after Republicans take control next year. The South Carolina Democrat is downplaying the emerging contest between himself and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer for the No. 2 spot when Democrats become the minority party. Clyburn says he plans to keep his current job as whip…. – AP, 11-7-10
  • Pence, Pawlenty Still Weigh 2012 Bids: Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said they were still weighing whether to run for president in 2012, but decisions could be coming shortly. Mr. Pence, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” said he was “intent on taking the coming weeks to really prayerfully consider that, to wait on the Lord, to seek counsel. And after the first of the year, we’ll make a decision.”
    “Well, I don’t know for sure what I’m going to do after I’m done being governor,” Mr. Pawlenty told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I’ll decide that early next year.”
    Sen. Jim DeMint (R. S.C.) had some advice for whoever wants to win the Republican nomination. “I think the next Republican running for president needs to run on complete repeal” of the new health care law, he in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said he “absolutely” was not running for president in 2012. Or vice president, for that matter.
    “Can you see me as somebody who’s a vice president?” he said on “Meet the Press.” “After that question about ‘Governor Wrecking Ball?’ I would feel bad for that poor man or woman.” – WSJ, 11-7-10

QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

For this edition of West Wing Week, walk step by step with the President as he travels through Asia.

  • President Obama at the G-20 in Seoul: “Focusing on Growth”WH, 11-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Earmark Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address November 13, 2010: This weekend, I’m concluding a trip to Asia whose purpose was to open new markets for American products in this fast-growing part of the world. The economic battle for these markets is fierce, and we’re up against strong competitors. But as I’ve said many times, America doesn’t play for second place. The future we’re fighting for isn’t as the world’s largest importer, consuming products made elsewhere, but as the world’s largest manufacturer of ideas and goods sold around the world.
    Opening new markets will not only help America’s businesses create new jobs for American workers. It will also help us reduce our deficits – because the single greatest tool for getting our fiscal house in order is robust economic growth. That kind of growth will require ensuring that our students are getting the best education possible; that we’re on the cutting edge of research and development; and that we’re rebuilding our roads and railways, runways and ports – so our infrastructure is up to the challenges of the 21st century.
    Given the deficits that have mounted up over the past decade, we can’t afford to make these investments unless we’re also willing to cut what we don’t need. That’s why I’ve submitted to Congress a plan for a three-year budget freeze, and I’m prepared to offer additional savings. But as we work to reform our budget, Congress should also put some skin in the game. I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. These are items inserted into spending bills by members of Congress without adequate review….
    As a Senator, I helped eliminate anonymous earmarks and created new measures of transparency so Americans can better follow how their tax dollars are being spent. As President, time and again, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks. We’ve reduced the cost of earmarks by over $3 billion. And we’ve put in place higher standards of transparency by putting as much information as possible on earmarks.gov. In fact, this week, we updated the site with more information about where last year’s earmarks were actually spent, and made it easier to look up Members of Congress and the earmarks they fought for.
    Today, we have a chance to go further. We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust. We have a chance to advance the interests not of Republicans or Democrats, but of the American people; to put our country on the path of fiscal discipline and responsibility that will lead to a brighter economic future for all. And that’s a future I hope we can reach across party lines to build together. – WH, 11-13-10
  • President Obama in Jakarta: “Indonesia’s Example To the World”: I first came to this country when my mother married an Indonesian named Lolo Soetoro. And as a young boy I was — as a young boy I was coming to a different world. But the people of Indonesia quickly made me feel at home.
    And we lived in a small house. We had a mango tree out front. And I learned to love Indonesia while flying kites and running along the paddy fields and catching dragonflies, buying satay and baso from the street vendors. (Applause.) I still remember the call of the vendors. Satay! (Laughter.) I remember that. Baso! (Laughter.) But most of all, I remember the people — the old men and women who welcomed us with smiles; the children who made a foreign child feel like a neighbor and a friend; and the teachers who helped me learn about this country.
    In the years since then, Indonesia has charted its own course through an extraordinary democratic transformation — from the rule of an iron fist to the rule of the people. In recent years, the world has watched with hope and admiration as Indonesians embraced the peaceful transfer of power and the direct election of leaders. And just as your democracy is symbolized by your elected President and legislature, your democracy is sustained and fortified by its checks and balances: a dynamic civil society; political parties and unions; a vibrant media and engaged citizens who have ensured that — in Indonesia — there will be no turning back from democracy.
    But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia — that spirit of tolerance that is written into your Constitution; symbolized in mosques and churches and temples standing alongside each other; that spirit that’s embodied in your people — that still lives on. (Applause.) Bhinneka Tunggal Ika — unity in diversity. (Applause.) This is the foundation of Indonesia’s example to the world, and this is why Indonesia will play such an important part in the 21st century.
    When I moved to Indonesia, it would have been hard to imagine a future in which the prosperity of families in Chicago and Jakarta would be connected. But our economies are now global, and Indonesians have experienced both the promise and the perils of globalization: from the shock of the Asian financial crisis in the ‘90s, to the millions lifted out of poverty because of increased trade and commerce. What that means — and what we learned in the recent economic crisis — is that we have a stake in each other’s success.
    America has a stake in Indonesia growing and developing, with prosperity that is broadly shared among the Indonesian people — because a rising middle class here in Indonesia means new markets for our goods, just as America is a market for goods coming from Indonesia. So we are investing more in Indonesia, and our exports have grown by nearly 50 percent, and we are opening doors for Americans and Indonesians to do business with one another.
    These are the issues that really matter in our daily lives. Development, after all, is not simply about growth rates and numbers on a balance sheet. It’s about whether a child can learn the skills they need to make it in a changing world. It’s about whether a good idea is allowed to grow into a business, and not suffocated by corruption. It’s about whether those forces that have transformed the Jakarta I once knew — technology and trade and the flow of people and goods — can translate into a better life for all Indonesians, for all human beings, a life marked by dignity and opportunity.
    Now, this kind of development is inseparable from the role of democracy.
    Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the right of human beings for the power of the state. But that’s not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see here in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another.
    I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we do have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you — no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we’ve done. And that is what we will do. (Applause.)
    Now, we know well the issues that have caused tensions for many years — and these are issues that I addressed in Cairo. In the 17 months that have passed since that speech, we have made some progress, but we have much more work to do.
    Innocent civilians in America, in Indonesia and across the world are still targeted by violent extremism. I made clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Instead, all of us must work together to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion –– certainly not a great, world religion like Islam. But those who want to build must not cede ground to terrorists who seek to destroy. And this is not a task for America alone. Indeed, here in Indonesia, you’ve made progress in rooting out extremists and combating such violence.
    That spark of the divine lives within each of us. We cannot give in to doubt or cynicism or despair. The stories of Indonesia and America should make us optimistic, because it tells us that history is on the side of human progress; that unity is more powerful than division; and that the people of this world can live together in peace. May our two nations, working together, with faith and determination, share these truths with all mankind. WH, 11-10-10
  • Palin calls Obama ‘most pro-abortion president’: Sarah Palin attacked President Barack Obama on Wednesday for his support of abortion rights and for the federal health care overhaul as the former Alaska governor appeared in Texas with another tea party favorte, Gov. Rick Perry. Palin described Obama as “the most pro-abortion president to occupy the White House” at the Dallas event, which was sponsored by a nonprofit organization that promotes an anti-abortion message. The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee also said the federal health care law is the “mother of all unfunded mandates” and means federal funding will go toward abortions…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Obama says Indonesia, U.S. ‘on right path’: President Obama on Tuesday said his efforts to find ways to cooperate with Indonesia were “direct results of my call … for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities.” “Our efforts have been earnest, sustained,” Obama said. “We don’t expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed … but we do think that we’re on the right path.” “I have made it clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam,” he said in remarks prepared prior to the speech and distributed to the news media. “Instead, all of us must defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion — certainly not a great, world religion like Islam.”
    Most of Indonesia’s 240 million people follow a moderate form of Islam…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
  • Peggy Noonan: Sarah Palin A ‘Nincompoop’ For Reagan Reduction: Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president…. – WSJ, 11-6-10
  • Obama: US elections force ‘midcourse corrections’: Hampered by heavy election losses at home, President Barack Obama promised on Sunday from Indian to make “midcourse corrections” to reinvigorate his embattled domestic agenda in the face of a testier American public and more combative Congress….
    The president agreed that people vented their frustration about the economy by sacking many incumbents. A “healthy thing,” he said, even though his Democratic Party suffered, losing control of one of the chambers in Congress. He said he would not retreat on spending money for energy and education, and offered no specific policy changes.
    But then he added that the election “requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments. And how those play themselves out over the next several months will be a matter of me being in discussions with the Republican Party.”… – AP, 11-7-10
  • Obama Says Vote Turned on Economy: President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that he views last week’s mid-term Congressional elections as “a referendum on the economy” rather than a referendum on him, his policies or the Democratic Party.
    While he said he should be held accountable for the economy as the nation’s leader, he did not accept the suggestion that he pursued the wrong agenda over the last two years, and he focused blame on his failure to build public support for what he was doing or to change the way Washington works.
    In a session taped for CBS’s “60 Minutes” before Mr. Obama left for Asia, the correspondent Steve Kroft pointed out to the president that Republicans view the election as a referendum on him and the Democrats, and asked if he agreed. “I think first and foremost it was a referendum on the economy,” Mr. Obama said. “And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming.”… – NYT, 11-10-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Compromise and Explains his Priorities on Taxes Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House November 6, 2010: This week, Americans across the country cast their votes and made their voices heard. And your message was clear.
    You’re rightly frustrated with the pace of our economic recovery. So am I.
    You’re fed up with partisan politics and want results. I do too.
    So I congratulate all of this week’s winners – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. But now, the campaign season is over. And it’s time to focus on our shared responsibilities to work together and deliver those results: speeding up our economic recovery, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class so that the American Dream feels like it’s back within reach….
    Here’s why this lame duck session is so important. Early in the last decade, President Bush and Congress enacted a series of tax cuts that were designed to expire at the end of this year.
    What that means is, if Congress doesn’t act by New Year’s Eve, middle-class families will see their taxes go up starting on New Year’s Day.
    But the last thing we should do is raise taxes on middle-class families. For the past decade, they saw their costs rise, their incomes fall, and too many jobs go overseas. They’re the ones bearing the brunt of the recession. They’re the ones having trouble making ends meet. They are the ones who need relief right now.
    So something’s got to be done. And I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together.
    But at a time when we are going to ask folks across the board to make such difficult sacrifices, I don’t see how we can afford to borrow an additional $700 billion from other countries to make all the Bush tax cuts permanent, even for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’d be digging ourselves into an even deeper fiscal hole and passing the burden on to our children.
    I recognize that both parties are going to have to work together and compromise to get something done here. But I want to make my priorities clear from the start. One: middle class families need permanent tax relief. And two: I believe we can’t afford to borrow and spend another $700 billion on permanent tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
    There are new public servants in Washington, but we still face the same challenges. And you made it clear that it’s time for results. This a great opportunity to show everyone that we got the message and that we’re willing, in this post-election season, to come together and do what’s best for the country we all love. – WH, 11-6-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

President Barack Obama places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan    War Memorial
The President places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan War Memorial, White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/11/10
  • Lawrence Goodwyn: The Great Predicament Facing Obama: What happened to the dream of Barack Obama’s transformational politics? There’s been very little deviation from the disastrous Bush years on the key issues of war, empire and the distribution of wealth in the country. I turned to Lawrence Goodwyn, historian of social movements whose books and methods of explaining history have had a profound influence on many of the best known authors, activists and social theorists of our time. Goodwyn’s account of the Populist movement, Democratic Promise, is quoted extensively by Howard Zinn in People’s History of the United States, and also in William Greider’s masterpiece on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple. You can find Goodwyn quoted in the first paragraph of Bill Moyers’ recent book, On Democracy, and cited in just the same way in countless other books and essays.
    I interviewed Goodwyn from his home in Durham, North Carolina about the pitfalls of recording American history, Obama’s presidency in light of previous presidents, and portents of change in our political culture…. – Alternet (10-30-10)
  • Can the Tea Party endure? CNN asks Michael Kazin: The midterm elections dealt a powerful blow to President Obama and the Democratic Party as the country appeared to shift decisively to the right, moved by mass anger, “due to a combination of two kinds of fear,” historian Michael Kazin told CNN…. Kazin, a professor of history at Georgetown University, editor of The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History and author of “A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan” and other books, spoke to CNN last week.
    CNN: Would Republicans have captured the House without the Tea Party?
    Michael Kazin: We historians hate counterfactual questions! But clearly, the aura of a grass-roots rebellion helped to obscure the fact that most of corporate America was rooting for the GOP and helping finance Republican campaigns. The specific policy ideas of the Tea Partiers mattered less than did their anger at the perceived sins of “big government” and of President Obama. As [political writer] Kevin Phillips once wrote, much of political conflict comes down to the question of “who hates whom.”… – CNN.com (11-7-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP leaders, beware the newcomers John Boehner has a huge problem on his hands. Now that the elections are over, and Republicans were victorious, he will need to tame the passions of the GOP freshmen who are coming to town determined to change everything about the way that Washington works.
    If he does not, the Republicans could divide among themselves, thereby undercutting their ability to push forward legislation and giving President Obama an opportunity to challenge their competence….
    Just as Democrats would do well to remember that life wasn’t so great for Clinton after 1994, even with his high approval rates, Republicans would do the same to recall how a massive opportunity was wasted and ultimately consumed some of its own leaders. – CNN, 11-8-1

Political Highlights October 31, 2010: Last Full Week Campaigning, Obama Vs. Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton & Kendrick Meek, Sarah Palin for President in 2012?

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:

October 23: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin speaks during the  Republican 2010 Victory Fundraising Rally in Orlando, Florida

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Scenarios: Election trends could be evident early: The battle for control of the Congress on Tuesday promises to stretch deep into the night or beyond, but some of the earliest results could give big clues about the eventual outcome…. – Reuters, 10-29-10
  • Midterms Q&A: what’s at stake and who might win A guide to the most crucial midterms since at least 1994: On Tuesday, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for grabs, along with 37 seats in the Senate, 37 governorships, and the usual multitude of state and local positions, including everything from state legislatures to judges to city mayors. There are no elections for “town dogcatcher”, the post sometimes used to illustrate the lowest reach of American electoral politics – though the evidence suggests there once were…. – Guardian UK, 10-29-10
  • Nearly two-thirds of U.S. Latinos detect bias, poll find: Nearly two-thirds of Latinos in the United States think they are being discriminated against, and a plurality view the backlash over illegal immigration as the central driver of such bias, according to a poll by the Pew Hispanic Center. The poll also found that 70 percent of foreign-born Latinos think they are being held back by discrimination, and half of all Latinos think the United States has become less welcoming toward immigrants than it was just five years ago…. – 10-28-10
  • Factbox: Elections for Congress, state, local offices: Voters across the United States go to the polls next Tuesday to elect senators and representatives to Congress in Washington, as well as state governors and lawmakers and local officials. While President Barack Obama is not on the ballot, the midterm election is in many ways a referendum on his presidency, which is under pressure from voters unhappy with his handling of the weak economy and high unemployment. Thousands of communities will elect mayors and city and county officials, judges, sheriffs and fill other local offices. In many areas, voters will also voice their opinions on specific initiatives — from raising or cutting state and local taxes to California’s question of whether marijuana should be legalized and taxed.
    Here are the numbers…. – Reuters, 10-27-10
  • Parts of Obama Coalition Drift Toward G.O.P., Poll Finds: Critical parts of the coalition that delivered President Obama to the White House in 2008 and gave Democrats control of Congress in 2006 are switching their allegiance to the Republicans in the final phase of the midterm Congressional elections, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents; all of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls…. – NYT, 10-27-10
  • Early Voting On Track To Set Midterm Election Record 9.4 Million Americans Have Already Cast Ballots; Both Parties Claim Advantage: With less than a week to go until Election Day, more than 9.4 million Americans have already cast their ballots in what experts say could be a banner midterm election season for early voting. More than 1.5 million people have voted early in California, 1.2 million in Florida, 237,000 in Iowa and 266,000 in Nevada. Those numbers are likely to be lowball estimates, since some counties have been slow to report early voting statistics. Local newspaper headlines from around the country tell the story. It’s shaping up to be a record-breaking year in places like Polk County, Iowa; Kanawha County, West Virginia; Tazewell County, Illinois and Travis County, Texas. In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, where early voting ended on Tuesday, the line to cast a ballot stretched out the door…. – CBS News, 10-27-10
  • Should Obama run again? More voter enthusiasm than for Reagan in ’82: Nearly half of today’s voters say they would like to see President Obama run for reelection in 2012, according to a new poll.
    President Obama might feel like a prisoner heading for the gallows, as voters prepare to give his Democratic Party a major midterm drubbing next Tuesday over his performance thus far. But it could be a lot worse. Mr. Obama could be President Reagan in August 1982, when voters were even less enthusiastic about the prospect of having the commander in chief running for reelection in two years. Nearly half of today’s voters – 47 percent – say they would like to see Obama run for reelection in 2012 versus 36 percent who said in August 1982 that Mr. Reagan should run again, according to the latest Pew Research Center/National Journal Congressional Connection poll.
    Reagan went on to win reelection by a whopping 18 points. President Clinton also had a rough first midterm election in 1994, and he faced reelect numbers similar to Obama’s at the time – 44 percent. Mr. Clinton, too, won reelection easily in 1996. For Obama, the polling on “should he run for reelection” is about the same as job approval, which is at 46 percent in the latest Pew survey. For Reagan, the job-approval numbers were better than the reelect numbers, but eventually they were the same. According to Gallup, 42 percent approved of Reagan’s job performance in August 1982. By February 1983, Reagan’s job approval had sunk to 35 percent – the same percentage of voters who thought he should run for reelection, compared with 57 percent who thought he should not…. – CS Monitor, 10-26-10
  • By slim margin, Ask America voters agree with GOP: Fully extend Bush tax cuts: Election Day is just a week away, and while politicians are focusing on issues like unemployment and health care in their campaigns, lawmakers will still have to deal with the expiring Bush tax cuts after voters hit the polls.
    The tax breaks are set to expire at the end of the year, and Congress has put the issue on the back burner until after the midterm elections. Meanwhile, as the economy hobbles out of the recession, an increasing number of Democrats in Congress are joining Republicans in favor of extending all tax breaks. President Obama supports locking in the tax cuts for the middle class but strongly opposes extending tax cuts for individuals making $200,000 or more and couples making $250,000 or more.
    The tax cuts are a popular issue on Ask America, the Yahoo! News informal polling forum. We asked if people would like to see the tax cuts extended just for the middle class or for higher-income Americans as well. So far, more than 62,000 votes have come in, and the question has generated more than 4,000 comments.
    The vote is close. So far, 54 percent of responses were in favor of extending the tax cuts to both middle- and upper-class Americans, while 46 percent favor only applying the cuts to the middle class…. – AP / Yahoo News, 10-26-10
  • NEWSWEEK Poll: Obama Approval Rating Jumps, Democrats Close ‘Enthusiasm Gap’ As the president’s numbers climb sharply, results suggest that Democrats may be succeeding in firing up their base: Despite doom-saying about Democrats’ chances in the midterms, the latest NEWSWEEK Poll (full results) shows that they remain in a close race with Republicans 12 days before Election Day, while the president’s approval ratings have climbed sharply. The poll finds that 48 percent of registered voters would be more likely to vote for Democrats, compared with 42 percent who lean Republican (those numbers are similar to those in the last NEWSWEEK Poll, which found Democrats favored 48 percent to 43 percent). President Obama’s approval ratings have jumped substantially, crossing the magic halfway threshold to 54 percent, up from 48 percent in late September, while the portion of respondents who disapprove of the president dropped to 40 percent, the lowest disapproval rating in a NEWSWEEK Poll since February 2010. However, his approval rating, which is notably higher than many recent polls of the president’s popularity, may be evidence of a closing “enthusiasm gap” more than a sea change in voter attitudes, and may not substantially affect Democrats’ fortunes come Election Day. In 1994, NEWSWEEK Polls showed a similar steep climb in President Clinton’s approval between late September and late October, but Democrats still suffered a rout in the midterms…. – Newsweek, 10-22-10
  • Republicans poised to win House and gain in Senate: Republicans enter the final week of a bitter U.S. election campaign as heavy favorites to win control of the House of Representatives and score big Senate gains, dealing a severe blow to President Barack Obama two years after he entered the White House. A thirst for change in Washington and worries about the stumbling economy appear likely to break the Democrats’ grip on Congress next Tuesday in a rout that would topple House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from power…. – Reuters, 10-26-10
  • Democrats off to good start in early voting: Democrats are off to a stronger than expected start in early voting despite months of dire predictions about their lack of enthusiasm for the November 2 midterm elections. More Democrats than Republicans cast early ballots in a handful of key states, although more Republicans took advantage of the early voting process than in 2008 when President Barack Obama led a Democratic election sweep. “The early voting numbers are favorable for Democrats, but here’s the caution — they are not as favorable as in 2008,” said Michael McDonald, a George Mason University professor who tracks early voting statistics around the country…. – Reuters, 10-26-10
  • Election 2010: Where Things Stand with One Week to Go: The CBS News Critical Contests analysis continues to point to GOP gains – but just how many? Enough for House control? Here’s what to watch in the final week:
    House: Republicans need 39 net pickups to get control and they can get there with a combination of the seats in which they are favored, plus just a few of the remaining tossups races. We show a net 33 seats they’re now favored to gain, PLUS 25 more tossup races in Democratic seats remaining up for grabs. So if Republicans win in 6 of 25 tossups, and they also net the 33 where we see them favored today, that would give the GOP the House. More broadly, the battle in final week hinges on many of the districts the Democrats took in ’06 and ’08 and on the gains they made with suburban and some rural independents in the last two cycles. If, come Election day, the GOP can roll back most of those gains, they would be in good position to win at least a narrow majority. If the Republicans see even more pickups than that, that scenario would probably be marked by a national two-party House vote of greater than 52%…. – CBS News, 10-25-10
  • Early voting data: beware any conclusions: Democrats are looking at early voting data from several key states and suggesting that Election Day might not be too bad for them. But experts say the data are unclear. Election Day is tantalizingly close, and, like children a week before Christmas, some political junkies can’t wait till the real returns are in to open their “presents.” So they’re taking an early peek, thanks to the advent of early voting in many states. Election officials don’t actually start tallying the votes until Election Day, but they can tell us how many people have already voted and, in states that register voters by party, their partisan breakdown. The problem is, there are so many ways to slice and dice the numbers, it’s possible to show just about anything. But for Democrats, fighting hard against strong evidence that they will do badly in the Nov. 2 midterms, any glimmers of hope in early voting are worth a shout, if only to keep their side from getting discouraged and staying home altogether. On Monday, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) put out a memo touting numbers in a handful of crucial states that – surprise, surprise – purport to show the Democrats competitive or even doing well…. – CS Monitor, 10-25-10

THE HEADLINES….

West Wing Week

  • Palin gives strong indication of 2012 presidential run: Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin gave the strongest indication yet that she is preparing a 2012 White House bid, saying Thursday she would run for president “if there is nobody else to do it.” The former Republican vice presidential candidate, who was lampooned in the media for her political naivety in the hard-fought final weeks of the 2008 campaign, is now among the most popular conservative politicians in America. Palin, who left office midway through her first term in office as governor of Alaska, told Entertainment Tonight it would take someone willing “to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you. “It’s going to entail a discussion with my family (and) a real close look at the lay of the land, to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion…. – AFP, 10-28-10
  • GDP rises slightly to 2% in sign that economy remains sluggish: The third-quarter growth is in line with analysts’ forecasts but isn’t enough to spur momentum or bring down the jobless rate. In one positive sign, consumer spending grows 2.6%…. – LAT, 10-29-10
  • NJ governor shifting focus to state road projects: A day after Gov. Chris Christie killed the nation’s largest public works project, an underwater rail tunnel linking New York City to its populous New Jersey suburbs, he said Thursday that it’s time to focus on badly needed improvements to the state’s roads and bridges. The Republican governor, who burnished a national reputation for cost-cutting by putting his foot down on the $9 billion-plus tunnel, told 200 people at a town hall meeting in Moorestown it’s time to pay for improvements to state infrastructure, sometimes rated among the worst in the country.
    “We need to start investing money in that and improving that first,” Christie said. “And if we find partners in the future like the city and state of New York, like Amtrak, like the federal government, who want to partner with us on the tunnel, I’m happy to listen to them. But if it’s to benefit the region, then the region has to pay not just New Jersey.”… – AP, 10-29-10
  • Will the Rally to Restore Sanity actually restore sanity?: We’re pretty sure that on Sunday, Democratic and Republican candidates will still be running attack ads. But it’s possible the Rally to Restore Sanity could have some effect on the national conversation…. – CS Monitor, 10-29-10
  • Democratic Messaging Diluted as Obama Pleads With Base: President Obama still has a series of campaign events this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day, but it’s his appearances off the campaign trail that has Washington watchers wondering whether he’s trying to shed his coattails before an expected Democratic drubbing at the polls. The choice of non-political events the president has selected this campaign season doesn’t appear to be doing hopeful Democrats any favors. And with the House expected to lose anywhere from 45-60 Democratic seats to Republicans and the Senate likely to turn a handful or more seats to the GOP, according to the latest polling prognosticators, the president already is setting the bar low for the next two years.
    “I’m president and not king,” Obama said Wednesday night in a meeting with bloggers meant to shore up what’s left of his support. “And so I’ve got to get a majority in the House and I’ve got to get 60 votes in the Senate to move any legislative initiative forward.”… – Fox News, 10-28-10
  • Why has GOP found health care law such a potent weapon?: The specter of “Obamacare” has become a powerful weapon for Republicans this campaign season, as the GOP uses the new health care law as its favorite symbol of big government gone amok.
    “Health care reform is the signature accomplishment of the Obama administration,” said Republican strategist Neil Newhouse. “For a lot of people, it epitomizes big government and wasteful spending. It’s everything they hate about government rolled into one.” The message appears to be resonating, even though polls repeatedly show people like many provisions of the new health care law.
    Nevertheless, the “Pledge to America,” the House Republicans’ book of promises, gets right to the point: “We now know the new health care law will mean more financial pain for seniors, families and the federal government,” it says, and urges repeal of the landmark law President Barack Obama signed seven months ago…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 10-28-10
  • Analysis: Republican win could revive U.S. trade deals: Three long-delayed trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia could jump to the top of the U.S. congressional agenda if Republicans win control of the House of Representatives next week. While the fate of those deals rests primarily with President Barack Obama, U.S. business leaders say trade is one area of potential compromise between the White House and Republicans in 2011.
    “Trade has been at the back of the bus for last two years and I think there’s a real opportunity for trade to be in the front seat next year,” said Christopher Wenk, senior director for international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Republicans are expected to pick up enough seats in Tuesday’s congressional elections to take control of the House, which they lost to Democrats in 2006. Democrats are likely to hold onto the Senate, but the party’s opposition to trade agreements traditionally has been strongest in the House…. – Reuters, 10-28-10
  • Sarah Palin Offers Herself for 2012 Bid: Sarah Palin cracked open the door to a presidential bid just a little bit wider Thursday, telling “Entertainment Tonight” that she would run in 2012 “if there’s nobody else to do it.” Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, spoke with Mary Hart of “Entertainment Tonight” from her home is Wasilla and told her, “I still have not decided what I’m going to do in 2012.”
    “For me, Mary, it’s going to entail a discussion with my family — a real close look at the lay of the land, and to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion, whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job and I’ll get to be their biggest supporter and biggest helpmate if they will have me,” Ms. Palin said. “Or whether there’s nobody willing to do it, to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you, just going forward according to what I believe the priorities should be. If there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.”… – NYT, 10-28-10
  • White House declares ‘Daily Show’ interview a success Obama wasn’t expecting softball questions from Stewart, his spokesman says: The White House on Thursday declared President Obama’s interview with Jon Stewart “a success,” though others have questioned whether the appearance may have backfired. At his daily briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced more questions about the president’s “Daily Show” interview than any other topic. He defended the White House’s decision to schedule it, repeating that it was a way of speaking directly to voters who may not watch traditional news outlets.
    “I think Jon Stewart is about as good an interviewer as there is in the public domain,” Gibbs said. “We didn’t walk into that interview thinking we were going to be asked a list of softball questions.” “When the president gets to talk about what he’s done, and sift through what people may or may not have heard, it’s a positive benefit,” he said. “I would think of it as a success.”… – LAT, 10-28-10
  • Republicans, heading for big gains, ready agenda: Republican leaders, ever more confident of their chances of winning control of the House and possibly even the Senate, have begun plotting a 2011 agenda topped by a push for more than $100 billion in spending cuts, tax reductions and attempts to undo key parts of President Barack Obama’s health care and financial regulation laws. The question is how much of the GOP’s government-shrinking, tax-cutting agenda to advance, and how fast. It’s certain that Republicans want to capitalize quickly on tea party-fueled anger and the antiestablishment fervor that they believe will provide momentum to accomplish an activist to-do list. It’s equally clear, however, that the outsized expectations of a fed-up electorate and a crop of unruly newcomers could complicate the plans. So could Obama and fellow Democrats who will still be around after Tuesday’s elections.
    GOP lawmakers are publicly mum about much of what they intend to do if they prevail in midterm congressional contests. Many say privately they want to avoid appearing to “measure the drapes” for new leadership offices before winning any majority. But especially in the House — where Republicans have a clear shot at scoring the 40-seat gain they would need for control — they are in intense internal talks about how a GOP-driven agenda would work. Rep. John Boehner, in line to become speaker under that scenario, and Rep. Eric Cantor, his No. 2, have had initial discussions to ensure a plan is ready, a spokesman said…. – AP, 10-27-10
  • White House prepares for foreign policy challenges — from Congress: If, as expected, the GOP wins control of the House and makes gains in the Senate, it is expected to challenge the Obama administration’s foreign policy in a number of key areas, including Afghanistan and foreign aid. With voters focused on the U.S. economy, President Obama’s foreign policy agenda has been largely overlooked in the midterm campaigns, but it will come under harsh scrutiny in the Congress that emerges after election day, say Republican and Democratic strategists. Republicans, considered likely to win control of the House and to pick up seats in the Senate on Tuesday, are expected to challenge the White House on its policies involving Afghanistan, nuclear arms control, Russia, China and foreign aid spending, to name a few…. – LAT, 10-27-10
  • Health Law Unpopular in Key House Districts: A majority of likely voters in the most competitive House districts support repealing the Democrats’ health overhaul, according to recent polling data. The figures are one of the sharpest signals yet that Democrats are unlikely to translate their signature legislative achievement into success inside the voting booth. The health bill passed in March is particularly unpopular in the districts that matter most in the Republicans’ effort to retake the House. Some of the most embattled House Democrats are the five moderates who voted “yes” on the final health-care bill after voting “no” on the House version in November 2009…. – WSJ, 10-27-10
  • Obama courts young voters as election looms: Less than one week before key US elections, President Barack Obama courted young voters Wednesday with an unorthodox appeal from the set of the popular “Daily Show” satirical television show. Obama was to become the first sitting president to appear on the program hosted by Jon Stewart, whose nightly skewerings of political hypocrisy and US media shortcomings have endeared him to young Democrats. With the party fearing a rout at the hands of fired-up Republicans in the November 2 elections, including the loss of at least the House of Representatives, the White House described the outreach as no laughing matter.
    “I think obviously you’ve got a constituency of younger voters that watch that show, and it’s a good place to go and reach them,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday.
    “The president hasn’t been shy about going to the places where people are getting their information and trying to make his case. And I think that’s what he’ll do on the show,” said Gibbs. The move came as new polls let downcast Democrats breathe a small sigh of relief, notably surveys showing the party’s candidates in California holding healthy leads over their well-funded Republican rivals…. – AFP, 10-27-10
  • Stewart, Colbert say it’s not a political rally, but fans say otherwise: Despite the Comedy Central hosts’ insistence, many attending their ‘Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear’ in Washington and satellite gatherings in other cities see the events as a catalyst for the liberal political movement…. – LAT, 10-27-10
  • 2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President: Why do you think Barack Obama is being so nice to Michael Bloomberg?…. – NY Mag, 10-24-10
  • 2012 Republican hopefuls head to Iowa for final ’10 campaign swing: Leading GOP candidates for president are getting an early start on 2012 in the last days of the 2010 campaign season. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), for instance, plans campaign stops this week on behalf of Republican candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which just happen to host the first three contests for nominating a Republican presidential candidate. But the perceived GOP front-runner for 2012 is hardly alone. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, will all make stops this week in Iowa, which hosts the first-in-the-nation caucuses in January 2012…. – The Hill, 10-26-10
  • McCain: Too early to endorse Sarah Palin for 2012: Sen. John McCain is calling Sarah Palin an “outstanding candidate” for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but says it’s too early to endorse her. McCain told CBS’s “The Early Show” Tuesday that “I don’t think Sarah would want me to, before she’s even able to make a decision” about running. The Arizona Republican said “it’s very early to start picking winners and losers.” He said he still holds his 2008 running mate “in high regard” and said he’s been amused by the former Alaska governor’s confrontations with “the liberal media.” Palin has been active in the campaign, raising money, throwing her support behind a host of tea party-backed conservative Republicans and giving speeches around the country…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Michelle Obama Deployed in Turnout War: Democrats are pulling out all the stops to get their voters to cast ballots early this year. Today, the party’s official apparatus is hoping to convince as many people as possible to change their Twitter icon to an “I voted early” picture. But another effort is a new video of Michelle Obama that Democrats will release online this morning. In it, the First Lady urges voters not to wait until election day next Tuesday to cast a ballot. NYT, 10-26-10
  • Palin makes more endorsements: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has endorsed eight more GOP candidates on her Facebook page in the past week, including four today. On Oct. 21, Palin put her social-networking support behind Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (who’s running for re-election), Sean Bielat (who’s challenging Rep. Barney Frank in Massachusetts), Stephen Fincher (running for an open congressional seat in Tennessee), and Randy Hultgren (who’s challenging Rep. Bill Foster in Illinois).
    And today, she backed Dick Muri (challenging Rep. Adam Smith in Washington state), Rob Steele (taking on Rep. John Dingell in Michigan), Ilario Pantano (facing off against Rep. Mike McIntyre in North Carolina), and Chuck Wilkerson (who’s challenging Rep. Henry Waxman in California)…. – MSNBC, 10-26-10
  • Obama votes by mail in Illinois: President Barack Obama on Tuesday cast an absentee ballot for races in his adopted home state of Illinois, a week before key midterm elections, his spokesman said.
    Obama, who has a home in Chicago, Illinois, “just voted absentee in the West Wing,” his spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. Asked about Obama’s choices, with a US senator’s seat and the state governor’s mansion at stake on November 2, Gibbs said “I did not ask. I assume that’s a private decision.”… – AP, 10-26-10
  • Obama to Rally for Perriello in Virginia: President Obama has added a surprise stop to his campaign schedule, heading to Central Virginia on Friday in a last- minute bid to help Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat in the House who has been an unapologetic backer of the president’s agenda. That has cost Mr. Perriello support in Virginia’s sprawling Fifth District and made him a prime target for Republicans. His opponent, former state Senator Robert Hurt, has led in most polls for much of the fall. But Mr. Obama must believe that a visit to Charlottesville, the most Democratic part of the district, can help close that gap. White House officials confirmed a report in the local newspaper, The Daily Progress, that the president would rally there with Mr. Perriello on Friday. The visit for Mr. Perriello is unusual for Mr. Obama, who has spent most of the last month holding large rallies for statewide candidates or attending private fund-raisers…. – NYT, 10-26-10
  • Chicago is Clinton’s latest stop to rally Dems: Former President Bill Clinton is rallying Democrats to turn out for close races for Illinois governor and President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat. A downtown Chicago hotel Tuesday marked Clinton’s latest stop to bolster the party faithful. He’s urging Democratic activists to get out the vote Nov. 2, saying the goals they hoped to achieve by electing Obama two year ago are at stake. Rally-goers say Clinton’s presence means the party still thinks the races are winnable…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Mississippi Democrat’s vote for McCain starts Internet furor: Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi caused something of a minor sensation in political circles Monday when a comment he made to the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss. — that he had voted for GOP nominee John McCain instead of Democratic standard-bearer Barack Obama in 2008 — went viral on the web. The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, queried the Sun Herald and wrote a story, which was matched by one in Politico and linked on various websites, including the Washington Post’s website. The NBC Nightly News and CBS Early Show also mentioned the vote — an unusual act of party treason. Taylor, for his part, in an interview Tuesday downplayed the episode and said that only national reporters were reacting with surprise. “Locally, they know,” said Taylor of his constituents and media. However, a search of the Sun Herald archives did not turn up any revelation about Taylor’s vote, which is by secret ballot. Taylor said that at the time of the 2008 election, die-hard Democrats in the Magnolia State confronted him about his choice and he said he told them: “I know John McCain. I don’t know Barack Obama.” Taylor complained Tuesday that Republicans were trying to jump on the admission for the 2010 election. “They’re trying to make it a sign of desperation,” he said…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 10-26-10
  • Obama touts job creation as midterm elections near: U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday touted his administration’s job-creation efforts just eight days before elections in which voters’ economic anxiety threatens his Democrats’ grip on Congress. Making a campaign stop in the tiny state of Rhode Island, Obama acknowledged some of his policies were not popular and that Americans were frustrated by the weak economic recovery. But the steps he took averted a second Great Depression, he stressed.
    “It took us a long time to get us into this economic hole that we’ve been in. But we are going to get out and I am absolutely convinced there are brighter days ahead for America,” Obama told workers after touring the American Cord & Webbing plant in Woonsocket, outside Providence.
    It was the start of the last full week of campaigning before the November 2 elections, with polls showing Obama’s Democrats at risk of losing control of the House of Representatives and headed for a slimmed-down majority in the Senate.
    U.S. voters will elect 435 members to the House of Representatives and fill 37 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Projected Republican gains could put the brakes on Obama’s legislative agenda…. – Reuters, 10-25-10
  • Obama: Republicans Playing Politics With Nation’s Challenges: President Barack Obama on Monday accused Republicans of playing politics with the nation’s biggest challenges. In a 10-minute speech at American Cord & Webbing Co., a small travel-gear and sporting-goods maker in Rhode Island, Obama said that he hopes Republicans will deliver on ideas to help put the American jobless back to work…. – WSJ, 10-25-10
  • Obama Gets a Caustic Welcome in Rhode Island: Welcome to Rhode Island, where Democratic politics are so quirky that the party’s nominee for governor welcomed President Obama on Monday by declaring, on live radio, that the president could “take his endorsement and really shove it.”
    Later, as if to drive home his point, the Democrat, Frank T. Caprio – miffed that Mr. Obama is refusing to endorse him in the governor’s race – was a no-show when the president toured a local factory here, although he had an invitation from the White House to attend.
    “This has been a very topsy-turvy, some people call it a “through-the-looking glass” election year,” said M. Charles Bakst, a veteran, now-retired, political columnist for The Providence Journal. Mr. Bakst, seeking to explain Monday’s curious turn of events, said he did not view Mr. Caprio’s remark as “a slap” at the president, but rather “a lashing out at Obama, at the last minute, from a guy who said he would welcome the endorsement.”
    Slap or not, Mr. Caprio’s unconventional greeting and subsequent snub overshadowed Mr. Obama’s message as he opened the critical, final, week of the election – a week in which his White House is sending Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and First Lady Michelle Obama across the country to deliver a closing argument to Democrats in a desperate effort to get them to the polls.
    More than a political sideshow, the Rhode Island intra-party spat was a stark reminder that the president is willing to go to great lengths to keep his party in power on Capitol Hill – even if it means stepping into a hornet’s nest of local politics and getting stung…. – NYT, 10-25-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

Kendrick Meek, Bill Clinton

Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek listens as former President Bill Clinton addresses supporters during a rally last week at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. (John Raoux, Associated Press / October 20, 2010)

  • Can the tea party deliver voters on Election Day?: Come Tuesday, can the tea party deliver the votes to turn a campaign of fiery enthusiasm into actual members of Congress?… – WaPo, 10-29-10
  • GOP Claims Democrats Trying to Steal the Election: Republicans are ramping up their efforts to make the case that Democrats are trying to steal the midterm elections, despite little evidence to support such claims. The strategy appears designed to fire up the Republican base, potentially depress Democratic turnout and set the stage for possible legal challenges to Democratic victories. The Republican National Committee has launched a website called “No More Frankens” that is grounded in the notion that Democratic Sen. Al Franken essentially stole the Minnesota Senate election in 2008 from Norm Colman thanks to “lawyers, big labor, left wing shadow organizations and the illegal votes of convicted felons.” It took eight months of legal battles before Coleman conceded the race in June 2009, following a decision in Franken’s favor by the Supreme Court of Minnesota. The “No More Frankens” site argues that “we have to win BIG” to overcome Democratic malfeasance, and requests donations of up to $5,000 to fund a GOP “get out the vote” effort…. – CBS News, 10-29-10
  • Joe Miller Gets in the Halloween Spirit: It’s the season for bewitching political ads, and now, just in time for Halloween, Joe Miller, the Republican Senate nominee in Alaska, has released a spooky Web video of his own, attacking his rival, Senator Lisa Murkowski, without ever mentioning her name…. – NYT, 10-29-10
  • NC Rep. Shuler considers run for House Speaker: North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler said Thursday he would consider running for speaker of the U.S. House if he’s re-elected because the chamber needs a more moderate leader. The Democratic lawmaker, though, may not get the chance if Republicans gain control of the House next week. And the former University of Tennessee football star is locked in his own re-election campaign, facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads that accuse him of working for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.
    Shuler told The Associated Press that he will run against Pelosi if there are no viable alternatives. And he said he would not vote for her to remain in charge. “I feel very strongly that a moderate in the House can bring the political parties together,” Shuler said. “The only way that’s going to happen is to put a moderate as speaker of the House.” AP, 10-29-10
  • O’Donnell calls blog posting shameful, sexist: Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell says an anonymous website posting from a man claiming a romantic encounter with her several years ago is another example of sexism facing women candidates. The gossip blog Gawker posted a story Thursday that it paid for from a man saying he and O’Donnell drank beer and spent the night together on Halloween in 2007, but did not have sex…. – WaPo, 10-29-10
  • Kendrick Meek-Bill Clinton Controversy Gives GOP Fresh Ammo in Final Days Marco Rubio Calls Report Example of Washington’s Backroom Dealing: The controversy over whether former President Bill Clinton urged Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the Florida Senate race to help an Independent win has given a last minute issue to Republicans, who called the report an example of Washington’s penchant for backroom deals. Meek, the Democratic Senate contender from Florida, is denying that he ever agreed to get out of the race or that Clinton encouraged him to drop out and endorse Charlie Crist, former Republican turned independent candidate. It was Crist who called both Meek’s campaign and Clinton to ask the Democratic candidate to drop out, the Democratic congressman said.
    Clinton’s aides however contrast Meek’s claims and say the former president asked the Democrat twice to drop out while campaigning for him in the Sunshine state last weekend, as Politico first reported.
    Clinton was coy when asked about the conversation. “He was trying to decide what to do and I talked to him and I told him that, we went through everything, we talked about it a couple of times, and I said in the end, you know, you would have to do what you thought was right,” Clinton told CNN. “I would have to let him say whatever he wants to say about the conversation. It would be wrong of me to discuss it.”… – ABC News, 10-29-10
  • Bill Clinton Tried to Get Meek to Drop Out: Former President Bill Clinton last week tried to convince Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Florida, to drop out of the race – but Mr. Meek changed his mind at the last minute, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton said Thursday evening.
    Matt McKenna, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman, said the former president believed that Mr. Meek would not win on Tuesday and was urging him to drop out and endorse Charlie Crist, the state’s governor, who is running for the Senate as an independent.
    The back-channel efforts by Mr. Clinton, which were first reported by Politico, were apparently an effort to prevent the state’s Senate seat from falling into the hands of Marco Rubio, the Republican who is leading both of his rivals in the polls…. – NYT, 10-28-10
  • Tea Party Candidates Get Some Surprising Help Strange Political Bedfellows: Democrats Help Tea Party Candidates in Some Key Races: In a handful of hotly-competitive races, Tea Partiers are running as third-party candidates. As CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, Democrats are doing what they can to help them – hoping they’ll siphon votes away from the Republican. Never perhaps have there been stranger political bedfellows. In Nevada, a pro-Harry Reid group — he’s the Senate’s lead Democrat — promotes a little-known Tea Party candidate running against Reid: Scott Ashjian…. – CBS News, 10-28-10
  • Giannoulias and Kirk swing away in final Senate debate: Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk acted amicably at the beginning and end of their last debate in the U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday, but filled the rest of the hour with innuendo and suggestions of guilt by association. Both men traveled well-covered ground they’ve exploited repeatedly in expensive TV attack ads. But the venue, a live broadcast on WTTW-Ch. 11, allowed them to confront each other directly…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-28-10
  • Bill Clinton, Andrew Cuomo’s Former Boss, Is Also an Admirer: Bill Clinton appeared on Wednesday at a rally in Brooklyn for Andrew M. Cuomo, who served as his housing secretary from 1997 to 2001. Mr. Clinton had faith after Mr. Cuomo exited the race for governor in 2002. Eight years ago, Bill Clinton stood alongside Andrew M. Cuomo, bucking him up as Mr. Cuomo made a humbling exit from the primary for governor of New York with assurances from Mr. Clinton that his political career was far from over.
    On Wednesday, the former president and his onetime housing secretary, their grins real and broad, pumped fists, clasped hands and embraced — exulting in what, come Tuesday, could well mark the completion of Mr. Cuomo’s arduous comeback.
    “If you really want him to be effective, give him a whopping victory,” Mr. Clinton urged a crowd in a Downtown Brooklyn college gym, as Mr. Cuomo nodded approvingly. “Send him to Albany with a massive majority.” For the two men, the rally was a reminder not just of that 2002 gesture, which one Cuomo aide recalled as deeply touching, but also of the closeness they forged during Mr. Clinton’s two terms in the White House, and the similarities they share as political animals…. – NYT, 10-27-10
  • GOP Targets Senate Control Republicans See Alliance With Cuomo: Republicans, trailing badly in the gubernatorial race, are setting their sights on reclaiming the state Senate. And, if they do, they expect to find a friend in the governor’s mansion, even if it’s Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Two years ago, the prospects were grim for Senate Republicans, an aging conference that lost its four-decade grip on the chamber as their leader, Sen. Joseph Bruno, was tarred with scandal and a tide of Democratic voters swept to the polls to vote for President Barack Obama. Along with broader economic trends, voter anger over legislative chaos in Albany and a fresh barrage of Democratic ethics scandals have given Senate Republicans and their current leader Sen. Dean Sklelos a new lease that once seemed permanently out of reach. With Republicans needing to gain two seats, the battleground is concentrated around fewer than a dozen seats, about half of which are held by Democrats. The GOP is targeting Democrats in Upstate and suburban areas where tea-party activism is higher, including Sens. Brian Foley on Long Island, Suzi Oppenheimer in Westchester, and Darrel Aubertine in the North Country…. – WSJ, 10-27-10
  • California Senate hopeful Fiorina hospitalized: California GOP Senate challenger Carly Fiorina was sidelined Tuesday from the campaign trail in the final week of a close race to be treated for an infection associated with her reconstructive surgery after breast cancer. The former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive was admitted to a Los Angeles-area hospital, forcing her to cancel campaign appearances in Riverside and Coachella just as polls suggested she was starting to gain momentum in her race against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. According to Deborah Bowker, the campaign’s chief of staff, Fiorina was being treated with antibiotics.
    “While this will impact her campaign schedule today, Carly is upbeat and her doctors expect her to make a quick and full recovery and be back out on the campaign trail soon,” Bowker said in the statement.
    Boxer’s campaign sent their well wishes. “We wish Carly Fiorina a speedy recovery and hope she is able to return to her normal schedule soon,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said in a statement…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Records: GOP’s Miller admits to computer use, lies: Alaska Republican Senate hopeful Joe Miller admitted to improperly using three government computers over a lunch break to participate in a political poll, then cleaning the caches to try to cover up the activities. Miller’s admission is included in records released Tuesday under court order following an open records request by The Associated Press and other media organizations…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Rand Paul supporter who stomped MoveOn activist’s head is not just volunteer but a campaign donor: The man apologizing for stomping on a MoveOn activist’s head in Kentucky isn’t just a Rand Paul volunteer, he’s a donor. Tim Profitt told the Associated Press this afternoon that he didn’t mean to hurt Lauren Valle when he and others knocked her to the ground and Profitt tromped on her head.
    “I’m sorry that it came to that, and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand’s safety,” Profitt told the AP. Police interviewed Profitt, and let him go. And they told the Daily News that Paul’s campaign was not involved. Still, Profitt was a leading volunteer for Paul until today, when the campaign fired him as its coordinator in Bourbon County…. – NY Daily News, 10-26-10
  • Sharron Angle ad: Is it racist?: Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, has released a hard-hitting new ad on illegal immigration. But Hispanic groups say the ad is racist and accuse Sharron Angle of running ‘one of the ugliest anti-illegal immigrants ad campaigns in history.’… – CS Monitor, 10-26-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Fla. Democrat Meek denies he’ll quit 3-way Senate race: The congressman goes on national TV news shows to counter reports that Bill Clinton told him to drop out to improve Gov. Charlie Crist’s chances of defeating Republican Marco Rubio.
    “Gov. Crist talked to me about getting out of the race. I recommended to the governor that he should consider getting out of the race,” Meek said on CNN’s “American Morning.”
    “I told him I didn’t have any thoughts about getting out of the race. He didn’t encourage me to get out of the race,” Meek said on ABC’s “Good Morning America”… – AP, 10-29-10
  • President Obama on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: UPDATE: Watch the entire interview. – WH, 10-27-10
  • Sarah Palin for president? It’s possible, she says: Sarah Palin says if nobody else is up to the job, she could run for president. But her political clout is on the line in Alaska with the flagging US Senate campaign of tea party favorite Joe Miller. Is Sarah Palin just toying with us about running for president in 2012? Or did she really mean it when she told “Entertainment Tonight” she could run. Interviewed at her home in Wasilla, Alaska, for a segment to be broadcast Thursday evening, Ms. Palin told the show’s Mary Hart:
    “I think, still, it is too early for anybody to get out there declaring what their intentions are. For me, Mary, it’s going to entail a discussion with my family, a real close look at the lay of the land, and to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion – whether there are any candidates out there who can do the job.”
    But then she added, “If there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.” (It was unclear whether she was using the collective “we,” the editorial “we,” or the royal “we.”)… – CS Monitor, 10-28-10
  • Life after the White House: What’s on the president’s iPad?: Doing the dishes, making coffee for his wife, and reading the Wall Street Journal on his iPad. That’s what day-to- day life is like these days for former President George W. Bush, according to his wife, Laura.
    In an exclusive interview with Deborah Roberts for Yahoo! News and ABC News at the Women’s Conference 2010, former first lady Laura Bush talked about life post-White House and her husband’s upcoming book, “Decision Points.”… – Yahoo News, 10-27-10
  • Gingrich: No Tax Increases: Should Republicans takes the House, Gingrich urges them, in the “very first week,” to pass a ‘no tax increase on any American during the recession’ bill and send it to the president in January. “Maybe the liberals felt this way about Nixon during Watergate, but I have never seen this level of conservative anger at somebody, the way [they’re angry] with the president.” “Radical elites are in such denial about reality right now, whether it’s the president, Speaker Pelosi, or Senate Majority Leader Reid,” Gingrich says. The frustration with Democrats, he says, is “bigger and deeper than in 1994.”… – The Atlantic, 10-26-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • After Midterm Elections, Congress Faces Likely Legislative Gridlock: “Both parties don’t like to work with each other. We keep seeing that over and over,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University professor of history and congressional expert. “It’s like Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football.”
    Zelizer said an alternative approach would be for the GOP to focus on issues that “Democrats are going to have trouble saying no to,” such as extending tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
    Would-be House Speaker Boehner and Obama could try to work together on deficit reduction. For Republicans, part of it would be symbolic leading up to the ’12 elections, Zelizer said. “But part of it is to see if there is enough Democrats to work on it,” he added… – Fox News, 10-28-10
  • Polls Gone Wild: Political Gripes In Internet Age: When a widely publicized poll showed Republican John Kasich with a commanding, 10-point advantage in Ohio’s governor’s race, aides to Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland fought back hard. Against the poll.
    “With just two weeks until Election Day, it is our opinion that the Quinnipiac polls are irresponsible, inaccurate and completely removed from the reality of the Ohio governor’s race,” the campaign said in a statement that noted other private and public surveys were showing a much closer contest.
    The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, an organization with an unchallenged reputation for nonpartisanship, responded mildly. “We stand by our numbers and our overall record for reliability,” said Doug Schwartz, the organization’s polling director. The flare-up underscored a widely held view among both politicians and pollsters that polls, once used largely to help a candidate shape strategy, increasingly can affect the outcome of political campaigns in the Internet Age. Candidates and their allies instantly disseminate bare-bones results, seizing on those that reflect well on their own prospects, ignoring the rest and generally skipping over details that might caution people about reading too much into them…. – AP, 10-28-10
  • Rupert Cornwell: Yes we can, Obama said. But can he? US gets ready for a new kind of presidency: For Barack Obama, the past is mere prologue. From January 2011, the President will be part of an entirely new political play in Washington. Unless every poll in these last days of the mid-term election campaign is wrong, next week’s vote will force him to deal with a world in which Republicans have a majority in the House and near- parity in the Senate – and in which his plans for the presidency will have to take quite a different tack. For Mr Obama’s first term, at least, the time of sweeping political change is at an end. And yet, just possibly, a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections could be the making of the President…. – Independent UK, 10-29-10
  • KARL ROVE: Signs of the Democratic Apocalypse: Midterms are tough for presidents, but party leaders aren’t usually in trouble. Next Tuesday Democrats will receive a crushing rebuke. More to the point, voters will be delivering a verdict on the first two years of the Obama administration. Midterm elections are almost always unpleasant experiences for the White House, especially when the economy is weak. But key races that should have been safe for the party in power demonstrate the extent to which President Obama and his policies have nationalized the election. In Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a huge war chest in a state Mr. Obama won in 2008 by 12 points. Mr. Reid trails Sharron Angle by four points in the latest Rasmussen poll…. – WSJ, 10-28-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama at Midterm – Grading on a Presidential Curve: The United States has traveled a long way from the euphoria of Election Night, 2008 to the crankiness of the 2010 midterm elections. Even President Barack Obama’s most ardent supporters agree that the turnaround in popular support he has experienced has been dramatic, unprecedented, unnerving, The “Yes We Can” Candidate of 2008 – who seemingly could do no wrong – is now seen by millions as the President who can do no right leading a sobered “No We Can’t” citizenry, many of whom have lost jobs, lost hope for the future, and lost faith in the man who seemed so promising as a leader just two years ago. Here is Barack Obama’s challenge. He is not only confronting two wars, one ongoing economic mess, and countless other cultural, social, diplomatic, ideological and political crises. He is not only being measured against the Presidents who preceded him, some of whom are encased in legend, setting stratospheric standards for any worthy successor. He is also competing against himself and the impossibly high hopes his election unleashed…. – Institute for Research on Public Policy’s “Policy Options”, Oct. 2010
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Democrats are hurting: With the midterm elections just a week away, many Democrats are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong.
    After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, many in the party thought that they were on the cusp of a new era in American politics. Republicans, and the conservative philosophy that had shaped their party for several decades, seemed to be in retreat.
    Yet less than years later, Republicans are on the verge of recapturing control of the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate. President Obama’s approval ratings have slid since his first year, while Republicans are now looking forward to the election of 2012.
    The most conventional argument about what went wrong for Democrats is that Obama moved too far to the left in a country that is center-right. But this argument is not supported by a recent study by The Washington Post, Henry Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.
    The study found that Americans are philosophically conservative but operationally liberal….Conservatives have also done very well at playing the politics of the media by staying on message and framing Obama and his policies in a negative light. They have been able to turn the president’s legislative victories into political defeats. Obama and his supporters have spent the last few months trying to explain all that he has done. But when a president has to do so much explaining, that means that he has already lost the battle.
    Whatever the outcome of the midterms, Democrats will need to regroup in the coming months. Rather than focusing on allegations of foreign money flowing into the campaign or embarking on some wholesale philosophical shift to the right, Democrats would do better to look at the specific strategic mistakes that they have made along the way and make sure that they don’t repeat them on the road to 2012. – CNN, 10-25-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Obama dropped ball on campaign reform: President Obama has recently blasted the influx of money from undisclosed donors flowing into the midterm campaigns. He repeated a claim, which major media outlets have not been able to substantiate, that foreign funds may have been used in the United States.
    At a recent rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the president said “American people deserve to know who is trying to sway their elections.”
    “You don’t know: It could be the oil industry. It could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don’t know because they don’t have to disclose.”
    In making these attacks Obama is returning to a central theme that animated his 2008 campaign: the need to change the campaign finance system. As a candidate, Obama railed against the way that money influenced politics. He reiterated a long-standing theme of reform-candidates that unless the political process changed, policies would remain the same and Americans would never gain confidence in their government.
    But Obama broke from these principles almost as soon as he made the argument. During the campaign, Obama disappointed many campaign reform advocates when he announced that he would not use public funds in the general election campaign so that he could raise an unlimited amount of money in his race against Sen. John McCain….
    Until presidents and congressional leaders decide to make campaign finance reform a priority issue the relationship between money and politics won’t change. This is unfortunate since the way that politics works profoundly influences the type of policies that government can produce.
    The power of money in politics was there for all to see when interest groups were able to gut key cost control measures during the health care debate.
    Like most presidents before him, both Democrats and Republicans, Obama is now witnessing the consequences of accepting the status quo, and the flow of money is only likely to grow. As Jan Baran, a former general counsel for the Republican National Committee told The New York Times, “This year is practice for 2012.”… – CNN, 10-18-10

September 6, 2010: Larry Sabato Predicts Republican Congress in November; Obama Officially Ends Combat in Iraq

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 in the Rose Garden
The President and his economic team in the Rose Garden, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 9/3/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Blacks, Young Voters Not Poised for High Turnout on Nov. 2 Republicans — and conservative Republicans in particular — are already tuned in to midterms: Minority and young voters made a significant mark on the 2008 presidential election with their high turnout; today, however, these groups appear to have reverted to previous levels of interest in voting in the context of midterm elections. Most notably, in contrast to 2008, when whites and blacks were about equally likely to say they were giving “quite a lot of” or “some” thought to the presidential election, whites are much more likely than blacks to be thinking about the 2010 elections: 42% vs. 25%, a gap exceeding those from recent midterm elections…. – Gallop.com, 9-3-10Center for Politics
  • Analysis: Democrats face grim election prospects: An unrelenting sour mood among voters has steadily eroded support for President Barack Obama’s Democrats, putting the party’s grip on Congress at growing risk two months before the November 2 election. Worries about the economy and plummeting confidence in Obama have Democrats on the defensive in dozens of once-safe races, sparking new predictions of a 1994-style sweep that would restore Republicans to power in the House of Representatives and even the Senate.
    “A big wave for Republicans is almost guaranteed in November barring some cataclysmic event,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who on Thursday increased his projected Republican gains in the House to 47 seats — enough to win a majority. “The political climate for Democrats has deteriorated badly over the summer,” Sabato said. “The rotten economy and President Obama’s failure to turn it around is killing Democrats.”
    Obama and Democrats got little help on Friday from the latest jobless report, which showed the unemployment rate inching up to 9.6 percent after employment fell for the third consecutive month…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • GOP will take over House, political guru Sabato predicts: The Democrats are likely to lose 47 seats and control of the House of Representatives in November’s elections, a top political analyst says in a new forecast Thursday. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, also says that the Democrats are likely to lose eight or nine seats in the Senate, eight governors’ offices and 300 to 500 seats in state legislatures.
    “The numbers are eye-catching. Republicans are dramatically gaining in all categories,” Sabato said in an interview. “It’s generated by a rotten economy and a strong conservative reaction against President Obama.”
    The analysis marks the first time this year that Sabato and the University’s Center for Politics have predicted a Republican takeover of the House. Sabato is one of the most consistently accurate election prognosticators. His final pre-election analysis in 2006 got the exact number of Democratic gains in the House and Senate and was off by only one in governors’ races. In 2008, he missed the final Electoral College count by only one, and missed the final House tally by only five seats.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition. It has simply been a matter of degree,” Sabato said in a written analysis released Thursday. “Had Democratic hopes on economic revitalization materialized, it is easy to see how the party could have used its superior financial resources, combined with the tendency of Republicans in some districts and states to nominate ideological fringe candidates, to keep losses to the low 30s in the House and a handful in the Senate.”
    With Labor Day looming, Sabato wrote, it’s now clear that the summer didn’t turn out as Democrats wanted. “Conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. “Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters – fair or not – it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Across the board, Sabato forecasts larger Democratic losses than he projected in the spring, when he and his Center for Politics predicted that the Democrats could lose 32 House seats. That would be a large setback, but Republicans must gain 39 seats to take control of the House. Democrats now control the House by 255-178, with two vacancies, one previously held by each major party. A switch of 47 seats would put the Republicans in charge by at least 226-209, assuming the two vacant seats remain in the same partisan control. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is in line to be the new speaker of the House. His party would chair all House committees, and would gain subpoena power to force the Obama administration to answer questions.
    At least one other nonpartisan analyst also is now predicting a Republican takeover of the House. University of Buffalo political scientist James Campbell forecasts that the Democrats will lose 51 or 52 seats. Sabato’s new forecast also envisions larger losses in the Senate: eight or nine, up from the seven seats he previously predicted. Republicans must gain 10 Senate seats to take control there, however…. –
    McClachy Newspapers, 9-2-10
  • James E. Campbell: UB professor predicts House will go to Republicans: A University at Buffalo political scientist with a sterling record of prognosticating presidential elections is predicting that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will turn over her gavel to the GOP come January. The presiding Democrats stand to lose about 51 seats in November, says James E. Campbell, professor of political science at UB. His prediction stems from a crystal ball filled with scientific equations based on polling and current events, all pointing to a stunning reversal of fortune for Democrats, who took over the House in 2006.
    “After two election setbacks, they are poised for a comeback,” Campbell says of Republicans. “Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even President Obama’s approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat gains by Republicans in the House.”
    In a paper he will deliver this week to the American Political Science Association meeting in Washington, Campbell analyzes a variety of political elements that he plugs into his final equation….
    “In June 2010, 42 percent of respondents told Gallup that they were conservatives, while 20 percent claimed to be liberals, and 35 percent said they were moderates,” he said. “The nearly even division in partisanship and the conservative tilt in ideology suggest that the current equilibrium in the electorate is far more Republican than the status quo in the House.” “Polls, primary turnouts, the emergence of the tea party movement, and Republican victories in 2009 [including Scott Brown’s 2010 Senate win in Massachusetts] are unmistakable stirrings of a revitalized right,” he concluded.
    “Although President Obama is not unpopular at this point [his approval ratings stand in the mid- 40s], neither does he have the strong approval ratings that would provide much help to his party in staving off significant midterm losses,” Campbell said. “There is still an outside chance the Democrats could hold on,” he said Saturday…. –
    Buffalo News, 9-2-10
  • Shock Prediction: GOP to Take House, Maybe Senate in 2010 Election UVA’s Larry Sabato also sees Republicans gaining eight governorships in his crystal ball: Typically cautious Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, is rocking the political world with a new “Crystal Ball” prediction: The GOP will win the House, making Ohio’s John Boehner speaker, might get a 50-50 split in the Senate, and will pick up some eight new governors.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition,” Sabato said in his latest prediction, issued Thursday. “But conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish, and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters—fair or not—it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Sabato on House elections: “Given what we can see at this moment, Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net. This is a ‘net’ number since the GOP will probably lose several of its own congressional districts in Delaware, Hawaii, and Louisiana. This estimate, which may be raised or lowered by Election Day, is based on a careful district-by-district analysis, plus electoral modeling based on trends in President Obama’s Gallup job approval rating and the Democratic-versus-Republican congressional generic ballot. If anything, we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains, if the election were being held today.”
    Sabato on the Senate: “In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react). GOP leaders themselves did not believe such a result was truly possible just a few months ago. If the Republican wave on November 2 is as large as some polls are suggesting it may be, then the surprise on election night could be a full GOP takeover. Since World War II, the House of Representatives has flipped parties on six occasions (1946, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1994, and 2006). Every time, the Senate flipped too, even when it had not been predicted to do so. These few examples do not create an iron law of politics, but they do suggest an electoral tendency.”
    US News, 9-2-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama meets with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jor

President Obama with leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan & Egypt, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/1/10

  • Obama to hold press conference next Friday: President Barack Obama will hold a press conference on Friday, September 10, the White House said on Thursday…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • Obama: New jobs numbers ‘positive’ but not enough: President Barack Obama welcomed news Friday of better-than-expected private sector job growth. But with the unemployment rate ticking upward nevertheless, he said he’d roll out new plans next week to spur the economy. Obama spoke after the Labor Department reported that private employers added 67,000 new jobs last month, and both July and June’s private-sector job figures were revised upward. Those numbers were better than first thought and pushed stock prices up.
    Standing with his economic team in the Rose Garden, Obama said the jobs report was “positive news, and it reflects the steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession. But it’s not nearly good enough.” “That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest,” the president said…. – AP, 9-3-10
  • Obama Declares an End to Combat Mission in Iraq: President Obama declared an end on Tuesday to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States has met its responsibility to that country and that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home.
    In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama balanced praise for the troops who fought and died in Iraq with his conviction that getting into the conflict had been a mistake in the first place. But he also used the moment to emphasize that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues — and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer.
    “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home,” Mr. Obama said. “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.”… – NYT, 9-1-10
  • Obama’s Oval Office Address: In Oval Office address last night, Obama said the country was turning the page on Iraq… But it’s still something we’ll have to return to — when violence continues and when judging whether the war was worth the sacrifice… Surprisingly, Obama used a good part of the speech to discuss the economy… He also talked about Afghanistan, his opposition to the war, and George W. Bush… What he didn’t say: whether the surge worked… Today, Obama turns the page from Iraq to Middle East peace, meeting individually with the heads of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt… The president makes statement to reporters at 5:20 pm ET… Murkowski concedes, becoming the seventh incumbent to lose a primary for re-election this cycle… Three takeaways on Pawlenty’s executive order… Profiling AZ-8… And Boxer and Fiorina debate…. – MSNBC, 9-1-10
  • Biden marks transfer of U.S. command in Iraq: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates helped usher in the next chapter for the United States in Iraq on Wednesday, presiding over a ceremony launching a new military operation designed to train, assist and advise the Iraqis.
    Biden said Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, but promised that “American engagement with Iraq will continue” with the new stability mission.
    “This change of mission, to state the obvious, would never have been possible without the resolve and tremendous sacrifice and competence of our military — the finest, if our Iraqi friends will forgive us, the finest fighting force in the world, and I would argue the finest fighting force that ever has existed,” Biden said. ….
    On Tuesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed Americans about the transition in a televised speech.
    “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people — a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization.”
    Obama said he was “awed” by the sacrifices of service members and their families and that the U.S. has met its responsibility.
    “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country,” Obama said. “We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”… – CNN, 9-1-10
  • Why Wall St. Is Deserting Obama: Daniel S. Loeb, the hedge fund manager, was one of Barack Obama’s biggest backers in the 2008 presidential campaign. A registered Democrat, Mr. Loeb has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Less than a year ago, he was considered to be among the Wall Street elite still close enough to the White House to be invited to a speech in Lower Manhattan, where President Obama outlined the need for a financial regulatory overhaul. So it came as quite a surprise on Friday, when Mr. Loeb sent a letter to his investors that sounded as if he were preparing to join Glenn Beck in Washington over the weekend.
    “As every student of American history knows, this country’s core founding principles included nonpunitive taxation, constitutionally guaranteed protections against persecution of the minority and an inexorable right of self- determination,” he wrote. “Washington has taken actions over the past months, like the Goldman suit that seem designed to fracture the populace by pulling capital and power from the hands of some and putting it in the hands of others.”… – NYT, 8-31-10
  • Blair: Bush world view had ‘immense simplicity’: Former U.S. President George W. Bush was a “true idealist” who displayed “genuine integrity and political courage,” former British prime minister Tony Blair reveals in his memoirs. Detailing the close professional and personal relationship which developed between the two leaders in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. and during the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Blair writes that Bush was “very smart” while having “immense simplicity in how he saw the world.” “Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership… he sincerely believed in spreading freedom and democracy,” he writes in “A Journey;” which hit book stores in the UK on Wednesday.
    But Blair, whose premiership overlapped the presidencies of Bush and Bill Clinton, reserves his warmest words for Bush’s Democratic predecessor, describing him as a “political soulmate” and “the most formidable politician I had ever encountered.” He also defends Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair. CNN, 9-1-10
  • Pawlenty Rejects “Obamacare” Funding for Minnesota: Attacking President Obama’s health care reforms from all angles, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty today issued an executive order directing state agencies to turn down any discretionary funding from the legislation. The health care reform package signed into law earlier this year “represents a dramatic attempt to assert federal command and control over this country’s health care system,” the potential Republican presidential candidate wrote in the executive order…. – CBS News, 9-1-10
  • NYC mayor disapproves of probe of mosque financing: New York’s mayor says an investigation by the state attorney general into the finances of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero would set “a terrible precedent.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s no reason for the government to investigate donations to religious organizations. Congressman Peter King disagrees. The ranking minority leader of the Homeland Security Committee says “a number” of terrorist plots have “emanated from mosques.” He cites the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as an example… – AP, 8-31-10
  • Glenn Beck rally attendance: calculating how many really showed up: Glenn Beck rally attendance has become hotly contested following Saturday’s event in Washington. But from Woodstock to the Million Man March, figuring out the number of people who show up at big events has never been easy. CS Monitor, 8-30-08
  • For New Orleans, Katrina anniversary is both solemn and festive: Dancing, singing, mourning, and crying mixed throughout New Orleans this weekend as the city showcased the progress made since Katrina and honored those who died…. – CS Monitor, 8-30-10
  • Biden in Iraq to mark end of U.S. combat mission The vice president will press Iraqi leaders to form a new government and reassure them that the U.S. is not abandoning the country, officials say. LAT, 8-30-10
  • Obama Dismisses Faith Rumors: President Obama said on Sunday that he was not worried that increasing and significant numbers of Americans believe he is Muslim.
    Mr. Obama attributed the spread of the rumors about his religion and birthplace to “a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly.” “We dealt with it when we were first running for the presidency,” he said. ‘There were those who said I couldn’t win as U.S. senator because I had a funny name and people would be too unfamiliar with it. “And yet we ended up winning that Senate seat in Illinois because I trusted the American people’s capacity to get beyond all this nonsense and focus on, ‘Is this somebody who cares about me and cares about my family and has a vision for the future?’” Mr. Obama said. “And so, I will always put my money on the American people. And I’m not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there.”… – NYT, 8-29-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Boxer, Fiorina debate: California economy is center stage: Sen. Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina faced off Wednesday night, drawing sharp distinctions between them. The Boxer, Fiorna debate was gaffe-free but too scripted, analysts say…. – CS Monitor, 9-2-10
  • Democratic party braced for midterm beating: Barack Obama’s party likely to lose heavily in November elections, polls suggest The Democratic party is staring at heavy losses in Congress and at the state level in the November midterm elections, according to several public opinion polls. The latest weekly survey from Gallup gives the Republicans a 10-point advantage – 51% to 41% – among registered voters. The lead is the Republican party’s largest so far this year and its widest margin in 68 years. The national poll, released this week, also found Republicans twice as likely to say they are “very” excited about voting in November, amid widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, where the unemployment rate is near double digits…. – Guardian UK, 9-1-10
  • Murkowski was ‘capable, energetic’ for Alaska: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s stunning defeat in the Alaska primary ends a 30-year family legacy of holding that seat, an era that spanned a majority of Alaska’s statehood. Joe Miller, a self-styled constitutional conservative backed by the Tea Party Express and former Gov. Sarah Palin, upset Murkowski in a close primary race. Miller had a more than 1,600-vote lead with outstanding ballots yet to count, but Murkowski conceded Tuesday night. There are multiple theories on what led to Murkowski’s demise — from her not taking Miller seriously or being aggressive enough, to Palin’s endorsement of Miller, to an abortion ballot measure that drew conservative voters to the polls…. – AP, 9-1-10
  • Palin returns to Iowa for GOP’s biggest fundraiser: Potential 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin will headline the Iowa Republican Party’s biggest annual fundraiser, party officials announced Tuesday in the state that launches the presidential nominating process. The Sept. 17 speech at the annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines will be the first Iowa appearance by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate since a brief book-signing stop last December. “I know Iowa Republicans will be energized and motivated by Governor Palin to stand up and fight for these principles all the way to Election Day and beyond,” said Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • 1980 revisited: Are upstart Republicans ready to be US senators?: Will Senate candidate Joe Miller be part of a 2010 Republican takeover in D.C. this fall? While we’re waiting for absentee and questioned primary ballots to be counted in Alaska, Carl Hulse of The New York Times wonders whether the November midterm election will bring results resembling that of 1980, when Republicans riding Ronald Reagan’s coattails — including Frank Murkowski, father of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski — surprised Democrats by taking over the U.S. Senate…. – Anchorage Daily News, 8-31-10
  • Murkowski narrows gap in US Senate seat in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski gained ground Tuesday on Republican challenger Joe Miller in their razor-thin GOP primary as Alaska began counting thousands of outstanding ballots. Murkowski trailed Miller by 1,294 votes in early counting Tuesday. She was down by 1,668 votes after the Aug. 24 primary. The contest has turned bitter in recent days with Miller accusing Murkowski of trying to steal the election by tampering with the vote. Murkowski shot back by saying Miller is paranoid and dealing in trumped-up, misleading rhetoric…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • Strategist: “Enthusiasm Gap” Between GOP, Dems: Says Republicans Have Midterm Advantage With Dems Facing “Toxic” Combination of Tea Party Activists, Economy, Afghanistan. The success in several primary races of far-right candidates backed by Tea Party activists, and the energetic crowd assembled in Washington last Saturday for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, indicate an “enthusiasm gap” that portends trouble for Democrats in November, according to a Republic strategist. Appearing on CBS’ “The Early Show” this morning, Dan Bartlett said, “The Tea Party and whoever else assembles with the Tea Party, like they did this weekend, is demonstrating that Republicans in this election cycle coming up in November have that advantage. “In midterm elections, that is a crucial difference.”…. – CBS News, 8-30-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President speaks to the Nation from the Oval Office
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/31/10
  • Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the End of Combat Operations in Iraq Oval Office:
    At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am incredibly proud of their service. And like all Americans, I’m awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.
    The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people, trained Iraqi Security Forces, and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians — and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people — Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.
    So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. Having drawn down 100,000 troops since taking office, a much smaller force will stay to train and assist the Iraqi forces during the transition period. All U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year….
    Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders — and hundreds of al Qaeda’s extremist allies — have been killed or captured around the world….
    Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle-class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
    And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it’s our turn. Now, it’s our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for — the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.
    Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.
    Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such valor. As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That’s why we’ve already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We’re treating the signature wounds of today’s wars — post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we’re funding a Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II — including my grandfather — become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it…. – WH, 8-31-10
  • Obama formally ends Iraq combat mission President says nation’s top priority now is repairing economy: President Barack Obama made it official Tuesday: Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the nation’s No. 1 priority is fixing the economy. “The end of our combat mission in Iraq” comes at “a time of great uncertainty for many Americans,” Obama said in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office of the White House.
    “But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment,” he added. “It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.”
    And it opens up another opportunity “to rebuild our nation here at home,” the president said, declaring that “now, it is time to turn the page.”… – MSNBC, 8-31-10Read the full text of the speech
  • Meghan McCain’s ‘Conflicting Feelings’ About Sarah Palin: Meghan McCain, who has tended to keep any strong feelings she may have about Sarah Palin to herself, opened up a bit on “Good Morning America” today while promoting her new book, “Dirty Sexy Politics.” McCain’s opinion on the former Alaska governor is of greater interest than most, since some Republicans blame Palin’s vice-presidential bid for derailing her father’s presidential campaign. “I do clearly state at the end that we did not lose because of her,” McCain said, referring to her book. When pressed by host George Stephanopoulos, McCain admitted to “conflicting feelings” about Palin and went on to discuss the way Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was mishandled by the campaign…. – WSJ, 8-31-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • KATHRYN OLMSTED: Why Americans love conspiracies: According to recent polls, large numbers of Americans are convinced of two things that are verifiably not true: that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and that Muslims are building a mosque at ground zero. A great many are also convinced that Obama was not even born in America. The tendency of most pundits and public officials is to dismiss these stories as the easily ignored theories of the lunatic fringe. But the “ground zero mosque” and “Obama-is-a-Muslim” stories have traction in the media for two reasons.
    First, they’re highly effective because they tap into deep, historic American anxieties about “un-American” agents within the republic — perhaps even within the White House. Second, these stories have some powerful sponsors in the media and in politics, sponsors who insinuate their paranoid theories into the mainstream debate to promote their own political goals. Americans have a special relationship to conspiracy theories involving insidious foreigners. Immigrants to America have brought a wider mix of religions and ethnicities and political histories than to any other New World country, and Americans have worried that their country is especially open —and vulnerable — to alien subversion. The historian Richard Hofstadter argued that there was a “paranoid style” in U.S. politics, prompted in part by Americans’ need to define themselves by casting out the un-Americans — or anyone who was not white, native-born and Protestant.
    Over the past two hundred years, frightened Americans have targeted Roman Catholics, Masons, Mormons, and Jews because these native groups were allegedly guided by the instructions of an alien power. Now, it’s the Muslims’ turn…. – Politico, 8-27-10

August 30, 2010: Obama & Katrina 5 Years Later, John McCain wins Arizona Primary

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:

President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La.
President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/29/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Election 2010 map: Track House, Senate and governor racesUSA Today
  • Poll: Six in 10 say Sarah Palin would be ineffective as president: She has been helping to drive conservative candidates to victory in GOP primaries across the country, but six in 10 Americans say Sarah Palin would not be an effective president, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released today. Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, did better among GOP voters. Forty-seven percent of Republicans say she could be an effective president, compared with 12% of Democrats and 21% of independents, according to the poll…. – NY Daily News, 8-30-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Baghdad; will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: Biden’s back in Baghdad. The vice president landed in Iraq on Monday in a surprise visit to mark the end of combat operations in the war-torn nation. The last American combat troops left Iraq earlier this month, and the White House says the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now the lowest since the beginning of the conflict in 2003. A ceremony on Wednesday will signal the beginning of a new phase of the ongoing mission to establish a democratic government there, with the U.S. moving away from military operations and toward a largely diplomatic one.
    Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will “discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press…. – NY Daily News , 8-30-10
  • Obama Pledges Commitment to New Orleans: Speaking at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of the hurricane that took 1,800 lives, Mr. Obama emphasized the resilience of New Orleans residents.
    The legacy of Katrina, Mr. Obama said, must be “not one of neglect, but of action; not one of indifference, but of empathy; not of abandonment, but of a community working together to meet shared challenges.” “There are some wounds that do not heal,” the president acknowledged. “There are some losses that cannot be repaid. And for many who lived through those harrowing days five years ago, there is a searing memory that time will not erase.”… – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Obama, in New Orleans, promises to ‘fight alongside’ Gulf Coast: In New Orleans, the president talks Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, pointing up post-Katrina aid improvements and work on shoring up levees…. – LAT, 8-29-10
  • President Obama hails New Orleans’ comeback; samples local seafood: President Obama visited New Orleans Sunday on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to hail the storied city’s return from the dead and promise to keep it safe from new monsters whirling offshore.
    “Five years ago, many questioned whether people could ever return to this city. Today, New Orleans is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, with a big surge in new small businesses,” Obama said. “You’re not only rebuilding; you’re rebuilding stronger than before,” Obama said. “My administration is going to stand with you, and fight alongside you, until the job is done.”… – NY Daily News, 8-29-10
  • Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton: The rallies of 8/28WaPo
  • Glenn Beck rally: A warning to Obama and Democrats?: There may have been some Democrats at the Glenn Beck rally Saturday, but even many of them aren’t happy with the country’s direction. Does the large turnout portend trouble for Democrats? One hundred to two hundred thousand people attended a rally organized by Fox TV commentator, Glenn Beck, at the foot of the Lincoln memorial. Although it was avowedly “non-political,” Sarah Palin was one of the main speakers and the crowd resembled very much the Tea Party crowd…. – CS Monitor, 8-29-10
  • Sharpton’s ‘Reclaim the Dream’ event brings thousands to honor MLK Sharpton: ‘The dream has not been achieved’: Thousands of people joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and other leaders Saturday in a counter-protest to the rally called by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. The event, billed as “Reclaim the Dream,” included a march that culminated at the Mall, the site of Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.
    In an interview before the rally began at Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington, Sharpton said he called the event to show respect for the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago at the March on Washington near where Beck spoke to thousands Saturday.
    “People are clear in what Dr. King’s dream was about, and we will not react to those who try to distort that dream,” Sharpton said. He was one of several prominent leaders who condemned Beck’s rally, despite cries from organizers that “Restoring Honor” was not intended to dishonor King or his work…. – WaPo, 8-28-10
  • Beck says US has ‘wandered in darkness’ too long: From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck told the tens of thousands of activists he drew from around the nation Saturday that the U.S. has too long “wandered in darkness.”
    At an event billed as nonpolitical but reflecting the mood of a sizable number in the country, the rally’s marquee speaker, Sarah Palin, praised “patriots” in the audience for “knowing never to retreat.”
    “Something beyond imagination is happening,” he said. “America today begins to turn back to God.” “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” said Beck, a Fox News host. He said it was now time to “concentrate on the good things in America, the things we have accomplished and the things we can do tomorrow.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Glenn Beck rally: Sarah Palin and President Obama agree on one thing: President Obama and Sarah Palin disagreed sharply on the war in Iraq. But in Obama’s radio address Saturday and Palin’s speech at Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally, they agreed on the need to honor and support the troops…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-10
  • Family Feud Erupts Over Martin Luther King’s Legacy Martin Luther King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, found themselves on opposing sides when it came to the Glenn Beck rally: A day of activism and protest in the nation’s Capitol today featured two prominent members of the King family laying very different claims on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
    Addressing a massive crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, tied the civil rights icon’s legacy to the featured themes of honor, patriotism, service and faith that were highlighted at the gathering.
    “Today, we are here to honor special men and women, who like my uncle Martin are blessed with servant’s hearts” said King. “Though they gave their service in ways very different from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like him they are people who are not afraid to give their lives for the freedom of other. If uncle Martin could be here today, he would surely commend them.”
    But Martin Luther King II, King’s son, seemed not to share that belief, instead joining civil rights leaders in a counter protest. “This is not about a left side or a right side,” he said. “This is about God’s side in terms of doing what’s right for all of America. That’s what Martin Luther King’s dream is about.” AOL News, 8-28-10
  • Carter and Former Prisoner Return to U.S.: Mr. Gomes, 31, stepped off a private plane at Logan International Airport about 2 p.m. on Friday, a day after Mr. Carter secured his release in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. He was immediately surrounded by more than a dozen relatives who enveloped him in a group hug. Neither Mr. Gomes (pronounced GOHMZ) nor Mr. Carter spoke with reporters upon their arrival, and it was unclear if or when either man would share details of Mr. Gomes’s detainment and release. Mr. Gomes quickly left the airport with his family and stayed out of the public eye for the rest of the day. But Mr. McCarthy later said that Mr. Gomes appeared in good health and that Mr. Carter had told the family that “the Koreans had taken good care of him.”… – NYT, 8-27-10
  • US implores Americans not to visit NKorea: The State Department on Friday urged Americans to respect its warning against traveling to North Korea, saying in a cheeky Twitter message that there are not too many former U.S. presidents left available for rescue missions. In a Tweet posted shortly after former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Boston from North Korea with American Aijalon Gomes who had been detained in the communist country for seven months, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “Americans should heed our travel warning and avoid North Korea. We only have a handful of former presidents.”
    His message referred to the fact that Carter was the second former U.S. president to travel to North Korea in the past year to win the release of American citizens imprisoned there. Last August, former President Bill Clinton secured the release of two television reporters who had been arrested for illegally entering North Korea…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Sharpton: Beck rally goes against King’s vision: Broadcaster Glenn Beck and tea party activists have a right to rally in the nation’s capital but not to distort Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday.
    Sharpton described the demonstration planned for Saturday by Beck and his supporters as an anti-government rally advocating states’ rights. And he said that goes against the message in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which the civil rights leader appealed to the federal government to ensure equality.
    Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his speech exactly 47 years earlier. Beck and other organizers say the aim is to pay tribute to America’s military personnel and others “who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” The broadcaster toured the site Friday as supporters cheered…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama to commemorate Katrina on 5th anniversary: President Barack Obama will use the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reaffirm his commitment to the Gulf Coast amid lingering questions over his administration’s response to the BP oil spill.
    Obama ends his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday and heads to New Orleans, five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, busting through crumbling levees and flooding 80 percent of the city, killing more than 1,600 people. Then-President George W. Bush was harshly criticized in many quarters for not responding aggressively enough to the disaster.
    The unfinished business of helping make New Orleans whole is Obama’s responsibility now. On Sunday, he will have the delicate task of commemorating the ravaging storm while reassuring residents who may still believe the government has failed them — both when it comes to Katrina and to the BP spill…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • On Martha’s Vineyard, Obamas savor local produce: For a vacationing President Barack Obama, it seems all produce — like politics — is local. So far, in their only dinner outings since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard last week, the president and his wife have twice eaten at restaurants that feature locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. And the White House has let it be known that the meals being cooked at their rented vacation compound feature all manner of things from farms and gardens on this island off Cape Cod. It seems the passion for freshness behind first lady Michelle Obama’s backyard garden at the White House hasn’t taken a holiday during her family’s stay here…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama Hits Fairway With UBS’s Wolf, Lawyer Jordan During Vineyard Vacation: The biggest names on the links this week aren’t all teeing off at the PGA tournament in Paramus, New Jersey. The power foursomes are on Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is spending a chunk of his vacation playing golf with partners who have included Robert Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer of UBS Americas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vernon Jordan, Lazard Ltd. senior managing director and a longtime Democratic Party supporter.
    Obama had a 15-minute discussion with Bloomberg about the economy in the clubhouse before heading out to the fairways yesterday, Reid Cherlin, an administration spokesman, said…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Rain lifts, vacationing Obamas dine out for lunch: Emerging from semi-seclusion after four days of drenching rain, a cheery President Barack Obama lunched with his wife and daughters at a wharfside restaurant Wednesday and mingled with fellow vacationers. It was the family’s first public appearance together since beginning their Martha’s Vineyard stay.
    “Good to see you guys, you doing alright?” the smiling president asked a crowd that cheered his arrival at Nancy’s, an eatery well known for its fried local seafood. First lady Michelle Obama commiserated with the onlookers over the lousy weather. “You dried off finally?” she asked…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • U.S. deficit panel chair stirs uproar over remark: The co-chairman of a commission on the U.S. budget deficit came under fire on Wednesday after an off-color remark that likened the payment of government retirement benefits to milking cows. Women’s groups and some lawmakers called for the resignation of Alan Simpson, a Republican who serves on the bipartisan deficit panel created by President Barack Obama. Simpson wrote this week in an email to one of his critics the Social Security retirement program has reached the point “where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits.” He later issued an apology for the comment…. – Reuters, 8-26-10
  • Glenn Beck supporters head for Washington, D.C., rally: Glenn Beck’s supporters started boarding buses days ago in cities as far from the nation’s capital as Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Houston. Heading east for a grass-roots show of force on Saturday, they will join the conservative icon for a rally that he says is aimed at “restoring honor” to a troubled nation.
    “People are upset with the direction of the country,” says Patti Weaver, head of the Pittsburgh Tea Party, who is bringing 900 people on 16 buses to the event at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally will “continue to unite people who are upset with our government. … We can take our country back.”
    Beck has been criticized by civil rights groups such as the National Urban League for holding the rally at the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on racial equality and on its 47th anniversary. The Fox News and radio talk-show host insists that his rally is about supporting the nation’s troops — not about politics…. – USA Today, 8-26-10
  • David & Charles Koch: Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama: …One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular…. – New Yorker, 8-30-10
  • Jimmy Carter: Can Obama trust him in North Korea talks?: Jimmy Carter gained a reputation as an independent actor when President Clinton sent him to North Korea in 1994. President Obama will hope Carter – on a mission to bring back a jailed American – does not stray into talks about North Korea’s nuclear program…. – Cs Monitor, 8-25-10
  • US general: Afghan deadline ‘giving enemy sustenance’: General James Conway said troops in southern Afghanistan were likely to have to remain for a few years. A senior US general has warned President Barack Obama’s deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban. US General James Conway, head of the US Marine Corps, said the deadline was “giving our enemy sustenance”. Gen Conway warned that US forces in southern Afghanistan will likely have to stay in place for several years. His comments are likely to fuel debate over US strategy in Afghanistan and Mr Obama’s July 2011 withdrawal date… – BBC, 8-24-10
  • Stem cell ruling to be appealed, some work to stop: The government will quickly appeal a court ruling that undercut federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the Obama administration declared Tuesday, but dozens of experiments aimed at fighting spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments probably will stop in the meantime.
    The White House and scientists said Monday’s court ruling was broader than first thought because it would prohibit even the more restricted stem cell research allowed for the past decade under President George W. Bush’s rules.
    The Justice Department said an appeal is expected this week of the federal judge’s preliminary injunction that disrupted an entire field of science…. – Boston Globe, 8-24-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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  • ‘World News’ Political Insights — Tea Party’s Boil Still Singing Republicans: Movement Continues as Mixed Blessing for GOP, as More Primaries Loom… – ABC News, 8-29-10
  • Dems’ bright spots in foreboding election year: John Carney of Delaware is a rarity in a campaign season of foreboding for Democrats, a practicing politician with a strong chance of winning a Republican-held seat in Congress. Not that Carney is interested in attaching any national significance to his race. “I’ll support (President Barack Obama) when I think he’s right and I won’t when I think he proposes something that isn’t in the best interests of Delaware,” he says…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • W.Va. Gov. Manchin wins Dem primary for US Senate: Popular Gov. Joe Manchin won the Democratic nomination Saturday and will face GOP primary winner and wealthy businessman John Raese in the race to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Robert C. Byrd. Raese defeated a crowded field of Republicans and becomes part of the GOP quest to dismantle the Democratic Senate majority as high unemployment and the slow economic recovery take a toll on their political prospects this fall…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Crist, Meek tout plans to stimulate economy: Two of Florida’s U.S. Senate hopefuls, Gov. Charlie Crist and Congressman Kendrick Meek, on Sunday touted their plans to stimulate the lagging economy…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Tweet by AK Senate candidate’s staffer causes stir: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Miller apologized on Twitter and a campaign staffer was told to exercise more caution Friday after someone in Miller’s campaign sent a tweet that appeared to liken a possible party switch by Sen. Lisa Murkowski to prostitution. The item posted on Miller’s Twitter account Friday said, “What’s the difference b/n selling out your party’s values and the oldest profession?” The tweet linked to an online article speculating on whether Murkowski would run on the Libertarian Party ticket if she loses the GOP primary to Miller. Murkowski’s campaign responded by calling the tweet “disgusting” and demanding an apology, after which Miller issued another tweet that said: “Please accept my apologies. Staffer trying to encourage Libertarians not to sell out.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Democratic Campaign Chief Says Tea Party Will Hurt Republicans: Victories of “extreme right” Tea Party-backed congressional candidates in Republican primaries will help the Democratic Party retain control of the House by alienating independent voters who will determine the November election outcome, the House Democrats’ campaign chief said.
    Many Republican candidates “emerging from the primaries are on the far right of the political spectrum, and many are driven by the Tea Party movement,” Representative Chris Van Hollen told reporters in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Low-Profile Alaskan Swaps Law Court for the Limelight: This time last year, Joe Miller was augmenting his income from his private legal practice by working as a part-time attorney for the borough here, and had to put in for leave to take an elk-hunting trip with two of his sons.
    Now, the 43-year-old Mr. Miller stands on the brink of what would be one of this year’s biggest political upsets. If his slim lead in last Tuesday’s GOP primary holds, he will oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski from a seat she and her father, Frank, have held for 30 years.
    The final vote tally is expected within two weeks, after the state finishes counting 11,266 absentee ballots. With 100% of precincts counted, Mr. Miller currently leads by 1,668 votes. Most political watchers expect a Miller victory, and observers in Alaska and across the U.S. are taking a closer look at a man who, even in Fairbanks, maintained a low profile before he jumped into the race against Ms. Murkowski last April…. – WSJ, 5-27-10
  • Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: this season’s must-see political slugfest: The US Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle in Nevada is so close and the stakes are so high that the political world is riveted…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-10
  • John McCain survives Tea Party challenge at US primaries John McCain wins in Arizona after Sarah Palin endorsement, Tea Party’s Joe Miller set for surprise defeat of Alaska senator: Tea Party activists were on the verge of achieving one of the biggest upsets of the year by ousting the sitting Republican senator for Alaska, a scalp that would compensate for their failure earlier in the day to defeat the former presidential candidate John McCain.
    With 98% (91,000) of the votes counted in Alaska, the senator, Lisa Murkowski, was trailing Joe Miller on 51%. Miller has a lead of 1,190 votes, but still with 16,000 absentee ballots to be counted. Although Murkowski has been the senator since 2002 and polls suggested an easy win, Miller enjoyed Tea Party support, including one of its unofficial figureheads, the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
    In a year that has seen establishment candidates beaten by outsiders in Republican primaries across the country, Alaska could be added to a list of Tea Party battle honours that already include Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Utah.
    Miller’s surprise success suggests nationwide resentment over lack of jobs and the slowness of economic recovery remains as strong as ever, with voters blaming Washington…. – Guardian UK, 8-25-10
  • As GOP civil war rages, Democrats look to benefit: A Republican civil war is raging, with righter-than-thou conservatives dominating ever more primaries in a fight for the party’s soul. And the Democrats hope to benefit. The latest examples of conservative insurgents’ clout came Tuesday at opposite ends of the country. In Florida, political newcomer Rick Scott beat longtime congressman and state Attorney General Bill McCollum for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. And in Alaska, tea party activists and Sarah Palin pushed Sen. Lisa Murkowski to the brink of defeat, depending on absentee ballot counts in her race against outsider Joe Miller…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • McCain, Murkowski Primary Results Send Mixed Messages Incumbents McCain and Meek win, while Palin, Tea Party flex their Alaska muscle: Tuesday’s Senate primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska were a test for the major players in the 2010 primaries: the establishment, wealthy political newcomers, and the Tea Party movement. Two establishment candidates prevailed, GOP Sen. John McCain in Arizona and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek in Florida. And the fate of a third hangs in the balance in Alaska, where officials determined that the race between eight-year incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller is too close to call. The Alaska outcome will be decided by the 16,000 absentee ballots, and officials said it could take a week to determine the final results. Murkowski, the fifth ranking Republican in the Senate, said she will not concede the race in which she was about 2,000 votes behind Miller as of Wednesday morning. If Murkowski loses, she will be the seventh incumbent, and fourth Republican, taken down by voters this primary season. A Miller win would be seen as a substantial victory for Palin in her home state and for the Tea Party movement nationally, though a high-profile Tea Party candidate, J.D. Hayworth, lost to McCain in Arizona…. – US News, 8-25-10
  • In Alaska, Doubts About Climate Change Rise With a New Politician: Alaska’s cliffhanger primary is poised to propel a climate skeptic toward the U.S. Senate, observers say, likely bolstering the number of nominations achieved by conservative candidates who challenge manmade global warming. Republican Joe Miller, a former judge with a Yale law degree, showcased Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s past support for climate legislation, among other things, before slipping by her at the voting stations Tuesday to capture a 1,900 vote lead with several thousand absentee ballots still being counted…. – NYT, 8-26-10
  • Where GOP’s Lisa Murkowski went wrong and John McCain went right: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska didn’t open her war chest in time, and it may have cost her the GOP primary. Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, by contrast, spent early and often… – CS Monitor, 8-25-10
  • Murkowski Counts on History Lesson to Remain Confident in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared Wednesday that “it ain’t over yet, folks” as she faced the prospect of being ousted by a conservative challenger backed by Sarah Palin amid widespread anti-incumbent rage this year. Joe Miller leads Murkowski by about 2,000 votes with several thousand absentee ballots still to be counted, putting him in position to potentially be the latest political newcomer to defeat a well-known incumbent.
    At a news conference in Anchorage, Murkowski mentioned that then-Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008 went to bed one night in the lead and learned later he had lost his Senate seat of 40 years to Mark Begich. She said U.S. Rep. Don Young also reminded her of a race he had won after going into the election thinking he would be the clear loser. “There is much, much yet to be counted,” she said.
    Regardless of who prevails, the Republican primary is a sign of Palin’s clout in her home state after the former governor and vice presidential candidate had suffered a string of loses recently in endorsing other candidates nationally…. – AP, 8-25-10
  • Arizona primary: Why McCain is set to beat the anti-incumbent backlash: Polls suggest Sen. John McCain is set to win his primary Tuesday. Some voters have been turned off by his attack ads and big spending in the race against J.D. Hayworth. But it has worked…. – CS Monitor, 8-24-10
  • Establishment vs. outsiders in primaries: It’s the political establishment vs. the outsiders in Tuesday’s primaries. And the establishment has the better odds.
    Republican Sens. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski were poised to win bitter primaries in Arizona and Alaska against tea-party-backed candidates.
    In Florida, boatloads of cash may not be enough to propel former health care executive Rick Scott and real estate businessman Jeff Greene to victory in gubernatorial and Senate primaries.
    “I think the voters have figured out that no matter how much money some guy spends, just because he’s wealthy and can run ads that slam the other guy doesn’t make him the right person to govern Florida,” said state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is locked in a bruising Republican gubernatorial campaign against Scott…. – AP, 8-24-10
  • Republican Chuck Hagel backs Democrat in Pa. Senate race: Republican Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator, will endorse Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s competitive U.S. Senate race…. – USA Today, 8-23-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson

  • Remarks by the President on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana Xavier University New Orleans, Louisiana: … Now, even as we continue our recovery efforts, we’re also focusing on preparing for future threats so that there is never another disaster like Katrina. The largest civil works project in American history is underway to build a fortified levee system. And as I — just as I pledged as a candidate, we’re going to finish this system by next year so that this city is protected against a 100-year storm. We should not be playing Russian roulette every hurricane season. (Applause.) And we’re also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina — were not just damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades.
    And when I came here four years ago, one thing I found striking was all the greenery that had begun to come back. And I was reminded of a passage from the book of Job. “There is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its tender branch will not cease.” The work ahead will not be easy, and there will be setbacks. There will be challenges along the way. But thanks to you, thanks to the great people of this great city, New Orleans is blossoming again. – WH, 8-29-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama: As the Combat Mission in Iraq Ends, We Must Pay Tribute to Those Who Have Served: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House August 28, 2010: On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war.
    As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As President, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.
    In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protect our civilian and military efforts. But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.
    As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful nation must pay tribute to all who have served there. Because part of responsibly ending this war is meeting our responsibility to those who have fought it.
    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now make up America’s longest continuous combat engagement. For the better part of a decade, our troops and their families have served tour after tour with honor and heroism, risking and often giving their lives for the defense of our freedom and security. More than one million Americans in uniform have served in Iraq – far more than any conflict since Vietnam. And more than one million who have served in both wars have now finished their service and joined the proud ranks of America’s veterans.
    What this new generation of veterans must know is this: our nation’s commitment to all who wear its uniform is a sacred trust that is as old as our republic itself. It is one that, as President, I consider a moral obligation to uphold.
    At the same time, these are new wars; with new missions, new methods, and new perils. And what today’s veterans have earned – what they have every right to expect – is new care, new opportunity, and a new commitment to their service when they come home…. – WH, 8-28-10
  • Hurricane Katrina: Five Years of Remembering & RebuildingWH, 8-25-10
  • Vice President Biden on Iraq and Our Veterans: “These Homecomings Are Something I Have Long Looked Forward To…”: These homecomings are something I have long looked forward to, and I know many of you have as well. The day my son Beau returned from a yearlong tour in Iraq, and I watched him embrace his wife and children, was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. By the end of next year—2011—our remaining troops in Iraq will have come home to their families and a grateful nation. This is only possible because of the extraordinary progress our military—the finest fighting force this planet has ever seen—has brought about, led by the great General Ray Odierno…. – WH, 8-24-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • PETER BERKOWITZ: The Death of Conservatism Was Greatly Exaggerated In 2008 liberals proclaimed the collapse of Reaganism. Two years later the idea of limited government is back in vogue: Last August left little doubt that a conservative revival was underway. Constituents packed town-hall meetings across the country to confront Democratic House members and senators ill-prepared to explain why, in the teeth of a historic economic downturn and nearly 10% employment, President Obama and his party were pressing ahead with costly health-care legislation instead of reining in spending, cutting the deficit and spurring economic growth.
    Still, whether that revival would have staying power was very much open to question. A year later—and notwithstanding the Democrats’ steadily declining poll numbers and the mounting electoral momentum that could well produce a Republican majority in the House and a substantial swing in the Senate—it still is.
    Sustaining the revival depends on the ability of GOP leaders, office-holders and candidates to harness the extraordinary upsurge of popular opposition to Mr. Obama’s aggressive progressivism. Our constitutional tradition provides enduring principles that should guide them…. – WSJ, 8-28-10
  • PEGGY NOONAN: We Just Don’t Understand Americans look at the president and see a stranger: All presidents take vacations, and all are criticized for it. It’s never the right place, the right time. Ronald Reagan went to the ranch, George W. Bush to Crawford, both got knocked. Bill Clinton even poll-tested a vacation site and still was criticized. But Martha’s Vineyard—elite, upscale—can’t have done President Obama any good, especially following the first lady’s foray in Spain. The general feeling this week was summed up by David Letterman: “He’ll have plenty of time for vacations when his one term is up. Plenty of time.”… – WSJ, 8-27-10
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Tuesday’s tutorial: a GOP too far right: Republicans are in the midst of an insurrection. Democrats are not. This vast gulf between the situations of the two parties — not some grand revolt against “the establishment” or “incumbents” — explains the year’s primary results, including Tuesday’s jarring outcomes in Florida and Alaska.
    The agitation among Republicans is not surprising, given the trauma of the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency. After heavy losses in 2006 and 2008, it was natural that GOP loyalists would seek a new direction.
    Liberals who saw Bush’s presidency as a failed right-wing experiment thought Republicans would search for more moderate ground, much as Britain’s Tories turned to the soothing leadership of David Cameron to organize their comeback. But this expectation overlooked the exodus of moderates over the past decade, which has shifted the balance of power in Republican primaries far to the right. As a result, the main critique of Bush in Republican ranks casts him as insufficiently conservative — too inclined to support federal action on education and in expanding prescription drug assistance to the elderly, and too ready to run up the deficit…. – WaPo, 8-26-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: GOP needs a Reagan to unite its factions: The debate over the construction of an Islamic center and mosque in New York exploded into a fierce national controversy. President Obama was unable to contain the issue, and his comments only added fuel to the fire. Polls show that his approval ratings continue to fall.
    But the debate over the Islamic center and mosque tells us as much about the tensions that are brewing within the Republican Party as it does about the challenges facing the White House. It is unclear whether any Republican has the capacity to unite the party and help repair the damage inflicted by the final year of President George W. Bush’s presidency.
    The same week that many conservatives were laser-focused on Muslims and the mosque, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed published in The Boston Globe criticizing the administration’s economic policies. Romney argued that Obama’s policies have been hampering, not helping, economic recovery and outlined as an alternative a package of tax cuts that he believes would generate growth.
    If Republicans can’t find a unifying figure like Reagan, and instead move toward one of the candidates who leans heavily toward one of these factions, the party won’t be able to prevent the contradictions and internal tensions from drowning any effort to challenge Obama. – CNN, 8-24-10
  • Joe Klein: Dems Depressed and Disheartened: The lead item on Politico–titled “Dems Urge Obama to Take a Stand”–is almost surrealistic. Take a stand? The guy passed health care, a stimulus bill that helped avoid a Depression, a groundbreaking financial reform bill that is too complicated to be popularly described, a bailout that enabled General Motors and Chrysler to survive. He nominated two estimable women to the Supreme Court. He restored America’s image in the world. I can go on…
    But Dems are distressed? He’s not populist or ideological enough? Oh please. There are several ways to go about the presidency. Ronald Reagan chose one way: he said one thing and did another. He was for cutting back the size of government, but didn’t. He was for lowering taxes and he did, but then he raised taxes–two of the laegest percentage increases in American history–when his supply-side “philosophy” proved a phony. He confronted the Soviet Union, but he also would have agreed to massive reductions in nuclear arsenals if the Soviets had allowed him to pursue his Star Wars fantasy…. – Times, 8-23-10
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