History Buzz May 16, 2013: Julian Zelizer on President Barack Obama stands against flurry of scandal

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Obama stands against flurry of scandal

Source: Globe & Mail, 5-16-13

…But second-term stumbles could be the mark of a bright future, according to Princeton University history and public affairs professor Julian Zelizer.

“Second-term presidents who have had scandals have gone on to do big things after,” he said. “Reagan had Iran-Contra but he ended up negotiating an end to the Cold War. … [Bill] Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives but went on to have surpluses, mount a military offensive in Yugoslavia and is one of the most popular presidents. Even George Bush, who was very unpopular and had his own scandals, ended up with the passage of [a financial bailout].”

Prof. Zelizer added: “It’s much too early to count [the President] out, not only in terms of survival but in terms of what he can accomplish. There’s still a lot of space for him to be more than just a lame duck.”…READ MORE

History Headlines April 8, 2013: Julian Zelizer: Margaret Thatcher And Ronald Reagan Remembered As Political Soul Mates

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY HEADLINE NEWS

History Buzz

HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

Margaret Thatcher And Ronald Reagan Remembered As Political Soul Mates

Source: Inquisitr, 4-8-13

Margaret Thatcher And Ronald Reagan Remembered As Political Soul Mates

Former first lady Nancy Reagan recalls the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan friendship:

“Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates  committed to freedom and resolved to end communism. As prime minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to ‘rock the boat.’ As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people.”…

Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University historian, says Margaret Thatcher “certainly liked Reagan a lot from the moment he won office and he felt the same. They had a deep respect, admiration and a friendship. Each believed in the strength of free markets, disdained communism and saw themselves and their countries as part of a transatlantic alliance.”…READ MORE

History Buzz March 8, 2013: Julian Zelizer interviews John Milton Cooper Jr.: Princeton’s Wilson School celebrates centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as US president

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Wilson School celebrates centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as U.S. president

Source: Woodrow Wilson School Office of Communications, 3-8-13

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson as the 28th President of the United States, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs hosted a conversation with Wilson biographer John Milton Cooper Jr., Class of 1961.

Cooper, author of “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography,” was interviewed Feb. 21 by Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian who is a professor of history and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School. The event celebrating the centennial of Wilson’s inauguration March 14, 1913, was co-sponsored by the Wilson School and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum….READ MORE

Featured Historians February 25, 2013: Julian Zelizer: If spending is cut, GOP will get the blame

FEATURED HISTORIANS

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HISTORY OP-EDS

If spending is cut, GOP will get the blame

Source: Julian Zelizer, CNN, 2-25-13

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Washington’s budget fight will grab public’s attention if no deal reached
  • He says painful cuts will lead the public to blame Republicans for Washington’s dysfunction
  • Americans don’t like government spending in general but like specific programs, he says
  • Zelizer: GOP needs to rethink its reliance on deficit reduction as a prime strategy

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and “Governing America.”

Until now “sequestration” has been a word that only means something to people living inside the Beltway or to political junkies who depend on their daily dose of Politico and The Hill. But if Congress and the president do not reach a deal by March 1, which appears likely, Americans will quickly learn what it means — namely deep spending cuts….READ MORE

Featured Historians January 20, 2013: Julian Zelizer: Obama’s speech: Learning from Lincoln, Wilson, FDR

FEATURED HISTORIANS

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HISTORY OP-EDS

Obama’s speech: Learning from Lincoln, Wilson, FDR

Source: Julian Zelizer, CNN, 1-20-13

Watch this video

1865: Lincoln talks of ‘sin of slavery’

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Julian Zelizer: Second term inaugural addresses are always a challenge
    • He says the public has had four years to make a judgment about the president
    • Obama can learn from second term speeches of Lincoln, Wilson, FDR
    • Zelizer says they did a good job of unifying America and sketching vision of the future

Editor’s note: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and of “Governing America.”

The second inaugural address is always more difficult than the first. When a president-elect first steps onto the national stage, he still enjoys a certain degree of innocence and hope. Americans are waiting to see if the new president will be different. When a new president delivers his speech, voters don’t yet have a record that might make them cynical.

But by the second term, voters are familiar, and often tired, with the occupant of the White House. Even though they liked him more than his opponents, the president has usually been through some pretty tough battles and his limitations have been exposed. It becomes much harder to deliver big promises, when the people watching have a much clearer sense of your limitations and of the strength of your opponents.

So President Barack Obama faces a big test when he appears before the nation Monday….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 2, 2012: Julian Zelizer: The mistakes candidates make in debates

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

The mistakes candidates make in debates

Source: Julian Zelizer, CNN, 10-2-12

Watch this video

Best moments from presidential debates

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Julian Zelizer: Top priority for candidates in debates is to avoid mistakes
    • He says gaffes have the potential to change how voters view a candidate
    • Candidates are viewed not only for what they say but for their body language, he says
    • Zelizer: Obama, Romney will be under a microscope Wednesday night when the debates begin

Editor’s note: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and of the new book “Governing America.”

(CNN) — Commentators usually make too much of presidential debates. Social science data consistently show that there are very few presidential debates that make a huge difference in the dynamics of a campaign — other than a few exceptions where the race was incredibly narrow, as in 1960 or 2000, and the performance of candidates had some impact.

Regardless of whether they are game-changers, the presidential debates are still an important part of the broader narrative about each candidate that voters evaluate when they step into the voting booth in November.

More important than doing well is avoiding mistakes. Particularly in the current age of YouTube and nightly political news comedy, any slip-up can become fodder for the 24-hour news cycle. The last thing that a candidate wants to do is provide material for the “Saturday Night Live” comedy writers who are eagerly preparing for the next show.

The mistakes the presidential candidates have made over the years are numerous. Poor body language has been a common blunder. As much as candidates focus on perfecting the substance of what they say before the cameras, a large number of Americans are really most interested to see how they say it….READ MORE

History Buzz August 20, 2012: Julian Zelizer: In convention speeches, history is made

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

In convention speeches, history is made

Source: CNN, 8-20-12

After losing the nomination to Gerald Ford, left, Ronald Reagan delivered an impromptu speech at the 1976 GOP convention.

After losing the nomination to Gerald Ford, left, Ronald Reagan delivered an impromptu speech at the 1976 GOP convention.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Speeches are the highlight of each party’s political convention, says Julian Zelizer
    • Some speeches put forth ideas that shape the next generation of candidates, he says
    • Others eviscerate the opposition, permanently defining candidates and parties, he says
    • Zelizer: Some speeches inspire, others make instant stars, and others flop resoundingly

 

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and of the new book “Governing America.”

Now the party is really starting. Democrats and Republicans are preparing to gather to hold their conventions, each using this precious time to tell the nation what its presidential candidate is all about….

Without any more deal-making in smoke-filled rooms, speeches are the highlight of the convention. Even when speeches are made at conventions whose candidate winds up losing, they can offer ideas and rhetoric that become integral to the party for decades to come. A look back at history reveals that there are different types of speeches that we might see in the coming weeks, each with very different purposes and effect….READ MORE

History Buzz August 11, 2012: Julian Zelizer: How Ryan Could Help Romney

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Julian Zelizer: How Ryan could help Romney

Source: CNN, 8-11-12

Mitt Romney has taken many people by surprise by announcing that his vice presidential running mate will be Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan. The decision excites many conservatives who have been calling on Romney to go big. They believe Ryan will inject some juice into a campaign they feel has been lackluster and put the focus on the policy differences between Romney and President Obama.

The primary risk with Ryan, from what we currently know about him, is that his controversial budget plan and tough line on Medicare could energize liberals and alienate elderly voters in key states like Florida. He also lacks foreign policy expertise and has spent most of his career in the city that conservatives hate, Washington. In recent decades, the record of vice presidential running mates who have come right out of the House is not very good….READ MORE

History Buzz March 9, 2012: Julian Zelizer: Dual life as scholar, mainstream news pundit

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Zelizer: Dual life as scholar, mainstream news pundit

Source: Daily Princetonian, 3-9-12

Related: Top Newsmakers: This Week… Julian Zelizer: Assessing the Bush Presidency & “Decision Points” in the Media, Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman, HNN, 10-11-10

Photo by Ananda Zhu
History and Wilson School professor Julian Zelizer has appeared 18 times on Bloomberg television in the past month.

Like many American fathers, after Wilson School professor Julian Zelizer wakes up in the morning, he takes his kids to school and then heads to the gym. But instead of watching sports highlights or listening to music while he lifts weights, Zelizer mulls over ideas for his weekly CNN column.

It is rare for professors to appear in mass media as much as Zelizer does. In addition to teaching HIS 583: Readings in American Political History this semester, Zelizer has appeared 18 times on Bloomberg television in the past month. On Sept. 10, he authored a column in The New York Times about the history of one-term presidents. Two days later, he was back in his home outlet, penning away on the political legacy of 9/11.

Throughout his tenure as a professor, Zelizer has made somewhat of a career out of radio, television and opinion political commentaries. He has established his status as a public intellectual in the pundit-dominated world of media.

Zelizer’s commentary focuses on contemporary politics, and he said that he often tries to put current events in historical perspectives for viewers or readers.

“So what’s going on in the elections now? Have we seen some of this before, or what can we learn from the past? That’s usually what people want me for,” Zelizer said.

Zelizer, whose mother Viviana Zelizer is a sociology professor at the University, grew up in what he described as an academic family. During his undergraduate years at Brandeis University, he developed a passion for politics and began to aspire to a career in which he could learn and teach about politics.

According to Zelizer, his first media appearance was a completely chance occurrence. During his first academic job as a professor of history and public policy at SUNY Albany, a local television network reached out to him for comment on the ongoing impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“One of the local televisions was putting a panel together on the issue on campus, and they invited me to appear,” Zelizer said. “They kept having me back after that.”

The media’s requests for Zelizer to appear continued, and were occasionally beyond the purview of his primary area of expertise. In what he said was “the single outlier” in his long history of political commentary, Zelizer made a series of appearances on the local production of Monday Night Football.

“I was at a restaurant bar, and they were doing a local sports show live,” Zelizer said. “The football host said, ‘Does anyone here like the New York Jets?’ which is my favorite team, and I raised my hand.”

“They had so much fun with the [idea of a] professor who knew so much about football, and for several years I would go every Monday … and [do] these 15-minute clips on the professor taking calls about the NY Jets.”

While he said he remembered the incident, as funny stories, these appearances actually helped solidify his presence as a media mainstay.

As he began making more and more political commentary in the public sphere, Zelizer noticed that his work in the media bolstered his skills as a professor.

“It sometimes helps with my teaching, because when you are on a radio show or write op-ed, there’s a certain amount of clarity you need to achieve,” Zelizer said.

While on the air, he said, he needs to be succinct and cannot expect his audience to be familiar with the issues he is discussing. These skills are transferrable to the classroom.

“When I come into the classroom, it’s helped me to really think through the assumptions I have about what students know and help me be clear on some of the big issues,” Zelizer said.

Additionally, he noted that his weekly column for CNN has helped him get in the habit of writing consistently, which has perhaps made the process of writing eight published books considerably more manageable.

Zelizer’s combination of scholarship and media appearances has produced a synergy effect, according to politics professor Martin Gilens, who is teaching POL 327: Mass Media and American Politics this semester.

“Good scholarship takes substantial time and effort,” Gilens said. “But scholarship in the social sciences and humanities can be strengthened by the discipline of thinking broadly about public issues and about the implications of academic insights for matters of public importance.”

Gilens said that Zelizer’s commentary has provided the public with access to thoughtful, well-informed commentary on the important issues facing the country and the world.

“So much ‘punditry’ these days is ignorant or partisan or both,” Gilens said. “Professor Zelizer’s ability to bring his insights as a political historian to a wider public audience makes an important contribution to the quality of the public debate.”

Zelizer said that he does not have any trouble balancing his public appearances with his teaching and responsibilities at the University. He said he usually teaches courses on subjects that he is working on at the moment and added that he normally teaches three courses a year.

Last semester, Zelizer taught WWS 460: The Great Society and Social Policymaking and WWS 529: Great Leadership in Historical Perspective, a course open to graduate students in the Wilson School about the leadership styles of people who have been successful in politics.

Julia Blount ’12, a history major who has Zelizer as her thesis advisor, said that Zelizer successfully balances his life as an academic and a commentator.

“I don’t think that his involvement in the media has influenced the way he has advised my thesis at all, at least not in terms of the content of the feedback he provides,” Blount said. “It quickly became clear to me that his involvement in the fast-paced world of the media has made him one of the most responsive professors on campus in terms of returning emails … which I really appreciate.”

Another advantage that Zelizer’s public profile brings to the University is a deep Rolodex of public figures who are sometimes difficult to get in contact with. Among the guests Zelizer has helped bring to campus are a filmmaker who made a documentary on AIDS in Africa and the mayor of Philadelphia, who spoke to the campus community about urban politics and poverty.

“It has been effective that I get to bring interesting people for the students to meet,” said Zelizer, who often speaks on campus and in the local community himself, usually about elections or his research.

Zelizer said that his greatest assets are his passion for the subjects he works with and his efficiency in getting work done.

“I like to work in my office,” Zelizer said. “I love to be here. If I have class, I prepare for it. If I’m writing, I work on the book I’m working on a little bit.”

Throughout the process of writing the 300 editorials, 13 books and numerous academic papers he has published during his time as a professor at the University, Zelizer has developed specific writing techniques and strategies.

“Being methodical is a very important strategy,” Zelizer said. “It’s not you sitting on the top of the mountain and it all comes out; you have to sit down and think through what you want to do. Every day, I kind of build this up.”

Though becoming such a visible public figure was something he said he never anticipated, he noted that he is very satisfied with his dual roles as a University professor and public intellectual.

“I feel fortunate to have this job,” Zelizer said. “When I started, I thought [the media] was a one-time thing; I never pursued it. It’s been a pleasure to write. It’s an honor to participate in public life.”

Featured Historian Julian Zelizer: What Newt Gingrich offers the GOP

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Julian Zelizer: What Newt Gingrich offers the GOP

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich drew a great deal of attention in the CNN National Security Debate on Tuesday.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich drew a great deal of attention in the CNN National Security Debate on Tuesday.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich got the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader
  • Julian Zelizer says Gingrich aids GOP by putting focus on what it should stand for
  • Gingrich has been more successful at promoting ideas than in leadership roles, he says
  • Zelizer: Gingrich unlikely to win, but his impact will be felt

Newt Gingrich’s candidacy received an unexpected boost when New Hampshire’s Union Leader endorsed him this weekend.

The publisher wrote: “We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing. He did so with the Contract with America. He did it in bringing in the first Republican House in 40 years and by forging balanced budgets and even a surplus despite the political challenge of dealing with a Democratic President.”

Say what you will about Gingrich, but he thrives when it comes to the politics of ideas. Gingrich, a former history professor, is extraordinarily comfortable when it comes to vigorous and open debates about the ideas of conservatism.

Julian Zelizer

Julian Zelizer

Rarely satisfied with the status quo, Gingrich likes to try pushing the boundaries of what his party stands for. “People overvalue money and undervalue ideas,” Gingrich recently told one newspaper. “That’s part of the core gamble of this campaign. I actually think ideas matter.”

His candidacy comes at a time when Republicans have not devoted much time to intellectual introspection. For decades, the party became comfortable with the privileges of power.

Republicans spent more time focusing on how they wanted to use their power and protect their political position than on talking about the ideas that the party stood for….

He will stimulate other candidates to join in these kinds of debates, thinking through what the party should stand for. This would help them make a more compelling case to voters for their candidacy — beyond simply not being Obama. This is especially important amid the dysfunction in government that keeps Washington from doing much about anything.

The idea man has an important role in American politics, even if he himself is unable to win office.

Gingrich fills that role, giving Republicans a candidate who is thinking more seriously about what the party is trying to accomplish and how to command the loyalty of voters for years to come.

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” (Times Books) and author of the forthcoming book “Governing America” (Princeton University Press).

Featured Historian Julian E. Zelizer: What happened to spirit of 9/12?

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What happened to spirit of 9/12?

Former President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the 9/11 Memorial in New York during the 1oth anniversary observance.
Former President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the 9/11 Memorial in New York during the 1oth anniversary observance.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Julian Zelizer: Politicians of both parties pledged to work together after 9/11
  • He says that bipartisan spirit after attacks evaporated quickly
  • Zelizer says Democrats, GOP clashed over status of TSA workers
  • He says partisan forces too powerful for most politicians to overcome

Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” (Times Books) and editor of a book assessing former President George W. Bush’s administration, published by Princeton University Press.

In the days following the horrendous attacks against the United States on 9/11, all the talk in Washington was about the need for bipartisanship. Republicans and Democrats promised that they would work together to protect the home front and capture those who were responsible.

On the day after, Democrats and Republicans followed the traditional post-military crisis ritual of promising to work on policies in bipartisan fashion. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton — who was still struggling to gain her sea legs in her first year on Capitol Hill, after having spent eight years serving as the first lady during some bruising partisan battles — announced that it was important to be “united behind our president and our government, sending a very clear message that this is something that transcends any political consideration or partisanship.”

Republicans also promised political peace. House Speaker Dennis Hastert assured the nation that “we are in complete agreement that we will work together, that we want to share information, that we will be ready to move on whatever the president suggests, and we will go through the debate and the actions of Congress in a bipartisan way to make that happen.” The kind of partisan sniping that voters were accustomed to, he and his colleagues said, would be a thing of the past.

The political question on September 12 was how long this unity would last: Would the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil really transform the politics of national security?

Ten years later, it is evident that the answer was clearly no. The period of good feelings did not last long. One of the most striking aspects of 9/11 was that even a tragedy of this scale could not tame the partisan forces that shape American politics….

Could the promise of September 12 ever be fulfilled? Certainly today there are enormous areas of consensus between the parties, such as over most counterterrorism policies, over the need for strong homeland security programs and even for strong military vigilance with countries such as North Korea and Pakistan.

Nonetheless, the partisan forces that play out on the campaign trail are simply too great to overcome. If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s how deeply rooted partisanship is in our modern political culture. Even a tragedy of its magnitude could barely contain the forces that perpetually rip apart members of the two parties.

Ten years ago, the parties came together. But they came together just for a brief spell. In the long span of history, it was as if the moment ended before either side could even blink.

Featured Historians Julian E. Zelizer: Americans want security for 2012

FEATURED HISTORIANS

Julian E. Zelizer: Americans want security for 2012

tzleft.zelizer_newpic.jpg
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Julian Zelizer: Economic security is going to be defining theme of 2012 race
  • Americans want to know jobs are safe and available, he says
  • Zelizer: Neither party has done a good job developing policies for economic security
  • He says FDR provided security to U.S., while Ford and Carter didn’t

Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” (Times Books) and editor of a book assessing former President George W. Bush’s administration, published by Princeton University Press.

Just as the 2004 presidential election was all about the concept of security, the same term will shape the campaigns of 2012.

But this time around, the issue is not national security and the threat of terrorists but the search for security amid the ongoing struggles that Americans have faced with the economy.

High unemployment, laggard economic growth and a turbulent stock market have left many middle class Americans terrified about what comes next. Almost three-quarters of Americans, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, said that the country is moving in the wrong direction.

During the 2012 election, voters will be looking for a candidate who can restore some sense of economic security: a candidate who can provide them with confidence that their jobs won’t disappear (and that new jobs will emerge for those without them) and that their income will remain steady….

Republicans have not provided much of a vision of how they would restore economic security for the middle class. They have focused on the traditional conservative magic bullet solutions of deficit reduction and government spending cuts — without tax increases — neither of which would have any major impact on the current unemployment rates or address the underlying challenges that the economy has been facing for over a decade.

Today’s candidates from both parties are closer to their predecessors in the 1970s than the 1930s. Political leaders are having trouble providing guidance and hope as a devastating economy has turned life into a constant struggle for many Americans. In 2012, the nation will have a chance to hear what each party plans to do to turn things around. The candidate who can offer a more compelling case is likely to end up in the White House.

Featured Historians Julian E. Zelizer: Where are the Democrats’ ideas?

FEATURED HISTORIANS

Julian E. Zelizer: Where are the Democrats’ ideas?

tzleft.julian.zelizer.jroemer.jpg
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lately, the silence of liberalism has been striking, says Julian E. Zelizer
  • During the debate over the debt ceiling, Republicans hammered home their point, he says
  • Yet the Democratic response was mostly half-hearted, he says
  • Zelizer: Unless Democrats put forth ideas of their own, they will suffer at the ballot box

Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” (Times Books) and editor of a book assessing former President George W. Bush’s administration, published by Princeton University Press.

When Sen. Ted Kennedy died in August 2009, many Democrats wondered who would replace him as the voice of modern liberalism. With a Democratic president who was then fighting for an ambitious health care program, many felt Barack Obama would be that voice.

But over the past few months Obama has not filled this role, as became clear during the debate over the debt ceiling. Other than a handful of party officials, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the silence of liberalism has been striking.

Since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010, Democrats have been acting like a football team that starts the game so focused on not allowing the other team to score that they themselves don’t have much of a plan for how to score.

One factor that allowed the GOP to rebound from the devastating loss it faced in 2008 was its ability to come together around a handful of ideas that animated supporters….

Unless Democrats start to put forward some ideas of their own, they will suffer at the ballot box. In the end, most Americans want something to vote for, and candidates they can believe in.

Candidate Obama realized this in 2008 and used it to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primaries. As president, Obama has acted very differently and risks intensifying the ideological vacuum that has caused so many problems for his party.

Featured Historians Julian Zelizer: The painful price of deficit hysteria — Debt Ceiling Showdown

FEATURED HISTORIANS

Source: Julian Zelizer, Salon, 7-29-11

The painful price of deficit hysteria

Library of Congress/AP
Barry Goldwater and Paul Ryan

Regardless of the outcome of the debt ceiling debate, conservatives have already scored a major victory over liberalism. Even if President Obama emerges from the struggle in stronger political shape than the GOP, the fiscalization of American politics — meaning the focus of debate on deficits and debt — constitutes a powerful blow to liberal Democrats who once hoped that President Obama’s election would herald a new era for their cause.

Liberals were wrong. Conservatives, who have a mediocre field of presidential candidates and who don’t control the Senate, have been able to stand their ground.

Perhaps one of their most lasting accomplishments since the midterm elections has been their ability to shift national debate toward the problem of deficit reduction. While there has been disagreement among politicians and economists about whether this is the correct time to deal with this issue given the laggard state of the economy, conservatives have won the battle. Even Nancy Pelosi said this week, “It is clear we must enter an era of austerity, to reduce the deficit through shared sacrifice.”

We are all fiscal conservatives now, at least on paper.

None of this should come as a surprise. Focusing on deficit reduction has been a long-standing strategy for proponents of conservatism ever since modern liberalism took hold in the 20th century. Whenever liberals make progress on their policy agenda, conservatives’ best bet has been to talk about the budget. While it is difficult to directly oppose many government programs, since the public tends to support specific services, it is easy to raise fears about overall costs. Those are just numbers, not programs. Moreover, budget-balancing has long been symbolically important to many Americans. As the political scientist James Savage has shown, a balanced budget represents to many citizens the perception that the government maintains control over its operations….READ MORE

Julian Zelizer: The Reagan Centennial, Reagan the politician

Source: Politico, 2-6-11

Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill are pictured. | AP Photo

Movements need leaders who are good at politics if they want to succeed. Nobody understood this more than Ronald Reagan. | AP Photo Close

Politics is a dirty word in Washington. Movement activists, on the left and the right, hate when their party negotiates with the opposition and compromises on key issues.

Over the past year, tea party Republicans leveled this charge against the GOP. They complained that Republicans had become too comfortable with the wheeling and dealing so characteristic of Capitol Hill. They promise not to do the same.

But movements need leaders who are good at politics if they want to succeed. Nobody understood this more than Ronald Reagan.

While there are extensive discussions about Reagan as an actor, as a movement leader and as a diplomat, fewer observers recall that much of his career revolved around working as a politician. Indeed, this might be one of his most important contributions to the history of conservatism: Reagan fused the ideas and values of modern conservatism with the practicalities of governance…READ MORE

Examining the Bush Legacy: George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” & Julian Zelizer’s “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”

THE BUSH PRESIDENCY: GEORGE W. BUSH’S “DECISION POINTS”:

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.

George W. Bush JPG

DECISION POINTS by GEORGE W. BUSH, Crown, 2010

The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton University Press, 2010

INTRO:

President George W. Bush’s awaited memoirs Decision Points will be released on this Tuesday, November 9th from Crown, an imprint of Random House. The book is being shielded from the public until its release date however; a few copies have been released to the press. The New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and USA Today are among the media who received advanced copies, and are leaking excerpts from the memoirs.

Early reviews have ranged widely from the lukewarm reception in the Washington Post, ‘Competent, readable and flat’ Decision Points JPG to the Washington Times glowing comments calling it it as ‘strikingly personal’, while Time has ranked Decision Points as the #2 political memoir of all time. As the publishing date gets closer, more news sources are releasing reviews of Decision Point, most are positive and some rather enthusiastic; the Christian Science Monitor hails “It’s a page- turner.”

One of the major evaluating points has been how personal Bush gets in recounting events of his presidency; the NYT claims that Bush was not one for introspection, writing; “”Decision Points” lacks the emotional precision and evocative power of his wife Laura’s book, “Spoken From the Heart,” published earlier this year, though it’s a considerably more substantial effort than Mr. Bush’s perfunctory 1999 campaign memoir, “A Charge to Keep.”” While north of the border the Montreal Gazette headlines “Dubya gets personal in memoirs.”

Crown is expecting a huge demand for the memoirs, and has ordered an initial first printing of 1.5 million copies. The book is being released in a plentitude of formats, including a deluxe multimedia e-book, which includes audio, video, letters and speeches. It is an unprecedented e-book publication, and will only be available in Amazon.com’s Kindle format. A deluxe hardcover version will be released later on November 30th.

Decision Points is divided into 14 chapters. Each chapter examines a particular defining moment in Bush’s life and presidency, including “Day of Fire” about 9/11, “Stem Cells”, “Katrina” and “Financial Crisis.” Bush opens his memoirs with the chapter “Quitting”, and the words, “It was a simple question, ‘Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?'” discussing his decision to stop drinking.

Some of the previews of the memoir appearing in the media range from revelations about Bush’s reaction to 9/11, consideration to drop his Vice President, Richard Cheney from the ticket in his 2004 re-election bid, regret over the release of the photo showing him flying over New Orleans in Air Force One after Hurricane Katrina to resoluteness concerning his decisions with Iraq, stem cell research, and the financial crisis. Bush has emphasized the lowest point of his presidency was when rapper Kayne West called Bush a racist, because he deemed the President was being indifferent to black New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermath.

This upcoming week Bush will be taking to the road to promote Decision Points, signing books in Miami and Dallas and making high profile appearances on a special interview with Matt Lauer on NBC, Monday at 8pm, and then Oprah on Tuesday. Other stops on the publicity rounds include interviews with Jay Leno, Candy Crowley on CNN on TV and with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the radio. Bush will also appear on Fox News. Bush is also including his family when he is interviewed; wife Laura Bush, and his parents Barbara Bush and former President George H. W. Bush, and brother former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will appear alongside him at various points this week. Early clips and excerpts show Oprah attempting to get Bush to give his opinions on President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin however, Bush wants to stay out of the political fray.

Coinciding with the publication of Decision Points, Princeton University Press released last month Princeton University Professor Julian E. Zelizer’s edited book The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. The scholarly work attempts to begin the historical examination of Bush’s presidency and legacy by examining in twelve essays every facet of Bush’s two terms in office, and examine the Bush presidency in relations to Obama’s Presidency. It looks not to take sides about Bush, but to look at his presidency through the prism of historical perspective.

The following includes some of the articles and excerpts released from the press about President Bush’s Decision Points and Julian Zelizer’s The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment:

COMMENTS & REVIEWS

     

  • Book review: ‘Decision Points’ by George W. Bush: The former president delivers an unexpectedly engrossing rehash of what he considers to be the pivotal moments of his eight years in office. The first great American autobiographies both appeared in the 19th century, were born of conflict and written by public men — “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” and “The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.” Since then, what we might call the publishing-industrial complex has turned the reminiscences of our public men and women into a never-ending stream. As former President George W. Bush — barely two years out of office — points out in the acknowledgement of his memoir, “Decision Points,” virtually every member of his extended, very political family has published a bestseller, including his parents’ dogs. Where does Bush’s account of his astonishingly eventful eight years rank in such company? Probably far higher than many of his detractors expected. As Bush writes in “Decision Points,” he enjoys surprising those who underestimate him. As the title suggests, the former chief executive elected to abandon the usual chronological approach to these volumes (except for a brief, obligatory foray into childhood and school years) in favor of his recollection of his presidency’s key choices and the personal decisions that Bush says prepared him to make them…. – LAT, 11-9-10
  • Global reaction to Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ memoir: It’s a page-turner: George W. Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ memoir is attracting global scrutiny for its views on everything from the Abu Ghraib scandal to Israel’s bombing of Syria to rapper Kanye West…. – CS Monitor, 11-8-10
  • Dubya gets personal in memoirs: Almost two years after leaving the White House as one of the most polarizing presidents in American history, Bush returns to the public arena Tuesday with the publication of a candid memoir, Decision Points, that recounts everything from his personal struggles with alcohol to an admission of failure in his leadership after Hurricane Katrina.
    Through a steady stream of publicity leaks and pre-publication interview excerpts, Americans already know many of the book’s highlights — including Bush’s revelation that he considered dropping Dick Cheney from the 2004 Republican ticket and his disgust with rapper Kanye West’s post-Katrina accusation that he didn’t care about black people. Almost two years after leaving the White House as one of the most polarizing presidents in history, Bush returns to the public arena Tuesday with the publication of a candid memoir, Decision Points, that reveals everything from his personal struggles with alcohol to his disappointment in having failed to capture Osama bin Laden…. – Montreal Gazette
  • Personality Intersects With Policy: George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” could well have been titled “The Decider Decides”: it’s an autobiography focused around “the most consequential decisions” of his presidency and his personal life from his decision to give up drinking in 1986 to his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to his decisions regarding the financial crisis of 2008. It is a book that is part spin, part mea culpa, part family scrapbook, part self-conscious effort to (re)shape his political legacy.
    A dogged work of reminiscence by an author not naturally given to introspection, “Decision Points” lacks the emotional precision and evocative power of his wife, Laura’s, book, “Spoken From the Heart,” published earlier this year, though it’s a considerably more substantial effort than Mr. Bush’s perfunctory 1999 campaign memoir, “A Charge to Keep.”… – NYT, 11-4-10
  • Top 10 Political Memoirs: While George W. Bush’s new memoir Decision Points doesn’t hit bookshelves until Nov. 9, it has already managed to make waves. TIME takes a look at other memorable political autobiographies… 2. George W. Bush, Decision Points, 2010: The Decider has written a book called Decision Points. George W. Bush’s presidential memoir — which covers key decisions he made from 1986 (when he vowed to stop drinking) to 2008 (when he found himself faced with the start of the financial crisis) — seems to be more honest than anyone expected. Bush still defends the Iraq war, yet describes a “sickening feeling” whenever he thinks about the absence of weapons of mass destruction. He talks about wishing he had handled Hurricane Katrina better. He refers to Dick Cheney as “the Darth Vader of the administration” and says he considered dropping him from the 2004 presidential ticket. And he relates a strange anecdote about Vladimir Putin’s assertion that his pet Labrador was “bigger, stronger, faster” than Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney. “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog,” quipped Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper upon hearing the story. Time, 11-6-10
  • George W. Bush’s ‘Decision Points’: ‘Competent, readable and flat’: All is sweet reason in “Decision Points,” George W. Bush’s account of his eight-year presidency and some of the events — quitting drinking, serving as governor of Texas — that preceded it. To be sure there are a few hints of the pugnacity Americans came to know so well — barbs directed at the press, the professoriate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a few other sitting ducks — but Bush as he presents himself here is calm, deliberative, reasonable, open-minded, God-fearing, loyal, trustworthy, patriotic.
    This should come as no surprise. The presidential memoir as it has evolved, especially in the wake of recent presidencies, is not a memoir as the term is commonly understood — an attempt to examine and interpret the writer’s life — but an attempt to write history before the historians get their hands on it. Yes, from time to time mistakes must be acknowledged — on the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, for instance, “I had sent American troops into combat based in large part on intelligence that proved false,” or on Katrina, “The problem was not that I made the wrong decisions. It was that I took too long to decide” — but the clear purpose of these non-apologies is to humanize the person making them, and to make us like him better for making them…. – WaPo, 11-6-10
  • Leaked Bush memoir ‘strikingly personal’: An anonymous source on Thursday leaked former President George W. Bush’s memoir to the Drudge Report 11 days before its scheduled publication. Excerpts from “Decision Points” have put Mr. Bush back on public radar after a long absence; the 14-chapter book is deemed a “strikingly personal” look at the president’s challenges, personal convictions and faith, and it takes few shots at his critics…. – The Washington Times, 10-29-10

THE HEADLINES….

     

  • Bush memoir ‘Decision Points’ sells 220,000 copies on first day: Former President George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” sold at least 220,000 copies through its first day of release, with more than 20 per cent generated by e-book purchases.
    Random House Inc. announced Wednesday that opening-day sales, which include preorders and represent 95 per cent of accounts reporting, was the publisher’s highest for nonfiction since former President Clinton’s “My Life” debuted with 400,000 in 2004. Bush’s book came out Tuesday with an announced first printing of 1.5 million copies, the same as Clinton’s did.
    Random House said that e-sales were 50,000 so far, a number unthinkable when “My Life” was published…. – CP, 11-10-10
  • Bush to speak in Chicago Thursday: Former president George W. Bush will speak at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago as part of his “Decision Points” book tour Thursday. The event will takes place at 8:45 a.m…. – ABC Local, 11-10-10
  • George Bush ‘Decision Points’ – how many books will he sell?: Publishers of President Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ have printed up 1.5 million copies. President Bill Clinton’s ‘My Life’ sold 606,000 in its first week, and has totaled 2.2 million since…. – CS Monitor, 11-10-10
  • Room for forgiveness on Bush book tour: Former President George W. Bush’s media blitz to sell his new book seems carefully designed to minimize surprises, although he got one Wednesday in a surprise rapprochement with Kanye West. The rapper says now that he “didn’t have the grounds” to call Bush a racist after Hurricane Katrina. The former president was shown tape of West’s comments in a live “Today” show interview and said he appreciated West’s regret.
    Bush has primarily favored the leaders of their respective fields in an effort to spread his salesmanship as wide as possible: NBC News, Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno. ABC, CBS and CNN were deemphasized or left behind entirely.
    In an earlier media era, Matt Lauer’s one-hour taped interview with Bush would have been jealously guarded until airtime, said Jim Bell, executive producer of the “Today” show. Instead, it was sliced and diced and spread around various outlets: clips aired on “Today” last Thursday and Friday and on “Nightly News.” A business-oriented response was sent to CNBC, and political comments to MSNBC and further quotes out to local NBC affiliates. MSNBC is airing an expanded, two-hour version of the interview this weekend.
    Monday’s prime-time special wasn’t a big seller, finishing fourth in its time slot with more than 7 million viewers, the Nielsen Co. said. That’s generally a tough night for NBC, and the interview did slightly better than “Chuck” usually does in the time slot…. – AP, 11-10-10
  • Former President Bush Uses New Book, Media Tour to Defend His Legacy: Tuesday marks the official release of former President George W. Bush’s memoir, “Decision Points,” in which he reflects on the most significant decisions he made as president, as well as in his personal life. Mr. Bush’s media blitz to promote the book began Monday night in a taped interview with Matt Lauer of NBC News that saw the former president accept blame for some controversial decisions while giving a forceful defense of others…. – PBS Newshour, 11-9-10
  • Decision Points, the George W. Bush memoir, released: George W. Bush is on a book tour to promote his memoir “Decision Points.”… – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • In memoir, Bush defends waterboarding, admits mistakes: After staying largely mum on the political scene since leaving office almost two years ago, former President George W. Bush will reveal his thoughts on the most historic — and controversial — parts of his presidency with the release of his memoir Tuesday. In the 481-page book, Bush shares his thoughts on the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and what he calls the “worst moment” of his presidency…. – CNN, 11-9-10
  • Bush book praised in Dallas, criticized overseas: Autograph-seekers descended on a Dallas shopping center Tuesday as former President George W. Bush officially kicked off the release of his new memoir, receiving praise for his candor at a hometown bookstore even as his renewed defense of waterboarding as an interrogation tactic was greeted with derision overseas. First in line at the Borders store about a mile from Bush’s Dallas home were Terry and Tammy Jones of suburban Justin, who camped out overnight. They said when they told Bush of their wait, he said he’d sign their books “with admiration,” shaking 53-year-old Terry Jones’ hand and kissing his wife’s. “Eighteen hours for two seconds and a kiss on the hand,” Tammy Jones, 52, said with a smile. Terry Jones said he admired Bush because “when he makes a decision, he sticks with it.”
    But such steadfastness also prompted criticism Tuesday in Europe, where reports about Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” focused on waterboarding…. – AP, 11-9-10
  • George W. Bush Begins Publicity Tour: President George W. Bush is starting to do the rounds promoting his new book “Decision Points.” He spoke with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today Show. In the book and in the interview he defended the decision to invade Iraq, even though the casus belli, weapons of mass destruction, was a mirage.
    “Was there ever any consideration of apologizing to the American people?” Lauer asked. 

    “I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision,” Bush replied. “And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision. I thought the best way to handle this was to find out why. And what went wrong. And to remedy it.”
    In his book, Bush writes, “There were things we got wrong in Iraq, but that cause is eternally right.”
    Bush also spoke with the Times of London. Both in the book and the interview he strongly defended the use of waterboarding.(yes, they have a pay wall)
    In an interview with The Times, the former US President offered a vigorous defence of the coercive interrogation technique: “Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives.” He denied that waterboarding, which simulates drowning, amounted to torture.
    Asked if he authorised the use of waterboarding to get information from the captured al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he was unequivocal: “Damn right!” In his new book he writes: “Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States.” – NPR, 11-9-10

  • Was George W. Bush Willing to Endorse Barack Obama?: He called himself The Decider, but as former president George W. Bush emerges from his self-imposed exile to promote his new book, he’s become The Denier. Specifically, he’s been busy denying rumors about his contempt for John McCain. On Friday, the Daily News quoted a “Republican official familiar with Bush’s thinking” who claimed that Bush thought McCain “destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin” and was “less of a man” for doing so. He wouldn’t be the first one to think that, but on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show yesterday, Bush insisted, “I never said that, never would have said that.”
    Yesterday, an even more intriguing story appeared on a blog of the Financial Times. Alex Barker writes of his “favourite Bush anecdote,” which “some of the witnesses still dine out on”:
    The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.
    Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.
    Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present. “I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.” Now, Bush not voting for McCain and giving him a forced endorsement, sure, we can buy that. The two never had a great relationship following their bitter primary battle in 2000, and in Decision Points, Bush laments that McCain kept his distance in the 2008 campaign. He also writes that McCain was unimpressive in their meeting during the financial crisis.
    But endorsing Obama?… A Bush spokesman says, “This is ridiculous and untrue. President Bush proudly supported John McCain in the election and voted for him.” – NY Mag, 11-10-10
  • 2,500 show up for Bush book signing in Dallas: An estimated 2,500 people showed up at a North Dallas Borders bookstore to get an autographed copy of George W. Bush’s first memoir, the bookseller reports. But the former president could put his John Hancock on only 1,300 copies of Decision Points and on 500 bookplates for the legion of unlucky buyers. In a news release, Borders noted that Bush signed 500 copies more than expected (800) and that hundreds of others in line would receive a signed bookplate later. First in line were Terry and Tammy Jones of Justin, Texas, who camped out overnight after arriving at the store yesterday about 2 p.m. They bought four books Bush autographed, met him briefly, and beamed, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “I waited 18 hours for two seconds and a kiss on my hand. I’m never washing this hand again,” Tammy Jones said…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
  • Bush is back, and eager to help history judge him: George W. Bush knows that history will shape his legacy more than anything he can say. But that’s not gonna stop a guy from trying. After two years of near silence, Bush is back.
    With his new memoir, “Decision Points,” and a promotion tour, the president who in cockier times could not think of a single mistake he had made, lists many. He counts the years without a post-9/11 attack as his transcendent achievement. He says the economic calamity he handed off to Barack Obama was “one ugly way to end a presidency.”… – AP, 11-8-10
  • “Decision Points”: George Bush’s view of his presidency: In his new memoir “Decision Points,” George W. Bush weighs in on the Iraq war, the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, John McCain’s 2008 campaign, and other episodes in his presidency…. – CS Monitor, 11-7-10
  • Busy week awaits author George W. Bush: Former President George W. Bush will be highly visible next week when his memoir, Decision Points, goes on sale. According to reports from copies that were leaked this week, Bush writes that he considered replacing Vice President Dick Cheney, that he personally signed off on water-boarding as an interrogation technique and that he considers it a mistake to have flown over – but not landed near – the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The book release comes a week ahead of the groundbreaking for Bush’s presidential library at Southern Methodist University on Nov. 16…. – The Dallas Morning News, 11-6-10
  • John McCain looks bad in George W. Bush’s book: Sen. John McCain never asked then-President George W. Bush to campaign for him in 2008, though Bush thinks he could have helped the Arizona senator. In his forthcoming memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush explores his “complex relationship” with McCain. “I understood he had to establish his independence,” Bush wrote. “I thought it looked defensive for John to distance himself from me. I was confident I could have helped him make his case. But the decision was his. I was disappointed I couldn’t do more to help him.” The 43rd president suggests his opponent for the Republican nomination in 2000 blew an opportunity to capitalize politically on the financial crisis eight years later. Without saying it explicitly, Bush portrays then-Sen. Barack Obama as more presidential than McCain in his handling of the financial crisis…. – Politico, 11-6-10
  • George W Bush says he was ‘blindsided’ by financial crisis: George W Bush, the former US president, has said that he was “blindsided” by the financial crisis that began at the end of his final term in office…. – Telegragh UK, 11-9-10
  • George W Bush memoir ‘Decision Points’ to go on sale: George W Bush will on Monday begin a media blitz that will thrust him back into the lives of Americans after two years of near silent retirement. The former US president campaign to rehabilitate his reputation in multiple interviews and television appearances to publicise the memoir, which is published this week both in the US and UK.
    He will be on screens and the airwaves every day for a week, conducting interviews with giants of American broadcasting such as Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno. On Winfrey’s show he will be accompanied by his parents, former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, while his wife Laura will join him on a breakfast television appearance…. – Telegraph (UK), 11-7-10
  • George Bush: I was not in shock on 9/11 In memoirs and TV interview, George Bush says he wanted to project calm after 9/11 attacks: They were the seven minutes that, for some, came to define a presidency. On one side of the TV screen, a New York landmark was in flames after hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Centre. On the other, George Bush sat before a group of children looking like a startled rabbit, conveying a sense of paralysis, if not panic, after an aide told him of the attacks.
    But Bush says that anyone who thinks he was in shock has got it wrong. He was trying not to create panic. “My first reaction was anger. How dare they do this to America?” Bush told NBC News in an interview to be broadcast on Monday to coincide with the release of his memoirs.
    “I made the decision not to jump up and create a chaotic scene, because right after … These are quick reflections, anger, duty to protect the country, and then all of a sudden the cellphones are ringing. Now, the noise [from reporters receiving calls about the attacks],” he said. “But it clarified to me that people were going to be watching my reaction. And I’d had enough experience as governor of Texas during some disasters to know that the reaction of the leader is essential in the first stage of any crisis.”
    Pressed on whether he was paralysed into inaction, Bush was dismissive. “I’m not going to debate the critics as to whether or not I was in shock or not. I wasn’t. And they can read the book, and they can draw their own conclusion,” he said.
    Bush’s book, Decision Points, offers insights into his beliefs, including a vigorous defence of the death penalty in an argument over dinner with Cherie Blair. Much of it is dedicated to justifying what some consider to be indefensible, not least his invasion of Iraq on what proved to be the spurious pretext of hunting for weapons of mass destruction. The former president acknowledges there were dissenters on the question of whether to go to war. He claims he was among them.
    “I was a dissenting voice. I didn’t want to use force. I mean force is the last option for a president,” he said. But he told NBC there was no need for an apology. “I mean apologising would basically say the decision was a wrong decision. And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision,” he said…. – Guardian UK, 11-3-10
  • In memoir, Bush says he considered dropping Cheney from 2004 ticket: Former president George W. Bush once considered replacing his vice president, Richard B. Cheney, Bush says in a revealing memoir in which he offers advice on the U.S. economy and admits mistakes on Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s book, “Decision Points,” is full of anecdotes and behind-the-scenes details of eight eventful years that began with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and ended with an economic meltdown in which “I felt like the captain of a sinking ship.”
    “No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” Bush writes.
    Bush writes that he considered the offer, adding that although Cheney “helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left.”
    Although Bush did not like Cheney’s image as described by critics, accepting his resignation offer would help “demonstrate that I was in charge,” he writes…. – WaPo, 11-3-10
  • In book, Bush strongly defends use of waterboarding: When then-President George W. Bush was asked to approve a tough interrogation technique known as waterboarding on September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wasted little time in deciding. “Damn right,” he said. Bush’s approval of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning condemned by human rights activists as torture, to try to wrench information from captured al Qaeda operatives was among the most controversial decisions he made during eight years in the White House.
    In his memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush strongly defends the use of waterboarding as critical to his efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He says waterboarding was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks. The book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, is to hit bookstores on Tuesday. He writes that his ability to prevent another September 11 attack on U.S. soil was “my most meaningful accomplishment.”… – Reuters, 11-4-10
  • Bush rejects accusations of racism over Katrina: Former President George W. Bush says criticism from some, including prominent rapper Kanye West, that his handling of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina showed he did not care about black people represented “an all-time low.” In his memoir, “Decision Points,” to be released next Tuesday, Bush writes that charges flung at him that he was a racist during the Katrina crisis “was the worst moment of my presidency.”
    In excerpts of an interview of Bush by NBC’s “Today” show to be aired next Monday, the former president was asked about West’s comment that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
    “And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘this man’s a racist,'” Bush said. “I resent it, it’s not true,” Bush said. “And it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.” He said his record was strong “when it came to race relations and giving people a chance.”
    Bush writes in his book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, that his initial mistake on Katrina was failing to communicate his concern for the storm’s victims. He said he should not have done an Air Force One flyover of New Orleans while much of the city was under water. “The photo of my hovering over the damage suggested I was detached from the suffering on the ground. That wasn’t how I felt. But once the public impression was formed, I couldn’t change it,” he writes…. – Reuters, 11-3-10
  • Ex-President George W. Bush rips wisdom of Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and John McCain to friends: “Naming Palin makes Bush think less of McCain as a man,” a Republican official familiar with Bush’s thinking told the Daily News. “He thinks McCain ran a lousy campaign with an unqualified running mate and destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin.” “I want my President to succeed because if my President succeeds my country succeeds, and I want my country to succeed,” Bush typically says when asked about Obama.
    “He won’t call Obama by name but he won’t trash him,” a confidant noted, referring to Bush’s comments in post- presidency speaking appearances, which have netted him millions, often at $100,000 or more a pop. Still, he thinks Obama has failed as a President – a judgment supported by this week’s robust Republican gains. “He thinks the policy is adrift,” one insider reported. NY Daily News, 11-5-10
  • Bush’s memoir explains: U.S. can’t appear to be doing Israel’s bidding: In excerpts released from soon-to-be-published book, ex-president says was asked by then PM Olmert to strike Syria’s nuclear reactor…. – Haaretz, 11-7-10
  • Bush/Nixon: The early reviews of George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” are already out, even though the book is under a sales embargo until next Tuesday. If you want to read one of the book’s “deluxe” copies — the hand-numbered, hand- signed edition that comes with a slipcase, a “special color photo frontispiecE” and a $350 price tag — you’ll have to wait even longer, until Nov. 30. Bush may have left office with rock-bottom approval ratings. But if the experience of another unpopular ex-president is any guide, both editions of his book may do surprisingly well…. – NY, 11-6-10
  • Bush memoir coming with huge first printing: We’re one month and a day away from the launch of George W. Bush’s presidential memoir “Decision Points.” The former president’s book, which goes on sale on Nov. 9, will have a huge first printing of 1.5 million copies, Crown Publishers said in a statement on Thursday.
    Bush writes about crucial points in his life and presidency including his decision to run for the highest office in the country; 9/11; the decisions to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq; his response to Hurricane Katrina; and his relationship with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, Crown said.
    But there’s so much more than just a book (and book tour) coming next month. The publishers are simultaneously rolling out the whole kit and caboodle — across multiple platforms — with the hardcover version, an e-book edition, a Deluxe e-book edition and an audiobook (from RandomHouse), read by the author himself… – Reuters, 10-8-10
  • George W. Bush starting to emerge from cone of silence: President No. 43 gave a lecture at the University of Texas in Tyler, Texas, on Tuesday and spoke before a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people. All this is according to the Tyler newspaper. Bush talked up a book he has written about major decisions he made as president, “Decision Points,” which is to be published on Nov. 9. The author will be doing a number of major interviews surrounding the publication of his memoir, including with a Facebook fan.
    “This will come as a shock to some people in our country who didn’t think I could read a book, much less write one,” he joked… “I miss being pampered. I miss Air Force One. I miss being commander-in-chief of an awesome group of (people),” he said.
    Bush said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told him, “If you don’t do something significant, you’re likely to see a depression greater than the Great Depression.”… “Depression, no depression,” Bush said. “It wasn’t that hard for me, just so you know. I made the decision to use your money to prevent the collapse from happening.”
    Bush also said he read a dozen biographies of Abraham Lincoln while in office, and, “I think he’s the country’s greatest president.” Reuters, 10-20-10

EXCERPTS

     

  • Excerpt: President Bush in his own words on 9/11, Iraq In ‘Decision Points,’ he describes moments of high emotion, prayer:
    “While my emotions might have been similar to those of most Americans, my duties were not,” President Bush writes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “There would be time later to mourn. … But first I had to manage the crisis.”
    In his new memoir “Decision Points,” President George W. Bush shares candid, never-before-heard details about his presidency. This excerpt conveys the emotions Bush felt in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the decision to go to war in Iraq.
    The Secret Service wanted to get me to Air Force One, and fast. As the motorcade charged down Florida Route 41, I called Condi from the secure phone in the limo. She told me there had been a third plane crash, this one into the Pentagon. I sat back in my seat and absorbed her words. My thoughts clarified: The first plane could have been an accident. The second was definitely an attack. The third was a declaration of war.
    My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass. …
    … I stepped into the presidential cabin and asked to be alone. I thought about the fear that must have seized the passengers on those planes and the grief that would grip the families of the dead. So many people had lost their loved ones with no warning. I prayed that God would comfort the suffering and guide the country through this trial. I thought of the lyrics from one of my favorite hymns, “God of Grace and God of Glory”: “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour.”
    While my emotions might have been similar to those of most Americans, my duties were not. There would be time later to mourn. There would be an opportunity to seek justice. But first I had to manage the crisis. We had suffered the most devastating surprise attack since Pearl Harbor. An enemy had struck our capital for the first time since the War of 1812. In a single morning, the purpose of my presidency had grown clear: to protect our people and defend our freedom that had come under attack …
    … The collapse of the towers magnified the catastrophe. Fifty thousand people worked in the buildings on a typical business day. Some had been evacuated, but I wondered how many were left. Thousands? Tens of thousands? I had no idea. But I was certain that I had just watched more Americans die than any president in history.
    I kept up-to-date on the latest developments by calling Dick and Condi in the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center). We tried to establish an open line, but it kept dropping. …
    … When we did receive information, it was often contradictory and sometimes downright wrong. I was experiencing the fog of war. There were reports of a bomb at the State Department, a fire on the National Mall, a hijacked Korean airliner bound for the United States, and a call-in threat to Air Force One. The caller had used the plane’s code name, Angel, which few people knew. The most bizarre report came when I was informed of a high-speed object flying toward our ranch in Crawford. All of this information later proved to be false. But given the circumstances, we took every report seriously.
    One report I received proved true. A fourth plane had gone down somewhere in Pennsylvania. “Did we shoot it down, or did it crash?” I asked Dick Cheney. Nobody knew. I felt sick to my stomach. Had I ordered the death of those innocent Americans? 

    On Wednesday, March 19, 2003, I walked into a meeting I had hoped would not be necessary.
    The National Security Council had gathered in the White House Situation Room, a nerve center of communications equipment and duty officers on the ground floor of the West Wing. The top center square of the secure video screen showed General Tommy Franks sitting with his senior deputies at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. In the other five boxes were our lead Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Special Operations commanders. Their counterparts from the British Armed Forces and Australian Defense Forces joined as well.
    I asked each man two questions: Do you have everything you need to win? And are you comfortable with the strategy?
    Each commander answered affirmatively.
    Tommy spoke last. “Mr. President,” the commanding general said, “this force is ready.”
    I turned to Don Rumsfeld. “Mr. Secretary,” I said, “for the peace of the world and the benefit and freedom of the Iraqi people, I hereby give the order to execute Operation Iraqi Freedom. May God bless the troops.”
    Tommy snapped a salute. “Mr. President,” he said, “may God bless America.”
    As I saluted back, the gravity of the moment hit me. For more than a year, I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war. We had rallied an international coalition to pressure him to come clean about his weapons of mass destruction programs. We had obtained a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution making clear there would be serious consequences for continued defiance. We had reached out to Arab nations about taking Saddam into exile. I had given Saddam and his sons a final forty-eight hours to avoid war. The dictator rejected every opportunity. The only logical conclusion was that he had something to hide, something so important that he was willing to go to war for it.
    I knew the consequences my order would bring. I had wept with widows of troops lost in Afghanistan. I had hugged children who no longer had a mom or a dad. I did not want to send Americans into combat again. But after the nightmare of 9/11, I had vowed to do what was necessary to protect the country. Letting a sworn enemy of America refuse to account for his weapons of mass destruction was a risk I could not afford to take.
    I needed time to absorb the emotions of the moment. I left the Situation Room, walked up the stairs and through the Oval Office, and took a slow, silent lap around the South Lawn. I prayed for our troops, for the safety of the country, and for strength in the days ahead. Spot, our springer spaniel, bounded out of the White House toward me. It was comforting to see a friend. Her happiness contrasted with the heaviness in my heart.
    There was one man who understood what I was feeling. I sat down at my desk in the Treaty Room and scrawled out a letter:
    Dear Dad, …
    At around 9:30 a.m., I gave the order to SecDef to execute the war plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In spite of the fact that I had decided a few months ago to use force, if need be, to liberate Iraq and rid the country of WMD, the decision was an emotional one. …
    I know I have taken the right action and do pray few will lose life. Iraq will be free, the world will be safer. The emotion of the moment has passed and now I wait word on the covert action that is taking place.
    I know what you went through.
    Love,
    George
    MSNBC, 11-8-10

  • “Decision Points”: Other revelations from the new George W. Bush memoir: Was banned from the Princeton campus after a game where he led fellow Yalie undergrads to tear down the goalposts. (“All these years later I still haven’t been back.”) Yeah, he had been drinking.
    Climbed onstage at a 1976 Willie Nelson concert in Odessa, Tex. (“I looked like a fool up there.”) Yeah, he had been drinking.
    After he gave up drinking at 40, got seriously into running. And chocolate. “My body was screaming for sugar.”
    He and Laura were close to adopting when they found out she was pregnant with twins.
    The twins’ reaction to his presidential bid: “Dad, you’re going to lose. You’re not as cool as you think you are,” and “Why do you want to ruin our lives?”
    Knew he was going to get along with Tony and Cherie Blair when, during their first meeting at Camp David, the Brits picked “Meet the Parents” as an after-dinner movie. (“There was no stuffiness.”)
    Totally pulled Josh Bolten’s leg just before his first meeting with Bono: “Used to be married to Cher, didn’t he?”
    Vladimir Putin made a point of introducing his big black Labrador during a visit to Russia. “Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney,” Putin smirked. Later, Canadian PM Stephen Harper told Bush, “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog.” – WaPo, 11-8-10
  • Inside Bush’s White House: A preview of W.’s memoir: Former U.S. president George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, is due to be released next Tuesday, but excerpts are already circulating.
    Outside observers might pick his decision to go to war in Iraq, based on the non-evidence of weapons of mass destructions. But although Mr. Bush admits to “a sickening feeling” about being proved wrong, it was Kanye West’s description of him as racist that really hit home. “George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people” the rapper said during a post-Katrina telethon. Mr. Bush calls the incident “one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.”… “Damn right,” Mr. Bush said when asked by the Central Intelligence Agency whether agents should employ the coercive and controversial interrogation technique against the terror suspect. “Had I not authorized waterboarding on senior al-Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked.”… 

    Says he felt “blindsided” over the Abu Ghraib scandal Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, “had told me the military was investigating reports of abuse at the prison, but I had no idea how graphic or grotesque the photos would be,” he writes. “The first time I saw them was the day they were aired on 60 Minutes II.”
    … “We were blindsided by a financial crisis that had been more than a decade in the making.” His focus, he writes, “had been kitchen-table economic issues like jobs and inflation. I assumed any major credit troubles would have been flagged by the regulators or rating agencies.”…
    Detainees were given “a personal copy of the Koran” and access to a library among whose popular offerings was “an Arabic translation of Harry Potter.”…
    “There was no way I was going to let a group of retired officers bully me into pushing out the civilian secretary of defense. It would have looked like a military coup and would have set a disastrous precedent.”… “Why hadn’t I thought of Bob?” Mr. Bush wonders….
    “While Dick helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left. He was seen as dark and heartless – the Darth Vader of the administration.”… “Accepting Dick’s offer would be one way to demonstrate that I was in charge.”… Mr. Cheney pushed Mr. Bush to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice-president’s former chief of staff who was convicted of lying in the CIA leak case. Mr. Bush wrestled with the decision in his final weekend at Camp David so much his wife, Laura, finally told him, “Just make up your mind. You’re ruining this for everyone.” When he decided against a pardon, Mr. Cheney was bitter: “I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield,” he said. “The comment stung,” Mr. Bush writes. “In eight years, I had never seen Dick like this, or even close to it.” – National Post, 11-5-10

  • George W. Bush on Alcohol: ‘It Became a Love’: “It became a love and, therefore, began to compete for my love with my wife and my daughters,” he said, according to People.com. “I wasn’t a knee-walkin’ drunk,” Bush said in his interview with Lauer. “I could easily have a beer or two, or a martini, before dinner, bourbons, B&Bs. I was a drinker.”
    In an interview promoting his memoir, “Decision Points,” the 43rd president said he got caught driving drunk on Labor Day weekend in 1976 after a night of “drinking no hands at a bar” — meaning he picked up and tossed back a drink using only his mouth. Bush didn’t discuss the DUI until days before the 2000 election, when it became a scandal. Trying to keep the story under wraps for so long is a choice that Bush considers “one of the top stupidest decisions I made.” “Was really a bad choice. And if I had to do it — look, you don’t get to do it over again. But if I had to do it over again, of course I would have disclosed. I mean there was nothing to hide. I — yeah, I drank too much. I had been pulled over. And I quit. It was a good story with a good ending, poorly timed.”
    “So I’m drunk at the dinner table at Mother and Dad’s house in Maine. And my brothers and sister are there, Laura’s there. And I’m sitting next to a beautiful woman, friend of Mother and Dad’s,” he said, according to the magazine. “And I said to her out loud, ‘What is sex like after 50?'” The room went silent, and Bush said his wife and mother gave him “serious daggers.” Bush said he later apologized to the woman. Though drinking took its toll, Bush says his inebriation came to an end years before his inauguration. The former president noted that he gave up drinking cold turkey on his 40th birthday in 1986 and hasn’t had a sip since…. – AOL News, 11-5-10
  • Putin to Bush: My dog bigger than yours: Russian leader Vladimir Putin once boasted to then-President George W. Bush about the size of his dog, in the ultimate of “mine-is-bigger-than-yours” stories. Former President Bush writes about the episode in his memoir, “Decision Points,” which hits book stores next Tuesday. Bush says he had introduced then-Russian President Putin to his Scottish terrier, Barney, on a visit to the U.S. presidential retreat, Camp David. Putin returned the favour when Bush visited Russia and Putin was giving him a tour of the grounds of his dacha. “A big black Labrador came charging across the lawn. With a twinkle in his eye, Vladimir said, ‘Bigger, stronger, faster than Barney,'” Bush writes. A copy of the book was obtained by Reuters. Bush says he later told the story to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, who replied: “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog.”… – Times Live, 11-6-10
  • Drudge Report: Decision Points Excerpts & Preview: BUSH MAKES PEACE: BOOK REVEALED “It was a simple question, ‘Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?'” So begins President George W. Bush in the opening chapter [“Quitting”] from the most anticipated book of the season, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal. With DECISION POINTS, set for release November 9, Bush pulls back the curtain with a strikingly personal work that takes very few shots at his critics. The former president even stays clear of Obama! – Drudge Report, 10-28-10

INTERVIEWS

     

  • West, Bush and “Today” Show Spar Over “Racist” Remark: The three-way verbal sparring began when Bush hit the promotional circuit for “Decision Points” and was asked about passages that address comments West made on a television fund-raiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina. On the program West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” In the book and in his own interview earlier this week on “Today,” Bush told Lauer the comment upset him. “He called me a racist…I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now.”
    “Today” then pursued an interview with West, which will air on Thursday, November 11. When asked by Lauer about those past comments, West seemed to soften his stance about the former president.
    “I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration that I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist. But I believe that in a situation of high emotion, like that, we as human beings don’t always choose the right words,” he said.
    On Wednesday, Bush responded by saying, “I appreciate that. It wasn’t just Kanye West who was talking like that during Katrina. I cited him as an example. I cited others as an example as well. And, I appreciate that.”… – ABC News, 11-10-10
  • UPDATED: Kanye West Criticizes ‘Today’ Show for ‘Brutal’ Interview: One of several messages posted by Kanye West on his Twitter account after he taped an interview with the “Today” show. An occasionally contentious interview between Kanye West and Matt Lauer taped for NBC’s “Today” show in some ways conforms with a preemptive critique that Mr. West posted on his Twitter account, but at times appears to contradict the rapper’s fiery recollection of it.
    On Tuesday night, Mr. West wrote of an interview he recorded that morning with Mr. Lauer, a “Today” co-host. Mr. West said he intended to respond to remarks by former President George W. Bush, who has said that Mr. West’s criticism that he did not care about black people after Hurricane Katrina was “one of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency.
    Mr. West wrote on his Twitter feed, “I went up there to express how I was empathetic to Bush because I labeled him a racist and years later I got labeled as a racist.” Instead, Mr. West said, “While I was trying to give the interview they started playing the ‘MTV’ under me with audio,” referring to the incident in which Mr. West interrupted an acceptance speech by Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. In an all-caps message, Mr. West wrote that Mr. Lauer “tried to force my answers,” adding, “It was very brutal and I came there only with positive intent.”… – NYT, 11-10-10
  • Kanye called in to a Houston radio station the next day and apologized for the comments, saying, “I definitely can understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in any way, because the same thing happened to me,” he said, referring to criticism he got following his 2009 bum-rush of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. “I got accused of being a racist, and …… with both situations it was a lack of compassion that America… — Kanye West – MTV
  • Unusually reflective Bush gives his side of the story: This isn’t the George W. Bush who couldn’t come up with an answer when he was asked during a 2004 White House news conference to name his biggest mistake. Almost two years after leaving office, the former president readily lists his mistakes. He recites a litany of errors in an interview and in his new book, Decision Points: He didn’t act swiftly enough after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He should not have drawn down U.S. troops from Iraq so quickly. He wishes he had focused first on immigration instead of an unsuccessful overhaul of Social Security during his second term.
    “I readily concede I could have done things better,” he says in his first newspaper interview since leaving the presidency. To document his administration for future historians, “I had to concede that I did make mistakes, and there was no question I did.”
    Bush says he was “blindsided” by the financial meltdown that shook the nation during his final year in office, but he shares blame with Congress and defends his decisions when asked about the role of his policies in the recession.
    Bush is unusually introspective as he speaks about his administration, his feelings about being the target of mockery and the shape of his post-presidency. He makes it clear that after he promotes his book with a round of media appearances, he will step out of the spotlight again. During an hour-long interview, he never mentions President Obama’s name…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
  • Oprah Fails to Question Bush on Important Aspects of His Legacy: Former president George W. Bush being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on Nov. 11, 2010. If someone were to ask you what the dominant political issue is at the moment, you’d probably say the national debt or extension of the Bush tax cuts. The most controversial political fight of the last two years? Surely health-care reform. So, when former president George W. Bush granted a long televised interview to promote his new memoir—which is to say, as Bush attempts to polish his tarnished reputation—you’d think he would be asked about his budget- busting tax cuts and the creation of a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. You would be wrong. Like Matt Lauer Monday night, Oprah Winfrey, in her gauzy interview with Bush on Tuesday afternoon, did not ask a single question about those policies…. – Newsweek, 11-10-10
  • Bush admits mistakes, defends decisions In memoir, he candidly writes about professional, personal regrets: President George W. Bush will join Matt Lauer for a live sit-down interview on TODAY on Wednesday, Nov. 10. Former President George W. Bush admits in his memoir “Decision Points” that his 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech and his demeanor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were some of the professional and personal mistakes that he made. In his first one-on-one television interview since leaving the White House, the former president sat down with Matt Lauer and opened up about his regrets…. – MSNBC, 11-8-10
  • Bush recounts Katrina, WMD mistakes on talk show: George W. Bush recounted the mistakes of his presidency on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show as he launched a book tour to promote his just-released memoir “Decision Points.”
    The former president said he still feels “sick about” the fact no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. His response to Hurricane Katrina could have been quicker, he said, and he should have landed Air Force One two days after the storm instead of viewing the destruction through the plane’s window. And he said he didn’t see the financial meltdown coming.
    The former president appeared Tuesday in a taped episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Writing the memoir, he said, “was an easy process” that has kept him busy. “A lot of people don’t think I can read, much less write,” Bush joked on the program…. – AP, 11-9-10
  • George W. Bush calls Katrina photo a ‘huge mistake’: “Let’s get to the picture that we may have seen more of you in the last couple years of your presidency than any other picture,” Lauer said. “You’re sitting in Air Force One, flying back toward Washington. You fly right over New Orleans and you look out the window.”
    “Yes,” Bush responded. “Huge mistake.”
    LAUER: Yeah. And in comes the press and they take that picture. And it made you look so out of touch.
    BUSH: Detached and uncaring. No question about it.
    LAUER: Whose fault was it?
    BUSH: It’s always my fault. I mean I was the one who should have said, A, don’t take my picture, B, let’s land in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, C, let’s don’t even come close to the area. Let’s — the next place to be seen is in Washington at a command center. I mean, it was my fault.
    LAUER: When the picture’s released you write, “I immediately knew it was a problem.”
    BUSH: Of course. I’d been around long enough to know that when it was released. And the reason why we didn’t land in Louisiana is because I was concerned that first responders would be pulled off their task and I’d be criticized. In retrospect, however, I should have touched down in Baton Rouge, met with the governor and walked out and said, “I hear you. We understand. And we’re going to help the state and help the local governments with as much resources as needed.” And then got back on a flight up to Washington. I did not do that. And paid a price for it. – Yahoo News, 11-5-10
  • Cheney angered by Bush decision on Scooter Libby pardon: Mr Bush told NBC News his decision at the end of his presidency merely to spare Libby a prison sentence rather than pardon him angered Mr Cheney. But, in a interview to promote a book, he said the friendship had recovered.
    “We are friends today,” Mr Bush said. “I was a little concerned at the time. It was a hard decision at the time but that’s what you do when you’re president, you make hard decisions.”
    Lewis Libby, also known by his nickname, “Scooter” Libby, was found guilty in March 2007 in the case connected to Mr Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mr Bush said the prison sentence was excessive and commuted it…. – BBC News, 11-8-10
  • Bush: Mother’s miscarriage shaped pro-life views In memoir, he recalls driving her to hospital with fetus in jar: Bush writes about the miscarriage in his book, “Decision Points,” publicly disclosing it for the first time after receiving permission from his mother to do so. He sat down with Matt Lauer for his first one-on-one television interview since leaving the White House. When Barbara Bush miscarried at home, she had young George drive her to the hospital. In her lap, Barbara Bush held a jar containing the remains of the fetus, George Bush said. 0 “She says to her teenage kid, “Here’s a fetus,'” the former president told Lauer. “No question it — that affected me — my philosophy that we should respect life.” Recalling what he saw in the jar, Bush wrote, “There was a human life, a little brother or sister.”… – MSNBC, 11-8-10
  • A Content Man: In an interview with Matt Lauer, Bush describes himself as “a content man.”
    No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.
    I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision… And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision.
    It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it. It’s not true. And it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.
    I made an additional mistake by failing to adequately communicate my concern for the victims of Katrina. This was a problem of perception, not reality. My heart broke at the sight of helpless people trapped on their rooftops waiting to be rescued.
    If I invoked the Insurrection Act against [Governor Kathleen Blanco’s] wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African- American city. … I was as frustrated as I had been at any point in my presidency…. – New Yorker, 11-3-10
  • Bush won’t critique Obama (or Palin): “I want to treat my successor the way I’d like to have been treated,” Bush tells Oprah Winfrey in an interview tied to release of his memoirs, Decision Points. “I don’t think it’s good for a former president to be out there opining on every darned issue,” Bush adds. “He’s got a plenty tough job. Trust me. And there’s gonna be plenty of critics and he doesn’t need me criticizing him. And I don’t think it’s good for the presidency. Other people have a different point of view.”
    The Oprah interview airs Nov. 9, the day of the book’s official release.
    Here, according to a transcript provided by Oprah’s people, Winfrey tries to draw out Bush on Sarah Palin: OPRAH: So your brother Jeb was recently asked by CNN if he would support Sarah Palin for president. Did you hear that? In 2012. PRES. BUSH: Yeah.
    OPRAH: And he responded, “You betcha.” Do you think that Sarah Palin is the one for the Republican party in 2012?
    PRES. BUSH: You know, I am not a political pundit. I’m really not. And secondly, a lot is gonna happen between now and the nominating process. I — I have no clue.
    OPRAH: I’m not asking you to pundit.
    PRES. BUSH: Yeah, you are.
    OPRAH: I’m just asking you your opinion.
    PRES. BUSH: You’re asking me to wade back into the swamp.
    OPRAH: Come on in. Come on in.
    USA Topday, 11-6-10

THE PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH: A FIRST HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT

     

  • The historians whose essays appear in this book do not attempt to resolve this debate. The chapters catalogue some of the successes of the administration, ranging from counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda between 2001 and The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment JPG 2003 through AIDS policy in Africa to the appointment of minorities to prominent government positions. They also examine some of the failures, including the damage caused by the war in Iraq, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, and the devastating collapse of financial markets following years of deregulation in the fall of 2008. Rather than speculate whether he was the worst or the best president in U.S. history, the contributors have attempted to place the Bush White House in a broader historical perspective by understanding his presidency in relationship to the conservative movement.The authors of the essays in this book are trying to write a first take on the history of this period, but one that builds on the rich literature on the history of conservatism in modern America. We hope the essays provoke further investigation. Since this is an early effort to write the history of the George W. Bush presidency, the work is necessarily incomplete. We do not yet have access to some archival materials that will become available in the future. Yet, in addition to the substantial documentation instantaneously available in the age of the Internet, the contributors also have the advantage of producing this interpretation at a time when the emotions and sentiment and context of President Bush’s actions are still vivid. We hope these essays offer the opening to a conversation that will continue for centuries. — Julian E. Zelizer in “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”
  • Julian Zelizer: Five myths about George W. Bush: I am very much looking forward to this chat about President George W. Bush and his legacy. In several of my recent publications, including an article in the Washington Post yesterday and a new book that I edited, The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, I have tried to move beyond some of the existing debate. Rather than answer whether Bush is the “best or worst” president or to repeat discussions about why people hated or loved him, the time has come to start understanding what actually happened when he was in office, to place these events and personalities in broader context, and to start understanding his presidency in relationship to President Obama’s.
    Besides some of the more familiar issues that shaped his presidency, such as 9/11 and the war on terrorism, looking back from 2010 raises new kinds of questions that might not have been as obvious at the time that his term ended: What impact did Bush have on the conservative movement? What was the relationship between deregulation during these years and the economic collapse in 2008? How did the economic policies of the period influence economic inequality? What was the relationship between President Bush and congressional Republicans? How did Bush overcome some of the obstacles that Obama has struggled in the political process? Did the Bush Doctrine really constitute as much as a turning point in U.S. foreign policy as it seemed at the time? How do we evaluate the impact of the Surge–and what did the decision-making behind that policy tell us about how the White House worked? How did President Bush come to push for a substantial expansion of government–through TARP–in the middle of the economic crisis? What impact did the 2006 elections have on the politics of his presidency? Which policies will outlast his presidency and why?
    Obviously these are just a few questions and there are many more to discuss. But the time has come to start thinking more seriously about this two-term president and the impact that he had on the nation. It is also to start developing a more sophisticated understanding of the roots of this administration rather than writing about these years as if everything started in 2001…. – WaPo, 11-8-10
  • “An all-star cast of historians examines the perplexing presidency of George W. Bush–the ‘compassionate conservative’ who frequently ended up allied with the hard right, the ‘uniter’ who presided over one of the nation’s most divisive political eras, the advocate of ‘humility’ on the world stage who fiercely championed unilateral presidential powers. After the journalists and pundits have had their say, the historians are here to put Bush’s tumultuous tenure in historical perspective. An essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary American politics.” — Jacob S. Hacker, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics and Off Center
  • “With clarity and precision, some of America’s most prominent historians of politics, law, and international relations examine the controversial presidency of George W. Bush. Their assessments of Bush’s administration are sober, rigorous, and eye-opening. Together these essays will provide a foundation for the next generation of scholarship on early twenty-first-century America.” — Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race
  • “George W. Bush once stated that ‘we’ll all be dead’ by the time history casts its judgment on his presidency. Instead, in this engaging and timely portrait of the Bush era, eleven leading scholars assess the ‘war on terror,’ the resurrection of the imperial presidency, the effects of tax cuts and corporate deregulation, and other foreign and domestic policies promoted by big-government conservatism. While acknowledging the administration’s political accomplishments, the contributors to this volume emphasize the ultimate failures of the Bush presidency and the conservative movement’s strategies of governance.” — Matthew D. Lassiter, University of Michigan
  • “Analytically shrewd and historically rich, this harvest of a book convenes a group of leading historians to assess the country’s recent past. Ranging from tax cuts to terrorism, and encompassing questions of ideology, multiculturalism, and presidential capacity, the contributions to this volume establish the scope and agenda for future studies of George W. Bush’s tumultuous presidency.” — Ira Katznelson, Columbia University
  • “This impressive collection features brilliant essays by some of America’s best historians on the presidency of George W. Bush. It’s all here–from the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that sealed Bush’s first-term victory to the stunning financial crisis that closed his tenure in office. This stimulating and highly accessible volume is must reading for scholars, journalists, and concerned citizens.” — Eric M. Patashnik, author of Reforms at Risk
  • “This is a superb collection of essays. I am impressed with the range of issues they cover and the lucidity with which each essay illuminates a particular topic. Their interleaved and overlapping evidence reminds a general reader of the layers of meaning embedded in every political decision taken by the Bush administration–and the sometimes unfortunate consequences. This is an important and timely book.” — Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity

HISTORIANS’ VIEW

     

  • Bush Releases Memoir: ‘He Knows the Historians Are Coming’: In his new memoir “Decision Points,” former President George W. Bush explains some of the tough decisions he made while in office, including how he dealt with 9/11, the lack of weapons of mass destruction and Hurricane Katrina. Historians Michael Beschloss and Julian Zelizer give perspective on presidential memoirs…. – PBS Newshour, 11-10-10
  • Kanye West, George W. Bush Clash Doesn’t Surprise Historian: Bush is ‘trying to show he’s not coming out of a racist tradition,’ political author says….
    “For the last 40 years, pop culture has become much more important in politics,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a leading figure in the field of American political history. “[It’s become about] how a president fits into pop culture and his relationship to some stars, whose political activism has increased over the past 40 years. … I do think the lines between celebrity culture and political culture have thinned.”…
    Zelizer — author of books about the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — said Bush’s revelation that West’s remark hurt his feelings is a remarkable moment in the confluence of West Wing and pop culture.
    “That it elicited the kind of emotion that nothing else does, even criticism about torture … part of it is a celebrity attacking him, but it’s also a bigger issue that bothers [Bush]. This idea that he’s trying to show he’s not coming out of a racist tradition and distinguish himself, that shows a broader frustration about how he’s perceived,” Zelizer said… But when they clash with pop-culture figures, Zelizer said, it’s a testament to the power of both players. “It’s not beneath the president” to beef with a star, he said. Whereas in the past presidents might not have bothered to respond to such slights, or would have ignored them, some modern Oval Office residents have weighed in, even when they’re not the subject of the dis….
    “The reality is, like it or not, that celebrities have lots of influence in contemporary life,” he said. “In theory, it might be beneath them [to respond to stars’ attacks] because there are other things they should be worried about, but presidents will take it personally. It will get to them, maybe more by being attacked by Kanye West than a member of Congress because of the reality of the world we live in.” – MTV, 11-10-10
  • Julian Zelizer: 5 myths about George W. Bush: September 11. Katrina. Iraq. These events will be forever linked with the presidency of George W. Bush. Now, with the release of his memoir, “Decision Points,” the former president has the chance to defend his record and explain his actions. But as historians and the public alike look back on the Bush White House, will we be able to move past the persistent myths that endure about those tumultuous eight years?…
    1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy….
    2. Compassionate conservatism was just a campaign slogan….
    3. Bush committed America to nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan….
    4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House….
    5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.
    WaPo, 11-3-10
  • Shrub Studies: Next week, Crown Publishers will issue President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points, covering what the former president calls “eight of the most consequential years in American history,” which seems like a fair description. They were plenty consequential. To judge from the promotional video, Bush will plumb the depths of his insight that it is the role of a president to be “the decider.” Again, it’s hard to argue with his point — though you have to wonder if he shouldn’t let his accumulated wisdom ripen and mellow for a while before serving it.
    Princeton University Press has already beat him into print with The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, edited by Julian E. Zelizer, who is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. The other 10 contributors are professors of history, international relations, law, and political science, and they cover the expected bases — the “War on Terror,” the invasion of Iraq, social and economic policy, religion and race. It is a scholarly book, which means that it is bound to make everybody mad. People on the left get angry at remembering the Bush years, while those on the right grow indignant that anyone still wants to talk about them. So the notion that they were consequential is perhaps not totally uncontroversial after all.
    The contributors make three points about the Bush administration’s place in the history of American conservatism that it may be timely to sum up, just now…. – Inside Higher Ed, 11-3-10

Political Highlights June 28, 2010: Obama at the G20, Passing Financial Reform & Kagan’s Confirmation Hearings Begin

Political Highlights

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 Commends Congress for Finalizing Wall Street

President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press regarding the congressional agreement on Financial Reform from the South Lawn of the White House June 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • President Obama at the G8 in Photos: The President spent today at the G8 Summit in Canada, which focused amongst other things on the Muskoka Initiative on maternal and child health (MCH). See an array of photos from the day below…. – WH, 6-25-10
  • Poll: Obama’s ratings fall amid Gulf oil spill: President Barack Obama’s job performance rating has dropped to the lowest level of his presidency as Americans grow less confident in his leadership, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday. Obama’s rating stood at 45 percent in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, down 5 points from early last month. For the first time in the survey, more people — 48 percent — say they disapprove of Obama’s job performance. A majority of respondents, 62 percent, said the country was on the wrong track. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed rate Obama positively on “strong leadership qualities,” down from 70 percent when he became president and a drop of 8 points since January…. – Reuters, 6-23-10
  • GOP: generic optimism over poll: Republicans must be giddy over the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Thanks to the BP oil spill in the gulf, the administration’s problems getting a public handle on the disaster and the stubborn economy, President Obama’s job approval rating dropped from 50 percent last month to 45 percent now. His disapproval rating is now 48 percent. To make matters worse, 60 percent of those polled say the nation is on the wrong track. Republicans surely are smiling over who poll respondents said they wanted ruling Congress after the November midterms. For the second survey in a row the GOP came out on top. They were favored 45 to 43 over Democrats. WaPo, 6-25-10
  • Confidence Waning in Obama, U.S. Outlook: Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama’s leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The survey also shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation’s economy and environment. Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama’s tenure. WSJ, 6-23-10
  • Cherry-picking polls: Obama’s leadership numbers tumble and would you believe Senator Charlie Crist?: As one result, a new CBS News Poll finds most Americans believe Obama reacted too slowly to the catastrophe (61%) and has no clear plan to deal with it (59% nationwide, 64% in the gulf area). Forty-five percent say Obama has no clear plan for developing new energy sources and 54% still say he has no clear plan for developing new jobs, 16 months after he signed his own massive jobs plan and numerous expensive sales trips to sell its benefits…. – LAT, 6-22-10
  • Rasmussen: McCain 47%, Hayworth 36%: Longtime Senator John McCain continues to lead Arizona’s Republican Primary by double digits but remains in the same narrow range of support he’s drawn since January. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely GOP Primary Voters in the state Voters shows McCain picking up 47% support, while challenger J.D.Hayworth earns the vote from 36%. Navy veteran and Tea Party activist Jim Deakin picks up seven percent (7%) support. One percent (1%) like another candidate in the race, and eight percent (8%) are undecided…. – Tucson Weekly, 6-22-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama talks with President Dmitry Medvedev of

President Barack Obama talks with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada as as they walk with other G8 leaders at the G8 Summit in Muskoka, Canada June 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd, who used his record tenure as a United States senator to fight for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and to build a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money, died at about 3 a.m. Monday, his office said. He was 92. He had been in failing health for several years. Mr. Byrd served 51 years in the Senate, longer than anyone in American history, and with his six years in the House, he was the longest-serving member of Congress. He held a number of Senate offices, including majority and minority leader and president pro tem. But the post that gave him the most satisfaction was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, with its power of the purse — a post he gave up only last year as his health declined. A New Deal Democrat, Mr. Byrd used the position in large part to battle persistent poverty in West Virginia, which he called “one of the rock bottomest of states.”… – NYT, 6-28-10
  • M.D. Ginsburg, 78, Dies; Lawyer and Tax Expert: Martin D. Ginsburg, a tax lawyer and professor of tax law and the husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court, died Sunday at his home in Washington. He was 78. The cause was cancer, according to a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court, which announced the death…. – NYT, 6-28-10
  • Obama’s G20 Attendance Signifies Debt Reduction Plan: The G20 Summit in Toronto has been taking place, ensuring that world leader’s from 20 of the largest countries have been able to discuss some of the key issues concerning international finance.
    One of the main issues has been the deficits which many countries are having to contend with – the UK included. Britain has recently announced that they are going to be making billions of dollars worth of cuts to their public sector, in order to try and reduce the public sector net borrowing deficit.
    Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to reducing America’s deficit today, agreeing with other nations at the event to reduce oustanding debt by half over a three-year period. However, the President warned about how being too proactive over this matter could result in what is known as a ‘double dip’ recession, meaning that previous economic difficulties could return on a far worse scale. As it is, some European leaders believe that Barack Obama’s plans are ineffective in some ways, particularly because of how levels of unemployment in America have remained fairly constant…. – News Quench, 6-27-10
  • Oops! Joe Biden’s smart mouth gives GOP more ammo with botched Wisconsin trip: Would you call it a disastrous trip? Maybe not disastrous, but memorable. You will hear about Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to the Wisconsin custard shop many times over the course of the next five months. The simple campaign-like stop will give conservatives even more ammunition in an upcoming midterm election season that already looks ominous for President Obama…. – LAT, 6-27-10
  • Obama’s high court pick Kagan faces Senate hearing: Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, faces a potential grilling by Republicans as she begins her Senate confirmation hearing on Monday even as Obama rejected as “pretty thin gruel” arguments advanced by her critics.
    Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee that will hold the hearings, made it clear that Kagan can expect tough questioning on whether she has what it takes to be a Supreme Court justice. “This is a confirmation, not a coronation,” said Sessions, appearing on Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “She has the least experience of any nominee at least in the last 50 years,” Sessions said…. – Reuters, 6-28-10
  • White House launches plan to boost broadband: U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to free up airways would nearly double the amount of commercial spectrum currently available for wireless devices, an administration official said on Monday. The plan would make available 500 megahertz of federal and commercial spectrum over the next 10 years, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity…. – Reuters, 6-28-10
  • Palin in Tyler: Says Obama falls short on leadership: Sarah Palin fired up an enthusiastic Texas crowd late Saturday by criticizing President Barack Obama’s handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying he’s falling short on leadership. “You asked for the job, Mr. President, so buck up,” Palin said to voracious applause inside the nearly packed Oil Palace. Organizers said the event drew about 5,000 people…. – AP, 6-27-10
  • US legislation could help Obama at G-8 talks: President Obama came to the summit table this weekend with a strong hand to press his case to foreign leaders for tougher financial regulations, after Congress agreed to a far-reaching overhaul of the American regulatory system. The opposite is true for his effort to persuade other governments to keep stimulating their economies rather than attacking deficits. While Congress allowed Obama to pack the big victory on banking regulation as he left for the Group of 20 summit, the Senate separately dealt him a significant setback that no doubt resonated with the foreign leaders here pushing fiscal austerity: Democratic leaders shelved an economic stimulus package of aid for the long-term unemployed and financially squeezed states, along with assorted tax cuts…. – NYT, 6-27-10
  • Senate Democrats poised to start energy bill: Legislation could include a carbon cap on utility companies. Many Democrats hope a summer discussion on energy will establish a strong contrast with Republicans before this fall’s election… – LAT, 6-27-10
  • GOP: Obama’s panel is biased Critics contend spill inquiry panel has no oil experts, only drilling foes: The presidential commission investigating offshore drilling safety and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill came under fresh fire Thursday with Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of stacking it with environmental activists. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., charged the Obama administration with keeping oil and gas drilling experts off its seven-member commission in favor of people who philosophically oppose offshore exploration. And Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said there was a huge conflict of interest in putting environmental advocates on a panel responsible for investigating the spill and recommending new safety mandates for offshore drilling…. – Houston Chronicle, 6-27-10
  • Specter ready to press Kagan to take a stand: Elena Kagan wrote 15 years ago that Supreme Court confirmation hearings had become a “vapid and hollow charade” filled with blather instead of rigorous thought. For a lifetime appointment, she argued, there should be a substantial exchange of ideas. When her own turn before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins Monday, however, Kagan probably will stick to platitudes…. – Philadelphia Inquirer, 6-27-10
  • 3 Democrats urge U.S. to not sue Arizona: A trio of U.S. House Democrats from Arizona is making a last-ditch effort to discourage President Barack Obama’s administration from suing the state over its controversial new illegal-immigration law. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords support a comprehensive approach to border security and immigration reform, something Congress has failed to pass despite years of trying. All three, who could find themselves in difficult re-election battles this year, want the administration to focus on practical steps to repair the broken U.S. immigration system and shore up border security instead of suing Arizona. A federal legal challenge could come from the Justice Department as early as this week…. – The Arizona Republic, 6-27-10
  • ‘McChrystal downbeat on Afghan war before sacking’: US General Stanley McChrystal issued a highly critical assessment of the war in Afghanistan just days before he was sacked by President Barack Obama, a British newspaper reported Sunday. The Independent on Sunday said leaked military documents showed McChrystal had briefed defence ministers from the countries involved in the war earlier this month and warned them to expect no progress in the next six months…. – AFP, 6-27-10
  • Vice President Biden to visit Gulf Coast region to see BP’s oil spill first hand: Vice President Biden will visit the Gulf Coast on Tuesday to check on progress in the ongoing fight against the massive oil spill, officials said Friday. Biden will visit the National Incident Command Center in New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle, where miles of beach are closed as murky plumes of oil loom not far offshore. The trip will be the vice president’s first since the crisis in the Gulf began. President Obama has visited the region four times in recent months…. – NY Daily News, 6-26-10
  • GOP: Schwarzenegger ‘a great disappointment’: Gov. has few friends in Calif. party, massive deficit, low approval ratings… – WaPo, MSNBC, 6-26-10
  • Former VP Cheney hospitalized: Former Vice President Dick Cheney was admitted to the hospital Friday after experiencing discomfort, the latest health scare for the 69-year-old Republican leader who has a long history of heart disease. Cheney was expected to remain at George Washington University Hospital over the weekend, said spokesman Peter Long…. – AP, 6-25-10
  • Democrats Fix Strategy for Undefined Climate and Energy Bill: Emotions surged during a “thrilling” caucus gathering in which Democrats plotted to bring a vote on climate legislation to the floor this summer. They promised to challenge resistant Republicans to oppose a measure focusing on polluters as oil from the site of an exploded rig continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico.
    But the party faces the same thorny questions it did before the rousing “rank and file uprising,” as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) described the meeting. The questions include whether Democrats have enough support among their own members to impose a price on greenhouse gas emissions…. – NYT, 6-25-10
  • Lawmakers Agree on Wall Street’s Biggest Overhaul Since 1930s: Congressional negotiators today approved the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. financial regulation since the Great Depression, reshaping oversight of Wall Street and some of its most opaque concoctions. Lawmakers from the House and Senate worked through the night in a 20-hour session to reach deals on two of their most far-reaching and contentious proposals — a ban on proprietary trading by banks and new oversight of the derivatives market. This month, they’ve also agreed on measures to wind down big firms whose collapse might shake markets, to keep tabs on hedge funds and to make it easier for investors to sue credit raters.
    “This is going to be a very strong bill, and stronger than almost everybody predicted that it could be and that I, frankly, thought it would be,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, told reporters June 23 as lawmakers prepared for the final round of talks…. – Bloomberg, 6-25-10
  • House, Senate lawmakers reach a deal on financial reform: The sweeping legislation, an attempt to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis, would create a consumer protection bureau, impose tough regulations on derivatives and grant the government power to seize and dismantle teetering firms… – LAT, 6-25-10
  • Congress Fails to Pass an Extension of Jobless Aid: Legislation to extend unemployment subsidies for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have exhausted their jobless benefits teetered on the edge of collapse on Thursday, as Senate Democrats and Republicans traded bitter accusations about who was to blame for an eight-week impasse. Senate Republicans and a lone Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined forces to filibuster the bill in a procedural vote on Thursday. Visibly frustrated, the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would move on to other business next week because he saw little chance of winning over any Republican votes. The vote was 57 to 41, with the Democrats falling three short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure. “You’ll hear a lot of excuses,” Mr. Reid said at a news conference. “The bottom line is the minority just said no.”… – NYT, 6-25-10
  • House OKs campaign-spending disclosure bill: Democrats in Congress, scrambling to rein in special-interest spending before November’s midterm elections, pushed through a bill Thursday that would require CEOs to appear in campaign ads they fund and impose broad new disclosure rules on political spending. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives by a 219-206 vote, was opposed by most Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, who cast it as violating free-speech protections and riddled with loopholes for powerful groups, such as the National Rifle Association and labor unions. The measure’s prospects are uncertain in the Senate, where Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to pass a bill over Republican objections. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the chamber’s top Republican, Thursday assailed the proposal as “protecting incumbent Democratic politicians.”… – USA Today, 6-25-10
  • Obama, new Australian prime minister speak about war: Australia’s new prime minister pledged her commitment to the war in Afghanistan during a phone call with President Obama, the two leaders said. “I assured President Obama that my approach to Afghanistan will continue the approach taken to date by the Australian government,” said Julia Gillard, Australia’s new prime minister, on Friday. “I fully support the current deployment and I indicated to President Obama that he should expect to see the Australian effort in Afghanistan continuing.”
    During the talk, Obama and Gillard “underscored their shared commitment to closely work together on the broad range of global challenges confronting both countries, including in Afghanistan,” the White House statement said… – CNN, 6-25-10
  • CNN, 6-24-10
  • Short, Tense Deliberation, Then a General Is Gone: By the time he woke up Wednesday morning, President Obama had made up his mind. During the 36 frenetic hours since he had been handed an article from the coming issue of Rolling Stone ominously headlined “The Runaway General,” the president weighed the consequences of cashiering Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, whose contemptuous comments about senior officials had ignited a firestorm. Mr. Obama, aides say, consulted with advisers — some, like Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who warned of the dangers of replacing General McChrystal, others, like his political advisers, who thought he had to go. He reached out for advice to a soldier-statesman, Colin L. Powell. He identified a possible successor to lead the war in Afghanistan. And then, finally, the president ended General McChrystal’s command in a meeting that lasted only 20 minutes. According to one aide, the general apologized, offered his resignation and did not lobby for his job. After a seesaw debate among White House officials, “there was a basic meeting of the minds,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and a major player in the deliberations. “This was not good for the mission, the military and morale,” Mr. Emanuel said…. – NYT, 6-24-10
  • Oregon woman accused Gore of sexual misconduct in 2006: Law officials say former Vice President Al Gore was accused of “unwanted sexual contact” during a visit to Portland in October 2006. Authorities in Portland investigated in late 2006 and early 2007 whether former Vice President Al Gore sexually assaulted a masseuse while visiting that city, but the matter was dropped for lack of evidence, officials said Wednesday…. – Seattle Times, 6-23-10
  • Dems exploit Barton apology to BP in election push: In need of political momentum, Democrats are exploiting Republican Rep. Joe Barton’s startling apology to Gulf oil spiller BP for its treatment by the Obama administration, launching a steady, low-budget campaign of fundraising appeals, a pair of television commercials and Web ads. Little more than four months before midterm elections, party officials appear to be testing ways to maximize the gain from an episode that ricocheted across the Capitol at a furious pace last week, and that Republicans deemed significant enough to force Barton to recant his remarks…. – AP, 6-23-10
  • Obama seeks new drill ban as oil still spews: The White House was set on Wednesday to step up its legal battle to keep deepwater drilling on hold in the Gulf of Mexico following the worst oil spill in U.S. history. A U.S. judge on Tuesday overturned a six-month ban on drilling in water deeper than 500 feet (152 metres) after an appeal by drillers who stand to lose business… – Reuters, 6-23-10
  • SPIN METER: Defining ‘border security’: You wouldn’t know it from the public debate, but the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it. Despite those efforts, calls for increased border security are elbowing out cries for an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws and inducing Congress and the administration to spend even more money on border enforcement…. – AP, 6-23-10
  • Obama requests $600 million for border security: The president’s emergency funding request would pay for more Border Patrol agents, drones, National Guard troops and more…. – LAT, 6-22-10
  • Obama Says Health Law Shouldn’t Be Excuse to Raise Rates: President Obama, whose vilification of insurers helped push a landmark health care overhaul through Congress, warned industry executives at the White House on Tuesday not to use the bill “as an opportunity to enact unjustifiable rate increases that don’t boost care and inflate their bottom line.” Mr. Obama made his remarks in the East Room of the White House after a private meeting with executives of leading health insurance companies and with state insurance commissioners who regulate them. As the new law is being implemented, the White House wanted to issue a pointed reminder to insurers — and the public — that the president intends to monitor the industry’s behavior.
    “There are genuine cost drivers that are not caused by insurance companies,” Mr. Obama said. “But what is also true is that we’ve got to make sure that this new law is not being used as an excuse to simply drive up costs.”… – NYT, 6-22-10
  • Hoyer: Permanent middle class tax cuts too costly: A top House Democrat said Tuesday that tax increases will eventually be necessary to address the nation’s mounting debt, raising a difficult election-year issue as Democrats fight retain control of Congress. In the near term, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer raised the possibility that Congress will only temporarily extend middle-class tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. He pointedly suggested that making them permanent would be too costly…. – AP, 6-20-10
  • AP source: White House budget chief stepping down: White House Budget Director Peter Orszag’s expected resignation would make him the first high-profile member of President Barack Obama’s team to depart the administration. A Democratic official said Monday that Orszag is expected to leave in the coming months, although the exact timing is not known. The official confirmed the news to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced…. – AP, 6-22-10
  • A White House “shakedown?” A lot of House Republicans agree: Republican Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP last week for what he called a “shakedown” by President Obama to pay for the gushing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico barely caused a ripple among local Republican House members. Is it because they agree with him? The White House had worked out a deal with BP that the oil giant would create a $20 billion compensation fund. But Barton, a senior Texas Republican and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, apologized to BP. “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” he told BP executives at a hearing. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown…I apologize.” Kansas City Star, 6-22-10
  • High court upholds anti-terror law prized by Obama: The Supreme Court upheld the government’s authority Monday to ban aid to designated terrorist groups, even when that support is intended to steer the groups toward peaceful and legal activities….
    The justices voted 6-3 to reject a free-speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups to the law that bars “material support” — everything from money to technical know-how to legal advice — to foreign terrorist organizations…. – AP, 6-21-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Despite opposition, Texas two-step primary process prevails: The unique Texas two-step primary process scooted forward, despite a move Saturday to scrap the system that was overwhelmed by overflow crowds in 2008. Boyd Richie, accompanied by wife Betty, was reinstated as state chairman Saturday during the Texas Democratic Party’s convention in Corpus Christi. Texas Democrats meeting at their state convention upheld the dual primary vote and caucus system called the two- step. Delegates also reinstated Boyd Richie as state chairman and adopted a policy statement that endorses the new federal health care law…. – Dallas News, 6-27-10
  • McCain will join 2 GOP debates: Sen. John McCain’s re-election campaign on Friday announced that he has accepted two invitations to debate Republican primary opponents J.D. Hayworth and Jim Deakin next month. McCain has agreed to 7 p.m. televised debates on July 16 on Phoenix’s Channel 3 (KTVK) and on July 17 on the “Arizona Illustrated” program on Tucson PBS affiliate Channel 6 (KUAT). Early voting for the Aug. 24 GOP primary starts July 29. The Arizona Republic, 6-26-10
  • Texas Democrats to rally at convention: After traveling for months courting all types of Texas voters, Democrat Bill White will try to ignite excitement among party loyalists with his starring role at the Democratic Party’s state convention.
    “The face of the party looks much like the face of the state. So this is an opportunity for people in different parts of the state to get to know each other and to resolve we want an election that will put Texas first,” White said this week. He’s urging delegates to recruit friends and neighbors, even those who don’t always vote for Democrats.
    That kind of support from independent voters is what White will need in November in conservative Texas, where Republicans have dominated state politics since sweeping all statewide elections in 1998 and where incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry is the fall favorite… – AP, 6-25-10
  • Navy exaggerations damage Ill. Senate candidate: Republican Mark Kirk has stepped on a political landmine of his own creation, leaving him as damaged as his Democratic opponent in the race for an Illinois Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Kirk, a 21-year veteran in the Navy Reserve, was caught exaggerating his military record. He claimed an award he didn’t win. He mentioned serving in overseas conflicts while he was safely in the United States. He stretched the facts when talking about combat and coming under fire. And his troubles don’t end there: Even his references to being a teacher are being questioned. Two months ago, it was Kirk’s Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, who was on the ropes. Federal regulators had taken over his family’s Chicago bank, Broadway Bank, which had grown insolvent because of bad loans and a bad economy. Stories about the bank lending money to criminals were resurrected, leading Republicans to start calling Giannoulias a “mob banker.”…. – AP, 6-24-10
  • South Carolina Republicans buck biases in runoff election: The conservative state’s GOP nominates Nikki Haley for governor and Tim Scott for Congress in a runoff vote. Mississippi, North Carolina and Utah also hold nomination contests for November’s midterms…. – LAT, 6-23-10
  • Inglis becomes fifth congressional casualty of anti-incumbent year: South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis became the latest victim of the anti-incumbent wave Tuesday, losing his bid for a seventh term to GOP rival Trey Gowdy. Prosecutor Trey Gowdy has just made six-term incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis the fifth congressional incumbent to fall prey to this year’s anti-incumbent tide. Gowdy has defeated the veteran South Carolina lawmaker in a runoff for the GOP nomination, the Associated Press reports…. – USA Today, 6-22-10
  • Matheson cruises to victory: Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, easily held off his first-ever primary challenge Tuesday and will get a shot at a sixth term. With 98 percent of precincts counted by press time, Matheson led 2nd Congressional District Democratic challenger Claudia Wright 68 percent to 32 percent. Republican Morgan Philpot awaits in the Nov. 2 general election…. – The Salt Lake Tribune, 6-23-10
  • Lee wins Utah GOP Senate nomination: Utah Republicans chose their nominee for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, selecting a legal scholar who grew up in a family of lawyers and fondly recalls discussing the Constitution over childhood dinners. Mike Lee is the overwhelming favorite to win in November and replace Sen. Bob Bennett, who was ousted at the Republican convention in May amid a wave of anti-incumbent rage around the country. Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater beat out Bennett at the convention to advance to Tuesday’s primary. Lee won on Tuesday, earning a nearly a 5,000 vote lead with 84 percent of precincts reporting for about 51 percent of the vote…. – AP, 6-23-1-
  • Gowdy knocks Inglis out of office: Seventh Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg has knocked U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis out of the 4th Congressional seat. Several hundred Gowdy supporters are celebrating at the Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg. The solicitor was the leader in the Republican Primary two weeks ago, and once again bested Inglis tonight, scoring well with voters in the congressman’s home county of Greenville. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Gowdy had 51,541 votes (70 percent). Inglis garnered 21,898 votes (30 percent)…. – Go Up State, 6-22-10
  • Harold Johnson wins 8th District GOP race Newcomer rides recognition, party endorsements to primary victory: Former sportscaster Harold Johnson defeated businessman Tim D’Annunzio Tuesday after an expensive and combative 8th District congressional primary that saw party leaders go to extraordinary lengths in supporting him. Johnson, who turns 69 next week, was winning about 61 percent of the vote in unofficial returns. He piled up big margins in the district’s western portion, including Cabarrus County, which offset D’Annunzio’s support in the east. Johnson now faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell and Libertarian Thomas Hill in the 10-county district that stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville…. – Charlotte Observer, 6-23-10
  • Elaine Marshall, William Randall score runoff election wins in Person County: Despite a low voter turnout, two candidates emerged victorious in a pair of runoff elections in Person County Tuesday and the two also appeared headed to wins statewide as of press time for today’s edition. The runoff contests were between two Democrats vying to challenge Richard Burr this fall for his seat in the U.S. Senate and two Republicans battling for the U.S. House of Representatives District 13 seat, now occupied by Democrat Brad Miller. The Democratic runoff featured Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham. Marshall was North Carolina’s secretary of state for over 10 years and Cunningham is a former state senator from Lexington. In the Republican runoff, William (Bill) Randall and Bernie Reeves faced off to determine who would move on to face Burr, who easily defeated his three Republican challengers in May…. – Roxboro Courier, 6-23-10
  • Primary/Runoff Day in Utah, South and North Carolina: What to Watch ForWaPo, 6-22-10
  • Utah Republican Senate primary could be a test for tea party: As a test of the “tea party” movement’s ability to galvanize voters for a single chosen candidate, Utah’s GOP Senate primary Tuesday is likely to deliver a mixed message. Republicans Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee survived a bruising convention in May that knocked out incumbent Sen. Robert F. Bennett and gave the tea party and other conservative groups bragging rights as a dragon-slayer. Now, most of those groups — but not all of them — have rallied around Lee, a 38-year-old lawyer. But Bridgewater, 49, is even or ahead in several polls…. – WaPo, 6-22-10
  • Cuomo, Lazio toked pot in youth: New York governor candidates Andrew Cuomo and Rick Lazio say they have both smoked marijuana in their youth. The question is, does anyone care? Maurice Carroll of the Quinnipiac University poll answers with a loud “no.” AP, 6-22-10
  • McCain Is Now Running Just to Stay in Place: But less than two years after he was defeated by Barack Obama, nothing seems quite the same for Senator John McCain, who has gone from being his party’s candidate for president rallying 1,000 supporters at a Florida football stadium to furiously defending his Senate seat before 60 recession-weary residents in a Hampton Inn in Lake Havasu, Ariz…. – NYT, 6-22-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address
  • Elena Kagan’s Opening Statement: Excerpts: “Mr. Chairman, the law school I had the good fortune to lead has a kind of motto, spoken each year at graduation. We tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a profession devoted to “those wise restraints that make us free.” That phrase has always captured for me the way law, and the rule of law, matters. What the rule of law does is nothing less than to secure for each of us what our Constitution calls “the blessings of liberty” – those rights and freedoms, that promise of equality, that have defined this nation since its founding. And what the Supreme Court does is to safeguard the rule of law, through a commitment to even-handedness, principle, and restraint.
    “The idea is engraved on the very face of the Supreme Court building: Equal Justice Under Law. It means that everyone who comes before the Court – regardless of wealth or power or station – receives the same process and the same protections. What this commands of judges is even-handedness and impartiality. What it promises is nothing less than a fair shake for every American.
    “[T]he Supreme Court is a wondrous institution. But the time I spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one – properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives. What I most took away from those experiences was simple admiration for the democratic process. That process is often messy and frustrating, but the people of this country have great wisdom, and their representatives work hard to protect their interests. The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.”
    “I’ve led a school whose faculty and students examine and discuss and debate every aspect of our law and legal system. And what I’ve learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. I’ve learned that we make progress by listening to each other, across every apparent political or ideological divide. I’ve learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. And I’ve learned the value of a habit that Justice Stevens wrote about more than fifty years ago – of ‘understanding before disagreeing.’
    I will make no pledges this week other than this one – that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons. I will listen hard, to every party before the Court and to each of my colleagues. I will work hard. And I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in accordance with law.” – CBS News, 6-28-10
  • Vice President Joe Biden caught on video calling custard shop manager a ‘smarta–’ after taxes quip: Biden was in Milwaukee to talk about jobs on Saturday, and made a stop at a Kopp’s Frozen Custard outside the city.
    “What do we owe ya?” the vice president asked after enjoying some of the cold treats.
    “Don’t worry, it’s on us,” the unnamed store manager replied, but then added: “Lower our taxes and we’ll call it even.”
    A few minutes later, Biden indicated he didn’t exactly appreciate the remark. “Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smarta– all the time?” he said to the manager, in an exchange captured on video by local station WISN. “Say something nice.”… – NY Daily News, 6-27-10
  • Palin: Obama administration selling out allies: Sarah Palin on Sunday painted President Barack Obama’s administration as a cowering giant intent on surrendering the nation’s mantle as a superpower and willing to sell out its allies…. “Do they think, really, that we’re getting anything in return for all this bowing and kowtowing and apologizing? No, we don’t get anything positive in return for this,” Palin said at the event spearheaded by a Norfolk talk radio station. “So while President Obama is getting pushed around by the likes of Russia and China, our allies are left to wonder about the value of an alliance with our country any more. They’re asking what is it worth,” she said…. – AP, 6-28-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Urges Congress to Complete Work on Wall Street Reform Bill Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, June 26, 2010 Weekly Address Washington, DC: This weekend, I’m traveling to Toronto to meet with members of the G20. There, I hope we can build on the progress we made at last year’s G20 summits by coordinating our global financial reform efforts to make sure a crisis like the one from which we are still recovering never happens again. We’ve made great progress toward passing such reform here at home. As I speak, we are on the cusp of enacting the toughest financial reforms since the Great Depression.
    I don’t have to tell you why these reforms are so important. We’re still digging ourselves out of an economic crisis that happened largely because there wasn’t strong enough oversight on Wall Street. We can’t build a strong economy in America over the long-run without ending this status quo, and laying a new foundation for growth and prosperity.
    That’s what the Wall Street reforms currently making their way through Congress will help us do – reforms that represent 90% of what I proposed when I took up this fight. We’ll put in place the strongest consumer financial protections in American history, and create an independent agency with an independent director and an independent budget to enforce them….
    Beyond these reforms, we also need to address another piece of unfinished business. We need to impose a fee on the banks that were the biggest beneficiaries of taxpayer assistance at the height of our financial crisis – so we can recover every dime of taxpayer money.
    Getting this far on Wall Street reform hasn’t been easy. There are those who’ve fought tooth and nail to preserve the status quo. In recent months, they’ve spent millions of dollars and hired an army of lobbyists to stop reform dead in its tracks.
    But because we refused to back down, and kept fighting, we now stand on the verge of victory. And I urge Congress to take us over the finish line, and send me a reform bill I can sign into law, so we can empower our people with consumer protections, and help prevent a financial crisis like this from ever happening again. – WH, 6-26-10
  • Remarks by the President on Wall Street Reform: Now, let me be clear. Our economic growth and prosperity depend on a strong, robust financial sector, and I will continue to do what I can to foster and support a dynamic private sector. But we’ve all seen what happens when there’s inadequate oversight and insufficient transparency on Wall Street.
    The reforms making their way through Congress will hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one that we’re still recovering from.
    We’ll put in place the toughest consumer financial protections in our history, while creating an independent agency to enforce them. Through this agency, we’ll combine under one roof the consumer protection functions that currently are divided among half a dozen different agencies. Now there will be one agency whose sole job will be to look out for you.
    Credit card companies will no longer be able to mislead you with pages and pages of fine print. You will no longer be subject to all kinds of hidden fees and penalties, or the predatory practices of unscrupulous lenders.
    Instead, we’ll make sure that credit card companies and mortgage companies play by the rules. You’ll be empowered with easy-to-understand forms so you know what you’re agreeing to. And you’ll have the clear and concise information you need to make financial decisions that are best for you and your family.
    Wall Street reform will also strengthen our economy in a number of other ways. We’ll make our financial system more transparent by bringing the kinds of complex deals that help trigger this crisis, like trades in a $600 trillion derivatives market, into the light of day. We’ll enact the Volcker Rule to make sure that banks protected by the safety net of the FDIC can’t engage in risky trades for their own profit. And we’ll create what’s called a resolution authority to help wind down firms whose collapse would threaten our entire financial system. No longer will be have companies that are “too big to fail”.
    Over the last 17 months, we passed an economic Recovery Act, health insurance reform, education reform, and we are now on the brink of passing Wall Street reform. And at the G20 summit this weekend, I’ll work with other nations not only to coordinate our financial reform efforts, but to promote global economic growth while ensuring that each nation can pursue a path that is sustainable for its own public finances. – WH, 6-25-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

President Barack Obama talks with British Prime Minister David

President Barack Obama talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the G8 summit in Muskoka, Canada June 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Julian E. Zelizer: How Afghanistan became the ignored war: If the Korean War, which began 60 years ago this past weekend, was America’s forgotten war, Afghanistan has been America’s ignored war.
    Since President Obama authorized a surge of troops in Afghanistan in December 2009, there has been a notable absence of public debate or interest about this conflict.
    Although the media has tracked conditions on the ground and more recently has examined the rapid deterioration of U.S. military strategy, Afghanistan has not elicited the same kind of civic dialogue that surrounded President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq and certainly nothing like President Johnson’s war in Vietnam.
    Indeed, when the controversy over Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s comments in Rolling Stone magazine erupted in the past week, one of the most surprising aspects of the story was that, for a brief moment, Americans were actually talking about Afghanistan once again. Our nation is in the middle of a war that has gone on for over nine years, but many people have not been paying attention.
    As a result of these factors, Afghanistan has remained off the radar. Perhaps with the McChrystal controversy, the nation will start asking tougher questions about what is going on in this war, what our objectives are and how the strategy is working.
    Unfortunately, we will most likely turn our attention back to other issues, such as the feature story in Rolling Stone called “Lady Gaga Tells All.” In doing so, we will continue an unhealthy pattern of fighting wars outside of the public mind. – CNN, 6-28-10
  • Gil Troy: Primary job for wives of G20 leaders: Do no harm: Though prominent wives have advocated for political initiatives at home, they’ve stayed away from the microphones at international summits…
    “Their basic job is not to do damage,” Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University, says. Mr. Troy cites a memo written by U.S. president Richard Nixon in 1972, where he considered bringing his wife on a state visit. “If Pat comes to China, she’s coming as a prop,” Mr. Nixon wrote. Not a lot has changed since then, Prof. Troy says…
    Summits can be a haven for the lonely other halves of presidents and prime ministers, Prof. Troy says. “If you’re feeling frustrated or if you’re feeling bored, this is an opportunity to share concerns, to find people who are like minded in the zone of confidence and comfort. If you do have a cause, this is an opportunity to find people who have shared interest and the same power,” he says…
    Prof. Troy says Ms. Obama may not get to speak up about her position on the McChrystal affair, but she can recruit support among other spouses for her less-controversial childhood obesity initiative. The stipulation, though, is “it has to be done within all the protocols and pageantry of the summit.”… – The Globe & Mail, 6-25-10
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