Political Highlights, November 22, 2010: Obama and Congress Wrestles over Tax Cuts, New Start Treaty, and NATO, Obama Set End of Afghanistan War

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.


The President meets with national security experts on the New   START treaty



  • Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell: One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012: President Obama must decide now how he wants to govern in the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election. In recent days, he has offered differing visions of how he might approach the country’s problems. At one point, he spoke of the need for “mid-course corrections.” At another, he expressed a desire to take ideas from both sides of the aisle. And before this month’s midterm elections, he said he believed that the next two years would involve “hand-to-hand combat” with Republicans, whom he also referred to as “enemies.”… – WaPo, 11-14-10



  • Hillary Clinton Says She Won’t Run Again for Elective Office: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today she won’t run again for elective office, ruling out a future presidential bid. “I am very happy doing what I’m doing and I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elective office,” the 63-year-old former First Lady said on the “Fox News Sunday” program…. – Bloomberg, 11-21-10
  • Obama and Medvedev urge Republicans to support START: Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have urged Republicans to support a new sweeping arms control treaty between the two countries after the pair held an impromptu meeting on the sidelines of the Nato summit. The US administration has warned that failing to ratify the treaty would endanger the substantial gains made in relations with Russia.
    Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said the issue was one of “life and death” with thousands of Russian nuclear missiles still pointing at American soil. “This is in the national security interests of the United States, there is no doubt about it,” she said on US television…. – Telegraph UK, 11-21-10
  • ‘Invasive’ airport pat-downs not going away for the holidays: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she herself wouldn’t like to get one, ‘but everybody’s trying to do the right thing.’ The TSA’s John Pistole cites the determination of terrorists to take American lives…. – LAT, 11-21-10
  • Palin book lauds ‘Juno,’ snubs JFK: ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,’ due out Nov. 23, has been billed as a tribute to American values…. – LAT, 11-20-10
  • Sarah Palin’s ‘America by Heart’ sure to stir friends – and enemies: Sarah Palin’s new book ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag’ goes on sale Tuesday. It arrives as Palin ponders a run for the presidency, drawing criticism from the right…. – LAT, 11-21-10
  • Medal of Honor recipient cheered at Jets game: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has received a standing ovation from the crowd during the second quarter of the New York Jets’ game against the Houston Texans. Giunta was brought out to one of the end zones with his wife, Jennifer, just before halftime and waved to the cheering crowd at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday. The Jets are celebrating Military Appreciation Day. Giunta received the nation’s top military award from President Barack Obama on Tuesday, three years after retrieving a wounded comrade under gunfire in Afghanistan as the Taliban carried the stricken soldier away…. – WSJ, 11-21-10
  • Obama says boosting jobs, growth can help Europe: U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday the best thing he could do to help Europe as it tackles debt problems was to promote jobs and growth, and also reiterated calls for en end to economic imbalances. “The most important thing that I can do for Europe is the same thing that I need to do for the United States, and that is to promote growth and increased employment in the United States,” he told a news conference after a NATO summit…. – Reuters, 11-20-10
  • NATO adopts transition plan for Afghan war: President Obama said Sunday he was confident that a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would begin in July and that “the objective assessment is that we have made progress” in the war effort. “We are in a better place now than we were a year ago,” Obama said in anticipation of next month’s promised White House review of the surge strategy he announced last December. He said Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S.- led coalition, had begun “planning and mapping” areas where security conditions would allow a drawdown. Obama spoke at the end of a two-day NATO summit at which the coalition agreed to start turning parts of Afghanistan over to Afghan security control this spring, in a transition to be completed by the end of 2014, and secured Russia’s promise to cooperate in a Europe-based missile-defense program…. – WaPo, 11-20-10
  • EU and U.S. look to secure Doha trade deal in 2011: The United States and the European Union promised on Saturday to use their considerable economic weight to try to secure a successful conclusion to the Doha round of global trade negotiations in 2011. President Barack Obama held two hours of talks with Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Lisbon, with both sides emphasizing the importance of their economic relationship. They reaffirmed a commitment made at the G20 summit in Seoul this month to promote balanced growth and avoid competitive currency devaluations that can lead to global imbalances, and underlined the critical importance of bolstering trade.
    “We highlighted our commitment to reject protectionism as a response to the challenges our economies face,” read a joint statement released after their first summit in a year. “We reiterated our strong commitment to direct our negotiators to engage in across-the-board negotiations to promptly bring the Doha Development Agenda to a successful, ambitious, comprehensive and balanced conclusion…. – Reuters, 11-20-10
  • Obama: NATO backs missile defense shield Leaders also review plan to pull most foreign troops from Afghanistan by end of 2014: President Barack Obama won NATO summit agreement Friday to build a missile shield over Europe, an ambitious commitment to protect against Iranian attack while demonstrating the alliance’s continuing relevance — but at the risk of further aggravating Russia. That end date is three years beyond the time that Obama has said he will start withdrawing U.S. troops, and the challenge is to avoid a rush to the exits as public opinion turns more sharply against the war and Afghan President Hamid Karzai pushes for greater Afghan control. While celebrating the missile shield decision, Obama also made a renewed pitch for Senate ratification back in the U.S. of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, asserting that Europeans believe rejection of the deal would hurt their security and damage relations with the Russians.
    “It offers a role for all of our allies,” Obama told reporters. “It responds to the threats of our times. It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles.” He did not mention Iran by name, acceding to the wishes of NATO member Turkey, which had threatened to block the deal if its neighbor was singled out…. – CS Monitor, 11-19-10
  • NATO Agrees to Build Missile Defense System: NATO leaders agreed on Friday evening to establish a missile defense shield that would cover all NATO member states, and on Saturday they expect Russia to agree to discuss the possibility of cooperating on the system’s development. President Obama, who has promoted a less costly, more flexible missile defense system that will have components in Europe and at sea, praised the day’s work, saying that for the first time “we’ve agreed to develop a missile defense capability that is strong enough to cover all NATO European territory and populations as well as the United States.”… – NYT, 11-19-10
  • Obama’s Democrats in disarray over expiring tax cuts: President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats in the U.S. Congress, many upset with him for election losses, are in disarray over what to do about tax cuts for millions of Americans that are set to expire on December 31. With time running out and high political and economic stakes, Obama is pushing Democratic leaders to determine if they can win an acceptable extension of the cuts, which he could sign into law…. Despite a number of options — including renewing all tax cuts or only those for the middle class or tying any extension to a renewal of jobless benefits — there is no indication a consensus is near.
    “How the hell should we know when we will figure this out?” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “This is the Democratic Party,” long known for internal struggles and diverse views…. – Reuters, 11-19-10
  • Obama, Biden to visit Chrysler plant in Indiana Tuesday: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will visit a Chrysler Group LLC transmission plant in Indiana on Tuesday — the president’s fourth trip to a U.S. auto factory this year. Obama will visit Chrysler’s Indiana Transmission Plant II in Kokomo, a plant that opened in late 2003. He will tout the overall recovery of the U.S. auto industry, underscored Thursday with General Motors Co.’s successful launch of its initial public stock offering. Chrysler Group LLC hopes to do so the same in late 2011…. – Detroit News, 11-19-10
  • An uproar over Palin — Bristol, that is: The ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant is voted by viewers into the finals. Critics charge that ‘tea party’ activists did some scheming at the ballot box in favor of Sarah Palin’s daughter. LAT, 11-19-10
  • Obama helps Biden cover campaign debts: Vice President Joe Biden’s effort to pay off campaign debt is getting a hand from his boss and former rival, President Barack Obama. The Federal Election Commission said Thursday that Obama for America, Obama’s presidential campaign with running mate Biden, can use leftover money to give Biden’s unsuccessful presidential primary campaign $138,000 to help it cover its bills…. – WaPo, 11-18-10
  • Bristol Palin apologizes for Facebook rant: Bristol Palin is apologizing for herself and her younger sister for their Facebook rant against posters criticizing their family. Palin posted the apology on her Facebook page, saying she and her 16-year-old sister Willow “shouldn’t have reacted to negative comments about our family. We apologize.”…. – AP, 11-18-10
  • Republicans may be less eager than Obama for bipartisanship: Never mind figuring out what to do about the national debt or the tax cuts that are set to expire soon. President Obama and the Republicans who just won control of the House seem to be having a hard time even setting up a meeting. GOP congressional leaders told the White House that scheduling conflicts will prevent them from attending a meeting Thursday to which Obama invited them during a news conference two days after his party’s drubbing in the midterm elections. They said the timing was bad, with leadership elections and new members to welcome. And they pointed out that they had never officially confirmed.
    Presidential aides accepted the explanations. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked Wednesday that the announcement of a new date for the gathering, Nov. 30, is a sign that “bipartisanship has happened.” But the postponement – whatever the reason – could be a bad omen for Obama, who was counting on the meeting to start turning around his political fortunes. It appeared to signal that Republicans are less eager than the White House to begin a new era of bipartisanship, and it was a stark example of Obama’s diminished ability to bend lawmakers to his will…. – WaPo, 11-17-10
  • Deficit Panels Go Where Politicians Won’t: Two bipartisan plans for reining in the federal debt have been tossed onto the national stage in the past week, after a campaign season in which President Obama and Congressional Republicans separately promised to act but offered few specifics. The two plans suggest why: Each proposes substantial cuts to spending across the board and an end to popular tax breaks for individuals and corporations after 2012. Those are not the kind of promises that candidates generally make. The sponsors of the plans say that the scale of the nation’s fiscal problem is too great to resolve without both raising taxes and cutting projected spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, all popular entitlement programs…. – NYT, 11-17-10
  • TSA boss: New pat-downs are more invasive: The head of the Transportation Security Administration is acknowledging that the new pat-downs are more invasive than what travelers were used to in the past. TSA administrator John Pistole says he has received the new pat-down, as has his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Some travelers complain that the new inspections target sensitive body areas. Pistole says he understands those privacy concerns, but says the government must provide the best possible security for air travelers…. – AP, 11-17-10
  • White House: Bipartisan Congressional Meeting Delayed To Nov 30: A meeting between Congressional leaders from both parties that was scheduled for later this week is being postponed, dashing any hopes of a quick resolution to a dispute over Bush-era tax breaks, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday…. WSJ, 11-16-10
  • Court Backs Illegal Immigrant Students: In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that illegal immigrants can be eligible for the same reduced tuition at public colleges and universities as legal residents of the state. The ruling is the latest in a series of high-profile battles about state immigration policies. In addition to Arizona’s strict new immigration law, which the United States Department of Justice has challenged in court, nine other states have laws similar to California’s, with lawsuits pending in Nebraska and Texas. Currently, students who attend at least three years of high school in California and graduate are eligible for in- state tuition at public schools, which can save them as much as $12,000 a year compared with students who come from other states. Illegal immigrants remain ineligible for state or federal financial aid…. – NYT, 11-15-10
  • People: ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ brings record viewers to TLC: The first episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” Sunday night drew nearly 5 million viewers for TLC, the biggest launch in the channel’s history. MediaBistro.com gave exact numbers as 4.96 million, further breaking down the viewership as 1.8 million adults ages 25-54 and 1.6 million adults 18-49, key demographics for the reality-centric channel…. – Mercury News, 11-15-10
  • As His Ethics Trial Begins, Rangel Meets With Farm Workers: Thirty minutes into his Congressional ethics trial on Monday, all that remained of Representative Charles B. Rangel was the conspicuous presence of his absence. He had just announced that he would not take part in the proceedings and left behind an empty desk with his name card, a vacant chair and an untouched bottle of Poland Spring. Mr. Rangel, the Harlem Democrat who is the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had left the building — literally — but did not remain idle very long. Within minutes of leaving the hearing room, where he was to face a jury of his peers and a series of internal allegations, he installed himself in a different sort of chair: the one in his office, in the Rayburn House Office Building, next door. There, instead of calling witnesses or pleading his own defense, he tried as best he could to immerse himself in work. His aides came and went toting briefing books and sandwiches from the first-floor cafeteria. Some farmworkers turned up for a meeting on the Healthy Families Act. They stayed for more than an hour. “It’ll be a normal day of business,” said George Henry, Mr. Rangel’s chief of staff…. – NYT, 11-15-10
  • Delaware’s Coons, West Virginia’s Manchin sworn in as U.S. senators: The 112th Congress doesn’t kick off until Jan. 5, but on Monday, the two winners of special elections in Delaware and West Virginia became the Senate’s newest members. Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were sworn in by Vice President Biden on the first day of Congress’s lame-duck session… – WaPo, 1-15-10



  • Republicans Stymie Democrats on Top Measures: Empowered by their election gains, Congressional Republicans are giving little ground to President Obama and weakened Democrats in the final weeks of the 111th Congress, imperiling Democratic efforts to pass major tax and spending legislation, unemployment aid and a nuclear nonproliferation treaty among other issues. One week into a lame-duck session, Democrats have been unable to gain traction on their top priorities, leaving them casting about for ways to avoid a year-end pileup of expired tax breaks, exhausted jobless benefits and federal agencies running out of money.
    “While there’s business that needs to be done, I would hope that the leaders that are still in charge would heed the advice of the American people that occurred on Election Day in terms of being prudent in their actions here before the end of the year,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the incoming speaker… – NYT, 11-20-10
  • US Sen. Reid to seek START ratification this year: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday he would try to win Senate ratification of the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia this year. “We’re going to do our best to get to that,” Reid told reporters after a meeting with fellow Democrats about the legislative schedule for the rest of the year…. – Reuters, 11-19-10
  • Democrat Israel of New York to Lead House Campaign Committee: Representative Steve Israel of New York will be the next chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign committee, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today. Israel, 52, first elected to the House in 2000, will be in charge of recruiting candidates, raising money and providing other campaign help for the 2012 House elections…. – Bloomberg, 11-19-10
  • Rep. Maxine Waters House Ethics Case Delayed House Ethics Committee to Investigate New Information in Calif. Dems Case: The House Ethics Committee Friday cancelled the upcoming public trial set for Nov. 29, for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, saying the discovery of “new materials” in the case means further investigation is required. Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure $12 million in TARP funds for a struggling bank with financial ties to her husband. She has denied any wrongdoing…. – ABC News,
  • Democrats to hold votes on middle class tax cuts: After meeting with President Barack Obama Thursday, Democratic leaders in Congress said they plan to hold a series of politically charged votes to extend middle-class tax cuts while letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Republicans are expected to block the plan, leaving both sides back at square one as they try to negotiate a deal to spare families at every income level from a big tax increase in January. Democratic officials said Obama did not embrace a particular approach to the tax cuts in his Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders. He indicated he wanted to wait for a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders on Nov. 30 before staking out a position. “I think there’s a reality here which is that while it might be best to continue the middle-class tax cuts and raise taxes on higher income people, the votes are not there to do that,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who caucuses with the Democrats. “I think everybody’s got to deal with a stark reality which is, are we going to leave here knowing that we haven’t come to an agreement and that everybody’s taxes are going to go up Jan. 1?”… – AP, 11-18-10
  • House Panel Recommends Censure for Rangel: The House ethics committee Thursday recommended that Rep. Charles B. Rangel be formally censured for ethical misconduct, the most serious punishment the House can mete out short of expelling a member. The 9 to 1 vote ends the committee’s two-year investigation into the Harlem Democrat’s improper fundraising, failure to pay taxes, and failure to report income on his Congressional financial disclosure forms. Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, called the deliberations “wrenching.” The censure must now be approved by the full House, which plans to take up the matter after its Thanksgiving recess. If, as expected, the censure is approved, Mr. Rangel will become the first member to receive such punishment since 1983, when two congressmen were rebuked for sexual misconduct with House pages. Mr. Rangel will be required to stand in the well of the House while the Speaker reads a resolution rebuking him. The committee also ordered Mr. Rangel to pay thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes from rental income on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic…. – NYT, 11-18-10
  • Why Nancy Pelosi remains leader of House Democrats despite huge loss: Nancy Pelosi wins her bid to remain leader of the House Democrats, as leadership on both sides of the aisle remains largely the same – despite Election 2010’s mandate for change. Despite presiding over the loss of more than 60 seats in midterm elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi today retained control of her caucus, with only token opposition. Just minutes later, incoming 61st Speaker John Boehner – who overcame tea party critics and ambitions in GOP leadership ranks – was unanimously confirmed as Republican leader, while celebrating his 61st birthday and, at latest count, his party’s 61-seat net gain. Managing the aspirations unleashed by a big victory can be as challenging as containing the rifts opened by a big loss. In both cases, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Boehner made it look easy – a sign of how deeply entrenched leadership on both sides of the aisle has become…. – CS Monitor, 11-17-10
  • Murkowski wins in Alaska as write-in to keep Senate seat: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski won her re-election bid Wednesday, making her the first person elected to the Senate as a write-in candidate since South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond in 1954. Murkowski, a Republican who lost her party’s nomination to a Tea Party candidate backed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, flew back from Washington to speak to supporters at an Anchorage union hall Wednesday night. After two weeks of hand counting 103,569 write-in ballots in a corrugated steel building outside Juneau, the unofficial count put Murkowski ahead by more than 10,000 votes. The Associated Press declared her the winner Wednesday afternoon. But the man who beat Murkowski for the Republican nomination — Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller — has not conceded, citing “irregularities” in the counting…. – USA Today, 11-18-10
  • Rep. Charlie Rangel found guilty of 11 ethics violations: A House ethics panel has found Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York guilty on 11 counts of breaking House rules. The eight-lawmaker subcommittee that handled the trial – and reached a unanimous verdict on 10 of the counts – will now send the case to the full ethics committee for the equivalent of sentencing. Potential punishments include a formal reprimand or censure, with either of those needing to be ratified by a vote on the House floor. Expulsion is another possible penalty but is considered highly unlikely. The full committee will begin considering Rangel’s punishment Thursday. Rangel was not present for the ruling. He walked out of the trial Monday after the panel rejected his request to delay the proceedings because he had spent $2 million on his defense and had no campaign money left to pay for a legal team.
    He released a statement blasting the decision. “How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the Ethics Subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?” it said. “I can only hope that the full Committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress.”… – WaPo, 11-16-10
  • Senate GOP agrees on earmark prohibition: Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to abandon their use of earmarks in the new Congress, a move setting up an unusual alliance with the White House and exerting pressure on reluctant Democratic lawmakers to follow suit. The vote by Senate Republican represented an internal party decision. But along with a similar step expected today by counterparts in the House, it provided an early example of the influence of the tea party and the rising conservative movement that fueled the mid-term electoral wave. Just eight months ago, a similar proposal to do away with earmarks was shot down in an overwhelming vote of the Senate that included substantial Republican opposition. Supporters of the earmark ban now will push for a full Senate floor vote and a promise from President Obama to veto any spending bill containing earmarks.
    “It’s a great first step,” said incoming Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “We said we wanted to come up here and be an alternative to the direction that the president and the Democratic leadership were taking our country, and this is the first step towards putting our money literally where our mouth is.”… – LAT, 11-16-10
  • Hobbled Dems, eager GOP back for lame-duck session: Dejected Democrats and invigorated Republicans returned to the Capitol Monday to face a mountain of unfinished work and greet more than 100 mainly Republican freshmen-elect lawmakers determined to change how they do business. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, in line to become speaker when the new Republican-led Congress convenes in January, told GOP newcomers Sunday evening that they may spend their next two years doing just two things: stopping what he called “job-killing policies” and the “spending binge.” “The American people are sick and tired of the ‘Washington knows best’ mentality. All the power in this town is on loan from the people,” he told the group, which he noted includes seven farmers, six physicians, three car dealers, two funeral home directors, a former FBI agent, a pizzeria owner, an NFL lineman, and an airline pilot. On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell met 12 of the 13 newly elected Republicans. He noted that two years ago there were only two freshmen Republicans, and said the new class would bring a “huge improvement” to the Senate…. – AP, 11-15-10
  • Rangel ethics case in hands of jury of lawmakers: Once one of the most powerful members of Congress, veteran Rep. Charles Rangel of New York was reduced Monday to pleading with colleagues for more time to raise money for a lawyer before they took up misconduct charges against him. No, they said, and quickly began deliberations, saying the facts were so clear they didn’t need to call witnesses. The panel met for several hours before quitting for the day. Deliberations were to resume Tuesday. Rangel, 80 years old and a 20-term Democrat representing New York’s famed Harlem neighborhood, implored a House ethics committee panel to delay, declaring in an emotional address that “50 years of public service is on the line.” But the panel basically decided that the 2 1/2-year-old case had gone on long enough — and Congress had little time left to deal with it in the lame duck session that commenced Monday. He faces 13 counts of alleged financial and fundraising misconduct that could bring formal condemnation. He left the hearing before his request was formally rejected, and the rare proceeding — only the second for this type of hearing in two decades — went on without him. AP, 11-15-10
  • Delaware’s Coons, West Virginia’s Manchin sworn in as U.S. senators: The 112th Congress doesn’t kick off until Jan. 5, but on Monday, the two winners of special elections in Delaware and West Virginia became the Senate’s newest members. Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were sworn in by Vice President Biden on the first day of Congress’s lame-duck session…. – WaPo, 11-15-10
  • Hill Democrats split on tax cuts: As Republicans held firm to a no-new-taxes mantra, congressional Democrats returned to the Capitol on Monday, divided over a strategy for resolving the standoff over the expiring Bush tax cuts. House and Senate Democratic leaders said that they were waiting to hear from members Tuesday during the first caucus meetings of the lame-duck session, but that nothing may become clear until all sides sit down with President Barack Obama on Thursday.
    Underscoring the absence of party unity, House liberals and progressive groups stepped up their campaign against cutting a deal of any kind with Republicans to temporarily extend the tax cuts for high-income earners — even though the White House has said it’s open to compromise. But moderate Democrats had their own ideas, too. Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor questioned whether it was wise to permanently renew any tax breaks, given the extent of the national debt. Meanwhile, at least two other Senate Democrats floated compromise proposals.
    Republicans, however, weren’t showing any interest in alternatives. “Leaving everything like it is for the next two years is the best approach,” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said. “Just leave everything like it is. Let’s deal with this issue over the next few years.”… – Politico, 11-15-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….


  • Moseley Braun announces candidacy for mayor: In front of roughly 200 supporters gathered at a cold, windy Northerly Island, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun formally announced her candidacy for Chicago mayor Saturday. “I just want to serve,” Braun said. “Government is about the people’s business and my life’s work has been dedicated to making government work for all of the people.”…
    “Chicago will always be a great city, because its people will tolerate nothing less,” Braun said. She said the challenge is “whether our city will be great for all its citizens or only for those who live in the right neighborhoods, who have the right jobs, who have the right connections, who get the no-bid contracts, and the multimillion dollar paychecks.”… – Chicago Sun-Times, 11-20-10
  • Sarah Palin in 2012: Could she really beat President Obama?: With 2010 midterms over, the big questions for Sarah Palin are will she run in 2012, and if she does, can she win? Her big challenge: lower her high unfavorable ratings…. – CS Monitor, 11-18-10
  • Republican governors target public employee unions: Several leaders at a San Diego conference frame unions as the enemy, and call for trimming pay and benefits for teachers and others…. – LAT, 11-18-10
  • GOP governors kick off conference in San Diego: The Republican Party hails a new crop of rising stars, including more women and minorities. The message, however, remains the same: States need to fight big government…. – LAT, 11-17-10
  • USA Today, 11-17-10
  • Murkowski emerges as winner in Alaska Senate race: Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday became the first Senate candidate in more than 50 years to win a write-in campaign, emerging victorious over her tea party rival following a painstaking, week-long count of hand-written votes. The victory completes a remarkable comeback for the Republican after her humiliating loss in the GOP primary to Joe Miller.
    Her victory became clear when Alaska election officials confirmed they had only about 700 votes left to count, putting Murkowski in safe territory to win re-election. Murkowski is flying back from Washington to Alaska to make an “exciting announcement” to supporters Wednesday, proclaiming in an e-mail that the campaign “made history.”
    Murkowski has a lead of about 10,000 votes, a total that includes 8,153 ballots in which Miller observers challenged over things like misspellings, extra words or legibility issues. AP, 11-17-10
  • Sarah Palin May be the Savviest Presidential Hopeful Ever: There is little doubt that Sarah Palin is running for president. But while Mitt Romney is archaically gallivanting across the country to raise money for his run, Palin has molded her platform into a 21st Century media sensation. Topping off her unofficial campaign for the White House, Sarah Palin’s reality show premiered Sunday night with a viewership of over 5 million — TCL’s largest premiere to date. And it is with this show, that Palin will reintroduce herself to the county…. – Death and Taxes Mag
  • Write-in votes tally over 100,000 in Alaska: No clear winner emerged Monday after the addition of the last big batch of absentee ballots in Alaska’s still- undecided Senate race between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and GOP nominee Joe Miller. More than 8,700 ballots were added, bringing the total number of write-in ballots cast for numerous candidates to 102,028. Miller had 90,458 votes, which includes 10 write-in votes. Murkowski has 84,563 undisputed votes. Murkowski is seeking to make history and win redemption through the write-in campaign she mounted after losing her party primary to Miller. No U.S. Senate candidate has won a write-in bid since 1954. Murkowski has consistently been getting about 89 percent of the write-in vote as ballots are counted. If the trend holds, she would outright pull ahead of Miller by several hundred votes. It’s estimated that as many as 600 more ballots from overseas and military addresses could be submitted by a Wednesday deadline. The state plans to count those ballots later this week. The number of contested ballots is critical to whether one candidate will be able to declare victory or the race heads to court…. – AP, 11-15-10


The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 11/18/10
  • Weekly Address: Senators Opposing New START “Want to Trust But Not Verify”
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House November 20, 2010:
    Today, I’d like to speak with you about an issue that is fundamental to America’s national security: the need for the Senate to approve the New START Treaty this year….
    The choice is clear: a failure to ratify New START would be a dangerous gamble with America’s national security, setting back our understanding of Russia’s nuclear weapons, as well as our leadership in the world. That is not what the American people sent us to Washington to do.
    There is enough gridlock, enough bickering. If there is one issue that should unite us – as Republicans and Democrats – it should be our national security.
    Some things are bigger than politics. As Republican Dick Lugar said the other day, “Every Senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty.”
    Senator Lugar is right. And if the Senate passes this treaty, it will not be an achievement for Democrats or Republicans – it will be a win for America. – WH, 11-20-10
  • President Obama at NATO: “And Today We Stand United in Afghanistan”: Good afternoon, everyone. We have just concluded an extremely productive NATO summit, and I want to thank our hosts, the government and the people of Portugal, for their hospitality in this beautiful city of Lisbon. And I thank my fellow leaders for the sense of common purpose that they brought to our work here.
    For more than 60 years, NATO has proven itself as the most successful alliance in history. It’s defended the independence and freedom of its members. It has nurtured young democracies and welcomed them into Europe that is whole and free. It has acted to end ethnic cleansing beyond our borders. And today we stand united in Afghanistan, so that terrorists who threaten us all have no safe haven and so that the Afghan people can forge a more hopeful future.
    At no time during these past six decades was our success guaranteed. Indeed, there have been many times when skeptics have predicted the end of this alliance. But each time NATO has risen to the occasion and adapted to meet the challenges of that time. And now, as we face a new century with very different challenges from the last, we have come together here in Lisbon to take action in four areas that are critical to the future of the alliance.
    First, we aligned our approach on the way forward in Afghanistan, particularly on a transition to full Afghan lead that will begin in early 2011 and will conclude in 2014.
    It is important for the American people to remember that Afghanistan is not just an American battle. We are joined by a NATO-led coalition made up of 48 nations with over 40,000 troops from allied and partner countries. And we honor the service and sacrifice of every single one.
    With the additional resources that we’ve put in place we’re now achieving our objective of breaking the Taliban’s momentum and doing the hard work of training Afghan security forces and assisting the Afghan people. And I want to thank our allies who committed additional trainers and mentors to support the vital mission of training Afghan forces. With these commitments I am confident that we can meet our objective.
    Here in Lisbon we agreed that early 2011 will mark the beginning of a transition to Afghan responsibility, and we adopted the goal of Afghan forces taking the lead for security across the country by the end of 2014. This is a goal that President Karzai has put forward.
    I’ve made it clear that even as Americans transition and troop reductions will begin in July, we will also forge a long-term partnership with the Afghan people. And today, NATO has done the same. So this leaves no doubt that as Afghans stand up and take the lead they will not be standing alone. – WH, 11-20-10
  • Biden: Palin Formidable, but Couldn’t Beat Obama: Sarah Palin has used the weeks since the Nov. 2 election to declare that she is indeed considering a run for president in 2012 and that she believes she could defeat President Obama. In television appearances Thursday and Friday, Vice President Joe Biden pushed back – at least a little – saying that he believes Palin has a good chance of winning the Republican nomination in 2012 but that Mr. Obama “would be in good shape” to beat her in the general election. “My mom used to have an expression – ‘Be careful what you wish for, Joe, you may get it.’ So I never underestimate anyone,” Biden told CNN’s Larry King Thursday. “But I think, in that race, it would be a clear, clear choice for the country to make, and I believe President Obama would be in very good shape.”…. – CBS News, 11-19-10



  • Frank Rich: Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha: “THE perception I had, anyway, was that we were on top of the world,” Sarah Palin said at the climax of last Sunday’s premiere of her new television series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” At that point our fearless heroine had just completed a perilous rock climb, and if she looked as if she’d just stepped out of a spa instead, don’t expect her fans to question the reality. For them, Palin’s perception is the only reality that counts.
    Palin is on the top of her worlds — both the Republican Party and the media universe. “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” set a ratings record for a premiere on TLC, attracting nearly five million viewers — twice the audience of last month’s season finale of the blue-state cable favorite, “Mad Men.” The next night Palin and her husband Todd were enshrined as proud parents in touchy-feely interviews on “Dancing With the Stars,” the network sensation (21 million viewers) where their daughter Bristol has miraculously escaped elimination all season despite being neither a star nor a dancer. This week Sarah Palin will most likely vanquish George W. Bush and Keith Richards on the best-seller list with her new book…. – NYT, 11-21-10
  • Halfhearted Soul-Searching at the White House: Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama hasn’t yet experienced a political loss that taught him how to reinvent himself. He needs to surround himself with advisers who will challenge his world view.
    Democrats got the lowest share of the white vote in this midterm election than in any congressional election since World War II, losing key races in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan, and every contested election in Ohio, which spells trouble for President Obama’s reelection. No Democrat can win the White House without these Midwestern swing states, and they are all decimated by job losses that Obama has offered no road map to recover.
    Soul-searching is under way at the White House, but so far it looks pretty sterile. There’s no Dick Morris sneaking in with advice from outside the bubble, or late-night bull sessions with Terry McAuliffe about how to raise money and stage a comeback. Granted, some of the tactics these Clinton-era advisers used wouldn’t pass muster with the Obama crowd, or with Common Cause, but they shook up the White House and got Clinton out of his post-election funk and into fighting form…. – Newsweek, 11-21-10
  • Search for civility grows in Washington after midterms: “The gloves are off,” University of Texas presidential historian Bruce Buchanan says. “Ultimately, politics is a substitute for war. … Is civility impossible? No. Is it likely? No.”… – USA Today, 11-19-10
  • How Obama Can Still Push His Agenda: “Obama and his advisers must make a strategic decision, partly based on their understanding of how the Republicans will respond, and partly based on what the public expects,” says Joseph Pika, co-author of The Politics of the Presidency and a historian at the University of Delaware…. – NPR, 11-18-10
  • Analysis: Obama’s GM success dented by bailout and jobs angst: “They saved the company, they saved an industry, but it doesn’t seem to have any political traction,” said Julian Zelizer, a historian and public policy expert at Princeton University. “As long as high unemployment continues, people are just suspicious of any claims of success,” he added. “That’s not what most Americans see on the ground.”… – Reuters, 11-18-10
  • Why Nancy Pelosi remains leader of House Democrats despite huge loss: “Usually, you bet on the establishment in congressional politics,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Pelosi and Boehner are strong congressional leaders and powerful insiders. They know how to survive these moments of turmoil.”
    “Boehner gave tea party candidates enough promises that they will be heard and at the same time reminding all the other Republicans of what they owe him and what he can do for them – and the combination is enough to retain leadership,” he adds…. – CS Monitor, 11-17-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Democrats’ best defense? Good offense: In professional football, teams need a good offense if they hope to win the Super Bowl….
    The same can be said about politics. Being good at defense is important, but you need to play offense to win elections and shape political debate. When parties only respond to criticism and participate in the discussion that their opponents want to have, eventually their team will get tired of just being in a reactive mode and the other side will score points….
    The Democrats might want to take a page from the playbook of the Republican Party. Instead of backing down and running away from their platform, they might instead embrace what the party has stood for and make a case as to why their record is better than what Republicans have to offer. If Democrats can’t do this, Republicans will shape the political dialogue in the next two years, regardless of what shifts Obama makes, and Democrats will be looking at a defeat in 2012…. – CNN, 11-18-10
  • Obama=Bush? President Obama isn’t the new Carter, but he just might be the new (first) Bush: Months before Election Day, the name of Jimmy Carter had assumed an incantatory power among observers of politics. President Obama’s supporters began to fret that his presidency was declining as Carter’s did, while his opponents salivated at the prospect, as though the more the 39th president was mentioned, the worse the chances of the 44th. In addition to columnists and bloggers, historians Walter Russell Mead and Sean Wilentz have written on the comparison, while Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, has worried over it. Carter himself recently discussed it with Larry King….
    Yet there is a recent one-term president he resembles. George H.W. Bush doesn’t often come up in discussions of Obama, but two years into Obama’s term, the two presidents’ tenures bear a striking resemblance. So too do their governing styles and temperaments, and even, unlikely though it may seem, their speech. Here are two leaders “buffeted by circumstance,” as the presidential historian Bert Rockman characterized Bush, whose same signal qualities in repulsing buffets and discussing them with the public — sobriety, patience, and, yes, prudence, to use Bush- impersonator Dana Carvey’s favorite Bushism — are often enough their least appreciated…. – Boston Globe, 11-14-10
  • Tea Party Rooted in Religious Fervor for Constitution, say Mary Beth Norton, Jon Butler, and David Greenberg: …”There’s a strong strand of divine-guidance thinking, thinking about American exceptionalism,” said Mary Beth Norton, a professor of early American history at Cornell University. “People have certainly seen the texts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as the equivalent of a secular religion, with the idea then that you can’t challenge these texts.”…
    If anything, the Constitution is especially vulnerable to literalism. “There is a major translation problem for literalism in relation to Christian doctrine,” said Jon Butler, a professor of the history of religion in America at Yale. “And there’s the matter of the age of the texts. But there is no translation issue with the Constitution, and it’s only a couple of centuries old. So that makes it so much more susceptible. There it is. You can find it on the Internet.”
    And from there, it is a short trip indeed to the engaged, enraged Tea Party of 2010, and a campaign that charged Democrats with a kind of Constitutional heresy. “The Constitution has always been the trump card, the ultimate political weapon,” noted David Greenberg, a professor of history and presidential biographer at Rutgers University. “If you don’t like what the other side is doing, you say it’s unconstitutional.” NYT (11-5-10)
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