Political Buzz August 4, 2011: Happy Birthday Mr. President! President Barack Obama Celebrates 50th Birthday at Chicago DNC Fundraiser & at White House Rose Garden BBQ

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA CELEBRATES 50TH BIRTDAY

Barack Obama 2012: Sign the President’s 50th Birthday Card

“I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs. — Michelle Obama in a campaign email

“It is true that I turn 50 tomorrow (Thursday), which means that by the time I wake up, I’ll have an e-mail from AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare.” — President Barack Obama in Chicago, 8-3-11

“Even if I live to be 100. I have more yesterdays than tomorrows.” — President Bill Clinton, 1996 at 50

“Actually, the anniversaries of my birth aren’t important. What is important is that I have tried to lead a meaningful life and I think I have.” — President Ronald Reagan

“I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.” — President John F. Kennedy, 1962 at 45

Barack Obama Turning 50: ‘I Feel Real Good’: U.S. president may be a bit grayer but says first lady still thinks he’s cute.
As Obama Celebrates Birthday, a Look at U.S. Presidents at 50
President Obama turns 50 Aug. 4, 2011. Despite the graying hair and stresses of the job, “I feel real good about 5-0,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I’ve gotten a little grayer since I took this job but otherwise, I feel pretty good,” he said, adding that the first lady still thinks he’s cute. He attended a birthday fundraiser Wednesday and planned two celebrations for his birthday. He was expected to spend the weekend at Camp David with family and friends…. – ABC News, 8-4-11

50 Things You Might Not Know About President Obama On His 50th Birthday: 1. He and Bill Cosby are the only people to ever get free food from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
2. He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper when he lived in Indonesia.
3. He says his favorite children’s book is “Where the Wild Things Are.”
4. He owns a pair of boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali.
5. He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics.
6. He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager.
7. His favorite show is “The Wire.”
8. He majored in Political Science at Columbia University.
9. His father grew up herding goats.
10. He used to drive a Chrysler 300m.
11. He used the n-word in his audio book “Dreams From My Father.”
12. He watches HBO’s “Entourage.”
13. He was an avid reader of the “Autobiography Of Malcolm X.”
14. He owns several Bob Marley albums.
15. His first date with wife, Michelle Obama, was the movie “Do The Right Thing.”
16. He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia.
17. He applied to appear in a Black pin-up calendar while at Harvard, but was rejected by the all-female committee.
18. His favorite book is “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville
19. His favorite movie is the “Godfather.”
20. His high school yearbook picture inscription thanks “Tut,” “Gramps,” and the “Choom Gang.” Choom is Hawaiian slang for “pot smoking.”
21. He has seven half-brothers and sisters in Kenya from his father’s other marriages.
22. He did a good imitation of Jesse Jackson while he was at Harvard.
23. His high school nick name was “O-bomber.”
24. He won a Grammy for his audio book “Dreams From My Father.”
25. He has read every Harry Potter book.
26. He was called Barry until he became known as Barack in college.
27. He was in the Columbia Black Student Union.
28. Jesse Jackson’s daughter is his daughter Malia’s godmother.
29. His favorite artist is Pablo Picasso.
30. He can bench press 200 pounds.
31. His name means blessed by God in Swahili.
32. He was the 5th African-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.
33. He enjoys rap artists The Fugees and Jay-Z.
34. He gets his hair cut once a week.
35. He says he would’ve been an architect if he wasn’t a politician.
36. He was on the Hawaii high school state basketball champion team.
37. He was mentored by Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree who was also the lawyer for rappers Tupac and Shyne.
38. He loves playing Scrabble.
39. His favorite president is Abraham Lincoln.
40. He traveled to Kenya in 1988 and met many of his paternal relatives.
41. His favorite meal is wife Michelle’s shrimp linguini.
42. His paternal grandfather was affiliated with the Kenyan revolutionary Mau Mau movement.
43. His maternal grandfather fought in World War II.
44. Some of his maternal ancestors were slave owners.
45. He moved to Chicago and worked as a director of the Developing Communities Project after college.
46. He has a beer named after him in Kenya.
47. He wrote a children’s book “Of Thee I Sing.”
48. His father attended Harvard University.
49. His first public speech was at Occidental College, calling for the school to disinvest from apartheid South Africa.
50. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School.
News One, 8-4-11

    • Obama’s Rose Garden 50th Birthday Bash: The President’s private 50th birthday bash, not listed on his public schedule: His gift to the press corps was a travel/photo lid shortly after 4 p.m., prompting what pooler Julie Mason called “general cheering in WH workspace.” An hour later, the party started…
      –… with dinner in the Rose Garden, accompanied by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Then the First Lady and his daughters presented POTUS with a cake, and everyone moved into the East Room for performances that included R&B singer Ledisi, and Herbie Hancock. Stevie Wonder came up at the end and sang a medley ending in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” DJ Cassidy played Motown, hip hop, and ’70s and ’80s R&B.
      –The president asked everyone to dance — and they did!
      –DINNER: BBQ chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, salad.
      –DESSERT: apple, peach, huckleberry and cherry pies; chocolate cake.
      –GUESTS: Al Sharpton, Patrick Gaspard, UBS Investment Bank President Robert Wolf, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, Leader Nancy and Paul Pelosi, Secretary Tim Geithner, Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rep./DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Virginia Gov. and DNC Chair Tim Kaine, Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, Michael Strautmanis, Pete Rouse, Bill Daley, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Denis McDonough, John Brennan, Rahm Emanuel, Tina Tchen, White House chef Sam Kass, Julianna Smoot, Marty Nesbitt, Eric Whitaker, Linda Douglass, and many more.
      –CELEBS: Jay-Z, Hill Harper, Chris Rock, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Grant Hill, Gayle King.
      –Also present: Chicago pals, law-school friends, donors – and lots of kids of friends, who stole the show by doing dance routines to the hip-hop songs, in the center of the East Room… – Politico, 8-5-11 Chicago Sun-Times, 8-5-11 Fox News, 8-5-11
    • President Obama Celebrates Birthday in Private Star-Studded Rose Garden Party: White House officials offered no details about the Rose Garden barbecue and birthday party thrown for President Obama last night. No menu, no guest list, the event did not appear on his official schedule.
      Their silence might be so as to not create the impression that the president was celebrating just hours after the Dow Jones fell 500 points. Politicians hate to be portrayed as fiddling while Rome burns, Nero-style.
      “Just left the Presidents birthday party at the White House. Herbie Hancock played, Stevie Wonder sang and yes they did the electric slide. A great night,” comedian Chris Rock tweeted.
      Rock joined other celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Jay-Z, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and Grant Hill, as well as the Rev. Al Sharpton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House chief of staff Bill Daley, senior adviser David Plouffe, political advisers David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and more…. – ABC News, 8-4-11
    • Obama celebrates 50th birthday at White House: With the arduous debt talks behind him, President Barack Obama celebrated his 50th birthday at the White House Thursday with a Rose Garden party, a toast from his senior staff and some good-natured ribbing from his wife.
      After spending the morning of his milestone birthday working in the Oval Office, the president headed to the Blue Room of the White House for a celebration with top aides. White House chefs were spotted cooking chicken and burgers on outdoor grills.
      Later, Obama was celebrating with family and friends, including some who came in from his hometown of Chicago, in the Rose Garden. The president’s oldest daughter, Malia, also made it home from summer camp in time to celebrate her dad’s 50th…. – AP, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s 50th Birthday: A Private Celebration: President Barack Obama is keeping a very low profile on his 50th birthday.
      He is celebrating at the White House Thursday evening with family and a close group of friends. Some of the guests flew in from his hometown of Chicago, and the president’s daughter Malia came home from camp for the day to celebrate.
      Several grills were fired up outside the West Wing all afternoon, cooking burgers for the occasion. But before Mr. Obama hits the barbecue, senior White House staff will toast him in the residence, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
      Mr. Obama had no events on his schedule, and Mr. Carney said the public will not see the president at all on this milestone day.
      Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is making the most of the president’s birthday. Mr. Obama headlined a trio of birthday-themed campaign events in Chicago Wednesday night…. – WSJ, 8-4-11
    • ‘Happy birthday, Mr President’: Jennifer Hudson channels Marilyn Monroe as she serenades Barack Obama at 50th: Marilyn Monroe went down in history when she purred a seductive ‘Happy Birthday’ to President John F Kennedy back in 1962.
      And last night, it was Jennifer Hudson’s turn to channel the late film star by singing the song to President Barack Obama, albeit in a much more low key style…. – Daily Mail UK, 8-4-11
    • Here to raise dough, celebrate big 5-0, Obama says: ‘It starts now’: President Barack Obama left the heated partisan atmosphere in Washington on Wednesday for an overly warm hometown 50th Birthday Party with 2,400 fans and donors packing the historic Aragon Ballroom in Uptown.
      “It doesn’t matter how tough a week I have in Washington, because I know you’ve got me — you’ve got my back,” President Obama told the crowd. “When I come to Chicago, when I travel across the country, I know we can’t be stopped.”
      Introducing Obama, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “This looks like the Uptown Music District,” a reference to one of the mayor’s pet entertainment projects.
      With Jennifer Hudson leading the crowd in singing Obama “Happy Birthday” and with a thermometer on the stage reading 92 degrees, Obama joked, “This is a warm welcome right here.”… – Chicago Sun-Times, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s 50th celebration: Tame by presidential standards: President Obama’s celebration of his 50th birthday is pretty tame by presidential standards, lacking starlets sewn into sheer rhinestone-studded dresses, fireworks, or the 300-pound cakes trotted out at parties thrown for some of his predecessors in the White House.
      For Obama, his birthday on Thursday gave him an excuse to visit ever so briefly his hometown of Chicago, something he rarely gets to do. And, of course, an excuse to raise more money for Democrats, something he does quite frequently with the 2012 campaign fast approaching.
      The Wednesday night event at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom was planned as a lavish event, featuring singer Jennifer Hudson and musician Herbie Hancock. The donors there to sing “Happy Birthday” paid $35,800 a head for the special dinner that goes along with the show. The money—split between Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee—will be welcome after the debt-ceiling fight forced him to cancel other fundraisers planned for July.
      Obama, the fifth youngest president, is the seventh president to turn 50 in office; the last before him was Bill Clinton in 1996. The other five—Polk, Pierce, Grant, Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt—were born between 1795 and 1858 and chose to celebrate the big day pretty quietly. But quiet was not Clinton’s style…. – National Journal, 8-4-11
    • Mr. Obama’s $3,580,000 birthday present: Barack Obama turned 50 years old today. Happy birthday Mr. President. For the sake of America, I will not sing to you. I am no Marilyn Monroe.
      The best birthday wish we can give him is to have an enjoyable day with Michelle, Sasha, and Malia. May his children give him joy for many years to come.
      The day will be a celebration of Barack Obama, rendering it indistinguishible from every other day in his life. Nevertheless, today he actually is entitled to be king for a day. Tomorrow he will have to take his tiara off again.
      Mr. Obama was given a birthday president of $3,580,000, or 89% of a Kobe Bryant apology diamond. 100 obese felines, an animal that Obama pretends to disdain, all donated $35,800 for the right to inspect his (backside, redacted) and make sure it was as clean and delightful as MSNBC insists. He has every right to this money. He “earned” it…. Washington Times, 8-4-11
    • President Barack Obama Turns 50: What do you get the man who has everything? That’s the question friends and family of President Barack Obama will answer Thursday, when he celebrates his 50th birthday in Washington, D.C. According to a White House official, Obama will spend the morning working, but will later retreat to an afternoon toast by his senior staff in the blue room, and an evening celebration with family and close friends.
      “Malia is coming home from camp tomorrow just for her daddy’s birthday,” he told attendees at a Democratic National Convention fundraiser in Chicago Wednesday night. “I’m very happy about that.”… – People, 8-4-11
    • For Obama, turning 50, it’s happy fund-raising: For many men, turning 50 can be a day of reckoning, marked by graying hair, a slowing step and the wistful recognition that you are probably never going to make it to the corner office. What could be better, at such a melancholy moment, than to celebrate at home, among old friends?
      But if you are already in the corner office, and it’s oval, you get to celebrate your 50th at a fund-raiser in a Chicago ballroom, with Jennifer Hudson singing “Happy Birthday,” Herbie Hancock jamming and 100 “friends” paying $35,800 a plate to commiserate over dinner, while bankrolling your bid to keep your job… – Economic Times, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s new fundraising speech: 2008 was really bad, so I need a second term: After a rough month of enforced presidenting from within the White House, President Obama fled Washington and governing Wednesday, back to Chicago allegedly to celebrate his birthday with home folks. But, of course, the real reason was campaigning for money, raising more of it from the Windy City for his billion-dollar reelection campaign. The Wednesday highlight was supposed to be a high-stakes dinner with the president, which isn’t really dinner with the president because he just arrives late, speaks briefly and leaves without eating. The tab: $35,800 per plate.
      Despite enduring a newly sagging economy and the worst wrong track and job approval numbers of his presidency, this 50th birthday of Obama’s is turning out to be a big deal. His Russian pal, President Dmitry Medvedev, called the other day. Jennifer Hudson sang for him Wednesday. Little Rahm Emanuel, now Mayor Emanuel, praised him highly.
      Some Obama staff traveled out to Andrews Air Force Base to greet the returning POTUS at…. …midnight and sing for him. But Obama apparently couldn’t hear them. And then tonight there’s a White House birthday party, which Donald Trump is not expected to attend…. – LAT, 8-4-11
    • Michelle Obama: Husband is earning his gray hairs: First lady Michelle Obama is joining the public celebrations of her husband’s 50th birthday, sending an e-mail to supporters asking them to sign an Internet birthday card…. – USA Today, 8-4-11
    • Turning 50, President Obama becomes a Washington tweener: Washington venerates its ancients, idealizing and idolizing the elder statesman, lavishing perks and institutional potency as rewards for seniority.
      Yet the city also runs on the fuel of youth, the recent college grads who staff the offices, and the rising professionals whose ambitions juice the city’s striver culture.
      In the fuzzy middle between those poles lie the 50-somethings, federal Washington’s version of tweeners, a demographic group fraught with generation-straddling, career-tweaking, life-altering conundrums: Dump that modest-paying but idealistic government gig for private-sector riches? Hang in there for one more term in hopes that a committee chairmanship finally will be yours?
      On Thursday, President Obama — one of American history’s most precocious achievers — joins the ranks of Washington 50-somethings, an age span he’ll share with 29 U.S. senators but just one of 16 Senate committee chairmen (that would be Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat who sits atop the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee). Reaching the pinnacle of American power so early means Obama will have to figure out what to do with himself for a big chunk of his 50s, whether in 2013, when he could become a 51-year-old one-termer, or in 2017, when he could leave office as a 55-year-old two-termer.
      Obama will become just the third president to turn 50 in office in more than 130 years, following Theodore Roosevelt, whose low-key 50th in 1908 prompted a stream of messenger boys delivering congratulatory notes to the White House, and Bill Clinton, who celebrated hitting the mid-century mark in 1996 with a star-studded party and fundraiser.
      As Obama’s 50th approaches, he’s taken to quipping about getting grayer, but he still gets up and down a basketball court without reaching for the oxygen tank. Obama celebrated his 49th last year by dining with Oprah Winfrey and a few other friends while his wife and kids were vacationing. This year, he’s expected to do it up big, with a party in Chicago featuring Jennifer Hudson and Herbie Hancock, and a $35,800-a-head fundraiser…. – WaPo, 8-2-11

Michelle Obama:

Every day, I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs.
This has been a busy week in Washington, but today happens to be Barack’s 50th birthday. I’m writing to you because this year, the girls and I would like to do something a little different.
I’m asking friends and supporters of this campaign to wish him a happy birthday by signing his card, and sharing why you’re on this journey with us.
Your names and notes will become part of a book that tells the story of this campaign — who’s building it, why we’re in this thing, and what he means to us. We’ll deliver a copy to Barack and send one to our campaign offices across the country.
I’ve known Barack for more than 20 of his 50 years, and we’ve been through quite a lot together.
It still amazes me that no matter how many decisions and distractions he’s faced with every day, he’s always able to focus on the bigger picture. One way he does that is by making time for stories and letters from people like you — because he knows that this job isn’t about him, but about the millions of folks around the country he’s fighting for.
This next year will challenge us all to work harder than ever before, but the crucial thing is that you’re here now, early on, helping to build this campaign.
I know that, like Barack and me, you have your own reasons why, so I hope you’ll take a moment to sign the card and share your story with him and other supporters of this campaign.
http://my.barackobama.com/Birthday-Card
Thanks for being a part of this.

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Full Text August 3, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Birthday Remarks Online & at Chicago Democratic National Committee Fundraiser

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY: THE HEADLINES:

Remarks by the President in a DNC Video Teleconference

Aragon Entertainment Center
Chicago, Illinois

6:59 P.M. CDT
August 3, 2011

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, guys.  How are you?  I am beaming in from Chicago.  We’re having a little birthday celebration in my hometown.  But I just want to say thank you to all of you.  I can’t think of a better group of folks to spend my birthday with.

You may hear the El train in the background.  It’s passing right next to us.  You know, when we started this whole journey back in 2008, the one thing that I was clear about was that this was not going to be about me.  This was going to be about us.  It was going to be about the values we hold dear as Americans.  It was going to be about grassroots folks being empowered, talking about how we can create jobs in our community and improve our schools and make sure our kids have opportunities to go to college, and how people can retire with dignity and respect.  And those bread-and-butter issues were not going to be settled in Washington.  They were going to be settled on the ground, in neighborhoods.  And as somebody who cut my teeth as a community organizer, I knew that nothing was more powerful than the American people when they make common cause and they decide that they want to bring about change.

And what was true in 2008 is just as true today.  We’ve obviously been through a lot of battles over the last two and a half years dealing with one of the worst recessions in our history and certainly one of the toughest economic situations in my lifetime.  But despite all that, what we’ve been able to do is to work to make sure that the economy has started recovering.  We were able to save over a million jobs through our intervention in the auto industry.  We were able to finally get health care done so that families were more secure.  We were able to make sure that things like “don’t ask, don’t tell” got ended and that we were going to make sure that ordinary folks were benefitting from tax cuts, small businesses were benefitting.  All those things we could not have done had it not been for you.

And so as we gear back up to fight some tough battles — and you saw this week how tough some of these battles are going to be — it is absolutely critical that all of you stay involved.

And so I want to thank everybody at these house parties, but I want to urge all of you to get involved as a team to start going out not only spreading the message but also listening to people and finding out what’s on their minds and figuring out how we can engage them and get them involved.  And that’s where these neighborhood teams are so important.  We’re already had contact with 42,000 individuals face to face across the nation because of the teams that are activated in the states that are represented on this phone call.  We have had 2 million calls made to folks all across the country, contacting them, listening to their concerns, and finding out how they want to get involved in this campaign.

But this is always easier to do as a team and as a group than it is for folks to do this individually.  Obviously I want you to talk to your friends and your family and the Republican uncle that you got who isn’t persuaded yet, and you corner him at an event, and you talk issues at the workplace, around the water cooler, having conversations with friends of yours about why it’s so important for them to be engaged.

All that’s important, but what’s most important is when you guys as a team think about your neighborhoods and all the people that may have gotten turned off to politics, may be disillusioned, maybe are going through a tough time because of this difficult economy.  When they know their neighbors, their friends, folks who are — they see at parent-teacher night, when those folks see you, you’re the best ambassador we could have.  And when you go out as a team, it’s going to strengthen your capacity to move people in a direction that could bring about the change we want.

So I just want to emphasize to you how important you are, and I hope that you use this house party, in addition to having some cake — I don’t know if you guys have party hats — but in addition to having a good party, I hope you guys talk about how your neighborhood teams can get together and really do some great work on the ground.

We’re in for a long battle.  We’ve got 16 months in which we’re just going to have to be knocking on doors, making phone calls, turning out voters.  But it starts now.  It builds now.  And it starts with you.

So thank you, everybody, for being part of this.  And I think I’m going to get a chance to answer a couple questions before I sign off.

MR. BIRD:  Excellent.  Mr. President, thank you so much for joining us.  Our first question we’re going to take from North Carolina, in Greensboro, North Carolina.   And you’ll be able to take the question live.

Q    Hi, Mr. President.  Happy birthday!  (Applause.)

(Singing Happy Birthday.)  (Applause.)

It’s such a great honor — I’m sorry?

THE PRESIDENT:  I said you all have great voices.

Q    Oh, thank you.  We do our best.  It’s such a great honor to continue the great work we started in 2008.  I want to continue to do great work for you for the next year and a half.  While I’m out there canvassing, though, I have difficulty answering some of the detailed questions in regards to taxes and the wars.  As one of the best organizers I know, which is you, Mr. President, what type of — what type of advice do you have for someone like me?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I just want to thank all of you guys for the great work you’re doing, and I can’t wait to see you guys at the convention in North Carolina.  It is going to be absolutely outstanding.  (Applause.)

But a couple things I’d say.  First of all, when you go out and talk to people, I want to make sure that everybody understands you’ve got to listen as much as you talk.  So part of what people want to know is, is that they’re being heard.  What are their concerns?  What are — what’s keeping them up at night?  What would they like to see happen in Washington?

So making sure we listen, that’s really important.  The second thing is that we always have to talk about values.  People are concerned about issues, but they also want to know what do we stand for.  And so if somebody asks about taxes, nobody is really interested in hearing what precise marginal tax rate change would you like to see in the tax code.  What they want to know is that our campaign stands for a fair, just approach to the tax code that says everybody has to chip in, and that it’s not right if a hedge fund manager is being taxed at a lower rate than his or her secretary.  And so that’s a values issues:  Is the tax code fair?

If somebody asks about the war, whether it’s Iraq or Afghanistan — if it’s Iraq, you have a pretty simple answer, which is all our folks are going to be out of there by the end of the year.  If it’s Afghanistan, you can talk about, look, we think it’s time for us to transition to Afghan lead and rebuild here at home.  So, again, it’s a values issue:  Where are we prioritizing our resources?

I think the key is not to get too bogged down in detail, but having said that, the last point I’d make is, it’s Jeremy’s job to make sure that you guys have good talking points and know the answers to some of these questions.  And so when your neighborhood teams start forming, on any given issue, every single week, you should be getting sort of updates in terms of what is going on in Washington.  We’re going to be rolling out plans to improve our infrastructure and put construction workers back to work.  We’re going to be rolling out plans to make sure that we continue the payroll tax cut that’s put $1,000 in the pockets of every American on average.  So we’ll have a bunch of issues, and those will change week to week.  And you should be able to get the kind of information that you need that at least gives you enough of a sense of what we’re doing and what we care about that you can answer these questions intelligently.

And you know, the last point I’d make.  Sometimes it’s not so bad to say, “I don’t know.”  So if somebody asks you something about, well, where does the President stand on Cyprus — (laughter) — there’s nothing wrong with you saying, “I’m not sure, but here’s what I can promise you — I’ll find out an answer and we’ll make sure to call you back and give you an answer.”  And people appreciate that.  They don’t expect you to know the ins and outs of every single policy.  But they do expect that you’re going to treat them with courtesy and that you’re going to get back to them if you don’t know the answer to something.

All right?  Thank you, guys.

Q    Thank you so much!  (Applause.)

MR. BIRD:  Thank you, North Carolina.  Mr. President, we’re going to take one more question, and this question comes from Maureen, who’s calling in from Shaker Heights in Ohio.  And we’re going to turn it over to Maureen and her house party right now.

Maureen.

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, Maureen!

Q    Hello.  Happy birthday.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    I have a question for you.  All right, in 2008, I went door to door with my father and with you, and we had a great time.  In 2012, I’m going to be recruiting others, and I want them to help me knock doors.  And if you were asking someone to volunteer, how would you ask them?

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, first of all, Maureen, thank you to everybody in Shaker Heights, and thanks to everybody in Ohio for the unbelievable work you guys have already done.  That’s how we won Ohio.  (Applause.)

But I think the main thing is to give people a sense that this campaign is about them and not about just electing a President.  It’s about being part of a community and going out there and talking to your fellow members of your community about what values you care about.  So make sure that people feel ownership over the process.

And also, make it fun.  I mean, I think that if you say to folks, you know what, we’re going to go door to door, but at the end of it we’re all going to get together and have a picnic, or come over to your house and talk about the issues that are important to us, and let’s bring some kids along, and make it a community event, that makes it a lot more effective.

So I think that asking people to get engaged because the future is going to be determined by this election.  We’ve already seen over this last week just how different the visions are of the two parties in terms of where we should take this country.  I think it’s very clear who’s going to be looking out for working families, who wants to invest in things like education, who wants to make sure that we’ve got strong social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security that are going to look after people, but also how do we maintain those in a responsible way.

So you can make the pitch saying, this is really an important moment in our history; we’ve got to get involved right now.  But you also want to make it fun and make them feel like they’re part of something larger.  A lot of folks just respond to wanting to be with their friends and doing something interesting.

And if you do that, I guarantee you won’t get 100 percent takeup because people are busy and they may not be able to go every time.  But as the people at your house party know, it turns out it’s actually pretty fun to spend some time with people and work on issues that you care about.

So I couldn’t be more appreciative of you guys, and I’m really very grateful.

All right, Maureen?  Good luck.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you guys.

Q    Happy birthday!

MR. BIRD:  All right.  Mr. President, we’ll take one last question, and then we can conclude.  Our question came from the question and answer pile, from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  And the question was, what’s the most important thing we as volunteers can do to further your campaign?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’ve already talked about it.  The most important thing you can do is to be engaged and to reach out to your circle of friends and family, not to try to give them just a laundry list of things that we’ve already done, but to listen to them and give them a sense that they can make a difference if they get involved.

This democracy works when people get involved.  This democracy works when people are paying attention.  And this democracy works when people are joining together to make their voices heard.  And that’s what all of you are all about.

The more you guys are out there engaging people, talking to people, listening to them, asking their ideas, the more this is a bottom-up as opposed to a top-down operation.

One of the great things in 2008 was folks were just starting their own organizations.  We had folks in Idaho who just decided out of the — we’re going to start a Idaho for Obama.  And we didn’t have any staff there, we didn’t have any money.  And yet they were able to organize an 18,000-person rally just out of their own energy and input, and they owned this thing.

And that’s the thing I want to emphasize to all of you.  You own this campaign.  You own this country.  And if you use that power that you’ve got, then we’re going to be able to continue to get all the things done that we want to get done.  I know that over the last two and a half years there have been times where people have been frustrated.  This past week was a frustrating week.  But think about all we’ve accomplished together.  We’ve been able to start turning around this economy.  We’ve been able to get health care passed.  We’ve been able to make sure that there’s an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work.  We’ve been able to make sure that children were able to get health insurance that didn’t have it before.  We’ve been able to end this war in Iraq in a responsible way.

And so that should give us confidence that we can make happen all the things that are still undone, whether it’s making sure that the economy is growing faster and creating more jobs, to getting immigration reform passed, to making sure that we’ve got an energy policy that makes sense in this country and making sure that we’ve got a tax code that’s fair and that’s just and that we’re dealing with our deficits and debt in a responsible way and it’s not all on the backs of middle-class families.

Those are things that I know we can accomplish, but this election is going to be a seminal election, in some ways maybe more important than the last one.  And with your voices, I’m absolutely confident that we not only can win, but more importantly, we can deliver the change that’s needed for the American people.

So I’ve got to go downstairs.  I’m going to have to — there’s a big crowd wanting to sing me happy birthday.  I don’t know if there’s cake down there.  But I know they’ve been waiting for me.  But I want to say to all of you, thank you for your good wishes.  Thanks for your courage.  Thanks for your determination and tenacity.  And I’m going to see you all hopefully when I get to the various states and cities and towns where you guys are gathered.

All right?  Have fun.  See you.

END
7:16 P.M. CDT

 

Remarks by the President at a DNC Event

Aragon Entertainment Center
Chicago, Illinois

8:21 P.M. CDT
August 3, 2011

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  Hello, hello, hello!  Thank you.  Thank you.  Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat.

Well, if you guys are taking off your jackets, I’m going to take mine off too.  (Laughter.)  It’s too hot.  It is too hot.

Well, it is wonderful to see all of you.  (Mayor Emanuel takes the President’s jacket.)  Thank you.  Now that’s service.  (Laughter.)  I still have that pothole in front of my house.  (Laughter.)  Golly, I’ve been working on that.  Trees need trimming.  (Laughter.)

It is wonderful to see all of you.  I know that most of you had a chance to listen to me speak downstairs, so I’m not going to give another long speech.  The main thing I just want to do is to say thank you to all of you.  A lot of folks came, traveled from across the country.

And obviously we’ve just gone through an extraordinary week in Washington, an extraordinary two weeks in Washington.  It’s not the kind of extraordinary that the American people are looking for.  (Laughter.)  Because at a time when so many families are struggling, at a time when we should be singularly focused on how to make ourselves more competitive and make sure our kids have the best educations possible and how are we transforming our energy strategy and how are we building on high-tech industries and the huge competitive advantages that we have, politics continues to get in the way.

And I think this episode was just a severe example of what’s been going on for quite some time.  And it’s part of what led me to run for President.  It’s part of what led Rahm to get into public service.  And it’s part of the reason why hopefully all of you are here tonight, because you recognize we’ve still got some more work to do.

The good news is that after this week we have made a legitimate down payment on deficit reduction in a way that’s actually responsible, that is not going to dismantle our social safety net, isn’t going to prevent us from making the key investments we need to win the future.

But it also sets the stage for what is going to be a singular debate over the next year and a half, and that is two alternative visions about where the country needs to go.

I give the other side credit.  They are single-minded in their focus, in wanting to cut programs and shrink government.  My argument, Dick Durbin’s argument, the argument that I think all of you believe in, is that we need a government that is smart, that is living within its means, but also we need a government that is making the kind of commitment to opportunity for everybody, for every child; that is making investments that the private sector alone can’t make; that are setting policies that allow us to be competitive into the future; that is looking after our seniors and poor children and the disabled and empowering them; and that all of us have a role to play in that kind of America and all of us have to make some sacrifices to deliver that kind of America.

And I think most of the American people believe the same thing.  But in this kind of environment of 24-hour cable chatter and big money flooding the airwaves and slash-and-burn politics, sometimes I think that core belief in what is possible here in America gets lost.  It’s our job to constantly restore it and revitalize it and to have confidence in the American people that if we’re making our arguments with the same kind of passion and commitment that the other side is showing, that ultimately our democracy will make a decision — and I think it will be a decision to pursue the kind of vision that all of us believe in.

But we’re going to have a lot of work to do, and it’s going to be tough.  And this week I think signifies not only how tough it’s going to be but exactly what’s at stake.

And for you to make the kind of commitment to be here tonight, to be committed to engaging, the fact that you’re in, is going to make all the difference in the world.

So thank you very much, everybody.  And I think we’re going to just take a bunch of questions, then I’m going to have a chance to walk around the room and shake everybody’s hands before I head back home and see my kids.  Malia is coming home from camp tomorrow just for her daddy’s birthday, and I’m very happy about that.  (Applause.)

END
8:26 P.M. CDT

Remarks by the President at a DNC event

Aragon Entertainment Center
Chicago, Illinois

7:22 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Chicago!  (Applause.)  Oh, it is good to be with some good friends!  (Applause.)  This is a warm welcome right here.  (Applause.)

Let me first of all say thank you to the extraordinary, extraordinary talent that’s on stage.  First of all, one of the greatest jazz musicians of our time, Herbie Hancock.  (Applause.)  OK Go Band — give it up.  (Applause.)  DJ Greg Corner — give it up.  (Applause.)  The lovely and talented Jennifer Hudson from Chicago.  (Applause.)  The not as lovely or talented — (laughter) — but my very determined, very brilliant, very loyal, very tough mayor of the city of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.  (Applause.)

I don’t know — you know, I’m watching from Washington, but it looks to me like Rahm is doing a pretty good job.  (Applause.)  And as far as I can tell, he hasn’t cursed in public yet.  (Laughter.)  He’s come close, he says.  (Laughter.)  But what he has done is provided extraordinary energy and extraordinary vision to a job that he has wanted for a long time.  And I don’t know too many people who love the city of Chicago more than your mayor, and I couldn’t be more proud of him, so — (applause.)

Now, we’ve got a few more dignitaries in the house.  We’ve got the governor of the great state of Illinois, Patrick Quinn, in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got one of the finest senators in the United States of America, Dick Durbin, in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got one of the greatest members of Congress in the country in Jan Murkowski in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the ageless Jesse White, the Secretary of State, in the house.  (Applause.)  A great friend of mine, somebody who I wouldn’t have been elected to the United States Senate without him, the former senator of the Illinois State Senate, Emil Jones is here.  (Applause.)  And I know we’ve got a lot of other important people like you in the house.

Now, it’s warm and it’s hot and you just listened to some good music, and you don’t want to have a long political speech.  (Applause.)  But I just want to first of all say I could not have a better early birthday present than spending tonight with all of you —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)

And it’s true that I turn 50 tomorrow — (applause) — which means that by the time I wake up, I’ll have an email from AARP — (laughter) — asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare.  (Laughter and applause.)

When I look out at this crowd, I think back to that incredible night in November.  I’m still trying to figure out how the weather was over 60 degrees in November, in Grant Park, back in 2008.  (Applause.)  And it was the culmination of this incredible journey, this long journey that we took together; a campaign that drew on the hard work and support of all of you and people all across the country — men and women who believed that change was possible.  In the face of long odds, in the face of frustrations, in the face of setbacks you said, we don’t have to accept politics as usual, and we can once again have a country that is living up to our finest ideals and our highest aspirations.

And that was a lovely night.  But do you remember what I told you that night?  I said, “Yes, we can,” but I said this would not be easy.  I said, that wasn’t the end of the journey; that was just the beginning.  The economy was already hammering families.  Decisions that had been deferred for too long in Washington were finally catching up with us.  All these problems were gathering all at once. And we knew the road ahead was going to be difficult, that the climb was going to be steep.

I have to admit, I didn’t know how steep the climb was going to be.  (Laughter.)

Because we didn’t realize — we just found out a week ago that the economy that last few months in 2008 was even worse than we had realized.  I mean, the economy had contracted by 8 percent.  It was the worst economy we had ever seen.  The next quarter before any of our economic policies had a chance to go into place, same kind of thing.  We lost 8 million jobs like that.  Hadn’t seen anything like it in most of our lifetimes.

But here’s what I — here’s what I knew.  You did not elect me President to duck the tough issues.  (Applause.)  You elected me President to do the tough things, to do the big things, even if it took time.  (Applause.)

You elected me to make sure that the economy was working not just for those at the very top, but that we had a broad-based, shared prosperity, from the machinist on the line to the CEO in the boardroom.

And I ran because I believed that our success is defined not by stock prices or corporate profits alone, but by whether ordinary people can find a good job that supports a family; whether they can send their kids to college; whether they can retire with dignity and respect.  (Applause.)  Maybe have a little left over for a ballgame or a vacation.  Not be bankrupt when they get sick.

So what we did was we took a series of emergency measures that first year to save the economy from collapse.  And I promise you not all of them were popular.  But we did what we needed to do to start getting the economy growing again, and it has been growing — not as fast as we want, but we got the economy growing instead of contracting because we wanted to help families get back on their feet.  (Applause.)

We went in and we said — I didn’t sign up to be a CEO of an auto company, but I said I’m not going to let a million jobs, especially here in the Midwest, go away, so we’re going to intervene, and we’re going to ask in return that the auto companies restructure themselves.  And we’ve now seen for the first time in a very long time all the Big Three automakers making a profit.  (Applause.)  And making a profit selling small cars and compact cars and doing stuff that a lot of Americans thought couldn’t be done any more.

And we said, even as we’re saving the economy, there’s still some issues out there that haven’t been dealt with in a very long time, so we’re going to make sure that we’ve got equal pay for equal work — (applause) — because I don’t want Malia and Sasha getting paid less than anybody for doing a good job.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to make sure that in this country that we love, that nobody is discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.  We’re going to make sure they can serve in our military and protect the country that they love.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to invest in clean energy, because we’re tired of being dependent on foreign oil.  (Applause.)  So we want wind turbines and electric cars made right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to increase our investment in basic research to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s.

And we’re going to revamp our education system, so it starts working for every child and not just some children.  (Applause.)

And, yes, we are going to go ahead and make sure that every family in America can find affordable health care and that they are not losing their home or going bankrupt because they get sick.  (Applause.)  And it was hard, but because of you we kept on driving and we got it done.  (Applause.)

So it’s been a long, tough journey.  But we have made some incredible strides together.  Yes, we have.  (Laughter.)  But the thing that we all have to remember is, is that as much good as we’ve done, precisely because the challenges were so daunting, precisely because we were inheriting so many challenges, that we’re not even halfway there yet.

When I said, “change we can believe in,” I didn’t say “change we can believe in tomorrow.”  (Laughter.)  Not “change we can believe in next week.”  We knew this was going to take time, because we’ve got this big, messy, tough democracy.  And that’s the great thing about America is, is that there are all these contentious ideas that are out there, and we’ve got to make our case.  And we knew that these challenges weren’t made overnight and they weren’t going to be solved overnight.

And so, as we look forward, we know we’ve still got a lot of work to do on the economy.  Now, I hope we can avoid another self-inflicted wound like we just saw over the last couple of weeks — (applause) — because we don’t have time to play these partisan games.  (Applause.)  We’ve got too much work to do.  (Applause.)

Over the next several months, I hope Congress is focused on what the American people are focused on, making sure that the economy is growing, making sure that businesses are getting financing, making sure that young people are getting trained for the jobs of the future; making sure that we’re getting all those construction workers, that got laid off after the housing boom went bust, and putting them to work, rebuilding our roads and our bridges, rebuilding Chicago — (applause) — rebuilding Detroit, rebuilding rural communities all across the country, putting people back to work.

I want to make sure that America is not just an importer; I want us to export.  I want to build electric cars in America, and I want to ship them all around the world, because we’ve got the best technologies.  (Applause.)  I want us to focus on how we can revamp old buildings and old facilities so they’re energy efficient.  And we can start cutting down on our electricity bills, and we can start cutting down on our carbon emissions.  And we can stop being so dependent on foreign oil, and you don’t have to pay as much at the pump.  That’s what the American people are looking for.  That’s what we’ve got to focus on.  (Applause.)

We’ve got more work to do to make sure that we’ve got an immigration system in this country that makes some sense.  (Applause.)  We are a nation of laws and we are a nation of immigrants.  And we want to welcome extraordinary talent to our shores and have a legal immigration system that works for everybody.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to make that happen.

We’ve got to — and a lot of the stuff that we’ve already done we’ve got to make sure it gets implemented effectively.  We finally put some common-sense rules so that banks aren’t taking the kinds of risk that almost led to an economic meltdown, and that consumers are protected when you get credit cards or mortgages.

And, frankly, there are some folks in Congress who are trying to block us from making that progress, and that’s why your voice has to be heard, where we stand up and we say:  We want a financial system that is fair for everybody.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  (Applause.)

And on the foreign policy front, you elected me in part based on a promise that we would end the war in Iraq, and we have ended combat operations there.  And by the end of this year we will have our troops out of Iraq, as I promised and as I committed.  (Applause.)  And in Afghanistan, we’ve got al Qaeda on the run and we are going to begin transitioning to give Afghans more responsibility, but also to start bringing our troops home, because we’ve got a lot of work to do here at home to rebuild America.  (Applause.)

But our foreign policy can’t just be about war; it’s also got to be about peace.  (Applause.)  It’s also got to be about helping countries feed the hungry.  It’s got to be about helping countries transition to democracy.  It’s got to be about respecting human rights all around the world and making sure that America continues to be a beacon of hope.  That’s part of why you elected me.  That’s part of the unfinished business of this administration.  (Applause.)

And as we think about this world, we understand that it’s shrunk, and it’s going to be more competitive.  And if we’re going to leave the kind of America behind to our children and our grandchildren, then we’ve still got some work to do.  Yes, we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order.  And all the progressives out there, I want you to understand that we can’t just ignore this debt and deficit, we’ve got to do something about it.  But economic growth, making ourselves more competitive isn’t just about cutting programs.  It’s also about making investments in our people.  (Applause.)

It’s also about making sure we’ve got the best education system in the world; that we’ve got the best scientists and engineers and mathematicians in the world; making sure that we prize our diversity; making sure that we’ve got a social safety net for the aged and the infirm and our children.  That’s part of what makes us a great nation.  (Applause.)

So, Chicago, we’ve got more work to do.  We’ve got more work to do.  And look, let me just say this, it is going to continue to be challenging every single step of the way.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  But we can do it!

THE PRESIDENT:  But we can do it.  (Applause.)  You know, I’m always — I’m always amused when the pundits in Washington say, boy, you know, Obama hasn’t gotten this passed yet or some of his supporters are disappointed about this, and the — the campaign, it was so smooth.  And I’m thinking what campaign were they watching.  (Laughter.)  I mean, there — at least once a month, folks would say, he can’t win.  At least once a month, people would say, oh, that was a terrible debate for him; or, oh, he’s lost support in this or that group; or, oh, that state is going to go red on him.

What they didn’t understand was is that for all the mistakes I’ll make, for all the boneheaded moves I made — might make –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  For all the frustrations and the challenges and resistance we have to bringing about change, when I’ve got you guys behind me — (applause) — when I’ve got the American people, when I listen to them — (applause) — and I’m reminded of your decency and those core values that say I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper, and what makes us a great nation is not just the height of our skyscrapers or the size of our GDP, or the power of our military, but the fact that we look after one another, and we take responsibility for ourselves, but also for our neighbors; when we’re working together and we’re joining hands, black and white and Hispanic and Asian and Native American and gay and straight; when the American people join together, we cannot be stopped.

We say to ourselves, “Yes, we can.”  It doesn’t matter how tough a week I have in Washington, because I know you’ve got me — you’ve got my back.  When I come to Chicago, when I travel across the country, I know we can’t be stopped.  (Applause.)  I know America is the greatest nation on Earth.  And I know we will bring about the change that all of us believe in.

God bless you all.  (Applause.)  Thank you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
7:44 P.M. CDT

Political Highlights February 28, 2011: Governors & Tea Party Meet — Obama Congress Budget Showdown; Threat of Government Shutdown — Wisconsin’s Gov. Walker & Union Wars — Unrest in the Middle East & Libya

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama and a bipartisan group of governors in the State Dining Room
The President tells Governors that from infrastructure to the health reform law, he wants to give them “the flexibility that you need to find your own innovative ways forward.”

STATS & POLLS

  • Almost Six in Ten Americans Give President Obama Negative Job Rating Almost nine in ten give Congress negative ratings: Going into these battles, almost three in five Americans (58%) have a negative opinion of the job the President is doing while 42% have a positive opinion of it. This is slightly down from last month when 44% of U.S. adults gave the job the President was doing positive marks and 56% gave it negative ratings…. – PRNewswire, 2-28-11
  • Gallup poll: Obama’s approval ratings fell across U.S. in 2010: The Gallup survey says President Obama’s approval rating is above 50% in a dozen states, and in 10 states his approval rating is lower than 40%…. – LAT, 2-23-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Egyptian protesters taped a flag on the front doors of the Libyan Embassy in Cairo on Sunday.

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

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

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

STATS & POLLS

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

THE HEADLINES….

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

QUOTES

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

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

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

Political Highlights February 21, 2011: Obama Unveils Budget, Wisconsin Budget Crisis & Unions — Unrest in the Middle East Erupts

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

West Wing Week

STATS & POLLS

  • Ratings on Obama’s handling of the deficit: In a new Gallup poll – taken before the president released his budget this week – fully 68 percent of Americans said they disapprove of the way the president is handling the federal budget deficit, by far his worst rating of the eight specific issues in the survey. Pitted against the GOP, however, there’s a roughly even split: in a January Washington Post-ABC News poll, 44 percent of Americans said they put more faith in Obama to handle the deficit; about as many said they trust the GOP on the issue. (CBS-NYT and CNN polls in January showed similar divide.)… – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama Ratings Continue to Rise in Approval: President Obama’s ratings of approval continue to rise according to a new poll released this week. The approval rating for Obama increase to 51 percent from 50 percent in January, and his disapproval rating similarly slid to 46 percent from 47 percent — part of an upward trend since October’s 43 percent low.
    Contributing to Obama’s positive rating is the fact that the jobless rate dipped to 9 percent in January from 9.4 percent the month before, completing a 0.8 percentage point drop since November that was the biggest two-month decline since 1958…. – Third Age, 2-11-11
  • Obama’s 2012 Budget Proposal: How $3.7 Trillion is Spent: Explore every nook and cranny of President Obama’s budget proposal. – NYT
  • The Budget: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012 contains the Budget Message of the President, information on the President’s priorities, budget overviews organized by agency, and summary tables.
    To download “Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012” as a single PDF click here (216 pages, 4.1 MB)
  • Breakdown of budget’s big numbers: There are a lot of big numbers being tossed around in Washington these days: a $3.7 trillion budget proposal, $61 billion in cuts, a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Below is a breakdown of what they represent…. – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Office of Management and Budget: Budget 2012:

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Raouf Mohseni/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Members of Iran’s Parliament clamored on Tuesday for two leaders of the opposition movement, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, to be hanged.

  • Qaddafi’s Son Warns of Civil War as Libyan Protests Widen: A five-day-old uprising in Libya took control of its second-largest city of Benghazi and spread for the first time to the capital of Tripoli late on Sunday as the heir-apparent son of its strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, warned Libyans in a televised speech that their oil-rich country would fall into civil war and even renewed Western “colonization” if they threw off his father’s 40-year-long rule…. – NYT, 2-21-11
  • Clinton: Gadhafi must stop bloodshed: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the violence against anti-government protesters in Libya on Monday and called on the government of Moammar Gadhafi to “stop this unacceptable bloodshed.” Clinton said the world is watching event unfold in Libya “with alarm.”… At least 233 people have been killed so far, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
    “Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed,” Clinton said in what amounted to the toughest denunciation of the crackdown in Libya by the Obama administration yet…. – AP, 2-21-11
  • Libya Death Toll Surges in Crackdown: Libya Regime Fires on Protesters in Capital; Nation Fractures; Diplomats Break Ties… Violent clashes between protesters and security forces snowballed in cities throughout eastern Libya Sunday, as the country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, struggled to crush an uprising aimed at ending … WSJ, 2-20-11
  • US condemns crackdowns on Mideast protests: A senior U.S. diplomat on Sunday condemned the brutal crackdown on opposition protesters in Libya, saying Arab leaders facing pro-democracy protests need to lead the way rather than resist reform. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Obama administration was “very concerned” about reported armed attacks by Libyan security forces on peaceful protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi.
    “We’ve condemned that violence,” Rice told “Meet the Press” on NBC. “Our view is that in Libya as throughout the region peaceful protests need to be respected.”… – AP, 2-20-11
  • 1 killed as Yemeni police fire on marchers: Antigovernment protesters shouted slogans and raised their shoes in Sana, Yemen, yesterday. It was the 10th day of protests….. – Boston Globe, 2-20-11
  • Bahrain’s gov’t says dialogue begins with opposition: Bahrain’s government says it has begun what it calls a dialogue, with opposition groups demanding reform…. – Xinhuanet, 2-20-11
  • Cycle of Suppression Rises in Libya and Elsewhere: Libyan security forces moved against protesters Saturday in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city and the epicenter of the most serious challenge to four decades of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s rule, opposition leaders and residents said. The death toll rose to at least 104 people, most of them in Benghazi, Human Rights Watch reported…. – NYT, 2-19-11
  • After 42 years, Libya’s controversial ruler faces new threats: Moammar Gadhafi’s first grab at power occurred 42 years ago in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, when he led a crew of fellow military officers in taking over key government institutions…. – CNN International, 2-19-11
  • Egypt women stand for equality in the square: Women think as differently as they dress here, but they have emerged from the barricades agreeing on one thing: This is their moment in history, and they cannot afford to lose it. During 18 days of demonstrating for freedom and democracy, Egyptian men and women walked into Tahrir Square separate and unequal, divided by gender as they passed through checkpoints. Men were scrutinized by men, and women had their bags and person searched by other women. There were several lines of men to every one for the fewer numbers of women…. – WaPO, 2-19-11
  • Libya, Yemen crack down; Bahrain pulls back tanks: Security forces in Libya and Yemen fired on pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday as the two hard-line regimes struck back against the wave of protests that has already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia. At least 15 died when police shot into crowds of mourners in Libya’s second-largest city, a hospital official said.
    Even as Bahrain’s king bowed to international pressure and withdrew tanks to allow demonstrators to retake a symbolic square in the capital, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh made clear they plan to stamp out opposition and not be dragged down by the reform movements that have grown in nations from Algeria to Djibouti to Jordan.
    Libyans returned to the street for a fifth straight day of protests against Gadhafi, the most serious uprising in his 42-year reign, despite estimates by human rights groups of 84 deaths in the North African country — with 35 on Friday alone…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Police kill 4 during protests on Yemen’s ‘Friday of Rage’: Antigovernment demonstrators clashed with supporters of Yemen’s longtime ruler and riot police, who fired guns and tear gas to disperse the crowd on what organizers called a nationwide “Friday of rage”…. – Boston Globe, 2-19-11
  • Over 50 injured as troops open fire in Bahrain: Bahraini troops have fired on anti-government demonstrators, just a day after several people were killed when a protest camp was forcibly removed in the capital, Manama…. – Xinhuanet, 2-19-11
  • Bahrain’s king seeks dialogue after another crackdown on protesters: The widened unrest in the Middle East took a more violent turn Friday as US-allied governments in Yemen and Bahrain opened fire on their citizens, prompting Britain and France to announce a halt in arms sales. WaPo, 2-19-11
  • Rights group estimates 84 killed in Libya protests: Libyan security forces have killed 84 people in a harsh crackdown on three days of protests, said the New York- based Human Rights Watch, even as the government shut off Internet in the North African country early on Saturday…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain opposition plots strategy before talks: Bahrain’s opposition wants the nation’s rulers to guarantee they will back up their conciliatory words with actions, a Shiite leader said Sunday as he and other activists weighed the regime’s offer for talks after nearly a week of protests and deadly clashes that have divided the Gulf nation. The streets in the tiny but strategically important island kingdom were calmer as efforts shifted toward political haggling over demands the monarchy give up its near-absolute control over key policies and positions…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Egypt to allow Iranian vessels through Suez Canal: Egypt has agreed to allow two Iranian naval vessels to transit the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, a military official said Friday, ending several days of confusion over their planned passage, which Israel’s foreign minister has labeled a provocation.
    The movement of Iranian naval ships past Israeli shores is of concern there because Israel considers Iran an existential threat. Those fears stem from Iran’s disputed nuclear program, ballistic missile development, support for militants in the region and its threats to destroy Israel.
    The White House said the U.S. was also closely monitoring the progress of the ships, now in the Red Sea. Their passage comes as the region is being swept by anti-government unrest, including the protests that toppled Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak a week ago and left the military in charge of the country…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Obama condemns violence in Middle East: President Barack Obama on Friday condemned reports of violent reprisals against protesters in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, and called for government restraint as unrest swept the volatile Middle East in the wake of Egypt’s uprising.
    “I am deeply concerned about reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,” Obama said. “The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people.”… – 2-18-11
  • Opposition figure says Libya uprisings ignored: TANYA NOLAN: As we’ve mentioned media bans and intermittent phone and internet connections have made it very difficult to verify events unfolding in Libya…. – ABC Online, 2-18-11
  • In Yemen, Arab unrest takes a violent turn: Several thousand Yemeni protesters defied appeals for calm and marched through the capital on Thursday, pressing on with their campaign to oust the country’s president… – WaPo, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain’s Crackdown Wins Neighbors’ Support: WSJ’s Joe Parkinson reports from the midst of ongoing protests in Bahrain in which at least three people have died.
    Bahrain’s military sent tanks and armored personnel carriers into the streets Thursday to extend its control after a government crackdown on protests, while neighboring monarchies of the Persian Gulf endorsed the country’s violent response…. – WSJ, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain Turmoil Poses Fresh Test for White House: Hundreds gathered outside a hospital emergency room in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, on Thursday afternoon to wait for news about the injured…. – NYT, 2-17-11
  • Bahrain Main Opposition Group says 2 Dead in Crackdown: Bahrain’s leading opposition party says at least two protesters were killed early Thursday when riot police stormed the main square of the capital, Manama, driving out thousands of demonstrators who had set up camp, demanding sweeping political change…. – Voice of America, 2-17-11
  • Libya protests: Activists call for ‘day of anger’: Anti-government activists in Libya have been using social networking sites to rally support for protests on what they are describing as a “day of anger”…. – BBC News, 2-17-11
  • Protests Spread to Libya as Unrest Roils Bahrain, Yemen: A Bahraini anti-government protester waves his national flag during a protest calling for regime change at Pearl Square in Manama…. – Bloomberg, 2-16-11
  • Bahrain Takes the Stage With a Raucous ProtestNYT, 2-16-11
  • Obama careful in criticism of Iranian crackdown on protestsWaPo, 2-15-11
  • Iran’s Leader Derides Protests; Lawmakers Urge Death for Opposition Leaders: A day after the largest antigovernment protests in Iran in more than a year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday dismissed opposition attempts to revive mass demonstrations as certain to fail, while members of the Iranian Parliament clamored for the two most prominent leaders of the protest movement to be executed…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • Tehran Beats Back New Protests: Iranian police used tear gas and electric prods to crack down on the country’s biggest antigovernment protests in at least a year, as demonstrators buoyed by activism across the Middle East returned to the country’s streets… – WSJ, 2-15-11
  • CBS News’ Lara Logan Assaulted During Egypt Protests: CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Separated From Her Crew And Brutally Assaulted on Day Mubarak Stepped Down… – CBS News, 2-15-11
  • ‘Egypt is free’ after Mubarak quits; celebrations continue into the nightCNN, 2-11-11
  • Egypt unrest: Mubarak’s speech leaves nation, world wondering who’s in chargeCNN, 2-10-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Arrested US official is actually CIA contractor: An American jailed in Pakistan for the fatal shooting of two armed men was secretly working for the CIA and scouting a neighborhood when he was arrested, a disclosure likely to further frustrate U.S. government efforts to free the man and strain relations between two countries partnered in a fragile alliance in the war on terror.
    Raymond Allen Davis, 36, had been working as a CIA security contractor and living in a Lahore safe house, according to former and current U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the incident…. – AP, 2-21-11
  • G-20 Deal Reached, but Outcome Open to Interpretation: Negotiators from the world’s leading economies haggled all night over seemingly technical details regarding how to measure global economic imbalances. WSJ, 2-20-11
  • National Institute for Civil Discourse to open at University of Arizona: Colleagues pay tribute to wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during the president’s address as the Arizona lawmaker is set to begin the next phase of her recovery at a rehab facility in Houston…. – WaPo, 2-20-11
  • Hot air on both sides in budget deficit debate: When Shakespeare’s Macbeth mentions a tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” he could be talking about the US budget process…. – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2-20-11
  • Obama wades into budget battle in US states: The budget battle embroiling Washington is heating up in US states as newly elected Republican lawmakers move to bust public workers unions and slash services in the face of big deficits. President Barack Obama, who earlier this week threatened to veto the Republican federal budget plan, has also stepped into the fray at the state level as his Democratic party engages in a deeply ideological fight over budget priorities…. – AFP, 2-18-11
  • Obama coaches Sasha’s team, but without Sasha: President Barack Obama stepped in to help coach his younger daughter’s basketball team even when she wasn’t there. White House officials said Obama helped coach 9-year-old Sasha’s team Saturday in suburban Maryland because a regular parent-coach was unable to attend…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama: US needs better math, science education: President Barack Obama says improving math and science education is essential to helping the U.S. compete globally, and he wants the private sector to get involved in making it happen. Obama recorded his weekly radio and Internet address during a visit this past week to Intel Corp. outside of Portland, Ore. He praised the company for making a 10-year, $200 million commitment to promote math and science education — and held it up as an example of how corporate America can make money at the same time it builds the country.
    “Companies like Intel are proving that we can compete — that instead of just being a nation that buys what’s made overseas, we can make things in America and sell them around the globe,” Obama said. “Winning this competition depends on the ingenuity and creativity of our private sector. . But it’s also going to depend on what we do as a nation to make America the best place on earth to do business.”… – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama urges Bahrain’s king to show restraint: President Barack Obama condemned the violence in Bahrain and urged the country’s king in a phone call Friday night to show restraint after a series of bloody protests. Obama discussed the situation with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, asking the king to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. Obama says Bahrain must respect the “universal rights” of its people and embrace “meaningful reform.”… – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama says companies can help bottom line & nation: Pushing his jobs agenda, President Barack Obama made the case Friday that companies can make money and build up the country at the same time, citing the giant Intel Corp. chip maker as his model of smart investing in education.
    “We know what works. We know how to succeed,” the president told employees here after getting an eye-opening tour of Intel’s manufacturing facility. “We know how to do big things. And all across this nation, in places just like this one, we have students and teachers, local leaders and companies who are working together to make it happen.”… – AP, 2-18-11
  • US vetoes UN resolution on Israeli settlements: The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as “illegal” and called for an immediate halt to all settlement building.
    The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution in Friday’s vote. The Obama administration’s veto is certain to anger Arab countries and Palestinian supporters around the world…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • HI lawmaker: Obama birth certificate bill tabled: A proposal to sell copies of President Barack Obama’s birth records to anyone for $100 is going nowhere in the Hawaii Legislature…. – AP, 2-17-11
  • Obama seeks support from GOP on schools: President Obama is hoping the GOP will help him overhaul the No Child Left Behind law in time for the new school year this fall, but it may prove a tall order for a divided Congress that’s preoccupied with talk of cutting spending…. – Washington Times, 2-17-11
  • New White House press secretary takes stage: Jay Carney the journalist once commented that it’s a “tricky job” to be White House press secretary. “I’m sure I wouldn’t be any good at it,” he told C-SPAN in 2006 when he was Washington bureau … – USA Today, 2-17-11
  • California Supreme Court reenters Proposition 8 fray: The California Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday to take up a key question in the fight over Proposition 8 places the court once again at the forefront of the legal battle over same-sex marriage…. – LAT, 2-17-11
  • Obama awards Medal of Freedom to George H.W. Bush, Maya Angelou and 13 others: Presenting the nation’s highest civilian honor is ‘one of the things I most look forward to every year,’ President Obama says…. – LAT, 2-16-11
  • Clinton: How the Internet can save the world: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Internet can allow people to achieve great things, but also do great harm. She says now is the time to discuss what if any rules should be in place concerning the Web…. – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama sends Congress $3.73 trillion budget: President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion budget Monday that holds out the prospect of eventually bringing deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases. But the fiscal blueprint largely ignores his own deficit commission’s plea to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
    Obama called his new budget one of “tough choices and sacrifices,” but most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term…. – AP, 2-14-11
  • Obama calls for investments in education, r&d: President Barack Obama says the U.S. must invest in research and development, science, and especially education — or risk seeing the technological breakthroughs of the future happen in some other country. Obama says he wants to focus “like a laser” on improving education. He said the quality of a nation’s education is one of the biggest predictors of a nation’s success…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Madoff: Banks ‘Had to Know’ of Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud: Convicted fraudster Bernard L. Madoff believes banks and hedge funds were complicit in his elaborate multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, The New York Times reported Tuesday…. – AP, 2-16-11
  • Obama budget fails to curb entitlements, GOP says: Republicans yesterday accused President Obama and Democrats in Congress of failing to rein in entitlement programs that make up the bulk of federal spending – but said they weren’t ready to lay out their own proposed cuts to the budget… – Boston Globe, 2-16-11
  • Obama’s Budget Focuses on Path to Rein in Deficit: With President Obama’s release on Monday of a budget for next year and House action this week on a Republican plan for immediate deep spending cuts, the nation is getting its clearest view since the president took office of the parties’ competing visions of the role of government, the urgency of addressing the deficit and the best path to long-term economic success.
    Mr. Obama used his budget for the fiscal year 2012 and beyond to make the case for selectively cutting spending while increasing resources in areas like education and clean energy initiatives that hold the potential for long- term payoffs in economic growth. With this year’s deficit projected to hit a record, $1.6 trillion, he laid out a path for bringing down annual deficits to more sustainable levels over the rest of the decade…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • Obama budget: Some cuts, not the slashes GOP asks: Putting on the brakes after two years of big spending increases, President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget plan Monday that would freeze or reduce some safety-net programs for the nation’s poor but turn aside Republican demands for more drastic cuts to shrink the government to where it was before he took office….. – AP, 2-15-11
  • Highlights of Obama’s 2012 spending plan: Obama sends plan to Capitol Hill; goal is to get funding in place by start of 2012 fiscal year… Plan includes a significant increase in education funding… Plan decreases discretionary resources for the Department of Transportation…. It trims funding for African Development and Inter-American Foundations by nearly 20%
    President Obama’s spending plan is just the first step in a process that will involve no less than 40 congressional committees, 24 subcommittees, countless hearings and a number of floor votes in the House and Senate, with the aim of getting funding in place for the federal government by the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year October 1.
    Congress never passed a budget for the current fiscal year, and the government has been running on a “continuing resolution,” which expires March 4. House Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet over cuts to current programs and threaten to shut down the government if they don’t get their way.
    After Obama sends his 2012 plan to Capitol Hill, House and Senate budget committees each pass their own budget resolutions, which set caps on spending and establish revenue targets and generally serve as five- to 10-year blueprints for congressional priorities…. – CNN, 2-14-19
  • Obama budget resurrects rejected tax increases: President Barack Obama’s budget proposal resurrects a series of tax increases on certain corporations and the wealthy that were largely ignored by Congress when Democrats controlled both chambers. Republicans, who now control the House, are signaling they will be even less receptive.
    The plan unveiled Monday includes tax increases for oil, gas and coal producers, investment managers and U.S.- based multinational corporations. The plan would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000. Wealthy taxpayers would have their itemized deductions limited starting in 2012, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes…. – AP, 2-14-11
  • Showtime for House Republican spending cuts: One day after President Barack Obama presented Congress with his $3.7 trillion budget, the focus shifts on Tuesday to Washington’s more immediate spending needs and a controversial spending-cut bill that Republicans hope to pass in the House of Representatives.
    The House legislation, cobbled together by Republicans after weeks of intraparty fighting, would cut about $61 billion from current spending in a bill to fund government activities through the rest of this fiscal year that ends on September 30.
    The spending being proposed would be equal to a 14 percent cut from last year…. – Reuters, 2-15-10
  • House Republicans counter Obama budget plan with much deeper cuts: On Monday, President Obama made his statement about how the government ought to change its spending habits: a gradual plan that minimizes immediate pain by phasing in cuts over a decade.
    Starting Tuesday, House Republicans will move forward with a very different approach, one intended to be viewed as radical and painful. Their proposal deals not with theoretical deficit targets set far in the future but with the final seven months of this year’s budget, a period left in flux by congressional inaction.
    House Republicans want to cut $61 billion from the budget, which would amount to the most significant government contraction since the end of World War II. Decried as “dire” and “disturbing” by Democrats, the plan has become a test for how far Republicans are willing to go in order to deliver on the promise of fiscal austerity that GOP candidates pledged to voters last year.
    “It’s big, and it’s real and it can impact people’s lives,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday of the House legislation. “But we have a budget deficit right now of nearly $1.5 trillion. We have a lot of work to do.”… – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama budget: $3.7 trillion FY ‘12 blueprint calls for key ‘investments’; red ink surges: Trying to balance the need to rein in deficits with his belief that spending now on education and other priorities will pay off in the long term, President Obama on Monday sent Congress a $3.7 trillion budget blueprint for 2012 that makes some short-term fixes but puts off heavy lifting on Social Security and Medicare.
    The budget acts as an update on the current fiscal year, as well as a plan for the future, and it shows the federal government will run a record $1.645 trillion deficit in 2011, slimming down to $1.101 trillion in 2012 and continuing the red ink for the foreseeable future, though at lower levels.
    After massive spending during his first two years in office, Mr. Obama proposed some tax increases and strategic spending cuts for 2012, such as in low-income energy assistance and student aid. But he also called for boosting spending on transportation and education – needs the president said cannot be sacrificed even in the face of the deficit…. – Washington Times, 2-14-11
  • Obama budget sets up spending fight Proposed cuts too small for GOP’s fiscal hawks: President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion 2012 budget that would boost spending in Michigan on items like education and energy, while cutting things like heating assistance for the poor and Great Lakes cleanup in an effort to bring the federal deficit under control. White House officials said Obama’s budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in October would trim the federal deficit by $1.1 trillion over a decade, and produce about a $1.6 trillion budget hole for this year. The plan now goes to Congress, where it’s likely to encounter stiff opposition from Republicans who have said they want deeper cuts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who will fight for programs and tax breaks benefiting their districts… – The Detroit News, 2-15-11
  • Editorial: The Obama Budget: On paper, President Obama’s new $3.7 trillion budget is encouraging. It makes a number of tough choices to cut the deficit by a projected $1.1 trillion over 10 years, which is enough to prevent an uncontrolled explosion of debt in the next decade and, as a result, reduce the risk of a fiscal crisis.
    The questions are whether its tough choices are also wise choices and whether it stands a chance in a Congress in which Republicans, who now dominate the House, are obsessed with making indiscriminate short-term cuts in programs they never liked anyway. The Republican cuts would eviscerate vital government functions while not having any lasting impact on the deficit.
    What Mr. Obama’s budget is most definitely not is a blueprint for dealing with the real long-term problems that feed the budget deficit: rising health care costs, an aging population and a refusal by lawmakers to face the inescapable need to raise taxes at some point. Rather, it defers those critical issues, in hopes, we assume, that both the economy and the political environment will improve in the future…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • President Obama’s budget kicks the hard choices further down the road: THE PRESIDENT PUNTED. Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided. “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices,” the president said in his budget message. “A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.” His budget would keep the country on that course…. – WaPo, 2-15-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • As Republicans See a Mandate on Budget Cuts, Others See Risk: In Congress and in statehouses, Republican lawmakers and governors are claiming a broad mandate from last year’s elections as they embark on an aggressive campaign of cutting government spending taking on public unions. Their agenda echoes in its ambition what President Obama and Democrats tried after winning office in their own electoral wave in 2008…. – NYT, 2-21-11
  • Schumer: In recess, Senate working on budget issue: A leading Democrat says Senate officials are working behind the scenes on a budget proposal to keep the government running. Even with the budget crisis looming, both houses of Congress are in recess this week. But Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York says that lawmakers and aides are poring over the massive budget document passed by the House in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It proposes cutting $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs…. – AP, 2-20-11
  • Memories of 1995 haunt GOP as shutdown talk grows: Few memories haunt Republicans more deeply than the 1995-96 partial shutdown of the federal government, which helped President Bill Clinton reverse his falling fortunes and recast House Republicans as stubborn partisans, not savvy insurgents.
    Now, as Congress careens toward a budget impasse, government insiders wonder if another shutdown is imminent — and whether Republicans again would suffer the most blame. Leaders of both parties say they are determined to avoid a shutdown. But they have not yielded on the amount of spending cuts they will demand or accept. Meanwhile, shutdown talk is rippling through Washington and beyond…. – AP, 2-20-11
  • The Fix: Sen. Jeff Bingaman to retire: New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman is expected to announce his retirement today, according to a source close to the decision, a move that further complicates his party’s efforts to hold their Senate majority in 2012…. – WaPo, 2-18-11
  • NM’s Bingaman becomes 3rd Dem senator to retire: As U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman shook hands of those congratulating him on his years of service, he turned to the crowd and said: “Sure seems like a wake in here, doesn’t it?” The 67-year-old Democrat announced Friday that he would retire after the end of his current term, which ends in two years. The decision was the latest in a string of departures to hit congressional Democrats as they head to the 2012 elections…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • House passes sweeping cuts to domestic programs: Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled House passed sweeping legislation early Saturday to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs and shelter coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations. The 235-189 vote to send the bill to the Senate was largely along party lines and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama. It marked the most striking victory to date for the 87-member class of freshmen Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • GOP bill pairs budget cuts, regulatory rollbacks: The GOP-controlled House is using a catchall spending bill not just to cut President Barack Obama’s budget but to assault his health care overhaul, global warming policy and efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • House effort to restrict labor wage law fails: The House early Saturday turned back an effort to suspend a Depression-era law that requires federal contractors to pay locally prevailing wage rates. The vote came amid heightened clashes between the two parties over labor rights.
    Lawmakers voted 233-189 against barring spending on Davis-Bacon wage requirements on federal work projects for the remainder of this budget year. The measure was offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, as an amendment to a massive spending bill to keep the government running through Sept. 30…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • GOP newcomers test mandate to shrink government: Asked how long the House would need to finish legislation cutting $61 billion in government spending, the most powerful Republican in the land responded wryly. “I don’t know, I’m only the speaker.” It was a candid acknowledgement from Ohio Rep. John Boehner that the 87 Republican first-term lawmakers who swept the party into power in the House are moving on a path — and at a pace — of their own choosing…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Freshmen spur GOP-run House on big spending cuts: Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled House agreed early Saturday to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs and shelter coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations.
    By a 235-189 vote, largely along party lines, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where it faces longer odds, and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Passage of the legislation was the most striking victory to date for the 87 freshman Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • House votes to block EPA’s global warming power: The Republican-controlled House has voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming. The 249-177 vote added the regulation ban to a sweeping spending bill that would fund the government through Sept. 30. The restriction is opposed by the Obama administration, which is using its regulatory powers to curb greenhouse gases after global warming legislation collapsed last year. The administration also says the ban would cost thousands of construction jobs…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • US House poised to pass Republican spending cuts: The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives on Thursday was poised to approve deep spending cuts for this year, setting the stage for a battle with the Democratic-run Senate…. – Reuters, 2-18-11
  • House votes to curb regulators, cut spending: The Republican-controlled House voted to shield greenhouse-gas polluters and privately owned colleges from federal regulators on Friday, strengthening the pro-business emphasis of legislation that also would chop $61 billion from government spending. But as a final vote neared on the sweeping measure, newly elected conservatives suffered a rare setback when a split among rank-and-file Republicans sank a move to cut an additional $22 billion.
    “The American people have spoken. They demand that Washington stop its out-of-control spending now, not some time in the future,” declared Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., one of the 87 newly elected Republicans who have moved aggressively to attack federal deficits and reduce government’s reach. In a victory for social conservatives, the House voted 240-185 to block federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who proposed the move, said, “It is morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortion.”… – AP, 2-18-11
  • Deficit Plan Details Emerge: A bipartisan group of senators is considering legislation that would trigger new taxes and budget cuts if Congress fails to meet a set of mandatory spending targets and other fiscal goals aimed at reducing federal deficits…. – WSJ, 2-17-11
  • House axes funds for jet engine to be built in Lynn: The House rejected funding for a second engine for the Pentagon’s new jet fighter yesterday, dealing a major blow to a program that had promised to create more than 400 jobs at a General Electric plant in Lynn…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-11
  • Brown describes beatings, sexual abuse in childhood: Senator Scott Brown, describing a childhood of family violence and strife, reveals in his new autobiography that he was sexually assaulted as a 10-year-old by a summer camp counselor on Cape Cod…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-11
  • Senate to vote on patent reform after breakReuters, 2-16-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • PAUL KRUGMAN: Wisconsin Power Play: Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin’s new union-busting governor, Scott Walker — demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday — Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.”
    It wasn’t the smartest thing for Mr. Ryan to say, since he probably didn’t mean to compare Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, to Hosni Mubarak. Or maybe he did — after all, quite a few prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, denounced the uprising in Egypt and insist that President Obama should have helped the Mubarak regime suppress it…. – NYT, 2-20-11
  • Wis. governor predicts Democrats will return to debate union rights: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose bid to reduce public employees’ collective-bargaining power has triggered public protests, said Sunday that he expects Democrats who oppose his plan to return to the state and debate…. – WaPO, 2-20-11
  • Bachmann defends Wisconsin moves on collective bargaining: US Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) at the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, February 10, 2011. Tea Party activist and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann on Saturday defended moves by fellow Republicans in Wisconsin to reduce state union bargaining power…. – Reuters, 2-19-11
  • Thousands surround Capitol in Wisconsin: A state Capitol thrown into chaos swelled for a fifth day Saturday with thousands of protesters, as supporters of Republican efforts to scrap the union rights of state workers added their voices to the debate…. – NewsOK.com, 2-19-11
  • Protests Continue In Wisconsin As Budget Fight Rages: Protests continued Friday at the Wisconsin state Capitol building, as several missing Democratic state senators hold up action on a plan to reduce union bargaining rights of government employees…. – NPR, 2-18-11
  • Wisconsin in near-chaos over anti-union bill: Protestors swarm Wisconsin’s Capitol and Democratic lawmakers flee the state to stall the new Republican governor’s anti-union bill…. – LAT, 2-18-11
  • Wisconsin Public Workers Protest Governor’s ProposalWSJ, 2-17-11
  • Gov. Brown freezes statewide hiring: Before the announcement, he quietly drops a suit to lower California state workers’ checks to the federal minimum wage during a budget impasse…. – LAT, 2-15-11
  • Flake 1st candidate to run for Kyl’s seat: U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake wasted no time Monday in becoming the first official candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that will open in 2012, moving fast to get a jump-start on campaign fundraising and to discourage potential Republican rivals from entering the GOP race.
    Flake, 49, the libertarian-leaning senior Republican member of Arizona’s U.S. House delegation, launched his campaign four days after three-term U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said he would not seek re-election next year.
    The speed of Flake’s entry into the 2012 competition could crowd out some of the other Republicans whose names have been floated, although Flake said he looks forward to “a spirited campaign.”… – The Arizona Republic, 2-14-11

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

  • Emanuel beats rivals to become next Chicago mayor: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley. Emanuel trounced all opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin that allowed him to avoid an April runoff. He needed more than 50 percent to win outright.
    It was the city’s first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.
    Emanuel called the victory “humbling” and said the outgoing mayor had “earned a special place in our hearts and our history.” But he added: “We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they are going to find work, we have not won anything.”… – AP, 2-22-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • GOP 2012: Do Early Polls Matter?: A look at when potential GOP candidates may announce their candidacy… – Neon Tommy, 2-17-11
  • The idea of President Palin hits a granite wallWaPo, 2-17-11
  • Obama wants to know Kaine’s intentions on Senate race: President Barack Obama told a television interviewer Wednesday that he wants to hear former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s intentions regarding a possible run for Jim Webb’s US Senate seat…. – Richmond Times Dispatch, 2-16-11
  • Twelve for ’12: A Dozen Republicans Who Could Be the Next President: With the GOP’s presidential primary fight fast approaching, TIME takes a look at the prospective contenders to take on Barack Obama…
    Candidates of the Conservatives: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, John Thune, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint… – Time
  • Romney reaches out to business, but isn’t ready to show hand: Mitt Romney sought yesterday to distinguish himself from President Obama, his potential 2012 election opponent, by casting himself as a friend to the nation’s business community…. – Boston Globe, 2-14-11
  • Romney tops Obama in NH poll: In a WMUR Granite State Poll released today, Mitt Romney garnered 49 percent of the vote to 41 percent for the president, who took the state in his 2008 win over Republican John McCain…. – Boston Globe, 2-14-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/18/11
  • Weekly Address: To Win the Future, America Must Win the Global Competition in Education: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery February 19, 2011 Hillsboro, Oregon: I’m speaking to you from just outside Portland, Oregon where I’m visiting Intel, a company that helped pioneer the digital age. I just came from a tour of an assembly line where highly-skilled technicians are building microprocessors that run everything from desktop computers to smartphones.
    But these workers aren’t just manufacturing high-tech computer chips. They’re showing us how America will win the future….
    If we want to win the global competition for new jobs and industries, we’ve got to win the global competition to educate our people. We’ve got to have the best trained, best skilled workforce in the world. That’s how we’ll ensure that the next Intel, the next Google, or the next Microsoft is created in America, and hires American workers.
    This is why, over the past two years, my administration has made education a top priority. We’ve launched a competition called “Race to the Top” – a reform that is lifting academic standards and getting results; not because Washington dictated the answers, but because states and local schools pursued innovative solutions. We’re also making college more affordable for millions of students, and revitalizing our community colleges, so that folks can get the training they need for the careers they want. And as part of this effort, we’ve launched a nationwide initiative to connect graduates that need jobs with businesses that need their skills.
    Intel understands how important these partnerships can be – recognizing that their company’s success depends on a pipeline of skilled people ready to fill high-wage, high-tech jobs. Intel often pays for workers to continue their education at nearby Portland State University. As a result, one out of every fifteen of Intel’s Oregon employees has a degree from Portland State.
    In fact, Intel’s commitment to education begins at an even younger age. The company is providing training to help 100,000 math and science teachers improve their skills in the classroom. And today, I’m also meeting a few students from Oregon who impressed the judges in the high school science and engineering competitions that Intel sponsors across America….
    So these have been a tough few years for our country. And in tough times, it’s natural to question what the future holds. But when you meet young people like Laurie and Yushi, it’s hard not to be inspired. And it’s impossible not to be confident about America.
    We are poised to lead in this new century – and not just because of the good work that large companies like Intel are doing. All across America, there are innovators and entrepreneurs who are trying to start the next Intel, or just get a small business of their own off the ground. I’ll be meeting with some of these men and women next week in Cleveland, to get ideas about what we can do to help their companies grow and create jobs.
    The truth is, we have everything we need to compete: bold entrepreneurs, bright new ideas, and world-class colleges and universities. And, most of all, we have young people just brimming with promise and ready to help us succeed. All we have to do is tap that potential.
    That’s the lesson on display at Intel. And that’s how America will win the future. – WH, 2-19-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The President Unveils a Budget to Win the Future for Our Kids: And I just came to Parkville on a day where we are unveiling our budget, and I’m doing so for a reason. But before I do that I just want to thank Principal Buddy Parker, who is showing us around, as well as Susan Yoder, the eighth grade science teacher who we just visited with in her classroom.
    Over the last few weeks I’ve traveled the country, talking about what we need to do to win the future; talked about the need to invest in innovation, so that the next big idea is discovered here in the United States of America. I’ve talked about the need to invest in high-speed rail and high-speed Internet, so that companies can move goods and information faster than ever. And this week, I’ll be talking about the need to invest in education -– in places like Parkville -– so that every American is equipped to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world.
    These investments are an essential part of the budget my administration is sending to Congress. Because I’m convinced that if we out-build and out-innovate and out-educate, as well as out-hustle the rest of the world, the jobs and industries of our time will take root here in the United States. Our people will prosper and our country will succeed.
    But I’m also convinced that the only way we can make these investments in our future is if our government starts living within its means, if we start taking responsibility for our deficits. That’s why, when I was sworn in as President, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. The budget I’m proposing today meets that pledge -– and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade. We do this in part by eliminating waste and cutting whatever spending we can do without.
    As I start — as a start, I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years. This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending — domestic discretionary spending — to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let me repeat that. Because of our budget, this share of spending will be at its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President. That level of spending is lower than it was under the last three administrations, and it will be lower than it was under Ronald Reagan.
    Now, some of the savings will come through less waste and more efficiency. To take just one example, by getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots and government-owned properties we no longer need, we can save taxpayers billions of dollars. And when it comes to programs we do need, we’re making them work better by demanding accountability. Instead of spending first, and asking questions later, we’re rewarding folks inside and outside government who deliver results. And to make sure that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, I’ve pledged to veto any bill that contains earmarks.
    Still, even as we cut waste and inefficiency, this budget freeze will require some tough choices. It will mean cutting things that I care deeply about — for example, community action programs in low-income neighborhoods and towns, and community development block grants that so many of our cities and states rely on. But if we’re going to walk the walk when it comes to fiscal discipline, these kinds of cuts will be necessary…. – WH, 2-14-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Jack Lew: The 2012 Budget: Today, the President sent to Congress his budget for the 2012 fiscal year. This document is built around the simple idea that we have to live within our means so we can invest in the future. Only by making tough choices to both cut spending and deficits and invest in what we need to win the future can we out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.
    This is the seventh Budget that I have worked on at OMB, and it may be the most difficult. It includes more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction – two-thirds from spending cuts — and puts the nation on a path toward fiscal sustainability so that by the middle of the decade, the government will no longer be adding to our national debt as a share of the economy and will be paying for what it spends – and will be able to sustain that for many years afterwards.
    The President has called this budget a down payment because we will still have work to do to pay down the debt and address our long-term challenges. But it is a necessary and critical step for we cannot start to move toward balance and to cutting into the size of our debt until we first stop adding to it – and that is what this Budget does…. – WH, 2-14-11
  • Barack Obama: “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices. A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.”
  • Barack Obama: “As we move to rein in our deficits, we must do so in a way that does not cut back on those investments that have the biggest impact on our economic growth, because the best antidote to a growing deficit is a growing economy. So even as we pursue cuts and savings in the months ahead, we must fund those investments that will help America win the race for the jobs and industries of the future – investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure.”
  • Eric Cantor: This week, the House will consider H.R. 1 – historic legislation that will reduce spending by at least $100 billion over the next seven months. This is the largest spending cut in modern history. These are not easy cuts, but we are finally doing what every American has to do both at home and at work – begin a path towards living within our means.
  • John Boehner: President Obama’s latest budget will destroy jobs by spending too much, borrowing too much, & taxing too much. The American people have made it clear they want Washington’s job-crushing spending binge to end. To help our economy get back to creating jobs, we need to liberate it from the shackles of Big Government and out-of-control spending. H.R. 1, on the House floor this week, will help do this.
  • Mitch McConnell: Senator McConnell comments on the President’s Budget: After two years of failed Stimulus programs and Democrats in Washington competing to outspend each other, we just can’t afford to do all the things the administration wants to do. The President has said he wants us to ‘Win the Future.’ But this budget abdicates the future. It simply spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.
  • Sarah Palin: The Truth Behind the White House’s Budget Spin: Today the White House finally produced its proposal for the 2012 budget. Beware of the left’s attempt to sell this as “getting tough on the deficit,” because as an analysis from Americans for Tax Reform shows, the White House’s plans are more about raising taxes and growing more government than reducing budget shortfalls.
    The fine print reveals a White House proposal to increase taxes by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If you want to know how minuscule their proposed $775 million-a-year budget “cuts” really are, please look at this chart. The proposed cuts are so insignificant – less than 1/10 of 1% of this year’s $1.65 trillion budget deficit – that they are essentially invisible on the pie chart. That speaks volumes about today’s budget.
    UPDATE: As J.D. Foster of the Heritage Foundation points out: “…the President proposes a budget that keeps the federal government on a thoroughly irresponsible and unsustainable course.” Please read the Heritage Foundation article and understand the $775 million in proposed cuts noted above are what the White House’s budget director Jacob Lew identified as reflecting what they perceive as some “tough calls.” Yet, as noted, they are a drop in the bucket; and the White House’s total proposed cuts for this year are still not at all enough to make us solvent.

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

June 21, 2010: Obama selling the Economy & Introduces Father’s Day Initiative

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:

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 6/16/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • AP-GfK Poll bolsters congressional Democrats: There’s encouraging news for Democrats battling to retain control of Congress in this fall’s elections, with the party holding a slender edge in public trust for shepherding the economy and small gains in those saying their finances are healthy, according to a new poll. The reeling economy remains people’s top concern, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll conducted earlier this month, making public attitudes about it crucial for both parties’ hopes in November. The good news for Democrats: By a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent, people trust them more than Republicans to guide the economy, and slightly more — 64 percent — say their household budgets are in good shape. In addition, people want Democrats to win control of Congress by a 46 percent to 39 percent margin. That is the second straight month in which Democrats have held a delicate advantage on that question since April, when 44 percent preferred Republicans and 41 percent picked Democrats…. – AP, 6-16-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • White House: Emanuel Quitting Report ‘Ludicrous’: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is expected to leave his job within six to eight months because he is fed up with the “idealism” of President Barack Obama’s closest advisers, The London Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
    The newspaper cited Washington insiders, who said Congress veteran Emanuel, 50, is also concerned about burning out and losing touch with his three children due to the pressure of the job.
    In response to the report, a senior White House official told Fox News early Monday the story was “ludicrous” and “not worth looking into.”
    The Telegraph, however, quoted a Democratic source as saying: “I would bet he will go after the midterms.” “Nobody thinks it’s working, but they can’t get rid of him — that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to, but the consensus is he’ll go.” “It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform. “Democrats have not stood behind the President in the way Republicans did for George W. Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”…. – Fox News, 6-21-10
  • Obama steps up fatherhood advocacy with new mentoring initiative: In what is becoming a Father’s Day ritual for the Obama administration, the president on Monday will bring together children, famous dads and nonprofit groups that promote fatherhood to highlight the importance of fathers. The center of President Obama’s day-long celebration will be a speech at the ARC, an arts and recreation campus in Southeast Washington, where he is set to announce the creation of the President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. It will build on a theme that has been central to his family policy and a core part of the White House’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new initiative, which is enlisting a network of organizations, will expand on a six-city listening tour the administration held last year to bring attention to the issue of fatherlessness. “The tour was a national conversation on responsible fatherhood that was rooted in the president’s personal experiences growing up and his realization that father absence is a real challenge facing many communities,” said Joshua DuBois, director of the partnerships office…. – WaPo, 6-21-10
  • A yachting trip? The 10 worst BP gaffes in Gulf oil spill: BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward attended a yachting race in England yesterday. It was just the latest BP public relations gaffe in the Gulf oil spill. Here are 10 of the worst…. – CSMonitor, 6-20-10
  • Records suggest Kagan played small part in settling Harvard-military dispute Lawrence H. Summers took the lead: When Elena Kagan suspended help to military recruiters as dean of Harvard Law School, consternation inside the Pentagon reached all the way to then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, according to government documents released Saturday. The records show that the controversy was resolved by Harvard’s president with little apparent input from Kagan…. – WaPo, 6-20-10
  • Election-year deficit fears stall Obama stimulus plan: Barely a week after President Obama tried to re-energize his push for more spending on the economy, his agenda is stalled on Capitol Hill, mired in election-year anxiety about the deficit…. Even the state aid that Obama last week called critical to preventing the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and other government workers is foundering. After days of talks, frustrated Democratic leaders in the Senate failed again Thursday to muster the 60 votes needed to approve the cash and left town for the weekend with no clear path forward…. – WaPo, 6-18-10
  • Obama dashing to Ohio to keep economy out front: Determined to keep showing the economy is on his mind, President Barack Obama is dashing into Ohio for the groundbreaking of a road project, hoping to remind the nation that the massive, costly stimulus act is still churning out jobs. Millions of unemployed people have yet to feel the relief. Obama was to be on the ground in Ohio for only about 90 minutes Friday, long enough to celebrate what the White House calls a significant moment: the start of the 10,000th road project launched under the recovery act. The president’s message is that a summer season of more help is on the way…. – AP, 6-18-10
  • Earning trust is biggest obstacle in disbursing $20 billion BP escrow fund: It is not easy to divvy up $20 billion. Perhaps no one in America knows this better than Kenneth R. Feinberg. The nation’s unofficial authority on disbursing massive relief funds oversaw the paying out of billions of dollars for families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the Virginia Tech shootings. His phone rang once again this month, not long before word began to spread in Washington about such a fund for victims of the gulf oil spill. BP executives contacted Feinberg to see whether he would be willing to take the job. He agreed, and President Obama signed on…. – WaPo, 6-18-10
  • Kagan’s e-mails show dry wit, political savvy: Newly released e-mails from Elena Kagan’s time as an aide to President Bill Clinton portray the Supreme Court nominee as a driven and opinionated person with a flair for political tactics and little tolerance for high-flying rhetoric. The e-mails — among tens of thousands of pages of her e-mails released Friday — also show how Kagan often had to place political considerations ahead of policy views…. – AP, 6-19-10
  • Day 58: The Latest on the Oil Spill: BP Chief Testifies Before Congress: Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, testifying before a Congressional subcommittee, apologized for the oil spill, saying it “never should have happened,” but then he faced a barrage of criticism from lawmakers who grew frustrated that he would not answer their questions on specifics about the disaster still unfolding in the Gulf Coast. “With all due respect, Mr. Hayward, I think you’re copping out,” said Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia. NYT, 6-17-10
  • U.S. official calls for Kyrgyzstan investigation: A U.S. official on Friday called for a “substantial” investigation into the killings of more than 170 people during recent ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake was at a refugee camp near the border in Uzbekistan, where thousands of ethnic Uzbeks fled violence in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Blake said he wants Kyrgyzstan authorities to investigate who carried out the attacks on ethnic Uzbeks and to bring those responsible to justice. He planned to go to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek later Friday to deliver the message personally, he said…. – CNN, 6-18-10
  • Bill To Help Unemployed Fails In Senate: A beleaguered bill to extend benefits for the long term unemployed stalled on Capitol Hill Tuesday, when the Senate voted 45-52 to block the $140 billion catchall bill that also would delay a Medicare fee cut, extend a hodgepodge of expiring tax cuts, and other provisions that Democrats say will help stimulate job growth. Although the bill also included tax increases on investment managers and oil companies to help offset the cost, it has run into opposition from Republicans as well as many Democrats who are worried about adding to the burgeoning budget deficit. The vote to block the bill came on a motion to waive budget rules to allow it to pass – a motion that would have required 60 votes. Eleven Democrats and one Independent – Joe Lieberman of Connecticut — joined 40 Republicans in voting… – LAT, 6-17-10
  • Obama Adds To Iran Sanctions: Washington….The Obama administration Wednesday added several dozen Iranian individuals and organizations to its sanctions blacklist, its first steps to intensify international pressure in the aftermath of international sanctions adopted last week by the United Nations Security Council. The penalties were aimed at entities tied to Iran’s nuclear and missile program, including one bank, five front companies, 22 energy and insurance concerns, and two individuals and four groups tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, announcing the sanctions at the White House, said that to be effective “we need to have in place a concerted international approach. This is not something the United States can do alone.”… – LAT, 6-16-10
  • 9/11 payout czar Kenneth Feinberg to dole out gulf oil disaster funds: President Obama’s choice to oversee the gulf oil disaster fund is one of the very few people who have weighed the dollar value of devastation before: 9/11’s special master Kenneth Feinberg. Feinberg, 64, oversaw the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund created by Congress in the wake of the terrorist attacks, doling out $7 billion over nearly three years. “I’m confident he will ensure that claims are administered as quickly, as fairly and as transparently as possible,” Obama said yesterday, adding Feinberg would have $20 billion to start with…. – NY Daily News, 6-17-10
  • Obama to meet with man heading up restoration plan: President Barack Obama is preparing to meet with the man he’s put in charge of developing a recovery plan for the oil-devastated Gulf Coast. Obama and the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus (MAY’-buhs), plan to discuss Mabus’ role in developing a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan. Mabus knows the region — he is a native of Mississippi and served as that state’s governor from 1988 to 1992…. – AP, 6-17-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Another Alvin Greene? Texas Democrats Grapple With Their Own Surprise Candidate: South Carolina’s unexpected Democratic nominee for the US Senate, mystery man Alvin Greene, says he wants to play golf with Barack Obama. But in Texas, another surprise Democratic primary winner, congressional nominee Kesha Rogers, wants to impeach the President. So while South Carolina party officials are still unsure of what to do about Greene’s success at the ballot box, Texas Democrats have no such reservations — they wasted little time in casting Rogers into exile and offering no support or recognition of her campaign to win what once was Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s old seat…. – Time, 6-20-10
  • Donations Create a Tricky Balance for Oil-State Politicians: The outburst by Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas in support of BP underscored the potential peril for lawmakers forced to respond to crises involving industries vital to their regions, and whose bountiful donations finance their political campaigns. Democrats continued to make use of Mr. Barton’s apology to BP, using it to portray Republicans as beholden to big oil. Mr. Barton, the senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, worked as a consultant to Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Company before being elected to Congress. He has long been one of the top beneficiaries of campaign donations from big energy companies, cornerstones of the Texas economy. But in going after Republicans, the Democrats’ attacks gloss over a more complicated picture. The largest beneficiary of campaign donations from BP in the 2008 election cycle, for instance, was President Obama, who took in $77,000 from company executives and its political action committee. This year, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas and chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, leads all candidates with $286,000 in donations from oil and gas companies… – NYT, 6-19-10
  • Anybody but Rubio? Democrats are flocking to Charlie Crist in order to upend conservative Marco Rubio: Party affiliation wasn’t the only thing Gov. Charlie Crist switched when he dropped out of the GOP primary and decided to run as independent in the Florida Senate race. Mr. Crist has piqued the ire of many conservatives by flip-flopping on a number of issues in order to ingratiate himself with liberals. In fact, he’s made so many 180s that many Democrats are now considering throwing their weight and money behind him in order to upend the remaining Republican in the race, Marco Rubio. In his most recent about-face, Mr. Crist changed his policy on travel to Cuba. In 2008, Mr. Crist signed a law imposing taxes on companies that traveled to and from the communist country. This week, he told Floridians: “I think that what the [Obama] administration has done by allowing families to visit [Cuba] is compassionate.”… – WSJ, 6-19-10
  • State Party in S. Carolina Rejects Bid for New Vote: In this age of candidate Twitter accounts and robocalls, the surprising victory in a South Carolina Democratic primary by Alvin M. Greene, 32, an unknown candidate without so much as a Web site, harks back to another era. But the state’s Democrats rejected a request by Mr. Greene’s opponent for the Senate nomination, Vic Rawl, to turn back the clock in another way. Though members of the executive committee of the state’s Democratic Party called the election “flawed,” they voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reject Mr. Rawl’s request for a new primary. Representatives for Mr. Rawl, 64, a former judge, contended in a hearing in Columbia that the primary results were so rife with irregularities that they should be discarded…. – NYT, 6-18-10
  • Minn. GOP Pawlenty sets up fundraising in Iowa, NH: Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has expanded his presence in two states pivotal to presidential politics by setting up fundraising operations in Iowa and New Hampshire. The state-based political action committees announced Wednesday will let Pawlenty raise and spend money on behalf of Republicans running for state and local offices. It’s a goodwill strategy common among likely presidential candidates…. – AP, 6-16-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 6/18/10
  • The Most Important Job, President Obama’s Father’s Day Message: As the father of two young daughters, I know that being a father is one of the most important jobs any man can have.
    My own father left my family when I was two years old. I was raised by a heroic mother and wonderful grandparents who provided the support, discipline and love that helped me get to where I am today, but I still felt the weight of that absence throughout my childhood. It’s something that leaves a hole no government can fill. Studies show that children who grow up without their fathers around are more likely to drop out of high school, go to jail, or become teen fathers themselves.
    And while no government program can fill the role that fathers play for our children, what we can do is try to support fathers who are willing to step up and fulfill their responsibilities as parents, partners and providers. That’s why last year I started a nationwide dialogue on fatherhood to tackle the challenge of father absence head on.
    In Chicago, the Department of Health and Human Services held a forum with community leaders, fatherhood experts and everyday dads to discuss the importance of responsible fatherhood support programs. In New Hampshire, Secretary of Education Duncan explored the linkages between father absence and educational attainment in children. In Atlanta, Attorney General Holder spoke with fathers in the criminal justice system about ways local reentry organizations, domestic violence groups and fatherhood programs can join together to support ex-offenders and incarcerated individuals who want to be closer to their families and children.
    Now we’re taking this to the next level. Tomorrow, I’ll make an announcement about the next phase of our efforts to help fathers fulfill their responsibilities as parents — The President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. You can learn more at http://www.fatherhood.gov.
    This Father’s Day — I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a dad to two wonderful daughters. And I’m thankful for all the wonderful fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and friends who are doing their best to make a difference in the lives of a child. – WH, 6-20-10
  • Weekly Address: Republicans Blocking Progress WH, 6-219-10
  • Obama: Republicans blocking progress in Congress: President Barack Obama accused Republicans on Saturday of blocking legislation that would boost the nation’s economic recovery and lift a $75 million cap on what oil companies must pay to families and small businesses affected by an oil spill. Obama said the stalled Senate bill would extend unemployment benefits to workers without jobs and a tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He also said the legislation would save thousands of jobs across the country. “Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate won’t even allow this legislation to come up for a vote,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home.”… – AP, 6-19-10
  • Remarks by the President at the Site of the 10,000th ARRA Road Project Parsons and Livingston Avenue Construction Site Columbus, OhioWH, 6-18-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

President  Obama Speaks in Columbus, Ohio

President Barack Obama, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, delivers remarks following his tour of the Parsons and Livingston Avenue construction site in Columbus, Ohio, June 18, 2010. The President is in Columbus to tour the site of the 10,000th Recovery Act road project to get underway. The road improvement project is expected to create over 300 construction jobs and will contribute to the broader economic development effort underway in the area around the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Is America tuning out Capitol Hill?: At my local gym Thursday, one of the television sets showed the live CNN broadcast of Rep. Henry Waxman questioning BP CEO Tony Hayward about how so much could have gone wrong.
    The problem was, most people at the gym weren’t watching. Some of them were tuned in to the other television sets on the wall that broadcast the World Cup. Yet others had their eyes glued to the music video stations that play continuously throughout the day near the Nautilus machines….
    Congressional hearings just aren’t what they used to be. We live in a multimedia world that has made it much more difficult for congressional committees to draw attention to their work when they are fulfilling one of the most important roles of the legislative branch: to act as a watchdog by convening hearings.
    While, historically, many hearings have fallen flat and have failed to produce any kind of concrete legislative outcome, the added challenge today is that they take place in a media environment where the public has so many choices as to what they should watch that it is almost impossible to gain national attention.
    This is a shame, for there have been moments when the nation has been absorbed by congressional hearings that produced extremely important debates over key issues of the day….
    Members of Congress have much more trouble shaping national conversations and much more difficulty controlling the flow of information than they did in the period before the 1980s. Legislators such as Waxman, who still believe that the legislative branch has a role to fill in the politics of investigation, might have to start finding new ways to fulfill this historic function…. – CNN, 6-21-10
  • President Obama’s Oval Office oil spill disaster speech draws fire from Robert Reich, other allies: If the reviews of President Obama’s Oval Office oil disaster speech were about a Broadway play, the scenery already would have been loaded into moving vans. The address was “vapid,” “bloodless,” “short on specifics,” “inscrutable” or just plain “flat.” And those verdicts were from Obama’s pals and others who usually give him a thumbs up. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary and a current White House favorite on the economy, was nearly in despair in musings to the Huffington Post. The speech “was, to be frank, vapid,” Reich said. “If you watched with the sound off, you might have thought he was giving a lecture on the history of the Interstate Highway System.”… – NY Daily News, 6-17-10

June 7, 2010: Obama, Clinton, Issa & the Sestak & Romanoff Job Offers

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:

IN FOCUS

  • White House admits job offer to Sestak to clear Senate for Specter: President Barack Obama’s embarrassed White House acknowledged Friday it had enlisted Bill Clinton to try to ease Rep. Joe Sestak out of Pennsylvania’s Senate primary with a job offer. For Obama, the revelations called into question his repeated promises to run an open government that was above backroom deals. Sestak stayed in the race and eventually defeated Specter to become the Democratic nominee, ending Specter’s 30-year Senate tenure. – Detroit News wire services

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama under fire for election tactics with Sestak, Romanoff: The White House on Thursday dismissed charges that President Obama’s top aides have breached his pledge to run the most ethical and open administration in history by trying to entice Democrats in Pennsylvania and Colorado to skip races against favored incumbents. Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, are demanding an independent investigation of what they call inappropriately heavy-handed politics…. – USA Today, 6-4-10
  • California Rep. Darrell Issa takes on role as Obama’s chief antagonist: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the man who radically changed California politics by helping fund the 2003 recall effort that lead to the removal of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and the election of fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, has become one of President Obama’s chief antagonists. From his perch as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has spent the last 15 months constantly blasting the Obama administration on nearly every controversy and calling for countless investigations that the Democratic-controlled committee refuses to order. But Issa is finally starting to hit some of his targets. He was one of the leading Republicans in pushing the White House to reveal more details about its discussions to persuade Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to forgo a Senate primary run against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in return for a possible government job. Sestak won the primary, and now another Senate candidate challenging an incumbent Democrat, Andrew Romanoff in Colorado, has acknowledged having similar discussions with White House officials. Issa has suggested the White House violated the law and may have offered Sestak “a bribe” in the process, assertions that have not been proved…. – WaPo, 6-4-10
  • Obama under fire for election tactics with Sestak, Romanoff: The White House on Thursday dismissed charges that President Obama’s top aides have breached his pledge to run the most ethical and open administration in history by trying to entice Democrats in Pennsylvania and Colorado to skip races against favored incumbents.
    Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, are demanding an independent investigation of what they call inappropriately heavy-handed politics.
    Press secretary Robert Gibbs countered that the White House has every right to try to avert expensive and divisive intraparty primaries between Democrats, something it did by encouraging potential candidates to consider other options, including government jobs or appointments.
    “The president has an interest in ensuring that supporters don’t run against each other in contested primaries,” Gibbs said…. – USA Today, 6-3-10
  • White House: President Obama was unaware aides floated job offers to Andrew Romanoff: Hammered by accusations of playing politics, the White House claimed Thursday President Obama was unaware aides floated job offers to get a second lawmaker to quit a Senate race. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs denied the White House had engaged in any wrongdoing or secret back-room deals, contending the administration has not hidden the fact it doesn’t like Democratic Party primaries. “I do believe we’ve been transparent,” he said. But Gibbs sidestepped and evaded repeated questions on details of the contacts…. – NY Daily News, 6-4-10
  • White House defends using job prospect to sway Romanoff to quit Colorado Senate race: White House officials Thursday defended their effort to use a job prospect in the administration to entice Democrat Andrew Romanoff out of the Senate race in Colorado last September, while trying to recast Romanoff’s version of events, pointing out that he came to them looking for employment, albeit 10 months earlier…. – Denver Post, 6-4-10
  • LBJ and Sestak/Romanoff: Obama’s defenders have fastened on a case where LBJ’s White House offered a job to Congressman Joe Kilgore to get him out of a senate primary against Sen. Ralph Yarborough. Fair enough. This shows that this kind of horse-trading has a long pedigree. It’s also a sign of what’s become of Obama’s promises of a new kind of politics that his supporters are running back to LBJ for precedent. Here’s an interesting passage in one of the conversations between Kilgore and LBJ aide Walter Jenkins that shows they didn’t consider such a deal entirely appropriate, even back then: National Review, 6-4-10
  • Assessing the political fallout of the Andrew Romanoff revelationWaPo, 6-3-10
  • Sestak Job Offer Grounds for Impeachment?: SEAN HANNITY, HOST: There is big breaking news tonight in the Joe Sestak affair that has gripped Washington all week. And after months of questions, denials and finger-pointing the White House version of events basically comes down to this: Bill Clinton did it.
    Now White House counsel Bob Bauer who is married to former White House communications spin doctor Anita Dunn released a report this morning detailing what happened. Now it reads in part, quote, “Efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a presidential or other senior executive branch advisory board which would avoid a divisive Senate primary, allow him to retain his seat in the House, and provide him with opportunity for additional service to the public in a high-level advisory capacity for which he was highly qualified. The advisory position discussed with Congressman Sestak, while important to the work of the administration, would have been uncompensated. White house Staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House chief of staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a presidential or other senior executive branch advisory board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate candidacy.”… – Fox News, 6-1-10
  • Clinton-Sestak-White House Connection: Was There a Crime?Fox News, 5-29-10
  • Clinton’s Role in Sestak Controversy Stirs Questions About His and White House Motives: Like an aging sports star who can’t stay away from the game, Bill Clinton’s direct role in the firestorm over President Obama’s job offer to a lawmaker for a political favor has raised questions about whether the former president was used and abused by a cynical administration or whether he took advantage of the White House to burnish his legacy…. “It’s very clear that President Clinton doesn’t want to leave politics but more importantly that the White House wanted some sort of plausible deniability,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is calling for an FBI investigation, told Fox News on Friday. Issa added that President Nixon had deniability from the plumbers in the Watergate scandal that ultimately brought down his presidency until he became part of the coverup. “At this point, 10 weeks later, lots of witness tampering, or at least witness interrogation by people who are self serving, we’re beginning to go down that same road,” he said. “It’s now time for the president to say enough is enough, I promised to have higher integrity and that will include having someone on the outside tell us what we did right or wrong.”… – Fox News, 5-29-10
  • Sestak Case Puts Rahm Emanuel’s Backroom Politics Back in Spotlight: The White House official behind the controversial offer to Rep. Joe Sestak is no stranger to hard-nosed political horse trading. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who enlisted the help of his former boss Bill Clinton to approach a congressman about sitting out a Senate primary race, has been involved in several political controversies during his 20-year-plus career in Washington. And the current controversy is only the latest for Emanuel in the past 16 months, since he joined the Obama administration…. – Fox News, 5-29-10
  • Joe Sestak job offer? White House says it did nothing wrong: The GOP isn’t buying the White House assertion that it offered Rep. Joe Sestak only an unpaid position on an advisory board if he’d drop his effort to unseat Pennsylvania’s Sen. Arlen Specter.
    After months of speculation, the White House has released an explanation of its effort to lure Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania away from running for the US Senate. The two-page memo from White House counsel Robert Bauer, issued Friday, states that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had enlisted former President Bill Clinton to approach Congressman Sestak last summer to discuss the possibility of unpaid service on a presidential advisory board, while retaining his seat in the House… – In his own statement, Sestak laid out the same scenario. “I said no,” he said of the advisory board offer. CS Monitor, 5-28-10
  • Bill Clinton has evolved into Obama’s Mr. Fix-It Network News: After Barack Obama won the White House, he and his aides wrestled for weeks over what to do about Bill Clinton if his wife joined the administration. They worried that the irrepressible former president might overshadow Hillary Rodham Clinton, or even Obama himself. That didn’t happen. Now, 18 months later, he has become indispensable in a way the new president probably did not anticipate. Clinton has become the “Michael Clayton” of the Obama White House, a roving, always on-call fixer who lends his political skills to help Obama and the Democrats in tough situations. Clinton is campaigning and raising money in places where Obama is less (or less than) welcome. And, as was revealed Friday, he has been an intermediary on sensitive, off-the-grid conversations with candidates such as Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), whom he tried — on behalf of the White House — to talk out of running for the Senate…. – WaP, 5-28-10
  • White House Used Bill Clinton to Ask Sestak to Drop Out of Race: President Obama’s chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday.
    Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton to explore the possibilities last summer, accordingto the briefed individuals, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the politically charged situation. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Senator Arlen Specter. NYT, 5-28-10
  • Obama Promises Response on Question of Job Offer: President Obama refused to say Thursday whether his White House offered a job to Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania to drop out of a Democratic primary but promised that the administration would respond soon. “There will be an official response shortly on the Sestak issue, which I hope will answer your questions,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a White House news conference. “I can assure the public that nothing improper took place.” – NYT, 5-27-10
  • Sestak says his brother, White House met about alleged job offer: Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said Thursday his brother has spoken with White House officials about the congressman’s allegation that he was offered an Obama administration job if he would stay out of a Democratic Senate primary… He told reporters Thursday that he would not expand upon his prior statements until the White House releases its report on the matter. President Obama said in his news conference such a report would come “shortly.” Richard Sestak, who has served as his brother’s top political adviser and campaign lawyer, spoke with administration officials Wednesday, Joe Sestak said.
    “They got ahold of my brother on his cellphone, and he spoke to the White House . . . about what’s going to occur,” said Sestak, who said he expects the White House will release its information Friday. He declined to elaborate on his discussions with his brother…. – WaPo, 5-27-10
  • Dig into alleged Joe Sestak job offer, GOP tells Justice Department: The White House backed Rep. Joe Sestak’s opponent in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania. The GOP wants to know whether it offered Mr. Sestak a job to drop out of the race.
    “The allegations in this matter are very serious and, if true, suggest a violation of various criminal laws intended to safeguard our political process from the taint of bribes and political machine manipulation,” said Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee in a Wednesday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
    Those who signed the letter include Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma…. – CS Monitor, 5-26-10
  • Did the White House offer Joe Sestak a job?: Rep. Joe Sestak is in a tough primary race against Obama-backed Senator Arlen Specter. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for the first time responded to questions about whether the White House offered Sestak a post to lure him out of the race…. – CS Monitor, 3-16-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Andrew Romanoff Breaks Silence on White House Job Talks: On Friday’s Washington Unplugged, Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” spoke with Andrew Romanoff, the latest Senate candidate to acknowledge that he was contacted by the White House for discussions about various administration positions should he drop out of his primary race.
    Sestak: “I Stood Up to My Party”
    Romanoff said he “received a call from (White House Deputy Chief of Staff) Jim Messina. He informed me that the White House would support my opponent, Sen. (Michael) Bennet. I told Mr. Messina that I had decided to run for the Senate nonetheless. He told me three positions might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race and e-mailed me descriptions of the positions. I told him that I would not change course. That’s the last time I had any communication on this matter with Mr. Messina or anyone else in the White House.”
    “A number of folks have done their best to keep me from running for the Senate and similar efforts to prevent primaries that took place in Pennsylvania,” said Romanoff. “Those efforts did not have any effect on me.”
    Romanoff added, “The White House’s efforts made no impact on my decision to run.”… – CBS News, 6-4-10
  • Steele: DOJ should examine White House dealmaking: The Department of Justice should examine the White House dealmaking in Senate primary races with “an impartial referee” who can sort out the facts, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.
    The agency should assign “a special investigator or an independent counsel, who can sort out the facts and answer the burning question — what did the White House offer … , who authorized the offer, who else knew about it and what was the expected trade-off for accepting the offer?” Steele said in his party’s weekly radio and Internet address.
    “It’s one thing to keep that promise when you think it’ll help you politically,” Steele said. “The real test of a man’s word is if he keeps it when it’s inconvenient, embarrassing or potentially damaging. On this test, the president and his people have failed.”…. – AP, 6-4-10
  • Statement released by White House Press Secretary on Andrew Romanoff: STATEMENT FROM THE PRESS SECRETARY ON COLORADO SENATE RACE Andrew Romanoff applied for a position at USAID during the Presidential transition. He filed this application through the Transition on-line process. After the new administration took office, he followed up by phone with White House personnel.
    Jim Messina called and emailed Romanoff last September to see if he was still interested in a position at USAID, or if, as had been reported, he was running for the US Senate. Months earlier, the President had endorsed Senator Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat, and Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters.
    But Romanoff said that he was committed to the Senate race and no longer interested in working for the Administration, and that ended the discussion. As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job. Denver Post, 6-3-10
  • Andrew Romanoff details contacts with White House over potential jobs: Andrew Romanoff statement:
    I have received a large number of press inquiries concerning the role the White House is reported to have played in my decision to run for the U.S. Senate. I have declined comment because I did not want – and do not want – to politicize this matter.
    A great deal of misinformation has filled the void in the meantime. That does not serve the public interest or any useful purpose.
    Here are the facts:
    In September 2009, shortly after the news media first reported my plans to run for the Senate, I received a call from Jim Messina, the President’s deputy chief of staff. Mr. Messina informed me that the White House would support Sen. Bennet. I informed Mr. Messina that I had made my decision to run.
    Mr. Messina also suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race. He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions. At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina’s assistance in obtaining one.
    Later that day, I received an email from Mr. Messina containing descriptions of three positions (email attached). I left him a voicemail informing him that I would not change course.
    I have not spoken with Mr. Messina, nor have I discussed this matter with anyone else in the White House, since then. WaPo, 6-3-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Myths and falsehoods about the Sestak and Romanoff controversies: Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the myths and falsehoods about the White House’s conversations with Democratic Senate candidates Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff concerning those candidates taking positions in the administration…. – Media Metters, 6-3-10
  • Clinton’s Role in Sestak Controversy Stirs Questions About His and White House Motives: “This is the way politics operates and almost all former presidents, key public leaders, party leaders do this for the president,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Fox News.
    “Also keep in mind, this is an unusual administration,” he said. “It’s a merger of the Obama wing and Clinton wing. We’ve seen that since the Cabinet was formed. Yes, former President Clinton does political duties for Obama and Rahm Emanuel.”… – Fox News, 5-29-10

Sestakgate?: Obama White House Offered Joe Sestak Job to Drop Senate Run

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 HEADLINES….

  • White House Used Bill Clinton to Ask Sestak to Drop Out of Race: President Obama’s chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday.
    Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton to explore the possibilities last summer, accordingto the briefed individuals, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the politically charged situation. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Senator Arlen Specter. NYT, 5-28-10
  • Obama Promises Response on Question of Job Offer: President Obama refused to say Thursday whether his White House offered a job to Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania to drop out of a Democratic primary but promised that the administration would respond soon. “There will be an official response shortly on the Sestak issue, which I hope will answer your questions,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a White House news conference. “I can assure the public that nothing improper took place.” – NYT, 5-27-10
  • Sestak says his brother, White House met about alleged job offer: Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said Thursday his brother has spoken with White House officials about the congressman’s allegation that he was offered an Obama administration job if he would stay out of a Democratic Senate primary… He told reporters Thursday that he would not expand upon his prior statements until the White House releases its report on the matter. President Obama said in his news conference such a report would come “shortly.” Richard Sestak, who has served as his brother’s top political adviser and campaign lawyer, spoke with administration officials Wednesday, Joe Sestak said.
    “They got ahold of my brother on his cellphone, and he spoke to the White House . . . about what’s going to occur,” said Sestak, who said he expects the White House will release its information Friday. He declined to elaborate on his discussions with his brother…. – WaPo, 5-27-10
  • Dig into alleged Joe Sestak job offer, GOP tells Justice Department: The White House backed Rep. Joe Sestak’s opponent in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania. The GOP wants to know whether it offered Mr. Sestak a job to drop out of the race.
    “The allegations in this matter are very serious and, if true, suggest a violation of various criminal laws intended to safeguard our political process from the taint of bribes and political machine manipulation,” said Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee in a Wednesday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
    Those who signed the letter include Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma…. – CS Monitor, 5-26-10
  • Did the White House offer Joe Sestak a job?: Rep. Joe Sestak is in a tough primary race against Obama-backed Senator Arlen Specter. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for the first time responded to questions about whether the White House offered Sestak a post to lure him out of the race…. – CS Monitor, 3-16-10

Political Highlights: April 26, 2010: Obama up against Wall Street

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks in New York

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Majority lacks trust in government Can you trust Washington?: Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they can’t and they have little faith that the massive federal bureaucracy can solve the nation’s ills, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center that shows public confidence in the federal government at one of the lowest points in a half-century.
    The poll released Sunday illustrates the ominous situation facing President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as they struggle to maintain their comfortable congressional majorities in this fall’s elections. Midterm prospects are typically tough for the party in power. Add a toxic environment like this and lots of incumbent Democrats could be out of work.
    The survey found that just 22 percent of those questioned say they can trust Washington almost always or most of the time and just 19 percent say they are basically content with it. Nearly half say the government negatively effects their daily lives, a sentiment that’s grown over the past dozen years. This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, reflected in fierce protests this past week…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Polls paint murky picture for November: Two independent polls released today paint a different picture of which political party is in better shape heading into November’s congressional elections.
    A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll today shows that 50% of Americans say they would support a Democratic congressional candidate if the election were held today, compared with 46% who say they’d vote for a Republican. That’s a reversal from CNN’s last poll, conducted in March, which showed the GOP with a 4 percentage point advantage.
    Meanwhile, Republicans beat Democrats 48% to 44% in a generic ballot poll conducted by Gallup. The survey, also released today, marks the third week since President Obama’s health care proposal was approved by the House that Republicans have led or tied Democrats, according to Gallup.
    In the CNN poll, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to enjoy a higher favorability rating (61%) than Obama (57%), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (38%) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (39%)… – Today, 4-14-10
  • Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated: Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45. They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”… – 4-14-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Is progressive Asheville Obama’s vision for America?: Hip, environmentally aware, self-reliant and undeniably quaint, Asheville, N.C is a progressive’s vision of what America could be. But mountain liberalism comes at a price…. – CS Monitor, 4-24-10
  • Obama lauds auto industry rebound and pushes for financial regulations: The president says the auto bailout will cost taxpayers ‘a fraction’ of what had been feared. In his weekly address, he also urges Congress to pass his regulatory package to help avert new economic crises…. – LAT, 4-25-10
  • Analysis: GOP, Dems compete for populist title: Republicans and Democrats are furiously casting each other as the handmaidens of Wall Street, playing to election-year anger surging on Main Street. Neither party has clean hands when it comes to the financial industry. Both parties have accepted huge amounts of campaign cash from companies like Goldman Sachs. Both welcomed big business’ chief executives to the White House when in power. Both share the blame for deregulating the industry in the 1990s and bailing out Wall Street when the financial sector was on the brink of collapse. Not that either side will acknowledge it. Instead, Republicans and Democrats are using President Barack Obama’s push for tighter controls on the industry to try to gain the political advantage with the proverbial Joe Six-Pack — the voters — ahead of critical midterm congressional elections, when the balance of power in Washington is at stake. “We need to enact a set of updated, commonsense rules to ensure accountability on Wall Street and to protect consumers in our financial system,” Obama said Thursday in New York, tapping into public outrage over excesses that led to the economic meltdown…. – AP, 4-24-10
  • Biden to visit Belgium, Spain May 5-8: Vice President Joe Biden plans to travel to Belgium and Spain next month for meetings with European Union representatives and to address the European parliament. The White House announced the trip on Friday… – AP, 4-23-10
  • Scott Brown: No presidential run in 2012: U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is ruling out a presidential run in 2012 and spurning Tea Partiers by throwing his support – for now, anyway – behind former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney over conservative darling Sarah Palin. “Absolutely 2012, I’m ruling that out,” Brown said yesterday on NBCs “Today” show. Brown said former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified for the presidency, but said he’s sticking with Romney – while keeping his options open. “I’m going to support Gov. Romney,” he said. “I’m going to see who’s out there in the field and then, you know, make my decision.”…. NBC reporter Jamie Gangel pressed Brown on whether he’s ruling out a presidential run altogether. “I’m not even going to jump at that,” Brown said. “Nice try.” – Boston Herald, 4-24-10
  • Brown: Backs Romney now, thinks Palin qualified: Sen. Scott Brown says he thinks former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified to be president but right now he’s supporting former Gov. Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination. As for his own ambitions, he say “absolutely in 2012” he’s ruling out any run for the presidency. And in an NBC interview Friday, Brown said “I’m not even going to jump” at a question about whether he would seek the presidency later on. Brown said, “I’ve been here three months … and I’m very focused on doing my job.” Asked if he regretted bolting the Republican caucus recently to support Democrats on a jobs bill, he said, “I don’t really care. .. I’m going to be the independent person I have always been.”… – AP, 4-23-10
  • Obama to Wall St.: ‘Join Us, Instead of Fighting Us’: President Obama talked of Wall Street’s “reckless practices” in his address to the top bankers on Thursday in New York. Addressing leaders of New York’s financial giants, including Goldman Sachs, Mr. Obama described himself as a champion of change battling “battalions of financial industry lobbyists” and the “withering forces” of the economic elite. With his poll numbers sagging, the choreographed confrontation seemed aimed at tapping the nation’s antiestablishment mood as well as muscling financial regulation legislation through Congress. But the president also struck a note of conciliation with an industry that has contributed generously to his party, beseeching bankers to work with him to forge a new regulatory structure. While he spoke, his Democratic allies in Washington moved to force a showdown in the Senate on Monday, scheduling a procedural vote that will test the prospects for bipartisan compromise and Republican resolve to block the president’s plans.
    “I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort,” Mr. Obama said in his address at Cooper Union in Manhattan. “I’m here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of the financial sector.” NYT, 4-23-10
  • Obama’s NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress: President Obama may have hoped that a speech a week ago at the Kennedy Space Center would sway skeptics to his proposed space policy, but a Congressional hearing on Thursday gave little signs that the lines of contention have shifted yet.
    Opponents like Richard C. Shelby, the Republican senator from Alabama where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has been leading the design of the Ares I rocket that the Obama administration would like to cancel, continued to denounce Mr. Obama’s plans. Those plans call for ending NASA’s current Constellation program that was to send astronauts back to the moon and turning to private companies for transportation into orbit. At a hearing of an appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Shelby said that the proposal would abdicate the United States’ leadership in space.
    “Future generations will learn how the Chinese, the Russians, and even the Indians took the reins of space exploration away from the United States,” said Mr. Shelby, the ranking minority member of the commerce, justice and science subcommittee…. – NYT, 4-23-10
  • Aide to Kennedy, Kerry will help Obama pitch health care law Bay State native to assist projects and initiatives: President Obama has chosen Stephanie Cutter, who served as a top aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and communications director for Senator John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, to be in charge of getting out the word about the benefits of the new health care insurance overhaul. “Stephanie is one of the most respected professionals in public affairs and has an innate understanding of the nexus between policy and communications,” Obama said yesterday in a statement. Cutter will begin her post as assistant to the president for special projects next month. In addition to improving communications on the health care law, she is to assist in other presidential initiatives…. – Boston Globe, 4-22-10
  • Biden explains open mic health care gaffe: “I realized there was a microphone, but I had no idea it was that sensitive,” Biden explained to the hostesses of ABC’s “The View,” who queried him about the incident in an appearance Thursday. “I was whispering in his ear, and after it was over we walked out, and we got in the limo to go over to another event, and he was laughing like the devil,” Biden continued. “I said, ‘What’s so funny, I don’t see what’s funny about this.’ And he said, ‘Well,’ he said, ‘Katie, my secretary, told me that when you said that to me everybody could hear it.'”… – AP, 4-22-10
  • Obamas head to North Carolina for quick vacation: The last time Barack Obama was in Asheville, N.C., he complained he was too busy to play golf. The president plans to fix that this weekend. Obama and his family were to leave the White House at midday Friday and fly to Asheville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. On his previous visit, Obama prepared for a debate and rallied supporters during the final month of his presidential campaign…. – AP, 4-23-10
  • Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration: Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants. The move unleashed immediate protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally. Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.
    Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.” The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”… – NYT, 4-23-10
  • GOP ramps up attacks on SEC over porn surfing: Republicans are stepping up their criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission following reports that senior agency staffers spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were supposed to be policing the nation’s financial system.
    California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said it was “disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at porn than taking action to help stave off the events that put our nation’s economy on the brink of collapse.” He said in a statement Thursday that SEC officials “were preoccupied with other distractions” when they should have been overseeing the growing problems in the financial system. The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 1/2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed…. – AP, 4-23-10
  • Financial District workers can’t bear to watch President Obama take Wall Street to task – NY Daily News, 4-23-10
  • Obama Looks to Close Sale on Financial Reform: …It is an approach that he is likely to outline again on Thursday, as the president speaks near Wall Street in a bid to make the closing argument for the regulatory overhaul now before the Senate.
    “Throughout our history there have been times where the financial sector swung way out of balance,” Mr. Obama said on Wednesday in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, citing the period that led to the Depression as the primary example. “We have gotten into one of those places where we need to update those rules of the road,” he said. “And if we do so, not only is that good for the economy, not only does it protect consumers and investors, it’s also good for the financial sector, because it will rebuild trust.”… – NYT, 4-22-10
  • Bill would shun Obama birth certificate requests: Hawaii lawmakers are moving closer to passing a measure allowing the state to ignore repeated requests for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. A conference committee unanimously voted Tuesday to advance the bill to final votes in the House and Senate… – AP, 4-21-10
  • Familiar rain sends Olympians indoors to see Obama: The weather problems of the Vancouver Games followed the U.S. Olympians to the White House. Steady rain forced the pleasantries indoors when the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams visited President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Instead of hanging out on the South Portico for the customary public words of support from the president, the 225 or so athletes clustered about in several rooms in the executive mansion to hobnob privately with the first family and Vice President Joe Biden. “It never gets old coming to the White House,” said short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, whose three medals in Vancouver gave him a U.S.-record eight career Winter Olympic medals. “We get to see something new every time. We actually got to see Obama’s dog today.”… – AP, 4-21-10
  • Justice John Paul Stevens: Justice John Paul Stevens wore a bright red bow tie Tuesday and celebrated his 90th birthday in a way only one other American ever has: as a member of the Supreme Court. There was no mention of the milestone during the court’s public appearance, as the justices issued an opinion and heard an argument. But President Obama took note of the occasion, as Stevens joined Oliver Wendell Holmes as the only men who started their 10th decades on the court.
    Obama said President Herbert Hoover sent Holmes a note that day. “And so do I, on the occasion of your 90th birthday, congratulate both you and our country for your long and esteemed tenure in public service. “For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90, the nation has benefited from the rigor, courage and integrity that have marked your service. . . . With the thoughtfulness and humility of your questions from the bench, and the independence and wisdom you have brought to the judgments the court has rendered, you have stood guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law and helped move this nation towards that more perfect union,” Obama wrote…. – WaPo, 4-20-10
  • President Obama Talking With Possible Court Picks Conversations underway with potential Supreme Court nominees: According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama has begun conversations with potential Supreme Court nominees, a senior administration official said Tuesday, signaling an upswing in the president’s consideration of an already coalescing list of candidates. Obama’s review will throttle ahead on Wednesday morning when he meets privately with the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate along with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that will hold confirmation hearings on Obama’s nominee. The president’s nomination is expected over the next few weeks…. – WCTV, 4-20-10
  • House abandons vote bill for US capital: The people of the nation’s capital have waited more than two centuries to get a vote in Congress, and now it looks like Washington’s roughly 600,000 residents will have to wait even longer. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Tuesday that lawmakers will not take up legislation this week giving District of Columbia citizens a vote in the House of Representatives, and said he was “profoundly disappointed.” The Democrat also said it was unlikely the enfranchisement bill, which became embroiled in a gun rights dispute and other issues, would be considered in the House later this year…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Senate Takes Steps on Backlog of Nominations: The Senate showed signs on Tuesday of breaking a logjam of nominations being blocked by Republicans over growing objections from the White House and Democrats in Congress. The Senate voted to confirm Lael Brainard on Tuesday to be Treasury under secretary for international affairs, nine months after she was nominated. The vote was 78 to 19. The Senate then moved on to consider four other nominees who have been held up…. – NYT, 4-20-10
  • Wall Street, governments are targets in congressional election: It’s the Democrats versus Wall Street and Republicans against Big Government in the latest battle on the road to November’s congressional elections. Both sides have found easy targets as they try to solidify their support base and also appeal to independent voters who are likely to be the deciding factor in dozens of races for seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
    “One of the main reasons our economy faltered was because some on Wall Street made irresponsible bets, with no accountability,” said President Barack Obama.
    “On every front, they want to raise taxes, spend more, have politicians become more powerful, and citizens become less powerful,” said Newt Gingrich, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012…. – Reuters, 4-21-10
  • Obama falters on immigration reform promises: Advocates for illegal immigrants fear the White House is doing the bare minimum to appease Latino voters before midterm elections as it focuses on other issues…. – LAT, 4-21-10
  • White House: Obama to return to Calif. for Boxer: A White House official says President Barack Obama will return to California next month to help raise money for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and other candidates…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Obama says Boxer could lose if Dems don’t work: President Barack Obama delivered Democrat-friendly California a stark message Monday: Liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer might lose her re-election race if her supporters don’t work hard. The president’s stern words in a state where he remains popular and Boxer won her last re-election race in a rout underscored the perilous political environment confronting all Democrats in this midterm election year — and showed Obama is all too aware of the dangers.
    “I don’t want anyone here taking this for granted,” he said at a reception at the California Science Center, the first of a trio of fundraisers Monday night for Boxer and the Democratic National Committee. “Unless she’s got that support she might not win this thing, and I don’t think that’s an acceptable outcome. So I want everyone to work hard,” the president said. All incumbents face an uphill battle because of the economy, Obama said, though he insisted it’s turning around…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Mayor Emanuel? White House chief of staff says he’d like the post if Daley doesn’t run for re-election: He has been equivocal on the subject in the past, but on Monday night White House chief of staff and native Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel made no bones about it: He wants to be the mayor of Chicago. “I hope Mayor [Richard] Daley seeks re-election. I will work and support him if he seeks re-election,” Emanuel told Charlie Rose on the host’s PBS talk show, in an interview broadcast Monday night. “But if Mayor Daley doesn’t, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. That’s always been an aspiration of mine, even when I was in the House of Representatives.”… – Chicago Tribune, 4-19-10
  • Obama Will Eulogize Miners: President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to West Virginia this weekend to mourn the 29 miners killed in an explosion this month in the worst mining accident in the United States in four decades, the White House announced Monday. Mr. Obama “will deliver a eulogy honoring the lives of those who perished and offering his deepest condolences” to loved ones, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said. – AP, 4-19-10
  • Obama taps Harvard professor to head Medicare: President Barack Obama has nominated Harvard medical professor Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid…. – AP, 4-19-10
  • Senate committee subpoenas Fort Hood documents: In a rare public dispute between a Democratic-led Congress and the White House, a Senate committee on Monday subpoenaed the Obama administration for secret documents and access to witnesses in last year’s mass shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.
    Congress has been largely supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies and the White House prides itself on increased government transparency. Nonetheless, the chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have alleged that the administration is covering up critical details on the case, including whether the government had access to information that could have prevented the shooting.
    “Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation,” wrote Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, in a letter accompanying the subpoena… – AP, 4-19-10
  • Clinton: Look beyond judges for high court pick: Bill Clinton says someone who hasn’t been a judge should be considered for the Supreme Court. But scratch the idea of the ex-president or his wife as a justice.
    Clinton, who has not been a judge, said that at 63, told ABC’s “This Week” that he’s too old to be considered, much as he might enjoy serving on the Supreme Court. He said his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also might have been interested in past years, but not now…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Obama’s asteroid goal: tougher, riskier than moon: Landing a man on the moon was a towering achievement. Now the president has given NASA an even harder job, one with a certain Hollywood quality: sending astronauts to an asteroid, a giant speeding rock, just 15 years from now.
    President Barack Obama outlined NASA’s new path during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. “By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space,” he said. “We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”… – AP, 4-16-10
  • Report: Gates sent White House memo on Iran policy: A memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the White House warned that the United States lacks a nimble long-term plan for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, according to a published report. Gates wrote the three-page memo in January and it set off efforts in the Pentagon, White House and intelligence agencies to come up with new options, including the use of the military, The New York Times said in its Sunday editions, quoting unnamed government officials. White House officials Saturday night strongly disagreed with the comments that the memo caused a reconsideration of the administration’s approach to Iran…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Palin taken aback by Obama ‘superpower’ remark: Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday for saying America is a military superpower “whether we like it or not,” saying she was taken aback by his comment. “I would hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., understand we like to be a dominant superpower,” the former Alaska governor said. “I don’t understand a world view where we have to question whether we like it or not that America is powerful.” Obama said earlier this week that the United States must do its best to resolve conflicts around the world before they grow too serious. “It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them,” Obama said. “And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – 4-18-10
  • All 41 GOP Senators United in Opposition to Financial Reform Bill: All 41 Republican senators have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying they are opposed to the financial regulation bill put forward by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office announced today. The letter calls for further negotiations, but it does not go as far as to say all 41 senators would support a filibuster of the legislation.
    “Inaction is not an option. However, it is imperative that what we do does not worsen the current economic climate or codify the circumstances that led to the last financial crisis,” the letter says. “As currently constructed, this bill allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks.” The letter calls for a “bipartisan and inclusive approach” and asks Reid to support bipartisan negotiations in the Banking and Agriculture Committees…. – CBS News, 4-17-10
  • Bank bill in peril, WH urges part be dropped: In the face of stiff GOP opposition, Obama administration officials want Senate Democrats to purge a $50 billion fund for dismantling “too big to fail” banks from legislation that aims to protect against a new financial crisis. Republicans contend the provision would simply continue government bailouts of Wall Street. The sweeping bill aims to prevent a recurrence of the crisis that nearly caused a Wall Street meltdown in 2008. Beside creating a mechanism for liquidating large firms, House and Senate bills would govern previously unregulated derivatives, create a council to detect systemwide financial threats and establish a consumer protection agency to police lending, credit cards and other bank-customer transactions. President Barack Obama declared Friday that he would veto the bill if it doesn’t regulate the freewheeling derivatives market. “We can’t afford another AIG,” the president said, referring to the giant insurance conglomerate that relied heavily on the complex, sometimes exotic investment instruments. AP, 4-16-10
  • Obama makes hospitals allow gay visitation rights: President Barack Obama issued a memo on Thursday that would require hospitals accepting Medicare or Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners.
    “It should be made clear that designated visitors … should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy,” the memo said.
    “Every day across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay,” Obama wrote. “Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated,” he said…. – Reuters, 4-15-10
  • Obama blames owner for West Virginia mine disaster: U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday put primary blame for last week’s deadly West Virginia coal mine disaster on owner Massey Energy and called for better mine oversight nationwide to prevent more accidents.
    “The people of West Virginia are in our prayers. But we owe them more than prayers. We owe them action,” Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden. “This tragedy was triggered by a failure at the Upper Big Branch mine, a failure first and foremost of management, but also a failure of oversight and a failure of laws so riddled with loopholes that they allow unsafe conditions to continue.” “Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventive measures they failed to take,” he said… – Reuters, 4-15-10
  • Florida Governor Splits With G.O.P. on Teacher Pay: Gov. Charlie Crist has been jawboned and buttonholed as he has traveled around the state in recent days, and his office was deluged with 120,000 messages. Passions have not run so high in Florida, the governor said, since the controversy over ending the life of Terri Schiavo in 2005. This time, the point of contention was eliminating tenure for Florida public school teachers and tying their pay and job security to how well their students were learning. On Thursday, Mr. Crist picked a side, vetoing a bill passed last week by the Florida Legislature that would have introduced the most sweeping teacher pay changes in the nation. The veto puts Mr. Crist, a moderate Republican, at odds with his party base in the Republican-controlled Legislature. His decision has also renewed speculation that he might drop out of the Republican primary for a United States Senate seat and run in the general election as an independent. For months, he has been trailing the more conservative Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, in polls…. – NYT, 4-15-10
  • Finance Bill Consensus on a Point: No Bailouts: As the Obama administration and Senate Republicans clash over the future of the nation’s financial regulatory system, there is one principle on which they agree: Taxpayers should never again have to bail out giant financial institutions. President Obama says his legislation would let the Treasury Department, with court approval, take over and dismantle failing companies without costing the public a dime. It would resemble the process used since the Depression to take over failing commercial banks… – NYT, 4-15-10
  • Obama makes light of anti-tax protests: President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s amused by the anti-tax tea party protests that have been taking place around Tax Day. Obama told a fundraiser in Miami that he’s cut taxes, contrary to the claims of protesters. “You would think they’d be saying thank you,” he said. At that, many in the crowd at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts stood and yelled, “Thank you!” The fundraiser was one of two Obama held after a speech at Cape Canaveral on his administration’s space policy. The other was hosted by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, a $30,400-per-couple fete that stirred some controversy in the traditionally Republican Cuban-American community. Together, the events raised $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee…. – AP, 4-16-10
  • Obama Reports $5.5 Million In Income: Brisk book sales lifted President Obama’s income to $5.5 million in his first year in office, an amount that dwarfs that of his recent predecessors while in power and reflects the public’s continued willingness to pay to read his autobiographies. On tax day, the White House released 2009 returns showing that Obama’s income more than doubled from the year before. He collected $2.7 million in 2008, and $4.2 million in ’07. The returns show Obama paid nearly $1.8 million in federal taxes and another $163,000 in Illinois state taxes. A total of 40 charities received $329,100 from the Obama family in 2009, with the biggest chunk of that ($100,000) going to the United Negro College Fund and to CARE, an organization that combats world poverty…. – LAT, 4-15-10
  • Discarded Palin contract sparks investigation: A document fished out of a California state university trash bin last week has prompted a state investigation into the university’s foundation arm and its refusal to disclose details related to Sarah Palin’s upcoming speech at the school. On Tuesday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said his office would look into the finances of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation, as well as allegations that the nonprofit organization violated public disclosure laws by keeping details of Palin’s contract secret. Palin is scheduled to speak at a June 25 gala hosted by the foundation to mark the university’s 50th anniversary… – AP, 4-14-10
  • White House to host Olympic athletes next week: America’s Olympic athletes are preparing for another honor — a visit to the White House. Members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams will be the guests next week of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama… – AP, 4-14-10
  • Obama’s nuclear summit yields early dividends: President Barack Obama’s nuclear summit has paid early dividends: China’s agreement to work with the U.S. on possible sanctions against Iran and Ukraine’s decision to rid itself of nuclear bomb-making materials. Obama opened the global security summit Monday night after two days of meetings with selected presidents and prime ministers of the 47 countries assembled to recharge efforts to keep nuclear material out of terrorist hands. It ends Tuesday with a joint declaration to guide future work toward locking away and cleansing the globe of materials still too easily accessible to terrorists…. – AP, 4-13-10
  • In Appeal for Diplomacy, Obama Invokes the Mushroom Cloud: Nearly a decade ago, a President of the United States used the specter of a nuclear blast to argue his case for invading a foreign country. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” President Bush’s then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told CNN in 2002, a sound bite that came to define the rationale for a pre-emptive war in Iraq despite the lack of proof that it presented a WMD threat.
    This week, another U.S. President, Barack Obama, invoked mushroom-cloud imagery to argue for a major diplomatic initiative. “If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating,” Obama said Sunday. He was speaking just hours before the start of the Nuclear Security Summit, arguably the largest diplomatic gathering on U.S. soil since the U.N.’s founding conference in San Francisco in 1945…. – Time, 4-13-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Potential clouds over Fla. Senate front-runner: Now that Republicans have made him the U.S. Senate front-runner, Marco Rubio is trying to weather potentially damaging revelations about his credit card use, double billing for airfare and murky finances. A few months ago, the former Florida House speaker seemed an unlikely bet to beat Gov. Charlie Crist in the party’s Senate primary. And in those months, Rubio’s lavish spending has come under scrutiny of federal investigators. In that same stretch, his poll numbers have soared, carrying him well ahead of Crist and forcing the once seemingly unbeatable governor to consider running as an independent for Senate. Crist has until Friday to decide…. – AP, 4-25-10
  • Candidate for Obama’s old US Senate seat undaunted: Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias appears undaunted by the shuttering of his family’s bank, saying his bid to keep President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Democratic hands will move forward with renewed purpose. Regulators shut down Broadway Bank on Friday when it became clear that the failing institution would not raise about $85 million in new capital by a Monday deadline…. – AP, 4-24-10
  • GOP calls on members to oppose Charlie Crist if he runs as independent: Florida’s Republican Party says its members would have to oppose Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign for U.S. Senate if he jumps from the GOP to an independent bid for the office…. – Miami Herald, 4-23-10
  • Possible GOP tide drawing has-beens into campaigns: Republicans once saddled with the burden of President George W. Bush’s unpopularity are now experiencing a boon from another struggling president: Barack Obama…. The time seems ripe for Republicans, who largely remain unified against Obama’s domestic agenda, including health care overhaul. Both the president and his signature legislative achievement remain unpopular at this point in a midterm election year, according to a recent AP-GfK poll. Voters’ opinions also have turned against Democrats and their stewardship of the economy; Obama’s approval rating is at a new low. That bodes well for — and feels familiar to — some Republicans….
    Just 49 percent of people now approve of the job Obama’s doing overall, and less than that — 44 percent — like the way he’s handled health care and the economy, according to an AP-GfK poll. The news is worse for other Democrats. For the first time this year, about as many Americans approve of congressional Republicans as Democrats — 38 percent to 41 percent — and neither has an edge when it comes to the party voters want controlling Congress. AP, 4-20-10
  • California Democrats close convention with eye on tough races ahead: The party, which has dominated most state elections for a generation, is facing stiff challenges from wealthy Republicans and strong GOP momentum across the nation…. – LAT, 4-19-10
  • McCain and Brewer Continue Lead in Arizona: The latest poll out of Arizona show Republicans continuing to make inroads in the state’s upcoming election contest. The poll, released Friday, shows U.S. Senate challenger J.D. Hayworth continuing to eat into incumbent Senator John McCain’s lead. A Rasmussen Reports polls released Friday says McCain is leading his primary challenger 47 percent to 42 percent. The polling organization had McCain with a seven-point lead last month, down from a 22-point lead in January…. – State Column, 4-18-10
  • Romney Endorses Rubio Over Crist in Florida Race: Two years after he was shunned by Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida during the state’s Republican presidential primary, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts endorsed Marco Rubio, Mr. Crist’s opponent in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, on Saturday. The Rubio campaign announced the endorsement on its Web site.
    “While I respect Governor Crist, Marco Rubio’s proven record of conservative, principled and idea-driven leadership is what Florida needs now,” Mr. Romney said in a statement posted on the Web site. “Marco Rubio will be a reliable spokesman against the Washington culture of higher spending, higher taxes and higher debt.”
    Mr. Romney also said that his Free and Strong America political action committee would make the maximum $5,000 contribution to Mr. Rubio’s primary election campaign…. – AP, 4-17-10
  • Jerry Brown calls for debate with GOP rivals: The candidate for governor issues the challenge at the California Democratic convention as the party looks to counter the national GOP tide.
    “Campaigning and democracy is not about buying hundreds of millions of dollars of 30-second TV ads,” Brown told the delegates, vastly exaggerating her spending. “When we live in a democracy, we’re not consumers of advertising. We’re agents of democratic choice. We’re actors in a historical drama.”… – LAT, 4-18-10
  • GOP Hits Stride in Campaign Funding: Republicans are turning their political momentum into money in the bank. GOP candidates are starting to catch up to their Democratic opponents in fund-raising efforts and have pulled ahead in some key races, finance reports for the first three months of the election year show. The reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission before a Thursday deadline, offer evidence the GOP is heading into election season with the tools to make big gains in Congress. Republican voters are far more enthusiastic about going to the polls this fall than are Democrats, and the GOP recently took a rare lead in Gallup’s so called generic ballot, which asks voters which party should win in their district. In the nine most competitive Senate races, the reports show Republican candidates, as a group, ahead of Democrats during the January-to-March period, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. That marks a reversal from 2009, when Democrats held the financial advantage in those races…. – WSJ, 4-17-10
  • DNC to put up $50M for midterms: The Democratic National Committee plans to put up $50 million for House, Senate and gubernatorial races in November, a top party official says. The official told Politico in a story published Friday aides are deciding how to target the contribution and what the split will be between cash and services. The money is to start flowing in June. The DNC plans both record amounts of cash and field staff “with a special emphasis on base turnout — youth, African-Americans, Latinos and first-time voters,” the official said. President Barack Obama, who got heavy support from those groups in 2008, will help energize his base, he added…. – UPI, 4-16-10
  • Romney’s fund-raising outpaces potential rivals: Mitt Romney, Harvard Business School grad and ace venture capitalist, has put a greenback spin on Sarah Palin’s signature call of “Don’t retreat, reload.” Romney, a former GOP presidential candidate who is said to be considering another run in 2012, has loaded the coffers of his political action committee with $1,447,228.70 in the first quarter of the year, according to a news release from his Free and Strong America PAC. That fund-raising far outpaces the efforts of two potential opponents in 2012: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, at $566,000, and Palin, at about $400,000. Since leaving her post as governor of Alaska eight months ago, Palin has made millions of dollars in speeches and television deals, but most of that money was not funneled to her PAC, SarahPac. Palin spoke at a tea party rally on Boston Common yesterday…. – 4-15-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Weekly Address: Good News from the Auto Industry: As the auto industry and financial markets begin to stabilize, the President says the government’s emergency interventions are now winding down. He pledges that real reform, particularly on Wall Street, must now begin. WH, 4-24-10
  • Text Obama’s Speech on Overhauling Financial Regulation: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s speech in New York City on Thursday promoting the need to overhaul financial regulation in the United States, as released by the White House…
    …In the end, our system only works — our markets are only free — when there are basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excesses, that ensure that it is more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system. And that is what the reforms we’ve been proposing are designed to achieve — no more, no less. And because that is how we will ensure that our economy works for consumers, that it works for investors, and that it works for financial institutions — in other words, that it works for all of us — that’s why we’re working so hard to get this stuff passed.
    This is the central lesson not only of this crisis but of our history. It’s what I said when I spoke here two years ago. Because ultimately, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We will rise or we will fall together as one nation. (Applause.) And that is why I urge all of you to join me. I urge all of you to join me, to join those who are seeking to pass these commonsense reforms. And for those of you in the financial industry, I urge you to join me not only because it is in the interest of your industry, but also because it’s in the interest of your country. NYT, 4-22-10
  • Transcript: “This Week” with Former President Bill Clinton: TAPPER: You’ve made some news over this weekend. You gave a speech on Friday talking about — on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing which is coming up. How public officials have a responsibility to be careful with their words. This prompted a response from — from Rush Limbaugh
    Rush Limbaugh: “With this comment you have just set the stage for violence in this country. Any future acts of violence are on your shoulders, Mr. Clinton.”
    TAPPER: Do you have any response?
    CLINTON: Doesn’t make any sense. The only point I tried to make is that when I went back and started preparing for the 15th anniversary of Oklahoma City, I realized that there were a lot of parallels between the early ’90s and now, both in the feeling of economic dislocation, and the level of uncertainty people felt. The rise of kind of identity politics. The rise of the militia movements and the right wing talk radio with a lot of what’s going on in the blogosphere now.
    And in the right wing media, and with Oath Keepers, the 3 percenters, the — all these people, you know, who are saying things like, “If Idaho wants to succeed from the union,” the militia group out there says, you know, “We’ll back them.” One leader of one of these groups said that all politics was just a prelude to civil war. And then the politicians of course have not been that serious, but a lot of the things that have been said, they — they create a climate in which people who are vulnerable to violence because they are disoriented like Timothy McVeigh was are more likely to act.
    And the only point I tried to make was that we ought to have a lot of political dissent — a lot of political argument. Nobody is right all the time. But we also have to take responsibility for the possible consequences of what we say. And we shouldn’t demonize the government or its public employees or its elected officials. We can disagree with them. We can harshly criticize them. But when we turn them into an object of demonization, you know, you — you increase the number of threats.
    But I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress. And I worry about more careless language even against — some of which we’ve seen against the Republican governor in New Jersey, Governor Christie.
    I just think we all have to be careful. We ought to remember after Oklahoma City. We learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization…. – ABC News, 4-18-10
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says We Must Move Forward on Wall Street Reform: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House April 17, 2010
    …So my hope is that we can put this kind of politics aside. My hope is that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and move forward together. But this is certain: one way or another, we will move forward. This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great. We will hold Wall Street accountable. We will protect and empower consumers in our financial system. That’s what reform is all about. That’s what we’re fighting for. And that’s exactly what we’re going to achieve. – WH, 4-17-10
  • Transcript: Scott Brown remarks at Republican State Convention: …People are yearning for candidates who believe in our free enterprise system, who want a government that is accountable and transparent, who will make job creation their main focus and who understand that a competitive America is one where taxes are low and government does not overspend and does not try to dominate or interfere in our everyday lives.
    That’s the message the voters of Massachusetts sent when the elected me to the U.S. Senate.
    For months now, the American people have been telling this White House and this Congress exactly what they want…. but Washington still hasn’t been listening!
    While many families in Massachusetts and across are America hurting and struggling to make ends meet, cutting costs and tightening their belts, Washington is doing the exact opposite – they are continuing their reckless spending spree, raising taxes driving up our national debt to an astronomical level to almost 13 trillion. And what is their answer? Their answer is to print more money.
    Well, will you tell me how your kids, grandkids and great grandkids are going to repay that debt?
    And on Beacon Hill, the political machine that runs this state is making the same mistakes. Higher and higher taxes, rising unemployment, chronic budget deficits, corruption, cronyism and patronage . . . this is the sad legacy of the one-party political monopoly in Massachusetts.
    There’s one way to put a quick end to it, and that’s to elect Charlie Baker as our next Governor and give him some foot soldiers to help him sustain a veto. We need more state representatives and senators to help. We need balance and THAT is REAL change… – Boston Herald, 4-17-10
  • Sarah Palin: Where Is Obama’s ‘Faith In American Exceptionalism?’: “The truth is this: by his actions we see a president who seems to be much more comfortable with an American military that isn’t quite so dominant and who feels the need to apologize for America when he travels overseas,” Palin wrote. “Could it be a lack of faith in American exceptionalism? The fact is that America and our allies are safer when we are a dominant military superpower – whether President Obama likes it or not.” – Huff Post, 4-15-10
  • Obama: America a Superpower ‘Whether We Like It or Not’: In a little-noticed remark at the close of the two-day nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C., this week, President Obama suggested the United States was somehow burdened by its military might.
    “Given the progress you have cited in recent days on your foreign policy agenda, to what extent do you feel like you have gained political capital with which to take further to the international stage for the rest of this year, to perhaps rejuvenate some initiatives in trouble spots such as the Middle East and elsewhere?”
    “What we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but it’s also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – Fox News, 4-15-10
  • O’Connor expects tough road for high court nominee: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said Monday a fight is inevitable over whoever becomes President Barack Obama’s choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. O’Connor chatted with an audience of about 300 law students, faculty and community at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. She is spending two days on the campus sharing her experiences with students.
    She spoke with fondness of Stevens as “a remarkable man.” “He’s still so active physically and mentally,” O’Connor said. “I hope we don’t end up at odds in the selection of a new justice. I don’t know how that can be avoided.”… – AP, 4-12-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer “Inaction on immigration reform a travesty”: Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to have found one issue on which they agree. Neither party wants to get near immigration reform, the new “third rail” in American politics — an issue so politically charged that politicians risk their careers by touching it.
    Although President Obama has repeatedly stated his support for immigration reform, there is still little evidence that the Democratic Party or the GOP is prepared to join colleagues like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to fight for legislation.
    If Congress is unable to pass immigration reform, it will create more opportunities for states to move forward with the kind of harsh restrictionist measures passed by the Arizona Senate on Monday. The failure of Congress to pass immigration reform has been a national travesty…
    President Obama has stated his support for liberalized immigration reform, but thus far his party has not taken action. We will have to see whether Obama is willing to demonstrate the same kind of political courage he did with health care, when he took on another issue that everyone thought to be a third rail in politics. – CNN, 4-21-10
  • Douglas Brinkley “Race issues still haunt Obama”: With an African-American in the Oval Office, is this a good time to honour the 19th century soldiers who fought for slavery? “It’s idiocy,” says historian Douglas Brinkley. “I don’t think you can understand the Confederacy or the Civil War unless you understand slavery. And so I think that was an unacceptable omission. I think the governor’s now acknowledged that.” Historian Brinkley says in fact, Republicans are hoping that a few kind words about the Confederacy will help them rally white voters in South who supported Mr Obama but can be roused by an appeal to regional pride. “Barack Obama won North Carolina and Virginia. The Republicans have no formula to regaining power in 2012 without those two states.” The Republicans, according to Brinkley, “are trying to make a play for those two states.” But the former head of the Republican Party, Governor Haley Barbour of the southern state of Mississippi, says the controversy “is trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter for diddly” (a colorful way of saying it doesn’t matter at all)…. – Next, 4-19-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Why controlling nukes is good politics”: In the week leading up to the meeting of world leaders in Washington, President Obama has been demonstrating a strong commitment to nuclear arms control.
    Last week, he signed the first major agreement with the Russians since 2002, which reduces the number of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles.
    Obama released the Nuclear Posture Review, saying the United States would not use nuclear weapons against countries that complied with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked with conventional weapons. At the same time, the president said the countries that refused to abide by the treaty could be subject to nuclear reprisal….
    The president must remind fellow Democrats, as well as Republicans, that historically the public has tended to strongly support nuclear weapons treaties, and the presidents who pursue them.
    When national security is on the table, Democrats tend to get nervous politically, particularly if they support a position that can be characterized as too dovish. But when it comes to nuclear weapons, President Obama is on a path that is politically sustainable.
    During the Cold War, presidents from both parties learned that the American public tends to prefer politicians who are willing to take risks to reduce nuclear stockpiles rather than those who beat the drums of war. CNN, 4-13-10
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