Blogs > HNN > January 17, 2010: Obama, Clinton, Bush & Haiti

Jan 17, 2010 8:38 am


January 17, 2010: Obama, Clinton, Bush & Haiti



Support the Earthquake Recovery Efforts in Haiti: clintonbushhaitifund.org/

presidents obama, george w. bush and clinton in the white house rose garden

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll shows growing disappointment, polarization over Obama's performance ONE YEAR LATER Political polarization: A year into his presidency, President Obama faces a polarized nation and souring public assessments of his efforts to change Washington, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Nearly half of all Americans say Obama is not delivering on his major campaign promises, and a narrow majority have just some or no confidence that he will make the right decisions for the country's future.... - WaPo, 1-16-10
  • Obama Image Unscathed By Terrorism Controversy Few See Personal Upside to Health Care Reform: Yet there is little evidence that heightened security concerns are affecting Barack Obama’s standing and image. At 49%, Obama’s job approval rating is unchanged from December. He continues to get markedly higher ratings for his handling of the threat of terrorism (51% approve) than for any other issue. And just 22% say his administration's policies have made the country less safe from terrorism when compared with the policies of the Bush administration; that is virtually unchanged from June (21%).... - People-Press.org, 1-14-10
  • Poll: Obama's Ratings on Health Care, Economy Drop Lower: The poll finds 46 percent approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president, while 41 percent disapprove. His approval rating is down from 50 percent in a New York Times/CBS News poll last month, and 56 percent from October, to its lowest level in Times or CBS News polls to date.
    The president’s marks for handling the top domestic issues are even lower, according to the poll. On the economy, 41 percent approve, down 6 points in the last month to a new low. And just 36 percent approve of the way Mr. Obama is handling health care, also down 6 points to a new low. Most, 54 percent, disapprove.... - NYT, 1-12-10

THE HEADLINES....

  • Special US Senate Election Threatens Heath Care Deal: The talks have gained urgency with opinion polls indicating the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, could lose next week's special Massachusetts election to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy. A victory by the Republican, Scott Brown, would cost the Democrats their 60th Senate seat, stripping them of their supermajority and eliminating their power to override Republican delaying tactics on contentious legislation, particularly heath care reform.... - VOA, 1-16-10
  • A Presidential Triple Plea for Haiti Fund: Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton began a new venture on Saturday to raise money for the Haitian relief effort from corporations, foundations and ordinary Americans, as President Obama pledged to ramp up the American response to the devastating earthquake... - NYT, 1-16-10
  • Pentagon Report on Fort Hood Details Failures: A Pentagon review released Friday portrayed a systemic breakdown within the military that permitted an Army psychiatrist, now charged with killing 13 people, to advance through the ranks despite concerns from his superiors about his behavior.... - NYT, 1-15-10
  • G.O.P. Sees Political Gain in Health Care: Even as Democrats nail down the final details of their health care bill, Republicans are devising ways to convert it into political capital. Their greatest hope is to defeat the bill outright, rebuffing President Obama on his signature domestic issue and weakening the Democrats heading into the midterm elections. Republicans now think they can persuade some conservative and moderate Democrats in the House to vote against the final bill, which initially passed the House by just five votes.... - NYT, 1-16-10
  • In Health Talks, President Is Hands-Off No More: President Obama has taken full control of the health care negotiations, casting himself for the first time in the role of mediator between the House and Senate during a 72-hour marathon of talks that have turned his White House into a de facto Congressional conference.... - NYT, 1-15-10
  • Democrats seek quick deal on health-care bill: President Obama and congressional leaders raced Friday to strike a compromise on far-reaching health legislation, hoping to settle lingering disputes before Tuesday, when a special election in Massachusetts could hand Republicans their 41st vote in the Senate and the power to defeat Obama's top domestic initiative.... - WaPo, 1-14-10
  • Obama's First State of the Union Speech in Scheduling Limbo: President Obama's first State of the Union address, which has already sparked protests for potential scheduling conflicts with TV's most popular programs (LOST, Feb 2), should be coming soon -- but exactly how soon is still anyone's guess... - Fox News, 1-12-10
  • Obama Will Tap Bush and Clinton for Haiti Efforts: President Obama is asking his two immediate predecessors – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – to come together to lead the nation's humanitarian and relief efforts to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake that has ravaged the Caribbean island.... - NYT, 1-14-10
  • US Takes Charge in Haiti-With Troops, Rescue Aid: President Barack Obama and the U.S. moved to take charge in earthquake-ravaged Haiti on Thursday, dispatching thousands of troops along with tons of aid to try to keep order as well as rescue the suffering in a country dysfunctional in the best of times... - AP, 1-14-10
  • Bombing suspect had no coat, luggage Congress hears of missed signs in foiled attack: Bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded his Christmas Day flight in Amsterdam to frigid Detroit with no coat - perhaps the final warning sign that went unnoticed leading up to what could have been a terrorist attack. Congress got its first behind-the-scenes look yesterday at the attempted airline bombing, and officials said the security failures were even worse than President Obama outlined last week. It remains unclear, however, how those failures will be fixed....- AP, 1-14-10
  • Obama pledges campaign for health-care bill and Democrats: With unemployment hovering in the double digits and House Democrats eager to move on to the politically crucial task of job creation, President Obama pledged Thursday to publicly champion the health-care legislation that in the past year has consumed much of their attention and often made them targets... - WaPo, 1-14-10
  • Factbox: White House, unions agree on health insurance tax: The White House and labor unions reached tentative agreement on Thursday on a tax on high-cost"Cadillac" healthcare plans, clearing the way for union support for a sweeping healthcare reform bill... - Reuters, 1-14-10
  • Tentative tax deal marks health care breakthrough: In a major breakthrough, union leaders bowed Thursday to White House demands for a new tax on high-cost insurance plans as part of landmark health care legislation taking final shape in intensive negotiations."We are on the doorstep" of success, President Barack Obama said.... - AP, 1-14-10
  • Obama, Congressional Leaders Resume Push on Health Care: President Obama and Senator Harry Reid hold their first face-to-face meeting on Wednesday since the controversy erupted over comments that Mr. Reid once made about Mr. Obama’s race and dialect. But that topic is not on the Oval Office agenda. Health care is.... - NYT, 1-12-10
  • AP source: Obama considers levy for rescued firms: Targeting an industry whose political deafness has vexed his administration, President Barack Obama is weighing a levy aimed at recovering tax dollars from government-rescued financial institutions.... - AP, 1-12-10
  • White House discussing healthcare help for states: Gibbs: President Barack Obama is discussing ways to help U.S. states cover costs that are destined to rise under pending healthcare reform legislation, his press secretary said on Monday... - Reuters, 1-11-10
  • G.O.P. Chairman Urges Reid to Step Down Over Remarks: Michael Steele, the Republican Party chairman, called Sunday for Harry Reid to step down as U.S. Senate majority leader in the wake of revelations of Mr. Reid's remarks in 2008 about Barack Obama’s skin color and dialect. A new book about the 2008 campaign quotes Mr. Reid as predicting that Mr. Obama could become the country's first black president because he was"light-skinned" and had"no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."... - NYT, 1-10-10
  • Sarah Palin takes Fox News commentator job: Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, will return to her broadcast roots and take her conservative message to Fox News as a regular commentator, the cable channel announced Monday.
    "I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News," Palin said in a statement posted on the network's Web site."It's wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news." - AP, 1-11-10
  • McCain aide: Palin believed candidacy 'God's plan': Sarah Palin believed that Sen. John McCain chose her to be his running mate in 2008 because of"God's plan," according to a top political strategist in the Arizona Republican's campaign.... - AP, 1-10-10
  • Obama Tries to Turn Focus to Jobs, if Other Events Allow: President Obama keeps trying to turn attention to"jobs, jobs, jobs," as his chief of staff has put it. But he is finding that it can be hard to focus on any one issue when so many demand attention, often unexpectedly. And as the lackluster employment report on Friday suggested, showing concern is not the same as showing results.... - NYT, 1-8-10
  • Obama takes responsibility for lapse, pledges better investigation, info sharing: "The buck stops with me," President Barack Obama said Thursday as he outlined measures aimed at preventing another terrorist attack on the United States in the tense aftermath of a Christmas Day attempt to blow a Detroit-bound jetliner out of the sky."When the system fails, it's my responsibility," Obama said - an indication that no high-level firings of intelligence officials would result from the near-miss incident. The president said he's ordered steps be taken to ensure all leads on potential terrorist plots are thoroughly investigated, that intelligence is better shared and that no-fly lists are utilized properly."We can't sit on information that can protect the American people."... - Canadian Press, 1-7-10
  • Obama Details New Policies in Response to Terror Threat: President Obama on Thursday ordered intelligence agencies to take a series of steps to streamline how terrorism threats are pursued and analyzed, saying the government had to respond aggressively to the failures that allowed a Nigerian man to ignite an explosive mixture on a commercial jetliner on Christmas Day.... - NYT, 1-7-10
  • On the White House After Balmy Hawaii, Chilly Washington: As Air Force One lifted off late Sunday night, President Obama and his family left behind a balmy 77-degree Hawaiian evening. Bearing east, the plane headed toward Washington, where the temperature was a brisk 23 degrees. If a 54-degree climate swing were not reason enough to lament the end of vacation, Mr. Obama certainly had others. He was returning to a Washington in the throes of a political furor over the security breakdown that led to the attempted bombing of an American passenger jet on Christmas Day.... - NYT, 1-5-10
  • Third Uninvited Guest at State Dinner: The saga of President Obama's first state dinner continues. The Secret Service said Monday that a third uninvited guest gained entry to the dinner at the White House on Nov. 24. A review of video from the party, which was held to honor the prime minister of India, showed that a man wearing a tuxedo entered with members of the Indian delegation.... - NYT, 1-4-10
  • Obama Says Al Qaeda in Yemen Planned Bombing Plot, and He Vows Retribution: President Obama declared for the first time on Saturday that a branch of Al Qaeda based in Yemen sponsored the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an American passenger jet, and he vowed that those behind the failed attack"will be held to account."... - NYT, 1-2-10
  • U.S. Had Early Signals of a Terror Plot, Obama Says: President Obama was told Tuesday about more missed signals and uncorrelated intelligence that should have prevented a would-be bomber from boarding a flight to the United States, leading the president to declare that there had been a"systemic failure" of the nation’s security apparatus.
    Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda were talking about"a Nigerian" being prepared for a terrorist attack. While the attacker was not named, officials said it would have been evident had it been compared to information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up an American passenger jet on Christmas Day.... - AP, 12-30-10
  • Obama Seeks to Reassure U.S. After Bombing Attempt: President Obama emerged from Hawaiian seclusion on Monday to reassure the American public and quell gathering criticism as a branch of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the thwarted attack on an American passenger jet on Christmas Day.
    Mr. Obama vowed to track down"all who were involved" in helping a Nigerian man who tried to set off explosives aboard a Northwest Airlines flight as the plane approached Detroit, acknowledging the growing conclusion that the act was not that of a lone wolf but of a trained Qaeda operative. With more signs pointing to Yemen as the origin of the attack, the White House was weighing how to respond.... - NYT, 12-28-10
  • Senate Clears Final Hurdle to Vote on Health Care Bill: The Senate trudged Wednesday toward passage of sweeping health legislation after disposing of Republican claims that it would be unconstitutional to require Americans to have health insurance, as the bill does. The Senate was poised to take a final vote on the legislation, President Obama's top priority, on Thursday morning. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, said Democrats had secured the 60 votes they needed with"a grab bag of backroom Chicago-style buyoffs" for specific states and favored constituencies... - NYT, 12-23-09
  • 6 Detainees Are Returned to Yemen: The government of Yemen on Saturday took custody of six detainees formerly held for years without trial at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to a senior Obama administration official and others involved in the process. The transfers, which followed the repatriation of another Yemeni detainee in September, represent a test run for a policy that the administration hopes could eventually make possible a sharp reduction in the population at the prison, which President Obama is trying to close.... - NYT, 12-19-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012....

  • Who's ahead, Brown or Coakley? Depends on the poll - Boston Globe, 1-16-10
  • Obama here for Coakley, trailing a diminished aura: The feverish excitement that propelled Barack Obama and scores of other Democrats to victory in 2008 has all but evaporated, worrying party leaders who are struggling to invigorate the base before Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate race and November’s critical midterm contests, pollsters and party activists said. - Boston Globe, 1-17-10
  • Some Democrats Wary of 2010 Election Prospects: Retirements and declining poll numbers have some Democrats worried about the election... - US News, 1-15-10
  • The GOP's 10 Most Wanted List: Smelling political blood in the water, the GOP has put a"Wanted" sticker on several Democrats - US News, 1-15-10
  • Obama to Campaign for Senate Candidate in Massachusetts: In a last-ditch effort to avert a debacle for the Democrats, the White House announced that President Obama would campaign here on Sunday for Martha Coakley, the Democratic Senate candidate, amid growing signs that the race for Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat has become too close to call.... - NYT, 1-16-10
  • Mass. Senate poll shows shift toward GOP candidate: The Suffolk University survey released late Thursday showed Scott Brown, a Republican state senator, with 50 percent of the vote in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in this overwhelmingly Democratic state. Democrat Martha Coakley had 46 percent. That was a statistical tie since it was within the poll's 4.4 percentage point margin of error, but far different from a 15-point lead the Massachusetts attorney general enjoyed in a Boston Globe survey released over the weekend.... - WaPo, 1-15-10
  • Polls show race for 'Kennedy seat' about even - WaPo, 1-14-10
  • Senator Harry Reid faces 'big trouble' in Nevada race: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been fighting to keep his leadership post this week after his impolitic remarks about President Obama and race. Back in Nevada, that controversy is among the least of his worries. Facing re-election to a fifth term this year, polls show his home-state popularity sagging and his signature political issue, health care, bringing him little benefit among voters. Democrats fear a repeat of 2004, when Reid's predecessor as Senate leader, Tom Daschle, was tossed from office by voters.... - USA Today, 1-15-10
  • Gingrich considers self among top 2012 prospects: "I think I'm probably on a list of seven or eight possible candidates at this stage," Gingrich said."We have a lot of people around the country who would like to have somebody who represents a commitment to replace the current failed programs and to develop a set of solutions that are practical and workable."
    Gingrich listed several current and former goverors who he thinks might enter the race. They include former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He said he will discuss his possible candidacy with his wife early next year before making a decision about whether to run.... - AP, 1-14-10
  • Mass. Senate race becoming proxy on health bill: The race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has turned into a proxy battle over the fate of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. A once-pedestrian contest between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown has coarsened with a week to go, as the two have cast themselves as custodians of the pivotal Senate vote to determine the bill's fate.... - AP, 1-12-10
  • 10 Tips for the GOP in 2010: Voters who want Democrats out don't yet believe Republicans would be better.... - WSJ, 1-10-10
  • Can Senate Democrats keep edge in '10?: This week's back-to-back retirements by two senior Senate Democrats puts the focus on one of the key questions of this election year: Will Democrats be able to maintain the overwhelming majority that has enabled them to push President Obama's agenda through the Senate, or will Republicans be able to whittle it down?... - USA Today, 1-7-10
  • Giuliani says he won't run in 2010: Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor viewed by many New York Republicans as a potential savior for the struggling party, won't run for political office in 2010, choosing to concentrate on his law and consulting businesses.... - Boston Globe, 12-23-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund:
    George W. Bush: The challenges down there are immense, but there's a lot of devoted people leading the relief effort, from government personnel who deployed into the disaster zone to the faith-based groups that have made Haiti a calling.
    The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to contribute money. That money will go to organizations on the ground and will be -- who will be able to effectively spend it. I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water -- just send your cash. One of the things that the President and I will do is to make sure your money is spent wisely. As President Obama said, you can look us up on clintonbushhaitifund.org. - WH, 1-16-10
  • The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund:
    Bill Clinton: I believe before this earthquake Haiti had the best chance in my lifetime to escape its history -- a history that Hillary and I have shared a tiny part of. I still believe that. The Haitians want to just amend their development plan to take account of what's happened in Port-au-Prince and west, figure out what they got to do about that, and then go back to implementing it. But it's going to take a lot of help and a long time. - WH, 1-16-10
  • BILL CLINTON and GEORGE W. BUSH: A Helping Hand for Haiti: This weekend, President Obama asked us to spearhead private-sector fund-raising efforts in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that ravaged Haiti. We are pleased to answer his call.
    Throughout both our careers in public service, we have witnessed firsthand the amazing generosity of the American people in the face of calamity. From the Oklahoma City bombings to 9/11, from the tsunami in South Asia to Hurricane Katrina, Americans have rallied to confront disaster — natural or man-made, domestic or abroad — with the determination, compassion and unity that have defined our nation since its founding....
    We should never forget the damage done and the lives lost, but we have a chance to do things better than we once did; be a better neighbor than we once were; and help the Haitian people realize their dream for a stronger, more secure nation. But we need more than just support from governments — we need the innovation and resources of businesses; the skills and the knowledge of nongovernmental organizations, including faith-based groups; and the generosity and support of individuals to fill in the gaps. Visit www.clintonbushhaitifund.org to make a donation and learn more about our efforts. It's the least we can do, and the least the people of Haiti deserve. At our best, we can help Haiti become its best. - NYT, 1-16-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Vows to"Collect Every Dime" of Taxpayer Funds that Helped Big Banks Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address January 16, 2010: ...Many originally feared that most of the $700 billion in TARP money would be lost. But when my administration came into office, we put in place rigorous rules for accountability and transparency, which cut the cost of the bailout dramatically. We have now recovered most of the money we provided to the banks. That's good news, but as far as I'm concerned, it’s not good enough. We want the taxpayers’ money back, and we’re going to collect every dime.
    That is why, this week, I proposed a new fee on major financial firms to compensate the American people for the extraordinary assistance they provided to the financial industry. And the fee would be in place until the American taxpayer is made whole. Only the largest financial firms with more than $50 billion in assets will be affected, not community banks. And the bigger the firm – and the more debt it holds – the larger the fee. Because we are not only going to recover our money and help close our deficits; we are going to attack some of the banking practices that led to the crisis.... - WH, 1-16-10
  • Text of President Obama's Remarks Wednesday morning on the earthquake in Haiti and rescue efforts, as released by the White House: Good morning, everybody. This morning I want to extend to the people of Haiti the deep condolences and unwavering support of the American people following yesterday's terrible earthquake.
    We are just now beginning to learn the extent of the devastation, but the reports and images that we've seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching. Indeed, for a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the many Haitian- Americans around our country who do not yet know the fate of their families and loved ones back home.
    I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives. The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief — the food, water and medicine — that Haitians will need in the coming days. In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense, are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world.... - NYT, 1-13-10
  • Obama Will Tap Bush and Clinton for Haiti Efforts: Late this afternoon, the two former presidents released this joint statement:
    We are deeply saddened by the devastation and suffering caused by the recent earthquake in Haiti. The people of Haiti are in our thoughts and prayers.
    We are pleased to accept President Obama's request to lead private sector fundraising efforts. In the days and weeks ahead, we will draw attention to the many ways American citizens and businesses can help meet the urgent needs of the Haitian people. Americans have a long history of showing compassion and generosity in the wake of tragedy. We thank the American people for rallying to help our neighbors in the Caribbean in their hour of suffering - and throughout the journey of rebuilding their nation. - NYT, 1-15-10
  • Reid Apologizes for Racial Remarks About Obama: Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, apologized on Saturday for saying that he believed Barack Obama could become the country’s first black president because he was"light-skinned" and had the advantage of carrying"no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."... - NYT, 1-10-10
  • Majority Leader Reid apologizes to Obama for 2008 remarks: "I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words," Reid said in a statement."I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans, for my improper comments."
    Obama said in a statement that Reid called him about the matter on Saturday afternoon."I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart," Obama said."As far as I am concerned, the book is closed." - WaPo, 1-10-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Outlines Benefits of Health Reform to Take Effect This Year Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address January 9, 2010: A year ago, when I took office in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, I promised you two things. The first was that there would be better days ahead. And the second was that the road to recovery would be long, and sometimes bumpy.
    That was brought home again yesterday. We learned that in November, our economy saw its first month of job gains in nearly two years – but last month, we lost more than we gained. Now, we know that no single month makes a trend, and job losses for the final quarter of 2009 were one-tenth what they were in the first quarter. But until we see a trend of good, sustainable job creation, we will be relentless in our efforts to put America back to work....
    In short, once I sign health insurance reform into law, doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less. All told, these changes represent the most sweeping reforms and toughest restrictions on insurance companies that this country has ever known. That's how we'll make 2010 a healthier and more secure year for every American – for those who have health insurance, and those who don’t.
    We enter a new decade, now, with new perils – but we’re going to meet them. It's also a time of tremendous promise – and we’re going to seize it. We will rebuild the American Dream for our middle class and put the American economy on a stronger footing for the future. And this year, I am as hopeful and as confident as ever that we’re going to rise to this moment the same way that generations of Americans always have: as one nation, and one people. Thanks for listening. - WH, 1-9-10
  • President Obama's remarks on security failures Full text of Barack Obama's speech on the failed Christmas Day bombing: The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete. I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform. And I believe it's important that the American people understand the new steps that we're taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe.
    This afternoon my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watchlist system; how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America; and the steps we're going to take to prevent that from happening again.
    Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures; how that terrorist boarded a plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people; and how we'll strengthen aviation security going forward.
    So today, I want to just briefly summarize their conclusions and the steps that I've ordered to address them. In our ever-changing world, America's first line of defense is timely, accurate intelligence that is shared, integrated, analyzed and acted upon quickly and effectively. That's what the intelligence reforms after the 9/11 attacks largely achieved. That's what our intelligence community does every day. But unfortunately, that's not what happened in the lead-up to Christmas Day.... - Globe & Mail, 1-7-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Outlines Steps Taken to Protect the Safety and Security of the American People Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address January 2, 2010: It has now been more than a week since the attempted act of terrorism aboard that flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. On Thursday, I received the preliminary findings of the reviews that I ordered into our terrorist watchlist system and air travel screening. I've directed my counterterrorism and homeland security advisor at the White House, John Brennan, to lead these reviews going forward and to present the final results and recommendations to me in the days to come.
    As I said this week, I will do everything in my power to make sure our hard-working men and women in our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security communities have the tools and resources they need to keep America safe. This includes making sure these communities-and the people in them-are coordinating effectively and are held accountable at every level. And as President, that is what I will do.
    Meanwhile, the investigation into the Christmas Day incident continues, and we're learning more about the suspect. We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of al Qaeda, and that this group-al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America.... - WH, 1-2-10
  • Text of Obama's Comments on Airport Security: Good morning. Yesterday I updated the American people on the immediate steps we took -- the increased screening and security of air travel -- to keep our country safe in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. And I announced two reviews -- a review of our terrorist watch list system and a review of our air travel screening, so we can find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks....
    The reviews I've ordered will surely tell us more. But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security. We need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake.
    I fully understand that even when every person charged with ensuring our security does what they are trained to do, even when every system works exactly as intended there is still no one hundred percent guarantee of success. Yet, this should only compel us to work even harder, to be even more innovative and relentless in our efforts.
    As President I will do everything in my power to support the men and women in intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security to make sure they've got the tools and resources they need to keep America safe. But it's also my job to ensure that our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security systems and the people in them are working effectively and held accountable. I intend to fulfill that responsibility and insist on accountability at every level... - NYT, 12-29-09
  • Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend Christmas Greeting and Express their Gratitude to America's Servicemen and Women Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Weekly Address December 24, 2009: FIRST LADY: This is our first Christmas in the White House, and we are so grateful for this extraordinary experience. Not far from here, in the Blue Room, is the official White House Christmas Tree. It's an 18-foot tall Douglas-fir from West Virginia and it's decorated with hundreds of ornaments designed by people and children from all over the country. Each one is a reminder of the traditions we cherish as Americans and the blessings we're thankful for this holiday season.
    PRESIDENT: That's right, especially as we continue to recover from an extraordinary recession that still has so many Americans hurting: parents without a job who struggled to put presents under the Christmas tree; families and neighbors who’ve seen their home foreclosed; folks wondering what the new year will bring.
    But even in these tough times, there’s still so much to celebrate this Christmas. A message of peace and brotherhood that continues to inspire more than 2,000 after Jesus’ birth. The love of family and friends. The bonds of community and country. And the character and courage of our men and women in uniform who are far from home for the holidays, away from their families, risking their lives to protect ours.... - WH, 12-24-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS' COMMENTS

  • Michael Kazin"Obama Weighs Tax On Big Banks": What's happening right now is that both left and right are opposed to what they see as the sins of people in power. The right doesn't like what they see as increasing concentrations of power in government. The left doesn't like concentrated power in Wall Street and neither group is happy with Obama's response.... - NPR, 1-12-10
  • Peniel E. Joseph"Many say U.S. race relations have improved under Obama, but divides remain": "Light-skinned is equated with good, an ability to pass, to fit in the mainstream," said Peniel E. Joseph, a Tufts University historian and author of a new book about the shifting racial attitudes that allowed for Obama's election as the nation's first black president."He's light enough and mainstream enough to appeal to a broad audience. Those who are not really stand out in a conspicuous way as 'the other.'"... - WaPo, 1-12-10
  • Is Obama History?: There were five sessions on President Obama at last week's annual meeting of the American Historical Association.... - Chron of High Ed, 1-10-10
  • The Label Factor: Is Obama a Wimp or a Warrior?: Like every Democratic president since John F. Kennedy, President Obama is battling the perception that he's a wimp on national security.... - NYT, 1-10-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Blame game won't stop terrorism: Almost as soon as the botched Christmas airplane bombing hit the airwaves, the politics of national security reared its head....
    All of this is predictable. Politics has never stopped at the water's edge and it never will. There is a long history of the parties lashing out against one another for being ineffective at protecting the nation. However, partisan wrangling is certainly not the most effective way to handle the problems at hand. Politics has never stopped at the water's edge and it never will....
    The blame game will continue. That's how national security politics works. But while the fights are taking place, we must make certain that the government sets up some kind of independent review to better understand what went wrong. The review must be global and involve allied nations who participate in the international campaign against terrorist threats. Let's do it before the terrorists get it right.
    Nothing should be excluded from consideration, from the failures of U.S. officials to respond to evidence to the flaws in the system that Obama inherited. We need a comprehensive understanding of what happened so we can improve the system and make sure that innocent travelers are kept safe from the ravages of terrorism.- CNN, 1-3-10
  • The Obama Way: Every presidency is the subject of competing caricatures. But almost a year into his first term, there's something particularly elusive about Barack Obama’s political identity. He's a bipartisan bridge-builder — unless he's a polarizing ideologue. He's a crypto-Marxist radical — except when he's a pawn of corporate interests. He's a post-American utopian — or else he's a willing tool of the national security state.
    The press has churned out a new theory every week, comparing Obama to John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, to George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — to every 20th-century chief executive, it often seems, save poor, dull Gerald Ford. But none of the analogies have stuck. We’re well into the Obama era, but neither his allies nor his enemies can quite get a fix on exactly what our 44th president really represents.... - NYT, 12-25-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Delaying health benefits is a big risk: We will find out in the next few weeks whether the Senate can pass a health care bill and if it can reach agreement with the House on the details. But if the two houses do pass legislation, one thing seems likely -- there will be a huge delay in starting most of the benefits.
    Under the House bill, much of the program won't kick in until 2013. Under the proposed Senate bill, the date is 2014. This delay poses a political risk.
    Under the Senate bill, opponents will have a midterm (2010) and presidential election (2012) cycle to make their argument. When programs have been delayed, they often encounter political problems....
    After all the political capital that Democrats have invested in this health care debate, it would be a shame if they were able to win the battle but, as a result of flawed policy design, lose the war.... - CNN, 12-24-09


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