POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/13

Reactions to Obama’s Speech

President Obama gave one of his best speeches tonight — one that was much more emotional and cathartic than anyone could expect. He rose above the bickering and finger pointing of the last few days and spoke to our higher values.

Most impressively, Obama walked a very delicate line of remembering the fallen while trying to draw broader lessons for the country. Referring to nine year old Christina Taylor Green, who was killed by the gunman last Saturday, Obama noted she “was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.”

“I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us — we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

Well said, Mr. President. That’s exactly what we should do.

*    *    *Below are some other reactions:

Joshua Green: “My own impression is that he provided what had so far been missing from this tragedy: a response that dignified the memories of the victims and properly placed them at the forefront of public attention.”

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Obama’s Speech at the Tucson Memorial Service

Remarks of President Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
At a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona
January 12, 2011

To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona:  I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts.  But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight.  We mourn with you for the fallen.  We join you in your grief.  And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.

See more…

Fewer Hearing “Mostly Bad” Economic News

One possible reason behind the recent jump in President Obama’s approval rating: A new Pew Research survey finds “the percentage saying they are hearing mostly bad news about the economy has dropped to its lowest point since the question was first asked in December 2008.”

“Currently, 24% say they are hearing mostly bad news, down 15 points from 39% in early December. The proportion saying they are hearing a mix of good and bad news has jumped from 55% last month to 68% in the new survey.”

Menendez Barely Leads Kean in Rematch

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) with mediocre 37%-38% approval numbers and barely leading Tom Kean Jr. (R) in a potential rematch of their 2006 race, 41% to 39%.

However, Kean “has been quickly forgotten by voters in the state — 51% now say they have no opinion about him.”

 

Webb Says Obama Made Mistake on Health Care

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) told a town meeting the Obama administration “did a really terrible job handling health care reform” because the president relied on Congress to draft the plan, the Virginian-Pilot reports.

Said Webb: “You can’t turn something that complicated loose on the United States Congress. People got scared. People got mad…. We lost an enormous amount of time on health care… Both sides made bad mistakes.”

A Webb spokesman e-mailed Politico to clarify the senator “was bipartisan in his criticism, saying that Republicans decided to stall everything in the Senate.”

Christie Approval Stays Steady

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) apparently suffered little politically by being at Disney World during the post-Christmas blizzard that hit his state. A new Fairleigh Dickinson poll shows Christie’s approval rate at 53%-36%.

His current approval is marginally better than his 49%-39% measurement taken after the November election and similar to his 51%-37% approval rating in October.

Lebanese Government Collapses During White House Meeting

Ten Lebanese ministers “announced their resignations just as Prime Minister Saad Hariri was meeting with President Obama in Washington,” the New York Timesreports.

“The opposition had hoped that all 11 ministers would resign together, to bring down the government at that time and expose Mr. Hariri to the maximum embarrassment. But the 11th minister, Adnan Sayed Hussein, announced his resignation in a statement later in the evening, the National News Agency reported, after the meeting in Washington was over.”

Cain Launches Exploratory Committee

Pizza mogul and conservative talk radio host Herman Cain (R) formed anexploratory committee to run for president in 2012.

Cain made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate from Georgia in 2004.

Insiders Split Over Use of Crosshairs

The latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll asked whether the Sarah Palin “crosshairs” graphic was “inappropriate political speech.”

Overall, 44% said that the Palin graphic was inappropriate. However, the insiders were sharply divided along party lines: 68% of the Democratic insiders said that Palin’s graphic had crossed the line, but only 19% of the GOP insiders thought it did.

“You Lie” Semi-Automatic Rifle Components

A South Carolina gun company is selling semi-automatic rifle components inscribed with ‘You lie’ — a tribute to the infamous words of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) when he shouted at President Obama during a congressional speech in 2009, the Columbia Free Times reports.

From the company website: “Palmetto State Armory would like to honor our esteemed congressman Joe Wilson with the release of our new ‘You Lie’ AR-15 lower receiver.”

Though the product “is neither endorsed nor affiliated with Joe Wilson or his campaign” there is a picture of Wilson holding a rifle and standing in the company’s gun shop on the site.

Feingold Writing a Book on Foreign Policy

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) tells the Madison Capital Times that he is writing a book on American foreign policy.

Said Feingold: “The book will be about the last 10 years, with a focus on America’s relationship with the rest of the world… Frankly, it’s not going to be a very positive assessment of the choices we’ve made in the last 10 years.”

Palin Escalates Her War with the Media

Howard Kurtz: “With her defiant video, Palin continued — no, escalated — her war with the press, which plays so well with her strongest supporters (despite a recent thaw in which she actually granted a few interviews to the lamestream media). She continued her us-versus-them approach to political discourse. She punched back at critics rather than trying to fashion a unifying message.”

“I would say that sounds like the response of someone who wants to stoke her base and further her lucrative career as a culture warrior — not someone who is plotting to run for president.”

Andrew Sullivan: “She can only win in a hugely polarized country. She has as little support outside the Republican base as she has a cult following within it. And she has decided that this occasion for introspection is actually an opportunity to double down. There is something menacing about that.”

War Metaphors are Part of Politics

Charles Krauthammer: “Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics… Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power — military conquest.”

“That’s why the language persists. That’s why we say without any self-consciousness such things as ‘battleground states’ or ‘targeting’ opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest — ‘campaign’ — is an appropriation from warfare.”

Lawsuit Over “Hope” Photo Settled

The Associated Press and artist Shepard Fairey have agreed in principle to settle their pending copyright infringement lawsuit over rights in the Obama Hope poster and related merchandise, according to a press release.

“The two sides have also agreed to work together going forward with the Hope image and share the rights to make the posters and merchandise bearing the Hope image and to collaborate on a series of images that Fairey will create based on AP photographs. The parties have agreed to additional financial terms that will remain confidential.”

Why Did Democrats Give Up on Gun Control?

Nate Silver: “It may be that gun control has became less a priority for the Democratic Party’s key stakeholders. On one hand, major cities — where Democratic voters and donors have long been concentrated — became much safer during the decade of the 2000s, and so gun violence would have seemed a less immediate threat to an Upper East Side liberal in 2008 than it would have in 1988.”

“On the other hand, gun control fits somewhat awkwardly into the constellation of political issues. On issues like gay rights and abortion, Democrats have advocated for a more expansive interpretation of the protections offered by the Constitution, something which stricter controls on gun ownership are arguably conflict.”

The Arrogance of Honesty

Writing in the Washington Times, former Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff (R) explains “the enormous chasm that separates the real world from Washington.”

“This is how the game works in big-time politics: A potential candidate hires a polling firm to create a strategically written and scientifically executed poll to discover the buzzwords and simple campaign themes that ‘resonate’ among voters. Consultants then boil down the poll results to a few ‘winning’ message points and strategies. At that point, the modern candidate simply hammers away again and again at those sound bites. Winners are those who stay ‘on message’ while knocking their opponents ‘off message.’ It is of little consequence to the professionals that this process produces the kind of vacuous, unprincipled leaders who have brought our country to the doorstep of economic ruin.”

Record Year for Political Ads

Wesleyan Media Project report finds that 2010 was a record-breaking year for campaign advertising: 1.6 million airings in congressional elections, which is a 36% increase over 2008, at an estimated cost of $735 million.

The reasons: “There were an unusual number of competitive races for Congress — and an unusual number of incumbent party losses. Recent Supreme Court decisions opened up new sources of funding for advertising in these contests, which may (or may not) have contributed to the record volume of ads and ad spending in federal races. Moreover, advertising in the 2010 elections was record-setting in its negativity, at least when compared to other federal races in the past decade.”

Palin’s Timing

First Read: “By releasing this video a full 15 hours before tonight’s memorial service — and thanks to the relatively slow day in the political world before tonight — her video will get plenty of attention. And whether she meant to or not, there will likely be a stark contrast drawn between her words and what the president says tonight. And that leads us to a few questions for folks to ponder: Should she have released this via Web video? Why not do this via interview? Should she have released this video BEFORE today’s memorial service or waited until tomorrow? Is it fair to use this video to judge her ability to be presidential at a time of crisis or national tragedy? If so, was this a presidential-caliber speech? There’s been a lot of finger-pointing by the very loud base voices on both sides of the political spectrum, most of it playing out on the internet/Twitter/prime-time cable. This video is only going to serve to feed that beast.”

Obama Approval Continues to Rise

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds 53% of Americans approve of how President Obama is doing his job — his best numbers since the vote on health care reform 10 months ago.

Also interesting: “Democrats generally are back to being viewed in a positive light by most Americans — 53% favorable to 45% unfavorable. That’s better than at any point during the height of the 2010 campaign. Views of the Republican Party are evenly split at 48%.”

Angle Defends Herself Against Criticism

Former Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, whose talk of “Second Amendment remedies” during last year’s campaign has been cited as an example of violent political rhetoric, defended herself in a statement, CNN reports.

Said Angle: “I condemn all acts of violence. The despicable act in Tucson is a horrifying and senseless tragedy, and should be condemned as a single act of violence, by a single unstable individual. Expanding the context of the attack to blame and to infringe upon the people’s Constitutional liberties is both dangerous and ignorant. The irresponsible assignment of blame to me, Sarah Palin or the Tea Party movement by commentators and elected officials puts all who gather to redress grievances in danger.”

She added: “It contradicts the facts as they are known — that the shooter was obsessed with his twisted plans long before the Tea Party movement began.”

Quote of the Day

“Rudy is wrong on this one. You know, I like Rudy a lot, too, but it’s easy to sit in the peanut gallery and shoot away, which is what Rudy’s doing. I guess when you’re retired and out of politics, it’s easy to come on these shows and shoot away.”

— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), in an interview on Morning Joe, slapping back at recent criticisms from Rudy Giuliani.

What is “Blood Libel?”

One particular line in Sarah Palin’s statement on the Arizona shootings has created an uproar:

“But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

The term “blood libel” usually refers to the false accusation that Jews use the blood of Christian children in some of their religious rituals.

While it’s not entirely clear what Palin intended, it’s possible she was trying to usedog whistle politics to speak to her religious base who often feel they’re an oppressed minority.

What Should Obama Say?

President Obama will speak at a memorial service in Tucson tonight for the victims of the tragic shootings in Arizona. The speech is expected around 9 pm ET but is not expected to be carried on the major networks.

“Several former presidential speechwriters – Democrats and Republicans – told ABC News that this speech should not be political and that it is first and foremost a eulogy.”

Said Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman: “There’s a time and a place for everything. The president, I hope, will say that violent words have no place in our society. The funeral is not necessarily the place to say it.”

Palin Breaks Her Silence

Sarah Palin posted a statement in response to the intense criticism she’s faced in the days since the Arizona shootings.

A few excerpts: “Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event…”

“There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those ‘calm days’ when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.”

Palin also released a video version of the same statement.

See more…

Vicki Kennedy Will Not Run for Senate

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Vicki Kennedy says she will not run for the office of her late husband, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). She says that “though she’s flattered by the sentiments, there’s no chance she’ll change her mind.”

Said Kennedy: “There will not be a yes. The Senate is not where I see my future.”

Why not? “I can’t imagine running for elective office without Teddy at my side, and that really is what it all comes down to,” she said. “I hope people respect that.”

 

 

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