Obama Gets the Caro Treatment

James Fallows reviews Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss and notes the author “applied a version of the Robert Caro treatment to a politician who, unlike Caro’s Lyndon Johnson, is still in his functioning prime.”

“The book begins with people Barack Obama never met and certainly knows less about than Maraniss does, his great-grandparents on both sides. Nearly 600 pages later it ends with the current president, at age 27, driving a used yellow Datsun away from Chicago, where he had been a community organizer, to Harvard Law School and what Maraniss presents as the end of his search for identity and the beginning of a purposeful political career.”

“Every few pages Maraniss offers a factual nugget that changes or enlarges the prevailing lore… We never fully know public figures, least of all one whose identity so much involves cool, deliberate reserve. But after this book we know one public figure much better.”

Republican Latino Site Features Photo of Asian Kids

The RNC launched a new Spanish-language website designed to “have open communication about the goals and vision of the Republican Party” with Latino voters butMashable notes a stock photo in the top banner “featured a group of children that weren’t Latino — but Asian.”

Florida Governor Mistaken for Dead in 2006

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), “who is leading a disputed purge of voter registration rolls, had to cast a provisional ballot in 2006 because officials mistakenly thought he was dead,”Reuters reports.

Mr. Romney

Dan Amira: “If you sat through President Obama’s 50-something-minute economic address this afternoon, you didn’t hear much in the way of new themes or proposals. But you did hear Obama refer to his Republican opponent as ‘Mr. Romney’ on eight separate occasions, and that is somewhat new.”

“A search on both the White House website and Nexis shows that, prior to today, Obama had spoken of ‘Mr. Romney’ a total of just eight times since the start of 2011, and seven of them came over the past month… It’s a small and fairly inconsequential change, but surely a deliberate one.”

Lawmaker Barred After Vagina Comment

Michigan House Republicans prohibited state Rep. Lisa Brown (D) from speaking on the floor after she ended a speech against a bill restricting abortions by referencing her female anatomy, the Detroit News reports.

Her comment, which is on video: “Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.'”

Republicans said Brown was “offensive” and wouldn’t allow her to voice her opinion on an unrelated school employee retirement bill.

Responded Brown: “If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas? What language should I use?”

See more…

Reactions to Obama’s Speech

President Obama gave a speech today that framed his re-election bid as a clear choice between government helping to lift the middle class and a return to Republican economic policies that led to a deep recession.

A few reactions:

Andrew Sullivan: “My bottom line? A home run. Simply constructed, carefully reframed, aggressive while positive: the Obamaites have been listening to critics and are responding. If this is his message, and if he is able to keep articulating it this clearly, he will win. And in my view, the experience of the last thirty years is that he should win. If I have to choose between a governing philosophy espoused by Bill Clinton or one espoused by George W. Bush, it’s a no-brainer. And I can’t stand Bill Clinton.”

Greg Sargent: “The central idea in the speech — that Washington is in a “stalemate” about how to move forward that only the American people can break — was the answer to a clear strategic dilemma. Obama needs to figure out how to highlight GOP obstructionism of his policies in a way that will matter to the American people.”

Ezra Klein: “One speech doesn’t change an election, and this one won’t, either. But the Obama campaign’s line of attack does point to a difficulty for the Romney campaign in the coming months: Where can they show a sharp break with the policies of the Bush administration?”

Hot Air: “It took 54 agonizing minutes, the only silver lining of which is that the RNC will have plenty of material for the inevitable ‘you’ve heard this all before’ ad tomorrow.”

Geithner Suggested Clinton Replace Him

In the spring of 2011, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanted to leave his job and he suggested Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as his replacement, the Washington Postreports.

“Before he could depart, Geithner had to convince the White House. He needed to find someone who could glide through Senate confirmation, comprehend the growing debt crises, here and abroad, and communicate administration goals in the upcoming debt-ceiling debate to Congress, to Wall Street, and to the world. The talks gained traction inside the White House before being scuttled shortly before the debt-ceiling talks on Capitol Hill intensified.”

When Gaffes are the Only Campaign News

Jonathan Chait: “Why does the presidential race appear, at least on the basis of campaign coverage, to be nothing but a succession of gaffes? A week or two will go by without news, and then either President Obama or Mitt Romney will say something damaging, and that comment will define the contours of the debate until the next verbal own goal.”

“The centrality of the gaffe is an outgrowth of horse race coverage. Political reporters have little interest in informing the public about the policies advocated by the two candidates. Their job is to tell us every day who is winning. And since very little changes in the horse race from day to day, the main device they have to drive the narrative is the gaffe. The gaffe is a candidate saying something unplanned and unwelcome. As campaign reporters define their job, the gaffe is the primary form of ‘news.'”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“At stake is not simply a choice between two candidates and two political parties, but between two paths for our country.”

— President Obama, in his economic speech today.

Swing Voters See Obama as Aloof

First Read interviews pollster Peter Hart on a focus group of swing voters he conducted in Colorado:

“Our focus groups show that voters see a lot of glamour and glitz from the Obama administration; they’re wondering where the vision, where the valor is going to be… [Obama] is missing the mark on the middle class. He needs to get down there. It is not just rallies; he needs to be out there feeling what they are feeling, a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, a lot of uncertainty.”

More: “The public need a sense of a vision, they need a sense of hope, they need to be able to see that it’s not just the old Obama giving them the charisma and the cool. They need to see substance over style.”

Very Close in Michigan

A new Foster McCollum White & Associates (D) poll in Michigan finds President Obama leading Mitt Romney by just two points, 47% to 45%.

See more…

Campaigns Await Health Care Decision

Mark Halperin notes that both presidential campaigns “are girding for a message war following the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the President’s health care law.”

“If the law is struck down, Democrats plan to attack the Justices who vote in the majority, while Republicans will tell voters that a Romney Administration and a Republican Congress can best replace the unpopular, unconstitutional act… If the law is upheld, Romney will argue that only his election will halt the law’s implementation, while the White House will seize a fresh opportunity to regain the political momentum (and sell the plan’s more popular provisions).”

Meanwhile, ABC News has a handy flowchart showing the many ways in which the Supreme Court could rule.

The Week has four takeaways from “the ObamaCare poll the White House hates.”

Obama Still Way Ahead in New Jersey

A new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in New Jersey finds President Obama crushing Mitt Romney by 23 points, 56% to 33%.

Romney Will Do His First Non-Fox Sunday Show

A full year into his presidential campaign and Mitt Romney “will finally venture out of his Fox comfort zone this Sunday to make his first appearance on a rival network’s political talk show,” the Washington Post reports.

Romney will appear with Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” on CBS this Sunday.

Adelson’s Donations Could Be “Limitless”

A well-placed source in the Sheldon Adelson camp tells Forbes that further donations from the casino billionaire to Super PACs supporting Mitt Romney will be “limitless.”

The source says Adelson will do “whatever it takes” to defeat President Obama and that “no price is too high” to protect the U.S. from what he sees as Obama’s “socialization” of America.

The Best “I Won’t Be Romney’s Running Mate” Lines

The Week lists the top eight.

The Biggest Story of the Campaign

First Read: “When it’s all said and done, perhaps the biggest story this presidential season will be all the outside groups — and the big checks funding them — trying to influence this election. And the biggest check-writer of them all so far? Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife have reportedly donated $10 million to the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future. That’s on top of the $20 million the Adelsons gave to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC during the GOP primary season. All told, the New York Times says, the Adlesons have donated $35 million to pro-GOP Super PACs. While we’ve all become numb to money in politics, that doesn’t make it less relevant. And $35 million (and possibly counting) is an astonishing sum from one individual and his wife. What’s more, we’ve seen politicians spend more than this on races — hello, Michael Bloomberg — but they were spending it on themselves. But folks like Adelson aren’t running for office; rather, they’re dabbling in politics like someone would dabble in fantasy baseball. It’s truly breathtaking.”

Clinton’s Words Could Haunt Obama Today

President Obama’s campaign speech on the economy today will be delivered in the same spot where Bill Clinton delivered a 2010 campaign speech Obama might just as soon forget,” USA Today reports.

In September 2010, Clinton told his audience in Cleveland that Democrats deserved two more years to fix the nation’s economy.

Said Clinton: “The Democrats are saying something like this: ‘We found a big hole that we did not dig. We didn’t get it filled in 21 months, but at least we quit digging. Give us two more years. If it doesn’t work, vote us out.'”

Flashback of the Day

A 1994 video shows Obama strategist David Axelrod suggesting you can’t talk about an improving economy when the middle class is still hurting.

See more…

Quote of the Day

“I think he cost me the election and I don’t like him.”

— Former President George H.W. Bush, in a new HBO documentary, on Ross Perot’s 1992 independent presidential bid.

Majority of Americans Still Blame Bush for Economy

A new Gallup poll finds 68% of Americans place a great deal or moderate amount of blame on former President George W. Bush for the nation’s economic problems, compared to 52% of Americans who place some of the blame on President Obama.

Interesting: “The relative amount of blame Americans give to Obama and to Bush has largely stabilized over the last two years.”

Selling Obama

Bloomberg Businessweek profiles Obama campaign manager Jim Messina:

“Along with his conversations with CEOs, Messina’s regimen for the new job included reading a hundred years’ worth of campaign histories piled on a shelf above his desk. But his obsession runs to the future, not the past, and to business as much as politics. Messina is convinced that modern presidential campaigns are more like fast-growing tech companies than anything found in a history book and his own job like that of the executives who run them.”

Said Messina: “What they’ve done is more readily applicable to me, because they all started very small and got big very quickly.”

Romney Hits Obama on Economy “Doing Fine”

Continuing his relentless attack on President Obama’s handling of the economy, Mitt Romney’s campaign released a new television ad using the president’s “doing fine” line.

See more…

Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics

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