Tag Archives: President Obama

What a Week

President Obama at White House Correspondents DinnerDuring Friday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner, President Obama paused during his remarks, smiled thoughtfully and said, “What a week.” We had no idea.

In addition to his everyday duties, briefings, meetings with the National Security Team, the Attorney General, Defense Secretary,  Secretary of State, Congresspeople, Governors, etc., doing press interviews, hosting Crown Princes and Presidents, working to fix our immigration problems, manage a few a wars, and commemorating the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, our President took time to do a few more things that made last week seemed pretty amazing.

It started out ordinary enough as he and the first family hosted the Easter Egg Roll. By Wednesday morning, he and Michelle were in Chicago doing Oprah, then to New York for a fund raiser and back to Washington. Thursday, he announced a new National Security Team and presented his long form birth certificate. Friday he and Michelle were in Alabama to view the storm damage, meet with Governor then on to Florida to meet with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and view the final space shuttle launch. Fortunately, the Endeavor  was aborted (still legal), so he could get back for the Correspondents Dinner and a relaxing weekend at the White House. All that was planned, was his Saturday address announcing a plan to end oil subsidies at this time of record oil company profits;  the special ops mission to take out bin Laden and a relaxing bipartisan dinner Monday night with leaders of both houses to informally discuss the budget and Republican plans to hold the nation hostage on debt ceiling. OK, that was eight days.

Recapping: Easter Egg Roll; Oprah; new National Security Team; long-form birth certificate; Libya; immigration reform; multi-state natural disaster; Correspondents Dinner; announce plans to end oil subsidies; take out bin Laden; host bipartisan dinner to talk about the budget; help kids with their homework. The reviews aren’t all in, but early reports suggest it was a pretty good week.

Monday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

Monday:

What on his schedule this week?

Southern governors (all but one, Republican), report the Federal response to the disaster has been almost perfect – Google “Bush Katrina” to be reminded of the political risk of natural disasters. This week and next, of course, he’ll also be dealing with the greatest flood surge along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers since 1927.

Celebrations have broken out evoking a sense of relieve and patriotism not seen in decades – Google “Carter Hostage Rescue” to be reminded of the political risk of precision military operations. Perhaps, we should also be reminded that it was during last week, that NATO missiles missed Gaddafi and killed his son and grandchildren – something that President Obama will be dealing for a while.

And then there is debt ceiling. Is it possible that Republicans, back fresh from two-weeks being yelled at by constituents for voting to end Medicare and Medicaid, stinging from watching a competent president succeed where others failed, and flushed with patriotism for the bin Laden mission, will do what’s important for our country and pass the debt ceiling? Or will they march as lemmings off a cliff and take the world’s economy with them? That’s something that President Obama has already started working on this week. The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department has begun implementing some emergency measures that buys 25 more days than expected to solve the political issues – we have now until August 2nd before default. Stay tuned. The week has barely just begun.

Update 05.03.11: Reuters reports the Mississippi River dropped a foot within hours of levee detonation and the NY Times reports it saved Cairo, IL. Obama has more work to do, though, the Army Corp of Engineers warns the river may rise again and isn’t expected to crest in New Orleans until May 22nd.

Update 05.03.11: Newsweek/Daily Beast reports the week might not have been so good. In a survey just completed, President Obama got no post-bin Laden bump in approval ratings saying, “The clear reason: It’s the economy, stupid. Even after Bin Laden’s death, only 30 percent think the country is on the right track, and only 27 percent think the economy is on the right track.”

Update 05.03.11: Not so fast, the Los Angeles Times reports a survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post, shows President Obama’s approval rating jumping nine points post-bin Laden to 56%; a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation showing a four-point bump to 52%; USA Today/Gallup poll finding “32% said they feel more confident in Obama as commander while 21% said they feel a little more confident;” and “Ipsos-Reuters poll said that their view of Obama’s leadership had improved in the wake of the raid.” The Times went on to say, “Overnight polls are notoriously fickle and often differ from each other on the questions asked and the numbers computed.”

Update 05.03.11: Over a drink together, Chris Matthews reminded me that on Friday, President Obama also gave the commencement address at Miami-Dade College (4/30/11), let’s watch:

Update 05.04.11: CBS News reports a “new CBS News/New York Times poll found that 57 percent of Americans generally approve of Mr. Obama in the wake of the raid in Pakistan. Two weeks ago, when bin Laden was still America’s most-wanted terrorist, the president’s overall approval rating was at 46 percent. A whopping 85 percent of those polled gave Mr. Obama high marks for his handling of the operation to find bin Laden.”

Update 05.04.11: Channel 6 News reports the Army Corp plans to blow additional sections of levees along the Mississippi in Mississippi County, MO; New Madrid, MO; and Hickman, KY. Tough decisions. Huge stakes in the lives of residents and politically for the Obama administration.

It’s still the economy, stupid

migrationOne can hardly pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV news without a story about the economy. The Clinton campaign mantra, “it’s the economy, stupid” will soon be the mantra of the Obama White House – just as soon as he can stop answering questions about the wars, health care, the environment, Wall Street reform, what he thinks about Tiger Woods, etc. ad nauseum.

ProPublica reports that we have now spent a whopping 30% of the stimulus money. Those filing for unemployment actually decreased a little last month (or gave up trying) – click here to hear today’s NPR coverage. The FDIC shut down 6 more banks and 130 have failed so far this year – click here to read HuffPo’s story. Reuters reports a 26% jump in hunger assistance as family homelessness rises in cities across the US. And pundit after pundit prognosticate on when it will turn around – here’s a sampling from the Daily Beast.

noveau_poor_hatDiscoverCard.com reports on its website (disclosure: I don’t have a Discover card) results of their research under the heading “November Highlights” that, “Economic Confidence Plunges; Low Expectations for the Holidays.” Here are some of the lowlights:

  • Economic confidence among America’s small business owners plummeted in November, as more owners cited serious concerns about cash flow and saw economic conditions for their own businesses getting worse. The Discover Small Business Watch index fell 12 points in November to 76.5 from 88.5 in October.
  • 52 percent of small business owners say they have experienced cash flow issues in the past 90 days, up from 44 percent in October.
  • 53 percent of small business owners see conditions getting worse in the next six months, up from 43 percent in October.
  • 62 percent of small business owners rate the economy as poor, an increase from 55 percent in October; 30 percent rate it as fair, and 8 percent say it is good or excellent.
  • 53 percent of small business owners think the overall economy is getting worse, up from 44 percent in October.
    Only 11 percent of Small Businesses Expecting Increased Sales This Year
  • Small business owners have a glum outlook on the holiday season: Only 11 percent expect to see more business this year over last, while 46 percent of them are expecting less business than last year.
  • 73 percent of businesses that extend credit say that they have customers who have delayed or asked to delay a payment in the last three months.
  • 68 percent of consumers say that they have made purchases at a small business in an effort to keep it from closing.

In response to all the bad news, his visit last week to Allentown and the his big jobs forum, the President spoke this morning at the Brookings Institution (click here to read Facing South’s analysis of the speech) and here’s some of what he had to say about plans and possibly spending the $200 billion left over from the TARP (click here for the full text).

… That’s why it’s so important that we help small business struggling to stay open, or struggling to open in the first place, during these difficult times.  Building on the tax cuts in the Recovery Act, we’re proposing a complete elimination of capital gains taxes on small business investment along with an extension of write-offs to encourage small businesses to expand in the coming year.  And I believe it’s worthwhile to create a tax incentive to encourage small businesses to add and keep employees, and I’m going to work with Congress to pass one.

Now, these steps will help, but we also have to address the continuing struggle of small businesses to get loans that they need to start up and grow.  To that end, we’re proposing to waive fees and increase the guarantees for SBA-backed loans.  And I’m asking my Treasury Secretary to continue mobilizing the remaining TARP funds to facilitate lending to small businesses.

… Now, there are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. This is a false choice. Ensuring that economic growth and job creation are strong and sustained is critical to ensuring that we are increasing revenues and decreasing spending on things like unemployment insurance so that our deficits will start coming down.  At the same time, instilling confidence in our commitment to being fiscally prudent gives the private sector the confidence to make long-term investments in our people and in America.

The Path to War

Bobby Kennedy and LBJ discuss Vietnam escalationCompeting with Thanksgiving travel, Black Friday speculation, unemployment, layoffs, budget shortfalls, the health care debate, election violence in the Philippines, the mine disaster in China, H1N1 vaccine supplies, a former governor’s book tour, the beginning of the last two years of Oprah, the American Music Awards, Kennedy troubles with the Catholic church and on-going coverage of Michael Jackson and Princess Di, is President Obama’s decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan. Bill Moyers offers (aired 11/20/09 on PBS) a prospective through the LBJ’s decision to do the same in Vietnam.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal.

Our country wonders this weekend what is on President Obama’s mind. He is apparently, about to bring months of deliberation to a close and answer General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan. When he finally announces how many, why, and at what cost, he will most likely have defined his presidency, for the consequences will be far-reaching and unpredictable. As I read and listen and wait with all of you for answers, I have been thinking about the mind of another president, Lyndon B. Johnson.

I was 30 years old, a White House Assistant, working on politics and domestic policy. I watched and listened as LBJ made his fateful decisions about Vietnam. He had been thrust into office by the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963– 46 years ago this weekend. And within hours of taking the oath of office was told that the situation in South Vietnam was far worse than he knew.

Less than four weeks before Kennedy’s death, the South Vietnamese president had himself been assassinated in a coup by his generals, a coup the Kennedy Administration had encouraged.

South Vietnam was in chaos, and even as President Johnson tried to calm our own grieving country, in those first weeks in office, he received one briefing after another about the deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia.

Lyndon Johnson secretly recorded many of the phone calls and conversations he had in the White House. In this broadcast, you’re going to hear excerpts that reveal how he wrestled over what to do in Vietnam. There are hours of tapes and the audio quality is not the best, but I’ve chosen a few to give you an insight into the mind of one president facing the choice of whether or not to send more and more American soldiers to fight in a far-away and strange place.

Granted, Barack Obama is not Lyndon Johnson, Afghanistan is not Vietnam and this is now, not then. But listen and you will hear echoes and refrains that resonate today.

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