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All eyes were on Michelle last night (see the slideshow), but Jill Biden may well have won ‘best-dressed.’ The vice-president’s wife was radiant in a red gown by Lebanese designer Reem Acra.
From Reem Acra’s website:
- Influenced by her mother’s impeccable style and love of fashion, Reem was always fascinated by design. As a little girl, she accompanied her mother to fabric stores to learn about the finest fabrics, textures and design details such as hand-embroidery that would later become signature elements of her iconic style. As Reem grew up, her passion for design continued to evolve and she began designing dresses for herself, which were brought to life by her personal couturier.
After graduating high school, Reem studied business at the American University of Beirut, where she was discovered at a party by a fashion editor who was captivated by Reem’s dress – an ornate gown of silk organza and museum quality embroidery that was made from her mother’s dining room tablecloth. The woman instantly offered to host a fashion show of Reem’s designs which took place ten days following the chance encounter, and weeks later Reem was off to study in New York at the Fashion Institute of Technology and later its Paris counterpart at Esmond.
Following her studies, Reem traveled the world, drawing inspiration from the diverse countries she visited. After working as an interior designer for a few years, Reem continued to develop her craft in Hong Kong and New York where she returned to her fashion roots. In less than 10 years her atelier gained international recognition, sparked by a high society friend wearing Reem’s first bridal design, a simple yet embellished creation, to her society wedding. Soon after, Reem launched her first collection, Reem Acra Bridal, which elevated classic bridal designs through the use of the finest silks and intricate beading and embroidery.
Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United States Tuesday, and called on Americans to join him in confronting what he described as an economic crisis caused by greed but also “our collective failure to make hard choices.”
“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real,” Mr. Obama said in his inaugural address minutes after he took the oath of office on the same bible used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inaugural in 1861. “They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.”
Mr. Obama, the first African American to serve as president, spoke to a sea of cheering people, hundreds of thousands of Americans packed on the National Mall from the Capitol to beyond the Washington monument. The multitude was filled with black Americans and Mr. Obama’s triumph was a special and emotional moment for them.
With his wife, Michelle, holding the Bible, Mr. Obama, the 47-year-old son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Africa, was sworn in just after noon, a little later than planned, and spoke immediately thereafter..
In his speech, Mr. Obama promised to take “bold and swift” action to restore the economy by creating jobs through public works projects, improving education, promoting alternative energy and relying on new technology.
“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” Mr. Obama said in a prepared copy of his remarks.
The new president also noted the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the “far-reaching network of violence and hatred” that seeks to harm the country. He used strong language in pledging to confront terrorism, nuclear proliferation and other threats from abroad, saying to the nation’s enemies, “you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”
But he also signaled a clean break from some of the Bush administration’s policies on national security. “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” he said, adding that the United States is “ready to lead once more.”
He acknowledged that some are skeptical of his ability to fulfill the hope that many have in his ability to move the nation in a new direction.
“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply,” said Mr. Obama, who ran for stressing a commitment to reduce partisanship. “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”
Hundreds of thousands of people packed the National Mall from the West Front of the Capitol to beyond the Washington monument, buttoned up against the freezing chill but projecting a palpable sense of hope as Mr. Obama becomes the first African American to hold the nation’s highest elected office. It was the largest inaugural crowd in decades, perhaps the largest ever; the throng and the anticipation began building even before the sun rose.
After his speech, following a carefully designed script that played out all morning, Mr. Obama was to head inside the Capitol and sign nomination papers for the Cabinet members he chose in the weeks following his Nov. 4 victory. The Senate is to confirm some of those new Cabinet secretaries this afternoon, but Republicans planned to delay the confirmation of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state for at least one day.
CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides “did nothing inappropriate.”
Obama said he is prepared to make the review public, but decided to hold off because prosecutors asked for a delay and “I don’t want to interfere with an ongoing investigation.”
Controversy has swirled around the president-elect and his incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, following Blagojevich’s arrest last week on charges he schemed to trade Obama’s Senate seat for personal gain.
Obama, fielding questions at a news conference, sidestepped when asked whether Emanuel had spoken with aides to the governor.
Emanuel was one of several aides who watched the news conference from the wings.
The president-elect pledged the results of the investigation by his incoming White House counsel, Gregory Craig, would be released “in due course.”
He said the probe was complete and thorough, but did not say which of his aides Craig interviewed, whether any of them was under oath at the time, or any other details.
Project Would Be the Largest Since the Interstate System
On the heels of more grim unemployment news, President-elect Barack Obama yesterday offered the first glimpse of what would be the largest public works program since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the federal interstate system in the 1950s.
Obama said the massive government spending program he proposes to lift the country out of economic recession will include a renewed effort to make public buildings energy-efficient, rebuild the nation’s highways, renovate aging schools and install computers in classrooms, extend high-speed Internet to underserved areas and modernize hospitals by giving them access to electronic medical records.
“We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least 2 1/2 million jobs so that the nearly 2 million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future,” Obama said in his weekly address, broadcast on the radio and the Internet.
Obama offered few details and no cost estimate for the investment in public infrastructure. But it is intended to be part of a broader effort to stimulate economic activity that will also include tax cuts for middle-class Americans and direct aid to state governments to forestall layoffs as programs shrink.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called for spending between $400 billion and $500 billion on the overall package. Some Senate Democrats and other economists have suggested spending even more — potentially $1 trillion — in the hope of jolting the economy into shape more quickly.
PHILADELPHIA – Vice President Cheney always seemed to relish working in the shadows. After all, he’s the one who popularized the term “undisclosed location.” But that doesn’t seem to suit his successor.
Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared glad to be out in public on Tuesday when he joined President-elect Barack Obama in meeting with the nation’s governors here. In the month since the election, he has been the mostly silent sidekick, joining Mr. Obama in private meetings and standing behind him wordlessly during news conferences.
But this week, Mr. Biden looks to be unleashed, at least a little bit. He was given a speaking role both at the unveiling of the national security team in Chicago on Monday and then again during the meeting with the National Governors’ Association here on Tuesday. By word count, he even had somewhat more to say to the governors than Mr. Obama did.
And then there was that little moment that may or may not have been revealing. At one point during his remarks, Mr. Biden noted the presence of his former opponent, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, and greeted her warmly.
This Thanksgiving, progressives have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s our list:
We’re thankful for the thousands of protesters who took to the streets across America to push for marriage equality.
We’re thankful for Tina Fey.
We’re thankful to be liberal hacks.
We’re thankful that our troops will be able to get the education they so richly deserve.
We’re thankful that reality still has a liberal bias.
We’re thankful that there are only 54 days left until the end of the George W. Bush presidency.
We’re thankful for the progressive mandate to govern.
Since Barack Obama’s election, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun groups have been warning that the new president will take away their second amendment rights. This multi-million dollar campaign is already having effects. Not only is the NRA trying to profit off this fear-mongering by increasing its membership, many gun sellers are holding “Obama Sales.”
On Friday, ThinkProgress visited The Nation’s Gun Show in Chantilly, VA, where 1,000 vendors took over a building the size of two football fields. The NRA’s fear-mongering was all over the event. An ad in the Washington Post read, “GET YOUR GUNS WHILE YOU STILL CAN!!!” While we waited in a long line in the cold, visitors willing to begin or renew their NRA membership were able to get in free and skip the line.
We spoke with an NRA coordinator at the event who confirmed that the organization had seen a dramatic increase in membership after Obama’s election and noted that the turnout at this gun show was much higher than at one two months ago. When we asked whether Obama would revoke gun owners’ rights, she strayed from the official line and admitted that with important issues like the economy, he may not go after it right away. Some of the materials that were being handed out at the NRA booth:
Traces of these myths infiltrated some of the vendors’ tables as well:
One vendor with Liberty Firearms was wearing a button with Obama’s name crossed out and warned a couple, “Get ready for the Obamanation.” He told us that he was actually having trouble restocking and ordering new wares because suppliers were canceling orders and getting ready to dramatically increase prices to take advantage of the hype, as they did in 1994. The man selling the “NObama” shirts said that his business was also way up. “People are afraid,” he said.
Despite the NRA’s best efforts, many individual gun owners recognize the campaign as nothing but hype. ThinkProgress spoke with Gary Foster of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, who said that while he could not speak for his organization, his personal opinion was that many media stories about a rush on guns are overblown:
As FactCheck.org has explained, much of the NRA’s information is completely inaccurate: “Obama has spoken in favor of government registration of handguns, for example, but has not called for registration of all ‘firearms’ including hunting rifles and shotguns. [Many of NRA] TV spots and fliers also make claims that are directly contrary to what Obama actually says about guns.” Obama has also reassured voters that he has no intention or desire to take away their guns.
WILMINGTON, Del. – Edward “Ted” Kaufman, a former aide to Sen. Joe Biden, was named Monday by Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to fill the Senate seat Biden is leaving for the vice presidency. Kaufman, co-chair of Biden’s transition team and an Obama-Biden transition project advisory board member, plans to serve until the 2010 election, when a new senator is elected. He said he is comfortable stepping down after two years in office.
“I don’t think Delaware’s appointed senator should spend the next two years running for office,” Kaufman said. “I will do this job to the fullest of my ability, and spend my days focused on one thing and one thing only: serving Delaware.”
Speculation on Biden’s successor had centered in recent weeks on his son, Attorney General Beau Biden. But last week the younger Biden announced that he planned to fulfill his National Guard duties and wouldn’t accept an appointment to his father’s U.S. Senate seat.
Biden is a prosecutor for the 261st Signal Brigade, which left for Iraq last week. The unit is due back in September 2009, in time for Biden to run for his father’s Senate seat.
Kaufman, 69, said Monday night that he was “not a placeholder for anyone. At the end of the two years, anyone who wants to run can run.”
The elder Biden said in a statement, “It is no secret that I believe my son, Attorney General Beau Biden, would make a great United States Senator just as I believe he has been a great attorney general. But Beau has made it clear from the moment he entered public life that any office he sought he would earn on his own.”
Just before announcing Kaufman as the appointee, Minner acknowledged speculation about the younger Biden being picked for the post and said she would have strongly considered him.
“The fact that Beau Biden is committed to fulfilling his obligation and not seeking appointment to this office tells us everything we need to know about his character,” she said. “Should Beau choose to run for this office in 2010, he will — as will whoever runs — have to earn on his own the trust of the people of Delaware.”
Minner said she thought Kaufman was the best qualified candidate and she also looked for an appointee whose political views were close to the Biden’s.
Kaufman said he couldn’t think of anything he and Biden disagreed on and he was impressed by that even back in 1972 when Biden was first running for office.
“I was struck by how many things he believed that I also believed,” he said.
However, Kaufman’s experience in Washington will differ from Biden’s in one respect. He does plan to spend time in Delaware, but he and his wife will get a home in Washington, unlike Biden, who rode Amtrak between Washington and Wilmington.
Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 6, but in mid-January he will step down and Kaufman will be sworn in, Kaufman said.
Kaufman held a senior position in all of Biden’s federal campaigns. He served on Biden’s Senate staff from 1973 to 1994, including 19 years as chief of staff.
He is a senior lecturing fellow at Duke University and has served by presidential appointment since 1995 as a charter member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. He also heads a political and management consulting firm based in Wilmington, Del., and previously worked for the DuPont Co.
Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear programme, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog reported on Wednesday, deepening the dilemma facing US president-elect Barack Obama over his campaign promise to engage with Tehran.
The latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency reveals that Iran is rapidly increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium, which could be rendered into weapons-grade material should Tehran decide to develop a nuclear device.
The agency says that, as of this month, Tehran had amassed 630kg of low enriched uranium hexafluoride, up from 480kg in late August. Analysts say Iran is enriching uranium at such a pace that, by early next year, it could reach break-out capacity – one step away from producing enough fissile material for a crude nuclear bomb.
“They are moving forward, they are not making diplomatic overtures, they are accumulating low enriched uranium,” said Cliff Kupchan, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy in Washington. “These guys are committed to their nuclear programme: if we didn’t know that, they just told us again.”
The IAEA report also says there has been a breakdown of communication between the agency and Iran over alleged research on an atomic weapon. “The Iranians are making good progress on enrichment but there is absolute stone-walling on past military activities,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s very disappointing.”
Reaed it all
In Chicago today, at Obama Transition HQ, President-elect Obama surprised the Vice President-elect, who will turn 66 tomorrow.
After their weekly lunch, Mr. Obama presented Mr. Biden cupcakes, Obama aides say.
Here is a picture from the Obama Transition Team:
Obama lit the candles on the 12 cupcakes and brought them over to Biden.
“You’re 12 years old!” Obama joked, referring to the dozen cupcakes.
“Maybe in dog years!” Biden laughed.
Mr. Obama led the staff in singing him “Happy Birthday,” and then gifted his loquacious running mate with a Chicago White Sox Hat, a Chicago Bears Hat and a bucket of Garrett’s popcorn as gifts.
Chris Matthews, whose negative feelings for Hillary Clinton were made very clear during the primary season Matthews (and who was ultimately forced to apologize for what many perceived as sexist comments he made about her), was overheard trashing the idea of Clinton as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. The MSNBC host “didn’t take a good look around on the Acela train from Philadelphia to Washington Saturday before he started bad-mouthing the New York senator,” Page Six reports Tuesday:
An avowed Clinton lover who was sitting next to Matthews reports: “He was in business class wearing a red baseball hat that said Penn on the back, and the fat [bleep] fell asleep on the train and snored with his mouth open.”
During the ride to DC, Matthews awoke from his nap. A fellow passenger asked him, “What’s the news tomorrow?” – to which Matthews loudly started talking about President-elect Barack Obama possibly picking Hillary as his secretary of state.
- “I don’t understand it,” Matthews bellowed. “Why would he pick her? I thought we were done with the Clintons. She’ll just use it to build her power base. It’s Machiavellian. And then we’ll have Bill Clinton, too. I thought Obama didn’t want drama. He’s already got [chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel and [transition team leader John] Podesta. He’ll have even more drama with her.
- “She’s just a soap opera. If he doesn’t pick her, everyone will say she’s been dissed again, we’ll have to live through that again.”
As Page Six points out, Matthews is singing a different tune publicly. On his show Friday, he praised Hillary Clinton’s support for Obama in the general election, calling her “illustrious” and “admirable.”
2/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes
3/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes
4/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes
Early indications that men might dominate the hierarchy of Obama administration have women’s groups worried, even as a growing chorus of advisers reportedly pushes Hillary Rodham Clinton for secretary of state.
“There’s definitely been a reaction to the few groups that have been named so far,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. “I agree with those who are concerned that it would have been nice to see more women.”
Women’s rights advocates acknowledge it’s still early in the transition process, but they say early staff picks and the lists of rumored Cabinet nominees send the wrong signal.
“It’s appropriate that Obama’s vetting Clinton, but she’s one women,” said Amy Siskind, co-founder of The New Agenda, a nonpartisan women’s rights group founded by former Clinton supporters. “We want to see parity in the representation of women in the Cabinet.”
Some women’s rights advocates believe the new administration is conducting a broad search across a diverse pool of candidates.
The Obama transition team asked NOW to send suggestions of qualified female candidates, according to Gandy.
“The transition team is going to take the time to look at and vet the people they don’t know,” she said. “Because frankly, the people who are already well-known in Washington tend to be men and tend to be white.”
The early teams released by the Obama administration have tended to be male-dominated. On Wednesday, four women and eight men were named to Obama’s transition advisory board. His agency review team is headed by seven women and thirteen men. And last week, Obama met with his key economic advisers — four women and 13 men.
So far, Obama has named four members of his top White House staff. Three are men – chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, press secretary Robert Gibbs and chief congressional liaison Phil Schiliro. And one is a woman – senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Additionally, Vice President-elect Joe Biden has named Ron Klain as his chief of staff.
The senior staff assisting with the transition is more evenly divided, with Jarrett, a mentor and close friend one of the three top aides overseeing it.
While Obama has not made any Cabinet appointments, the names that are circulating have worried some in the women’s rights community.
“I have been struck by how few women have been mentioned for high-level positions,” said former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, who worked on the Clinton transition. “It’s still very early, so I don’t want to reach conclusions yet. But the rumors are a flashing yellow light.”
Read it all…
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
Do you see the election results as a repudiation of your politics?
Our new president-elect won one and a half points more than George W. Bush won in 2004, and he did so, in great respect, by adopting the methods of the Bush campaign and conducting a vast army of persuasion to identify and get out the vote.
I never said permanent. Durable.
Do you think John McCain attacked too much or not enough?
Dissecting the campaign that way is not helpful.
Have you met Barack Obama?
Yes, I know him. He was a member of the Senate while I was at the White House and we shared a mutual friend, Ken Mehlman, his law-school classmate. When Obama came to the White House, we would talk about our mutual friend.
Did you have lunch together? Talk in the hall?
We sat in the meeting room and chatted before the meeting. He had a habit of showing up early, which is a good courtesy.
Are you going to send him a little note congratulating him?
I already have. I sent it to his office. I sent him a handwritten note with funny stamps on the outside.
What kind of funny stamps?
Do you have any advice for him? You already criticized Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s new chief of staff, as a sharply partisan choice.
I raised a question as to whether this would be the best use of Rahm Emanuel’s talents. If you’re trying to work through a big legislative priority, it is sort of hard if you have a guy who has a reputation as a tough, hard, take-no-prisoners, head-in-your-face, scream-and-shout, send-them-a-dead-fish partisan.
What about you? You were always seen as very partisan.
I wasn’t the chief of staff. And you’d be surprised by the Democrats I actually met, got to know and worked with.
Do you like Joe Biden?
I think he has an odd combination of longevity and long-windedness that passes for wisdom in Washington.
Do you regret anything that happened in the White House during your tenure?
You’ve been booed off stages recently.
No, I haven’t. I’ve been booed on stages. I’m a little bit tougher than to walk off a stage because someone says something ugly.
Do you think the era of negative politics is over?
Do you see yourself as being associated with it in any way?
Look, in 1800 the sainted Thomas Jefferson arranged to hire a notorious slanderer named James Callender, who worked as a writer at a Republican newspaper in Richmond, Va. Read some of what he wrote about John Adams. This was a personal slander.
What did he say?
He said he lacked the spine of a man and the character of a woman. Negative politics have always been around.
Do you think you’re negative?
You’ve never repudiated President Bush.
No. And I never will. He did the right things.
What about Iraq and the economy?
The world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone.
Do you have any advice for him at this point?
With all due respect, I don’t need you to transmit what I want to say to my friend of 35 years.
Remember, attack politics are out. It’s a new age of civilized discourse.
You’re the one who hurt my feelings by saying you didn’t trust me.
Did I say that?
Yes, you did. I’ve got it on tape. I’m going to transcribe this and send it to you.
Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne Cheney welcomed Vice President-Elect Joseph Biden and his wife Jill Biden to the Naval Observatory for a private meeting and tour of the Vice President’s Residence in Washington.
The position will put Klain, a seasoned political hand, at the heart of West Wing activity.
Biden, who has kept a low profile since Election Day, will head to the vice president’s official residence at the Naval Observatory at 5:15 p.m. Thursday for a private meeting with Vice President Cheney. Biden and his wife, Jill, will also receive a tour of the residence from Cheney and his wife, Lynne.
The appointment enhances the continuity between the two Democratic administrations. Veterans of the Clinton-Gore White House have been given top jobs in the Obama-Biden transition.
Biden decided some time ago to offer Klain the job, but Klain’s friends weren’t sure he would take it. But he accepted the offer Wednesday afternoon, the officials said.
Klain was part of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign policy and debate preparation staff, was Gore’s chief of staff during the 1996 reelection; and led debate preparation for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.
Klain, a key member of the Clinton-Gore legal team during the recount fight of 2000, was played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO movie “Recount.”
After the recount, Klain became a partner in the Washington office of the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
National Journal wrote in 1997 that Klain “may have the best resume in town.”
From Klain’s official biography: “Prior to his appointment to the White House, Klain was the staff director for the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees, the chief of staff for Attorney General Janet Reno, associate counsel to President Clinton, and chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary. …
“Klain graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University, and he obtained his juris doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, winner of the Sears Prize, and a research assistant to Professor Laurence Tribe. For the 1987-1989 Supreme Court terms, Klain served as law clerk to Justice Byron R. White.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama could reverse some of President Bush’s most controversial executive orders, including restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, shortly after taking office in January.
Two other executive orders from Bush — one dealing with a so-called “gag” order on international aid organizations regarding abortion, the other with oil and gas drilling on federal lands — also are receiving increased scrutiny.
Obama’s transition team is reviewing hundreds of Bush’s executive orders, according to John Podesta, Obama’s transition co-chair.
New presidents often use executive orders to put their stamp on Washington quickly. Unlike laws, which require months to complete and the consent of Congress, presidents can use their executive authority to order federal agencies to implement current policies.
“Much of what a president does, he really has to do with the Congress — for example, budgeting, legislation on policy — but executive actions are ones where the president can act alone,” said Martha Kumar of the White House Transition Project, a nonpartisan group established to help new presidential administrations.
American elections are a powerful drug: they bring delusions of omnipotence. All that talk of “change” and “hope” brings demands for swift action: “Do it now,” “first six months,” “hundred days.” The economic crisis may indeed demand speed, but in foreign policy the reality is that, on the afternoon of Jan. 20, President Obama will face the same challenges that President Bush did that morning. And none presents much opportunity for bold new initiatives.
That’s fortunate. Incoming presidents making big decisions in a hurry is a surefire recipe for error. Think JFK and the Bay of Pigs. More recently, George W. Bush’s reflexive ditching of the Clinton administration’s strategy on North Korea was a misstep it has taken years to retrieve.
The foreign-policy and national-security inbox shows that, even on pressing issues, Obama has the luxury of time. A quick overview:
Iraq. Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. troops. But that’s already getting under way. At issue still: the pace of the drawdown, a date for final disengagement and the number of U.S. troops who should then remain as last-ditch guarantors of a democratic government in Baghdad. No Iraqi politician is going to be able to engage seriously on those topics until after their own elections next fall.
A few days before the election, a Democratic strategist privately worried that a Vice-President Joe Biden was destined for a White House career of dissatisfaction and idle-hands mischief.
“You can’t just have a guy like him at loose ends, he’d go crazy,” said a Democratic consultant who knows the affable, bright and mercilessly quotable soon-to-be ex-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “They need to keep him busy. Nobody over there wants him getting into the Secretary of State’s [business].”
Harnessing Biden’s considerable talents and containing his flaws will be an ongoing challenge for Obama. But Democratic insiders say the appointment of tough-guy Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff—and the administration’s need to forge a governing coalition that includes some Republicans—has brought Biden’s upcoming role more clearly into focus: He’ll play the good cop.
The Democrats’ apparent failure to win the 60 Senate seats necessary to halt a GOP filibuster has created the need for inter-party ambassadors like Biden who are practiced at the art of aisle crossing. In his 36-year Senate career, Biden was never considered a bomb-throwing ideologue, and he still has plenty of chits to cash in with Republicans on the Hill.
“He’s probably got more friends among Senate Republicans than John McCain does, and that’s a huge plus for Barack Obama, who is committed to breaking the partisan roadblock of recent years,” said Biden spokesman David Wade shortly before Election Day.
And while Emanuel’s bad-cop reputation may be overstated, all those F-bombs and threats to pulverize GOP incumbents during his tenure of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee boss create an opening for Biden, who maxes out on the Mr. Nice Guy scale.
“I really have genuine relationships with Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. I mean, I—I hope this is not self serving, but I’ve gained the respect,” Biden told an Ohio campaign rally in late October. “I’ve been able to literally work with the Republican leaders, of the committees as well as, as well as the Senate,” he added. “And Barack knows that, Barack has served there and sees that… I’m confident that I’ll be spending a fair amount of time [in Congress].”
In an interview with the New Yorker last month, Biden selected a lofty, if somewhat dubious role model: Lyndon Johnson, who plunged into a deep depression when John F. Kennedy assigned him the role as emissary to a Senate he had bullied, cajoled and utterly dominated as majority leader in the 1950s.
Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat who’s fond of Biden, painted a different picture: “I can see Joe in his room [just off the Senate chamber], smiling, slapping people on the back, making his points, working the members.”
Indeed, Biden told the New Yorker that his style would be more honey than sting: “I have never ever, ever screwed another senator,” he said.
On top of that, Biden could not be more different than the outgoing vice president, who never visited the weekly Democratic caucus lunches in the Senate and had virtually no relationships with the other side of the aisle. It’s unlikely that Biden will ever be caught telling another senator to “Go [expletive] yourself” as Dick Cheney famously said to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy. Unless he’s kidding.
Biden’s best Republican friends in the Senate are centrists, including retiring Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel and the top Republican on the Foreign Relations committee, Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, with whom he’s forged a close working partnership.
Biden is equally popular with some GOP staffers, drawing top-level Republican aides into free-ranging discussion on nettlesome policy problems, even setting up secure computer forums where aides can swap ideas without partisan recrimination, according to a person who participated in one of the chat groups.
The veep in waiting is not a favorite with Republicans hard-liners, though, who still hold grudges over his tough questioning of former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The conservative bloc in the Senate remains unified, and could still engineer a filibuster of Obama priorities.
“Joe’s really well liked—and he can be a real stand-up guy—but it’s going to be tough for him,” said an aide to a top Senate Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We’re not in the mood to make deals. People like him, sure, but people are going to change their votes on defense or health care or taxes just because Joe Biden’s a great guy?”
Biden may find it even tougher with Democratic senators—thrilled to have one of their own in the White House again—who may want to simply bypass the vice president and forge a relationship directly with Obama.
“He will carve out a role for himself, the problem is that he’s going to have a lot of competition—and it’s competition that won’t be willing to step aside for him,” says Jennifer Duffy, who covers the Senate for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.
Obama hasn’t served a full term in the Senate but he’s got plenty of friends in the Democratic caucus: Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, up-and-coming Missouri freshman Claire McCaskill and an ailing but still powerful Ted Kennedy. Obama also has a unique relationship with one of the most conservative senators, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, with whom he shares a passion for government reform.
Then there’s former Majority Leader Tom Daschle—a well-connected kitchen-cabinet Obama adviser who is likely to play some kind of role in the administration.
But Biden’s biggest competition may come from the president-elect himself.
“Obama already has his own relationships in the Senate so, in a sense, he doesn’t need an emissary,” Duffy adds. “He’s his own go-to guy.”
Obama has gone to great lengths to establish personal relationships with legislators, creating direct lines of communication that will be handy even if he runs into problems with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“Barack’s been seriously keeping touch with the [fiscally conservative Democratic] Blue Dogs and all the other foot soldiers—he’s intent on not making the same mistakes we did,” said a former aide to Bill Clinton, who worked his congressional transition team in the early 1990s. “We thought all we had to do was to keep in touch with the leaders and we left the members and committee chairs alone. That was a huge mistake and it killed us on the health care… Barack’s not making that mistake.”
WASHINGTON — For nearly two years on the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama rarely missed a chance to take a swipe at President Bush. The name George W. Bush invariably followed the phrase “failed policies” in Mr. Obama’s speeches. “When George Bush steps down,” Mr. Obama once declared, “the world is going to breathe a sigh of relief.”
Ronald and Nancy Reagan, right, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in 1980.
On Monday, Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, may find himself conveniently forgetting those words — or at least delicately stepping around the fact that he had said them. As the president-elect, he will be welcomed at the White House as an honored guest of its current occupant, Mr. Bush, for a meeting that could be as awkward as it is historic.
In a time-honored tradition of American democracy, Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will receive a tour of their new home from Mr. Bush and the first lady, Laura Bush. Then the men will split off to begin the formal transfer of power, all the more urgent this year because of the financial crisis. Mr. Obama has said he expects a “substantive conversation between myself and the president.”
But there will also be a subtext to the session: the personal chemistry between two leaders whose worldviews are miles apart. The ritual visit is occurring uncommonly early this year, less than a week after Mr. Obama handily defeated Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was the Republican nominee and Mr. Bush’s preferred candidate. Emotions may still be raw.
“I’m not going to anticipate problems,” Mr. Obama said Friday at his first news conference as president-elect. “I’m going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship.”
Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama have had little chance to forge the kind of personal relationship that might prompt a smooth handoff. In his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama wrote less than admiringly of his first face-to-face encounter with the president, at a White House breakfast for new senators after the 2004 election, where Mr. Bush outlined his second-term agenda.
“The president’s eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty,” Mr. Obama wrote. “As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring.”
Mr. Bush, meanwhile, was privately critical of Mr. Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary race, telling friends that he thought Mr. Obama’s chief rival for the party’s nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, was “more experienced and more ready to be president,” said one friend of Mr. Bush’s who had such a conversation. But Mr. Obama ran a good campaign — Mr. Bush is someone who appreciates that — and the election last week might have eased his doubts.
“President Bush is a realist,” said this friend, who spoke anonymously to disclose his private conversation with the president. “He has a way of coming to grips with things and moving on. The people have spoken.”
For Mr. Bush, the meeting has a distinct upside: the chance to take the edge off his unpopularity. Democrats are already praising him as gracious for his post-election speech in the Rose Garden, where he said it would be a “stirring sight” to see the Obama family move into the White House. The meeting on Monday will give Mr. Bush an opportunity to produce lasting images of that graciousness.
“The important thing he gets out of it,” the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “is a public perception of him as somebody who is leaving in classy fashion, by opening his house and his information and his government. He wants to leave on a note that says he did everything possible to help this next president run the country.”
But such meetings can be fraught with political and personal danger. On Inauguration Day in 2001, President Bill Clinton invited Mr. Bush for coffee before the ceremony but kept his ever-punctual successor waiting for 10 minutes, recalled Mr. Bush’s first press secretary, Ari Fleischer. Even more uncomfortable was the presence of Vice President Al Gore, who lost the presidential election to Mr. Bush after a bitterly contested Florida recount.
“Clinton was his normal gregarious self, but Vice President Gore was not a happy camper,” Mr. Fleischer said. “I think it was a very sour moment for him, and you could kind of feel it in the room.”
In 1980, after President Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan, the two met at the White House. Mr. Carter came away feeling that Mr. Reagan had not been paying attention.
“President Carter was kind of taken aback by the meeting with Reagan,” said Jody Powell, Mr. Carter’s former press secretary. “There was a point where he sort of wandered off and asked questions that seemed to be only tangentially related to what they were talking about.”
And though the Carter White House had offered to share information about efforts to end the Iranian hostage crisis, Mr. Powell said, “My impression was that they wanted us to handle it without them being involved enough to have to take responsibility for whatever happened.”
So, too, may it be with Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama over the economy. Mr. Bush has invited world leaders to Washington on Friday and Saturday for an international conference on the economy. Mr. Obama and his team have declined to attend. Mr. Obama supports a new economic stimulus package; the Bush White House is cool to that idea.
The White House says Mr. Obama has been there seven times during Mr. Bush’s tenure, most recently in September for a much-publicized meeting on the $700 billion financial rescue package. That session blew up when House Republicans, backed by Mr. McCain, balked at the plan. Curiously enough, Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush were on the same side.
Perhaps Mr. Obama will remind Mr. Bush of that when he sees him on Monday. Or perhaps he will remind Mr. Bush of another encounter, at a White House reception in January 2005 when, according to Mr. Obama’s book, the affable president offered a dollop of hand sanitizer — “Not wanting to seem unhygienic,” Mr. Obama wrote, “I took a squirt” — and then pulled him aside for some unsolicited political advice.
“You’ve got a bright future, very bright,” Mr. Bush began, by Mr. Obama’s account. The president went on to warn the new senator that his celebrity status could hurt him: “Everybody’ll be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So watch yourself.”
His focused effort to target a group that had heavily favored Republicans paid off, an exit poll shows.
As he vaulted into national acclaim with his 2004 Democratic convention speech, Barack Obama directly took on the assumption that his party should cede religious voters to the Republicans.
“We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” he said, pointedly adopting words from a song familiar to churchgoers, particularly younger ones.
The four-year effort by Obama, who is Christian, to narrow the gap between Democratic and Republican support among religious voters paid off last week when he won the race for the White House.
Exit polls showed the dramatic effect: Obama won 43% of voters who said they attend church weekly, eight percentage points higher than 2004 Democratic nominee John F. Kerry. Among occasional worshipers, Obama won 57%, 11 percentage points higher than Kerry, according to the National Election Pool exit survey.
When looking at how members of different faiths voted, the movement among Catholics is striking. They sided 52% to 47% with President Bush in 2004. But this year, they went 54% to 45% for Obama. That means Obama had more support among Catholics than did Kerry, himself a Catholic, by seven percentage points.
“Obama did better than Kerry among pretty much every religious group,” said Greg Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life who analyzed the poll results.
Even among voters who describe themselves as born-again Christians or evangelicals, a group that tends to vote Republican, Obama improved on Kerry’s standing — although he came in a distant second to GOP nominee John McCain. Kerry had won 21% of evangelical voters; Obama won 26%.
The shift by religious voters may have resulted partly from changes in the electorate — voter participation by blacks and Latinos grew, and both groups tend to be regular churchgoers. Yet there is no doubt that secular voters were more supportive of Obama than religious ones, according to the exit poll.
The Obama campaign, however, made sure to court religious voters and took advantage of his connections to influential Christian leaders.
Nearly two years ago, when voters knew little about him, the Illinois senator stood alongside nationally known author and Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest for a televised AIDS conference. Earlier, Obama had asked Warren to review a chapter of his book “The Audacity of Hope.”
Obama again gained the attention of Christian voters in July when he pledged to expand a controversial White House program to give federal grants to churches and small community groups. The proposal, which would build on efforts by the Bush administration to direct government money to church groups, was announced in Zanesville, Ohio, a hotly contested state that Obama won on election day.
And at the Democratic National Convention in August, which held its first-ever interfaith prayer gathering, the party platform endorsed by Obama — while not backing away from its support for abortion rights — emphatically reached out to women with children who rely on programs meant to ease their struggle.
Obama’s ease in talking about his religion also helped him win over religious voters. During a presidential forum held in August at Saddleback Church, where he and McCain were interviewed separately by church leader Warren, Obama spoke about “walking humbly with our God” and quoted from the Gospel of Matthew. His acceptance speech Tuesday night echoed in parts the church-inspired speeches of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“He uses the faith language very well,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University professor of government who has studied the subject. And that, he said, inspired trust.
“How do you know whether to trust him or not?” Wilcox said. “If you are a deeply religious person, you want to see that he has a grounding. That authenticity is really important. It reassures people.”
Religion, for a time, became a thorn for Obama during the presidential race. He was harshly criticized for his association with the now-retired Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose incendiary sermons about white America caused an uproar and led Obama to part ways with his longtime pastor, and endured a viral e-mail campaign falsely asserting that he is Muslim.
But “there was a broad recognition that he was a sincerely religious man,” Wilcox said of Obama. “And I think that did come through.”
The Obama campaign reached out to evangelicals and other religious communities, aware of the opportunity to peel away some voters.
Douglas W. Kmiec, a Pepperdine law professor, caused a stir last spring when he publicly endorsed Obama. One month later, at a Catholic Mass to which he was invited, Kmiec was denounced from the pulpit and denied communion because of his endorsement.
Kmiec said that although Obama’s support for abortion rights contradicts official Catholic doctrine, his broader approach aligns well with the church’s beliefs on issues such as the economy, healthcare and the environment.
“I was attracted out of my Republican-ness to Sen. Obama’s side largely because I could hear, in the way he was articulating economic issues and social issues, the social gospel of the Catholic Church,” Kmiec said.
From September through election day, Kmiec traveled to key states including Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, meeting with groups of people at churches on Obama’s behalf. The election’s focus on the economy was “providential,” Kmiec said. Without the usual single-issue debate about abortion rights among Christian voters, the Obama campaign had the opportunity to make its case on other fronts.
“It moderated, it seemed to me, the amount of time that was devoted to these divisive conversations,” he said.
The election results returned Catholics to their historical Democratic moorings, which many had fled for the GOP during the Reagan years.
“That is opening a door that had been closed for a while,” Kmiec said. But whether it stays open may be determined by whether Obama’s actions match what he promised — and also by what larger political environment defines the 2012 presidential race.
“At some level, if he’s a good president, that will affect evangelicals and non-evangelicals, Catholics,” said Wilcox of Georgetown University. It is too soon, he said, to know whether Obama’s improvements among religious voters indicate a new alignment for Democrats, or were simply a verdict on the 2008 candidates.
“I would want to see this over time,” Wilcox said.
RIGHT WING: “The game has begun,” Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience of 15 million to 20 million last week.
Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity dive shamelessly in, talking about the ‘Obama recession’ and other partisan lines.
You have to give Rush Limbaugh a perverse kind of credit. At least when he is demonizing Barack Obama, fabricating Obama policies, blaming Obama for single-handedly causing the recession and the stock market crash, he doesn’t pretend to be fair.
Opening his first post-election rant against the president-elect, Limbaugh launched in with a certain relish. “The game,” he told his radio listeners, “has begun.”
Sean Hannity, on the other hand, insisted on feigning a post-election detente, telling his Fox News television audience last week, “I want Barack Obama to succeed.”
Didn’t he think anyone would notice that, just a moment later, he was back parroting the failed campaign argument that Obama is a “mystery”?
“I fear [this] is the guy that has these radical associations 20 years ago,” Hannity added, an odd way of demonstrating support for the new commander in chief.
A healthy skepticism is not only the media’s right but its obligation. Indeed, commentators at many mainstream outlets — including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal — have already argued that Obama’s best bet to succeed will be if he hews to a centrist path.
But many on the losing end of last week’s election want to hold on to their anger. And there are those in the media — led by the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity — only too ready to feed that animus, along with their own ratings.
“The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen,” Limbaugh told his radio audience of 15 million to 20 million on Thursday. “Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession. Might turn into a depression.”
Apparently the tanking of the real estate market, record losses in the auto industry, and massive failures in the banking and investment industry have very little to do with our problems. The economic system is collapsing, Rush wants us to know, because it anticipates the tax increases Obama has pledged on capital gains and for the highest income earners.
But maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising, because radio’s Biggest Big Man also assures us that the Democrat welcomes “economic chaos” because it gives him “greater opportunity for expanded government.” In a time when the nation calls out for cool leadership and rational discussion, Limbaugh stirs the caldron, a tendency he proved in a particularly grotesque way last week when he accused Obama’s party of plotting a government takeover of 401(k) retirement plans.
“They’re going to take your 401(k), put it in the Social Security trust fund, whatever the hell that is,” Limbaugh woofed. “Trust fund, my rear end.”
A slight problem with Limbaugh’s report: Obama and the Democrats have proposed no such thing.
The proposal, in fact, emanated from a single economist, one of many experts testifying to a congressional committee.
The president-elect has thus far shown as much interest in taking over your 401(k) as he has in moving the capital to Nairobi. (If you look hard, you might find that one somewhere out there in the blogosphere, too.)
To broadcast such a report — so drained of context as to constitute a lie — would be a shameless act at any time. But Limbaugh needlessly stirred the fears of the millions he holds in his thrall — making the 401(k) thievery sound like nearly a done deal. Shameless.
Hannity and Limbaugh filleted Obama’s selection as chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, in a way that exposed their partisan gamesmanship.
Mainstream newspapers have filed plenty of unflinching accounts of Emanuel’s tough, occasionally ruthless tactics as a Democratic congressional leader and onetime operative in the Clinton White House. That assessment of bare-knuckle partisanship Hannity seized on. But it wouldn’t do to report another aspect of Emanuel’s record — his Clintonesque bent for the political center.
So the Fox-man simply created a new persona for Emanuel as, you guessed it, “one of the hardest left-wing radicals on the left.”
Ever open-minded, Hannity concluded, “I think they’re going to overreach, and I think we’re going to see the person that I think Barack Obama is. I think he is hard, hard left.”
Then, I kid you not, Hannity ended with this pledge: “We’ll see. We’ll give him an opportunity.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham apparently didn’t get the memo requiring Obama’s opponents to sink immediately and mindlessly into rank partisanship.
The South Carolina senator, one of Sen. John McCain’s closest allies in his bid for the presidency, praised Obama’s selection of Emanuel as “a wise choice.” He added that the new chief of staff could be a tough partisan, but was also “honest, direct and candid” and willing to “work to find common ground where it exists.”
Perhaps Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of those intent on poisoning the soil before bipartisanship can take root might recall words of wisdom from Brit Hume, a veteran newsman who is close to leaving the Fox anchor desk for semi-retirement.
The problem with the accusations of Obama being “dangerous” and “radical,” Hume said on election night, “was that it just didn’t fit with the man you saw before your eyes.”
That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.
Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”
But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”
And it was not too long ago that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, accused Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”
But she took an entirely different tone on Thursday, when she chastised reporters for asking her questions about her war with some staff members in the McCain campaign at such a heady time. “Barack Obama has been elected president,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us, let us — let him — be able to kind of savor this moment, one, and not let the pettiness of maybe internal workings of the campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment that we’re in. And God bless Barack Obama and his beautiful family.”
There is a great tradition of paint-peeling political hyperbole during presidential campaign years. And there is an equally great tradition of backing off from it all afterward, though with varying degrees of deftness.
But given the intensity of some of the charges that have been made in the past few months, and the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election, the exercise this year has been particularly whiplash-inducing, with its extreme before-and-after contrasts.
The shift in tone follows the magnanimous concession speech from Mr. McCain, of Arizona, who referred to Mr. Obama’s victory Tuesday night as “a historic election” and hailed the “special pride” it held for African-Americans. That led the vice president-elect, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., to get into the act. During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he no longer recognized Mr. McCain, an old friend. Now, he says, “We’re still friends.” President Bush, in turn, also hailed Mr. Obama’s victory, saying his arrival at the White House would be “a stirring sight.”
Whether it all heralds a new era of cooperation in Washington remains to be seen, and it may be downright doubtful. But for now, at least, it would seem to be part of an apparent rush to join what has emerged as a real moment in American history.
The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence.
“I don’t think that’s happened very often,” Ms. Goodwin said. “The best answer I can give you is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and they recognize how the country saw this election, and how people feel that they’re living in a time of great historic moment.”
Others in the professional political class were not so sure. Some wondered whether simple pragmatism was the explanation.
“My experience is, it’s less an epiphany and more a political reality,” said Chris Lehane, a former Democratic strategist who worked on the presidential campaign of Al Gore. “I’m thinking they will continue in this direction so long as the polls indicate it’s a smart place to be.”
There are notable exceptions: Rush Limbaugh has given no quarter. And while his fellow conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have noted the significance of his victory — on Wednesday, Ms. Ingraham said “Obama did make history” and “It’s not the time to vilify him” — they seem to be in line with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Relishing his new role in the opposition camp, Mr. O’Reilly said, “The guy is still a mystery, so our oversight will be intense.”
Some lawmakers also do not appear inclined to give up the fight. Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, has already criticized Mr. Obama’s choice of Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, as his chief of staff.
But other people who opposed Mr. Obama, like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have good reason to try to make up with the winning ticket. As an ardent backer of Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman angered the Democrats, who in 2000 nominated him as their vice-presidential candidate. After losing a Democratic primary challenge in 2006 and then winning as an independent, he still continued to caucus with the Democrats.
Attending an event with Mr. McCain in York, Pa., in August, Mr. Lieberman said the race was “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”
As a speaker at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Lieberman went further than Democrats expected by criticizing Mr. Obama for “voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground.” (Mr. Obama voted for bills that included plans for withdrawal from Iraq and against others that did not.)
This week Mr. Lieberman, who has been asked by the Democratic Senate leadership to consider giving up his position as the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a statement congratulating Mr. Obama for “his historic and impressive victory.” It continued, “The American people are a people of extraordinary fairness.”
Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said that as far as the senator was concerned, “It’s over, and it’s genuinely time to find unity and move forward behind the new president.”
And what about that whole bit about Mr. Obama not always putting his country first? “He believes that President-elect Obama — and, then, Senator Obama — is a genuine patriot and loves his country,” Mr. Wittmann said. “The only point he was making in his campaign was about partisanship.”
Mr. Obama is apparently ready to bury the hatchet with his new fans. “President-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants to put partisanship behind and work together to solve the many challenges confronting the country,” said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team. “We’re pleased that others do as well.”
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who will help decide Mr. Lieberman’s committee assignment, sounded less ready to forgive, at least when it came Mr. Lieberman’s support for Mr. McCain. “Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong, and I’d like — if we weren’t on television, I’d use a stronger word of describing what he did,” he said on CNN Friday.
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s big victory could provide Democrats with a road map for an even bigger electoral majority in the future _ something that seemed implausible just four years ago.
Obama won in the suburbs of key states, expanded Democratic majorities in big cities and made inroads into rural areas that had been off-limits to Democrats in recent presidential elections. He also proved that a black presidential candidate could make Democratic gains in some of the whitest counties in the nation _ even though in much of the Deep South, his race still appeared to turn voters away.
Nationwide, Republican John McCain won a majority of the white vote in Tuesday’s election. But Obama, who will become the nation’s first black president, actually fared better than Democratic nominee John Kerry did among white voters in 2004 _ and he did it in some unlikely places, according to an Associated Press analysis of election results.
“Every president wants to build or maintain a coalition for success, to establish a permanent imprint politically,” said David Rohde, a political scientist at Duke University. “If the Democrats can avoid screwing up, this can be a politically transformative event.”
As expected, Obama did well among low-income voters. But he also won over the wealthiest Americans, despite promising a tax increase for those making more than $250,000 a year. Obama won 52 percent of the vote among those with family incomes of more than $200,000 a year, according to exit polls. That’s a 17-point improvement over fellow Democrat Kerry.
Obama also won a majority of the Catholic vote, something Kerry didn’t do, even though Kerry would have become just the second Catholic president.
And Obama rocked the youth vote, which has Democrats hoping they can hold onto the voters of the future. Obama won 66 percent of the vote from 18 to 29 year olds, a 12-point improvement over Kerry.
Four years ago, the Democrats were looking at a shrinking electoral map as they suffered through hard-fought losses in Ohio and Florida. Suburban soccer moms seemed to be trending Republican, while much of rural America was solidly red.
It turns out those suburbanites weren’t so wedded to the Republicans, after all.
Obama did well in key suburban counties in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Indiana, winning all four states carried by President Bush in 2004. He also made inroads in heavily Republican rural counties, even if he didn’t win a majority of the vote in those areas.
In Florida, Obama made significant gains among voters living along the Interstate 4 corridor, a swing area from Orlando to Tampa. He won Osceola County, home to Kissimmee, and Orange County, home to Orlando. Up the Atlantic Coast, Obama also improved on Kerry’s numbers in Duval County, home to Jacksonville.
In Ohio, Obama won Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, a county that Kerry lost in 2004. He also made significant gains in suburban counties in northwestern Ohio as well as those near Columbus in the center of the state.
In Indiana, Obama won a larger percentage of the vote than Kerry in every county, helping him to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1964.
Virginia exemplified Obama’s Southern strategy. Obama built a lead in the fast-growing suburbs of Northern Virginia, territory that is more friendly toward Democrats, while limiting his losses in the southern part of the state, which is more Republican.
Much was made of Obama’s lack of support among white working class voters in his epic Democratic primary battle with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. And in the general election, Obama did lose among whites without college degrees.
But in many of the nation’s most rural, white counties outside the Deep South, Obama did surprisingly well. He didn’t always win a majority in those areas, but more often than not, he did better than Kerry did four years ago.
About 1,360 U.S. counties have populations that are more than 90 percent white. Obama won only 249 of those counties, but he received more of the vote than Kerry in nearly eight out of 10 of them, according to the AP analysis.
Obama won in overwhelmingly white counties throughout New England and in parts of the Midwest. He won some of the whitest counties in Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin and his home state of Illinois. He didn’t win many of the whitest counties in Kansas or Idaho, but he fared better than Kerry in most of them.
The South and Appalachia were the exceptions.
In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, Obama fared worse than Kerry in all 49 counties where whites make up 90 percent or more of the population.
There were similar, but less severe, patterns in the Appalachian states of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Obama did much better in faster-growing Southern states along the East Coast, such as North Carolina _ where he bested Kerry in two-thirds of the predominantly white counties, and in Virginia, where he out polled Kerry in 22 of the state’s 31 predominantly white counties.
Democrats hope the high-growth areas in the South will help them increase their toehold in a region that has largely been shut off to Democrats in the past two presidential elections.
“The people who have moved there are better educated and they make more money. It’s just a different demographic mix,” said Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from South Carolina. “That’s the South of 2008.”
It’s been widely reported that Gov. Palin fought hard to give her own concession speech after the election had been decided on Tuesday night. However, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt wisely made sure Palin was not allowed to speak to the nation. But now we’ve found out Caribou Barbie had gone as far as to write up what she planned to say on that historic evening. Here is her much-anticipated concession speech…
A dedication to all those who helped make Obama’s election possible.
Last night, American voters proved themselves to be very different than what most of the world had assumed. Since 2000, the world was certain that the majority of Americans were of such low intelligence that we needed constant care. Last night, we sent out a message loud and clear: “Despite our decisions as an electorate for the past eight years, we, as a people, are actually not severely retarded. Sorry for the misunderstanding and, um, those wars.”
Based on McCain’s campaign, no one bought into this assumption of our mental deficiency more than the GOP. Strategists for the McCain campaign clearly decided that any voting population that could elect George Bush twice obviously has some severe developmental disabilities and should be catered to as such. Yesterday, we proved them wrong.
Here are just a few intelligence tests that we passed with flying colors yesterday:
In electing Barack Obama, we proved that…
We can tell women apart – The GOP saw that many Democrats were big supporters of Hillary Clinton, who is a female. So someone decided, “They want a woman. Let’s give them one of those.” Someone else most likely asked, “Which woman should we get?” to which Steve Schmidt replied, “Who cares? They’ll never know the difference.”
We knew the difference.
We are aware that racism isn’t the answer to everything – If the McCain campaign had one, overriding message, it could be summarized as, “The only way to solve all the problems facing this country is to vote against a black person.” While the message appealed to many Americans, far more of us responded with, “Normally, I’d agree with you. But this time, racism just might not be the way to go.” We took the gamble and won.
We can tell catchy three-word chants apart – A lot of stuff got chanted this election, because chants are fun and everyone should join in on one if they get the chance. But yesterday we proved that while all men are created equal, that’s not the case with catchy three-word chants. Thus did 63 million Americans go into voting booths yesterday and declare that “Yes We Can” is a way better chant than “Drill Baby Drill.”
We know that old people don’t wanna change a goddamn thing – Americans have been around old people long enough to know that they don’t like to change stuff. So when an old person started telling us about all the stuff he plans to change, we knew he was lying, and we responded the way we did when our grandfather went into that home. We ignored him.
We know not to do everything our plumber tells us to do – Actually, that’s an overstatement. 63 million Americans know not to do everything our plumber tells us to do. For 55.8 million of us, however, when a plumber says jump we say how high. Still a good, not-that-retarded margin.
We know that when something might cause a global apocalypse, we should find another way – This, ultimately, was the true demonstration of our nation’s level of intelligence. Each of us went into the booth thinking, “I can either vote for Obama, or the entire world will be reduced to ash and cinders before next Easter.” Again, 55.8 million of us opted for the annihilation of Earth. But the other 63 million? That’s right. Not retarded.
You’re welcome, planet. Now take us to McDonalds.
Obama meets with economic advisers [Photo-op]
President-elect holds a briefing laying out his transition plan and plans to resolve the financial crisis.
Obama to act swiftly on economy
A British reporter covering the 2008 Presidential election for the Birmingham Mail was caught on tape in a drunk rant, admitting plagiarism and acknowledging that he was writing his story while “pissed” drunk.
Adam Smith, also known as Steve Zacharanda, came to Miami last week to cover the election because, as he put it, “I aint going to go to Ohio, am I? I go to Miami, because that’s where the party is.”
Smith said, “I wanted to be here because I’m here for history. The trouble is, the readers of the Birmingham Mail are going to get my version of history. And I’m just a little bit pissed.”
He then said, “Thank God for the BBC, because I’m cutting and pasting, baby!”
Smith ended his rant with a “fuck you” resignation from the Birmingham Mail, saying, “My name is Adam Smith, also known as Steve Zacharanda, who has just resigned from the Birmingham Mail, the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Sunday Mercury, to set up my own magazine…Fuckk you, I’m doing what I want.”
The Times reports that Smith’s employment status is now very much up in the air:
Steve Dyson, editor of the Birmingham Mail, said: “This is an internal matter, so we cannot discuss it.”
Asked about the company’s attitude towards plagarism, he added: “Whilst we cannot discuss internal matters, plagarism will not be tolerated in any form by BTM Media Limited – although we do not believe that any has been taking place.”
In a further comment left the next morning by Mr Smith on the YouTube page, he appeared to have sobered up significantly.
“Right, the thing is, right I’ve just woke up. And seen this video, which I don’t really remember. I’ve been told to phone the Birmingham Mail because I am in trouble.
“I was off duty, I am on official holiday working at the South Beach Miami Barack Obama campaign where I had just done a 18-hour shift trying to make the world a better place. Please check every BBC News outlet and see if I have cut and pasted anything. I have not, it was a joke and should be taken in the spirit it was said.”
Presser will kick off in Chicago at 2:30 pm ET. Read more details here.
Aides say he plans to stay home through the weekend with a blackout on news announcements so he and his staff can get some rest.
Nadar is saying Obama’s foreign policy will be like that of George Bush – but how could Obama go about restoring America’s image in the world – and indeed taking allies concerns into account – if he were to follow Bush’s lead. We could assume that there may be something an Obama administration may not be able to change or undo in the near future – but his idea is to change direction. And to put America on a technological rather than a military path. Bush didn’t consider technology and scientific research that important – there was article on CNet – when Bush came to Silicon Valley – to talk about alternative energy – the reporter said that the most exiting thing Bush say was that while he was in the area – he looked forward to going mountain biking (or similar) over the weekend, but what many in this room of people wanted to hear is how Bush would enlist them in developing these new forms of energy and the money for it and a plan.
Contrast this to Barack Obama – who says – look what they are doing in China – they just sent a man into space – and we need to be ready to compete. It’s an aggressive plan for technology, for the education that forms the backbone of this new development.
And besides who’s going to pay for it – the Bush agenda has practically bankrupted the nation.
Nadar should stand down – for the moment.
(CHICAGO) — President-elect Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers Thursday, returning calls from world leaders who reached out after his presidential victory.
Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the president-elect spoke to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Sarkozy’s office says they spoke for 30 minutes and characterized the discussion as “extremely warm” as the president congratulated Obama on a “brilliant” election victory. The statement said they discussed international issues, particularly the financial crisis, and agreed to meet in the “quite near future.”
Harper’s office said in a statement that they spoke about an international financial summit in Washington on Nov. 15 and its importance for addressing the global financial crisis. Obama had no plans to attend the meeting.
The prime minister’s office says the two leaders emphasized that there could be no closer friends and allies than the United States and Canada and vowed to maintain and further build upon the relationship. Harper’s office called it a warm exchange and said they agreed to talk again soon.
Calderon’s office said Obama pledged continued U.S. support for Mexico’s fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. A statement from the Mexican president’s office says Obama told Calderon he was “conscious of the difficulty of the battle” and offered “decisive” U.S. support.
Congress approved $400 million in anti-drug aid for Mexico last June, but has yet to release the money.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday congratulated Obama on his election win in a letter, — the first time an Iranian leader has offered such wishes to a U.S. president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian leader also said he hopes Obama will “use the opportunity to serve the (American) people and leave a good name for history” during his term in office.
In his conversation with Lee, Obama said the U.S.-South Korea alliance is a “cornerstone” of Asia’s peace and stability, and promised improved relations between the countries, Seoul’s presidential office said.
The United States helped defend South Korea during the Korean war and is its No. 1 ally. About 28,500 American troops are still stationed there to deter threats from communist North Korea.
Brown’s Downing Street office says he and Obama spoke about several issues, including reform of the global financial system. Britain’s Press Association newswire said the two had a “very friendly and positive” 10-minute conversation, covering topics including the world economy, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Middle East peace process.
Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd told reporters in Sydney that he spoke by telephone with Obama Friday to congratulate him on his historic win and discuss the various challenges the lie ahead for the world, chief among them the global financial crisis. The two also talked about the issues of national security and climate change during the 10- to 15-minute conversation, Rudd said.
“It was a good conversation, it was a friendly conversation,” Rudd said. “The challenges we face are great….But I believe we have a strong partner in the U.S.”
Following up on his historical campaign, Barack Obama has debuted a new website, Change.gov. He also set out a five point plan to change America and an interactive way for Americans to share their ideas on the website.
Here’s Obama’s Agenda
Hardball’s Chris Matthews: How Obama Won
Everyone knows that Obama would be dealt a stiff hand ~ if he were to become President.
Obama tells people what he thinks and in the direction he thinks we should go in. Look at the convention – when Obama accepted his party’s nomination – I think what many of detractors saw were the Greek columns – I barely noticed – because it was what he said that was important – he said it was not over – the Republican attack machine is going to come after him to try to win this election. Which is one of the reasons I built this blog, that and the appearance of Sarah Palin – who has either reached or is safely on her way back to Alaska:-}. When Obama became President-elect he said that there is a lot of work to do and it is going to take time. Obama’s a guy with some good ideas – and not only America but much of the world is with him – and once he becomes President – it would be difficult to understand why he wouldn’t work to get these things done. If you scroll down and listen to the speech that Obama made when he announced his candidacy for President – it sounds very similar to the speeches he used to end his campaign with — but more in his very first speech – he tells you what he is going to do once he is elected – after telling you the route by which he was going to get elected – and he got elected. The inaugurated is in January – and I am sure – a good day that will be. Most of all we trust him.
President-elect Barack Obama has begun an effort to tamp down what his aides fear are unusually high expectations among his supporters, and will remind Americans regularly throughout the transition that the nation’s challenges are substantial and will take time to address.
Visitors offered wishes to Barack Obama at a wall built Wednesday near the Lincoln Memorial.
Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were startled, if gratified, by the jubilation that greeted the news of Mr. Obama’s victory in much of the United States and abroad. But while the energy of his supporters could be a tremendous political asset as Mr. Obama works to enact his agenda after taking office in January, his aides said they were looking to temper hopes that he would be able to solve the nation’s problems or fully reverse Bush administration policies quickly and easily, especially given the prospect of a deep and long-lasting recession.
“We have talked about this,” said Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “It’s important that everybody understands that this is not going to happen overnight. There has to be a realistic expectation of what can happen and how quickly.”
Joel Benenson, Mr. Obama’s campaign pollster, said he thought that the public appreciated the problems that the president-elect was facing and would judge him against that backdrop.
“I don’t think they view him as a miracle worker who in two months is going to solve an economic crisis,” Mr. Benenson said. “It is a matter of being straightforward with people about what we are going to achieve and how fast it’s going to take.”
Mr. Obama will hit that theme at a news conference he is expected to hold over the coming days, and in most of his public appearances from here on out, aides said. They said they would discourage the traditional yardstick for measuring the accomplishments of a new president — the first 100 days. Mr. Obama told an interviewer toward the end of his campaign that it was more appropriate to talk about the first 1,000 days.
Mr. Obama’s advisers said that the tone of his victory speech on Tuesday night — sober and devoid of the arm-pumping that would typically be in an address of that sort — reflected his awareness of these circumstances. Mr. Obama warned that the promises that led Americans to embrace his candidacy — be they as specific as expanding health care or as broad as changing the tone of Washington — might take as long a term to carry out.
The caution reflected the inevitable perils of taking control of the White House at such a difficult time, particularly after a campaign that stirred so much hope among voters. The economic crisis will certainly complicate Mr. Obama’s more ambitious domestic efforts like broadening health care coverage and cutting taxes for most Americans. His call for a change in the tone in Washington would require a sharp shift in history. Even with substantial Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House, passing major legislation could still be time-consuming for Mr. Obama and require compromises.
Mr. Gibbs said one of the main challenges for Mr. Obama was tamping down expectations a bit without making anyone think he was moving away from the promises of his campaign.
“The flip side of this — and I want to make sure this is also clear — we also believe that it is paramount to begin doing everything we said we would do in the campaign,” Mr. Gibbs said. “We know expectations are high. But disappointment if we didn’t try to do the things that we said we were going to do would be far, far greater than anything else. People went to the polls and elected Barack Obama because they believed the fact not only that he could do what he said, but that he would try to do what he said.”
The challenge facing Mr. Obama today is similar to one that faced Bill Clinton in 1992, the last time a president arrived in Washington with anything approaching the level of excitement Mr. Obama’s election set off around the country.
As Election Day approached in 1992, it was apparent from the crowds that Mr. Clinton drew, in their size and their faces, that his supporters expected big things after a campaign in which Mr. Clinton had promised a dramatic revamping in health care coverage and programs for the poor. At the time, a senior adviser who was traveling with him, Paul Begala, warned Mr. Clinton to add some caveats to his speeches, to avoid voter letdown should it take time to accomplish things as president.
“I remember talking about this to him in the closing days of the campaign,” Mr. Begala said. “And he started saying, ‘We didn’t get into this overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight.’ ”
“So I remember him talking about it and doing it — and it didn’t have any effect on the citizens,” Mr. Begala said. That was one reason, he said, that Democrats lost control of Congress two years later.
A nearly 500-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday was a reminder that Mr. Obama’s election did not bring the financial crisis to a close, and that the economic downturn could limit his ability to pursue his full agenda right off the bat by demanding an immediate focus on trying to pull the nation out of recession. And, even if Americans are ready to bear with Mr. Obama as he pursues policy proposals, they may not as readily accept the sort of compromise that legislative accomplishment often requires.
With the Democrats falling short of a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate on Tuesday, his agenda will probably require some modicum of horse trading for Republican support. Further complicating the picture, Mr. Obama’s winning coalition includes new voters who will be watching him closely but may not have patience for the deliberative give and take that accomplishment in Washington often demands.
“He’s got to lower some expectations, indicate the limits he’s confronting,” said Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to Mr. Clinton. “He’s got a story to tell about how he’s confronting the worst crisis that any president has faced in modern history, and I think he can make clear that he’s going to try to deal with these problems one at a time.”
‘Sarah Palin Didn’t Really Wear Well’
‘They Had a 50-State Strategy’
‘It’s Kind of a Paradox’
Not ‘Enough Strategic Thinking’
‘Really Reach Out to the Other Side’
John McCain’s chaotic operation may well rank among recent history’s least successful efforts.
The GOP presidential campaign of 2008 will certainly be one that historians discuss for years to come. But not in the way that some Republicans had hoped for when they selected an experienced maverick, loved by the media, to face off against an inexperienced African-American who had trouble vanquishing his opponent in the primaries.
To be fair, the odds were stacked against any Republican. The economy has suffered while the incumbent president was phenomenally unpopular. Democrats were well organized and well financed. They found, in Barack Obama, an exceedingly charismatic and dynamic candidate.
But nothing is inevitable in American politics. A strong campaign, combined with the issue of race and fears about Obama’s inexperience, could have produced a different outcome.
History is filled with examples of campaigns marked by bad decisions and poor performances that undermined their chances of victory. In 1964, Republican Barry Goldwater made statements that allowed President Lyndon Johnson to depict him as a candidate too far out of the American mainstream. Eight years later, Richard Nixon returned the favor to Democratic Sen. George McGovern, who had put together a campaign that appealed to the New Left and other activists inspired by 1960s activism but failed to bring in traditional Democratic constituencies such as organized labor. In 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis was the proverbial deer in the headlights when Republican Vice President George H.W. Bush and his team redefined the technocratic Massachusetts Democrat into an extreme card-carrying ACLU liberal who let out murderers on weekend furloughs. Bush then stumbled in 1992 with his tin ear about the economic recession. In 1996, Republican Robert Dole ran a lethargic campaign that emphasized nostalgia and suspicion while President Bill Clinton ran around the country boasting about peace and prosperity. During the last election, Sen. John Kerry didn’t adequately defend himself against “Swift-Boat” attacks.
But Team McCain ran a campaign that ranks on the bottom of this list. This was an aimless and chaotic operation made worse by poor choices at key moments. Their first mistake was picking Gov. Sarah Palin. Though in the first week following her selection, Palin energized the conservative base of the GOP, she became a serious drag on the ticket. This turned into one of the worst picks since McGovern selected Thomas Eagleton, a Missouri senator who withdrew after revealing that he had gone through electroshock therapy and suffered from “nervous exhaustion.” By picking Palin, McCain simultaneously eliminated his own best argument against Senator Obama—the limited experience of his opponent—while compounding his own most negative image, that of someone who was erratic and out of control. The pick also fueled the feeling that grew throughout September and October that the Republican candidate was willing to take any step necessary to win the campaign. The Palin pick made every decision that followed seem purely political.
The second mistake was going dark. McCain missed the biggest lesson of the Reagan Revolution: conservatives usually do best when they appeal to America’s optimism and develop a positive campaign around a vision for the country. President George W. Bush understood this in 2000, stressing compassionate conservatism, and in 2004 he couched his candidacy in an optimistic argument about how the Bush Doctrine could strengthen America against terrorism and restore the kind of security that seemed lost after 9/11.
McCain and Palin rejected this approach, instead putting together a campaign that was almost entirely negative and focused on attacking their opponents. They sounded much more like Goldwater in 1964 than Reagan in 1980, opening themselves up to Obama’s charge that they were willing to divide the nation for the purpose of winning the election. They called Obama a socialist, an extremist and even linked him to a terrorist. The campaign got so out of control that a man at one Palin rally yelled “Kill him!”. McCain had to restore order at a town meeting when one woman explained how scared she was of having an “Arab” in office. Still, the McCain campaign continued to run advertisements connecting Obama to 1960s radical Bill Ayers.
The third mistake was the “no-state” strategy. In contrast to Obama’s “50-state” strategy whereby Democrats hoped to win support in red states, the Republican ticket moved from one state to the next without any clear rationale. Just as the Republicans lacked a broader vision, they also lacked a clear electoral strategy. From the start, they were playing catch-up and allowing Democrats to drive their decisions. The goal seemed to be courting support only when polls were narrowing rather than deciding in which states to focus their efforts. While Democrats systematically laid out their organizational and financial efforts, Republicans scrambled from one place to the other.
The fourth mistake was the way McCain handled the crisis on Wall Street. McCain’s decision to temporarily stop the campaign and possibly call off the debate at the start of the Wall Street crisis in September looked terrible. McCain often looked a lot like President Bush in 1992: uncertain about what to do about the economy and at many moments not seeming to care. In contrast, Obama’s decisions and performance seemed presidential.
McCain’s final mistake was to leave his most politically powerful argument until it was too late. While there were many problems with Joe the Plumber, the argument could have been used much more effectively against Senator Obama: that the Democratic ticket was too left of center, especially on the issue of taxes. Toward the end of the campaign, McCain picked up some steam in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. But the argument came much too late and at a point when many Americans had become so cynical, and turned off, by the Republican campaign that McCain could not restore his strength.
Now, the McCain-Palin campaign will be added to the list of devastated losers. The odds against the Republican ticket were formidable as any political scientist will tell you. But McCain could have put up a more effective fight. Perhaps the best outcome for Republicans would be if they took the campaign to heart, learned from their mistakes, and figured out for the next time around how to put together a campaign that looks more like 1980 than 1964. At the same time the next GOP candidate needs to look toward the future, realizing that at least when it comes to the economy, the conservative era has finally come to an end.
Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. He is the co-editor of “Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s” and is completing a book on the history of national-secu rity politics since World War II, to be published by Basic Books.
President-elect Barack Obama began moving Wednesday to build his administration and make good on his ambitious promises to point the United States in a different direction, as his commanding victory reordered the American political landscape and transfixed much of the nation and the world.
A day after becoming the first African-American to capture the presidency, Mr. Obama announced a transition team and prepared to name an ally as his White House chief of staff in his first steps toward assuming power. President Bush vowed to work closely with Mr. Obama to ensure a smooth transition in the first handover since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the fourth-ranking House Democrat and a close friend of Mr. Obama’s from Chicago, has been offered the job of chief of staff, and although he was said to be concerned about the effects on his family and giving up his influential role on Capitol Hill, many Democrats said they expected him to accept it. Mr. Obama named John D. Podesta, the former Clinton White House chief of staff, to lead his transition team along with Valerie Jarrett, a longtime adviser, and Pete Rouse, his Senate chief of staff.
In turning to Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Podesta, Mr. Obama sought out two of the hardest-hitting veterans of President Bill Clinton’s administration, known for their deep Washington experience, savvy and no-holds-barred approach to politics. Neither is considered a practitioner of the “new politics” that Mr. Obama promised on the campaign trail to bring Republicans and Democrats together, suggesting that the cool and conciliatory new president is determined to demonstrate toughness from the beginning.
Mr. Obama stayed largely out of sight on Wednesday as Democrats counted their gains and Republicans stewed over what went wrong. The scope of his success underscored the nation’s discontent with Mr. Bush’s presidency. Mr. Obama captured an estimated 52 percent of the popular vote and 349 electoral votes to John McCain’s 46 percent and 162 electoral votes, with Missouri and North Carolina still too close to call.
Mr. Obama also ushered in a wave of Democrats who strengthened his party’s hold over Congress, picking up at least five seats in the Senate and 19 in the House. Republican senators in Alaska, Minnesota and Oregon were still clinging to razor-thin leads, including Ted Stevens of Alaska, fresh from his conviction on seven felony counts of failing to disclose $250,000 in gifts and services he received.
But the crowds had barely drifted out of Grant Park in Chicago after an exuberant late-night celebration of Mr. Obama’s triumph before the rising sun brought fresh signs of the daunting burdens to come.
In Russia, President Dmitri A. Medvedev warned that he would deploy missiles if Mr. Obama built Mr. Bush’s planned missile defense system in Eastern Europe. In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai pleaded with Mr. Obama to halt air strikes that have been killing civilians. And in the United States, stock markets plunged again amid more dark economic news.
Still, the phenomenon of a black president of the world’s most powerful nation captured public imagination in many quarters of the globe. Supporters in many cities in the United States chanted in the street and large crowds gathered at the headquarters of newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post seeking sold-out copies of historic front pages.
The Congressional committee that puts together the inauguration ceremonies announced that the theme would be “A New Birth of Freedom,” to mark the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, symbolically linking one president from Illinois who freed the slaves to another who broke the ultimate racial barrier in politics.
Even the departing Bush team recognized the power of the moment. “It will be a stirring sight to watch President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their beautiful girls step through the doors of the White House,” Mr. Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden. “I know millions of Americans will be overcome with pride at this inspiring moment that so many have awaited for so long.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise appearance at her department’s daily briefing to congratulate Mr. Obama.
“As an African-American, I am especially proud because this is a country that’s been through a long journey in terms of overcoming wounds and making race not the factor in our lives,” Ms. Rice said. “That work is not done, but yesterday was obviously an extraordinary step forward.”
The election proved so invigorating to the American public that turnout climbed to its highest rate in 44 years. Although experts differed in their projections as provisional and absentee ballots are counted, Michael McDonald, a voting expert at George Mason University, estimated that 133.3 million people had voted, eclipsing the 123 million who participated four years ago. That amounted to 62.6 percent of all eligible voters, just shy of the 62.8 percent in 1964.
With the election now behind them, the Bush and Obama teams began the delicate 77-day transition until inauguration. The General Services Administration turned over 120,000 square feet of office space in downtown Washington to the Obama transition team and select Obama advisers were due to be given interim security clearances.
Mr. Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will receive briefings Thursday from Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, and thereafter each morning by a pair of Central Intelligence Agency officials. Mr. Obama was given brief updates during the campaign, but aides said the sessions now would resemble the presidential daily briefing presented to Mr. Bush each morning.
Beyond choosing staff members, Mr. Obama must decide how active he intends to be in asserting leadership during the transition. Mr. Obama has conferred with Congressional leaders about passing a $100 billion economic stimulus package in a lame-duck session the week of Nov. 17 to pay for public works projects, aid to cities and states, and unemployment, food stamp and heating benefits.
But Congressional aides said that if Mr. Obama could not win agreement from Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans, they might scale the package back to about $60 billion, then come back in January with a broader plan.
Mr. Obama talked regularly with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. about the financial crisis during the campaign, but it remained unclear how closely he wants to coordinate action during the transition. The situation is so dire, it may demand immediate action from a newly elected president, but Obama advisers are wary of taking ownership over decisions made by Mr. Bush.
On his first morning as president-elect, Mr. Obama did something he rarely did the last 22 months: he woke up at home in Chicago and had breakfast with his wife, Michelle, and his two young daughters, Malia and Sasha. He spent the day out of view, making thank you calls and meeting with transition advisers, a decision aides said was intended to draw a line between the campaign and the coming task of governing. They said he canceled fireworks at the Tuesday night celebration to underscore the seriousness of the moment.
As he began to assemble his White House, Mr. Obama sought to persuade Mr. Emanuel to be his right hand. Mr. Emanuel, a top aide in the Clinton White House, did not accept immediately, with close associates saying he was torn between helping the new administration and staying in the House, where he aspires to become speaker. His wife and three children, who live in Chicago, are reluctant to move to Washington, friends said.
Mr. Emanuel would bring extensive legislative experience and instincts for how to run a White House, but his brash partisan past could undercut Mr. Obama’s promise to bridge the divide in Washington. His unquestioned loyalty to Mr. Obama is a powerful asset to the president-elect.
While waiting to settle the matter with Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Obama went ahead and announced his transition team, to be led by Mr. Podesta, Ms. Jarrett and Mr. Rouse. They will be helped by a 12-member board, including Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, former Commerce Secretary William Daley, former Energy Secretary Federico F. Peña and former Environmental Protection Agency director Carol Browner.
Washington was abuzz with speculation over who would join the new administration, some of it informed, much of it guesswork. Democrats close to the Obama team said they believed the likeliest choices for Treasury secretary would be Lawrence H. Summers, who held the post in the Clinton administration, and Timothy F. Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In the national security arena, much depends on whether Mr. Obama decides to ask Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to stay to demonstrate bipartisanship. If Mr. Obama decides against it, or Mr. Gates turns him down, Democrats see former Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre and former Navy Secretary Richard J. Danzig as two candidates for the Pentagon.
Without Mr. Gates, Mr. Obama might want to tap a Republican for the State Department, perhaps including Senators Richard G. Lugar of Indiana or Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, advisers said. If Mr. Gates stays, some Democrats said, Senator John F. Kerry, the Democratic nominee who gave Mr. Obama the platform at the 2004 convention that vaulted him to national fame, is a leading choice to be secretary of state.
For national security adviser, Mr. Obama might pick between James B. Steinberg, a former deputy national security adviser, and Gregory B. Craig, a former State Department official. Mr. Danzig and Dennis Ross, a longtime Middle East envoy, are also mentioned. Susan E. Rice, a former assistant secretary of state and early Obama adviser, is often described as a possible deputy national security adviser or ambassador to the United Nations.
Democrats said they had heard that Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, who is a doctor, might be a candidate for secretary of health and human services; Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina may be considered for secretary of housing and urban development; and Penny S. Pritzker, a Chicago business tycoon and Mr. Obama’s national finance chairwoman, could be tapped for commerce secretary.
While Mr. Bush invited his successor-to-be to visit him at the White House, Mr. Obama’s advisers said that he had no immediate plans to travel to Washington and that he planned to chart out his new administration largely from Chicago. He does not plan to attend the global economic summit in Washington called by Mr. Bush for Nov. 15. But advisers did not rule out the possibility that he would meet with some visiting leaders, perhaps over dinner or at a reception.
“The one thing he is not going to do is let anyone think he’s undermining the president,” said Mr. Craig, who has advised Mr. Obama on foreign policy. “There’s only one president, and he’ll take pains to make sure nothing he does is taken as undermining President Bush.”
It is interesting how Rove is not drawn into Bill O’Reilly’s dog fight with the Democrat leadership. And more he directs the Republicans to have a look at what their party stands for – and how best to convey that message. Which I am pretty sure, he is also clear on – that this is how they were beaten in this election.
During election night I went over to Fox News – I got the sense they were a little depressed over there – seem dismayed at the direction of the results coming in. They didn’t actually believe all that stuff they were saying about Barack – did they?
More than 60 million viewers watched prime-time, election-night coverage on ABC, NBC, CBS and the three main cable news networks, an increase of nearly 10 percent over 2004, according to early estimates provided Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.
When adding in the viewership of eight other channels — including Black Entertainment Televison and the Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo — Tuesday night’s combined viewership ballooned to 71.5 million, more than in either 2004 or 2000.
The most-watched network, with an estimated 13.1 million viewers, was ABC. It had stationed Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos in Times Square, which was soon playing host to a raucous, impromptu celebration of Barack Obama’s victory that felt more like Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve party than election night. The network’s audience was about the same as in 2004.
On cable, the big winner was CNN, which drew an estimated 12.3 million viewers in prime time, nearly double its audience four years earlier. The CNN audience was so large that it eclipsed that of two broadcast networks, NBC (12 million) and CBS (7.8 million), for the first time. (The audiences for the NBC and CBS broadcasts, which were led by Brian Williams and Katie Couric, each fell by more than 15 percent, when compared with election night of 2004.)
NBC’s sister cable network, MSNBC, posted large gains, with an audience of 5.9 million, more than double its viewership in 2004, according to the Nielsen estimates. (During the campaign, MSNBC and The New York Times shared some political newsgathering.) Fox News also gained Tuesday night, with an estimated 9 million viewers, an increase of about 12 percent over 2004.
For viewers of the broadcast network coverage, this election night represented a moment of transition. Since the last election, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw have left their anchor posts on CBS and NBC — Mr. Brokaw returned as an NBC analyst Tuesday night, Mr. Rather was on HDNet, a cable channel — and Peter Jennings died.
For the cable news channels, too, new trends emerged. CNN, which was seen by fewer viewers than Fox News on election night 2004, this year outdrew Fox News. In addition, the Fox broadcast network drew 5.1 million viewers.
According to Carl Cameron of Fox News – insiders at the Mccain camp stated that Palin wasn’t aware that Africa was a continent, as she believed Africa was a country. Itappears Palin did not know anything about the NAFTA trade agreement – that she would not prepare for interviews like the now famous Katie Couric –
If Palin thought that Africa was a country – then it would make sense that one could get foreign policy experience – by merely being close to – or as she put it being able to see Russia from her state –
There were some who said that – it wasn’t that Palin simply made mistakes during he interviews – that what was worst is that she didn’t understand the question.
Powell, endorses, Obama, Iraq, transformational, figure, security, Campaign, McCain, victory, win, president, Attacks, Colin, inclusive
The ascent of an African-American to the presidency is a moment so powerful and so obvious that its symbolism needs no commentary.
Nov. 4, 2008, was the day when American politics shifted on its axis.
The ascent of an African-American to the presidency — a victory by a 47-year-old man who was born when segregation was still the law of the land across much of this nation — is a moment so powerful and so obvious that its symbolism needs no commentary.
But it was the reality of power, not the symbolism, that changed Tuesday night in ways more profound than meet the eye.
The rout of the Republican Party, and the accompanying gains by Democrats in Congress, mean that Barack Obama will assume office with vastly more influence in the nation’s capital than most of his recent predecessors have wielded.
The only exceptions suggest the magnitude of the moment. Power flowed in unprecedented ways to George W. Bush in the year after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It flowed likewise to Lyndon B. Johnson after his landslide in 1964.
Beyond those fleeting moments, every president for more than two generations has confronted divided government or hobbling internal divisions within his own party.
The Democrats’ moment with Obama, as a brilliant campaigner confronts the challenges of governance, could also prove fleeting. For now, the results — in their breadth across a continent — suggest seismic change that goes far beyond Obama’s 4 percent margin in the popular vote.
The evening recalled what activist Eldridge Cleaver observed of the instant when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and a movement followed: “Somewhere in the universe a gear in the machinery shifted.”
Here are five big things about the machinery of national politics and Washington that will be different once Obama takes office on Jan. 20, 2009:
The crash of the conservative wave
For most of the past 30 years, since the dawn of the Reagan Era, conservatives have held the momentum in American politics. Even the Clinton years were shaped — and constrained — by conservative ideas (work requirements for welfare, the Defense of Marriage Act) and conservative rhetoric (“the era of Big Government is over”). Republicans rode this wave to win the presidency five of seven times since 1980, and to dominate Congress for a dozen years after 1994.
Now the wave has crashed, breaking the back of the modern Republican Party in the process.
Obama’s victory and the second straight election to award big gains to congressional Democrats showed that the 2006 election was not, as Karl Rove and others argued at the time, a flukish result that reflected isolated scandals in the headlines at the time.
Republicans lost their reform mantle. Voters who wanted change voted for Obama 89 percent to 9 percent. They lost their decisive edge on national security. They even lost the battle over taxes.
Republicans lost support in every area of the country. Virginia went Democratic, and North Carolina at midnight hung in the balance. Republicans still hold a significant, if smaller, chunk of the South and a smattering of western states. The cities were lost long ago. The suburbs fell last night — and even the exurbs are shaky.
Republicans lost one of their most effective political tactics. Portraying Al Gore or John F. Kerry as exotic and untrustworthy characters with culturally elitist values proved brutally effective for the GOP in 2000 and 2004, as it had in numerous other races for years. In 2008, such tactics barely dented Obama — who because of his race and background looked at first like a more vulnerable target — and they backfired against such candidates as Sen. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, who was routed badly after trying to paint Democrat Kay Hagan as an atheist.
The movement that brought so many conservatives to great power over the past 20 years — Gingrich, DeLay, Bush, Cheney and Rove — is left without a clear leader, without a clear agenda and without a clear route back.
The crash of the conservative wave does not necessarily mean the rise of a liberal one. By stressing middle-class tax cuts and the rights of gun owners Obama showed he is sensitive to hot buttons. But he will take power with the opposition party diminished, demoralized and divided by a draining internal argument about the future.
A Democratic headlock
Many people find Obama’s post-partisan rhetoric soothing. But it’s doubtful that these sentiments, even if sincere, reflect the reality of the new Washington.
This is a city that defines itself by partisanship. Politicians and the operatives they support play for the shirts or the skins and believe that one side’s gain is the other’s loss.
In this environment, Democrats have the capital in a headlock, holding more power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue than they have had for at least 32 years (Jimmy Carter) and, more realistically, 44 years (Johnson). Obama seems ready to press this advantage. The best early clue of his ambitions: He wants sharp-elbowed Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) to run his White House.
Democrats are positioned to do more than move legislation. They will flush Republicans out of key positions in the federal government and lobbying firms. They will install their people in the federal courts. They will be positioned to raise money for those who usually give to Republicans and easily recruit the most desirable candidates in 2010, as other Democrats look to join what looks like a winning team.
While Obama’s race hovered over this campaign, what was most striking was that it was not the all-consuming subject that it would have been in the past. Exit polls showed Obama pulling support from 43 percent of white voters, 2 percentage point higher than Kerry.
And look around elsewhere in American politics. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s gender was a novelty when she first took the gavel but now draws little notice. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) is a top member of the House Democratic leadership.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s inability to offer more diversity in its top ranks — Sarah Palin notwithstanding — threatens to become a crippling liability. Hispanics broke for Obama 67 percent to 31 percent.
The party inexplicably failed to field a single minority candidate with a plausible chance to win a House or Senate seat or a governorship. It will enter the next Congress just as it did the past two: without a single black member.
A party dominated by white males is poorly positioned to prosper among an increasingly diverse electorate. Somehow, the GOP needs to find new ways to appeal to minorities — or risk a long life in the wilderness as a percentage of the overall population continues to shrink.
For a couple of generations, conservatives had the more effective political infrastructure. They used direct mail and talk radio to run circles around liberals in raising money and communicating their message around the filter of the establishment media. Some of that money flowed into think tanks that helped nurture ideas and operatives.
This year was striking because the technology/communications advantage was decisively with the Democrats. Obama and other Democrats used this to raise vastly more money than McCain and to mobilize legions of people who had not previously been engaged with politics. Liberal think tanks such as the Center for American Progress have served as a Democratic government in waiting.
Important to remember: This Democratic infrastructure advantage is not disappearing. Obama, regarded as a heroic figure among party activists, can use it to help raise even more money, and to mobilize support for his agenda. This is a potent force that will inspire fear, and give him clout, over legislators of both parties.
Obama is the Google of politics: He has technological expertise and an audience his political competitors simply cannot match. Looking ahead to 2010, House and Senate Democrats will be jealously eyeing Obama’s e-mail lists and technology secrets — giving him even greater leverage over them. Republicans will be forced to invest serious money and time to narrow the technology gap.
The 1960s are over — finally
For two generations, American politics has been dominated by issues and personalities that were shaped by the ideological and cultural conflicts of the Vietnam era.
The rest of the population may have been bored stiff, but the baby boomers continued their remorseless argument, as evidenced by Bush and Kerry partisans quarreling over Swift Boats and National Guard service in 2004.
Obama had not yet reached adolescence in the 1960s. He seems little interested in the cultural conflicts that preoccupy baby boomers. The fact that he admitted to using cocaine was hardly a factor in this election.
And this young president-elect exerted powerful appeal over even younger voters. They favored Obama by 34 percentage points, 66 percent to 32 percent — a trend with huge potential to echo for years to come.
Guns, God and gays will not disappear from our politics. But they are diminished as electoral weapons as the country confronts a new generation of disputes: global warming, mortgage meltdowns and the detention of terrorism suspects, to name a few.
CHICAGO – Barack Obama will begin receiving highly classified briefings from top intelligence officials Thursday, as the rush of his campaign gives way to intensive preparations to take over as commander in chief and build a Democratic administration.
The briefings typically last 45 minutes to an hour, but Obama’s initial one is expected to be longer. A U.S. intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity said Joe Biden, the vice president-elect, also will begin receiving briefings this week.
The president’s daily brief that Obama will receive is mostly written by the Central Intelligence Agency and will include the most critical overnight intelligence for the president. They sometimes dig deeply into a specific topic to give the president an in-depth understanding.
Obama began his first full day as president-elect with the simple pleasure of having breakfast with his daughters, the type of everyday activity with his family that he often said during the nearly two-year campaign was his greatest sacrifice.
Later in the morning, Obama left the house alone, clad in workout clothes, a ball cap and sunglasses and carrying a newspaper on his lap. He ducked into a friend’s apartment building where he usually uses the gym while in Chicago. About a dozen onlookers expecting his arrival had gathered with cameras and cell phones to get a glimpse of him.
He planned to go straight to his campaign headquarters after the work out to thank his staff.
Obama planed to stay home at least through the weekend, spending more time with his family turning to the business of the transition in earnest. Campaign advisers have already presented him with names to review for key positions, but they said he wasn’t focused on filling the jobs before winning the election.
A top priority, the advisers said, would be picking a White House chief of staff to help manage the selections to come. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel appeared headed for the job, said Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity before the announcement, expected as early as Wednesday.
National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell will launch the intelligence briefings. CIA Intelligence Director Mike Morell will be Obama’s prime contact with the intelligence community throughout the transition, according to a message CIA Director Mike Hayden sent to agency employees that was obtained by The Associated Press. Obama’s two principal daily briefers also will be from the CIA.
Obama will have access to vastly more intelligence, including ongoing covert operations, than he was privy to as a senator, said Hayden’s message.
“Through expanded access, greater than what he had in his briefings as a candidate or as a Senator, he will see the full range of capabilities we deploy for the United States,” Hayden wrote.
CIA officials were meeting Wednesday to discuss the transition.
“The goal today is to review what has been done and to ensure that every part of the agency is well-placed to contribute in the weeks ahead,” he wrote.
Hayden also encouraged employees to ignore the chatter in political circles in Washington about who will take over the agency under the new administration.
“I certainly have,” he said. “Those privileged to lead this organization understand that they serve at the pleasure of the president.”
In a congratulatory call to Obama Tuesday night, President Bush pledged to make a smooth transition and extended an invitation to the Obama family to visit their new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Obama had personal decisions to be make, too, like when to move his family to Washington and where his 10- and 7-year-old daughters will go to school. Obama also was expected to take time to mourn his grandmother, who died Sunday before she could see the grandson she helped raise achieve his dream. Obama could be considering a return to his native Hawaii for the small private ceremony that she requested be held later.
And then there was the matter of choosing the family pet. “Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House,” he told his daughters in his victory speech.
In conversations and e-mail exchanges with SPIEGEL ONLINE, European leaders and thinkers express their wishes for US President-elect Barack Obama. Yes, they want the US to join the Kyoto successor. And, yes, they want to see Guantanamo close. But many also know that theirs is a view from Mars.
Part 1: What Europe Wants from Obama
Part 2: ‘We Need the US as a Strong Partner’
Part 3: ‘On Iran, Precious Time Has Been Lost’
Part 4: ‘We Need a Washington Less Ideological in Dealing with Russia and China’
Part 5: ‘The Time Has Come to Kick-Start Talks with Tehran’
Part 6: ‘Some Disappointment Is Inevitable’
Part 7: ‘By Voting for Obama, Americans Are not Voting to Become an EU Country’
Part 8: ‘Please Don’t Bomb Iran’
Part 9: ‘A Measure of Moral Leadership Would Be to Join the ICC’
Part 10: ‘Obama — Something that Is Still Impossible to Achieve in many European Countries’
Margot Wallström of Sweden is the vice-president of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive.
- On Tuesday the American people cast their votes electing a new President of the United States. I believe we are entering into a new era of trans-Atlantic relations.
- In these times of extreme financial instability, it is more important than ever to strengthen trans-Atlantic relations and work together to solve global problems. Europe and the US share the same goals and values. We both want a peaceful, prosperous and stable world, where democracy is the norm, the rule of law prevails and human rights are respected.
- Even more importantly, the biggest concerns facing us today are of a global nature. The financial crisis, climate change, security, the fight against poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world are all challenges that neither Europe nor the US can take on single-handed.
Slavenka Drakulic, a native of Croatia, is the best-selling author of “Cafe Europa.”
- A View from Mars: I am afraid that we Europeans tend to attribute too much personal power to the president of the United States. We might as well be Martians for all that we demand of the new president. We would like him (especially if it is our favorite Barack Obama) to: stop the war in Iraq, divert funding from the military industrial complex and use it to improve the lives of the poor, introduce national health insurance, sit down with Putin and discuss how best to bring peace to the world, persuade China and India to restrict dangerous gas emissions, get rid of the Taliban in Afghanistan, make a deal with Iran, sign the Kyoto Protocol, catch Osama bin Laden and, finally, bring peace to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Of course, all of this should be accomplished in close collaboration with European governments — and all in the first year, possibly in the first days of his presidency.
Robert Badinter, 80, is a French senator and member of the foreign affairs and defense committees who, as justice minister under President Mitterrand, achieved the abolition of the death penalty.
My expectation of the new president is that he:
- 1. Withdraw US forces from Iraq;2. Close the prison at Guantanamo and give all inmates the rights to which they are entitled under US law;
3. Through his emphatic support he must achieve a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians;
4. Take an energetic approach to the fight against climate change and ratify the Kyoto Protocol;
5. Support the International Criminal Court;
6. Appoint independent and progressive judges to the US Supreme Court.
Hans Blix was head of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981 to 1997 following a stint as foreign minister of Sweden. In the three years leading up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, he was in charge of searching for weapons of mass destruction in the country.
- The global financial system has been rocked by the recent crisis and Mr. Obama will have to bring about early discussions about a broader agenda and broader participation in the institutions for international financial cooperation like the IMF and the G-8. During a global recession he will have to resist protectionist pressures from important groups who supported him.
- Obama should be able to use the strong public opinion in the US to make the country help frame drastic global policies against dangerous climate change and environmental destruction. Technological innovation should be promoted, like fuel cells for cars. Energy must be generated more efficiently and used less wastefully. Obama should stimulate the use of effective renewable sources and overcome any hesitation against a rapid expansion of nuclear power.
- In international affairs, Obama will have to steer away from the arrogant unilateralism of the Bush years and explain to the public that the interdependence of states and peoples is fast accelerating. In this modern world a constructive use of multilateral institutions like the UN is a necessity. They are indispensable mechanisms where reconciliation of interests can take place and joint action can be organized.
- Obama was ridiculed by his opponents for saying that he was ready to talk with adversaries. He was right and his administration should act on this principle. To talk is not to concede. The Bush administration has had a tendency to talk to others rather than with others. The worst example has been the demand that Iran must suspend its program for the enrichment of uranium before the US will sit down for direct discussions.
- When it comes to US withdrawal from Iraq, Obama should take the stance that no US troops should stay longer than the host government wishes. The Bush administration, while intending to withdraw the bulk of US forces, has clearly wanted to retain some US troops in less visible bases. The aim seems to be more to protect US interests in Iraqi oil and to have springboards for possible actions against Iran than to protect Iraq.
- For Obama, Iraq was the “dumb” war and Afganistan — where 9/11 was planned — was the place where all resources should have been projected. He wants a surge in Afganistan but there is a risk that the opportunity for success has already been lost and that American and other foreign troops are now seen more as foreign than as liberators. To abandon the country to renewed medieval style rule is not a possible American policy, but reconciliation with and involvement by parts of the Taliban might be a possibility. Iran and Russia could provide important help if the US can relax relations with these countries.
- On Iran, precious time has been lost during which the country has moved closer to a capability to make bomb grade material. Rather than humiliating Iran by declaring — as if to a child — that “Iran should behave itself,” the US should seek to identify and remove the incentives Iran may have to enrich uranium. To forego enrichment, Iran needs iron-clad assurances of supply of uranium fuel for its nuclear power program. Although Iran is no longer threatened by neighboring Iraq, it still feels threatened by the US. Washington should be ready to offer Iran security guarantees and diplomatic relations if the country abandons the option to make bomb grade material.
- Obama has rightly endorsed the call by a large number of foreign policy experts led by George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn and William Perry for the US to take the initiative in nuclear disarmament. In 2007 the world spent $1.3 trillion (€1 trillion) on military expenses — about half of this expense came from the US budget. Taming the military-industrial complex is difficult in any country but starting a new era of international disarmament could help Mr. Obama to move huge sums from arms to health care, social welfare and education.
- Early US ratification of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty would send a dramatic signal that an era of global disarmament has begun. Preventing non-proliferation will be less difficult in a world in which those states possessing nuclear weapon states renounce the license they have given themselves up till now.
Gert Weisskirchen, is the foreign policy spokesman for the Social Democrats in Germany’s federal parliament.
It is now vitally important that Barack Obama, as president, meets with, listens to and works closely together with his allies. And there is a mountain of things that need his attention.
For example, it is important that, from the beginning, Obama addresses the problems in the Middle East. I would hope that he will not wait until the very end of his presidency to move forward as both Clinton and Bush did before him. The time to act is now.
The second priority is the relationship between the West and Russia. We have new presidents now in the US and in Russia. I believe there is a chance that Obama and Dmitry Medvedev could find a basis for understanding. Moscow is looking for rapprochement; it saw that it lost the media war in Georgia. On a more substantive level, there is a problem called Saakashvili. I am convinced that Washington cannot continue to support such an unreliable politician in Tbilisi.
In Iran, it looks like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could very well lose the next election. We have to make it clear to the electorate in Iran that they too could author a defining moment much as the US electorate has. We need to be careful not to be pushy; there is a risk of creating a kind of false solidarity in Iran against the West. We can’t be confrontational. It is important we are clear about which lines cannot be crossed, but we have to show flexibility when it comes to the diplomatic instruments we use. We have to try and create a sense of optimism in Iran.
Thierry de Montbrial is director of the French Institute of International Relations and the author of “Twenty Years that Turned the World Upside Down — From Berlin to Beijing.”
- First, I would like to see a more congenial president, one who takes a friendlier approach to the rest of the world. Of course, we need a leader who, in light of the financial crisis, proves to be effective on economic issues and does not fall prey to the temptation of protectionism. Politically speaking, he must be a man who thinks beyond narrow American interests. More concretely: damage control must continue in Iraq, and there must be a coordinated approach with Pakistan and dialogue with Iran — without it, there can be no solution in the Middle East or in Afghanistan. Finally, the new man in Washington must show himself to be less ideological when dealing with Russia and China, particularly regarding issues such as the expansion of NATO and the missile shield. Planetary problems cannot be resolved through confrontation.
Pawel Swieboda is Founder and Director of demosEUROPA, a Polish think tank.
- The key task facing the new US President will be to share power and influence with other key players around the world in a manner which preserves American leadership. The decline of the US’s position in the world is a fact of life. However, statistics never tell the whole story. Washington continues to pull the strings on a range of issues from science and innovation to nuclear non-proliferation. The American civilization remains singularly attractive to other nations and peoples around the world.
- If the new president manages to build an inclusive international order in which key players feel comfortable, he will find it easier to exercise leadership. An early test of his strategy will come with the triple challenge of climate change, trade and new financial regulations. If he is to win on all three issues, he will have to both invite others to share in the benefits and to assume resonsibilities himself. On limiting greenhouse gas emissions, he will need to convince China of the merits of a low carbon economy. On trade, he will need to put an end to the schism between the developed and developing world which led to the failure of the Doha round. Finally, regarding new financial regulations, he will need to invite others to the table at the US- and EU-dominated IMF or its successor and ensure that it becomes a first responder against global turbulence.
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, is president of the Party of European Socialists in the European Parliament.
- Obama promises to renew American diplomacy, and to talk to foes as well as friends. This would make an enormous difference.
Wolfgang Ischinger is a former German Ambassador to the United States and is chairman of the Munich Security Conference.
- The most positive consequence of the election — and the most necessary one — is the opportunity for not just the United States, but for the entire West to regain the moral high ground in international affairs. Moral leadership is what we have most dramatically lost during the Bush years, and we must dramatically regain it.
- I do worry that many Germans and other Europeans have developed unrealistically high expectations for an Obama administration. In some of the panels I’ve been participating in recently, you get the sense that everyone expects a trans-Atlantic paradise will emerge with blue skies and constant sunshine. Some disappointment is inevitable.
Volker Perthes is the head of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.
- This election will bring change, regardless of the winner. Both candidates expressed their wish to cooperate with Europeans more than their predecessor has done and to abandon the “us vs. them” mentality that has characterized much of the Bush years.
- You do have the sense, more so in the media than in policy circles, that many here expect that Obama will rule as a “European president.” That may turn out to be wrong in several respects. By voting for Obama, Americans are not voting to become an EU country.
- Obama understands the changing world, and we can expect that he will increasingly rely on partners in Asia — not just partners in Europe. As expected, I think he will be more multilateral in his approach, but that doesn’t mean he’ll play below the weight of his country.
- The biggest challenge will be to align agendas on both sides of the Atlantic. This has been difficult in the past not only because European and American interests partly diverge, but also because of differing styles and traditions of behavior. Europeans, for instance, will never be as prepared to use military force as Americans are.
- There are other challenges, too: Americans and Europeans have to come to agreement about concrete goals in Afghanistan. Is it democracy? Or simply stability? Are we aiming for economic transformation, particularly in the Pashtun tribal areas? Each side will have to determine what it is willing to contribute.
- As far as Russia is concerned, it will be easier for Obama than it would have been for McCain to improve relations. Obama, after all, has not proposed kicking Russia out of the G-8 or forming a league of democracies aligned against it.
- As far as Israel-Palestine is concerned, the opposite might be true. Obama might face more domestic pressure on the issue than McCain would have, because many Americans still suspect Obama of being a krypto-Muslim or at least of being pro-Arab.
Ulrike Guérot heads the Berlin office of European Council on Foreign Relations.
- Barack Obama is a paradigm change for the US. He will need to change the way the US acts in the world. The US has lost its political and — now — it’s financial supremacy, and the country will need to adapt. And, perhaps of even more concern, the country has lost a great deal of sympathy and reputation as a result of the Bush administration — especially among younger generations abroad. Barack Obama conveys the policy of a “fresh start.”
- On foreign policy, this is likely to show in areas such as climate protection, where Europe is keen to see an engaged US; or with respect to Iraq, where a trans-Atlantic exit strategy is needed. Europe also expects a new tone and a new style from the US. But one should not expect a trans-Atlantic honeymoon. Obama will need Europe’s help and troops in Afghanistan — and Europe will be reluctant to deliver. The US and Europe also increasingly differ on how to deal and what to do with Russia — but they avoid talking about it openly. The US seems to have more ‘Cold War’ reflexes when it comes to Russia, where Europe wants and needs the strategic partnership.
- The US could regain its leadership if it shows readiness to engage fully in international law making, including human right policies at the UN. The world needs a US that engages clearly into multilateralism and that stops believing that it can better act alone only because it feels so strong.
- The biggest potential is that the US will again fall into a pattern of playing divide and conquer with Europe instead of promoting a strong and truly united Europe.
Diego Hidalgo is co-founder of the Spanish newspaper El Pais and a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
- I would first expect the new US president to convey to the world the strong message that the days of arrogant unilateralism are over. The next US president will face a megacrisis in the US and the world, with several interrelated threats which cannot be resolved at the nation-state level but call for concerted action and for a new and much stronger international governance architecture. The megacrisis that started in the financial sector threatens to depress the world economy, affects the whole world, and offers an opportunity for breakthrough in world governance. The first priority for the US president should be to initiate a “world constitutional period” during which he would develop coordinated responses to the four perhaps most urgent problems: resolve the financial and economic crisis, undertake the measures needed to face climate change, end extreme poverty and hunger throughout the world and end the main wars and conflicts.
Jeremy Hobbs is executive director of Oxfam International.
- The major crises facing the world, failure of global governance, collapsing financial markets, the threat of catastrophic climate change, continuing poverty and hunger, and worsening global security, cannot be addressed without positive and urgent leadership from the United States. Whoever is the new president must use his political capital to drive this international agenda, no matter how tough the domestic issues are.
- If ever there was a time to demonstrate how narrow national self interest should not be at the expense of the global good and developing countries, it is now, in the midst of the current global financial crisis.
Dr. Jean-Yves Haine is a senior researcher for trans-Atlantic and global security at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden.
- Electing Obama will in itself boost the US image abroad. Europe is looking with admiration and envy at Obama, a symbol of something that is still impossible to achieve in many European countries. After the election, symbolic but important gestures could be made: Guantanamo closure (easier said than done), the torture and rendition legacy, some amendment of the Patriot Act (but not much). Mostly, the tone and language will be crucial: to end the rhetoric of the war on terror, the us-versus-them mantra. … This will be necessary if the US wants to resume its role of honest broker in the Middle East (but the burden of past decisions will be particularly heavy).
Barack Obama has done it. On Tuesday, Americans elected their first black president — and a genuine intellectual. It is the crowning of one of the most rapid political rises ever, but the real work is only now set to begin.
Democrat Barack Obama beat Republican contender John McCain by a clear margin in Tuesday’s presidential election and made history by becoming the country’s first African-American president.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” Obama told hundreds of thousands of elated supporters in Chicago.
Despite his historic triumph, the ecstatic cheering of the crowd and the scale of the challenges facing him, Obama looked as calm and collected as ever as he addressed his supporters.
Just one night earlier, the comedy show Saturday Night Live took one last opportunity to lampoon the candidates. And the candidates’ doubles make it clear just how different the outcome could have been for Barack Obama.
The parody is a reminder of how Obama could have featured in America’s consciousness in this crazy, never-ending campaign. The Americans aren’t just sending the first African American president to the White House. They have also elected a pensive intellectual, regardless of all the Internet euphoria and “Yes We Can” chants. “One of the striking ironies is that a man who draws tens of thousands of people to his rallies, whose charisma is likened to that of John F. Kennedy, can be sort of a bore,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
Where Are the Sweat Stains?
He’s a candidate who likes to read the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr. And one who doesn’t get sweat stains on his ironed white shirt, even in the sweltering heat of Nevada or Indiana. He has studied the Socratic Method applied at US law schools — the principle of eliciting truth through the astute interplay of questions and answers. His wonderfully composed speeches rarely betray a sense of humor. He’s evidently a devoted family man and a proud father.
Such characteristics herald a new era in the White House. The Democratic icons John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton were strong intellectuals as well, but they had rough edges and they were almost pathological womanizers. Model Republican Ronald Reagan turned his anti-intellectualism into a virtue, as of course did George W. Bush. His father George Bush senior also liked to mask his Yale education and foreign policy expertise with cowboy boots.
Will Obama’s erudition help him in the White House? Or will he be easy prey for the hands-on Democratic Congressmen and women who are up for election every two years and must pay close attention to the will of the people? Will the new president’s intellectual leanings jar with the desire for action among the Internet generation that voted him into office? Will it be an obstacle to taking quickfire decisions as commander-in-chief?
Obama’s curious ability to remain untouched by all the razzmatazz around him is likely to prove a source of strength. His political career has been one of the most astonishing of all times. At the Democratic National Convention eight years ago he wasn’t even invited to the important parties. He readily admits that whoever gave him the name Barack Hussein Obama cannot have expected him to become a presidential candidate.
THE WORLD WELCOMES OBAMA
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
- “My heartfelt congratulations on your historic victory in the presidential elections.””At the beginning of your administration, the world faces momentous challenges. I am convinced that, with closer and more trusting cooperation between the US and Europe, we can resolutely confront the novel challenges and dangers facing us…. You can be sure that my government is fully aware of how important the trans-Atlantic partnership is for our futures.”
“It is my pleasure to invite you to visit Germany in the near future.”
German President Horst Köhler
- “In the name of my fellow citizens, I would like to offer you my heartfelt congratulations on your election to the president of the United States.”
- “We increasingly recognize how important it is for countries to work together. The international community has a responsibility to work together for peace, freedom and prosperity, in the battle against poverty and to protect our planet… My country is prepared to face these challenges together with the United States of America.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy
- “With the world in turmoil and doubt, the American people, faithful to the values that have always defined America’s identity, have expressed with force their faith in progress and the future. At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond.”
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
- “We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world. I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal — for the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world.”
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
- “The necessity for cooperation between Europe and the United States is bigger than ever. Only by close trans-Atlantic cooperation can we face the world’s challenges.”
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
- “It has been an important election. I think the most important thing that follows from it is that America and Europe will have to work together to deal with the international problems we face, not just the financial crisis, but also stopping protectionism, making sure we work for stability and particularly peace in the Middle East.”
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
- “I applaud the American people for their great decision and I hope that this new administration in the United States of America, and the fact of the massive show of concern for hhuman beings and lack of interest in race and color while electing the president, will go a long way in bringing the same values to the rest of the world sooner or later.”
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki
- “We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots. Your victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, but it has special resonance with us here in Kenya.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
- “Israel expects the close strategic cooperation with the new administration, president and Congress will continue along with the continued strengthening of the special and unshakeable special relationship between the two countries.”
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
- “Your extraordinary journey to the White House will inspire people not only in your country but also around the world.”
Chinese President Hu Jintao
- “The Chinese Government and I myself have always attached great importance to China-US relations. In the new historic era, I look forward to working together with you to continuously strengthen dialogue and exchanges between our two countries.”
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso
- “The Japan-US alliance is key to Japanese diplomacy and it is the foundation for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. With President-elect Obama, I will strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance further and work towards resolving global issues such as the world economy, terror and the environment.”
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
- “Senator Obama’s message of hope is not just for America’s future, it is also a message of hope for the world as well. A world which is now in many respects fearful for its future.”
But now the disastrous legacy of the Bush era has transformed this man with the strange name and the dark skin into someone the whole world is pinning its hopes on. Well over 200,000 people came to listen to him speak in Berlin in July; he really is the biggest “celebrity” in the world, as McCain jibed during the campaign. But even attacks like that provoked nothing but bemusement in Obama. It made television host Chris Matthews wonder openly whether Obama was capable of ever getting worked up about anything.
Obama’s sanguine nature could have been interpreted as a lack of passion in the election campasign, but the financial crisis turned that into a virtue. He suddenly appeared calm and presidential, while McCain seemed unpredictable and jumpy.
Fate on His Side
It was yet another example of the luck that has accompanied Obama throughout his political career. When he ran for the US Senate as a newcomer four years ago, his designated Republican opponent had to give up due to a dirty divorce dispute.
Only three years later he was up against Hillary Clinton, the best-known political brand in the country, for the Democratic nomination. But she underestimated Obama for too long, was too late in slipping into the role of a fighter, and wasn’t exactly helped by her husband whose latently racist comments about Obama drove African Americans into his arms.
Click for interactive
When it came to the general campaign, fate provided him with a rival who didn’t play the race card. And one who, no matter how hard he tried, was unable to sell an image as an independent-minded outsider. McCain went out of his way to distance himself from Bush, but then tried to win over his supporters by naming Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Republican candidate never found a congruous strategy.
Obama, for his part, proved to be lucky and strategically astute. His campaign movement was the most perfect political start-up of all time — he collected almost a half a billion dollars in campaign donations and mobilized millions of supporters, many of them making a foray into politics for the very first time. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek wrote that Obama forever changed campaigning in the US. His message of “change” remained consistent from day one.
Period of Belt-Tightening
Rational as he is, Obama, of course, quietly bid adieu to the promise of real change in Washington — a radical shake-up of politics as we know it — as the campaign progressed. In the final months of the race, the newness has worn off his campaign as the candidate opted for pragmatism. He secured consultation from Washington insiders and his final television spots felt conventional as they praised American ideals in Kansas or the value of hard work. Even in the debate over how to respond to the financial crisis, he benefited more from his reticence than for making courageous policy proposals. Just like other politicians in the heat of a campaign, he was wary of telling Americans that a period of belt-tightening was on its way.
That, though, is exactly what he will now have to do. And he won’t have much of a grace period to get used to his new job. The criticism that he has spent his career looking for the next challenge is not entirely wrong. Now, though, there is nowhere else to go.
During the campaign, Obama left little doubt that he thinks he’s ready. And he exudes an aura of calm. A friend of Obama’s recalled to the Chicago Magazine last summer how crowds of supporters were already following Obama around Boston just before his famous 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention. The friend, Martin Nesbitt, recalled saying “this is pretty unbelievable, man you’re like a rock star.” Obama replied, “it might be a little worse tomorrow…. It’s a pretty good speech.”
Now, the Democrat is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009 as the 44th president of the United States, right in the middle of one of the worst crises America has ever faced. “We’ve got to hit the ground running,” Obama said last week.
The US — and the world — have a lot riding on him doing exactly that.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just issued the following statement congratulating Barack Obama on his resounding victory over John McCain:
“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Barack Obama on winning the Presidency of the United States. I would also like to pay tribute to Senator McCain who fought a good campaign and has shown the characteristic dignity that has marked a lifetime of service to his country.
“The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is vital to our prosperity and security. Barack Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energising politics with his progressive values and his vision for the future. I know Barack Obama and we share many values. We both have determination to show that government can act to help people fairly through these….
11:00 pm So farewell then, Grosvenor Square US Embassy. Here we are, standing in line late at night in the November drizzle outside of Eero Sarienen’s unloved Modernist expression of US imperial self-assurance (what would a new Embassy in Battersea commissioned under an Obama administration look like? An environmentally-sound yurt?) when we could be tucked up on the sofa watching the election returns with Jeremy and a milky drink. But no, we’ve been unable to resist the lure of mingling with the movers-and-shakers.
The streets are even more barricaded than usual. There are several lines to go through the airport-style metal detectors, two for people without handbags, the others for handbag carriers. “There’s the Shadow Education Secretary”, a well-dressed young person, who must be a Parliamentary junior aide or researcher, exclaims (bite back the excitement!). As we finally gain admittance to the building, we hear the unmistakable tones of Janet Street-Porter.
The front of the Embassy has a huge projection of stars enlivening it. A Dixieland band plays partygoers in, and a co-ed squad of teenage cheerleaders performs intermittently on the front portico.
It’s a far cry from 2004, when, under the austere former Ambassador William Farish, there were no decorations, no bands, and really not much effort to appear welcoming. Similarly, in 2004 the Embassy was filled with Marines in camouflage battle dress standing stock still on the edge of the room, like military-themed living statues. Tonight if there’s a military presence, it’s invisible.
The first floor lobby is absolutely rammed. And at certain bottlenecks, it’s worse than the tube at rush hour. Silent screens above our heads project the latest from America’s CBS, MSNBC, and Fox networks, as well as the BBC. But the polls haven’t closed so all everyone’s doing now is vamping till ready.
It’s slim pickings on the celeb front. Josh Hartnett is the only sighting so far, unless you want to count Jonathan Dimbleby. There are several former significant political figures – Charles Clarke, David Davis, Alistair Campbell – but current Westminster stars are thin on the ground, unless you want to count Lembit Opik.
Bars serving California wines, bourbon, and Jack Daniels (though most people want water) are staffed with friendly volunteers and waiters circulate with foie gras puffs and lamb on bread squares. Sober, business-like dress is the order of the day, enlivened here and there with an Uncle Sam hat or Statue of Liberty crown. One glamourous party, however, didn’t get the memo. Four women in killer heels, tight dresses, lavish furs, and eye-blinding jewelry waft through the crowd, in which they are as exotic as Berbers.
Purely out of self-interest, I’m hoping for Obama victories in Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These polls will be closed by 1:30, and if he takes three out of five, it’s over and I can go home at a reasonable hour.
Downstairs in the basement there’s a large rather grim room with acoutic-tiles on the ceiling. Here a country and western band and later Glen Tillbrook, late of Squeeze, entertain the crowd. The air is thick with the smell of grease from the Burger King stand.
There’s also a theatre with a large screen showing CNN’s election night coverage. Every seat is filled as are the aisles. This is an audience fascinated by arcane in-depth breakdowns of key counties in Virginia.
The energy is strangely subdued. But the Democrats have been here before. In 2004, buoyed by the exit polls, the atmosphere in the early hours of the Embassy’s election night party was exuberant. No one could believe Bush would get in twice. But then, as we moved towards 2 am and it became clear that despite Iraq, despite Abu Ghraib, despite My Pet Goat, despite everything, the American electorate were going to come back for seconds, the festive spirit slowly deflated, like the air leaving a balloon. So no one’s getting too excited just yet. It’s as if everyone is collectively holding their breath.
The crowd seems evenly divided between the parties, although expatriate Americans tend to be disproportionately Democrats (expatriate Republicans are atypical of the breed because they have passports and are not afraid to eat furrin food.) They may have come from small-town “real” (in Palin-speak) America originally, but now have the kind of jobs that have relocated them to Britain, so presumably at some point they moved to the big (Democratic) city. Or else they left the real America as fast as they could of their own volition and just kept going.
12:30 am Indiana is too close to call. This is usually a rock-ribbed Republican state. A harbinger of things to come?
1:00 am Now things are starting to get interesting. Obama has won New Hampshire. McCain has won Georgia. Virginia is too close to call. And the Brits are all leaving so it’s now possible to get seats in the theatre. You have to feel for outgoing Ambassador Robert Tuttle. A genial Reagan Republican although appointed by W, he has to listen as all these freeloaders who’ve been scoffing down his food and drink cheer whenever a state is called for Obama and groan when it goes for his party.
1:30 am Tension you could cut with a knife. McCain is on 34 electoral votes, Obama on 74. North Carolina too close to call. These are all states that Bush won in 2004 and that Obama has a chance in.
1:45 am Look, there’s the Embassy party on the BBC screen as the heads of Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad are interviewed
2:00 am The loudest cheering of the night as Obama takes Pennsylvania. Obama supporters start to let out their breath and feel happy. Florida still too close to call.
3:00 am Ohio is called for Obama. Blinking, those of us wearing Obama buttons finally start to believe we’ve won, as predicted. Our long national nightmare is over. The junta has been deposed. Time to head for the coat check.
Karl Rove’s predicted electoral map was correct with a few exceptions – North Carolina and Indiana narrowly went to Obama – but then there is a toss up +/-3% allowance that should cover this.
Amy Chozick reports from Barack Obama’s motorcade.
John McCain called Barack Obama to congratulate him at 10 p.m. CST, according to a senior Obama aide.
“Senator Obama thanked Senator McCain for his graciousness and said he had waged a tough race. Senator Obama told Senator McCain he was consistently someone who has showed class and honor during this campaign as he has during his entire life in public service,” Obama aide Robert Gibbs said of the call.
Obama told his former rival that he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together – Obama said to move this country forward “I need your help, you’re a leader on so many important issues,” Gibbs recounted.
Obama is currently at the Hyatt Regency hotel with his family and close friends. His motorcade, including this reporter, will travel to Grant Park momentarily.
President Bush also called Obama shortly after 10 p.m. CST this evening to congratulate him on his victory. Obama watched McCain’s speech from his hotel, according to aides.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama has now added Iowa’s seven electoral votes to his total, as he builds on his commanding lead over John McCain.
Obama now has 202 electoral votes out of the 270 he needs for the nomination.
He earlier won in Pennsylvania and in Ohio — both states that were key to John McCain’s hopes. No Republican has ever been elected president without capturing Ohio.
McCain adds five electoral votes with his victory in Utah. That gives him 75 in all.
Democrats are adding to their Senate majority. Among the Democrats re-elected to Senate seats are Tom Harkin in Iowa and Max Baucus in Montana.
Republican Thad Cochran won re-election in Mississippi.
Connecticut Republican Rep. Chris Shays, a perennial target for Democrats, lost his bid for an 11th term in one of the more significant losses tonight for congressional Republicans.
With Shays gone, the Republican Party no longer represents any congressional districts in the six states–Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hamp
shire and Maine—that make up New England.
Shays was perhaps best known for his work with presidential candidate John McCain to pass sweeping 2002 campaign finance reform laws.
Shays was ousted by Democrat Jim Himes, a former Goldman Sachs executive. Barack Obama at the top of the ticket may have helped Himes as the Illinois senator easily dispatched McCain in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Republican had been realistic about his re-election prospects this year. Even Shays’ brother, Peter, expressed doubts for a victory. Peter Shays told the Associated Press that his brother refused to run a negative campaign “and he got hurt a little bit with that.”
Democratic Rep. Tom Udall won the New Mexico seat that had been held by Republican Pete Domenici, further bolstering Democratic fortunes in the Senate, wire services reported.
Udall defeated Republican Rep. Steve Pearce in the race to fill the seat left by a retiring Domenici, who served for 36 years in the Senate. According to a recent analysis of the race from the Cook Political Report, “as Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s chances of carrying the state in the presidential contest improved, Pearce’s already long odds of holding the seat for his party diminished and are now nonexistent.”
Festivities are underway at the Arizona Biltmore hotel, the same spot where John McCain celebrated his Super Tuesday victories that led to his party’s nomination.
Supporters watch early returns as they attend an election night rally for John McCain in Phoenix on Tuesday. (AP)
As of 9 p.m. EST, the Arizona senator remained at his condominium in Phoenix. The sprawling hotel was flooded with thousands of well-dressed supporters from all over the country.
With Obama’s electoral vote count widening, McCain’s supporters remained faithful. “We’re confident the `Mac is Back,’ as they say,” supporter Don Baker told the Associated Press.
It’s not hard to find where the speech will be delivered. Massive flood lights from the lawn beam up into the sky. The campaign’s signature star and “Country First” logo adorn everything in sight.
The location has particular significant for McCain–it is where he celebrated his marriage to wife, Cindy, 28 years ago.
But even the people who are here won’t necessarily get to see the speech in person. The majority of the audience will be in a huge ballroom, watching McCain’s remarks on a massive television screen. In the interim, a band is playing and the drinks are flowing.
McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, arrived in Arizona later than scheduled. Her staff and traveling press arrived around 8 p.m. EST, looking worn from the long flight to and from Alaska. Palin has returned to her home state to cast her ballot before joining McCain in Arizona.
Sen. Barack Obama picked up two key states that Sen. John McCain was hoping to switch from blue to red.
The Democrat is projected to win Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) and New Hampshire (4 electoral votes).
New Hampshire was the state that resuscitated McCain’s chances last year, and helped propel him to the Republican nomination. He also won the state’s primary in 2000 against President Bush.
The current electoral vote tally:
Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, the only blue states that John McCain was targeting in the final week of the campaign have gone for Barack Obama, according to the exit poll consortium tasked with calling races for the television networks and major newspapers.
The Keystone State has long been coveted by Republicans who liked to point out in the runup to today’s vote that their party had closed the gap at the presidential level in each of the last four presidential elections.
The Obama campaign has remained resolutely confident about its Pennsylvania prospects, insisting that the massive surge in Democratic voter registration — the result of a high-profile presidential primary in the state — had made it nearly impossible for McCain to win.
Should Pennsylvania and New Hampshire fall into Obama’s column, they would join Democratic strongholds Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, which have already gone for the Illinois senator. (Oklahoma and Tennessee have been called for McCain.)
As the county by county results trickle in, watch to see how big a margin Obama takes out of the city of Philadelphia as well as the four suburban counties that ring the City of Brotherly Love.
New Hampshire had long expressed a warmth for McCain, launching his presidential bid during the 2000 primary season and saving it in the 2008 campaign. But, New Hampshire was the epicenter of anti-war (and anti-Bush Administration) sentiment in 2006 and in the closing weeks of this campaign even the most ardent McCain supporters had acknowledged the state would not go there way.
With Pennsylvania and New Hampshire now seemingly off the map, McCain must run a tricky gauntlet — winning a handful of states that Bush carried in 2004 but are closely contested this time around.
Make no mistake: McCain now has almost zero margin for error.
Source: Washington Post
Even though every political and statistical indication points to an Obama victory tonight — and a healthy one at that — a certain brand of liberal paranoia persists. This is too good to be true, Democrats declare, fingers grasping at their hair. McCain is tightening the race in key states. The youth vote won’t come out.
And so it goes.
But if in fact McCain were to win this election it would be, one of the nation’s foremost pollster says, almost historically unprecedented.
“There is no reason in history to suggest [Obama won’t win],” said Frank Newport of Gallup. “All you can go by is history and compare our last polling that we have done before the election and the actual outcome in the presidential election… We have most polls showing Obama with a statistically significant lead nationally and also in these states. If he were to lose, it will be the first time since World War II something like this has happened. Now, keep in mind. It’s a small sample, less than 20 elections, but it would be very unusual, in fact, exceptional… improbable.”
Indeed, the last time that Gallup’s final poll before the election did not accurately determine the winning candidate was 1948, when they stopped polling a week before Harry Truman’s comeback victory against Thomas Dewey. Even in 1980, when Ronald Reagan staged a late comeback that turned into an electoral rout, Gallup caught glimmers of this trend just in time, showing the Gipper up three points in its last poll.
When it comes to the current election, the firm has Obama up eleven points in its final survey. But what should make Democrats more assured, said Newport, is that the Illinois Democrat has maintained a steady margin throughout the past month.
“Since September 15, Obama has been ahead in every poll we have conducted or any other polling I have seen and often by substantial margins,” he said. “It is not like it is race in which McCain was leading and we are seeing some kind of shift for Obama, it has been Obama ahead pretty dominantly.”
Moreover, other polling firms are documenting similar trends — a confluence of data that validates the larger picture.
“We are all using a measuring instrument to estimate a big population,” said Newport. “It is like we have a giant lake and we are trying to estimate the bacteria percentage. So we take a sample and test it and that is what we are doing. But yes… if you have 15 scientists and they are all showing the same thing, that does give you more assurance that the lake has some bacteria.”
There are, of course, Obama supporters who will remain unconvinced. And as evidence they could cite the polls leading up to the New Hampshire primary, which showed the Illinois Democrat in a similarly comfortable lead only to lose to Hillary Clinton by two points. Newport acknowledged that the primary fight in the Granite State gives him and others in the business pause — he has yet to find a smoking gun to explain what happened, though he hinted that massive late-stage change in voter preference moved too quickly for polls to pick up.
But that was, for better or worse, an aberration. Pressed to quantify just how big a failure for the polling industry a McCain victory would represent, he didn’t feel comfortable even following the hypothetical.
“Call me tomorrow,” he replied. “Obviously when Gallup and other scientific polling organizations do our best… and if for some reason the actual voting out there didn’t mirror, internally, what we were showing, it certainly would be a time where we would have to say, ‘What are we doing wrong?’… But we will cross that bridge if we get there. Right now, we aren’t crossing that bridge… It is improbable. But like I said, call me tomorrow.”
In 14 national polls completed over the weekend, Barack Obama surpassed the 50-percent threshold in all but one, suggesting he is within striking distance of a feat no Democrat has accomplished since Jimmy Carter in 1976: winning a majority of the vote.
The one notable and slight outlier is IBD/TIPP; it estimates Obama’s likely margin at 48 to 43 percent.
Two of those pre-election national polls, which project the undecided vote, show Obama in a particularly commanding position. Gallup reports Obama winning 55 to 44 percent, while the Pew Research Center has him winning 52 to 46 percent.
Presidential elections, of course, are not national contests. Rather, the president is selected in 50 different state elections. Here is how the final polls look in 14 of the most competitive battlegrounds.
An Arizona State University poll (Oct. 23-26) had McCain’s lead cut within the margin of error early last week, at 46 to 44 percent. About a month earlier, the poll had McCain leading by 7 points. In the summer, McCain was leading by double-digits in the same survey.
Polls completed Oct. 28 by NBC News/Mason-Dixon and CNN/Time had McCain ahead by 4 and 7 points, respectively. However, a poll completed Friday by Research 2000 measured the race as effectively tied, with McCain on top 48 to 47 percent.
The most recent poll, conducted by FOX News/Rasmussen on Sunday, showed Obama ahead by 4 points, 51 to 47 percent—the survey’s same margin as one week earlier. The Denver Post/Mason-Dixon poll completed Friday and Saturday shows Obama ahead by 5 points, 49 to 44.
SurveyUSA’s final poll, completed Monday night, had Obama ahead 50 to 47 percent. The latest Reuters/Zogby poll, completed Sunday, shows Obama leading 48 to 46 percent— a statistical tie, as the poll showed one week earlier. Surveys by Quinnipiac University and Public Policy Polling, completed the same day, show the same 2-point margin. But in Sunday’s FOX News/Rasmussen poll McCain was up 50 to 49 percent, also a dead heat. One week ago, the FOX poll had McCain trailing by 4 points.
Two polls completed over the weekend, by InsiderAdvantage/Poll Position and SurveyUSA, show widely varying margins. InAdvantage/Poll Position reported a statistical tie but SurveyUSA showed McCain ahead by 7 points. Strategic Vision’s most recent survey, completed Sunday shows the margin right in between, with McCain leading 50 to 46 percent.
Last week’s Indianapolis Star/WTHR poll showed the two candidates statistically tied, with Obama at 46 and McCain at 45. But the Zogby poll competed Sunday has McCain ahead by 5 points, 49 to 44 percent—roughly the same margin it found the week earlier. SurveyUSA’s last poll completed Oct. 28 shows the race tied, while Rasmussen pegs McCain’s lead at 3 points.
Polls conducted since Thursday by Rasmussen, SurveyUSA and Zogby show the race tied. An Oct. 29 Politico/InsiderAdvantage poll had McCain ahead by 3 points, 50 to 47 percent.
The most recent Rasmussen (Oct. 29) and Research 2000 (Oct. 28-30) polls show McCain ahead by 4 points. A Public Policy Polling survey completed Sunday had the race effectively tied, with 48-47 tilting to Obama’s favor.
McCain has not held a lead in Nevada since mid-September. Sunday’s Reuters/Zogby poll showed Obama ahead 51 to 43 percent. A couple days earlier, the Las Vegas Review Journal/Mason-Dixon survey (Oct. 28-29) showed Obama leading by a slimmer 4-point margin, 47 to 43 percent, the same 4-point spread as Rasmussen’s Oct. 27 poll. The Reno Gazette-Journal poll, taken Oct. 25-28, puts Obama ahead by 5 points.
The last two SurveyUSA polls peg McCain down by 7 points. The latest, conducted Oct. 29-31, shows Obama leading 52 to 45 percent. Rasmussen’s Oct. 28 poll also showed Obama comfortably ahead, 54 to 44 percent.
In the past week several polls have shown McCain with the slightest lead, though always bobbing within the margin of error. Recent surveys by Rasmussen (Nov. 2), SurveyUSA (Oct. 30-Nov. 2), and Zogby (Oct. 30-Nov. 2) place McCain ahead by 1 point. Mason-Dixon (Oct. 29-30) pegs McCain ahead by 3, while the Oct. 29 Politico/InsiderAdvantage poll showed the state split evenly at 48.
A recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll (Oct. 28-29) showed McCain ahead 47 to 46 percent. The week earlier, the same survey showed the two candidates tied. In mid September, Research 2000 showed McCain ahead by 13 points.
Sunday’s Rasmussen poll showed the race exactly tied, at 49 percent each. SurveyUSA’s poll, also completed Sunday, has Obama ahead 48 to 46 percent–a statistical tie. Another recent poll (Oct. 31-Nov. 2), by Strategic Vision, shows McCain ahead by a similar margin, 48 to 46 percent. However surveys by Zogby, Quinnipiac and the Ohio Poll, also taken over the same period, have Obama ahead by 6 or 7 points.
No public poll has shown McCain ahead in Pennsylvania in the general election. Still, four polls completed over the weekend show Obama ahead by 6 to 8 points–with Zogby the outlier, measuring a 14-point lead for the Democrat.
McCain has not led in a public poll in the state since September. Two polls completed over the weekend, by SurveyUSA and Rasmussen, show Obama ahead by 4 points. In the same period, Zogby shows Obama ahead by 6 while Mason-Dixon estimates the Democrat’s lead at 3.
Barack Obama saved his biggest Virginia rally for last — a jam-packed event in Manassas with 90,000 people reportedly in attendance. For his conclusion, he “reached back to the roots of his campaign to tell an inspirational story that had long ago fallen from his routine.”
The story is about a long drive, a rainy day and how one person can make a difference. It was inspired by a woman he met during a visit to a small South Carolina town in 2007 and became a favorite during his Iowa caucus campaign.
It ends with Obama leading a cheer of “Fired up, Ready to Go!”
Obama ended the event on Tuesday by telling the crowd: “In 21 hours, if you are willing to endure rainfall, to take the person who was not going to vote to the polls, if you will stand with me in a fight with me, I know that your voice will matter. I have one question for you, Virginia. Are you fired up? Are you ready to go? Fired up? Ready to go? Fired up! Ready to go! Virginia, let’s go change the world!”
Meanwhile, a fired-up John McCain told supporters to “be strong and fight” in an election eve rally Monday, his last before voters in swing state Nevada weigh in.
“My opponent is measuring the drapes in the White House. They may not know it, but the Mac is back! And we’re going to win this election,” McCain said to the screaming crowd. “Don’t give up hope! Be strong and fight!”
The Arizona senator’s evening rally at the Henderson Pavilion was the final leg of daylong, multistate campaign blitz. The candidate appeared surprised and energized by a crowd that greeted him with loud chants of “USA!” and “American hero!”
More than 10,000 people attended the event, according to facility manager Dianne Mizelle. The number makes it McCain largest in the state to date.
Has Fox News become a fascist outlet for the GOP ??
The channel puts itself across as representing the views of the Heartland – and uses vicious attacks to make its point – anyone who doesn’t agree with their point of view is deemed unpatriotic. During this election they have come out with all barrels firing – wholeheartedly hashing and rehashing – any GOP/far-right talking points which they thought would take down the other guy and help their one – often without any real focus on the issues. But if they truly represent the views of the Heart of America – why then – even after all of their efforts – their candidates, Sarah Palin and John McCain are so far behind in the polls – and instead of being in a good position to win this election – the candidates they have worked tirelessly to promote – by any means – are poised to lose – short of a perfect storm which blows these pro-Obama polls in their favor? Shame on Fox News.
“May I point out Obama has done 5 interviews with me and one with Chris Wallace, one with Brit Hume and one with Bill O’Reilly,” Garrett replied-all to a “Fox & Friends” producer’s email. “That’s 8 interviews. Would I like more? Yes. Would Chris Wallace? Yes. Would Brit and O’Reilly like more? Of course.”
The e-mail, which went to a significant portion of Fox News staff, continued, comparing Obama’s eight interviews with Fox News to the five Hillary Clinton gave the network.
“Just a note to add some real numbers and a grain of context,” Garrett said. “Apologies if I left out any other big interview of Obama [or] Clinton on our network.”
The planned guest, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell, did appear but the segment was retooled to discuss the media coverage of Obama’s remarks on the coal industry.
Read the full e-mail below:
From: Garrett, Major
Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2008 9:23 PM
Subject: Re: F & F Guests, November 3, 2008
In the context of the 6:15 am B Block “IGNORE FNC” segment, may I point out Obama has done 5 interviews with me and one with Chris Wallace, one with Brit Hume and one with Bill O’Reilly. That’s 8 interviews. Would I like more? Yes. Would Chris Wallace? Yes. Would Brit and O’Reilly like more? Of course.
But it’s still 8 interviews with FNC in this campaign. By comparison, my count is the Hillary Clinton did 5 FNC interviews with FNC during the campaign: 3 with me, one with Chris Wallace and one with O’Reilly. This does not count morning round-robins done during the primaries as those tend not to have any selectivity to them.
Just a note to add some real numbers and a grain of context. Apologies if I left out any other big interview of Obama of Clinton on our network.
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Sun Nov 02 19:59:31 2008
Subject: F & F Guests, November 3, 2008
FOX & FRIENDS GUESTS FOR MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2008 – 1 DAY UNTIL THE
*** 5AM START!!!! ***
5:00 (A-BLOCK) COLD OPEN // QUICK TEASE
// News HEADLINES // TALKING POINTS
5:15 (B-BLOCK) – 2 STORIES ((ANCHOR))
JUAN WILLIAMS, POLITICAL ANALYST & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR & JAMES T.
HARRIS, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST ((BOTH GUESTS ON SET))
TOPIC: OBAMA’S NEW ATTACK ON THOSE WHO DON’T WANT HIGHER TAXES,
5:22 (C-BLOCK) – 2 STORIES ((ANCHOR))
& CARRYOVER W/ JUAN & JAMES – TOPIC 2 – THE ABILITY TO LOWER TAXES
WORKED FOR IRELAND, WHY WOULDN’T IT WORK FOR US? ((BOTH GUESTS ON SET))
5:29 (D-BLOCK) – BUMP-IN – TBD
// News HEADLINES – INCLUDE WX // TALKING POINTS // SPORTS
PKG HOW WE GOT HERE: OBAMA ((PKG TRT: 3:22 OC: (music sting)))
5:45 (E-BLOCK) – MINI NEWS ((ANCHOR))
PKG HOW WE GOT HERE: MCCAIN ((PKG 3:20: , OC: (music sting)))
5:52 (F-BLOCK) – JOHN FUND – TOPIC – VOTING ISSUES – EARLY VOTING – IS
IT A GOOD THING? OR IS IT CREATING MORE PROBLEMS? ((NY STUDIO))
5:59 (A-BLOCK) COLD OPEN // QUICK TEASE
// News HEADLINES // TALKING POINTS
6:15 (B-BLOCK) – 2 STORIES ((ANCHOR))
& BRENT BOZELL- WILL OBAMA TRY TO CONTROL THE MEDIA? EXAMPLES HE’S
ALREADY DONE- KICKED REPORTERS OFF PLANE, IGNORE FNC, BIDEN FL AV
INTVIEW, ((DC BUREAU))
6:22 (C-BLOCK) – POP UP POLITICS ((ANCHOR))
& CARRYOVER (MUST CARRY OVER BRENT BOZELL) ((DC BUREAU))
>> BDAY IN TEASE
6:29 (D-BLOCK) – BUMP-IN – TBD
// News HEADLINES – INCLUDE WX // TALKING POINTS // SPORTS
6D – RICK BURGESS & BUBBA BUSSEY: RADIO HOSTS “RICK & BUBBA SHOW” LIVE
FROM THEIR STUDIO– WHAT ARE THEY HEARING? – INCL OBAMA’S “SELFISHNESS”
6:45 (E-BLOCK) – MINI NEWS ((ANCHOR))
DAVID FREDOSSO – TOPIC: THE CHICAGO MACHINE – POLITICS OBAMA IS USED TO
VS POLITICS OF WASHINGTON
6:52 (F-BLOCK) – PETER JOHNSON JR – TOPIC – THE CANDIDATES ON HEALTH
CARE ((ON SET))
6:59 (A-BLOCK) COLD OPEN // QUICK TEASE
// News HEADLINES – INCLUDE WX // TALKING POINTS
7:15 (B-BLOCK) – MITT ROMNEY – TOPIC – NEWS OF THE DAY ((TOLEDO))
6:30 NBC pretape
6:40 ABC pretape
6:54 CNN live
7:05 CBS live
7:15 Fox live
7:35 MSNBC live
7:22 (C-BLOCK) – GERALDINE FERRARO, FORMER DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL
NOMINEE & & RICH LOWRY EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW TOPIC –
7:29 (D-BLOCK) BUMP IN – TBD
// News HEADLINES – INCLUDE WX & SPORTS // TALKING POINTS
7D – SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D-MO) NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, OBAMA CAMPAIGN
TOPIC – NEWS OF THE DAY ((KANSAS CITY, MO))
7:45 (E-BLOCK) – THIS DAY IN HISTORY ((ANCHOR))
& STEPHEN MOORE, WSJ -SENIOR ECONOMIC WRITER – TOPIC: HOW IRELAND’S TAX
CUTS HELPED THEIR ECONOMY ((DC BUREAU))
7:52 (F-BLOCK) – PETER JOHNSON JR – VOTER FRAUD – THINGS THAT CAN GO
WRONG DURING VOTING, OR ON ELEX DAY (BASED ON TIME MAG ARTICLE) ((ON
7:59 (A-BLOCK) // COLD OPEN // QUICK TEASE
// News HEADLINES – INCLUDE WX // TALKING POINTS
8A – KARL ROVE, FORMER CHIEF POLITICAL STRATEGIST TO PRESIDENT BUSH –
TOPIC PRE-ELECTION POLLS – IS THE RACE TIGHTENING? ((IN STUDIO))
8:15 (B-BLOCK) – JOHN BOLTON, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO THE UN – THE EARLY
TESTS FROM ABROAD ((DALLAS BUREAU))
8:22 (C-BLOCK) – MINI NEWS
& – JOE THE PLUMBER – TOPIC -PLUNDERING THE PLUMBER’S RECORDS (HER
COLUMN FROM 10/31) – WASH POST ARTICLE TODAY “The Wurzelbacher Effect” –
ANOTHER MEDIA ATTACK ON JOE. ((ON SET))
8:29 (D-BLOCK) – BUMP IN – TBD
// News HEADLINES – INCLUDE WX // TALKING POINTS // SPORTS
>> PULL SOT FROM JOE’S 8C INTV?
MICHELLE MALKIN – MICHELLEMALKIN.COM – TOPIC -PLUNDERING THE PLUMBER’S
RECORDS (HER COLUMN FROM 10/31) – WASH POST ARTICLE SUNDAY “THE
WURZELBACHER EFFECT” – ANOTHER MEDIA ATTACK ON JOE. ((DENVER BUREAU))
8:45 (E-BLOCK) – LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER – FMR SECY OF STATE UNDER GEORGE
H.W. BUSH, ALSO SERVED UNDER NIXON, REAGAN & CARTER ADMINISTRATIONS AND
IS A MCCAIN SUPPORTER ((CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA)) – WHICH CANDIDATE HAS
BETTER FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE?
8:52 (F-BLOCK) – DAN GAINOR, BUSINESS & MEDIA INSTITUTE. TOPIC: AMERICA
2012: FACTS ABOUT WHAT THE NEXT PRESIDENT’S FIRST TERM WILL DO TO
ENERGY, HEALTH CARE AND YOUR WALLET VS WHAT THE MEDIA HAS TOLD YOU
8:58 (G-BLOCK) – GOODBYE
MOTHER OF ANCHORMAN ANNE PRESSLY ((ON SET))
JIM ANGLE, UNSURE ABOUT STARTING TIME
STEVE BROWN FROM OHIO, STARTING AT 7AM
PETER BARNES ON THE ELECTION
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Madelyn Dunham, who watched from afar as her only grandson rapidly ascended the ranks of American politics to the brink of the presidency, did not live to see whether he was elected.
Mrs. Dunham, 86, Senator Barack Obama’s grandmother, died late Sunday in Hawaii after battling cancer, which Mr. Obama announced upon arriving here on Monday for a campaign stop on the eve of Election Day.
“She has gone home,” said Mr. Obama, his voice tinged with emotion as he briefly spoke of her death at a campaign rally here. “She died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side, so there’s great joy instead of tears.”
Mr. Obama learned of his grandmother’s death at 8 a.m. on Monday, aides said, but appeared at a morning rally in Florida without making an announcement. A written statement was issued around 4:30 p.m., in the name of Mr. Obama and his sister, before he spoke at an evening rally in Charlotte. The delay was intended to allow his sister, who was six hours behind in Hawaii, time to take care of a few details before the death became public.
Mrs. Dunham was the final remaining immediate family member who helped raise Mr. Obama during his teenage years in Hawaii. He called her Toot, his shorthand for “tutu,” a Hawaiian term for grandparent.
Mr. Obama left the campaign trail late last month to travel to Honolulu to bid his grandmother farewell. He spent part of two days with her, as she lay gravely ill in the small apartment where he lived from age 10 to 18.
While Mrs. Dunham was too sick to travel to see her grandson on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama and other family members said that she closely followed his bid for the presidency through cable television. Yet she became a figure in his campaign, seen through images in television commercials intended to give him a biographical anchor.
Mrs. Dunham, who grew up near Augusta, Kan., moved with her husband, Stanley Dunham, to Hawaii.
In the early stages of his candidacy, Mr. Obama spoke wistfully about his grandparents, whose all-American biography was suddenly critical to establishing his own American story. He spoke of how his grandmother worked on B-29s at a Boeing plant in Wichita.
For Mr. Obama, the loss came on the final full day of his presidential campaign against Senator John McCain. Campaigning in New Mexico, Mr. McCain offered his condolences and said: “He is in our thoughts and prayers. We mourn his loss, and we are with him and his family today.”
The illness of Mr. Obama’s grandmother had been weighing on him in recent weeks, friends said, which is why he insisted on interrupting his schedule to visit her late last month. While she was gravely ill, aides said, he carried on a limited conversation with her. He kept the visit to one day, advisers said, partly out of her own insistence that people not create a fuss.
“She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America,” Mr. Obama said. “They’re not famous. Their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard.
“They aren’t seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing. In this crowd there are a lot of quiet heroes like that.”
In Senator Obama’s opinion it appears the arts have become essential to reengage our standing in the world. According to an article in Bloomberg, he is the first White House contender to include a far- reaching arts-plank in his platform. Quoting Robert Lynch, president and chief executive officer of “Americans for the Arts” a highly respected Washington based arts advocacy group, “no presidential candidate in recent times has addressed cultural issues in such detail.” As early as the spring of 2007 Obama brought together a committee of arts and arts professionals including such luminaries as Hollywood producer George Stevens, novelist Michael Chabon, Broadway director Hal Prince, Museum of Modern Art president emerita Agnes Gund, to focus on this issue.
By contrast the article advises that John McCain has consistently voted for cuts in the National Endowment for the Arts (the NEA) budget, saying that funding for the arts is a local matter.