David Walker: Pete Souza On His Long-Term Photographic Partnership With President Barack Obama
PDN: You first met the President on his first day as senator in 2005. What was he like as a subject at that time?
Pete Souza: He had just been through a campaign in Illinois, and oftentimes had photographers tagging along with him. So I think he was used to a photographer being with him, maybe not to the extent that I wanted to try to work with him, which was to do a lot of things behind the scenes, but I think he appreciated the way I worked: leaving a small footprint, not interrupting what he was doing, and things like that.
PDN: Can you talk about what you think about—and what you want to say about—the President when you photograph him, and how that has changed since you started as the chief White House photographer?
PS: I used to tell people that I’m trying to make photographs so that 50 years from now, people will have a sense of what Barack Obama was like as a president and as a person. [Then] I saw, somebody had archived a presentation about the work of Yoichi Okamoto, who was LBJ’s photographer, and he essentially said the same thing, except he didn’t say 50 years—he said 500 years. And that just sort of shook me a little bit in the sense of how important it was for me to do a good job documenting visually this administration, because the reality is that: It’s 500 years from now.
People could be going through these photographs to try to get an idea [of this administration]. So that’s sort of the way I think about things.
PDN: What images come to mind that stand out to you because of what you know about his manner or mannerisms?
PS: I think how he interacts with his girls, for instance. I’m sensitive to giving him the necessary privacy with his girls, but at the same time, they know who I am. I know the great relationship that he has with his girls, so I think I’m able to make some photographs that show him as a father that a stranger coming in would never be able to make … That’s one example.
PDN: And anything about your relationship with the President you want to comment on? Does he comment on your photos, for example? Has he said anything to you or anything publicly [about your work]?
PS:Yeah, we hang photos on the walls of the West Wing. He’s usually struck by the photos that he’s not in, or photos that he’s in with his family, or photos that he’s in with little kids. I think those are the three categories of photographs that he enjoys the most.
President Barack Obama meets with Will Ferrell in the Oval Office to congratulate him on recently winning the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Oct. 21, 2011. Ferrell’s wife, Viveca Paulin, is at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama hugs First Lady Michelle Obama following the third presidential debate with Gov. Mitt Romney, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., Oct. 22, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama greets USO honorees and their families in the Vermeil Room of the White House, Oct. 5, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Barack Obama stands with the 2010 National Medal of Science recipients in the Blue Room of the White House, Oct. 21, 2011. Pictured, from left, are: Dr. Richard A. Tapia, Dr. Peter J. Stang, Dr. Shu Chien, Dr. Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, Dr. Jacqueline K. Barton, Dr. Ralph L. Brinster, and Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama signs books following a discussion on women and the economy with families in the backyard of of a home in Seattle, Wash., Oct. 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama takes an apple from a bowl prior to meeting with, from left, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), in the Oval Office, Oct. 22, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama hugs Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who recently returned from Afghanistan, prior to their meeting in the Oval Office, Oct. 21, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama jokes with personal aide Reggie Love, Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and others backstage, prior to his remarks at a Small Business Administration event at the Metropolitan Archives in Hyattsville, Md., Oct. 21, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Obama administration has tapped Jeffrey Zients, who has been a top economic adviser to the White House, to help lead efforts to fix the problem-plagued online health-insurance marketplaces. White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Mr. Zients, who served as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, will work in cooperation with the Health and Human Services team to provide management advice and counsel.
His enlistment is part of the “tech surge” aimed at resolving the technical issues that have hampered the rollout of healthcare.gov, slowing signups for health insurance and enflaming criticism of the Affordable Care Act. This will be a temporary assignment for Mr. Zients, who is slated to become the next director of the National Economic Council on Jan. 1. He left the White House earlier this year and was announced as the NEC pick last month.
A passenger aboard Nighthawk 3 looks out the helicopter window during a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport en route to Dyke Park landing zone in Stamford, Conn., Oct. 23, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Jonathan Cohn: ObamaCare Has Had A Brutal Few Days, But It’s The Next Few Weeks That Count
President Obama’s Rose Garden speech Monday was supposed to send two messages—one, that he is determined to fix Obamacare’s troubled federal websites and, two, that the law is already helping many people get insurance. I happen to believe both claims And there are genuine reasons for optimism, if you’re looking for them. The administration isn’t lying when it says the federal sites are functioning better than they were.
More people are finally getting through those opening stages of the process. The underlying architecture is also getting much-needed attention, although it’s not the kind of stuff people will notice right away. For example, a source familiar with the situation tells me that the system now has much better “instrumentation”—in effect, spots in the code that allow HHS to figure out how well different parts of the process are working.
That will make it much easier to pinpoint problems and check fixes as they take effect. Meanwhile, the states running their own sites are doing a much better job—the reports (and first-hand accounts I’ve heard) from California, Connecticut, Kentucky, New York, and Washington state are proof that the online system can work and, for the many people living in those states, are working already. That’s a whole lot of people for whom Obamacare is doing what it’s supposed to do.
Think Progress: Poll: White Conservatives Only Group Opposed To Reducing Racial And Ethnic Inequality
It is an undeniable fact that the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, rapidly heading toward the day when there will no longer be any clear racial or ethnic majority in the U.S. population. You might think America, with its long history of racial panics, might be freaking out.
But it turns out, according to a massive new study of public attitudes about rising diversity by CAP and PolicyLink, that’s not so. Americans are reacting amazingly well to growing diversity — with the curious exception of white conservatives. With the exception of white conservatives, Americans across the board support “new steps to reduce racial and ethnic inequality in America through investments in areas like education, job training, and infrastructure improvement.”
Don’t blame the health law for high levels of part-time employment. In its statistics, the Labor Department considers anyone who usually works less than 35 hours per week to be “part-time.” The health law, however, is stricter: It counts anyone who works at least 30 hours a week as a full-time employee. That means that someone who works 34 hours a week would show up in Labor data as a part-time worker, but would still qualify as a full-time worker under Obamacare, and therefore would be subject to the employer mandate.
If the health law were driving employers to cut employees’ hours, the most vulnerable workers would likely be those working just above the 30-hour cutoff. That means the data would show a decline in those working 30 to 34 hours and an increase in those working less than 30 hours. That isn’t what’s happening. The share of part-timers who say they usually work between 30 and 34 hours at their main job has been roughly flat over the past three years, at about 28%.
Bloomberg: Hollywood Aids McConnell Opponent Grimes In Kentucky Senate Race
Alison Lundergan Grimes’s first campaign fundraising report reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood and Kentucky Democratic politics. Grimes raised $2.5 million in the third quarter from donors including entertainment industry figures like Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Bryan Cranston, Jerry Seinfeld, Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand, Chris Rock, Jon Hamm, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Ron Howard, Cameron Diaz, James Cameron, Aaron Sorkin, Ben Stiller, Leonard Nimoy, Rob Reiner, Kirk Douglas, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Nicolas Cage.
Greg Sargent: How Dems Should Make This Fall’s Fights All About Jobs
So Dems should make a big push to curb what Greenstein called “tax entitlements,” i.e., loopholes such as carried interest. Second: Policymakers should push for an extension in unemployment benefits set to run out at the end of the year, possibly an easier get from Republicans than new taxes. Greenstein noted that unemployment benefits are one of several things that “give the biggest bang for the buck in economic activity per dollar of federal cost. Third: Infrastructure spending.
Igor Volsky: How Obamacare Will Save The Federal Government $190 Billion
Lower than projected premiums under the Affordable Care Act will save the federal government $190 billion over 10 years and increase the law’s deficit reduction by 174 percent to almost $300 billion, a new analysis from the Center for American Progress has found.
The report, from Topher Spiro and Jonathan Gruber, bolsters President Obama’s claims on Monday that despite the ongoing technical problems surrounding HealthCare.gov, “the product of the Affordable Care Act for people without health insurance is quality health insurance that’s affordable.” In fact, the emergence of new insurers and increased competition within the law’s marketplaces has lowered premiums below Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections from March of 2012.
A new Gallup poll shows support has increased four points since August, thanks to a rise in support from Democrats. Overall, 45 percent of Americans back the health-care law — up from 41 percent in August — while 50 percent oppose it. That increase in support is almost exclusively because of Democrats.
While 71 percent of Democrats backed the law in August, 83 percent support it now. Nearly all of the 12 percent of Democrats who had expressed no opinion of the law in August now support it. The poll was conducted Oct. 18-20, after the government shutdown ended last week and as the media was beginning to turn more of its attention to glitches on the HealthCare.gov Web site.
A U.S. Marine braces himself against the wind generated by Marine One as it lands at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Oct. 23, 2009. The scene is reflected in the open door and fuselage of Air Force One. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama, at right, waits backstage before delivering remarks at a reception for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick at the Westin Copley Place hotel in Boston, Mass., Oct. 23, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)