“What I do believe is true, not just for Bob Gates and this National Security Council but for every national-security team in every modern White House, is that there is going to be some back and forth and give-and-take between Cabinet secretaries and White House staff. And the criteria that I imposed throughout my first term, and will continue to insist on in my second term, is: Are we getting it right? Even if it’s messy, even if sometimes folks are frustrated, even if the conversations get heated—in the end of the day, are we putting forward the best possible policies to secure this country, and protect our troops, and make sure that if we send them on a mission it’s the right mission and they’ve got the tools they need to succeed?
“And I think my understanding, at least, is that Robert Gates acknowledged that at the end of the day, in a very difficult circumstance, we made the right decisions and oftentimes ignored political expedience to do so. And that’s ultimately how I’m going to measure success, and, hopefully, how history measures success.
“The one thing—and I said this publicly, so you could probably get a transcript of this, when I was in a bilateral with the Spanish President—the one thing I did say, getting to my motivations or body language in some of these meetings, is that war should be hard for everybody involved, that you should be asking tough questions at all times—most of all, of yourself. And that, if you are not asking difficult questions of yourself and your team, then you can end up with bad policy that hurts the national interest and that, in my mind, is a betrayal of those young men and women who I’m putting in harm’s way.”
“There have been times where I’ve been constrained by the fact that I had two young daughters who I wanted to spend time with, and that I wasn’t in a position to work the social scene in Washington. But having said all that, on fundamental issues like getting Republicans to raise taxes or eliminate loopholes, or getting Democrats to consider reforms to entitlement programs, what matters is the makeup of their districts and their electorates, and I think probably, just from a purely political point of view, the bigger challenge that I’ve had has to do with the fact that there is a core group of Republican House members in particular who know that I lost their districts by twenty-five or thirty points, and that there is a Republican base of voters for whom compromise with me is a betrayal. And that—more than anything, I think—has been the challenge that I’ve needed to overcome. “Another way of putting it, I guess, is that the issue has been the inability of my message to penetrate the Republican base so that they feel persuaded that I’m not the caricature that you see on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but I’m somebody who is interested in solving problems
when it comes to Democrats, the truth of the matter is, with fairly thin margins over the last five years, what’s been remarkable is the degree to which Democrats have been unified and worked with this Administration to accomplish some big things, even when there were a lot of political risks involved. And I’d like to think that part of that is because the Democrats up on Capitol Hill that I have relationships with know that the things I’m fighting for are things they care deeply about, and that I have a genuine commitment to seeing them succeed. You haven’t seen me, I think, go out of my way to play against Democrats on the Hill. But I’ve tried to be supportive of them in every way that I can.”
“My working premise, what I believe in my gut, is that America has been an enormous force for good in the world, and that if you look at the ledger and you say, What have we gotten right and what have we gotten wrong, on balance, we have helped to promote greater freedom and greater prosperity for more people, and been willing, as I think I said to you earlier, to advance causes even if they weren’t in our narrow self-interest in a way that you’ve never seen any dominant power do in the history of the world.
“And so, to apologize for certain historic events out of context, I think, wouldn’t be telling an accurate story. On the other hand, I do think that part of effective diplomacy, part of America maintaining its influence in a world in which we remain the one indispensable power, but in which you’ve got a much more multipolar environment, is for other people to know that we understand their stories as well, and that we can see how they have come to certain conclusions or understandings about their history, their economies, the conflicts they’ve suffered. Because, if they think we understand their frame of reference, then they’re more likely to listen to us and to work with us.
President Obama hugs Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before delivering the State of the Union address, Jan. 24, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The President has no public events scheduled for today
There are increasing signs that the GOP’s total war opposition to Obamacare is becoming tougher to sustain. The basic organizing principle – that only maximum resistance is acceptable in the face of such an existential threat to American freedom – is still widely dominant. But there are scattered indications it’s giving way to an implicit acknowledgment that the law’s fundamental goal — expanding health coverage and security to those who lack it, through more federal oversight and spending – has some moral validity.
ThinkProgress: Pennsylvania Man Confronts His Governor For Refusing To Expand Medicaid: ‘How Many People Have To Die?’
This week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) had a run-in with one of his constituents as he was leaving a fundraising event. Scot Rosenzweig — who identified himself as a fellow Republican — showed Corbett a large photograph of his fiancee, Dina Nelson, who died at the age of 41 because she was uninsured and couldn’t afford a liver transplant. “I think maybe we should consider accepting the Medicaid expansion,” Rosenzweig told his governor, explaining that people like Nelson need access to lifesaving health treatment.
“I can’t do that,” Corbett responded.
Corbett is one of 25 governors who have declined to accept Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, a move that is preventing an estimated 700,000 low-income Pennsylvanians from accessing public health insurance…..
What galaxy do Republican men live in? Apparently one where ladies who use contraception are ‘helpless’ and this potential 2016 contender could have been the fifth Beatle.
A few weeks ago, right after the dark clouds gathered over Chris Christie’s presidential prospects, some friends and I were having the usual Washington conversation of discussing the rest of the field. After we agreed that it was an awfully B-list bench, someone piped up: Hey, don’t forget Mike Huckabee! He’s losing all the weight!
Clearly, some of that vaporized body mass came out of his brain matter, based on his unhinged comments Wednesday at the Republican Party’s winter meeting. Discussing the GOP’s need to get more of the women’s vote, he said the Democratic Party tells women “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”
TPM: 2014 Could Be A Bad Year For Tea Party Senate Candidates
One of the craziest potential match-ups in the Republican Senate primaries this year promised to be Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — but early momentum for Stockman quickly fizzled.
Stockman, whose tea party bona fides include threatening to impeach President Barack Obama over new gun control restrictions and comparing Obamacare to sexually transmitted diseases, doesn’t seem to be making much of a dent in the poll numbers after his last-minute entry into the Senate primary. Stockman couldn’t even emerge victorious in a local Texas tea party straw poll and has even recently been missing from congressional votes. And though it’s still early in the 2014 cycle, Stockman’s lackluster campaign might be indicative of how insurgent tea partiers challengers are faring against establishment Republicans. So far, it’s looking increasingly like the so-called tea party wave, which peaked in 2010, might be headed toward a valley this time around.
Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he was frustrated that a registered sex offender and felon was allowed to stand alongside him during his State of the State speech.
Christopher Barber, a 32-year-old welder, was one of 13 newly hired workers Walker brought out to stand behind him during the opening minutes of his Wednesday speech as examples of how an improved economy is leading to more people finding work.
Barber wore his welding helmet and work gloves on stage. He waved to the audience in the Assembly chamber as he left the podium and Walker turned around and applauded …. Walker didn’t know that Barber, of Two Rivers, is a registered sex offender with two felonies and three drunken driving offenses.
Senator Barack Obama alongside Republican Senator Richard Lugar at the start of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting on Iraq resolution, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 24, 2007
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tour the White House South Grounds with Curator William Allman, left and Chief Usher Admiral Stephen Rochon, Jan. 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama works on his State of the Union address with Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau in the Oval Office, Jan. 24, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before his State of the Union address, January 24, 2012
President Obama hugs Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before delivering the State of the Union address, Jan. 24, 2012
Guests applaud First Lady Michelle Obama during President Obama’s State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012
In a phone call from the U.S. Capitol immediately after the State of the Union Address, President Obama informs John Buchanan that his daughter Jessica was rescued by U.S. Special Operations Forces in Somalia, Jan. 24, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Vice President Biden hold a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Jan. 24, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Bo, the Obama family dog, plays in the snow in the Rose Garden of the White House, Jan. 24, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
MoooOOOooorning – Happy Friday! And welcome back Nathkatun!