NYT: Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, standing before the Old State Capitol where Abraham Lincoln began his political career, announced his candidacy for the White House on Saturday by presenting himself as an agent of generational change who could transform a government hobbled by cynicism, petty corruption and “a smallness of our politics.”
…. It was the latest step in a journey rich with historic possibilities and symbolism. Thousands of people packed the town square to witness it, shivering in the single-digit frostiness until Mr. Obama appeared, trailed by his wife, Michelle, and two young daughters….
…. The formal entry to the race framed a challenge that would seem daunting to even the most talented politician: whether Mr. Obama, with all his strengths and limitations, can win in a field dominated by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who brings years of experience in presidential politics, a command of policy and political history, and an extraordinarily battle-tested network of fund-raisers and advisers.
…. “If a campaign is premised on personality, then no, I don’t think you can stay fresh for a year,” he said. “But if the campaign is built from the ground up and there is a sense of ownership among people who want to see significant change, then absolutely. It can build and grow.”
Charles Pierce: …. As to the argument that the president “didn’t want this” to open up in an election year, I think he did. It’s too perfect an ending to the narrative of his “evolving position” that he’s been talking about for three years. He saw a clear injustice — the North Carolina vote — and he decided that his conscience would brook no more delay. Look at how carefully he wove his support of marriage equality into the fabric of everything else he’d done for the cause of equality since he’s been president.
He talked about how our men and women in the armed forces (you know, the gay ones who can serve openly because he ended Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell, and who can get married in Massachusetts and Hawaii because he told his Justice Department not to pursue cases under the Defense of Marriage Act) shouldn’t be denied a right that we all have — to marry — just because they’ve left the killing fields.
…. I think both the Biden and Duncan interviews were long-range reconnaissance, and I think he got the information he wanted. I have my differences with this president, god knows, but this is one thing of which I am certain: He does absolutely nothing by accident. He has spent his entire life learning how to take cautious, considered steps. He’s damned good at it by now.
…. All of which is not to diminish what an authentic act of political courage this actually is. The dingbats will scream and fling their poo to all points of the compass …. even I can’t be cynical enough to deny that most of the reasons that the president said what he did today he said because he is a child of the civil-rights movement, someone whose fundamental ethics and whose most basic view of this country were formed as a result of the crucible through which the country passed in those years, and I believe he saw that denying gay couples the right to marriage when they contribute so much to so many areas of society was simply the right thing to do.
….. we all had a good laugh at his “evolving position on it,” but don’t we want our presidents to be thoughtful, to be open to new data and new perpectives, and new ways of thinking about things? …..I can tell you that, in my lifetime, I have had my fill of rigid presidents.
….a better and fairer country awaits ….I’m prouder to be driving through this country than I was this morning, that’s for sure.
Liberal Librarian: President Obama has evolved to embrace everyone’s basic human right to marry the person they love. Mitt Romney has devolved from a moderate Republican to a puppet of the Koch Bros and the Tea Party. Enough said.
See ThinkProgress for more, these are just fantastic – thank you DesertFlower
….. As the First Lady put it, she’s “Eeyore,” and he’s “Mr. Happy Guy, seeing the glass half full.” “I’m like regular people. It’s like – we’re losing! The sky is falling! Oh no!” she said. “And he’s like, just calm down.”
First lady Michelle Obama reaches for a hand as she arrives for physical activity with kids at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida, Feb. 11
AP: Add another dance move to Michelle Obama’s repertoire. This one has to do with a certain celebrity platypus. The first lady gave “the platypus walk” a try on Saturday during a visit to Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The dance was inspired by Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb” show, whose characters include Perry the Platypus. It required some flapping of flippers, or arms if you’re human, shuffling left and right and yanking limbs up and down, all to a pulsing rock beat.
Mrs. Obama did the dance at an event marking the second anniversary of her “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity.
…. with Perry the Platypus from the children’s TV show “Phineas and Ferb”
Thirty years after his father massacred tens of thousands of innocent Syrian men, women, and children in Hama, Bashar al-Assad has demonstrated a similar disdain for human life and dignity. Yesterday the Syrian government murdered hundreds of Syrian citizens, including women and children, in Homs through shelling and other indiscriminate violence, and Syrian forces continue to prevent hundreds of injured civilians from seeking medical help. These brutal killings take place at a time when so many Syrians are also marking a deeply meaningful day for their faith. I strongly condemn the Syrian government’s unspeakable assault against the people of Homs and I offer my deepest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones. Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately……
Ezra Klein: The strangest thing about January’s jobs report is that it’s pretty much all good. The headline numbers are great, of course: payrolls are up by 243,000 jobs. Unemployment is down to 8.3 percent. But the inside numbers are good, too.
…. The report also deals at least a slight blow to the case for economic pessimism. For months, forecasters have been telling us that though the end of 2011 was strong for the economy, the data showed the beginning of 2012 would be weak. That could still prove true. But we’re not seeing a slowdown in January’s payrolls. Just the opposite, actually.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t some areas of concern…..
The bottom line is that this isn’t just a good jobs report. It’s a recovery jobs report. It’s showing the sort of numbers that win elections. As my colleague Neil Irwin tweeted, “That sound you hear is champagne corks in the West Wing.”
AZCentral: Mrs. Michelle Obama shows off her dance moves again Thursday on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
And Jill Biden joins her in their road trip to talk about military families.
Ellen asked about how she and daughters Malia and Sasha handle the criticism that comes with life in the White House. “It’s part of a job and that’s the good thing about the campaign. It really gets you prepared for all the hard knocks that come along with making really tough decisions,” said Mrs. O. “Fortunately the girls are pretty young. They’re not watching the news. They’re pretty much watching Disney and all that good stuff. They’re fairly shielded but when they have questions we talk about it honestly. … Fortunately they have friends who don’t make it an issue. I think it’s been better than I would have expected.”
She added that she chooses not to take in the negative comments. “There are always two worlds in politics. There is the stuff you hear on TV and it’s what you feel when you go out into the country. But people are kind. They are kind to us when we go into communities. I think people know that my husband’s intent is good and that we are making good progress. That’s what we feel. That’s the energy that we get back. You can chose to take in the negative or you take in the good stuff.”