DIANE REHM: Thanks for joining us. I’m Diane Rehm. Legendary singer Linda Ronstadt has sold more than 100 million records in her 40-year career. She’s best known for chart-topping hits like “You’re No Good,” “Blue Bayou,” and “When Will I Be Loved?” Ronstadt was the first female artist in popular music history to release four consecutive platinum albums. But last year, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease forced her to stop singing. She’s in Washington D.C. this week, where yesterday she received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.
…. Tell us about that ceremony yesterday and how you felt.
LINDA RONSTADT: Well, I think most artists always will say, I don’t know if you agree with this or not, but I felt like a fraud. You know? I felt surely they’d made a mistake and they would be telling me any minute that, you know, I needed to go home. I was on the wrong list.
….. But otherwise I was delighted. And I am a great fan of President Obama and think he has been a fine president. And I’m very pleased that we’ve got to have someone of his grace and his dignity, which is rare in American culture these days.
REHM: Do you think, in part, it comes from his Hawaiian upbringing?
RONSTADT: Well, he — there’s a beautiful, beautiful ancient culture in the Hawaiian Islands and an old tradition of a lot of diversity. You know, there are Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Okinawan, and they all had to get along. And so there’s a high level of lovely, beautiful manners, you know? People treat each other with respect and courtesy in the islands that you don’t find in the mainland. And I think — and there’s a real gentleness, you know?
Of course people stand up for themselves too. You don’t want to get into a fight with a Hawaiian. Because if you want to push him, he’s a tough guy, you know? But he’ll give you an out before. And I think that he reflects a lot of that. Maybe his background in the Hawaiian Islands…
REHM: He was very warm.
RONSTADT: He was very genuine and he was very present. And I liked that. He was very aware of what was going on around him. We’ve had so many people that have just been, you know, so egotistical or so completely full of themselves they can’t tell what’s going on around them. And I don’t think that’s the case with him. And his wife Mrs. Obama couldn’t be more impressive. My god, she’s beautiful. She’s very beautiful in the photographs…
REHM: Absolutely gorgeous.
RONSTADT: …but she’s 50 times as pretty.
REHM: Totally gorgeous.
RONSTADT: And little looks going back and forth between them, you know? You can tell that that’s a strong relationship. I was very impressed. I expected to be impressed and I was very much more impressed…
NYT: …. When Americans go to the polls next month, they will cast a vote not just for president but for one of two profoundly different visions for the future of the country’s health care system. With an Obama victory on Nov. 6, the president’s signature health care law – including the contentious requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty – will almost certainly come into full force, becoming the largest expansion of the safety net since President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through his Great Society programs almost half a century ago.
If Mr. Romney wins and Republicans capture the Senate, much of the law could be repealed – or its financing cut back – and the president’s goal of achieving near-universal coverage could take a back seat to Mr. Romney’s top priority, controlling medical costs.
Given the starkness of the choice, historians and policy makers believe this election could be the most significant referendum on a piece of social legislation since 1936, when the Republican Alf M. Landon ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal programs….
President Obama arrives on a rainy and foggy night in Romulus, Michigan, January 26
9:45 ET PBO delivers remarks at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
11:00: Departs Michigan en route to Joint Base Andrews
12:25: Arrives at Joint Base Andrews
12:30: Departs Joint Base Andrews en route to Cambridge, Md.
PBO and VP Biden address House Democrats at their annual retreat
3:00: Arrives at the White House
3:30: PBO and VP Biden meet with Secretary of State Clinton
4:30: PBO delivers remarks at a campaign event
A segment of the line of people waiting for tickets to see President Barack Obama speak on Friday starts near the Michigan Union, winds around the Fleming Administration Building, back toward the Literature, Science, and the Arts Building, and north down Maynard St
See the post below for more on the demand for tickets for tomorrow’s speech
Freep.com: Two months ago, it appeared Michigan might well be prime real estate for Mitt Romney as he sought the Republican nomination for president.
In a Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) poll then, native Michigander Romney led the Democratic president, Barack Obama, 46%-41%, in a head-to-head matchup.
But as Romney’s path to the nomination has gotten cloudy, his lead in the state over the Democratic incumbent also has evaporated. In a new Michigan poll, Obama has taken the head-to-head lead, 48%-40%.
MSNBC: Newt Gingrich leads Mitt Romney among Republicans, but he is the weakest of the Republican candidates tested against President Obama, according to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday evening.
Gingrich leads Romney 37 percent to 28 percent nationally among registered Republicans likely to vote in the primaries; Rick Santorum is in third with 18 percent, and Ron Paul is fourth with 12 percent.
…. Romney fares best against the president, trailing Obama by six points among registered voters, 49 percent to 43 percent. That’s a four-point improvement for the president from a month ago.
Obama, however, beats Gingrich by a whopping 18 points, 55-37 percent, expanding the president’s 11-point lead a month ago.