First Lady Michelle Obama talks with a young patient during a visit to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, December 16. The First Lady read the book “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” before greeting the children along with Santa Claus and presidential dogs Sunny and Bo
A year ago: President Obama tours the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., with Sara Bloomfield, museum director, and Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor, April 23, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
12:30: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
2:15: The President honors the 2013 National Teacher of the Year
2:45: Meets with the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
6:30: Meets with a bipartisan group of women Senators for dinner
8:30: Vice President Biden Speaks at the Time 100 Dinner
Peter Beinart: The rap against Barack Obama, at least on the left, has long been that he’s too cautious, too calculating, too conciliatory. Not a guy willing to take risks.
We can apologize now.
What Obama did in the four months between December’s Newtown shooting and this Wednesday’s Senate capitulation was one of the great displays of presidential guts in American history…..
…. [he] pursued gun control with a force of mind and soul that was astonishing to behold. “I never saw a president fight so hard,” remarked Sen. Barbara Boxer, “never on any issue.”
Why did he do it? In part because the Obama-as-timid meme was always a lie …. but beyond that, I suspect that once Obama saw an opportunity, he pushed gun control so hard because he simply cares more. As a community organizer, he worked and lived in the kind of communities where Americans are most often shot…
…. The gun control struggle will likely continue for decades. And this week its arc feels particularly long. But one day, a future president will look back at the last four months as the moment when Barack Obama began to make it bend.
Steve Benen: As the debate over new measures to prevent gun violence reached its apex, Republican lawmakers and conservative activists became surprisingly hostile towards the family members of those slain in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. If there’s one group of people who would appear to be off-limits when it comes to political pushback, one might think it’d be Newtown families, but apparently not.
What’s next, cheap shots at Gabrielle Giffords? Actually, yes…..
USA Today: Almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today. This, administrators say, should help keep costs to the government down in the future.
“Before, many beneficiaries were forced to stop taking the drugs,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “This reduces costs through better management.”
…. The 2010 health care law required a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the so-called doughnut hole, or the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the Medicare drug benefit, also known as Part D. In 2012, the coverage gap is $2,930. The Affordable Care Act eliminates the doughnut hole by 2020.
The previous report, with numbers through the end of October, had shown 2.65 million Medicare recipients saved $1.5 billion on prescriptions. That rose to 3.76 million recipients by the end of December.
The Hill: Senate Democrats raised more than $5.3 million in February, marking the third straight month in which they raised more than the month before.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) ended February with almost $19 million in the bank. That’s about $3.5 million more than it had one month ago, meaning the committee saved most of what it raised.
Democrats have cleared their debt and raised more than $52 million during the cycle. DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said it was the most successful February the committee has ever had.
WH: President Obama was wrapping up an interview with Mario Andres Moreno for Univision Miami’s Channel 23 at the White House in May when the conversation turned to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls were one game away from facing the Miami Heat and a friendly wager was struck … if the Bulls won, Moreno would send the President some Cuban Fritas and if the Heat won, the President would send Moreno some fully loaded Chicago Dogs.
As fate would have it, the Bulls lost to the Heat and Moreno won the bet.
Last week, as promised, a large package of hot dogs with all the fixins arrived at Channel 23’s offices in Miami with everything needed to bring the Chicago Dog experience to the Sunshine State. Inside the insulated box were packages of all beef hot dogs, poppy seed buns, yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spears, sport peppers and celery salt – as well as a note from President Obama himself…
During the evening news broadcast, Mario Andres Moreno sat in his anchor’s chair with his Chicago Dog waiting in front of him as he recounted the story with his co-anchors. A screen shot behind them featured a picture of the President, a hot dog, and the tag, “Palabra Cumplida”- “Kept His Word.”
Dana Milbank (Washington Post): Mitt Romney had just finished working the room at Blake’s Creamery when he paused for a photo with the restaurant’s owner and decided to tell her a joke.
“I saw the young man over there with eggs Benedict, with hollandaise sauce,” he said. “And I was going to suggest to you that you serve your eggs with hollandaise sauce in hubcaps. Because there’s no place like chrome for the holidays.” The proprietor laughed weakly…. The hubcap joke must have killed in Michigan in the 1950s, when Romney was a boy. What’s odd is that he’s still making such jokes….
In formal settings Romney is confident and competent. But in casual moments … his weirdness comes through – equal parts Leave-It-to-Beaver corniness and social awkwardness …. He greets a man perusing shelves of a hardware store: “Shopping here today?”
…He talks about the weak economy with the proprietors of a feed shop, then abruptly pivots: “Okay, so what do you do about mosquito control? … This has been a mosquito-infested year with all the moisture. They flew away with my dog.”
….Posing for a photo with his arms around the waitresses, he suddenly jumps forward, pretending somebody pinched his bottom. “Oh my goodness gracious!” he exclaims, then, “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” He later says the gag is “kind of fun to do.”
…. To two older women who just came from the gym: “Are your knees, hips doing okay?” To an old married couple: “You know each other?” Romney seemed to be auditing one man: “What’s happened to your financials the last couple of years?”
He departed Blake’s with a final plea for support in the New Hampshire primary, scheduled for Feb. 14. “Get out and vote,” he encouraged the diners. “It’s a while, though, I think. What is it, November? … It’s not November. It’s January. It’s February!”….
The Hill: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took a direct shot at Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign on the same day Romney made his bid official, and in his own backyard.
Less than an hour before Romney was set to officially announce his presidential bid, Palin criticized him for signing Massachusetts’s healthcare plan…”In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, so obviously … there will be more the explanation coming from former Governor Romney on his support for government mandates”….
….Palin’s sharp rhetoric toward Romney sends a clear signal that she’s not willing to let the former Massachusetts governor have his day in the sun. Tea Party activists might be less inclined to vote for Romney because of his healthcare law, Palin said. “That perhaps will be a big challenge for him because tea party activists are pretty strident, in a good way, in making sure that the candidate that many of the tea party patriots will support – the candidate has a record of living out the principles that tea party patriots do embrace”…