GOLDBERG: Do you believe he’s the most moderate person you’re going to find?
OBAMA: I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist, to recognize Israel’s legitimate security needs, to shun violence, to resolve these issues in a diplomatic fashion that meets the concerns of the people of Israel. And I think that this is a rare quality not just within the Palestinian territories, but in the Middle East generally. For us not to seize that opportunity would be a mistake. And I think John is referring to that fact.
We don’t know exactly what would happen. What we know is that it gets harder by the day. What we also know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally. We had to stand up in the Security Council in ways that 20 years ago would have involved far more European support, far more support from other parts of the world when it comes to Israel’s position. And that’s a reflection of a genuine sense on the part of a lot of countries out there that this issue continues to fester, is not getting resolved, and that nobody is willing to take the leap to bring it to closure.
In that kind of environment, where you’ve got a partner on the other side who is prepared to negotiate seriously, who does not engage in some of the wild rhetoric that so often you see in the Arab world when it comes to Israel, who has shown himself committed to maintaining order within the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority and to cooperate with Israelis around their security concerns — for us to not seize this moment I think would be a great mistake. I’ve said directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu he has an opportunity to solidify, to lock in, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel that is at peace with its neighbors and —
GOLDBERG: With permanent borders?
OBAMA: With permanent borders. And has an opportunity also to take advantage of a potential realignment of interests in the region, as many of the Arab countries see a common threat in Iran. The only reason that that potential realignment is not, and potential cooperation is not, more explicit is because of the Palestinian issue.
GOLDBERG: My impression watching your relationship with Netanyahu over the years is that you admire his intelligence and you admire his political skill, but you also get frustrated by an inability or unwillingness on his part to spend political capital — in terms of risking coalition partnerships — in order to embrace what he says he accepts, a two-state solution. Is that a fair statement? When he comes to Washington, how hard are you going to push him out of his comfort zone?
OBAMA: What is absolutely true is Prime Minister Netanyahu is smart. He is tough. He is a great communicator. He is obviously a very skilled politician. And I take him at his word when he says that he sees the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think he genuinely believes that. I also think that politics in Israel around this issue are very difficult. You have the chaos that’s been swirling around the Middle East. People look at what’s happening in Syria. They look at what’s happening in Lebanon. Obviously, they look at what’s happening in Gaza. And understandably a lot of people ask themselves, “Can we afford to have potential chaos at our borders, so close to our cities?” So he is dealing with all of that, and I get that.
What I’ve said to him privately is the same thing that I say publicly, which is the situation will not improve or resolve itself. This is not a situation where you wait and the problem goes away. There are going to be more Palestinians, not fewer Palestinians, as time goes on. There are going to be more Arab-Israelis, not fewer Arab-Israelis, as time goes on.
And for Bibi to seize the moment in a way that perhaps only he can, precisely because of the political tradition that he comes out of and the credibility he has with the right inside of Israel, for him to seize this moment is perhaps the greatest gift he could give to future generations of Israelis. But it’s hard. And as somebody who occupies a fairly tough job himself, I’m always sympathetic to somebody else’s politics.
I have not yet heard, however, a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario. The only thing that I’ve heard is, “We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing, and deal with problems as they arise. And we’ll build settlements where we can. And where there are problems in the West Bank, we will deal with them forcefully. We’ll cooperate or co-opt the Palestinian Authority.” And yet, at no point do you ever see an actual resolution to the problem.
GOLDBERG: So, maintenance of a chronic situation?
OBAMA: It’s maintenance of a chronic situation. And my assessment, which is shared by a number of Israeli observers, I think, is there comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?
GOLDBERG: You sound worried.
OBAMA: Well, I am being honest that nobody has provided me with a clear picture of how this works in the absence of a peace deal. If that’s the case — one of the things my mom always used to tell me and I didn’t always observe, but as I get older I agree with — is if there’s something you know you have to do, even if it’s difficult or unpleasant, you might as well just go ahead and do it, because waiting isn’t going to help. When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my conversation: If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?
This is not an issue in which we are naive about the challenges. I deal every day with very difficult choices about U.S. security. As restrained, and I think thoughtful, as our foreign policy has been, I’m still subject to constant criticism about our counterterrorism policies, and our actions in Libya, and our lack of military action in Syria.
And so if I’m thinking about the prime minister of Israel, I’m not somebody who believes that it’s just a matter of changing your mind and suddenly everything goes smoothly. But I believe that Bibi is strong enough that if he decided this was the right thing to do for Israel, that he could do it. If he does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach. And as I said before, it’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.
On This Day: Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking at a rally for the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama in Hartford, the day before the Connecticut Super Tuesday primary. Congressional Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Chris Murphy and John B. Larson are onstage behind Ted Kennedy, along with Caroline Kennedy and Barack Obama. February 4, 2008
3:0: The President and Vice President meet with Department of Defense leadership on Afghanistan
4:30: The President and Vice President meet with the House Democratic Caucus, The East Room
AP: Obama Secures $750M in Pledges to Get Kids Online
Claiming progress in his campaign to get American schools wired for the future, President Barack Obama is announcing commitments from U.S. companies totaling about $750 million to connect more students to high-speed Internet.
Apple is pledging $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools. AT&T and Sprint are contributing free Internet service through their wireless networks. Verizon is pitching in up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions. And Microsoft is making Windows available at discounted prices and offering 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office software.
Obama was to announce the commitments Tuesday at a middle school in the Maryland suburbs near Washington. Also in the pipeline: an addition $2 billion that the Federal Communications Commission is setting aside from service fees over two years to connect another 20 million students to high-speed Internet.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement at the Munich Security Conference, that Israel will face boycotts should negotiations with the Palestinians fail, is a level-headed view of reality that the Israeli government chooses to continually ignore.
…. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beats them all: Instead of welcoming Kerry as an ally, he publicly quarrels with him and hints that the secretary of state is trying to pressure Israel to “give up essential interests.”
Netanyahu refuses to understand that Israel’s most essential interest is ending the conflict, and that Kerry is a fair, dedicated, mediator who needs the support of all parties in order to complete this complex process. Netanyahu refuses to understand that now is the time for big decisions, not small politics.
A month ago, the president was on the outs – even among Democrats. Today, he’s quelled critics and getting his chance to make negotiations work.
The push for new sanctions on Iran has stalled. The Democrats who bucked President Obama to back the sanctions bill are backpedaling mightily—no longer even pretending they’re pushing Harry Reid to hold a vote on the measure. And while there’s still plenty of chest-pounding and posturing, the debate’s end result seems clear: The Senate will wait, at least so long as the negotiations move in the right direction.
That’s a full flip from just more than a month ago. Before the December recess, the Senate’s pro-sanctions faction was surging. Senators—including Democrats who are typically Obama loyalists—were agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear negotiations with Iran bordered on capitulation.
So how did Obama — a supposedly feckless president when it comes to handling Congress — turn the tide? Obama’s in-person, all-hands-on-deck advocacy campaign with the Senate appears to have advanced his cause, but it’s not that simple.
South Carolina’s battle over Medicaid expansion: After the Supreme Court ruled that states were not obligated to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, South Carolina was one of the first to opt out. PBS NewsHour’s Mary Jo Brooks reports on the effects for residents who are still uninsured, plus a small alternative program designed to reach some of them.
Bill Hammond (NY Daily News): Anti-Obamacare, facts be damned
House Speaker John Boehner lobbed a social media stink bomb this weekend that distilled Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act to their cynical, knee-jerk essence.
“Sick kids denied specialty care due to #Obamacare,” his Twitter feed proclaimed on Saturday, linking to a conservative blog post based on a TV news report out of Seattle. His Facebook page weighed in on the same story, calling it “heartbreaking” and vowing that House Republicans “will continue working to scrap this broken law.”
There’s just one problem: The shocking claim — that the President’s health reforms resulted in sick children being denied care — was flat-out false. Which Boehner’s staff must have known, assuming they actually read the material they were helping to spread across the Internet.
In fact, all of the children in question did get care, as was perfectly clear in the Jan. 30 press release from Seattle Children’s Hospital that got this snowball started.
President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next month amid reports of a strained American-Saudi relationship over Iran and Syria.
White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that Obama would meet with Saudi King Abdullah in late March, calling it “part of regular consultations” between the two countries.
“The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” Carney said.
The Saudi stop will be added to a late March trip that includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Vatican City.
Brian Beutler: Angry right’s secret revulsion: Why they really dodge minimum wage questions
Obama’s decision to increase the minimum wage for a small number of federal contractors has drawn out the crazies
It’s no great secret that Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage. They don’t pretend it’s something they want to do under any circumstances. They don’t even really bother disguising their opposition. They cloak their view in dated and oversimplified economic arguments about labor demand and economic growth when the real impediment is ideological, and so it’s a somewhat better kept secret that many Republicans oppose the minimum wage altogether.
Opposing the minimum wage isn’t a politically seemly thing to do, though, and thus the great political consequence of President Obama’s decision, announced during his State of the Union address, to institute a $10.10 minimum wage for future federal contracts, will be to draw the extent of this opposition out into the open.
The pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama conducted by Bill O’Reilly was not only notable for the Fox News anchor’s constant interruptions, but also for his harping on old news. The travails of HealthCare.gov, the murderous attacks in Benghazi and the actions taken by the IRS against conservative groups chewed up 9 minutes and 45 seconds of the 10-minute sitdown.
We all know that those topics are nothing but chum for O’Reilly’s anti-Obama audience. But the president successfully avoided the rhetorical traps set by the ambassador from “fair and balanced.” And he respectfully stood up to the disrespect demanded by said audience by giving as good as he got.
…. It’s always difficult to tell whether the tail is wagging the dog over there at Fox, but I would argue that the IRS conspiracy theories and others are in large part due to O’Reilly and Fox. Neither the station nor its anchor has shown Obama or his office the respect both deserve. And that 10-minute interview was a perfect illustration of it.
Every Saturday morning, President Obama delivers a weekly address, which is immediately followed by a Republican response, but this week’s GOP address was a little different: it was delivered by four Republicans instead of one. The message: there may be some room for a little “bipartisan common ground.”
…. Before getting into the particulars, it’s striking to realize just how small the “common ground” is. There are all kinds of popular ideas that enjoy broad public support – on job creation, aid to struggling families, immigration, public safety, etc. – but none of them made the cut in the official Republican statement.
Instead, progress is now possible in just four areas – four narrow areas.
Florida’s 13th congressional district will host a special election next month and by all appearances, it should be a close contest. Democrats have nominated former state CFO Alex Sink, who very nearly won the 2010 gubernatorial race, and have high hopes about her chances.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is also taking the race very seriously – so seriously, in fact, that the NRCC has come up with an unusual fundraising gambit.
Folks can go to a website that looks legitimate – contribute.sinkforcongress2014.com – and find a nice photo of the Democratic candidate alongside a graphic that reads, “Alex Sink – Congress.” If you’re not reading carefully, you might assume this is a page for Sink supporters to make a campaign contribution to their preferred candidate. But it’s not – this is a page set up by Republicans.
Voters Trust Obama More On Budget; Blame GOP For Gridlock
The Hill: A full half of Americans trust President Obama more than congressional Republicans to deal with the federal budget.
The survey by USA Today and Marist found that 50 percent of voters trust President Obama to make the right decisions on the budget, compared to 41 percent who say congressional Republicans are more trustworthy. Eight percent say they don’t believe either will make the right choices on budget priorities.
Among independents, 46 percent say they trust the president more, while 37 percent say they believe congressional Republicans have the advantage. Meanwhile, 48 percent of voters say Republicans are responsible for partisan gridlock holding up a deal on the federal budget.
The Beltway Media’s Fainting Spell Over President Obama’s 2014 Pursuits.
Alec MacGillis: Flash forward to this week, as Obama embarks on a trip to California to raise money for House Democrats, the first of 14 fundraisers he’s holding this year for the Democratic Party, up from only five that he held in 2009. Is this a sign that he learned a lesson from the 2010 disaster and the lashing he received afterward, and is determined to do better in his second midterm election? No—that would be too consistent a reaction for the Beltway. Obama’s fundraising—doing what he was slammed for not doing enough of four years ago—is now proof of his hypocritical betrayal of his principles.
But underlying the tut-tutting about Obama’s fundraising is a broader, longstanding confusion in the Washington establishment over what is to be expected of Obama. We scorn him for seeking to hold himself above the fray and then lash him with high dudgeon as soon he deigns to descend into the muck. Never mind that he is following in the footsteps of his two-term predecessors—as the Post noted, “Ronald Reagan participated in 20 fundraisers for Republicans in 1985, and George W. Bush did 14 in 2005…. Bill Clinton, committed to helping the Democratic Party eliminate debt after the 1996 campaign, appeared at a whopping 77 fundraisers in 1997.” One need look no further than the National Rifle Association’s success at blocking legislation favored by a majority of Americans to realize that the bully pulpit alone is inadequate to the task, and that it would help to spend some money on behalf of the legislation. After a bruising first term in office, Obama is painfully aware of these realities. But when he tries to address them, the Beltway blanches, to the bewilderment of those who’ve seen the realities that Obama is up against.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: The present darling of the right wing, Dr. Benjamin Carson, is a distinguished neurosurgeon who went from the depths of Detroit poverty to the heights of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. But his current status among conservatives isn’t so much rooted in Carson’s redemptive rise from rags to respectability, as it is in the belief that he is, in the long winter of Obama, the one they’ve been waiting for.
Last week, Carson came under attack for comparing advocates of same-sex marriage with advocates of bestiality and the North American Man/Boy Love Association. He then cast himself as a victim of political correctness, besieged by white liberals — “the most racist people there are” — who could not countenance his heterodoxy and wanted to keep him on the “plantation.”
ABC News: For years, supporters of marijuana legalization have pointed to polls trending their way, claiming the issue was about to tip as favorable to a majority of Americans. Now, their prediction has finally come true.
For the first time, a major U.S. poll shows a majority of nationwide support for legalizing marijuana: 52 percent now back legalized pot, compared with 45 percent who oppose it, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. Pew has been asking about marijuana since 1969, when only 12 percent thought it should be legal, and 84 percent said it shouldn’t be.
The legalization charge is being led by young people: Support ranked highest among 18-29-year-old respondents, 64 percent of whom think pot should be legal. Politically, liberal Democrats overwhelmingly think marijuana should be legal, at 73 percent.
But the idea of legalization has grown by making inroads among Republicans. Since 2010, the demographic that has shifted more support than any other–including groups broken down by age, political leaning, race, gender, and education–is liberal and moderate Republicans. Among them, support has jumped 17 percentage points in the last three years, from 36 percent in 2010 to 53 percent today.
Washington Post: President Barack Obama’s budget next week will steer clear of major cuts to Medicaid. White House officials aren’t commenting, but Obama’s budget would set up a clear contrast with the Republican-led House. The GOP budget would turn Medicaid over to the states and sharply reduce future spending from currently projected levels. It would also repeal the expansion of Medicaid, along with the rest of Obama’s health care law.
Under Obama’s overhaul, Medicaid would be expanded to bring in low-income adults, mainly people with no children at home but also some parents. In states that accept the expansion, those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — about $15,400 for an individual — would be entitled to receive Medicaid. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the expansion’s cost for the first three years, starting in 2014. Washington’s share would gradually phase down to 90 percent.
The Man Who Could Put Climate Change On The Agenda
Coral Davenport: Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, is best known for two things: his national security chops—he had key roles on the White House National Security Council—and the high regard in which he’s held by President Obama. McDonough has been part of Obama’s inner circle for nearly a decade, and the president has called his new chief of staff one of his “closest and most trusted advisers.”
Here’s what a lot of people don’t know about McDonough: He has a background on climate change, and he takes the issue very seriously. Here’s why that’s important: If Obama wants to follow through on his 2013 Inaugural Address pledge to make climate change a cornerstone of his legacy, he’ll need to make a series of tough, highly controversial executive decisions. Ultimately, of course, the U.S. agenda on climate change will be set by the president himself. But Obama’s selection of a key adviser with such a deep record on the issue suggests he intends to take it seriously.
Greg Sargent: The news of the morning is that President Obama will propose a budget next week that includes specific cuts in Social Security and Medicare along with new revenues — an effort to bring Republicans back to the table for a “Grand Bargain” to replace the sequester. The entitlement cuts include Chained CPI for Social Security and a combination of means testing and provider-side cuts on Medicare, in addition to other spending cuts, which will anger liberal Democrats. The budget seeks $580 billion in new revenues via closing loopholes enjoyed by the wealthy and oil and gas companies. There will reportedly be some new spending offset by money raised elsewhere — which is designed to prove that you can reduce the deficit and spend to prime the economy and help the middle class at the same time.
At a certain level, this shouldn’t surprise anybody. On entitlements, Obama is merely reiterating what he’s previously offered John Boehner, and it has long been clear that this offer is still on the table. Obama and his advisers don’t necessarily view Chained CPI as good policy. But they think a Grand Bargain is ultimately a better outcome than continued sequestration, and the only way to the former is to peel off individual Republicans who are open to new revenues. They believe a Grand Bargain is good for Democrats in general, because it essentially would lock in a medium-term agreement over core disputes — about the safety net and about the size of government, and who should pay for it — that have produced a debilitating stalemate in Washington.
Liberals who oppose Chained CPI need to start thinking right now about how to answer this question: Which is worse, a Grand Bargain, or continued sequestration?
NYT: President Obama skipped dessert at a long summit meeting dinner in Cambodia on Monday to rush back to his hotel suite. It was after 11:30 p.m., and his mind was on rockets in Gaza rather than Asian diplomacy. He picked up the telephone to call the Egyptian leader who is the new wild card in his Middle East calculations.
Over the course of the next 25 minutes, he and President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt hashed through ways to end the latest eruption of violence, a conversation that would lead Mr. Obama to send Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the region. As he and Mr. Morsi talked, Mr. Obama felt they were making a connection. Three hours later, at 2:30 in the morning, they talked again.
…. The White House phone log tells part of the tale. Mr. Obama talked with Mr. Morsi three times within 24 hours and six times over the course of several days, an unusual amount of one-on-one time for a president. Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology. Most important, Mr. Obama told aides that he considered Mr. Morsi a straight shooter who delivered on what he promised and did not promise what he could not deliver.
President Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel during a phone call from his hotel suite in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 19 (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, aboard Air Force One during the flight from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Washington, D.C., Nov. 20. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon listens at right. (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in the Oval Office, Nov. 21. Chief of Staff Jack Lew, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough listen in the foreground. (Pete Souza)
President Obama returns from a trip to Thailand, Burma and Cambodia, Nov. 21
2:0: The President pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey
4:20: The First Family participates in a service event
NYT: In the fractious relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the shoe may have just shifted to the other foot.
After more than a year of Mr. Obama needing – and not getting – much support from his Israeli counterpart in his efforts to woo American Jewish voters at home ahead of his re-election, it is now Mr. Netanyahu, Israel experts say, who needs Mr. Obama to help shore up his support at home.
The Israeli leader is facing an election in January, and if there is one thing that Israeli voters do not like, scholars say, it is any kind of daylight between their prime minister and the American president in times of strife.
After a year in which Mr. Netanyahu made no secret of his support for Mitt Romney, now might seem a perfect time for Mr. Obama to return the favor. And yet, as Israel and Hamas — and their proxies, the United States and Egypt — struggle to agree on a cease-fire in the fighting in Gaza, he has not done so.
…. All of this, Middle East experts say, means that Mr. Obama may have buttressed his own standing with the Israeli public, and is now in a far better position to start pressing Mr. Netanyahu on issues from the Israeli siege of Gaza to Iran to the dormant Middle East peace process, where he has had little leverage.
Charles Pierce: …. I would like to have an opinion on this continual bloodletting that didn’t sound banal but, goddammit, I’m out of them. I am thoroughly sick of both sides here. Opportunistic cutthroats poke a stick at the region’s most powerful military, knowing full well that said military will overreact and that the overreaction will fall most heavily on the civilian population on whose behalf the cutthroats are allegedly acting. Said military reacts right on cue, with all the modern military hardware against which the cutthroats know that they and the people they allegedly represent have no possible defense. Innocent people die. Then more innocent people die…..
…. there is no side worth taking in this. Not any more. It’s just tangled slaughter and bloody ambivalence and blind, unending fury. There is nothing but madness at its center, implacable as gravity, and drawing everything toward it.
NYT: The Obama administration took a big step on Tuesday to carry out the new health care law by defining “essential health benefits” that must be offered to most Americans and by allowing employers to offer much bigger financial rewards to employees who quit smoking or adopt other healthy behaviors.
…. Insurance companies are rushing to devise health benefit plans that comply with the federal standards. Starting in October, people can enroll in the new plans, for coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2014.
The rules translate the broad promises of the 2010 law into detailed standards that can be enforced by state and federal officials. Under the rules, insurers cannot deny coverage or charge higher premiums to people because they are sick or have been ill. They also cannot charge women more than men, as many now do.
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, March, 5, in the Oval Office
David Firestone (NYT): Iran represents one of the world’s most grave foreign policy challenges, but don’t look for much gravity in the speeches to American Israel Public Affairs Committee this week by the top three Republican presidential candidates. There will be plenty of empty fist-shaking and ridicule of President Obama at the pro-Israel lobbying group, but not a single new thought for preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
…. Romney, Santorum and Gingrich have consistently been at their most dangerous when discussing the Middle East, combining a simplistic bellicosity toward the Islamic world with a reflexive agreement with the Israeli right….
….. On Sunday, in his speech to Aipac, Mr. Obama made clear that he will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran, and is prepared to use military force to prevent it if necessary. But he said he prefers the route of diplomacy, and regrets the “loose talk of war”…
….Mr. Santorum bizarrely suggested recently that the Obama administration is helping Iran develop a weapon by leaking Israel’s plans for an attack … The administration would rather let Iran go nuclear than give up its oil, he charged.
That’s too ridiculous to even bother refuting, but it’s hardly out of line with a Republican field that has responded to the globe’s most serious issues with precarious posturing.
President Obama, accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, delivers his back-to-school speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington
President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk in a hold area before the President delivers his third annual back-to-school speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. Sept. 28, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)