President Barack Obama walks with White House Advance Associate Valerie Tyburski following an event at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard near Cushing, Okla., March 22. Walking behind the President are Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and Vic Erevia, U.S. Secret Service Special-Agent-in-Charge. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a metal and carbon fiber rod used in the construction of a lightweight race car alongside students at the Center for Automotive Research at Ohio State University in Columbus
President Obama returns to the White House after a two-day trip promoting his energy policy
Charles Pierce: …. That was about as bad a speech as you ever will see from a candidate who probably just wrapped up the nomination. …. At its heart, though, Romney’s speech featured some sub-Santorumish sarcasm directed at the president for having been a law professor while Willard was fighting his way up every inch of the hard road that leads from opulent wealth to incalculable wealth.
…. There was also the requisite sneering at community organizing. Let us consider, then, the community in which the president once organized. This is what I found out about it when I went and looked at it in 2008:
Obama also worked in the Altgeld Gardens, a housing development built in 1945 atop an ecological hellspout where two thousand families lived on an old landfill and hard by fifty-three different sites that had been designated as “toxic” by one study of the area.
Altgeld Gardens was built on the bones of old steel mills and factories, and atop the waste dumps and landfills that serviced them. And, when they built the projects there, they filled them full of asbestos. That poisoned neighborhood was a perfect product of the “freedom” that Romney talks about when he talks about an unregulated economy. Barack Obama went there to organize the people who were living on that deadly ground because The Market couldn’t have cared less about them, and the various governments allowed The Market not to care and, so, did not care either. The kids with the asthma, they weren’t free. The kids who developed the renal disease, they weren’t free. The people in all the cancer clusters, they weren’t free ….. in the 1980’s, when the president was working for peanuts trying to get some sort of justice for the people that The Market had chosen to poison, Willard Romney was making millions with Bain Capital…..
Michael Tomasky: Illinois was a breeze for Mitt Romney, and yes, numerically, maybe it’s getting close to done. But state by state, this still isn’t over. Rick Santorum remains likely to win Louisiana, which is next. Then comes Wisconsin on April 3. Santorum is still about 15 points ahead there right now. And it looks like Santorum has taken Missouri – again. So while Illinois probably means that Romney is on his way to the nomination, and maybe on his way to 1,144 delegates, it’s also a fact that Santorum isn’t going anywhere….
President Obama meets with the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search finalists in the Eisenhower Building
Michael Tomasky on GOP Plans to Sink the Economy: Every month brings improved job news – and bleaker prospects for the Republicans in November. Which is why they’re contemplating economic sabotage as their only hope.
We’re just under eight months away from Election Day now, which means that the GOP is starting to run out of time to think up new ways to ruin the economy so that Barack Obama doesn’t get reelected …. There are three fronts – gas prices, jobs, and the budget…
….. By opposing everything Obama wanted with such ferocity; by saying all those thousands of times that he had no clue about the economy; by sending out a parade of presidential candidates, from the semi-serious to the clown posse, all of whose central criticism of Obama is that he killed the economy – in all of these ways the party has more invested in economic failure than any out-party I can remember in my lifetime. Its best hope for now is gas prices, but even they eventually get lower, usually by late summer. Beyond that, all the GOP has to rely on is Mitt Romney’s unstoppable charisma.
Marketwatch: U.S. stocks rose Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index extending an advance into a fifth session, after retail sales climbed the fastest in five months in February.
“The rising sales were pretty impressive in that rising gas prices hasn’t hurt the consumer,” said Nick Raich, director of research at Key Private Bank in Cleveland …. The Commerce Department reported retail sales climbed 1.1% to $407.8 billion in February, while the prior two months were revised higher.
The upward revisions imply first-quarter economic growth could be “a bit stronger” than first estimated, noted Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC in New York.
National Journal: More Americans trust President Obama than congressional Republicans to make the right decisions to bring down the price of gasoline, according to a new poll, although neither side commands a majority.
What’s more, as prices continue to rise and the specter of $5-per-gallon gas for the summer driving season looms over the political landscape, the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows the public slightly more supportive of the energy priorities of the Democrats and the president than those of the GOP.
Forty-four percent of respondents trust Obama more “to make the right decisions to help bring down the price of gasoline,” versus 32 percent for Republicans in Congress….
Deaniac (The People’s View): After Washington Post/ABC News put out their poll drastically over-representing GOP and Republican leaning voters, New York Times and CBS News have come up with brand new blunders of their own on their poll released late afternoon yesterday, showing the president at an approval rating of “all time low” 41%. This poll has the most glaring, dumbfounding proof that its sample is rigged staring at you in the very front page of the poll’s crosstabs.
Raw Story: The Republican fight against health care rights for women may end up hurting the party on election day, according to a new poll. A Washington Post survey released Monday found that Democrats are perceived as caring more about issues that are important to women by 25 points, 55 percent to 30 percent.
The poll also showed that a large majority of all voters support the idea that businesses should be required to cover the “full cost” of contraception for female employees. Among all voters, 61 percent supported a mandate for birth control coverage, while 35 percent did not.
As MSNBC’s Steve Benen noted, 53 percent of voters were women in 2008 … “The gender gap was pretty enormous four years ago,” Benen wrote. “Don’t be surprised if it’s even bigger in November.”
Steve Benen: In Arizona, Democratic Senate candidate Don Bivens released a new ad yesterday, targeting Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, and hoping to take advantage of the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh. It’s probably not the last 2012 spot we’ll see highlighting the right-wing radio host.
Liberal Librarian (The People’s View): According to Rick Santorum, I’m doubly un-American. I was born in New York City and lived there until I was 16, at which time my family moved to Los Angeles, where I’ve lived ever since. According to Rick Santorum, I have no values. I don’t know the worth of an honest day’s work. I don’t know the benefits of charity (in which he engages very sparingly). I don’t know the duties of good citizenship. My vote shouldn’t count, because as both a New Yorker and and Angeleno, I was never exposed to rock-ribbed, middle American values. I’m an other. And everyone who lives in my two cities are similarly lacking in American moral fiber.
Kevin Drum (Mother Jones): In the upcoming issue of the Washington Monthly, Paul Glastris has a cover story called “The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama,” a headline almost guaranteed to set your teeth on edge….
….. A sidebar to Glastris’ piece lists Obama’s top 50 accomplishments …. Better to pare it down to 10 really top achievements in order to highlight how many truly major accomplishments Obama has been responsible for. So I did. Except I couldn’t get there. I cut it down to 13 and got stuck. Here they are, in the same order as the original Washington Monthly list (see post)
…. These are all big deals. Big fucking deals, to quote our vice president. Unless you’re just bound and determined to sulk in your tent while insisting that health care was a sellout and the stimulus was too small and Dodd-Frank was feeble and the mini stimuli were more like micro stimuli, there’s just no way around the fact that this is a historically colossal set of progressive accomplishments, especially in the face of a historically hostile political environment.
….. Unlike Paul Glastris, I’m not ready to start chiseling Obama’s mug on Mount Rushmore. But unless national security is pretty much your sole obsession, I really have a hard time understanding progressives who are disappointed in him. Obama has gotten more done for the progressive cause than Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, JFK, or Harry Truman – and, on balance, nearly as much as LBJ, since he doesn’t have any epic disasters to weigh down his successes. For an actual, existing human being, that’s pretty damn good.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk following a meeting in the Oval Office, March 2 (Pete Souza)
A gazillion thank yous to HZ for her wonderful comment (turned-in-to-a-post today at Tien Le’s excellent suggestion) – it was a joyful, constructive, positive breath of fresh air in the middle of all today’s madness. You’re a gem, HZ.
Robert Shrum: After Mini-Mitt’s diminutive three-point Michigan “triumph,” which was a little like a Roman general being hailed for a near defeat, how important is Ohio? To put it in Santorian terms, it could be apocalypse two; once more, as in Michigan, Mitt will have to avert the sun darkening and the sky falling on his presidential campaign.
President Barack Obama is introduced by Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar before delivering remarks at a conservation event at the U.S. Dept. of Interior in Washington, March, 2
President Barack Obama walks across the South Lawn upon his return to the White House after visiting wounded service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland
Mitt Romney holds up a baby from the audience at a campaign rally at Cleveland State University, March 2
Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign stop at Chillicothe High School on March 2, 2012 in Chillicothe, Ohio
First Lady Michelle Obama embraces members of the Johnson C. Smith ladies’ basketball team during a “Let’s Move!” physical fitness promotion between games at the CIAA basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C.
TOD is up and running on YouTube again after today’s little, eh, setback. Just click the YouTube logo third from the top in the right sidebar and it’ll take you to the channel. I’ll add more of the old videos over the next few days. Hey, this YouTube channel might disappear too …. if it does, well, we’ll just start up another one 😉
President Obama shakes hands with a supporter after speaking about energy and energy independence at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire
Charles Pierce: NASHUA, N.H. …. After several months of watching the Republican primary process, I can’t tell you what a cool breeze it was to watch a politician who looks at a crowd and doesn’t see a group of potential marks (Romney), a collection of your fellow Elect marching with you through the dystopic Sinai that is America (Santorum), a gaggle of goldbugs (Paul), or the class of half-bright sophomores that N. Leroy Gingrich sees every time he looks anywhere but into the mirror.
Barack Obama is not stiff. He is not bristling with unbridled id. He grins. He kids people, even the people who faint at the beginning of his speeches …. He is relaxed about the job of politics. He is the only president of the United States – real or prospective – that I’ve seen in months.
…. He talks about the challenges Americans face, but he doesn’t do it in the gloom-ridden, stalactite-festooned, minor-key funeral mass context that the Republicans talk about them. He talks in terms of “boundless ingenuity” and “unbridled optimism.”….
Bloomberg: The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell to a level matching a four-year low, more evidence the labor market is healing.
Applications for unemployment insurance decreased 2,000 in the week ended Feb. 25 to 351,000, Labor Department figures showed today…..
Firing is on a downward trend as employers gain confidence in the outlook for economic growth. A smaller number of job reductions also puts those companies in place to hire additional employees as demand picks up.
Steve Benen: …. here’s the chart, showing weekly, initial unemployment claims going back to the beginning of 2007:
PPP: There might not be any state that better represents Barack Obama’s improved fortunes in the opening months of 2012 than Wisconsin. When we polled there in late October Obama’s approval was a 44/51 spread and he led Mitt Romney by only 3 points at 46-43, representing a much closer race than the state had in 2008. Now those numbers have shifted significantly, with Obama’s approval basically flipping to 52/44. And he now leads Romney 53-39, a 14 point margin that matches what he won against John McCain there.
Obama’s 14 point lead in Wisconsin matches a trend we’re seeing in both our national and state polling across the country right now: Obama/Romney is starting to look more and more like Obama/McCain, or even something more friendly to the President.
Jerusalem Post: Poll finds vast majority of Israelis against unilateral military strike on Iran, Israeli Jews prefer Obama over all republican rivals …. The survey also polled Jewish Israelis’ feelings on the US presidential race, with respondents preferring President Barack Obama to all his Republican rivals.
Ruy Teixeira (TNR): Judging from recent headlines, things are looking up for President Obama. The Republican presidential nominees have been serially embarrassing themselves; the White House communications department has successfully focused its messaging on jobs and economic fairness; and consumers are feeling ever more confident about the economy.
But it’s not just anecdotal evidence that suggests Obama’s re-election chances have improved – most of the polling data suggests the same. Obama has been running consistently ahead of his most likely challenger, Mitt Romney, in national polls – by an average of 4 points according to the Pollster.com website. Indeed, the closer you look at the numbers, the more reassuring the news: Obama, it seems, is well on his way to reconstructing the very coalition that elected him in 2008.
National Memo: In this Citizens United era of unregulated campaign cash, gay activists and donors are finding innovative ways to reward Barack Obama, who despite his equivocation on marriage equality is often lauded as the greatest friend to the LGBT community of any president in American history.
The reemergence of social issues on the presidential campaign trail, coupled with the reversal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, has helped Obama improve his standing with this key segment of the liberal base, a vital source of campaign funds for any Democrat running a presidential campaign.
“This kind of Republican campaign has mobilized the community like I haven’t seen since 1992,” said David Mixner, a veteran progressive strategist Newsweek once called the most powerful gay man in America. “There’s a lot at stake. I have no doubt people will be involved in some way in Super PACs. You can count on the major donors of this community doing whatever they have to do to assist in the re-election of this president.”
First Lady Michelle Obama is photographed with a guest during the Department of Defense dinner in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 29, 2012. The President and First Lady hosted the dinner to honor members of the Armed Forces who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, and members of their families. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Foreign Policy: Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie’s recent article in Foreign Policy urges the Republican presidential aspirants to attack President Barack Obama more vigorously on his national security record. It’s a debate that the president and Democrats should welcome.
At the outset, leave aside the source of the counsel — listening to top aides to President George W. Bush proffer advice on foreign policy is a bit like hearing Mrs. O’Leary and her cow lecture about urban planning, after they’ve burned down Chicago.
The real problem with their advice is that it badly misreads both the president’s record and how the public assesses it. Americans may be sharply polarized on many issues, but they are relatively aligned on their confidence in Obama as commander in chief.
NYT Editorial: Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum fought each other to nearly a draw in the Michigan primary and may actually have to split its delegates, but together they may have lost Michigan for their party by running campaigns that were completely disconnected from the lives of middle-class voters and pushed ever farther to the right margins of American politics.
…. If they listened to Mr. Obama’s fiery speech to the United Auto Workers on Tuesday, however, they heard a very different set of priorities: using government action to bring an entire industry back to life, raising taxes on the rich to avoid cutting programs for the poor, keeping insurance companies from cutting off the sick.
“Since when are hard-working men and women who are putting in a hard day’s work every day – since when are they special interests?” the president asked, addressing the contempt for labor demonstrated by the candidates and several Republican governors in the Midwest. The answer explains why Mr. Obama was up by 18 points over Mr. Romney in a recent Michigan poll, and why Republican leaders are worried about their presidential field.
USA Today: President Obama has a big advantage over any of his potential Republican rivals when it comes to issues involving health care and Medicare, a new poll shows.
The survey, taken by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, shows that 58% of Americans trust Obama to make the right decisions on the 2010 health care law and on Medicare. By contrast, only 43% trust his closest Republican rivals on those issues.
Dana Milbank: TAMPA, Aug. 30, 2012. Fellow Republicans, as I stand here tonight to accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States, I feel like a million bucks. Actually, I feel as if I am worth between 150 and about 200 some-odd million dollars. It is difficult to say with certainty because some of it is in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Luxembourg and a Swiss bank account.
It is particularly meaningful to accept your nomination in Florida, a state where so many of my friends own so many things. The Miami Dolphins. The Orlando Magic. The Jacksonville Jaguars. The Doral country club. In fact, I have great friends who own some of Florida’s finest hotels, resorts, yachts and most valuable tracts of real estate, from Palm Beach to Naples.
To reach this day, I feel as if I have lived the American Dream. I grew up on the real streets of America, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. My father, a public servant, scrimped and saved enough of his earnings as CEO of American Motors to send me to the Cranbrook prep school, France and Harvard Business School…..
Greg Sargent: In a speech to the United Auto Workers just now, Obama defended his decision to bail out the auto industry, lacing into Mitt Romney with withering derision. But this speech was about more than the auto-bailout. It was Obama’s case for reelection.
This speech constituted Obama’s most ambitious effort yet to weave his defense of the auto rescue into the larger contrast he will try to draw between his vision and the “you’re on your own” ideology he will accuse Republicans of representing.
…. today’s speech was important: It revealed that the alternate reality Romney has been functioning in throughout the GOP primary is soon going to give way to another reality entirely, a general election reality — and Romney, presuming he will be the nominee, will soon collide with it.
Michael Tomasky: Ideological rigidity and Obama hatred led Republicans to reject the auto bailout. Now they’re doubling down on their opposition – and surrendering Michigan in the general election.
Michiganders, take pride: your 2012 primary will go down in American political history as perhaps the single most eye-popping case ever of a party’s demands on its candidates during the primary fight reducing its chance of winning the state in November from something not far from half to near zero. This is especially true if Rick Santorum manages to pull the upset and go on to be the nominee; Barack Obama’s campaign wouldn’t have to spend one thin dime in Michigan and would still win by at least 15 points. But it’s true also if unfavorite son Mitt Romney manages to win. Horse-race polls that once showed a tough battle between the two now project an Obama blowout.
People reach out to grasp hands with President Obama after he spoke at the University of Miami, February 23
Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla
First Lady Michelle Obama views The Slave Pen exhibit while touring the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 23. Pictured, from left, are: Dina Bailey, Associate Curator of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory; Verna Williams; and Allison Singleton. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
11:15 AM: PBO attends the Democratic Governors’ Association meeting.
3:00 PM: PBO holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark.
Greg Sargent: It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the auto bailout will be central to Campaign 2012’s argument over government and the economy, and Pew Research releases some striking numbers….
The latest national survey …finds that 56% say the loans the government made to GM and Chrysler were mostly good for the economy, while 38% say the loans to the automakers were mostly bad for the economy.
Opinion about the auto loans has reversed since October 2009. At that time, just 37% said the loans were mostly good for the economy while 54% expressed negative views…..
…. independents think the auto bailout was good for the economy by a wide margin, 54-40. Even moderate/liberal Republicans agree, 57-39. And Pew tells me that non-college-degree whites – a key swing constituency that will be pivotal in the Rust Belt states – also agree, 51-40.
ThinkProgress: Earlier this month, the nation was barraged with media coverage of the Catholic Bishops’ opposition to regulations promulgated under the Affordable Care Act protecting working women’s access to contraception. The loudness of the bishops’ complaints …. easily could have conveyed the misimpression that churches and other religious groups are at odds with the Affordable Care Act.
On Friday, however, a broad coalition of religious organizations filed an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that should give the lie to any claim that the faith community opposes the ACA …. the brief’s signatories include a wide range of Catholic groups….
ThinkProgress: As further proof that conservative efforts to paint President Obama as the enemy of religion are a red herring, nearly two dozen leading Catholic nuns filed a brief in the Supreme Court last week supporting the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. The Catholic sisters who joined the brief include the leaders of many prominent religious orders providing health care and other services to the needy…
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, despite occasional setbacks, and most analysts expected this morning’s report to show a modest uptick in filings.
The good news is, that didn’t happen. In fact, initial jobless claims reached a four-year low last week, and the new totals were unchanged this week.
Greg Sargent: At yesterday’s debate, Mitt Romney and the other candidates went all in on birth control – sorry, “religious liberty” – in blasting President Obama over the contraception controversy…. But some new polling out this morning from Quinnipiac illustrates the risk Republicans are taking with this latest reprise of the culture wars:
President Obama recently announced an adjustment to the administration’s health-care rule regarding religiously affiliated employers providing birth control coverage to female employees. Women will still be guaranteed coverage for birth control without any out-of-pocket cost, but will have to seek the coverage directly from their insurance companies if their employers object to birth control on religious grounds. Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama’s decision?
Steve Benen: …… Romney added that Obama is “requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.”
It is, in fact, literally “unbelievable,” since that’s not at all what the administration is doing.
It was painful enough to have so much of the debate focus on opposition to birth control, but Romney’s dishonesty managed to make a mind-numbing discussion even worse.
Ronald Brownstein (National Journal): ….. Some of Romney’s answers could come back to haunt him, not in the primary but in a general election, if he gets that far.
At a time when some Republicans are already concerned that he has narrowed his potential support among Latinos with an unflinching embrace of conservative positions on immigration (like “self-deportation”), Romney doubled down by insisting that on “day one” as president he would drop the federal legal challenge to Arizona’s tough state statute against illegal immigration.
And on the same day that an NBC/Marist poll already showed Romney trailing President Obama by 18 percentage points in Michigan, a state Republicans once hoped to contest this fall, Romney likewise doubled down on his criticism of the auto rescue engineered by Bush and Obama – and sprinkled in some especially sharp rhetoric against the United Auto Workers union for good measure.
E.J. Dionne: They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist….
Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education.
Please forgive this outburst. It’s simply astonishing that a man in his fourth year as our president continues to be the object of the most extraordinary paranoid fantasies … And now that the economy is improving, short-circuiting easy criticisms, Obama’s adversaries are reheating all the old tropes and cliches and slanders.
….. As for Obama as a socialist, ponder two numbers: 13,005, which the Dow Jones average hit this week, up from a low point of 6,547 in March 2009. Some socialist.
We are blessed with the freedom to say whatever we want about our president. But those who cast Obama as something other than one of us don’t understand him and don’t understand what it means to be American.