“Are you up?” The emails arrive late, often after 1 a.m., tapped out on a secure BlackBerry from an email address known only to a few. The weary recipients know that once again, the boss has not yet gone to bed. The late-night interruptions from President Obama might be sharply worded questions about memos he has read. Sometimes they are taunts because the recipient’s sports team just lost. Last month it was a 12:30 a.m. email to Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, and Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, telling them he had finished reworking a speechwriter’s draft of presidential remarks for later that morning. Mr. Obama had spent three hours scrawling in longhand on a yellow legal pad an angry condemnation of Donald J. Trump’s response to the attack in Orlando, Fla., and told his aides they could pick up his rewrite at the White House usher’s office when they came in for work. Mr. Obama calls himself a “night guy,” and as president, he has come to consider the long, solitary hours after dark as essential as his time in the Oval Office.
He works on speeches. He reads the stack of briefing papers delivered at 8 p.m. by the National Security Council staff secretary. He reads 10 letters from Americans chosen each day by his staff. “He is thoroughly predictable in having gone through every piece of paper that he gets,” said Tom Donilon, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser from 2010 to 2013. “You’ll come in in the morning, it will be there: questions, notes, decisions.” One night last June, Cody Keenan, the president’s chief speechwriter, had just returned home from work at 9 p.m. and ordered pizza when he heard from the president: “Can you come back tonight?” Mr. Keenan met the president in the usher’s office on the first floor of the residence, where the two worked until nearly 11 p.m. on the president’s eulogy for nine African-Americans fatally shot during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Three months earlier, Mr. Keenan had had to return to the White House when the president summoned him — at midnight — to go over changes to a speech Mr. Obama was to deliver in Selma, Ala., on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when protesters were brutally beaten by the police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. “There’s something about the night,” Mr. Keenan said, reflecting on his boss’s use of the time. “It’s smaller. It lets you think.”
President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House following his meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. The White House moved Wednesday to address the growing furor over allegations of misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs, summoning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to an Oval Office meeting, hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a bill that would grant the secretary more authority to fire or demote senior executives.
Just three months ago, Senate was poised to pass a big bill expanding VA funding. It was blocked by a GOP filibuster: reuters.com/article/2014/0…
NPR: Obama: People ‘Will Be Held Accountable’ For Veterans Affairs Problems
Anybody found to have manipulated or falsified Veterans Affairs records “will be held accountable,” President Obama said Wednesday. The president condemned the reported widespread problems at the VA, defending Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. Obama spoke after he and Shinseki met in the Oval Office Wednesday morning with White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, who since last week has been detailed to work with the VA. Neither of those men attended the president’s news conference. Speaking about reports of long wait times — and efforts to cover up the delays — Obama said that if they’re proven true, the behavior is “dishonorable” and “disgraceful.” “I will not stand for it,” Obama said. “None of us should.”
The president said that Nabors is heading to Phoenix today to look into reports that a facility there had produced misleading statistics about veteran care. Obama mentioned accountability several times in his prepared remarks; he also noted that some employees had already been put on administrative leave. He said that his administration will continue “bringing the VA into the 21st century – which is not an easy task.” Obama also defended Shinseki, saying, “No one cares more about our veterans.” But Obama added that he told Shinseki today that he expects accountability and improvement in the full report on the VA’s problems.
Greg Sargent: In a surprise appearance before reporters at the White House just now, Obama made a striking, if perhaps long overdue, charge: He pushed back on GOP claims he’s running a dirty campaign by arguing that Romney’s entire campaign is based on flat out lies.
…. it remains the case that we are seeing nothing from the Obama side that’s anything like what Romney is attempting. Romney right now is premising one of the central arguments of his whole campaign on a complete lie. The notion that Obama “gutted” the work requirement in welfare reform has been debunked again and again by independent fact checkers and by the president who signed the law Obama supposedly gutted (see Clinton, Bill).
But Romney has now run three ads — one, two, three — making this claim. Incredibly, the Romney campaign is doing this, even though he himself said that campaigns should pull ads that are called out by fact checkers. Romney and his surrogates have repeated the welfare lie in forum after forum after forum.
…. The folks working at the big news organizations know Romney is lying with abandon. What should they do about it? I’m sympathetic to political journalists — it’s not easy to keep up with all the falsehoods, and at a certain point, the same lie told again and again loses its news value. But perhaps Obama’s comments today will prompt at least a bit of media discussion about what it means that one candidate — yes, far more than the other — is running a campaign of such epic dishonesty.
Don’t miss Liberal Librarian’s post on Todd Akin here
Greg Sargent: The national battle over Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” has shed light on a “personhood” bill, co-sponsored by Akin and Paul Ryan, called the Sanctity of Life Act. Much of the chatter today has focused on whether Ryan opposes abortion in cases of rape. The Romney campaign confirmed today that Ryan does personally oppose it, while clarifying that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose it.
But what about the other legal implications of the bill Ryan and Akin co-sponsored? In an interview just now, Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter, one of the leading pro-choice voices in Congress, raised two startling possibilities.
“One of the questions around this legislation is, Could a rapist who impregnated a victim sue that victim if she decided not to carry that baby and to have an abortion?” Slaughter said. “Another question: Could in vitro fertilization be outlawed?”
Student Loans: In April, Akin cited a law Democrats passed in 2010 that saves billions of dollars by preventing private banks from profiting, risk free, on federally backed student loans as an example of the notion that “America has got the equivalent of stage three cancer of socialism, because the federal government is tampering in all kind of stuff it has no business tampering in.”
When offered the chance to clarify, he declined, saying “I called a spade a spade.”….
First Amendment: In June 2011, Akin told Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, that “the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.”
Marital Rape: In 1991, as a state legislator, Akin questioned whether anti-marital rape legislation might be used “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband.” He ultimately voted for the bill.