President Barack Obama presents Navy Senior Chief Edward Byers Jr. with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the White House. A member of Navy SEAL Team 6, Byers received the Medal of Honor for his role in rescuing an American hostage from the Taliban in Afghanistan in December 2012
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. To Vicki, Ted, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, Ambassador Smith, members of the Kennedy family — thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. Your Eminence, Cardinal O’Malley; Vice President Biden; Governor Baker; Mayor Walsh; members of Congress, past and present; and pretty much every elected official in Massachusetts — (laughter) — it is an honor to mark this occasion with you.
Boston, know that Michelle and I have joined our prayers with yours these past few days for a hero — former Army Ranger and Boston Police Officer John Moynihan, who was shot in the line of duty on Friday night. (Applause.) I mention him because, last year, at the White House, the Vice President and I had the chance to honor Officer Moynihan as one of America’s “Top Cops” for his bravery in the line of duty, for risking his life to save a fellow officer. And thanks to the heroes at Boston Medical Center, I’m told Officer Moynihan is awake, and talking, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery. (Applause.)
I also want to single out someone who very much wanted to be here, just as he was every day for nearly 25 years as he represented this commonwealth alongside Ted in the Senate — and that’s Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.) As many of you know, John is in Europe with our allies and partners, leading the negotiations with Iran and the world community, and standing up for a principle that Ted and his brother, President Kennedy, believed in so strongly: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” (Applause.)
And, finally, in his first years in the Senate, Ted dispatched a young aide to assemble a team of talent without rival. The sell was simple: Come and help Ted Kennedy make history. So I want to give a special shout-out to his extraordinarily loyal staff — (applause) — 50 years later a family more than one thousand strong. This is your day, as well. We’re proud of you. (Applause.) Of course, many of you now work with me. (Laughter.) So enjoy today, because we got to get back to work. (Laughter.)
Distinguished guests, fellow citizens — in 1958, Ted Kennedy was a young man working to reelect his brother, Jack, to the United States Senate. On election night, the two toasted one another: “Here’s to 1960, Mr. President,” Ted said, “If you can make it.” With his quick Irish wit, Jack returned the toast: “Here’s to 1962, Senator Kennedy, if you can make it.” (Laughter.) They both made it. And today, they’re together again in eternal rest at Arlington.
But their legacies are as alive as ever together right here in Boston. The John F. Kennedy Library next door is a symbol of our American idealism; the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate as a living example of the hard, frustrating, never-ending, but critical work required to make that idealism real.
What more fitting tribute, what better testament to the life of Ted Kennedy, than this place that he left for a new generation of Americans — a monument not to himself but to what we, the people, have the power to do together.
Any of us who have had the privilege to serve in the Senate know that it’s impossible not to share Ted’s awe for the history swirling around you — an awe instilled in him by his brother, Jack. Ted waited more than a year to deliver his first speech on the Senate floor. That’s no longer the custom. (Laughter.) It’s good to see Trent and Tom Daschle here, because they remember what customs were like back then. (Laughter.)
And Ted gave a speech only because he felt there was a topic — the Civil Rights Act — that demanded it. Nevertheless, he spoke with humility, aware, as he put it, that “a freshman Senator should be seen, not heard; should learn, and not teach.”
Some of us, I admit, have not always heeded that lesson. (Laughter.) But fortunately, we had Ted to show us the ropes anyway. And no one made the Senate come alive like Ted Kennedy. It was one of the great pleasures of my life to hear Ted Kennedy deliver one of his stem winders on the Floor. Rarely was he more animated than when he’d lead you through the living museums that were his offices. He could — and he would — tell you everything that there was to know about all of it. (Laughter.)
And then there were more somber moments. I still remember the first time I pulled open the drawer of my desk. Each senator is assigned a desk, and there’s a tradition of carving the names of those who had used it before. And those names in my desk included Taft and Baker, Simon, Wellstone, and Robert F. Kennedy.
The Senate was a place where you instinctively pulled yourself up a little bit straighter; where you tried to act a little bit better. “Being a senator changes a person,” Ted wrote in his memoirs. As Vicki said, it may take a year, or two years, or three years, but it always happens; it fills you with a heightened sense of purpose.
That’s the magic of the Senate. That’s the essence of what it can be. And who but Ted Kennedy, and his family, would create a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber, and open it to everyone?
We live in a time of such great cynicism about all our institutions. And we are cynical about government and about Washington, most of all. It’s hard for our children to see, in the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of today’s politics, the possibilities of our democracy — our capacity, together, to do big things.
And this place can help change that. It can help light the fire of imagination, plant the seed of noble ambition in the minds of future generations. Imagine a gaggle of school kids clutching tablets, turning classrooms into cloakrooms and hallways into hearing rooms, assigned an issue of the day and the responsibility to solve it.
Imagine their moral universe expanding as they hear about the momentous battles waged in that chamber and how they echo throughout today’s society. Great questions of war and peace, the tangled bargains between North and South, federal and state; the original sins of slavery and prejudice; and the unfinished battles for civil rights and opportunity and equality.
Imagine the shift in their sense of what’s possible. The first time they see a video of senators who look like they do — men and women, blacks and whites, Latinos, Asian-Americans; those born to great wealth but also those born of incredibly modest means.
President Obama shakes hands with military service members prior to a meeting with military senior leadership at the Pentagon on October 8
President Barack Obama meets with senior military leadership at the Pentagon in Arlington (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama participates in a conference call with state and local officials to discuss the Administration’s domestic preparedness response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, at the White House on October 8
Text of Remarks by the President in Conference Call here
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, President Obama and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey sit in a meeting with Military Senior Leadership at the Pentagon on October 8, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. The President met with the military leaders for an update on the battle against ISIS.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and President Obama greet members of the military after attending meetings with military leadership at the Pentagon
First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a Fashion Education Workshop at the White House. The workshop was to connect students with leading fashion professionals to show what to take to succeed in the fashion industry
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine, after she was introduced by Wintour during a session of a Fashion Education Workshop
Fashion stylist Mary Alice Stephenson attends a session of a Fashion Education Workshop
First Lady Michelle Obama introduces Chelsea Chen, who won a design competition
Fashion designer Jason Wu applauds First Lady Michelle Obama as she hosts a luncheon and panel discussion
Fashion designer Phillip Lim takes a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama
Fashion designers Edward Wilkerson (L) and Thom Browne (R) applaud First Lady Michelle Obama
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs fashion designer Naeem Khan during a fashion construction workshop session at the first ever Fashion Education Workshop in the State Dining Room at the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama talks with young fashion design students
First Lady Michelle Obama visits the “Wearable Technology” workshop. Wearable technology is the integration of technology with fashion, like boots that charges cellphone, bras that detect cancer, compression shirts that monitor and record your heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature
On This Day: President Barack Obama lays a Presidential challenge coin on a grave in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 30, 2011. Section 60 is reserved for military personnel who have lost their lives while fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern)
* President Obama appears on Kelly and Michael – check your local listings here
10:15: President Obama meets with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Oval Office
11:0: The President meets with the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force
11:15 EDT: President Obama Makes a Statement
1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:15: The President attends a hurricane preparedness meeting, FEMA Headquarters
…. Obama is battling a knee-jerk sentiment in Washington in which the only kind of international leadership that means anything is the use of military force. “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail,” he said in his speech Wednesday at West Point.
A similar sentiment was expressed in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a strong leader who refused to intervene in the Suez crisis, the French collapse in Vietnam, two Taiwan Strait confrontations and the Hungarian uprising of 1956.
At the time, many critics blasted the president for his passivity and wished that he would be more interventionist. A Democratic Advisory Council committee headed by Acheson called Eisenhower’s foreign policy “weak, vacillating, and tardy.” But Eisenhower kept his powder dry, confident that force was not the only way to show strength. “I’ll tell you what leadership is,” he told his speechwriter. “It’s persuasion — and conciliation — and education — and patience . It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know — or believe in — or will practice.”
President Obama’s speech at West Point on Wednesday morning could be called a tribute to common sense, except that the sense it made is so uncommon. The ensuing cable pundits’ complaints—that it was insufficiently “muscular” or “robust”—only proved how necessary this speech was.
Obama’s point was not (contrary to some commentators’ claims) to draw a “middle-of-the-road” line between isolationism and unilateralism. That’s a line so broad almost anyone could walk it.
The president’s main point was to emphasize that not every problem has a military solution; that the proper measure of strength and leadership is not merely the eagerness to deploy military power; that, in fact, America’s costliest mistakes have stemmed not from restraint but from rushing to armed adventures “without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action, without leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required.”
Graduating cadets listen to President Obama deliver the commencement address at West Point, May 28, 2014 (Photo by Pete Souza)
NPR: Transcript And Audio: President Obama’s Full NPR Interview
NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Wednesday about foreign policy, including his approaches to Syria, Ukraine and China, as well as his remaining White House priorities and his effort to close Guantanamo Bay prison. A full transcript of the interview follows:
STEVE INSKEEP: I want to begin this way. You’re here at this historic place, trying to speak with a sense of history. And I was thinking of past presidents that I know you have studied and commented on. And a couple came to mind who were able to express what they were trying to do in the world in about a sentence. Reagan wanted to roll back communism by whatever means. Lincoln has a famous letter in which he says, I would save the union by the shortest means under the Constitution. As you look at the moment of history that you occupy, do you think you can put into a sentence what you are trying to accomplish in the world?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m not sure I can do it in a sentence because we’re fortunate in many ways. We don’t face an existential crisis. We don’t face a civil war. We don’t face a Soviet Union that is trying to rally a bloc of countries and that could threaten our way of life. Instead, what we have is, as I say in the speech, this moment in which we are incredibly fortunate to have a strong economy that is getting stronger, no military peer that threatens us, no nation-state that anytime soon intends to go to war with us. But we have a world order that is changing very rapidly and that can generate diffuse threats, all of which we have to deal with.
A new report this morning confirms that House Republicans are likely to delay plans to offer an alternative to Obamacare until after the elections; that multiple Republican candidates are retreating from repeal; and that they are increasingly mouthing support for the law’s general goals. Once again: There’s no real policy space for a meaningful alternative, but the base still sees repeal as its lodestar, yet everyone else opposes repeal, forcing Republicans to claim they’d scrap it and replace it with something or other doing all the popular things in it, without saying what.
Justin Wolfers (NYT): Deceptive Dip in G.D.P. Points to Perils of Election Forecasting
An economic report issued [yesterday] provides a good example of the hazards facing election forecasters. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that in the first quarter of this year, Gross Domestic Product, a broad indicator of the health of the economy, shrank at an annual rate of 1 percent. Even worse, an alternative and more accurate measure, called Gross Domestic Income, shrank at an annual rate of 2.3 percent. If that persisted, we’d call it a sharp recession.
But no one is using the R-word. Nor should they. Markets have taken the news in their stride, and few economists have changed their view that the economy is growing and will continue to through 2014. Likewise, consumers remain confident about their economic prospects. Their confidence rests partly on other indicators that suggested far better growth throughout the quarter, such as nonfarm payrolls, which grew by 569,000 over the same period.
The president is about to take a major step to fight global warming. Here’s what you need to know.
President Obama promised to take action on global warming with or without Congress’s permission. Next week, he’ll tell the world how he plans to do it.
The administration is preparing to release the central pillar of Obama’s climate-change agenda: a proposal for far-reaching rules that will require power companies to cut carbon emissions.
The rules will mark the most significant federal action on climate change since Democrats’ cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate four years ago, and they’re Obama’s best shot at adding broad action on global warming to his legacy.
The rules will also touch off a political war of the first order, offering battleground for environmentalists, industry groups, and politicians to fight over the nation’s energy future.
Here’s what to watch for when the administration pulls back the curtain.
ThinkProgress: Redskins’ Twitter Campaign To Defend Their Name Goes About As Well As You’d Expect
The Washington Redskins — desperate to defend the name that Native Americans, members of Congress, a majority of the United States Senate, religious leaders, civil rights groups, several current and former NFL players, United Nations Human Rights representatives, and even President Obama have said should be changed because it is a “dictionary-defined” racial slur — started a Twitter campaign to rally support Thursday afternoon.
It started with this tweet asking fans to tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has made a habit of chiding the team over its name, how they felt:
The president also hit the nail on the head on head when he called out the canonization of a traitor (Edward Snowden), by pointing out the fact that he and not Edward Snowden had called for a review of the surveillance programs and their transparency – and that Snowden’s only contribution to that process was to disrupt it and hurt the actual debate by generating heat rather than light, as well as the fact that it was the president that provided safeguards for whistleblowers within the intelligence community.
If Edward Snowden actually believed himself to be a whistleblower acting in the interest of his country rather than for the political benefit of himself and the global attention whores like Glenn Greenwald, he would have noticed that President Obama has, since taking office, been the strongest advocate for whistleblowers that has ever occupied the oval office. He took pains to stop agency retaliations against whistleblowers. Just a few examples
…. touring the Gay Head lighthouse in Aquinnah while on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
… with lighthouse keeper Joan LeLacheur
….. with his young niece, Savita, Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 25, 2009 (Pete Souza)
….. during a round of golf at Farm Neck golf course, Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 24, 2009 (Pete Souza)
….. waving to an onlooker while playing golf, Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 24, 2009 (Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “On vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, the President was golfing at the Vineyard Golf Club. I switched my digital camera to the black-and-white setting to capture the ominous clouds.” Aug. 22, 2010
…… at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, Aug. 25, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Four years ago today: President Obama hugs Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient actor Sidney Poitier during the award ceremony in the East Room of the White House, August 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The Grio: Holder to call for major reform of mandatory minimum sentencing
Attorney General Eric Holder will announce in a speech today that the Department of Justice will no longer charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders with crimes that trigger mandatory minimum sentences, a major shift in American drug policy and an indication that President Obama wants to reduce the number of Americans who serve long prison sentences over drug crimes and rethink American laws that have existed for decades.
“I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences,” Holder is expected to say Monday at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Bar Association, according to excerpts of his remarks provided to theGrio….
In effect, Holder is calling for prosecutors to charge defendants for lesser crimes than they may have actually committed, thereby allowing juries and judges more latitude in imposing sentences, instead of following mandatory minimums created by Congress that many in both parties say are now outdated.
Michael Tomasky: Obama Is Giving Up Some Executive Power, and He’ll Still Get No Credit
Predictably, everyone is unimpressed by the measures Barack Obama has announced to bring a little ray of transparency to America’s surveillance programs …. I think it’s pretty remarkable that a president, any president, announced, without absolutely being forced to, a series of steps that relinquish some degree of executive power. Of course he’ll get no credit for that, because civil libertarians tend to be absolutists and other liberals tend to be afraid or even terrified of their wrath…
…. Obama was headed down this course before the Snowden leaks. Those began on June 5. But on May 23, he gave a speech at the National Defense University in which he foreshadowed the moves he just announced. Combine all this with John Kerry’s recent announcement that we have a plan for ending drone strikes in Pakistan, and you might have thought liberals would be cheering.
I suppose some liberals are. I am. But not civil libertarians. With them, it’s all or nothing. If you’re not signed on to the whole program, you might as well be Joe McCarthy….
…. Obama has public opinion to think about. And of course he has keeping the country safe to worry about, and no one at the ACLU is sitting in on those intel briefings and learning the things the president is learning every day about threats to the nation, and no one at the ACLU will be responsible if our wall of security is breached. Obama is responsible, and I think mere willingness of the man in that position to have this conversation, let alone take some concrete steps, does him enormous credit.
Next tweet will probably be: ‘Ask not what the Nobel Prize can do for Bradley Manning, ask what Bradley Manning can do for the Nobel Prize’
Andrew Liepman (LA Times): What did Edward Snowden get wrong? Everything
Edward Snowden is now out of his limbo at Moscow’s airport, presumably ensconced in some Russian dacha, wondering what the next phase of his young life will bring. Having spent 30 years in the intelligence business, I fervently hope the food is lousy, the winter is cold, and the Internet access is awful. But I worry less about what happens to this one man and more about the damage Snowden has done — and could still do — to America’s long-term ability to strike the right balance between privacy and security.
Democrats and other proponents of immigration reform caught another lucky break over the weekend: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) appeared on “Meet the Press” yesterday, and just kept talking. If the progressive goal is to see reform opponents discredit themselves on the national stage, the right-wing Iowan has become the left’s most reliable ally.
Indeed, who do you think was happier to see King on the air, the DNC or the RNC?
The Root: Politics Gets Its Own Cheerios Ad – The black son of a white candidate tackles stop and frisk in a campaign ad.
Earlier this year, Cheerios generated extensive media attention — and countless racist comments online — for becoming the first major American brand to feature a mixed-race family in a television advertisement. Now, an ad for a political campaign is poised to be just as groundbreaking, and potentially controversial.
This weekend television advertisements began airing starring the teenage son of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is white, his wife, Chirlane McCray, is black, and their son, Dante, sports a sizable Afro in the ad, in which he makes the case for why he believes his father is the best candidate for mayor.
While he touches upon a number of issues, including affordable housing, the ad’s most powerful moment comes when he talks about his father’s position on stop and frisk….
Greg Sargent: …. Republicans are caught in an Obamacare trap. They know proposing repeal while not offering a serious alternative is untenable. But when they do propose alternatives that would accomplish the popular parts of Obamacare, conservatives revolt, because they don’t want to sap the repeal-Obamacare drive of its energy and don’t want to legitimize an interventionist role for government. Which just highlights what Republicans are trying to obscure in the first place: the party is in the grip of an anti-Obamacare animus that has come unhinged from any normal policy considerations, and doesn’t envision a meaningfully constructive role for government in solving our health care problems.
NYT: House Majority Leader’s Quest to Soften G.O.P.’s Image Hits a Wall Within
Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, has been trying for months to remake the image of the Republican Party, from one of uncompromising conservatism to something kinder and gentler.
It isn’t working so well.
On Wednesday, Republican leaders abruptly shelved one of the centerpieces of Mr. Cantor’s “Making Life Work” agenda — a bill to extend insurance coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions — in the face of a conservative revolt. Last month, legislation to streamline worker retraining programs barely squeaked through. In May, Republican leaders will try again with legislation, pitched as family-friendly, to allow employers to offer comp time or “flex time” instead of overtime. But it has little prospect for Senate passage.
So it has gone. Items that Mr. Cantor had hoped would change the Republican Party’s look, if not its priorities, have been ignored, have been greeted with yawns or have only worsened Republican divisions.
TPM: I’m sure many of you got a kick over the mini-implosion of Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign yesterday, with his own campaign manager admitting that he thinks McConnell sucks and is only working for him to further the hopes of Rand Paul. It all ended up with this cringey-not-going-to-fix-the-damage picture of Mitch and his disser…
…. I’m coming around to the idea that Mitch McConnell could actually lose his reelection battle next year, through a mix of deep unpopularity, a tough and well financed primary challenger and a decent Democratic opponent. But …. McConnell’s problems at home make a government shutdown and a lot of other nonsense much more likely. Whether or not McConnell finally wins or loses is basically a secondary point. It’s what he’ll do trying to win from now until election day 2014…..
Steve Benen: Rand Paul’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week
It’s probably safe to say Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has had better weeks. Just over the last few weeks he started to lose his cool on NPR when asked about a neo-confederate he co-authored a book with; he was caught making ridiculous boasts about his record on minority rights; and he repeated a bizarre conspiracy theory about George Stephanopoulos that’s already been debunked.
And then, after all of this, the Kentucky Republican sat down for a chat with Businessweek’s Josh Green….
Steve Benen: Immigration reform’s odds improve – a little
It’s pretty easy to assume that fierce Republican opposition will doom comprehensive immigration reform. Indeed, for much of the summer, House GOP extremism on the issue has reinforced fears that the odds are poor.
But there’s been some gradual movement of late, and it’s given new hope to reform proponents.
Aug. 9, 2011 – Pete Souza: “The President, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan a few days earlier. Many family members and friends of the special forces who died in this incident requested a copy of the photograph and later wrote me how much it meant to them.”
President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of Greece in the Oval Office of the White House. Obama and Samras discussed a range of bilateral issues during their meeting.
AJC: U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a man in high demand as we approach the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, recently sat down with The Guardian – the newspaper that Edward Snowden chose for his now-famous leaks.
The Atlanta congressman wasn’t thrilled with the results. Apparently, the headline – since adjusted – had him praising the former IT man for the NSA as another Gandhi….
…. Here’s the note put out this morning by Lewis:
“News reports about my interview with The Guardian are misleading, and they do not reflect my complete opinion. Let me be clear. I do not agree with what Mr. Snowden did. He has damaged American international relations and compromised our national security. He leaked classified information and may have jeopardized human lives. That must be condemned.
“I never praised Mr. Snowden or said his actions rise to those of Mohandas Gandhi or other civil rights leaders. In fact, The Guardian itself agreed to retract the word “praise” from its headline…..”
ThinkProgress: Voters Confront Congressman For Trying To Repeal Obamacare: ‘We’ve Got To Have It’
In Washington, D.C., Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) issues countless press releases boasting about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, insisting that his constituents in North Carolina are clamoring for relief from the law. But during a town hall in Swannanoa on Wednesday, voters confronted the five-term Congressman with an entirely different sentiment: they demanded to know why Republicans would take away the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions without offering any credible other alternative for reforming the health care system. One grieving mother, who spoke to reporters before the event, said that her son was denied insurance because of a pre-existing health condition and eventually died of colon cancer.
Zap2It: President Obama’s Appearance On ‘The Tonight Show’ Earns Top Tuesday Overnights In 21 Months
In Late-Night Metered Markets Tuesday night: With a guest appearance by President Barack Obama, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” delivered its highest rating in metered-market households (a 3.8 rating, 10 share) for any night of the week in nine months, since Wednesday, October 24, 2012 (4.0), the night of Obama’s prior appearance on the show, and highest for a Tuesday night in 21 months, since October 25, 2011 (4.1), the night of another appearance by President Obama.
TIME: How Obama’s Putin Snub Is Playing Out In Russia
On Wednesday evening, when U.S. President Obama cancelled his upcoming visit to Moscow, the Russian reaction was perhaps most clear in the way that Vesti, the state’s main propaganda TV channel, conveyed it on the channel’s website. Buried about half way down on the page, underneath a story about Russian tourists in Turkey, Vesti announced: “The invitation for Obama stands.” Beside that was the somewhat diversionary headline: “Barack Obama will travel to St. Petersburg for the G20 summit.” The actual news — that Obama had decided not to meet with his Russian counterpart before, after or during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next month — was clearly not something the official spin doctors wanted to advertise.
After a year spent honing their anti-American rhetoric — on issues ranging from the adoption of Russian children to missile defense in Europe and the civil war in Syria — the Kremlin message makers were suddenly eager to claim that President Vladimir Putin didn’t really mean for things to go this far. “Sure, Putin uses this rhetoric, but it’s not so much anti-American as anti-Euro-Atlantic,” says Evgeny Minchenko, a Kremlin-connected political strategist. “And keep in mind that he has tried to stop short of a head-on collision.”
Putin has not yet replied to Obama’s snub, but most experts found it hard to see how he could spin it in his favor. “He can again say that he did not bow to American demands, that he did not obey,” says Alexander Konovalov, an expert on U.S.-Russia affairs at the Moscow Institute of International Relations. But that message has grown hackneyed over the past year of bickering between Moscow and Washington, so it will not earn him many points with the domestic electorate, adds Konovalov.
AP: Obama To Honor Clinton, Oprah With Freedom Medal
Clinton and Oprah Winfrey will be among 16 people that President Barack Obama will venerate later this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday. They’ll join other prominent people to be honored this year, including musicians, scientists, activists — even an astronaut. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world,” Obama said in a statement.
Others who will receive the medal: Daniel Inouye, former senator from Hawaii, World War II veteran and the first Japanese American in Congress. Inouye will receive the award posthumously. Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post who oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of Watergate. Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. Ride will receive the award posthumously. Richard Lugar, former senator from Indiana who worked to reduce the global nuclear threat. Gloria Steinem, writer and prominent women’s rights activist. Ernie Banks, baseball player who hit more than 500 home runs and played 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
Bayard Rustin, civil and gay rights activist and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin will receive the award posthumously. Daniel Kahneman, psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Loretta Lynn, country music singer. Maria Molina, chemist and environmental scientist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Arturo Sandoval, Grammy-winning jazz musician who was born in Cuba and defected to the U.S. Dean Smith, head coach of University of North Carolina’s basketball team for 36 years. Patricia Wald, first woman appointed to U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and became the court’s chief judge. C.T. Vivian, civil rights leader and minister.