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Barack Obama


  • Originally published 03/11/2014

    Obama: Ike Redivivus?

    Obama admirers have created a complete distortion of “the Eisenhower era.”

  • Originally published 02/15/2014

    Obama's Hollow Promises Abroad

    As U.S. credibility and stature diminish in world affairs, the American president and his secretaries of state and defense engage in eloquent denial.

  • Originally published 02/04/2014

    The LBJ Delusion

    Why Obama can't just have his way with Congress.

  • Originally published 11/01/2013

    Obama's Lame Eavesdropping Excuse

    The White House says the intelligence community kept them in the dark on the wiretapping of foreign leaders. That's ridiculous.

  • Originally published 09/08/2013

    Remember the Maine?

    History provides reasons to be skeptical of the administration's chemical weapons claim in Syria.

  • Originally published 09/08/2013

    The Real Goal of Obama's Syria Policy

    A limited bombing campaign won't bring down Assad, but that's not the point -- it's to convince the government that the military situation is stalemated.

  • Originally published 09/03/2013

    No Good Options for Obama in Syria

    Inaction means Assad remains in power and Obama looking weak, but the president faces hurdles to action both at the UN and in Congress.

  • Originally published 08/23/2013

    Daniel Pipes: Obama's Foreign Fiasco

    It's a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country's place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It's unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Paul Kennedy: The Great Powers, Then and Now

    Paul Kennedy is Dilworth Professor of History and director of International Security Studies at Yale University. His books include “The Rise and Fall of The Great Powers,” and, most recently, “Engineers of Victory.”So President Obama won’t have a one-on-one conference with his Russian equivalent, Vladimir Putin, at the time of the G-20 meeting in Moscow, partly because of a nondescript “leaker,” Edward Snowden — that is not good. So Chinese public opinion (however that is cooked up) seems to be ever more nationalistic these days, while Japan launches its first aircraft carrier since the Pacific War — surely also not good.So America’s National Security Agency looks as if it is spying on everyone, domestic and foreign, producing bouts of outrage — that is a bad business. So the European Union is as divided, confused, angry and leaderless as, say, the former Holy Roman Empire — this is surely not good. There’s more: Argentina is huffing and puffing about the Falklands, and Spain is huffing and puffing about Gibraltar. Not good at all.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Julian Zelizer: Crunch Time for Immigration, Budget Fights

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America." (CNN) -- August is going to be a crucial month for President Barack Obama.As the 113th Congress takes its recess, legislators will be returning to their states and districts to hear from constituents.The stakes are particularly high for Obama and Democrats, who have one last chance to sway the House Republicans before two hugely important issues are resolved: the immigration bill and the budget.As politicians in both parties begin to prepare for the 2014 midterms and think about the 2016 elections, this fall might be the last real opportunity for the president to win congressional support for these big measures....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Jamelle Bouie: What Links the Neo-Confederate Virginia Flaggers, Barack Obama & Race

    Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect and a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute. In addition to The American Prospect, his reporting and analysis has appeared in The Nation, The Atlantic, CNN.com, and The Washington Post. He covers campaigns and elections, as well as policy and public opinion. He is based in Washington, D.C. You can follow Jamelle on Twitter at @jbouie, at The American Prospect, or at his website.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Jon Kiriakou: Obama's Abuse of the Espionage Act is Modern-Day McCarthyism

    John Kiriakou is a former CIA analyst and whistleblower. He worked for the agency from 1990 to 2004, including as chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan. In an interview in 2009, he became the first former government official to confirm the use of waterboarding against al-Qaida suspects. From 2009 to 2011, John was a senior investigator for the US Senate foreign relations committee. In 2012, he was charged with leaking classified information to journalists; he is currently serving a 30-month prison sentence in Loretto, Pennsylvania

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Larry Schweikart and Burton Folsom: Obama's False History of Public Investment

    Mr. Schweikart, a history professor at the University of Dayton, is the co-author, with Dave Dougherty, of "A Patriot's History of the Modern World" (Sentinel, 2012). Mr. Folsom, a history professor at Hillsdale College, is the co-author, with his wife, Anita, of "FDR Goes to War" (Threshold, 2011).For almost five years now, President Obama has been making the argument that government "investments" in infrastructure are crucial to economic recovery. "Now we used to have the best infrastructure in the world here in America," the president lamented in 2011. "So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads? And let Europe build the best highways? And have Singapore build a nicer airport?"In his recent economic speeches in Illinois, Missouri, Florida and Tennessee, the president again made a pitch for government spending for transportation and "putting people back to work rebuilding America's infrastructure." Create the infrastructure, in other words, and the jobs will come.

  • Originally published 07/30/2013

    Obama's Lost War on Drugs

    Rather than relying on our hopeless forty-fourth president and an even more hopeless Republican-controlled Congress, citizen groups need to mobilize together to oppose the waste of their hard earned taxpayer dollars in the War on Drugs. 

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Murray Polner: “Where Were You Last Night at 7? Speak Up!”

    Murray Polner is a regular book reviewer for the History News Network. His column “Keeping Score” appears here fairly regularly.I always loved that great New Yorker cartoon, which has a President ordering his assistant, “Leak to the press that my Administration won’t stand for any more leaks.”How relevant. As our Big Media endlessly reports on the sheriff and his posse’s relentless pursuit of Edward Snowden, and while Pfc. Bradley Manning sits in a military court awaiting a probable guilty verdict, he and Snowden may, sadly, prove to be small fry in the long run, forgotten as the years pass as they languish in a federal prison.Now, with no thanks to Big Media and TV’s sycophantic network news programs, the Obama Administration has something new and more odious to offer—its Insider Threat Program, which the President signed into law in October 2011 and, I believe, was first revealed in depth last June by the McClatchy Newspapers’ Marisa Taylor and the intrepid Jonathan Landay’s “Obama’s Plan to Crack Down on Whistleblowers Leaked.” Widely overlooked except by the leftist Nation, Truth-out and a handful of bloggers, what Taylor and Landay reported was, to put it conservatively, potentially “game changing.”

  • Originally published 07/12/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: For Obama, Bush, Reagan, No Vacation from Politics

    Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and taught this summer at NYU's study-abroad site in Accra, Ghana. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).When William Howard Taft was president in the early 1900s, a cartoon showed a senator stuffing a bill into the mouth of a GOP elephant while a happily unaware Taft played golf. Mr. Dooley, the imaginary Irish-American bartender created by cartoonist Finley Peter Dunne, quoted Taft as saying, “Golf is th’ thing I like best next to leavin’ Washington.”Taft actually combined these passions, taking frequent golf vacations out of town, as Paul F. Boller, Jr. recounts in his book "Presidential Diversions: Presidents at Play from George Washington to George W. Bush." Taft's trips sparked mirth in the national press, which reported that the famously corpulent president could not bend over to tee up his own ball. But they also drew accusations that Taft was neglecting his official duties, and for a rich man’s sport at that.

  • Originally published 07/09/2013

    Michael Fullilove: Obama Needs an FDR-Like Foreign Policy Pivot

    Michael Fullilove is executive director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and author of "Rendezvous With Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America Into the War and Into the World."President Obama's most important foreign policy initiative is his attempt to "pivot" away from the Middle East and toward Asia.Yet in Asia, some are starting to wonder whether the pivot was last year's story. The new secretary of State, John F. Kerry, is rarely sighted in the region. The military elements of the rebalance are underwhelming. Some of the main proponents of the pivot have left government. And U.S. policymakers are still drawn to the Middle East like iron filings to a magnet.One reason for the sluggishness of the shift is that it is remarkably difficult to pivot a country as large and diverse as the United States. Arguably, the last successful pivot took place from 1939 to 1941, between the outbreak of the European fighting and the U.S. entry into the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. During this period, America transformed itself from a nervous, isolationist, middle power into an outward-looking global leader.

  • Originally published 07/06/2013

    Still Preparing for Nuclear War

    Unless there is a substantial public mobilization to end the American government’s reliance on nuclear war, it seems likely that U.S. officials will continue to prepare for it.

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Conrad Black: Obama’s Failing Foreign Policy

    Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, A Matter of Principle, and the recently published Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership. He can be reached at cbletters@gmail.com.

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Victor Davis Hanson: The Mood of 1980

    NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals is just out from Bloomsbury BooksNext year could be a frightening one, in the fashion of 1979–80.The developing circumstances of our withdrawal from Afghanistan conjure up Vietnam 1975, with all the refugees, reprisals, humiliation, and emboldened enemies on the horizon, though this time there is no coastline for a flotilla of boat people to launch from. The Obama administration is debating no-fly zones over Syria; more likely, it will have the same discussion over Afghanistan soon, once the Taliban drops the diplomatic veneer and comes back into town.Because of the failure to negotiate a single residual base in Iraq, Iran has appropriated a vast air corridor to the Middle East. John Kerry speaks sonorously to Russia and China, but apparently assumes that diplomacy follows gentlemanly New England yacht protocols, the right of way given to the more sober, judicious, and pontificating....

  • Originally published 06/24/2013

    Obama leaves father's birthplace Kenya off itinerary for Africa trip

    When President Obama arrives in Africa this week, there will be one notable omission from his travel itinerary: Kenya, the birthplace of his father and home to many of his relatives. Concerns about Kenya's political situation have trumped Obama's family ties. Kenya's new president is facing charges of crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court, accused of orchestrating the violence that marred the country's 2007 election. Ahead of Uhuru Kenyatta's victory earlier this year, a top Obama administration official warned Kenyans that their "choices have consequences" -- a remark that now appears prescient given the president's decision to skip a stop in his ancestral homeland....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Adam Winkler: Obama’s Terrible, Awful, Horrible Year at the Supreme Court

    Adam Winkler is a constitutional-law professor at UCLA.While the country waits (and waits and waits) for the Supreme Court to announce its decisions in what court watchers are calling the Big Four—the two gay-marriage cases, the affirmative-action case, and the Voting Rights Act case—one thing has already become clear by the court’s decisions: the Obama administration has had a lousy year in the high court. While the administration has certainly won some cases, more often than not the court has rejected the administration’s arguments. On Thursday, for example, the court announced three decisions, rejecting the Obama administration’s arguments in each one.In fact, this year may turn out to be one of the worst ever for the United States government at the Supreme Court.

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Jens F. Laurson and George Pieler: Trying To Make History In Berlin, Obama Fed The Germans Platitudes

    Jens F. Laurson and George Pieler are contributors to Forbes.He didn’t call himself a jelly doughnut (neither did JFK actually, but let’s ignore that), but President Obama fell right into the I-must-make-history trap in his Brandenburg Gate speech. The problem is that the relevant history already has been made, as the President pointed out himself. Mr. Obama rightly lauded the determination of Germans to achieve their human aspirations as the reason the Wall no longer stands, but he confused the lessons of the postwar German recovery and the Cold War itself.It is interesting that President Obama thought it important that he spoke from the eastern side of the plaza, and emphasized the efforts of East Germans to break through the wall. Well, yes, they were the ones confined by it. But all Germans were punished for the continuing western presence in Berlin through severe restrictions on movements east-west, and by forced separation of families, friends, and colleagues.

  • Originally published 06/16/2013

    How Obama and the Democrats Can Build a Twenty-First Century Supermajority

    Credit: Wiki Commons.The virtues and vices of 1960s liberalism are on striking display in Bancroft-Prize winning historian James Patterson’s The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America. And as Patterson deftly shows, the extremes were fused into the presidential administration as well as personal character of Lyndon Baines Johnson.“These are the most hopeful times in all the years since Christ was born in Bethlehem,” declared LBJ in lighting the National Christmas Tree on December 18, 1964. “Today -- as never before -- man has in his possession the capacities to end war and preserve peace, to eradicate poverty and share abundance, to overcome the diseases that have afflicted the human race and permit all mankind to enjoy their promise in life on this earth.”

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Robert Dallek: "Not surprising" Obama put security above privacy

    President Obama seems more committed to protecting national security than promoting civil liberties and privacy rights, which puts him firmly in the tradition of most of his predecessors, says presidential historian Robert Dallek."It's not surprising," Dallek tells me. "This is what presidents do."Dallek says one reason is that there are "real national security concerns" that preoccupy every commander in chief. In Obama's case, they include fear of a repetition of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings....

  • Originally published 06/12/2013

    Germans accuse U.S. of Stasi tactics

    (Reuters) - German outrage over a U.S. Internet spying program has broken out ahead of a visit by Barack Obama, with ministers demanding the president provide a full explanation when he lands in Berlin next week and one official likening the tactics to those of the East German Stasi.German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman has said she will raise the issue with Obama in talks next Wednesday, potentially casting a cloud over a visit that was designed to celebrate U.S.-German ties on the 50th anniversary John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.Government surveillance is an extremely sensitive topic in Germany, where memories of the dreaded Stasi secret police and its extensive network of informants are still fresh in the minds of many citizens....

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    Harvey J. Kaye: Why Obama Is No FDR

    Harvey J. Kaye is Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He is the author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America (FSG 2005) and the forthcoming The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great (Simon & Schuster, 2014). Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HarveyJKayeCampaigning for a third term as president in 1940, Franklin Roosevelt told an enthusiastic crowd in Cleveland: “You provided work for free men and women … You used the powers of government to stop the depletion of the top soil … You wrote into law the right of working men and women to bargain collectively … You turned to the problems of youth and age … You made safe the banks.”

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Graham T. Allison Jr.: Obama and Xi Must Think Broadly to Avoid a Classic Trap

    Graham T. Allison Jr. is the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — AS President Obama welcomes China’s new president, Xi Jinping, for an informal “shirt-sleeves” summit meeting in California on Friday, the bureaucracies of both governments must be quivering. Each will have prepared a long list of issues for its country’s leader to discuss, from cyberattacks and trade disputes to North Korean antics and competing claims in the seas near China. Talking points have been drafted, and many hope that a historic communiqué is in the works.But if that’s all that happens, this summit meeting will have been a huge missed opportunity. Let us hope that these two leaders will rise above their bureaucracies’ narrow goals to confront the overarching challenge facing the two most important nations in the world.Simply put, can the United States and China escape [the] Thucydides Trap?In 11 of 15 cases since 1500 in which a rising power rivaled a ruling power, the outcome was war. Can Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi successfully defy those odds?...

  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Brent Budowsky: JFK Then, Obama Now

    Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.On June 10, 1963, at American University, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech about the world that changed the world. On Nov. 22, 1963, America lost a historic man of presidential greatness in the first of three murders within five years that did incalculable damage to the world, the nation and the progressive ideal.In 1963 a world leader, for the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, offered a vision and charted a course to save the world from nuclear extermination. Kennedy did not count the number of missiles or drones he would launch. He issued a call to action to the world on behalf of the water we all drink, the air we all breathe and the children we all love who will live or die because of what grown-ups do.

  • Originally published 06/02/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Protect the Watchdog Press – from Obama

    Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).Did the White House misrepresent the Benghazi, Libya, attacks to cover up its own ineptitude? Did the Internal Revenue Service purposefully target conservative groups for scrutiny?Americans rely on journalists to cast light on these thorny issues. But if reporters can’t do their jobs, everyone else will most likely remain in the dark about serious government mistakes.That’s why all Americans should be deeply alarmed about the Obama administration’s recent investigations of news organizations, which have drawn far less ink than the Benghazi or IRS scandals. And that’s exactly backward. The most worrisome threat right now is to the people who actually produce the ink: US journalists.

  • Originally published 05/24/2013

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Obama's Terrorism Speech

    Originally posted on Informed Comment.Here are the good, the bad and the ugly things in President Obama’s important speech on counter-terrorism Thursday, and in the off-stage steps he has announced that mysteriously did not appear in the speech:The Good:

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Julian Zelizer: What Happened to Obama's Promise?

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America." Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart captured the frustration that many of President Obama's supporters have felt over the past week as one scandal after another cascaded into the White House.After starting with a predictable riff accusing Bill O'Reilly of ignoring facts when attacking the Obama administration, Stewart turned to the IRS story, banged on his desk, and yelled out curses....Many liberal Democrats were frustrated and shocked that the administration had permitted the seizure of the phone records, the kind of activities they would certainly have railed against had they happened under President George W. Bush.

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Elizabeth Drew: Why Obama Is Not Nixon

    Elizabeth Drew is a regular contributor to The New York Review and the former Washington correspondent of The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She is the author of fourteen books.
 (March 2013)References to Watergate, impeachment, even Richard Nixon, are being tossed around these days as if they were analogous to the current so-called scandals. But the furors over the IRS, Benghazi, and the Justice Department’s sweeping investigation of the Associated Press, don’t begin to rise—or sink—to that level. The wise and pithy Matt Dowd, a former Republican operative, said recently, “We rush to scandal before we settle on stupidity.” Washington just loves scandals; they’re ever so much more exciting than the daily grind of legislation—if there is any—and the tit-for-tat between the president and the congressional Republicans over the budget was becoming tedious. Faux outrage is a specialty here.

  • Originally published 05/19/2013

    Dallek on the "second term curse"

    WASHINGTON — Is there a second-term curse?Historian Robert Dallek thinks there just might be — and President Obama's current travails could be the latest example."After one party loses two elections in a row, there's sort of blood in the water," Dallek said in an interview Wednesday on USA TODAY's weekly newsmaker video series, Capital Download. "They're really eager to strike back and reduce the influence, the control of second-term presidents." What's more, a president's shortcomings have had time to surface after four years in office....

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Obama dismisses Nixon comparisons

    During a joint press conference this afternoon at the White House, President Obama dismissed his critics’ charges that this weeks scandals are of a similar nature to those that tarnished and shortened the tenure of President Richard Nixon during the early 1970s. Shrugging off the accusations, the president indicated the comparisons don’t bother him and that his critics can draw their own conclusions....

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Conrad Black: No Impeachment on Benghazi

    Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and the recently published A Matter of Principle. He can be reached at cbletters@gmail.com.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Jeffrey Rosen: Obama Behaving Like Woodrow Wilson

    Jeffrey Rosen (@rosenjeffrey) is The New Republic's legal affairs editor....Obama’s rediscovery of the 1917 Espionage Act is grimly appropriate, since the president whose behavior on civil liberties he is most directly channeling isn’t, in fact, Richard Nixon or George W. Bush. It’s Woodrow Wilson. An enthusiastic supporter of Espionage Act prosecutions, the progressive, detached, technocratic Wilson was so convinced of his own virtue that he was willing to jail the Socialist candidate for president, Eugene V. Debs, for his mild criticism of the war, even as he championed progressive reforms such as the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission, both of them designed with the help of his economic advisor, Louis Brandeis.Wilson had a sorry record on civil liberties, and once Brandeis was on the Supreme Court, he eloquently criticized the Wilson administration for its betrayal of progressive values such as free speech and transparency, declaring that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and unforgettably extolling the necessity of protecting political dissent.Let’s hope today’s progressives teach the Wilsonian Obama a similar lesson.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Victor Davis Hanson: Obama’s Second-Term Embarrassments

    Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, will appear later this month from Bloomsbury Press....As the congressional hearings on Benghazi were taking place last week, we also learned that the IRS, administered by the Department of the Treasury, has been going after conservative groups in a politicized manner that we have not seen since Richard Nixon’s White House. There was no evidence that any of these conservative associations had taken thousands of dollars in improper tax deductions — in the manner of former Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, the one-time overseer of the IRS.Instead, groups with suspiciously American names like “Patriot” or “Tea Party” prompted IRS partisans to scrutinize their tax information in a way that they would not have for the tax-exempt MoveOn.org or the Obama-affiliated Organizing for Action.

  • Originally published 05/10/2013

    Why is Our Government Prosecuting Whistleblowers?

    Image via Shutterstock.You know the saying: If you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to hide. I hear it from my students: I've nothing to hide, so let Big Brother scrutinize my emails, my phone calls, my purchases, my activities online, and so on. Anything to keep us safe from the big, bad terrorists.

  • Originally published 05/07/2013

    Over 100 Holocaust scholars urge Obama: Cancel invite to Sudan delegation

    Washington, D.C. - One hundred and seven leading Holocaust and genocide scholars from around the world have sent a letter of protest to President Obama, urging him to cancel a planned visit to the United States by Sudanese leaders involved in the Darfur genocide. The delegation will represent Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his role in the Darfur genocide. Heading the delegation will be Bashir adviser Nafie Ali Nafie, a prominent participant in the mass killings. The letter of protest was organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, based in Washington, D.C. It is the latest in a series of Wyman Institute initiatives seeking U.S. action to stop the Darfur atrocities and bring Bashir to justice. "We must make it clear to the perpetrators of genocide that the United States will treat them as outlaws and bring them to justice, not treat them as respected statesmen and bring them here for friendly visits," the letter of protest argues.

  • Originally published 04/29/2013

    Liberals: Stop Making Excuses for Obama

    Credit: Obama for America.Cross-posted from Balkanization.Sandy Levinson took Maureen Dowd to task for her column last week, “No Bully in the Pulpit,” which criticized President Obama for failing to pull the votes together to get the gun control bill through the Senate.  “Now it's Maureen Dowd who can't connect the dots,” he said.

  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    Why the Bush Library won't make history

    Will history judge George W. Bush more kindly than his contemporaries have?The man himself seems fairly indifferent."I don't think he really cares much at all, to be honest with you," says Kevin Sullivan, who served as White House communications director during Bush's second term. "I think he cares very little about where his approval rating stands today, compared to 2005 or 2008."...Bush's new $250 million library, on the campus of Southern Methodist University, will be the staging ground for efforts at burnishing his legacy, including a policy center that will explore and promote his ideas."The Bush library is the first stage in what will be a multistage operation," says Jeremi Suri, a University of Texas historian....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Doug Bandow: Obama Didn't Lose Iraq

    Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and the author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.A decade ago President George W. Bush invaded Iraq. U.S. forces quickly triumphed. But that counted for little when Secretary of State John Kerry visited Baghdad last weekend seeking Iraqi assistance against Syria’s Bashar Assad. What Washington thinks doesn’t matter much in Baghdad these days.Most Americans recognize that blame for the Iraq debacle lies with the Bush administration. It was a foolish, unnecessary war followed by a myopic, bungled occupation. No wonder Washington is finding benefits from its policy of being illusive at best.Yet the leading cheerleaders for the war remain undaunted.

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Historian Robert Caro: Today's Conservative Media "Quite Horrible" And Venomous

    Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Robert Caro criticized conservative media coverage of President Obama during an appearance in New York City, describing it as "something quite horrible" and venomous.Caro, known for his biographies of President Lyndon Johnson, spoke during a March 29 interview at Strand Books in Manhattan conducted by New York magazine writer Frank Rich as part of promotion for the paperback version of his fourth Johnson book, The Passage of Power....

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    President Barack Obama: The First Draft of History

    The following is excerpted from The American President by Kathryn Moore, published by Barnes & Noble Books in 2013 (678 pages, $19.95).  It covers the life of Barack H. Obama and his presidency through his election to a second term in 2012.  For more information, go to: TheAmericanPresident.US. President Barack Obama on December 6, 2012. Credit: Wiki Commons.Table of Contents•Childhood •Hawaii •College •Community Organizing in Chicago •Africa •Harvard •Marriage •Launch of Political Career •State Politics •Senator •Campaign for the Presidency

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Republicans critical of Obama national monuments bill amid sequester cuts

    Congressional Republicans have condemned Barack Obama for designating five new national monuments at a time when sequester funding cuts are hitting existing national parks and landmarks.Doc Hastings, the Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement on Monday criticising the president for spending at a time when the sequester has forced the cancellation of White House tours.Obama signed proclamations on Monday establishing the five new monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act."These sites honour the pioneering heroes, spectacular landscapes and rich history that have shaped our extraordinary country," Obama said. "By designating these national monuments today, we will ensure they will continue to inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come."...

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Ross Douthat: The Obama Era, Brought to You by the Iraq War

    Ross Douthat is a columnist for the New York Times.WHEN prominent people in Washington spend an anniversary apologizing for being catastrophically, unforgivably wrong about a decade-old decision, you might expect that the decision in question had delivered their party to disaster or defeat. But last week’s many Iraq war mea culpas were rich in irony: one by one, prominent liberals lined up to apologize for supporting a war that’s responsible for liberalism’s current political and cultural ascendance.History is too contingent to say that had there been no Iraq invasion in 2003, there would be no Democratic majority in 2012. (It’s easy enough to imagine counterfactuals that might have put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.) But the Democratic majority that we do have is a majority that the Iraq war created: its energy and strategies, its leadership and policy goals, and even its cultural advantages were forged in the backlash against George W. Bush’s Middle East policies.All those now-apologetic liberals who supported the war in 2003 are a big part of this story, because without their hawkishness there would have been no antiwar rebellion on the left — no Michael Moore and Howard Dean, no Daily Kos and all its “netroots” imitators....

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Ron Radosh: Why Conservatives Should be Critical of Obama’s Middle Eastern Policy, But No Longer Attack Him as an Enemy of Israel

    Ron Radosh is a PJ Media columnist and Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute.I, along with other supporters of Israel, have for the past few years rightfully been critical of President Obama and his position on the Middle East, beginning with his disastrous Cairo speech and his misguided decision to combine a wooing of the Arab world with a decision to put U.S. pressure first and foremost on Israel. Particularly, Obama chose to make settlements the most important issue regarding the peace process.The major change during his two days in Israel was a decisive shift in approach, which many of his ardent supporters have been loath to acknowledge. This shift was succinctly pointed out by veteran foreign affairs analyst Leslie Gelb:

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Mary L. Dudziak: Obama’s Nixonian Precedent

    Mary L. Dudziak, a professor of law and director of the Project on War and Security in Law, Culture and Society at Emory University, is the author of “War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences.”ON March 17, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon began a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia, sending B-52 bombers over the border from South Vietnam. This episode, largely buried in history, resurfaced recently in an unexpected place: the Obama administration’s “white paper” justifying targeted killings of Americans suspected of involvement in terrorism.President Obama is reportedly considering moving control of the drone program from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Defense Department, as questions about the program’s legality continue to be asked. But this shift would do nothing to confer legitimacy to the drone strikes. The legitimacy problem comes from the secrecy itself — not which entity secretly does the killing. Secrecy has been used to hide presidential overreach — as the Cambodia example shows.

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Obama to Name New National Monuments

    President Obama, who has been criticized for favoring oil and gas development over land conservation in his first term, on Monday will designate five new national monuments, according to officials briefed on the decision.They are the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania; the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio and a monument commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway in Maryland....

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Obama visits Yad Vashem

    JERUSALEM — President Barack Obama on Friday pledged that with the “survival” of Israel, “the Holocaust will never happen again.”“Here on your ancient land, let it be said for all the world to hear,” Obama said at a service held at Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, Yad Vashem. “The state of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust, but in the survival of a strong Jewish state of Israel the Holocaust will never happen again.”Obama’s third day of his trip to Israel got off to a solemn start on Friday with the Yad Vashem trip as well as trips to grave sites of Israeli heroes....

  • Originally published 03/19/2013

    Victor Davis Hanson: Who Will Bell America?

    NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury Books.Remember the medieval fable about the mice that wanted their dangerous enemy, the cat, belled, but each preferred not to be the one to attempt the dangerous deed? Likewise, the world’s bad actors have long wanted America belled, but, like the mice, so far they have not been stupid or daring enough to test America’s teeth and claws — that is, until now.

  • Originally published 03/10/2013

    When It Comes to Transparency, Obama's Channelling His Inner Nixon

    Cross-posted from Balkinization.The Boston Globe reported that the president withheld a widely sought white paper “fearing it would only intensify congressional criticism, government sources say.”*This story appeared on April 4, 1973, and it referred to a white paper laying out the legal basis for President Richard Nixon’s decision to bomb Cambodia after U.S. troops were removed from Vietnam. Barack Obama obviously isn’t Richard Nixon, but his reluctance to disclose the legal basis for targeted killings attempts to do something that Nixon also attempted: to cloak decisions about war in government secrecy, undermining political checks on the use of military force.

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Julian Zelizer: Health Care Will Be an Obama Legacy

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America."(CNN) -- The politics of health care is changing fast. President Barack Obama's Affordable Health Care Act was vulnerable during his first term when Republicans demanded repeal of the law. Even after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality, there were still many voices who objected to it.However, with each passing day, it appears that the program is in good shape, slowly becoming part of the fabric of American government.Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the main potential contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, said that his state would accept the Medicaid expansion that is part of the ACA. Christie had been one of the president's toughest critics, frequently lambasting the program as a prime example of big government liberalism. But he has changed his tune.

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    A. Scott Berg: Wilson to Obama: March Forth!

    A. Scott Berg is a biographer and the author of the forthcoming book “Wilson.”“THERE has been a change of government,” declared Woodrow Wilson in his first sentence as president of the United States, one hundred years ago this Monday. Until 1937, when the 20th Amendment moved Inauguration Day to late January, chief executives took their oaths of office on March Fourth, a date that sounds like a command.Nobody heeded this implied imperative more than Wilson: the 28th president enjoyed the most meteoric rise in American history, before or since. In 1910, Wilson was the president of a small men’s college in New Jersey — his alma mater, Princeton. In 1912, he won the presidency. (He made a brief stop in between as governor of New Jersey.) Over the next eight years, Wilson advanced the most ambitious agenda of progressive legislation the country had ever seen, what became known as “The New Freedom.” To this day, any president who wants to enact transformative proposals can learn a few lessons from the nation’s scholar-president.

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Congress Needs to Lead on the Budget, Not the President

    Speaker John Boehner in front of the U.S. Capitol in late January. Credit: Flickr/SpeakerBoehner.In the political posturing and finger-pointing taking place regarding the “sequester,” the first victim is the United States Constitution. Congress has ignored its responsibility as a co-equal branch of the government. It is the House and Senate that have the power of the purse, not the president. It is the job of Congress to pass appropriations bills, which the president can either sign or veto. The president does not have the power to pick and choose those budget items he likes or dislikes. The money has to be spent, by law, the way Congress says it should be spent.

  • Originally published 03/01/2013

    Matthew C. Whitaker: Change Blossoming in the "Age of Obama"

    Matthew C. Whitaker is an ASU Foundation professor of history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University.Time magazine recently announced the selection of President Barack Obama as its Person of the Year. It did so, for a second time, because, as Richard Stengel argued in his editorial preface, “We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America.” Obama is Time’s Person of the Year, he wrote, “for finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union.”Indeed, Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy for years has studied the “Age of Obama” and foretold the influence of America’s stunning demographic changes. February, Black History Month, presents us with an opportunity to pause and reflect upon these changes and what they mean for a society still grappling with race and pluralism.

  • Originally published 02/22/2013

    Conrad Black: Two Cheers for Obama

    Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and the recently published A Matter of Principle. He can be reached at cbletters@gmail.com.

  • Originally published 02/22/2013

    Victor Davis Hanson: Gilded Class Warriors

    NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury BooksIn his first term, President Obama was criticized for trash-talking the 1-percenters while enjoying the aristocracy of Martha’s Vineyard and the nation’s most exclusive golf courses.Obama never quite squared his accusations that “millionaires and billionaires” had not paid their fair share with his own obvious enjoyment of the perks of “corporate jet owners,” “fat cat bankers,” and Las Vegas junketeers.Now, that paradox has continued right off the bat in the second term. In the State of the Union, Obama once more went after “the few” and “the wealthiest and the most powerful,” whom he blasted as the “well-off and the well-connected” and the “billionaires with high-powered accountants.”...

  • Originally published 02/21/2013

    Michael Kazin: Who Are You Calling a Liberal?

    Michael Kazin’s most recent book is American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation. He is co-editor of Dissent and teaches history at Georgetown University.Contrary to what everyone who loved—or hated—his inaugural address seems to think, President Obama has yet to demonstrate that he is determined to launch a new liberal era. The big speech did gesture in that direction. Obama declared, in the style of FDR, that “our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” The line about equality being “the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall” was a welcome salute to three of the most prominent civil rights movements in American history. And not since Lyndon Johnson has a president spoken about poverty with such apparent conviction and specificity: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

  • Originally published 02/13/2013

    Ted Widmer: From Obama, a Proudly Liberal Message

    Ted Widmer, assistant to the president for special projects at Brown University, is the editor of “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy.” A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he was recently a consultant to the State Department.THE bright blue tie worn by President Obama to his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening was an accurate barometer of the weather. This was the most Democratic State of the Union in some time, not just in the range of government initiatives he proposed — the annual speech is usually a long laundry list — but because it set a new tone.Mr. Obama was looser than he has been in these previous annual messages to Congress — and unapologetic about his belief in government as an instrument to improve people’s lives. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, might have been right when he snorted, in the blur of televised commentary that followed, that it was the most liberal speech by a president to Congress since Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

  • Originally published 02/12/2013

    Julian Zelizer: Obama, Think Big for State of the Union

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and of "Governing America." (CNN) -- President Obama is set to deliver the first State of the Union Address of his new term. On Tuesday evening, he will step before a joint session of Congress and a nation in difficult times.Unemployment rose in January to 7.9%. There are signs of economic progress, but millions of Americans are struggling to find a job while others are desperate to keep the one they have.Other kinds of economic challenges face many people. The Pew Research Center recently released a study showing the growing number of adults who are struggling to support grown children and their parents, the "Sandwich Generation" as they are called....It may be tempting to list a series of measures Obama wants Congress to pass, but the president should use this speech to do something more than provide a laundry list, and the historical record offers some guidance about how.

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    The American Lockdown State

    Protest in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol. Credit: Flickr/Madison Guy.Originally posted on TomDispatch.com

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Is the Obama Administration Abandoning Its Commitment to a Nuclear-Free World?

    In a major address in Prague on April 5, 2009, the newly-elected U.S. president, Barack Obama, proclaimed "clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." On January 24, 2013, however, Senator John Kerry, speaking at Senate confirmation hearings on his nomination to become U.S. secretary of state, declared that a nuclear weapons-free world was no more than “an aspiration,” adding that “we’ll be lucky if we get there in however many centuries.” Has there been a change in Obama administration policy over the past four years?

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Obama’s Inaugural and the Danger of an Iran War

    President Obama, Air Force chief of staff General Mark A. Welsh III, and Vice President Joe Biden talk during the inauguration. Credit: Flickr/DoD.Originally posted on Informed Comment.President Obama addressed the big issues of war and peace in his inaugural address, and despite the vagueness of some of his pronouncements, they contain strong clues to his foreign policy agenda in the Middle East. His announced policy will be one of ending U.S. military engagements abroad, multilateral cooperation with allies to face security challenges, negotiation, and avoidance of further military entanglements in the Middle East. In other words, Syrians are on their own, France can have Mali, and Iran is probably not going to be bombed.

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Obama's Second Inaugural Loaded with History

    Barack Obama at his inauguration. Credit: Flickr/afagen.Barack Obama has always had a keen sense of history, both how to make it and to talk about it. He consistently offers an inclusive, unifying narrative of our country’s past that helps explain his conception of our national identity. We can see this clearly in his second inaugural address.

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Obama's Anti-Zionism

    Barack Obama in the White House. Credit: Flickr.Originally posted on DanielPipes.orgWere Barack Obama re-elected, I predicted two months before the November 2012 presidential vote, "the coldest treatment of Israel ever by a U.S. president will follow." Well, election's over and that cold treatment is firmly in place. Obama has signaled in the past two months what lies ahead by: 

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Lawrence D. Bobo: Obama's Velvet-Glove Inaugural Address

    Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. (The Root) -- Obama deserves very high but perhaps not superlative marks for his second inaugural address. It had more the character of an inside-the-park home run, not a grand slam. A 9 on my Olympic scorecard, not a full 10. Not a standout, A-plus effort, but certainly a quite solid A-minus. The speech will indeed be remembered, but probably not as one of his signature moments. In the same breath, let me say there is much that is clever and true and oh so right about this speech that is well worthy of praise.Why not an A? First, save for his declarations about confronting global warming, the speech was a little too oblique in naming the current great challenges before us. He rightly did not want to sound a partisan note. And he understandably did not launch into a list of coming policy goals. But the paralysis in Washington brought on by the politics of economic brinkmanship, of the "my way or the highway" negotiation and of anti-government ideological extremity could have been called out more squarely.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    A White House Aware of Second-Term Perils

    WASHINGTON — As he tucked into a salad and a beef pastry, President Obama looked around the family dining room in the White House and stared into his future. By some forecasts, it may not be a pretty sight.Gathered with him that evening were several of the nation’s leading historians, who reminded him of the sorry litany of second terms — the cascade of scandal, war, recession, political defeat and other calamities that afflicted past presidents after the heady crescendo of re-election.For Mr. Obama, who will be sworn in for another four years in a quiet ceremony on Sunday and then again in more public fashion on Monday, the lessons were familiar if daunting. Embarking on the next half of his presidency, he and his advisers are developing a second-term strategy intended to avoid the pitfalls of his predecessors with a robust agenda focused on the economy, gun control, immigration and energy....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Paul Krugman: Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall

    In his speech, Obama invoked the history of struggles for equality with a remarkable triptych: Seneca (women’s rights), Selma (black rights), and Stonewall (gay rights). And there has been remarkably little blowback — a sign of how much the country has changed.What many people may not realize is how recent those changes are. Gay rights may be relatively obvious — it’s just 8 years since opposition to gay marriage arguably played a significant role in Bush’s victory. But the big changes on the racial front are also more recent than widely imagined (obligatory disclaimer — yes, there’s a lot of racism remaining, and it can be truly ugly; we’re just talking about relative changes)....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Obama invokes gay rights in inaugural address

    President Obama on Monday became the first president to use the word “gay” as a reference to sexual orientation in an inaugural address, declaring the movement for equality to be part of the pantheon of America’s great civil rights struggles.“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the president said. “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”Obama also made another reference in the speech to gay equality. He placed the 1969 riot protesting a police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, as a signature event in the civil rights movement — and ranked it with historical turning points in the battles for women’s and racial equality....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Martin Luther King Jr. honored as Obama, nation’s first black president, sworn in to new term

    ATLANTA — The youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hailed the inauguration of the nation’s first black president to a new term as one of the achievements made possible by the civil rights struggle her father helped lead decades ago.Bernice King spoke at an Atlanta service Monday on the federal King holiday, urging Americans to draw inspiration from her slain father’s nonviolent campaign after a difficult year of military conflicts abroad and natural disasters at home.“We pray that this day will be the beginning of a new day in America,” she said. “It will be a day when people draw inspiration from the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It will be a day when people realize and recognize that if it were not for Dr. King and those who fought the fight fought in that movement, we would not be celebrating this presidency.”...

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Curators from Smithsonian’s new black history museum scout for artifacts at Obama’s inaugural

    WASHINGTON — As crowds descended and the inauguration unfolded, a few museum curators in Washington kept watch for symbols and messages that would make history.The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will open during President Barack Obama’s second term, and one section will feature a large display about the first black president. Curators have been working since 2008 to gather objects, documents and images that capture his place in history.Curator William Pretzer ventured into the crowd Monday, mostly looking for memorabilia that had a personal touch — beyond the T-shirts and buttons hawked by vendors. Pretzer was most interested in handmade items, but he didn’t find much....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Stephen Prothero: Obama Delivers Lincoln's Third Inaugural

    Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.Equality. That's what today's inauguration was about. And we have Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to thank for it.President Obama took his oath of office on two Bibles: one used by Lincoln during his 1861 inauguration, the other the “traveling Bible” of Dr. King. And during his second inaugural address, Obama read U.S. history through the words and actions of these two men.In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln turned to Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence to argue that the United States was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In his "I Have a Dream" speech, King argued that our national commitment to equality demanded that we emancipate ourselves from segregation as well as slavery.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    The History of Inauguration Day

    HNN Hot Topics: Presidential Inaugurations “So Help Me, God”: The History of the Presidential InaugurationOn Monday, January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second presidential term. The inauguration has been a key event at the start of each presidency since George Washington first took office. Since then, certain features have remained fairly constant, such as the oath and the inaugural address. Other aspects, such as the date, have changed. Inauguration Day was originally March 4 until the ratification of the 20th Amendment, which switched the date to January 20, except in years such as this one when that date falls on a Sunday. In these cases, the president is sworn in with a private ceremony on Sunday and then takes a public oath on the next day. The event has changed with the times in some ways and held to tradition in others, not to mention the mishaps that have occurred along the way.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Inauguration of first black president, federal holiday honoring King come to rare intersection

    ATLANTA — President Barack Obama plans to use a Bible that belonged to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as he takes his oath of office, a powerful symbol of this year’s rare intersection of the civil rights movement and the nation’s first black president.Monday is both Inauguration Day and the federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader. It is only the second time the two have fallen on the same day. Some say it’s only fitting the celebrations are intertwined.“It’s almost like fate and history coming together,” said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who worked alongside King in the fight for civil rights during the 1950s and ‘60s and plans to attend the inauguration. “If it hadn’t been for Martin Luther King Jr., there would be no Barack Obama as president.”...

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Rick Perlstein: Our Obama Bargain

    Rick Perlstein is the author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, winner of the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Award for history, and Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2008).We have on our hands a President Groundhog Day. Tom Tomorrow nails it in this recent cartoon, as he so often does: regularly, and regularly and regularly, Obama initiates a negotiation; finds his negotiating partner maneuvering him into an absurd impasse; then “negotiates” his way out of a crisis with a settlement deferring reckoning (in the former of further negotiation) to some specified time time in the future, at which point he somehow imagines negotiation will finally, at long last, work—at which point the next precipice arrives, and he lets his negotiating partners defer the reckoning once more....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Obama's sad press conference record

    President Obama had fewer press conferences during his first term than any other president since Ronald Reagan, Politico reports.With Monday's event, Obama has done a total of 79 over four years. That's 10 fewer than George W. Bush, 54 fewer than Bill Clinton and 63 fewer than George H.W. Bush.Reagan had only 27 press conferences during his first term.

  • Originally published 06/25/2012

    HNN's History of Healthcare Reform

    Lyndon Johnson signing the Medicare bill, July 30, 1965. At left is former president Harry Truman. Credit: NARAA Century of American Healthcare ReformFor the first century of United States history, medical care was simple to access and relatively inexpensive. Services were, from a twenty-first century perspective, inadequate and primitive. Today the quality of care is far better, but Americans have to deal with a complex, confusing, and—by some standards—inefficient system, with terms like HMO, PPO, HSA, and FSA becoming household acronyms. Was it inevitable that the system become as convoluted as it is today, with health care costs passing 15% of GDP?1900-1920

  • Originally published 03/21/2010

    Historic win or not, Democrats could pay a price, according to historians

    As the final round of the battle over health-care reform begins Sunday, President Obama and the Democrats are in reach of a historic legislative achievement that has eluded presidents dating back a century. The question is at what cost. By almost any measure, enactment of comprehensive health-care legislation would rank as one of the most significant pieces of social welfare legislation in the country's history, a goal set as far back as the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and pursued since by many other presidents. But unlike Social Security or Medicare, Obama's health-care bill would pass over the Republican Party's unanimous opposition. Even Republicans agree on the magnitude of what Obama could pull off, while disagreeing on the substance of the legislation. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: "Obviously, he will have achieved as president something nobody else has done. So in that sense, it's historic." But he added, "It doesn't end the health-care debate -- it just changes it. And if it does pass, it would be a historic mistake."...

  • Originally published 01/24/2010

    "Hands off My Medicare": The Deadly Legacy of Social Insurance

    House and Senate Democrats hammering out the health care bills share the conviction that only those who pay into the insurance system are deserving of its benefits. This may be good politics, but it's bad public policy. And, while appealing to moderates in both parties, it's an assumption that's going to doom health care reform. This "social insurance" system is organized around regular contributions from wage earners. These contributions are then returned in the form of benefits (funeral expenses, pensions, unemployment insurance). It works, in other words, more like a toll road than a public right-of-way. The on-ramp to that toll road is a "covered job," the point at which revenues are collected and benefits are disbursed.

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