There is no substitute for history. Then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama delivers the speech that launched him to the White House – the keynote address of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama was re-sworn in as president this afternoon in a private session with yesterday’s flubbing Chief Justice John Roberts, just to remove any shadow of a doubt … Caroline Kennedy, the favorite to be appointed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat by surprise Governor David Paterson, notwithstanding some rocky interviews, has withdrawn her name from consideration. … Clinton herself was confirmed as the new secretary of state on a 94-2 vote in the Senate. … California state Controller John Chiang says he will block Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order for state employee furloughs, increasing the pressure on legislators to come to agreement on a new budget. … President Obama, a Mac guy with an iPod, will keep his BlackBerry, a point of major controversy. With added encryption.
** IN WAKE OF CHIEF JUSTICE FLUB, SHOULD OBAMA RETAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE? Some experts say yes. Several constitutional lawyers said President Obama should, just to be safe, retake the oath of office that was flubbed by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The oath reads: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
In giving the oath, Roberts misplaced the word “faithfully,” at which point Obama paused quizzically. Roberts then corrected himself, but Obama repeated the words as Roberts initially said them.
A do-over “would take him 30 seconds, he can do it in private, it’s not a big deal, and he ought to do it just to be safe,” said Boston University constitutional scholar and Supreme Court watcher Jack Beermann. “It’s an open question whether he’s president until he takes the proper oath.”
The courts would probably never hear a challenge, and some might argue that Obama automatically took office at noon because that’s when President Bush left the office. But because the procedure is so explicitly prescribed in the Constitution, Beermann said if he were Obama’s lawyer, he would recommend retaking it, just as two previous presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur, did under similar circumstances.
“The Constitution says what he’s supposed to say,” Beermann said. “… It’s kind of surprising the chief justice couldn’t get it right.”
** NEW COLUMN COMING … OBAMA AND HIS COMMANDERS.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.)
As the hours count down to his inauguration, Barack Obama must be hearing the hoofbeats of history. He certainly invokes it. Indeed, he seeks to be one of its great riders.
For all the president-elect’s evocation of Abraham Lincoln — and his own description of Lincoln in “The Audacity of Hope” as both deep-seated idealist and ultra-pragmatist was more revealing of Obama’s political character than anything produced by any media outlet — fate and his own design cast what Obama says as our brand-new president alongside somewhat more contemporary figures.
Obama takes office as the 44th president of the United States at a moment of multi-faceted crisis. But it is not a moment like that of Lincoln’s inauguration. President Bush and his essentially feckless administration leave behind the worst economy since the Great Depression, an environment increasingly out of whack, two troubled, troubling, and mismanaged wars, a black eye around the globe, and a sense of fatigue from years of overwrought hysteria. Lincoln’s challenge was of a very different nature.
So the figures of comparison for Obama, his fellow riders of history if you will, are, notwithstanding his hero Lincoln, different. …
** OBAMA TODAY. After attending services in the National Cathedral with the first lady, the Bidens, and the Clintons, President Barack Obama has a rather busy day in Washington.
The new president, after an eventful inaugural day replete with hitting 10 inaugural balls, hits the ground running today. Long-time press secretary and traveling strategist Robert Gibbs cancelled the customary media briefing as Obama consulted with his economic team in the morning. And prepped to consult with his extended national security team in the afternoon.
Obama is putting the finishing touches on his economic revival program with his friend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, and his former colleague, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
And he is consulting with his commanders on the multiplex challenges of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the overall Middle East, and Russia.
General David Petraeus is in Washington after visiting with top Russian figures and the leaders of the various former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Obama will consult with Petraeus, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor Jim Jones, Defense Secretary Bob Gates, and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, and Obama’s combatant commanders around the world this afternoon.
President Obama this morning ordered a four-month suspension of trials of Guantanamo prisoners as he reviews the system.
Meanwhile, Obama is catching a break on some geopolitical crises. Not that they are necessarily “breaks,” as Obama and his emissaries have been in touch with global players for months.
Israel has all its troops out of the Gaza Strip. And Russia is restarting natural gas flows to Europe through Ukraine. At a cost down the line to the notion of Ukraine joining NATO.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has private talks in and around the Capitol today. His focus is on the chronic California budget crisis. Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events today.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had one last swing round the dance floor at the last of the 10 Inaugural Balls they attended last night.
** ANOTHER DAY: 24 AND THE AGE OF OBAMA. One of the signature TV series of the Bush/Cheney years is back. What relevance, if any, does it have in the new age of Obama? … From my January 13th column.
** CIA: THE PANETTA PICK AND THE FEINSTEIN FACTOR. President-elect Barack Obama named his top intelligence leadership team on Friday. And, as I expected, new Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein rather quickly backed down from her opposition to Leon Panetta and championing of a CIA insider for the post, of only a few days ago. The whole exercise was very instructive in old and new political dynamics. … From my January 12th column.
** CIA: PARSING THE PANETTA PICK. … From my January 6th column.
** OBAMA: VACATION’S END. … From my January 2nd Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included.
Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading in the $41 to $42 per barrel range. This is a significant advance since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, relecting the oil market’s view that the US economy will experience a recovery under the new American administration
The drop of $106 per barrel since the record high over the summer comes on acknowledgment that the weak US economy will cut future demand and on the easing of previous geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. It is clear that that, contrary to much chatter, neither the US nor Israel is about to launch a strike against Iran. And the Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium in the oil market.
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