The great “beer summit” at the White House has just taken place, as you can see here.
** QUICK HITS. The great beer summit at the White House has just taken place. According to the pool reporter, who couldn’t hear anything that was said, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates drank Sam Adams Light (a switch from the reported Red Stripe, Jamaica’s finest), Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley had Blue Moon, President Barack Obama drank Bud Light, and surprise participant Vice President Joe Biden went with Bucklers. While the “beer summit” took place, the Gates and Crowley families toured the White House. … The House Energy & Commerce Committee, under LA Congressman Henry Waxman, is on course to vote out a major health reform bill before the August Congressional recess. We don’t know yet if the Senate Finance Committee, angling for a bipartisan approach, will be there, too. …
** JERRY BROWN HAS $7.4 MILLION IN HIS CAMPAIGN WARCHEST AS OF JUNE 30TH. Former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown announced today that he has $7.4 million in the bank for a future campaign. And that he has raised over $8 million since beginning fundraising around the middle of last year, including $3.5 million from January through June of this year.
Brown has not announced a campaign for governor in 2010, but the two-time Democratic presidential runner-up is widely expected to make the race. As a result, however, he has much tighter limits on the size of contributions he can currently raise than do the other potential contenders, Republicans Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner, and Tom Campbell and Democrat Gavin Newsom. Brown can now only raise about a quarter as much as his rivals per contribution.
Assuming that he does run, Brown can then go back to contributors now maxed out at the attorney general level and raise still more money from them.
Brown spent only $170,000 during the first six months of 2008, during which time all but one of his potential rivals for the Democratic nomination dropped out. In a droll nod to his yet undeclared status, Brown said: “With nearly $7.4 million as of last month and a spending rate of only five percent, this campaign is exercising the fiscal discipline desperately needed in government today.”
President Barack Obama’s ratings have gone down among white working class voters following his comments at last week’s prime time press conference about the police incident around Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates on July 16th. The controversy has been an enormous distraction for Obama.
** PEW RESEARCH: OBAMA DOWN FROM 60S TO MID-50S IN JOB APPROVAL. Pew Research is tracking other reputable polls, showing President Barack Obama’s job approval rating down from 61% a month and a half ago to 54% now. There are concerns about his health care plan and its cost, as well as confusion about what it would entail. There’s ongoing fear about the economy, though there are now multiple signs of improvement. (Employment is always a lagging indicator in recovery, as is public opinion.) There are the same contradictory views of government as we see in California: Voters worry about spending too much, don’t want more taxes, and don’t want any diminution in public services. And there is the controversy around the brief arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates.
Obama’s comments on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. appear to have played some role in his ratings decline. News about the arrest of the prominent African American Harvard professor at his Cambridge home was widely followed by the public and 79% are aware of Obama’s comments on the incident. Analysis of the poll data found that the president’s approval ratings fell among non-Hispanic whites over the course of the interviewing period as the focus of the Gates story shifted from details about the incident to Obama’s remarks about the incident1. Interviews Wednesday and Thursday of last week found 53% of whites approving of Obama’s job performance. This slipped to 46% among whites interviewed Friday through Sunday as the Gates story played out across the nation.
Consistent with this trend, a small re-contact survey conducted Monday night finds a mostly negative reaction, particularly among whites, to Obama’s comments on the controversy, even though the public is closely divided over who was at fault in the original dispute. Based on what people have heard about the incident in Cambridge, 27% of blame Gates, 25% fault the police officer, 13% volunteer both or neither, and 36% offer no opinion. However, more people disapprove (41%) than approve (29%) of the president’s handling of the situation. And by a margin of about two-to-one, more whites disapprove (45%) than approve (22%).
This is why it’s important for Obama not to get overexposed, and to avoid doing prime time press conferences when he has no news to report. The fatigued president committed a relatively minor gaffe, and in this media culture, it was consumptive.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … WHEN SHOULD GAY MARRIAGE ADVOCATES TRY TO REVERSE CALIFORNIA’S PROPOSITION 8?
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has had his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 12 PM Pacific, Obama meets with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines in the Oval Office.
The Philippines, a longtime American ally and former colony, are dealing with a persistent Islamic jihadist insurgency.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
At 3 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in the Oval Office. They will then have beers on the South Lawn.
This is all due to Obama’s inartful wading into the controversy around the brief arrest of Gates after he returned home from a trip and had difficulty getting in his front door.
Obama intends to turn his gaffe, and the incident itself, into a “teachable moment” about persistent racial flash points in the culture.
Gates will drink Red Stripe, Crowley will drink Blue Moon, and Obama will have a Bud Light. NO “tastes great, less filling” jokes, please.
Obama is closely following the progress of health care legislation in both houses of Congress. A major bill is expected to be voted out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee by week’s end. Details are still emerging about the shape of an emerging compromise in the Senate Finance Committee.
Obama is also monitoring several geopolitical crises.
In Afghanistan, the central Taliban leadership is trying to overrule a truce struck in a northern province of the country between Taliban fighters and the Afghan government and has declared that all negotiations are to be conducted by them. The British have declared their part of the offensive against Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan a completed success.
In Pakistan, a third of the more than two million refugees caused by the Pakistani Army offensive against the Taliban, urged by Obama, have returned home. Several refugee camps have been closed.
In Israel, after pressure from the Obama Administration, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has ordered a halt to construction of hundreds of new housing units being built for settlers in the disputed West Bank.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared victory at the Beverly Hilton in November 2006 following his second landslide election as governor in this NWN video.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events today.
Today is his birthday. He is 62.
** ANOTHER ‘60S ANNIVERSARY: THE UR-ACTION BLOCKBUSTER GOLDFINGER. We have two iconic ’60s anniversaries this week. Ironically, it’s the least known by far of the two that continues to resonate most in the culture. On July 20th, 1969, a human being first walked on the Moon. On July 21st, 1964, Goldfinger wrapped principal photography.
We haven’t gone to the Moon for 37 years, nor can we go to Mars, as the Apollo 11 astronauts are urging, anytime soon, but we sure go to blockbuster action movies. And Goldfinger is the ur-action blockbuster. … From my July 21st essay.
** WHY THE BIG FADE FOR BRUNO? Bruno, the follow-up to ace comedy star Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 smash hit Borat, is one of the most hyped movies of the year. It’s gotten so much publicity it feels like it’s about to come out on DVD. But after a fast start on Friday, July 10th, the mockumentary about a gay Austrian fashionista has been fading badly ever since. This past weekend, it’s down 73% from the opening weekend.
Why the big fade? It’s actually not much of a mystery.
Once you see the movie, the only mystery is why it wasn’t predicted in the first place. … From my July 19th column.
** HILLARY’S BACK! (OR NOT). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ballyhooed address Wednesday to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington fell decidedly flat. For a few fairly obvious reasons.
First, President Barack Obama, like a number of other presidents before him, starting with Thomas Jefferson, is his own secretary of state. Second, Obama has already laid out America’s new geopolitics, in a series of major addresses in Prague, Cairo, Moscow, and Accra, Ghana, as well as in announcements here in the US on new policies with regard to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Thus making Clinton’s speech an exercise in echo. Third, Obama has other very powerful geopolitical counselors, including Vice President Joe Biden (whom a mutual friend told me when he was tapped for the ticket really wanted to be secretary of state), a coterie of special envoys reporting to the White House, and National Security Advisor Jim Jones, the former NATO commander and Marine Corps commandant.
And fourth, Clinton has been neatly mouse-trapped by Obama. She and her husband have been moved off the political gameboard by Team Obama. As I expected when I wrote about her appointment here on the Huffington Post when it was rumored last November. … From my July 15th column.
** DIMINISHING RETURNS FOR OBAMA’S SUMMITEERING? President Barack Obama returned early Sunday morning from a near week-long international tour that took him to a key summit in Moscow, a G-8 summit, and his first appearance in Africa as president. But some suggested, with his poll numbers down a bit and media attention mostly elsewhere, that his summiteering is having diminishing returns.
Perhaps. But I think it has at least as much to do with the media culture.
American media, especially cable TV news, is moving more into infotainment mode, stuck on a few areas. Geopolitics has never been its strong suit, and political coverage is mostly focused on food fights. Which was unfortunate, as following on to his addresses in Prague and Cairo, Obama gave the final two of his advertised four major speeches on his new geopolitics last week, in Moscow and in Accra, Ghana. … From my July 12th column.
** OBAMA DOES MOSCOW, AND VICE VERSA. … From my July 8th column.
** OBAMA’S CONSEQUENTIAL FIRST 4TH: NOKO, AFPAK, IRAQ, RUSSIA, PALIN (PALIN?!) … From my July 4th column.
** THE GOP’S PALIN FOOD FIGHT: WHY NOW? … From my July 2nd column.
** TRANSFORMATIVE: LE CINEMA DE MICHAEL BAY. … From my June 29th essay.
** STAR TREK FIRSTS … 43 YEARS ON. … From my June 23rd essay.
** OBAMA AND THE AYATOLLAH. . … From my June 19th column.
** 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.) … From my January 19th 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ 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 last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, 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. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading in the $66 to $67 per barrel range.
This is up $32 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.