West Wing Week 1/28/11

The White House

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President delivered his State of the Union address, focused on jobs and the economy, and he took those ideas on the road traveling to Upstate New York and Wisconsin.

For Obama, Egypt a balancing act


The White House tiptoed gingerly toward solidarity with the protesters thronging Egyptian streets on a day of escalating rhetoric that culminated Friday evening with President Barack Obama making a televised appeal to the nation’s leader, Hosni Mubarak, to halt his crackdown and reform the government.

“This moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise,” Obama said, while calling on Mubarak “to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.”

His statement – after a half-hour call with Mubarak in the middle of Egypt’s night – capped the swift progression of the U.S. position as the White House struggled to stay ahead, and on the right side of, the widening protest movement.

Obama stopped short of endorsing the protesters’ calls on Mubarak to step down, citing the American “close partnership” with Egypt. Mubarak himself rejected the call in a speech to Egyptians in which he warned of “chaos” and said he had fired his cabinet.

Obama’s careful formulation – he also called on protestors to keep the peace – embodied an administration struggling to respond to the rapidly changing conditions in Egypt and in a larger sense to reconcile the universalist idealism and foreign policy realism that Obama seeks to simultaneously embody.

Its response to the protests in Egypt shifted markedly in the course of just a few days, starting with Vice President Joe Biden’s insistence Thursday night that Mubarak is not a “dictator.” First Secretary of State Hillary urged the Egyptian government to “restrain the security forces…allow peaceful protests” and to restore Internet access. Then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs warned the Egyptian government that continuing the U.S.’s $1.3 billion in military aid will depend on its response to the protests.     More… 

The Week In One-Liners



The week’s top 10 quotes in politics: 

“We didn’t elect Superman, we elected a human being.” – Colin Powell, on President Barack Obama. 

“I’m trying to stay out of prison, obviously.” – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, on his current goals. 

“Am I looking at the right camera?” – White House advisor David Axelrod, mocking Michele Bachmann’s confusing Tea Party Express interview, during his own TV interview. 

“In spite of the fact that I’m now on TV, I don’t want to be on TV.” – Former President George W. Bush, telling C-SPAN how low-key he’d prefer his life to be. 

“Granny is safe.” – President Obama, defending his health care bill from the “death panel” charges. 

“I can’t spell at all. … In fact, you don’t have to know how to spell anymore” – Vice President Joe Biden, revealing one of the perks of power. 

“It’s a tricky job. I’m sure I wouldn’t be any good at it.” – Incoming White House press secretary Jay Carney, assessing the job in a 2006 interview on C-SPAN. 

“I’m Italian. We don’t have problems with olives.” – Rep. David Cicilline, dinging Rep. Dennis Kucinich in an interview with ABC News. 

Promiscuous.” – Former President Bill Clinton, describing political advisor David Gergen’s political switch-hitting, while in Davos, Switzerland. 

“Back off.” – Sen. Harry Reid, issuing a warning to the White House on its efforts to rein in congressional earmarks.

400 Rabbis Demand Fox News Sanction Beck And Ailes For ‘Unacceptable’ Holocaust Imagery

Glenn Beck and Fox News seem to delight in riling folks who don’t share their ideology.  Regardless of who they are…

Think Progress

On Thursday, 400 rabbis will mark International Holocuast Remberance Day with a letter demanding Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch sanction CEO Roger Ailes and incendiary host Glenn Beck “for repeated use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery” and for “airing attacks on World War Two survivor George Soros.” The letter will run as an ad in Thursday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal and other media owned by Murdoch’s News Corp.

The nonprofit advocacy group Jewish Funds for Justice is running the $100,000 ad that states, “We share a belief that the Holocaust, of course can and should be discussed appropriately in the media. But that is not what we have seen at Fox News.” Prompted by Ailes’ wanton vilification of NPR executives as Nazis and Beck’s three-part program accusing Soros of “sending his people to death camps,” the rabbis demanded Fox sanction them for continuing “unacceptable attacks” and “dismissive remarks”:

“It is not appropriate to accuse a 14-year-old Jew hiding with a Christian family in Nazi-occupied Hungary of sending his people to death camps,” says the ad. “It is not appropriate to call executives of another news agency ‘Nazis.’ And it is not appropriate to make literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom you disagree.”

“We respectfully request that Glenn Beck be sanctioned by Fox News for his completely unacceptable attacks on a survivor of the Holocaust and that Roger Ailes apologize for his dismissive remarks about rabbis’ sensitivity to how the Holocaust is used on the air.”

Having catalogued “literally hundreds” of Beck’s Nazi onair anti-Semiticdogwhistling” and Ailes’ weak excuses and dismissal of Beck’s critics as “left-wing rabbis,” the rabbis told Murdoch “you diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with. That is what Fox News has done in recent weeks, and it is not only ‘left-wing rabbis’ who think so.”

Though Fox “hasn’t seen the ad,” Fox News spokesman John Cheatwood offered these conciliatory remarks: “this group is a George Soros backed left-wing political organization that has been trying to engage Glenn Beck primarily for publicity purposes.”       More…

Jay Carney To Be Next White House Press Secretary

Huffington Post

Jay Carney, Vice President Joe Biden’s top spokesman, is taking over the post of White House Press Secretary, multiple Democratic sources confirmed to The Huffington Post.

Carney will be taking over the position being vacated by Robert Gibbs at a time when much of the original inner Obama circle is either leaving the White House or heading to Chicago to help with the re-election campaign.

CNN’s Ed Henry first reported the news.

Carney was chosen from a candidate pool of roughly five, including several current members of the White House’s communications team. One of those individuals, former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney (a paid contributor to MSNBC) praised the decision. “Jay will be great, he’s well respected, in addition to his background as a journalist, his work with the Vice President on domestic and foreign policy issues will be a huge asset,” she said.

In private, it was widely expected that Carney would end up at the post.

The choice caused a bit of rancor. Carney, who is known as being a bit more brass-knuckled than Gibbs and the other contenders, is, nevertheless, a creature of D.C., having previously served as TIME magazine’s Washington bureau chief. In that regard, he is no different than many of the other administration hires. But that was still enough to cause some eye rolls.

“Most of us thought that hiring someone from the outside was likely ‘too much’ change,” said one top Democratic strategist.    More…

Jon Stewart To O’Reilly: A Heartless Douche Is Not The Same As A Nazi Propagandist

Jon Stewart is unbelieveably on point here…


And the rhetorical battle between Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly continues! Last night O’Reilly took exception to the method by which Stewart’s held his Nazi rhetoric as an example of hypocrisy, defending the comment as being taken out of context. As we said last night, O’Reilly ironically took Stewart’s criticism out of context, or as Stewart said, it’s not why you made the Nazi reference, its that you made the Nazi reference.

Stewart illustrated his point further by showing a number of other examples of O’Reilly comparing his political foes to Nazis, making the Fox News anchor’s defense seem somewhat irrelevant. Perhaps the most damning part of the segment came when Stewart pointed out that the offensive quote O’Reilly used to rationalize the Nazi reference actually came from a commenter on a blog post, and not a credited author. Sealing the deal, Stewart then pointed out to a similarly horrible (though certainly less offensive) blog comment on FoxNation.com.

Good thing that the commenters on Mediaite never write anything offensive. Watch the video courtesy of Comedy Central below:

Illinois high court: Emanuel can run for Chicago mayor

There are sure to be cries of “foul!” and “Chicago politics” from both the right and the left on this one… 

Chron -Top AP Stories

The Illinois Supreme Court put Rahm Emanuel back on the ballot for Chicago mayor on Thursday, reviving his campaign to lead the country’s third-largest city.

The former White House chief of staff was thrown off the Feb. 22 ballot by an Illinois appellate court for not meeting a residency requirement because he hadn’t lived in Chicago for a year before the race. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in his favor.

Emanuel lived for nearly two years in Washington working for President Barack Obama until he moved back to Chicago in October to run for mayor.

Emanuel, who has said he always intended to return to Chicago and was only living in Washington at the request of the president, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court ruling. Within minutes of the ruling, Emanuel was at a downtown Chicago public transit station shaking hands with residents.

He never stopped campaigning as the controversy evolved. His spokesman said Emanuel was en route to the campaign appearance when he received word of the ruling and was scheduled to participate in televised debate Thursday evening.

In their appeal, Emanuel’s attorneys called Monday’s appeal court ruling “one of the most far-reaching election law rulings” ever issued in Illinois, not only because of its effect on the mayoral race but for “the unprecedented restriction” it puts on future candidates.

His lawyers raised several points, including that the appeals court applied a stricter definition of “residency” than the one used for voters. They say Illinois courts have never required candidates to be physically present in the state to seek office there.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court called the appeals court’s basis for deciding that Emanuel could not be on the ballot “without any foundation in Illinois law.”    More…

The Soft Power of Obama’s SOTU Tie

I love this article I found on Esquire.  (One thing though, the tie looks blue to me.)

Maybe it’s a good thing, or quite possibly a bad thing, that the most controversial thing about Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was the color of the president’s tie. It was purple (or if you want to get technical about it, lavender), and as much as we admire his symbolic commitment to bipartisanship — no red or blue for this guy — there’s some substance to his style.

A bit of history: As far back as Roman empire, the rich and powerful would show they were rich and powerful by wearing clothes dyed in Tyrian purple, a shade derived from the expensive and rare boiled shells of the murex sea snail. After the whole decline and fall debacle, the color was taken up by generations of European royalty who’d wear robes in imperial purple. Ever since, variations of purple have been synonymous with wealth, status, and valor — see the Purple Heart, created in 1917 to honor American soldiers who have been wounded or killed while serving in battle.

In any case, none of this was on the president’s mind when he chose that particular tie; he had other things, like John Boehner’s crocodile tears, or Joe Biden, to worry about. But he was smart to go for a soft shade of purple (easier on the eyes, and better with navy blue tailoring), because whether he knew it or not, wearing purple is how you project power. And that’s exactly what he did

Rachel Maddow’s Analysis of Obama’s SOTU – Prepare to be surprised!

In my opinion, no one in the news media analyzes a particular issue like Rachel Maddow.  When I saw this on TV last night, I was floored by her presentation.  For those who didn’t see this segment, this one’s for you…

Selective Editing? Bill O’Reilly ‘Corrects’ Jon Stewart Over Criticism Of Nazi Rhetoric

Mediate’s article below, tends to placate Bill O’Reilly and Fox News.  The fact of the matter is, Fox News, et al make it a standard practice to cherry pick and selectively edit videos that put them in a bad light.

This is so typical of Fox News and their commentators.  See here, here, and here and these are just a few examples.


Bill O’Reilly took exception to being included in Jon Stewart’s searing criticism of Fox News’ use of Nazi rhetoric in its opinion media programming. Focusing on a short clip sampled by Daily Show producers in which The Factor host compared “hate-filled blogs” with Nazi Germany, O’Reilly explained that the reference in question was taken out of context. Ironically, O’Reilly seemed to miss the context of Stewart’s criticism as well.

First, a bit of background. The rediscovered tone of civility in the days that followed President Obama’s speech at the Tucson memorial was sharply interrupted last week by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who made what many saw as distasteful comparisons on the House floor, between the GOP and Nazi propaganda techniques. This culminated in a predictable set of finger-pointing by many media personalities, the last of which was Stewart’s searing rebuttal to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly’s claim that Fox News’ personalities do not make gratuitous Nazi references (as her guest Richard Socarides had alleged on her show).

By way of rebuttal to Stewart’s rebuttal, O’Reilly played a short clip from the Daily Show segment and explained that it was presented without larger context, which was absolutely true. The clip in question focused on what appeared to be an extremely distasteful, and most likely anonymous, blog comment on Huffington Post that suggested that Nancy Reagan should die. In the context of that comment, one can certainly see how angry and horrified a self-described traditionalist like O’Reilly would become. But to compare an anonymous blog comment to Nazi techniques is a tad hyperbolic.     More…