Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Obama and Our Post-Modern Race Problem

The president always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol.

America still has a race problem, though not the one that conventional wisdom would suggest: the racism of whites toward blacks. Old fashioned white racism has lost its legitimacy in the world and become an almost universal disgrace.
The essence of our new "post-modern" race problem can be seen in the parable of the emperor's new clothes. The emperor was told by his swindling tailors that people who could not see his new clothes were stupid and incompetent. So when his new clothes arrived and he could not see them, he put them on anyway so that no one would think him stupid and incompetent. And when he appeared before his people in these new clothes, they too—not wanting to appear stupid and incompetent—exclaimed the beauty of his wardrobe. It was finally a mere child who said, "The emperor has no clothes."
The lie of seeing clothes where there were none amounted to a sophistication—joining oneself to an obvious falsehood in order to achieve social acceptance. In such a sophistication there is an unspoken agreement not to see what one clearly sees—in this case the emperor's flagrant nakedness.
Martin Kozlowski 
America's primary race problem today is our new "sophistication" around racial matters. Political correctness is a compendium of sophistications in which we join ourselves to obvious falsehoods ("diversity") and refuse to see obvious realities (the irrelevance of diversity to minority development). I would argue further that Barack Obama's election to the presidency of the United States was essentially an American sophistication, a national exercise in seeing what was not there and a refusal to see what was there—all to escape the stigma not of stupidity but of racism.
Barack Obama, elegant and professorially articulate, was an invitation to sophistication that America simply could not bring itself to turn down. If "hope and change" was an empty political slogan, it was also beautiful clothing that people could passionately describe without ever having seen.
Mr. Obama won the presidency by achieving a symbiotic bond with the American people: He would labor not to show himself, and Americans would labor not to see him. As providence would have it, this was a very effective symbiosis politically. And yet, without self-disclosure on the one hand or cross-examination on the other, Mr. Obama became arguably the least known man ever to step into the American presidency.
Our new race problem—the sophistication of seeing what isn't there rather than what is—has surprised us with a president who hides his lack of economic understanding behind a drama of scale. Hundreds of billions moving into trillions. Dramatic, history-making numbers. But where is the economic logic behind a stimulus package that doesn't fully click in for a number of years? How is every stimulus dollar spent actually going to stimulate? Why bailouts to institutions that only hoard the money? How is vast government spending simultaneously a kind of prudence that will not "add to the deficit?" How can such spending not trigger smothering levels of taxation?
Mr. Obama's economic thinking (or lack thereof) adds up to a kind of rudderless cowboyism combined with wishful thinking. You would think that in the two solid years of daily campaigning leading up to his election this nakedness would have been seen.
On the foreign front he has been given much credit for his new policy on the Afghan war, and especially for the "rational" and "earnest" way he went about arriving at the decision to surge 30,000 new troops into battle. But here also were three months of presidential equivocation for all the world to see, only to end up essentially where he started out.
And here again was the lack of a larger framework of meaning. How is this surge of a piece with America's role in the world? Are we the world's exceptional power and thereby charged with enforcing a certain balance of power, or are we now embracing European self-effacement and nonengagement? Where is the clear center in all this?
I think that Mr. Obama is not just inexperienced; he is also hampered by a distinct inner emptiness—not an emptiness that comes from stupidity or a lack of ability but an emptiness that has been actually nurtured and developed as an adaptation to the political world.
The nature of this emptiness becomes clear in the contrast between him and Ronald Reagan. Reagan reached the White House through a great deal of what is called "individuating"—that is he took principled positions throughout his long career that jeopardized his popularity, and in so doing he came to know who he was as a man and what he truly believed.
He became Ronald Reagan through dissent, not conformity. And when he was finally elected president, it was because America at last wanted the vision that he had evolved over a lifetime of challenging conventional wisdom. By the time Reagan became president, he had fought his way to a remarkable certainty about who he was, what he believed, and where he wanted to lead the nation.
Mr. Obama's ascendancy to the presidency could not have been more different. There seems to have been very little individuation, no real argument with conventional wisdom, and no willingness to jeopardize popularity for principle. To the contrary, he has come forward in American politics by emptying himself of strong convictions, by rejecting principled stands as "ideological," and by promising to deliver us from the "tired" culture-war debates of the past. He aspires to be "post-ideological," "post-racial" and "post-partisan," which is to say that he defines himself by a series of "nots"—thus implying that being nothing is better than being something. He tries to make a politics out of emptiness itself.
But then Mr. Obama always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol. He always wore the bargainer's mask—winning the loyalty and gratitude of whites by flattering them with his racial trust: I will presume that you are not a racist if you will not hold my race against me. Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and yes, Tiger Woods have all been superb bargainers, eliciting almost reverential support among whites for all that they were not—not angry or militant, not political, not using their moral authority as blacks to exact a wage from white guilt.
But this mask comes at a high price. When blacks become humanly visible, when their true beliefs are known, their mask shatters and their symbiotic bond with whites is broken. Think of Tiger Woods, now so humanly visible. Or think of Bill Cosby, who in recent years has challenged the politically correct view and let the world know what he truly thinks about the responsibility of blacks in their own uplift.
It doesn't matter that Mr. Woods lost his bargainer's charm through self-destructive behavior and that Mr. Cosby lost his through a courageous determination to individuate—to take public responsibility for his true convictions. The appeal of both men—as objects of white identification—was diminished as their human reality emerged. Many whites still love Mr. Cosby, but they worry now that expressing their affection openly may identify them with his ideas, thus putting them at risk of being seen as racist. Tiger Woods, of course, is now so tragically human as to have, as the Bible put it, "no name in the street."
A greater problem for our nation today is that we have a president whose benign—and therefore desirable—blackness exempted him from the political individuation process that makes for strong, clear-headed leaders. He has not had to gamble his popularity on his principles, and it is impossible to know one's true beliefs without this. In the future he may stumble now and then into a right action, but there is no hard-earned center to the man out of which he might truly lead.
And yes, white America conditioned Barack Obama to emptiness—valued him all along for his "articulate and clean" blackness, so flattering to American innocence. He is a president come to us out of our national insecurities.
Mr. Steele is a senior research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Schultz: WH Contacts Team 'Joe' Directly During Program!

For anyone wondering why an increasing number of conservatives now use the term "state-controlled media" (which originated with Rush Limbaugh) to refer to television networks and newspapers, here's one that drives the point home.

During his syndicated radio show Friday, libtalker and MSNBC host Ed Schultz relayed to listeners how he observed 'Morning Joe' Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski take feedback directly from the White House during their program last week.

Schultz appeared on Thursday's Morning Joe and directly challenged Obama's David Axelrod on the current version of the health care bill under consideration in Congress. Interestingly, this particular segment has since generated a great deal of attention elsewhere, given the defensive nature of the White House advisor and the supposed conflict between the far left and the administration:

And here's what Ed told radio listeners the next day about the visit:

SCHULTZ (07:14): I just want to get things clear, it was not arranged for me to have a question for David Axelrod.

SCHULTZ (08:12): So Mika starts looking at her Blackberry and so does Scarborough and obviously the White House is texting them or emailing them or whatever and they didn't like the show. Because Arianna had been on there, I'm on there, Howard Dean had been on there and they wanted some balance.

Now think about that - here's the White House getting in contact with 'Morning Joe' because they're afraid there's too many lefties on the air! Now if that's not sensitivity at its highest level, I don't know what is! I told ya a few days ago they had rabbit ears! They don't like anything that's being said right now, they're getting beat up!

Is it really possible that the White House has a direct line to MSNBC's hosts, communicating with them during their live broadcasts? Now THAT'S state control!

And do MSNBC staffers actually carry out the administration's commands? In this case, they certainly made room on short notice for a lengthy segment featuring Axelrod, there to rebut comments made by Howard Dean and other recent guests.

Now, imagine if Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, or another non-"progressive" host had been caught taking orders from Bush during the program. When would we ever hear the end of that?

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Friday, December 18, 2009

White House v. White House

The health-care contradictions multiply.

The left is staging a revolt over ObamaCare, at least for 48 or 72 hours, but more revealing is the way this revolt is scrambling the White House's case for a bill that everyone save Big Pharma and AARP now seems to hate. The ad hoc arguments its spokesmen use to put out one political fire invariably contradict those they're using to put out another, so allow us to adjudicate.
Among labor's complaints is a 40% excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, given that union-negotiated benefits are more generous than average. So Jason Furman, the deputy economic director, took to the White House blog on Wednesday to declare that this so-called Cadillac tax "will affect only a small portion of the very highest cost health plans—a total of 3% of premiums in 2013." He added that "The vast majority of health plans fall below the thresholds set in the Senate plan and would be completely unaffected by the provision."
But wait: White House budget director Peter Orszag has been emphasizing the excise tax as critically important in the cost-control stone soup that he's been trying to sell. He cited this in his response to one of our editorials on Monday, and as he put it earlier this month, "You're creating an incentive for plans for employers to design their plans in such a way that they're under that threshold. . . . You're creating an incentive to slow the growth rate in private health costs."
So a tax that applies to 3% of premiums is going to reshape the entire health-care market? These guys can't even get their blog posts straight.
Our view is that they're both wrong, as it were. The Cadillac tax is not indexed for inflation, so it will gradually snare ever-more workers as a revenue grab. But contrary to Mr. Orszag's assertions, it doesn't fundamentally change the structural incentives created by the U.S. subsidies for employer- and government-provided coverage that have sent health costs soaring.
Mr. Furman used to advocate policies that really would make a difference, by "helping consumers become more cost conscious about their health-care choices," as he put it in a 2007 Brookings paper. He estimated that increasing cost-sharing could lower total health spending from 13% to 30%.
The Administration went in a far more political direction, which is why the White House brain trust, which seems to have been placed in a blind trust, is finding it so hard to make a coherent case. But maybe the handful of Democratic Senators worried about ending their careers by voting for ObamaCare should embrace the contradiction: The best way to support "health-care reform" is by voting against it.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The President Is No B+

In fact, he's got the worst ratings of any president at the end of his first year.

Barack Obama has won a place in history with the worst ratings of any president at the end of his first year: 49% approve and 46% disapprove of his job performance in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll.
There are many factors that explain it, including weakness abroad, an unprecedented spending binge at home, and making a perfectly awful health-care plan his signature domestic initiative. But something else is happening.
Mr. Obama has not governed as the centrist, deficit-fighting, bipartisan consensus builder he promised to be. And his promise to embody a new kind of politics—free of finger-pointing, pettiness and spin—was a mirage. He has cheapened his office with needless attacks on his predecessor.
Consider Mr. Obama's comment in his interview this past Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes" that the Bush administration made a mistake in speaking in "a triumphant sense about war."
Associated Press 
This was a slap at every president who rallied the nation in dark moments, including Franklin D. Roosevelt ("With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph"); Woodrow Wilson ("Right is more precious than peace and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts"); and John F. Kennedy ("Any hostile move anywhere in the world against the safety and freedom of peoples to whom we are committed . . . will be met by whatever action is needed").
This kind of attack gives Mr. Obama's words a slippery quality. For example, he voted for the bank rescue plan in September 2008 and praised it during the campaign. Yet on Dec. 8 at the Brookings Institution, Mr. Obama called it "flawed" and blamed "the last administration" for launching it "hastily."
Really? Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner designed it. If it was "flawed," why did Mr. Obama later nominate Mr. Bernanke to a second term as Fed chairman and make Mr. Geithner his Treasury secretary?
Mr. Obama also claimed at Brookings that he prevented "a second Great Depression" by confronting the financial crisis "largely without the help" of Republicans. Yet his own Treasury secretary suggests otherwise. In a Dec. 9 letter, Mr. Geithner admitted that since taking office, the Obama administration had "committed about $7 billion to banks, much of which went to small institutions." That compares to $240 billion the Bush administration lent banks. Does Mr. Obama really believe his additional $7 billion forestalled "the potential collapse of our financial system"?

About Karl Rove

Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.
Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.
Karl writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).
Email the author atKarl@Rove.comor visit him on the web Or, you can send a Tweet to @karlrove.
Mr. Obama continued distorting the record in his "60 Minutes" interview Sunday when he blamed bankers for the financial crisis. They "caused the problem," he insisted before complaining, "I haven't seen a lot of shame on their part" and pledging to put "a regulatory system in place that prevents them from putting us in this kind of pickle again."
But as a freshman senator, Mr. Obama supported a threatened 2005 filibuster of a bill regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He doesn't show "a lot of shame" that he and other Fannie and Freddie defenders blocked "a regulatory system" that might have kept America from getting in such a bad pickle in the first place.
The president's rhetorical tricks don't end there. Mr. Obama also claimed his $787 billion stimulus package "helped us [stem] the panic and get the economy growing again." But 1.5 million more people are unemployed than he said there would be if nothing were done.
And as of yesterday, only $244 billion of the stimulus had been spent. Why was $787 billion needed when less than a third of that figure supposedly got the job done?
Mr. Obama also alleged on "60 Minutes" that health-care reform "will actually bring down the deficit" (which people clearly know it will not). He said his reform reduces "costs and premiums for American families and businesses" (though they will be higher than they would otherwise be). And he claimed 30 million more people will get coverage through "an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses" to purchase insurance (though 15 million of them are covered by being dumped into Medicaid and don't get private insurance).
Mr. Obama may actually believe it when he says, "I think that's a pretty darned good outcome" and congratulates himself that he could succeed where "seven presidents have tried . . . [and] seven presidents have failed."
But voters seem to have a different definition of success. And they are tiring of the president's blame shifting and distortions.
Mr. Obama may believe, as he told Oprah Winfrey in a recent interview, that he deserves a "solid B+" for his first year in office, but the American people beg to differ. A presidency that started with so much promise is receiving unprecedentedly low grades from the country that elected him. He's earned them.
Mr. Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Economy, Health Care Sends Obama to New Lows in Approval Ratings

A double punch of persistent economic discontent and growing skepticism on health care reform has knocked Barack Obama's key approval ratings to new lows, clouding his administration's prospects at least until the jobless rate eases.
Double Punch of Economy, Health Care Sends Obama to New Lows in Approval
U.S. President Barack Obama listens during his meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of... Expand
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Fifty percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of the president's work overall, down 6 points in the last month; nearly as many, 46 percent, now disapprove. On the economy, 52 percent disapprove, a majority for the first time. On the deficit, his worst score, 56 percent disapprove.
Click here for a PDF with charts and questionnaire.
Such numbers aren't unexpected; Ronald Reagan, in similar economic straits, dropped to 52 percent overall approval at this point in his presidency. But it's not just the economy: Fifty-three percent also disapprove of Obama's work on health care, and the public by 51-44 percent now opposes the reform package in Congress – both more than half for the first time in ABC/Post polls.

Unwitting tourists attend White House breakfast

WASHINGTON — The White House is once again explaining how uninvited guests wound up shaking hands with President Barack Obama.
This time, a Georgia couple hoping to tour the White House ended up at an invitation-only Veterans Day breakfast.
White House officials say the couple mistakenly showed up a day early and were allowed into the breakfast because there were no public tours available. They say the couple, Harvey and Paula Darden of Hogansville, Ga., were properly screened for security.
Harvey Darden, however, said there appeared to be a mix-up. No one told them about the breakfast, he said, and the Dardens thought they were starting their tour until they were ushered into the East Room and offered a buffet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obama's War of Words

Eloquence without action is soon forgotten.

Whatever else he may be, Barack Obama is a gifted orator whose words will be remembered by generations. Or will they?
In the first two weeks of this month, President Obama has delivered two critical war speeches. At West Point he outlined a new policy for Afghanistan, committing 30,000 additional troops to deal with the threat that militant Islam continues to pose to the American people. In Oslo scarcely a week later, he used the occasion of his Nobel Prize to deliver a bracing reminder that the reality of evil requires nations willing to confront it.
Now comes the question put to all presidential speechwriters when a wartime president gives a major address. What did you think? Did he make his case? How will these speeches be treated by history?
The answer, surely, is that the measure of a speech goes beyond words. When it comes to the English language, the speechwriters around President Obama enjoy more than their share of talent. Still, ultimately a war speech will be judged as much on the success of the war as on the eloquence of the words.
Associated Press 
Think of the great war speeches, starting with the Gettysburg Address. When Abraham Lincoln delivered those words at a cemetery for the Union fallen in 1863, he justified the terrible human toll on the promise "that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Ask yourself this: Had Lincoln not committed himself so single-mindedly to that effort, had he given in and sued for peace, would schoolchildren still be memorizing his words today?
Or consider Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Historians are still debating his decisions. But there can be no debate that his exhortations resonate even today because they were backed by policies that defeated totalitarian threats across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

OpinionJournal Related Stories:

Karl Rove: Obama Can Win in Afghanistan
Eliot Cohen: A Wartime President
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Ditto for John Kennedy. In his memoir "Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History," Kennedy adviser and speechwriter Ted Sorensen did not dismiss the power of the spoken word, but neither did he confuse it with action. "[A]fter all is said and little is done, a speech—even an elevated, eloquent speech—is still just a speech," he wrote. "Saying so doesn't make it so."
Kennedy is sometimes compared with Ronald Reagan, often thought to have been a great presidential speech-giver because of his gifts as an actor. No doubt the Gipper understood the stage. But the point about Reagan is that when he spoke, he wasn't acting. When Reagan declared that the "last pages" of communism were being written or called for the Berlin Wall to come down, he believed it—and his policies reflected those beliefs.
"Nobody remembers "Tear Down this Wall" because I did an OK job of stringing the words together," says my speechwriter friend, Peter Robinson. "We remember the speech because Reagan meant it, because it expressed the principles that he acted on, and because history proved him right. We remember Reagan at Berlin because the wall did come down—and he did his part to help bring it down."
As the chief speechwriter who helped President George W. Bush draft his remarks on the surge in Iraq, I've been amused these past few days by hearing people compare that speech favorably to President Obama's recent announcement of the surge in Afghanistan. It's amusing because that's not the tone many of these folks were taking back when President Bush delivered those remarks.
If that speech holds up well today, it's because of more than words. It's because President Bush burnished those words with actions—insisting that we could still win in Iraq, backing that up with more troops at a time when many Americans wanted them home, and, most of all, by refusing to countenance an end game that would see our men and women in uniform leaving Iraq from the ignominy of an embassy rooftop.
In wartime, people soon tire of lofty words that do not seem borne out by events. In September 2001, with the twin towers still smoldering and the Pentagon wounded, President Bush delivered a war address to a joint session of Congress (which I had no part in, so am free to praise) that ranks with the best of FDR. Whether that speech ever receives its full due depends in part on how this war ends.
The same goes for President Obama. At West Point and Oslo, he spoke to the challenge of defending our freedom against hard men with no moral limit on what they are willing to do to crush it. The irony is that whether these fine speeches are remembered by history depends on a word he didn't use in either one: victory.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Obama Approval at 44%

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The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-two percent (42%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18.
That’s a one point improvement from yesterday when Obama’s Approval Index rating fell to the lowest level yet recorded. Prior to the past three days, the Approval Index had never fallen below -15 during Obama’s time in office (see trends).
As the health care plan struggles in the Senate, public opposition remains stable. Fifty-six percent (56% ) oppose the plan working its way through Congress while just 40% favor it. In Nevada, the health care bill is causing problems for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bid for re-election.
The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Updates are also available on Twitter and Facebook.
Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That’s the lowest level yet measured for this president. Previously, his overall approval rating had fallen to 45% twice, once in early September and once in late November.
Fifty-five percent (55%) now disapprove.
Seventy-two percent (72%) of Democrats now offer their approval while 80% of Republicans disapprove. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, just 36% approve.
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of liberals approve while 76% of conservatives disapprove. The bad news for the President is that there are a lot more conservatives in the country than liberals. However, he gets a bit of a boost because 57% of moderate voters still offer their approval.
The President earns approval from 37% of White voters and 98% of African-American voters.
(More Below)

Check out our review of the week’s key polls to see “What They Told Us.”
Rasmussen Reports has released updated polls on the 2010 Senate races in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California. Overall, the results confirm the conventional wisdom that the mid-term election season is off to a tough start for the Democrats. However, there is a long way to go until November.
Scott Rasmussen has recently had several columns published in the Wall Street Journal addressing how President Obama is losing independent voters , health care reform, the President's approval ratings, and how Obama won the White House by campaigning like Ronald Reagan. If you'd like Scott Rasmussen to speak at your meeting, retreat, or conference, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau. You can also learn about Scott's favorite place on earth or his time working with hockey legend Gordie Howe.
It is important to remember that the Rasmussen Reports job approval ratings are based upon a sample of likely voters. Some other firms base their approval ratings on samples of all adults. President Obama's numbers are always several points higher in a poll of adults rather than likely voters. That's because some of the President's most enthusiastic supporters, such as young adults, are less likely to turn out to vote. It is also important to check the details of question wording when comparing approval ratings from different firms.
(More Below)

Rasmussen Reports has been a pioneer in the use of automated telephone polling techniques, but many other firms still utilize their own operator-assisted technology (see methodology). founder Mark Blumenthal noted that “independent analyses from the National Council on Public Polls, the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the Pew Research Center, the Wall Street Journal and have all shown that the horse-race numbers produced by automated telephone surveys did at least as well as those from conventional live-interviewer surveys in predicting election outcomes.”
In the 2009 New Jersey Governor’s race, automated polls tended to be more accurate than operator-assisted polling techniques. On reviewing the state polling results from 2009, Mickey Kaus offered this assessment, “If you have a choice between Rasmussen and, say, the prestigious N.Y. Times, go with Rasmussen!” During Election 2008, Nate Silver of said that the Rasmussen tracking poll “would probably be the one I'd want with me on a desert island."
A Fordham University professor rated the national pollsters on their record in Election 2008. We also have provided a summary of our results for your review. In 2008, Obama won 53%-46% and our final poll showed Obama winning 52% to 46%. While we were pleased with the final result, Rasmussen Reports was especially pleased with the stability of our results. On every single day for the last six weeks of the campaign, our daily tracking showed Obama with a stable and solid lead attracting more than 50% of the vote.
An analysis by partner Charles Franklin “found that despite identically sized three-day samples, the Rasmussen daily tracking poll is less variable than Gallup.” During Election 2008, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll was the least volatile of all those tracking the race.
In 2004 George W. Bush received 50.7% of the vote while John Kerry earned 48.3%. Rasmussen Reports was the only firm to project both candidates’ totals within half a percentage point by projecting that Bush would win 50.2% to 48.5%. (see our 2004 results).
Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. The margin of sampling error—for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters--is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Results are also compiled on a full-week basis and crosstabs for full-week results are available for Premium Members.
Like all polling firms, Rasmussen Reports weights its data to reflect the population at large (see methodology). Among other targets, Rasmussen Reports weights data by political party affiliation using a dynamic weighting process. While partisan affiliation is generally quite stable over time, there are a fair number of people who waver between allegiance to a particular party or independent status. Over the past five years, the number of Democrats in the country has increased while the number of Republicans has decreased.
Our baseline targets are established based upon separate survey interviews with a sample of adults nationwide completed during the preceding three months (a total of 45,000 interviews) and targets are updated monthly. Currently, the baseline targets for the adult population are 37.1% Democrats, 32.4% Republicans, and 30.5% unaffiliated. Likely voter samples typically show a slightly smaller advantage for the Democrats.
A review of last week’s key polls is posted each Saturday morning. Other stats on Obama are updated daily on the Rasmussen Reports Obama By the Numbers page. We also invite you to review other recent demographic highlights from the tracking polls.

Obama Gives Himself a B-Plus Grade


President tells Oprah the only thing that stands in the way of giving himself a better grade is the fact that health care reform is unfinished and many Americans remain out of work.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama, in an interview that aired Sunday, gave himself "a good solid B-plus" grade for his first year in office.
Speaking with fellow Chicagoan Oprah Winfrey, the president claimed progress on economic and international fronts.
Obama said the only thing that stands in the way of giving himself a better grade is the fact that some elements of his agenda -- health care reform and putting more Americans to work -- remain undone.
"The biggest burden on me right now is that economic growth has happened, but job growth has not happened," Obama told Winfrey on the ABC special.
On the plus side, Obama said, "We are on our way out of Iraq." And, he added, "I think we've got the best possible plan for Afghanistan."

Blagojevich's lawyers seek FBI interview with Obama

Rod Blagojevich's lawyers want the FBI to give up details of interviews conducted last year of President Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and others as part of the investigation into the former governor.
In a Friday filing, Blagojevich attorneys also asked for information regarding first lady Michelle Obama. However, a source said late Friday that the FBI never interviewed the first lady.
Then-President-elect Obama, Emanuel and Jarrett sat down with the FBI about a year ago -- just after Blagojevich was arrested on charges of trying to sell Obama's recently vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Obama revealed he was interviewed in a report he made public last December.
The defense request, filed in federal court, asks for "notes, transcripts and reports" of interviews with the Obamas, Emanuel, Jarrett and union chiefs Thomas Balanoff and Andy Stern.
The request was part of a larger bid by defense lawyers to have prosecutors turn over additional materials, including witness statements, six months before the June trial date. Typically, prosecutors give the defense such information 30 days before the trial.
Shelly Sorosky, an attorney for Blagojevich, said the defense needs additional time with the material "because there's so much of it. This is massive stuff."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bush closes the gap

Public Policy Polling:

Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama's declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they'd rather have his predecessor. Given the horrendous approval ratings Bush showed during his final term that's somewhat of a surprise and an indication that voters are increasingly placing the blame on Obama for the country's difficulties instead of giving him space because of the tough situation he inherited. The closeness in the Obama/Bush numbers also has implications for the 2010 elections. Using the Bush card may not be particularly effective for Democrats anymore, which is good news generally for Republicans and especially ones like Rob Portman who are running for office and have close ties to the former President.

(via Political Wire)
Public Policy Polling:
Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama's declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they'd rather have his predecessor. Given the horrendous approval ratings Bush showed during his final term that's somewhat of a surprise and an indication that voters are increasingly placing the blame on Obama for the country's difficulties instead of giving him space because of the tough situation he inherited. The closeness in the Obama/Bush numbers also has implications for the 2010 elections. Using the Bush card may not be particularly effective for Democrats anymore, which is good news generally for Republicans and especially ones like Rob Portman who are running for office and have close ties to the former President.

WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Short stay miffs Norwegians

President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama poses with his medal and diploma at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at City Hall in Oslo, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Odd Andersen)
OSLO — President Barack Obama's decision to break with tradition and not follow the lead of past Nobel Peace Prize winners bewildered some Norwegians. Others thought he was being impolite.
Obama had quite a whirlwind day Thursday — he signed the Nobel guest book, huddled with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, met with King Harald V and Queen Sonja, and delivered an acceptance speech after he was formally presented with the prize. He also joined the king and queen at an evening banquet.
But he skipped several other activities, including lunch with the king, a news conference at Oslo's Grand Hotel, CNN's traditional interview with the prize winner and a "Save the Children" benefit concert, where organizers replaced him with an Obama cardboard cutout. Obama also won't be around for Friday's Nobel Concert.
Obama blamed his schedule. "I still have a lot of work to do back in Washington, D.C., before the year is done," he said during an appearance with Stoltenberg. The president's quick visit also reflected a White House that saw little value in trumpeting an honor for peace just days after Obama announced he was sending more troops off to war.
In a survey published Wednesday in Norwegian VG daily, 53 percent of respondents said Obama's decision not to attend the Nobel Concert was "impolite," and 48 percent said the same of his decision to skip the CNN interview and the news conference. Forty-four percent disapproved of his decision to pass up lunch with the king.
The survey was conducted Dec. 8 by InFact. It involved telephone interviews with 1,000 people and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Siv Jensen, leader of the right-wing opposition Progress Party, told VG she thought Obama should "show some respect for the monarchy."
Jonathan Mann, the CNN reporter who for the past 15 years has interviewed the Nobel Peace laureate, said he wasn't offended at being turned down by Obama.
"He's a busy guy, essentially. We're not taking it personally," Mann told Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.
Obama's first stop after arriving in Oslo was the Norwegian Nobel Institute, where the Nobel committee meets to decide who gets the prestigious prize.
The momentous nature of the occasion didn't keep the publicly playful Obama and his wife, Michelle, from teasing each other.
"You writing a book there?" she said as he wrote what appeared to be a seven-line passage in the thick guest book. "Yeah," he responded.
When Obama finished, Geir Lundestad, the Nobel permanent secretary, invited Mrs. Obama to sign, too. "Mine won't be as long," she quipped. Obama then turned to the committee members and reporters in the room and, noting that his wife's words will be recorded for history, said: "She will resist writing something sarcastic."
Obama said he had thanked the committee for highlighting the cause of peace and giving "voice to the voiceless and the oppressed."
Obama's acceptance speech clocked in at 36 minutes with more than 4,200 words. So how does it stack up against some of his other big speeches?
It was neither the longest nor the shortest speech of his time in office.
Last week's speech on the decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan had more than 4,600 words.
His speech to the Muslim world, delivered from Cairo in June, topped out at more than 6,000 words.
The inaugural address had a mere 2,300 words.
At an evening banquet with Norwegian royalty, Obama poked fun at his long-winded acceptance speech, saying he had "entirely exhausted himself" delivering the address.
"I spoke for a very long time," he admitted, then promised not to do likewise with his dinner toast.
The president got his biggest laugh line of his toast when he took note of Nobel committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland's laudatory introduction of him, saying, "I told him afterward that I thought it was an excellent speech — and that I was almost convinced that I deserved it."
Wherever Obama is, chances are celebrities will follow. And follow him to Norway they did.
Husband-and-wife actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, along with daughter Willow, were among those trekking to Oslo for the festivities. Wyclef Jean, the former frontman for the hip-hop group, The Fugees, also was spotted seated in the audience at City Hall, where Obama delivered his acceptance speech. Country music star Toby Keith also was present.
The sight of Smith, accompanied by his wife and waving to a cheering throng as he walked into the Grand Hotel, where Obama was staying, sparked speculation that the couple would have a private audience with the first sitting president in 90 years to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
But if for some reason the Smiths couldn't get upstairs to see their president and first lady, they had the option of meeting with the unidentified couple that wore large, inflatable Barack and Michelle Obama masks and milled about outside in front of the hotel.
The Smiths were scheduled to participate in Friday's concert.
Besides the signs held by anti-war and environmental protesters, there were few other signs of Obama paraphernalia on Oslo's streets.
A few blocks away from the Grand Hotel, a local pharmacy advertised the GX+ brand of anti-bacterial hand soap with the tag line: "Barack Obama, Use GX+ and Face No Drama." It was a reference to Obama's cool and collected way.
A local convenience store chain promoted its coffee with an "Obama in Oslo" sale, listing prices in dollars aimed at members of Obama's entourage. The advertisement also noted that President Bill Clinton, who visited Oslo in 1999 and was the last sitting U.S. president to touch down in Norway, "had one."
Associated Press writers Ben Feller and Ian McDougall contributed to this report.

Obama's 'Pedestrian, Turgid, and Uninspired' Address

Earlier today, Pres. Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in a ceremony in Oslo. Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton tells NRO that President Obama’s address in the Norwegian capital was “pedestrian, turgid, and uninspired.”

“It followed the standard international leftist line,” says Bolton. “He played to the crowd and filled the speech with clichés from the American and international left by saying ‘America cannot act alone’ and that he ‘prohibited torture.’ The speech was also typical of Obama in its self-centeredness and ‘something for everybody’ approach.”

“It was so diffuse that though I wouldn’t call it incoherent, it was getting close,” says Bolton. “It was a lot about him, again, especially with his comments about being at the ‘beginning, not end’ of his labors for the world.”

Obama made some “breathtakingly simpleminded statements in his section on humanity’s history of war and the ‘hard truth’ that war will not end in our lifetimes,” adds Bolton. “No kidding. I don’t know what that is supposed to prove.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More bad poll numbers for Obama - six year olds with crayons again?

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary compared Obama's fluctuating poll numbers to a "six-year old with a crayon." A new Quinnipiac poll is out today with similar numbers.
Photos (1 of 1)

More bad poll numbers for Obama - six year olds with crayons again?

By Jimmy Orr | 12.09.09

Maybe six-year olds are working for Quinnipiac too…
A day after White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs criticized a Gallup poll showing President Obama’s approval rate at a low point in his presidency, another poll is out with more dismal numbers.
Yesterday Gibbs was asked about Gallup’s daily poll numbers which gave Obama a 47 percent approval rating on Monday. These daily numbers, of course, fluctuate. Yesterday, Obama’s numbers were back up to 50 percent.
Gibbs blew off the Monday’s marks with a quippy, “I am sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that.”
“I don’t put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is daily Gallup trend,” he continued. “I don’t pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it.”
New poll
When Gibbs takes the podium today, he may have to focus some more attention on the meaninglessness of those polls. The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released a new survey today which gave the president a 46 percent approval rating.
“President Barack Obama’s job approval rating continues to slide and it’s evident the deterioration stems from voter unhappiness over domestic policy matters,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Key findings of the poll include:
  • Voters give President Barack Obama a split 46 - 44 percent job approval, his lowest ever, and both the health care reform package that he wants Congress to pass and his personal rating on handling health care now win support from less than four in 10 Americans.
  • Voters disapprove 52 - 38 percent of the health care reform proposal under consideration in Congress.
  • Voters disapprove 56 - 38 percent of President Obama’s handling of health care, down from 53 - 41 percent in a November 19 poll.
  • Voters support 56 - 38 percent giving people the option of being covered by a government health insurance plan, compared to 57 - 35 percent November 19.
  • Voters trust Obama more than Republicans in Congress to handle health care 44 - 37 percent, down from 45 - 36 percent three weeks ago.
  • Voters disapprove 58 - 30 percent of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their job, and disapprove 56 - 33 percent of Democrats in Congress.
We’ll have to wait to see how Gibbs reacts to these numbers. His press briefing is scheduled for 1:30pm today.
GOP says listen up
The low polling numbers from Gallup was something conservatives paid special attention to. Speaking on Greta Van Susteren’s FOX News program last night, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson added some historical perspective to Obama’s numbers.
“This president is at the lowest point as measured by Gallup of any president in the modern age, lower than Harry Truman, who was deeply unpopular, lower than Ronald Reagan, who was facing tough economic times after his first election,” Carlson said. “No one mentions it. I mean, if this were Bush - - when Bush’s numbers started to drop, you read about it parenthetically in every single news story.”
Let’s dance
Does this mean Republicans will start dancing on the sidelines like Lebron James? Unlikely. But the Quinnipiac pollster did sound a cautionary note for the majority party.
“With just 11 months until congressional elections, the White House and all Democrats must worry about the steady deterioration in their lead over the GOP in congressional job performance. Now, only 33 percent give the Democrats in Congress a positive rating, compared to 30 percent for Republicans. Last July Democrats had a nine point edge.”
You can read the full poll here.
See also:
Gallup defends Obama poll results 
Gibbs slams Gallup’s poll numbers
Sarah Palin escapes flying tomato attack 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Obama's 47 Percent Approval Lowest of Any President at This Point

President Obama's job approval rating has fallen to 47 percent in the latest Gallup poll, the lowest ever recorded for any president at this point in his term.
Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and even Richard Nixon all had higher approval ratings 10-and-a-half months into their presidencies. Obama's immediate predecessor, President George W. Bush, had an approval rating of 86 percent, or 39 points higher than Obama at this stage. Bush's support came shortly after he launched the war in Afghanistan in response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he doesn't "put a lot of stock" in the survey by Gallup, which has conducted presidential approval polls since 1938, longer than any other organization.
"If I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I'd visit my doctor," Gibbs said in response to questions from Fox. "I'm sure a six-year-old with a Crayon could do something not unlike that. I don't put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is daily Gallup trend. I don't pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it."
Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport responded: "Gibbs said that if Gallup were his EKG, he would visit his doctor. Well, I think the doctor might ask him what's going on in his life that would cause his EKG to be fluctuating so much. There is, in fact, a lot going on at the moment -- the health care bill, the jobs summit, the Copenhagen climate conference and Afghanistan."
The new low comes as Obama struggles to overhaul the nation's health care system and escalates America's involvement in the Afghanistan war. He is also presiding over a deep and prolonged recession, with unemployment at 10 percent.
"There's no doubt Obama's 47 percent is mainly a result of the continuing bad economy," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "But there is also a growing concern about government spending and debt, and a sense that Obama is trying to do too much, too soon."
He added: "President Obama has reason to be concerned about his ratings. Even in tough times, presidents have usually been able to stay above the critical 50 percent mark in the first year, when the public is most inclined to give the new incumbent the benefit of the doubt."
Obama officials have not always shown disdain for Gallup. During last year's presidential campaign, Obama adviser David Plouffe, trumpeted "the latest Gallup poll" to reporters because it showed that 53 percent of Americans did not find Obama Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, "trustworthy."
When Gallup began taking presidential approval polls 71 years ago, Franklin Roosevelt had been president for more than five years. During his remaining time in office, his job approval rating never fell below 48 percent.
The next 11 presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, all had higher job approval ratings than Obama at this stage of their tenure. Their ratings were:
-- George W. Bush, 86 percent
-- Bill Clinton, 52 percent
-- George H.W. Bush, 71 percent
-- Ronald Reagan, 49 percent
-- Jimmy Carter, 57 percent
-- Gerald Ford, 52 percent
-- Richard Nixon, 59 percent
-- Lyndon Johnson, 74 percent
-- John Kennedy, 77 percent
-- Dwight Eisenhower, 69 percent
-- Harry Truman, 49 percent
The poll is an average of a three-day tracking of 1,529 adults taken Dec. 4-6. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poll: 26% think Obama deserves Nobel

ood news/bad news Q Poll on war and peace for Barack Obama.
Approval for the Afghanistan escalation is up by nine points in the past month -- voters now think the war is a good idea by a 57-to-35 percent margin.
A healthy 60 percent favor his new troop surge, according to the Quinnipiac survey, which has a two percent margin of error.
But only 26 percent think the president, who has been in office for less than a year, deserves to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Q: "The jump in public support for Obama’s war policy comes as voters say 66 – 26 percent he does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize he will be awarded this week, and 41 percent say the Nobel committee’s choice of Obama for the award causes them to think less of it, while 6 percent say it makes them think better of the prize and 49 percent say it makes no difference."
The whole release, which has crosstabs, after the jump.


Public support for the war in Afghanistan is up nine percentage points in the last three weeks, as American voters say 57 – 35 percent that fighting the war is the right thing to do. Approval of President Barack Obama’s handling of the war is up seven points in the same period, from a 38 – 49 percent negative November 18 to a 45 – 45 percent split, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
American voters approve 58 – 37 percent of President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more combat troops to the war-torn nation, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-per-ack) University poll finds. And voters approve 60 – 32 percent of the President’s plan to begin withdrawing combat troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. But by a 45 – 40 percent margin, Americans do not believe he will be able to keep that promise.
The jump in public support for Obama’s war policy comes as voters say 66 – 26 percent he does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize he will be awarded this week, and 41 percent say the Nobel committee’s choice of Obama for the award causes them to think less of it, while 6 percent say it makes them think better of the prize and 49 percent say it makes no difference.
“President Barack Obama’s nationally televised speech explaining his policy and troop buildup has worked, at least in the short term, in bolstering support for the war effort and his decisions,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “History teaches that the bully pulpit can be a powerful tool for a president who knows how to use it, especially when it comes to foreign policy. The American people tend to rally around their presidents in military matters, at least for a while. It took some time for similar type speeches about Vietnam and Iraq by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush respectively to lose their ability to rally support.”
Quinnipiac University Poll/December 8, 2009 – page 2
“It’s probably a good thing for President Obama that the time difference from Norway means the Nobel presentation will occur while most Americans are sleeping and might get less coverage in the United States,” Brown added. “Two out of three Americans don’t think he deserves it compared to the quarter who do. Even among Democrats, only 49 percent think he deserves it, compared to 8 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of independent voters. As is the case with many questions related to the President there are wide gender and racial gaps.”
Among women, 31 percent think Obama deserves the award, compared to only 19 percent of men. Seventy-three percent of blacks, 29 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of whites think so.
In a November 18 Quinnipiac University survey, American voters said 48 – 41 percent that fighting in Afghanistan was the right thing to do. Since then Democrats have moved from 58 – 31 percent against the war to a 47 – 46 percent split. Republican support inched up from 68 – 22 percent to 71 – 21 percent and independent backing is up from 51 – 39 percent to 58 – 34 percent.
“The dichotomy between the almost two-to-one support for setting a July 2011 date for beginning withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan and the doubt that Obama will be able to deliver on the promise reflects a skeptical public about America’s ability to triumph there,” Brown said.
“Similarly, American voters say 64 – 30 percent that eliminating the threat from terrorists operating from Afghanistan is a worthwhile goal for American troops to fight and possibly die for, but those same voters say 52 – 38 percent they don’t think the United States will be successful in eliminating the terrorist threat from Afghanistan.”
From December 1 – 6, Quinnipiac University surveyed 2,313 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research.
For more data or RSS feed–, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

President Obama told me to stop ‘demeaning’ him, says Rep. Conyers

President Barack Obama recently called Rep. John Conyers Jr. to express his frustrations with the Judiciary Committee chairman’s criticism.
In an interview with The Hill, Conyers said his opinions of Obama’s policies on healthcare reform and the war in Afghanistan have not sat well with the president.

According to the lawmaker, the president picked up the phone several weeks ago to  find out why  Conyers was “demeaning” him.
Obama’s decision to challenge Conyers highlights a sensitivity to criticism the president has taken on the left. Conyers’s critical remarks, many of which have been reported on the liberal-leaning Huffington Post, appear to have irritated the president, known for his calm demeanor.
Conyers, the second-longest-serving member of the House, said, “[Obama] called me and told me that he heard that I was demeaning him and I had to explain to him that it wasn’t anything personal, it was an honest difference on the issues. And he said, ‘Well, let’s talk about it.’”
Sitting in the Judiciary Committee’s conference room two days after Obama delivered his speech on Afghanistan, the 23-term lawmaker said he wasn’t in the mood to “chat.”
Obama’s move to send in 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by the summer of 2010 has clearly disappointed Conyers.
He said he intends to press his case in writing soon.
“I want something so serious that he has to respond in writing, like I am responding in writing to him,” he said.
“Calling in generals and admirals to discuss troop strength is like me taking my youngest to McDonald’s to ask if he likes french fries,” Conyers said.
Many on the left have argued that military leaders routinely respond to crises by calling for more troops.
 “I’ve been saying I don’t agree with him on Afghanistan, I think he screwed up on healthcare reform, on Guantánamo and kicking Greg off,” Conyers said, referring to the departure of former White House counsel Greg Craig.
Craig was a leading proponent in the White House of closing the terrorist detention center at Guantánamo Bay and releasing photos of detainees undergoing torture. Closing the military prison has proven to be politically difficult, and Obama reversed field on the photos, opting not to make them publicly available.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
The liberal Conyers has been an outspoken proponent of a single-payer healthcare system and a critic of U.S. involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He has also been at odds with White House policy on extending expiring  provisions of the Patriot Act, crafting legislation that is to the left of the Senate’s version.
Obama and Conyers have a complicated and nuanced relationship.
Conyers was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Obama over then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.
Conyers earlier this year noted that he spent most weekends in 2007 and 2008 on the campaign trail trying to get Obama elected.
 “I did whatever was necessary to be done to win. I met with ministers, I met with unions, I met with lawyers, I met with community activists, I met with healthcare people,” Conyers explained in early April.
The 80-year-old lawmaker, who participated in the civil rights movement alongside Martin Luther King Jr., does not shy away from saying what is on his mind.

In mid-November, Conyers said on the Bill Press radio show that Obama and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have been “bowing down” to “nutty right-wing” healthcare proposals in a desperate effort to get legislation passed.
The Michigan Democrat, a friend of liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, said he was “getting tired of saving Obama’s can in the White House,” after progressive Democrats were forced to vote for a healthcare bill that did not call for a “robust public option” and includes language opposed by abortion-rights supporters.
Since the House narrowly passed its healthcare bill, Conyers has grown increasingly frustrated with what he sees as the White House’s willingness to weaken the role of the government in administering the proposed new benefits.
Conyers also said last month that Obama was “getting bad advice from … clowns” on Afghanistan, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.
At times, Conyers has shown his pragmatic side. For example, he has abandoned hope of moving his legislation calling for a commission to review whether the U.S. government should pay reparations to descendants of slaves. He has called his measure too controversial.
On the morning following Obama’s landmark speech on the war in Afghanistan, Conyers sent around a “Dear Colleague” letter to Democratic and GOP lawmakers interested in joining his newly formed “Peace and Progress in Afghanistan Caucus.”
In the letter, Conyers explained that the caucus “will serve as an informal bipartisan group of members dedicated to reorienting the United States’ commitment to the Afghan government and people by emphasizing indigenous reconciliation and reconstruction strategies, rigorous regional diplomacy, and swift redeployment of the U.S. military.”