The Oklahoma City Federal Building tragedy kept this hilarious Mark Katz classic from being delivered.
(Undelivered) Remarks of President Bill Clinton
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner
April 29, 1995
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I especially want to welcome those viewers watching this speech live on C-SPAN.
Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. There, I think that’s everybody.
I know that calling the White House press corps together in one room in these days of an ambitious Republican Congress raises the relevant question: is the President funny? You bet I am. The Constitution makes me funny. The power of the presidency makes me funny. And if that weren’t enough, Warren Christopher and Janet Reno spent the afternoon punching up my material.
Most of you also know that Mike McCurry and his wife Debra just gave birth to their third child, Christopher, last Friday. So it won’t be long before young Chris is old enough to work in the press office.
Mike has served me well and I trust he’s done the same for you. I particularly liked his new policy, instructing the press office staff to send him a note each day chronicling a good deed they’ve done for the press corps—or kick in a dollar to a pizza fund.
This of course was an expansion of my idea, where each day everyone at the White House kicks in a dollar and we just order pizzas.
By and large, Mike’s plan has really had some great results. I’d like to share with you tonight some of the notes the press staff has sent to Mike in the past few months:
• To Mike from Ginny: I told Wolf that—Ito or no Ito—he’s still got the best looking beard on CNN.
• To Mike from George: I snubbed Eleanor Clift in public, just like she asked me to.
• To Mike from Rica: I told Brian Williams that when the Klieg lights hit him in a certain way, he looks just like Tom Brokaw.
• To Mike from Rahm: I held the door open for Elizabeth Drew............She still wouldn’t leave my office.
However, because not every person was able to meet Mike’s challenge every day, there was about twenty bucks in the pizza fund. The First Lady offered to manage the fund. She has invested it wisely and I’m pleased to announce we’ll be serving surf and turf instead.
Bipartisan buddies John McCain and Chuck Schumer say their immigration bill—pathway to citizenship included—will pass, despite doubts after the Boston bombing. Eleanor Clift reports.
The two senior senators leading the effort for immigration reform, New York’s Chuck Schumer and Arizona’s John McCain, said Thursday that immigration questions raised in the aftermath of the Boston bombing will not deter their effort, and that they think they can get 70 votes in the Senate for a bill that includes a path to citizenship for 11 million people who are now in the country illegally.
Senators Chuck Schumer and John McCain speak in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 2013. (Michael Bonfigli/Christian Science Monitor, via Getty)
Schumer did the math: He counts 50-plus Democrats plus six to eight Republicans who would get them to the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster, but that’s not his goal.
“We’re looking not to get 60 votes–that’s the minimum,” Schumer, a Democrat, said as he raised the stakes, adding, “It would be wonderful if we could get a majority on both sides.”
The former presidential contender is back, this time as head of a new ‘institute’ for ‘peace’ comprised of anti-Semites, 9/11 truthers, and dictator lovers. James Kirchick reports.
In December 2011, when Ron Paul was leading the Republican presidential-primary pack in the Iowa caucuses, the former Texas congressman’s notorious newsletters resurfaced in the national debate.
Ron Paul speaks during a rally in August at the Sun Dome at the University of South Florida in Tampa. (Joe Raedle/Getty, file)
The newsletters’ content—a toxic stew of racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, sympathy for right-wing militia movements, and support for a litany of conspiracy theories—had been revealed by this writer in 2008. But Paul’s latter-day resurgence, particularly with young voters and the Tea Party, provoked a renewed round of interest in his shady associations and fringe beliefs. The title of a front-page article in The New York Times, “Paul Disowns Extremists’ Views but Doesn’t Disavow the Support,” neatly encapsulated Paul’s strategy of appealing to the far right while stopping just short of explicitly endorsing their views.
The Times story focused on the role of Lew Rockwell, Paul’s former congressional chief of staff and later vice president of the company Ron Paul & Associates, which published the newsletters. Paul always denied authorship, insisting that unknown staffers produced the publication; several sources subsequently fingered Rockwell, now the head of a small think tank in Alabama called the Ludwig von Mises Institute, as the lead writer. In an interview with the Times, Paul distanced himself from Rockwell. “They enjoyed antagonizing people, to tell you the truth, and trying to split people,” he said of Rockwell and Murray Rothbard, another libertarian writer who published a separate newsletter with Rockwell that, among other Lost Causes, supported the gubernatorial candidacy of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. “I thought, we’re so small, why shouldn’t we be talking to everybody and bringing people together?”
The exhibits at his new presidential library provide the proof that he did more than a pretty good job. Take a tour with Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon.
Mention the name George W. Bush in mixed company, and you're likely to spark a lot of debate and emotion—hot and cold, good and bad. Not a lot of neutral reaction. He was elected in the most controversial contest in American electoral history and governed during one of the most tumultuous decades. And so, not surprisingly, people have strong opinions about him.
Steel beams from the World Trade Center are dispalyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks portion of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas on April 24. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty)
But as time has passed, and we take a step back and view those times and events in the rear-view mirror, a more balanced picture is emerging, reflected in a poll released this week by The Washington Post. That is why history's evaluation of political leaders like Winston Churchill and Harry Truman are so much different that the judgment they received during their tenure.
George W. Bush is not preoccupied with his legacy—nor with his popularity. He never has been. He has always led based on core conviction and strong principles and has believed that time and distance would allow for context.
Sure, it might be more difficult for the Democrats to hold on to their majority in the Senate without Max Baucus. But liberals, the Montana senator was never your friend, so don’t mourn his departure, says Jamelle Bouie.
The stereotypical congressperson is venal, petty, self-interested, and oblivious to the consequences of his or her actions. In other words, a terrible person.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D–Montana) presides while Treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in February. (Melina Mara/the Washington Post, via Getty)
In reality, this isn’t fair. Are most lawmakers compromised in one way or another? Yes. Are most angling for whatever political advantage they can take? Absolutely. But by and large, the people we send to Congress are doing the best they can to do good work and represent their constituents.
Montana Sen. Max Baucus, however, isn’t one of them.
Below is a guest post from Robert W. Patterson on how contemporary conservatives incorrectly remember the legacy of the Republican Party of the 1950s-1980s.
When reminiscing about the “good-old days,” Republicans often recall the 1980s, when the Reagan coalition won three presidential landslides. But to get back in the game, party leaders may need to look farther back — to a deeper GOP magic of which the Gipper and George H. W. Bush were the last acts.
GOP dominance in national elections after World War II did not start with Dutch Reagan but actually peaked with him. In the presidential elections from 1952 through 1988, Republican candidates went 7 for 10, and averaged 367 electoral votes. Since 1992, Republicans have gone 2 for 6 — 1 for 6 in the popular vote — and their electoral-vote average has plummeted to 211.
The week of shock and sympathy after the Boston bombing is over—now vitriol is in and unity is out. Howard Kurtz on how politicians and pundits need to find someone to blame.
Bill O’Reilly, by his own admission, was so “angry” that it was driving him “crazy.”
In the wake of the Boston bombing, he was upset at Tom Brokaw for saying the country should examine its use of drones that are killing civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and turning young people against America.
From left: Rush Limbaugh, Tom Brokaw, and Bill O'Reilly. (AP (1); Getty (2))
“Let me get this straight, Tom,” the Fox News host thundered. “We shouldn’t use drones to attack al Qaeda leadership or Taliban terrorists hiding in the mountains of Pakistan? We shouldn’t do that? So how exactly would you fight the war against terrorism, Tom? Do you want to invade Pakistan?”
Their epic battle ended in 2008. But the forces of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are squaring off anew in L.A., splitting over mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti. David Freedlander reports.
Call it Game Change: Hollywood.
Five years after Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s epic primary battle captivated the nation and tore apart longtime Democratic allies, the two sides are squaring off again. The prize this time is not the Democratic nomination for president but the mayoralty of Los Angeles.
(L-R) Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. (Getty; AP)
Over the weekend, former president Bill Clinton stumped in the city for city comptroller Wendy Greuel, a staffer in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during his administration. The duo hosted a town hall meeting and made a requisite stop at Langer’s Deli downtown. While they were out on the hustings, David Plouffe, the campaign manager for Obama’s 2008 effort and a top adviser during his first term, tweeted: “Not an Angeleno but will never forget Eric Garcetti bundled up during frigid last days of Iowa, canvassing relentlessly for then Sen Obama.”
The Newtown tragedy has prompted 15 states to loosen gun restrictions. Miranda Green on why the pro-gun side is winning.
If you live in Arkansas, you can now carry a concealed gun into a bar, or a liquor store—or a church.
“If you look at firearm sales over the last couple of years they have skyrocketed. Look at the number of people who have applied for and received concealed-carry permits, it certainly appears to anybody that more Americans are purchasing firearms.” Concealed weapons training class in West Valley City, Utah, 2012. (George Frey/Getty)
College staffers can bring guns on campus. Folks with a permit from other states can pack heat in Arkansas without filing any paperwork.
These are among the half-dozen legal changes in the state that passed only four months since the Newtown massacre, and Arkansas has plenty of company. While the Senate failed to pull the trigger on expanded background checks last week, 15 states have already passed 25 gun rights measures this year.
The New York congressman is fighting back against a 2010 House censure with a lawsuit alleging the Ethics Committee withheld vital information. Eleanor Clift on the politically charged memo behind it.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) handily won reelection in November, even though his House colleagues had voted to censure him for ethics violations in 2010 by an overwhelming margin, 333 to 79. He could have left those charges alone, knowing they had not dissuaded his constituents from supporting him, but that wouldn’t be the Rangel way. So he is back fighting with a lawsuit filed against House Speaker John Boehner and the six lawmakers who sat on the ethics panel that brought the charges against him.
The substance of the charges against him are almost a sideshow: failing to pay taxes on the rental income he received from a vacation home in the Dominican Republic and using his position as a powerful committee chairman to solicit donations from companies wanting to court him top the list. Rangel has taken issue with how the six-member Ethics Committee arrived at their decision and whether relevant information was withheld.
That’s where it gets interesting. Jay Goldberg, Rangel’s attorney, uncovered a secret July 2011 memo from Democratic staff director Blake Chisam outlining at length his concerns about the performance of two committee attorneys, Stacy Sovereign and Cindy Morgan Kim. The most stinging of the complaints are politically charged, accusing the attorneys of essentially being in cahoots with the Republican members, constructing scenarios that went beyond the facts to charge Rangel, and alleging that Sovereign in particular made racially prejudicial remarks suggesting a bias that made coworkers uncomfortable.
The GOP appears well on its way to becoming the Seinfeld Party: the party of nothing. Michael Tomasky explains.
So far, it doesn’t look like the story of the Tsarnaev brothers is killing Republican support for immigration reform. John McCain and Lindsey Graham insisted that their identity makes reform all the more important. But Boston aside, if you pay a little attention you see signs that the right is getting a bit restive about all this reasonableness. There’s a long and winding road from here to there, but if the GOP does drop immigration, then it will essentially be a party of nothing, the Seinfeld Party, a party that has stopped even pretending that policy is something that political parties exist to make.
Sens. McCain and Graham speak to the press on Capitol Hill in February. (Alex Wong/Getty)
Yesterday in Salon, political scientist Jonathan Bernstein wrote up the following little discovery, which has to do with the numbering of bills. Historically, the party that controls the House of Representatives reserves for itself the first 10 slots—HR 1, HR 2, and so on. Usually, the majority party has filled at least most of those slots with the pieces of legislation that it wants to announce to the world as its top priorities. When the Democrats ran the House, for example, HR 1 was always John Dingell’s health-care bill, in homage to his father, a congressman who pushed for national health care back in the day.
Today, nine of the 10 slots are empty. Nine of the 10. The one that is occupied, HR 3, is taken up by a bill calling on President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Even this, insiders will tell you in an honest moment, is completely symbolic and empty: the general expectation among Democrats and Republicans is that Obama will approve the pipeline sometime in this term, but that eleventy-jillion lawsuits will immediately be filed, and the thing won’t be built for years if at all, and nothing about this short and general bill can or is designed to change that. One other slot, HR 1, is provisionally reserved for a tax-reform bill, so at least they have settled on a subject matter, but if you click on HR 1, you will learn that “the text of HR 1 has not yet been received.”
On the eve of the dedication of his library, Dubya is rising in public esteem.
On the eve of the dedication of his presidential library, can George W. Bush be rehabilitated?
Such things have been known to happen.
Modern scholars, for instance, consistently rate Harry S. Truman in the first rank of American presidents. But when Truman left the White House in January 1953, he was one of the least respected chief executives in history—his nearly eight years in office beset by petty scandals, a lingering war in Korea and the indelible image of a ward-heeling haberdasher unworthy of the godlike legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush watches the play at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 29, 2012, in Medinah, Illinois. (Jamie Squire/Getty)
The former president is talking about his brother Jeb’s chances and reuniting with Obama and his presidential predecessors as he opens his library. Eleanor Clift on the quietest member of an exclusive club.
It’s been called the most exclusive club in the world, with membership limited to living ex-presidents and the current occupant of the Oval Office.
In this photo taken April 16, an exhibit on the “No Child Left Behind” initiative is shown in the museum area at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. (Benny Snyder/AP)
On Thursday, Barack Obama is joining four of his predecessors—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and the two Bushes—for a reunion of that club, to mark the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. It is a rare moment for the country to savor, with all five coming together in the warm glow of friendship to underscore the special bond that exists among those who have held the presidency. They rarely speak ill of each other, at least not in public, and stand ready to respond like a troupe of superheroes in times of crisis.
“There’s no job like it, and there are very few in our history who have held it,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday. Obama’s presence at the ceremony Thursday is evidence of that special bond, which the president believes trumps policy and political differences, Carney said. “He is firmly of the view that every one of his predecessors that he will be seeing in Dallas approached their job trying to do the very best for the country, that they all love their country, and they made policy decisions based on what they thought was the right thing to do.”
The president who’s said “it’s not right” to take tax breaks you don’t “need” doesn’t seem to be holding himself to that standard, writes Stuart Stevens.
Lost in the horrendous events of last week was an opportunity to talk about what we normally talk about on April 15: taxes. President Barack Obama, one of the wealthiest presidents of the past century, with a net worth of about $14 million and income last year of more than $600,000, paid an effective federal tax rate of 18.4 percent.
People don’t tend to think of Obama as wealthy, but in fact he’s one of the wealthier presidents of the modern era. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)
Yes, this is the same Obama who’s delivered this message for the past two years:
For a debate often mired in tedious details conducted in obscure hearings, the president put a victim’s face—Warren Buffet’s struggling secretary; never mind that some estimated she makes $200,000 a year herself—on the matter. Call it the Obama rule: If you are wealthy, says the president, taking a tax break you don’t need isn't right.
Eric Nordstrom, who worked at the Benghazi consulate on the day it was attacked, choked up during Wednesday's hearings. 'It matters,' he said, that the committee investigate what happened before, during, and after the siege.
Corry Booker’s the hero mayor of Newark, and, yes, he’s running for Senate. By Lloyd Grove
The president’s push for $9 an hour has the GOP on the defensive. Eleanor Clift on the strategy behind the move. But this push could take the politics out of the perennial argument.
Meet the new Treasury secretary, same as the old Treasury secretary. Lloyd Green on nominee Jack Lew.
For John Kael Weston and other men on the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes raise many uncomfortable questions. He writes on why we need clearer policy and guidelines for these silent killers.