Monday, January 21, 2013

Catnip 1/21/13: Dawn of a New Day


Some good inaugural reads.

Obama: Inauguration a chance to celebrate ‘this incredible nation’
The president said looking around the room he could see people from “every walk of life” who had “invested so much of their heart, soul, time, money and energy.” “One of the things that made this campaign unique was the degree of investment and ownership people had in this common project of ours, because you understood this was not just about a candidate,” Obama added. “It was not just about Joe Biden or Barack Obama. It was about us and who we are as a nation, what values we cherish, how hard we are willing to fight to make those values live for future generations.”

CNN Inauguration Poll 
 Four years ago, nearly seven in ten Americans questioned in a CNN survey said they were thrilled or happy that Barack Obama was about to be inaugurated. Now, according to CNN's latest poll, that number is down 18 points, to 50%. Four years ago, six in ten saw Obama's inauguration as a celebration by all Americans of democracy in action, with just 39% saying it was a political celebration by the supporters of the winning candidate. Now, the numbers are nearly reversed, with 62% saying the second inauguration is a celebration by those backing the president, and 35% saying it's a celebration of democracy.

Obama's Deficit Demons Can Be Vanquished In Second Term Thanks To Political, Economic Momentum 
The underpinnings of the current manufactured crises give him a chance. Despite the ubiquitous deficit hyperventilation in and around the Capitol, the fiscal situation Obama faces is not dire or insurmountable. Deficit woes are and always have been more political than economic. The consensus of mainstream experts is that there is little risk of catastrophe in running large deficits over the next few years, and that the budget gap can be narrowed dramatically without attacking programs that benefit the elderly or the disadvantaged, as long as the economy continues its slow but steady recovery.

AP Analysis: With optimism for all, Obama has tough 2nd term to-do list and big battles ahead 
First up is certain battle with Congress in the next few months over deadlines on automatic budget cuts, expiring government spending authority and raising the debt limit. House Republicans last week agreed to bump up the debt limit slightly, but that just puts off that part of the fight for a few months. Obama’s goal is to get through that trifecta and still have the political capital left for the things he’d rather focus on: reducing gun violence, overhauling immigration policy, revamping tax laws, addressing climate change and more.

NBC Analysis: A more confident Obama emerges for second term
Go big or play it safe? It’s a calculus all second-term presidents make when they’re fresh off a re-election, emboldened by the satisfaction that a majority of voters approved enough of their first term to send them back to the White House, yet experienced enough to understand the pitfalls of the legislative fights ahead. Like many of his predecessors, Obama looks poised to pursue the former course.

Tomasky: Why Obama Needs to Deliver a Tough Inaugural
He needs to send a signal in his address that he means business and that he’s figured out who’s boss. A first-term president with very little Washington and world experience in the middle of the worst economic crisis in 80 years was bound to be a little tentative. But now he’s a second-termer with plenty of experience, knowledge of the sort that only the president has, and a recovering economy (for which he’s bound to get the credit). He’s pretty popular again. The Republicans contrive new ways every day to get less popular. He’s got the upper hand, and he needs to act like it.

NYT: Krugman: The Big Deal 
F.D.R. had his New Deal; well, Mr. Obama has his Big Deal. He hasn’t delivered everything his supporters wanted, and at times the survival of his achievements seemed very much in doubt. But if progressives look at where we are as the second term begins, they’ll find grounds for a lot of (qualified) satisfaction.

After the Cliff, Another Mountain to Climb: The Twin Peaks of Climate Change and Energy
Though Washington's leadership vacuum hasn't changed much in the past four years, plenty about climate and energy has. Climate scientists say that the planet is warming faster than earlier computer models had predicted. Arctic sea ice and glaciers around the world are melting at alarming rates. The first 10 months of 2012 were the warmest on record...On the energy front things have changed, too. America has hit pay dirt with shale oil and gas. These emerging energy sources are producing new jobs and bringing manufacturing back to America.

Joe Biden to climate activists: 'Keep the faith' 
Vice President Joe Biden reassured environmentalists Sunday night that the Obama administration would not let climate change fall by the wayside in the president's second term. "I'll tell you what my green dream is: that we finally face up to climate change," Biden said during a surprise appearance at the "Green Ball," an inaugural weekend event for environmental groups....While the green groups credit President Barack Obama with making significant progress on environmental issues, including with new regulations on power plant emissions and a dramatic jump in vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, many complain that he has done too little to address what scientists call an increasing threat of catastrophic climate change. The major strategy for dealing with that problem, through cap and trade, died in the Senate during Obama's first term.

Foreign Policy: Pursuing Ambitious Global Goals, but With a More Modest Strategy
Bitter experience — from getting the most modest arms control agreement through the Senate his first year, trying and failing to engage leaders in Iran and North Korea, discovering his lack of leverage over Egypt, Pakistan and Israel, and finding Afghanistan to be a costly waste of American lives and resources — is driving him to a strategy reminiscent of one of his Republican predecessors, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is a strategy in which Mr. Obama will try to redirect world events subtly, rather than turning to big treaties, big military interventions and big aid packages.

First lady to help promote presidential agenda 
But beyond the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural festivities, the first lady will play a role in helping to try and advance her husband's policy goals over the next four years through a fractured Congress in a divided nation. The first sign of this came on Friday when she appeared in a video broadly explaining how the Obama for America campaign will transform into an issues advocacy organization... It is unclear what specific fights the first lady will engage. But it is likely her role will be to rally support for her husband's legislative priorities, at the same time continuing to help shape her husband's legacy that many people think has largely been written.

Change Comes: After 4 Years, Friends See Shifts in the Obamas 
The Obamas have gained and lost in their four years in the White House, becoming seasoned professionals instead of newcomers, more conventional, with a contracted sense of possibility. They are steady characters, not given to serial self-reinvention. Yet in interviews, current and former White House and campaign aides, donors and friends from Chicago said they could see how the president and the first lady had been affected by their roles.

Have a great day everyone...