Barack Obama

Rising Star

Coming soon: Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama by David Garrow.

Washington Post: “It is in the personal realm that Garrow’s account is particularly revealing. He shares for the first time the story of a woman Obama lived with and loved in Chicago, in the years before he met Michelle, and whom he asked to marry him. Sheila Miyoshi Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College, is a recurring presence in Rising Star … In Garrow’s telling, Obama made emotional judgments on political grounds. A close mutual friend of the couple recalls Obama explaining that ‘the lines are very clearly drawn. … If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here.’”

Rapport Between Trump and Obama Crumbles

Wall Street Journal: “The budding feud between two men who share the unique bond of membership in the commander-in-chiefs’ club is a fresh distraction in a Trump presidency that has been struggling to enact its agenda. The rift also is distancing Mr. Trump from a former two-term president who had offered to give private advice and counsel as the onetime businessman settles into his first job in public office… They haven’t spoken, although Mr. Trump tried to call Mr. Obama to thank him for the traditional letter that one president leaves for his successor in the Oval Office. Mr. Obama was traveling at the time and the two never connected.”

“Keeping a low profile in post-presidency, Mr. Obama had decided he wouldn’t respond to every intemperate Trump tweet… But he was livid over the accusation that he bugged the Republican campaign offices, believing that Mr. Trump was questioning both the integrity of the office of the president and Mr. Obama himself.”

New York Magazine: Everything’s different now that Obama isn’t required to be civil to Trump.

Could Obama Sue Trump for Libel?

NBC News: “Although the law provides a great deal of leeway for political speech, that protection is not all encompassing. And because of the way Trump has leveled unsubstantiated accusations at Obama, he may have libeled his predecessor.”

Said law professor Benjamin Zipursky: “He’s basically stating that Mr. Obama committed crimes, and to state that somebody has committed a crime when it’s false is clearly defamatory. The question is: Is there enough evidence of serious reckless disregard to send that case to a jury? I don’t know what a court would decide on that, but there is some evidence of recklessness.”

Spokesman Says Obama Never Ordered Wiretaps of Trump

A spokesman for former President Obama released a statement on President Trump’s assertion that Obama ordered wiretaps of the Trump campaign:

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Of course, the statement doesn’t deny that Trump’s phones were tapped only that the Obama White House didn’t order them.

How Obama Will Take On Trump

Politico: “Barack Obama and his aides expected to take on President Donald Trump at some point, but they didn’t think it would happen this quickly. Now they’re trying to find the right balance on issues that demand a response, and how to use Obama deliver the selective pushback. Obama and his team are monitoring what’s happening at the White House, and not ruling out the possibility that Obama will challenge Trump more forcefully in the coming months, according to people who’ve been in contact with the former president.”

“It depends on Trump. It also depends, the people close to the former president said Monday, on whether speaking out would just set him up to have no effect and be dismissed, and result in empowering Trump more, which is a very real worry for them.”

Obama Has Spoken Again with Trump

President Obama has spoken to President-elect Donald Trump “at least once” since the two men met earlier this month inside the Oval Office, Politico reports.

A spokesman said the White House would not provide a readout of conversations between the president and his successor, just as it has not when Obama has spoken privately to his predecessors.

The Democratic Party’s Reagan

First Read: “One way to view the presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is it being the final battle of the eight-year-long Obama War. Think about it: You have one candidate (Clinton) who has embraced 98% of Obama’ agenda, as the current president has spent much of the fall campaigning for her, including last night in Philadelphia. And you have the other candidate (Trump) who not only first entered the political fray of the Obama Era by questioning the president’s birthplace and legitimacy for office, but who is also Obama’s polar opposite in so many ways.”

“That’s why the divides we see in this Clinton-vs.-Trump contest — on race, gender, age, and geography — were the same ones we spotted eight years ago. The Obama Era has featured so many different political battles. 2008. Obamacare. The Debt-Ceiling Standoff. 2012. The Government Shutdown. The 2014 Midterms. And tonight is the final one. Which side will win? There are no certainties in politics, but the side who has a current president with a 53% approval rating in the last NBC/WSJ poll has the upper hand. And a Clinton win would be affirmation that Obama is the Democratic Party’s Ronald Reagan.”

Obama Makes Pitch for Clinton and His Legacy

“Silencing the vast Philadelphia crowd with his final campaign trail address as president, Barack Obama framed Hillary Clinton as a guardian of his legacy as the clock ticked down on her long, turbulent ride to the White House,” Politico reports.

Said Obama: “With just one more day to to go, we now have the chance to elect a 45th president who will build on our progress, who will finish the job, who already has the respect of leaders around the world and the people they serve.”

Hannity Offers to Pay for Obama to Leave Country

“Fox News host Sean Hannity doesn’t just want President Obama out of the White House come 2017. He wants him out of the country altogether,” Politico reports.

Said Hannity: “I have an offer for the president. I will charter a plane for you and your family. I will charter it to the country of your choice. You want to go to Canada? I’ll pay for you to go to Canada. You want to go to Kenya? I’ll pay for you to go to Kenya. Jakarta [in Indonesia], where you went to school back in the day, you can go back there.”

Hannity added one condition: “You can’t come back.”

Now It’s About Obama’s ‘Otherness’

Alex Castellanos, a top strategist for a super PAC supporting Donald Trump, said that there is an “otherness” to President Obama, the Washington Post reports.

Said Castellanos: “I think the big question about Obama is not where he was born or his faith. The big question about Obama has been: Has he been — has he considered himself more of a globalist than an American? There’s an otherness to the president, and people have tried to exploit that politically in different ways.”

Going Birther Again Makes No Sense for Trump

First Read: “The only way Trump addressing the Birther story makes sense is through the logic that ‘any day the campaign is about you is a good day.’ Besides that, addressing it doesn’t make sense. Either he doubles down on his past statements, which only complicates the campaign trying to woo African Americans and to seize on the ‘Deplorables’ controversy. Or he repudiates his past Birther statements, which raises the question if he has a political core. How can you beat the Birther drums for five years and then say you’re sorry 50-plus days before an election? If so, what does he believe? And what is he for?”

“One other point here: With his poll numbers improving, Trump appears to be getting a little cocky (this, Dr. Oz, criticizing the African-American pastor). As we know, Hillary Clinton can sometimes be a terrible frontrunner. Maybe Trump isn’t a good one as well.”

Rick Klein: “What matters in Donald Trump going birther again isn’t his current stance – even if one could be established as consistent, final, and coming from the candidate himself. What matters isn’t – or isn’t only – his long history with the matter, from bringing President Obama’s birth status to the public eye (that wasn’t Hillary Clinton’s doing) to his unsubstantiated claim to have sent private investigators to Hawaii. What matters is how he is still talking about it, and the obvious inferences as to why. It’s a blunt appeal to Obama hatred, including those for whom race is part of the reason to hate. Perhaps just as critically, it’s another Trump distraction – putting himself at the center of attention, and taking scrutiny away from other corners. Trump has used distraction and deflection as tools throughout the campaign. Again, he’s where he wants to be – the focus of frenzy he will surely call a media obsession.”

Clinton to Enlist Obama In Swing State Blitz

Politico: “Obama will focus on four states: here in Pennsylvania, plus Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, with the possible addition of Iowa, depending on how much opportunity the Clinton campaign sees there as they finalize their map.”

“That could put Obama on the road as much as two days per week, in addition to a heavy schedule he’s going to keep up making appearances on African-American radio and other non-traditionally political programs — he did two during the day Tuesday, one that airs here in Philadelphia and Detroit and the other that airs in Miami. The heavy media exposure would boost the Clinton campaign’s effort to pump up enthusiasm among all voters, and particularly the African-Americans, young people and the rest of the Obama coalition who so identify with him and remain wary of her.”

Why Clinton Needs Obama More Than Ever

First Read: “For the first time since the Democratic convention seven weeks ago, President Obama is back stumping for Hillary Clinton. And she needs him more than ever — and we’re not just talking about Clinton’s absence from the campaign trail as she recovers from pneumonia. According to our most recent batch of NBC/WSJ/Marist state polls, Clinton is underperforming among key parts of the Obama coalition: Latinos and young voters.”

“In our NBC/WSJ/Marist Nevada poll, for instance, Clinton leads Trump by a 65%-30% margin (+35) among Latinos, who made up 17% of the likely voters in the survey. But in 2012, Latinos made up 19% of Nevada’s electorate, and Obama won them, 71%-24% (+47). In addition, the NBC/WSJ/Marist Nevada poll finds Clinton ahead of Trump 58%-30% (+28) among those 18 to 29 years old, and they make up 13% of likely voters in the survey. But in 2012, those 18 to 29 made up 18% of Nevada’s electorate, and Obama won them, 68%-30% margin (+38).”

“So Clinton here is lagging Obama’s 2012 performance in both margin and the size of these voting blocs. And what does our NBC/WSJ/Marist poll of Nevada show overall? Clinton is ahead of Trump by just one point among likely voters, 45%-44% — when Obama won the state by six points, 52%-46%.”