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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Senate

Obama's urgent jobs plan: Right now, 'right now' means sometime next month maybe

Podium Empty at the White House

Everybody remembers the urgency of President Obama's attitude toward the awful jobs situation.

Back in early August, Obama said the jobs situation was so urgent that he was going to give another speech about it -- in a month or so, in September after his vacation on Martha's Vineyard.

And then in September the president announced he would give his major jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7. But he neglected to check with congressional leaders first. And they suggested the 8th. So, since it was their House, the 8th it was.

"Tonight," the president said in the first 34 of his 4,021 words to a national television audience that night, "we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse."

The speech got panned as another political campaign one with Obama announcing, in effect, that....

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What? California's Dianne Feinstein in poll trouble too?

Oh, no! Another Democratic senator in possible election trouble for 2012.

And from California already?

A new Field Poll just released this morning brings news that California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein is -- how can we put this in a liberal kind of way? -- approved by 41% of voters who want to see her reelected next year.California Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein 9-11

Unfortunately for her, more voters (fully 44%) disapprove of her continued employment in the U.S. Senate after 2012.

In blue California that makes for about a magnitude 5.2 quake.

The same poll finds that only 41% approve of Feinstein's job in Washington, while 39% disapprove.

That 41 approval number is the lowest the former mayor has ever had in her 20 years of no longer really living in California.

Another recent Field Poll showed many Californians are falling out of love with the teleprompter guy from Chicago. His California approval has slid below 50% for the first time ever, down to 46%.

That's a decline of about two points per month recently.

Is his slide now corroding the election prospects of even such party stalwarts as Feinstein?

Add to that the overall -- how can we say this in a polite way? -- disgust with the United States Congress (nine out of every 100 Californians now approve of those guys) and this could spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e for Democrats. They or independent allies need to lose only six seats to turn the Senate over to those people that Vice President Joe "#%$&*(@" Biden politely calls "barbarians."

Democrats next year are defending two-thirds of the 33 Senate seats on state ballots. Good luck with that at 9% unemployment.

President Obama, who's now passed Biden as the nation's most voluble, least effective job creator, is about due for another money run to Hollywood.  

Oh, look! Our pal, the well-connected Tina Daunt is writing in the Hollywood Reporter that the one-time 40-something star of the celebrity set is having real trouble now raking in the easy dough from disappointed West Coast Dems.

Maybe the 78-year-old chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee will factor that intelligence into her as yet unannounced decision on seeking a fourth term on the same ticket as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's former boss.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mandel Ngan / Getty Images (Feinstein).

Obama jobs speech to Congress: Providing 'a jolt to an economy that has stalled'

Capitol Bldg on a Rainy day 8-11


President Obama's remarks to a joint session of Congress, as provided by the White House

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse. 

This past week, reporters have been asking, “What will this speech mean for the President?  What will it mean for Congress?  How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now: They don’t care about politics. They have real life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by -- giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage, postponing retirement to send a kid to college. 

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off.   They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share –- where....

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Minutes after his Sept. 8 address to Congress is set, Obama bashes both houses

Within minutes of agreeing with congressional leaders Wednesday night on an address to a joint session next week, President Obama flashed out an email to millions of supporters criticizing the chambers, their members and vowing to pressure them to enact his as yet unspecified job creation ideas.

"It's been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American peoplObama during his address to the American Legion 8-30-11e need them to be focused on," the Democrat charged in an email with the subject line: "Frustrated."

It's not exactly clear how long "a long time" Obama was thinking of. But until midterm voters produced a historic House turnover to Republicans last November, Obama's Democratic Party controlled both houses with substantial majorities and gave him vast spending, reform and healthcare programs.

It was, at least in part, voter reaction to such legislation that produced the divided government in D.C. now.

This evening's email is likely revealing of the strategy this White House intends to follow for the 2012 presidential election, blaming Congress for what hasn't happened in the economy and employment sectors.

Polls show approval of Obama's economic leadership now down around 1 in 3, with 2 out of 3 feeling the country is on the wrong track.

Speaking of his joint session address Sept. 8, Obama's email says:

Next week, I will deliver the details of the plan and call on lawmakers to pass it. Whether they will do the job they were elected to do is ultimately up to them. But both you and I can pressure them to do the right thing.

We can send the message that the American people are playing by the rules and meeting their responsibilities -- and it's time for our leaders in Congress to meet theirs. And we must hold them accountable if they don't.

Other than the chief executive's threats and the lousy job performance review of both parties, it looks like Obama and Congress are in for a really nice working relationship in coming months.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Obama addresses the American Legion this week. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Marco Rubio at Reagan Library: 'Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up'

If you're hale, hearty and running for president on the Republican ticket, you might be out of luck adding Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to your team. More on that in a bit.

At the personal invitation of former first lady Nancy Reagan, the first-term U.S. senator spoke Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Scroll down for Rubio's full text and click here for a video version.

It was something of a West Coast political coming-out party for the Floridian, who's been more focused on things Florida and Washington is his early months in office.

The 40-year-old former state legislator told the overflow audience about his Cuban-immigrant roots, his family, his experience coming of age during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, his belief in the American free enterprise system and his conviction that America can be both a prosperous and compassionate nation.

But some of the most interesting parts of the evening came before and after the formal remarks.

Rubio entered to the cheers of the crowd with former first lady Nancy Reagan on his arm. She'd written to Nancy-Reagan-stumbles-Marco-Rubio invite him to speak.

Before Rubio took the podium, there was an incident the Ticket described earlier today, when the 90-year-old presidential widow started to fall.

After the speech, there were written questions submitted earlier by attendees and some from the audience.

The first was, "If your mother asks you to accept the V.P. spot, what would you say?"

There was much whooping and cheering at that, including someone who yelled out what sounded like, "Stop Obama!"

Rubio cracked, "Am I getting heckled at the Ronald Reagan center? Is there another question there?"

He continued, "I'm just going to say this -- it's a great honor to be thought of in that way. As I

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Marco Rubio to the rescue! Freshman senator saves a falling Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan and Marco Rubio enter the auditorium at the Reagan Library for his speech 8-23-11

It all began with smiles Tuesday night at the Reagan Presidential Library.

In a kind of West Coast political coming-out party, newly-minted conservative U.S. Sen. Marco....

Former first lady Nancy Reagan acknowledges the Reagan Library crowd's applause on the arm of Sen. Marco Rubio 8-23-11

....Rubio of Florida, a tea party favorite, had been invited to speak as part of the Simi Valley institution's prestigious speakers series. His name keeps surfacing in 2012 GOP vice presidential chatter.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, now 90 years young, plays an active role in the frequent events, which she sees as an important ongoing part of the political legacy of her husband. Ronald Reagan was the 40th president. He died in 2004 and is buried a few yards from the auditorium.Nancy Reagan's cane appears to slip 8-23-11

On Sept. 7 the library will be the site of the next Republican presidential primary debate.

According to tradition, as hostess of the speaking events, which are live-streamed on the library's website, Mrs. Reagan enters the packed house on the arm of the evening's speaker.

Tuesday night Mrs. Reagan and the 40-year-old Rubio walked slowly down the aisle to the enthusiastic applause of some 1,200 guests, plus an overflow crowd.

Mrs. Reagan acknowledged with nods and smiles some familiar faces in the crowd.

But as they neared Mrs. Reagan's front row chair, something happened.

She seemed to lurch to her right. Her cane appeared to slip on the floor.

And the frail first lady lady began to fall toward a hard landing on her right side.

Many in the crowd were still buzzing with excitement and could not see what....


.... was unfolding near the front. Others nearby could and there were audible gasps.

Fortunately, Rubio sensed the stumble. He braced his legs and caught the president's widow by her left arm as she swung into him.

Secret Service and other crowd members quickly rushed in to assist Mrs. Reagan to her feet and a chair. She appeared to be uninjured and after some moments, the program proceeded. Mrs. Reagan previously suffered a fractured pelvis in a 2008 fall that required hospitalization.

Click here for a separate item with video on Rubio's 23-minute remarks and Q and A session with audience members.

We also have video of the incident here from

VIDEO: Nancy Reagan falls :


Television review: 'Nancy Reagan' and 'Reagan'

Reagan Centennial: PBS looks at Nancy; HBO looks at Ron

Nancy Reagan, Clintons, Bush to attend Betty Ford memorial

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo series: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press.    Video:

Americans downgrade Congress to historic low 13% job approval

Obama and biden Laugh Big

Finally, some good news for President Obama, who just scored his own record lowest job approval.

Congress got an even lower grade -- 13% job approval with a record 84% disapproval.

Or put another way, somehow 13% of Americans still approve of Congress.

That would seem to pretty much narrow down the approvers to members' families and staff.

Imagine how bad Congress' job approval would be if it hadn't left town for another month of vacation.

Speaking of which, Obama and Joe Biden are both out of town too. Joe is in Asia. No, seriously. What harm could he do over there?

The president is taking a bus across parts of Iowa and Minnesota and Illinois this week, not for political purposes, you understand, but to explain again how America needs more jobs and creating them is still his top priority.

Gallup reported earlier this week that the Democratic chief executive's job approval had fallen to 39%, its lowest level since he took office 14 trillion seconds ago. No, it only seems that long. Obama's really been living in the White House for 938 days and he still hasn't come up with his own debt reduction plan.

More than two-out-of-three Americans believe the country is on the wrong track for some reason.

This new Gallup Poll on Congress is the first rating since members spent so many rancorous weeks concocting that budget/deficit deal that so impressed the Standard & Poor's credit agency it dropped the federal government's rating to AA+ with a negative outlook.

The previous time Gallup measured Congress' job was early July when 18% of Americans approved. Gallup has only been rating Congress for 37 years. The average approval in that time was 34%. But that number has been dropping in recent years.

Republicans were kind of thinking that with Democrats having to defend 23 of the 33 Senate seats up for election next year, the GOP had a good chance of taking control of that body after having captured the House in last fall's historic midterm turnover.

But they might want to be careful counting their gavels too soon. Americans' disapproval of Congress is a broad-based bipartisan sentiment, meaning any incumbents in either chamber could be in trouble come Nov. 6, 2012.

Independents are the most critical of Congress now, with only 9% approving and 86% disapproving. Among Democrats it's 15-83. And among Republicans it's 17-81.


New polls confirm Obama's base is crumbling

Obama claims his bus tour is official, so taxpayers will cover the costs

Dow plujnges 512 points but don't worry Obama's birthday parties will go on as planned

-- Andrew Malcolm

For unpredictable commentary on politics, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Larry Downing / Reuters (Obama and Biden celebrate someone having a lower job approval than they do).

Geithner agrees to stay at Treasury, continue Obama's amazing economic policies

Treasury secretary tim Geithner

Finally, some promising economic news in what has been a steady recent stream of dismal data and developments:

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner has agreed to stay in the Obama administration.

The master of finance who has so successfully assisted President Obama in boosting the national debt by more than $3 trillion, driving unemployment back north of 9% by spending only $787 billion in stimulus funds, corroding consumer confidence and presiding over the first federal credit downgrading in history has agreed to stick around to continue his impressive work for this Democratic administration.

Geithner is the sole survivor of President Obama's opening economic team. Obama is reported pleased.

So are Republicans. Rumors that Geithner planned to leave government after helping to prolong the debt debate had worried the GOP that Obama might pick a competent replacement who could have a positive economic effect before next summer when voters' impressions start hardening for the fall election.

To ensure the 49-year-old Geithner stayed, Republicans from Michele Bachmann to Speaker John Boehner have vociferously called for his firing. The White House confirmed Geithner's continued employment and Sunday he said, "I love my work."treasury secretary tim Geithner 8-11

Geithner added,"We still have a lot of work to do." Which could be a promise or threat.

Recent polls found Obama losing ground against any Republican opponent. The continued tenure of a treasury secretary who couldn't file his own accurate income taxes before being appointed should only help further.

Speaking of polls, a new one out late Sunday, widely overlooked amid concerns with sagging Asian financial markets after the U.S. downgrade, indicates an ominous disconnect between likely voters and those people they elected to government, on all sides.

Rasmussen Reports finds that only 17% currently think the federal government is operating with the consent of the governed. The fundamental question stems from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Nearly seven-in-ten likely voters (69%) say the current government does not have such consent -- and 14% say they are undecided or, more likely, don't know what any of it means.

That 17% is down from 23% as recently as May and is the lowest ever measured.

The results align with polls showing the job approval of Congress also at record lows -- 61% now rank its job as poor, a 9 point jump since June. In June, 8% appraised Congress' job as good or excellent; that number is now only 6%, basically down to the members themselves, their families and staff.

Members now on another month-long recess may hear some of this back home. But the continued pattern of profound unhappiness with all sides could be an early storm warning for any incumbent next year.


Obama administration job approval hits new low

Obama's new speech: 2008 was really bad so I need a second term

 Obama's battleground state bus tour is official, he claims, so taxpayers will fund it

 -- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Alex Wong / Getty Images (Geithner); Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images (Geithner).

Obama gives fretting unions some facetime today

Debt Vote House tally 8-1-11 CSPAN

Some serious feigned fence-mending scheduled for this morning behind closed doors at the White House.

President Obama, according to his public schedule, will meet with the AFL-CIO Executive Council to "discuss issues important to working families, including how to continue growing our economy and putting Americans back to work."

Translation from the unions' POV: WTH were you thinking when you did this debt ceiling deal? The Senate will vote on the deal today. And the president is expected to sign it soon after.

It's one major measure of the political sea change in Washington this summer that President Obama's State of the Union message last winter hardly mentioned the word debt. And yet the D.C. debate ever since has been nothing but debt and spending cuts.

After increasing the national debt by $4 trillion on his watch, for a variety of reasons, Obama lost....

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More bad poll news for Obama as debt deal brings smiles to Capitol Hill

a happy Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell signals a debt deal 7-31-11

Lots of smiles and happy news from Capitol Hill late Sunday as legislators on both sides optimistically announced a debt limit-spending deal to avert a threatened government shutdown Tuesday.

Even Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who loves making deals, was glowering a little less.Democrat senate leader harry Reid almost smiles 7-31-11

The initial details of the bipartisan deal leaking out indicate that in return for driving his own job approval rating down to its lowest point ever, President Obama didn't get much out of the professed compromise.

He wanted new taxes; sorry, enhanced revenues. You know, those rich corporate jet owners, et al.

All he got basically, it seems, was an agreement to put off the next spending fight until after the 2012 presidential election. Republican legislators, who said they wanted to debate the debt limit again next winter, gave that up. Which helps them as much as the former legislator now in the White House.

Obama will, no doubt, have more to say about the deal today. See if he throws in more sour grapes as he did after the GOP won its Bush tax cut extensions in last December's talks. Back then, Obama, who promised to bring both sides together if elected in 2008, called his fellow deal-makers "hostage-takers."

We'll hear more too today from legislators on both sides; each caucus will be....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
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