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O is for Obama
By Dana Milbank
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2009 The Washington Post
All rights reserved.
"A" is for AMERICA, in economic trauma. The nation is counting on A skinny guy named Obama.
When President BARACK Obama took office in January 2009, the American economy was experiencing what many described as the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The nation had been in recession for 13 months, stock markets had fallen about 40 percent in 2008, and 2.6 million people had lost jobs. Obama pushed through Congress a stimulus package that he said would save or create 3.5 million jobs, but job losses continued at first and the package swelled the forecasted federal deficit.
"B" is for BIDEN, Always good for a laugh. He opens his mouth ... And out pops a gaffe.
VICE PRESIDENT Joe Biden is famous for what Obama calls "rhetorical flourishes." During the campaign, he declared that Senator Hillary Clinton was "more qualified than I am to be vice president," told a supporter in a wheelchair at a rally to "Stand up — let the people see you," and declared that FDR was president during the 1929 stock market crash and "got on television" — a technology that was not yet in commercial use. After becoming vice president, Biden referred to an Internet address as a "website number," and the White House had to issue a correction after he advised people not to travel by airplane during the swine flu outbreak.
"C" is for Clinton, A survivor first-rate. Just when you thought she was finished, Voilà! Secretary of state!
After the humiliation of her husband, President Bill Clinton's impeachment in connection with a sex scandal involving a White House intern, Hillary Clinton recovered and won a Senate seat representing New York. She was the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 but was upended by the long-shot campaign of Barack Obama. She seemed destined to limp back to the Senate without even a committee chairmanship until Obama, who famously dismissed Clinton as "likable enough" during their bitter presidential primary battle, made the surprise choice to name her the nation's top diplomat.
"D" is for DRUDGE Who, like LIMBAUGH and HANNITY, Believes that Obama Is causing calamity.
The OBAMA presidency has been a boon for the opposition media. Matt Drudge's online Drudge Report gets about 500 million page views a month, Rush Limbaugh's radio show gets about 20 million listeners a week, and Sean Hannity gets nearly 2.5 million viewers a night on Fox News. Limbaugh in particular has found his voice as a de facto opposition leader, saying he hopes Obama fails as president.
"E" is for ELEPHANT, Republican pachyderm. This species is endangered, At least in the short term.
Following REPUBLICAN presidential nominee John McCain's lopsided loss to Obama in 2008, the GOP reached a historic low: only 21 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republicans in a Washington Post poll. The chief strategist for McCain's campaign called his party a "shrinking entity" and warned that it is "extinct" or "near extinct" in various parts of the country. But in politics, fortunes can change very quickly.
"F" is for FANNIE, Like AIG too big to fail. First a bailout, then big bonuses; For this nobody goes to jail?
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S various agencies coughed up about $400 billion to take over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and about $180 billion to rescue insurance behemoth American International Group — not to mention about $700 billion to shore up banks and other financial companies and tens of billions of dollars to shepherd Chrysler and General Motors through bankruptcy. Lawmakers were not amused when they learned that AIG had used some bailout money to pay bonuses.
"G" is for GORE, Who talks of Earth's demise. He hasn't cooled us down yet, But he won a Nobel Prize.
SINCE HIS LOSS in the disputed 2000 presidential election, former vice president Al Gore has made a fortune for himself and has become an international celebrity for his efforts to combat global warming. His various ventures and works, including his famous book and slide presentation-turned-documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, have won him and his collaborators an Oscar, an Emmy, and even the Nobel Peace Prize.
"H" is for Huffington A huge Obama fan. Do others love him so much? Maybe Maddow or Olbermann.
Greek-born Arianna Huffington, once married to a Republican congressman, converted from a conservative into a liberal activist and started the popular Huffington Post website. Her following is almost as passionate as that of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, liberal prime-time hosts on the MSNBC cable network. The three were harsh critics of George W. Bush but have largely defended the White House since Obama took office.
"I" is for IRAN Run by some kooks. This would De amusing If they didn't make nukes.
From the lavish living of the shah to the anti-American fervor of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the rulers of Iran have long been a bit off-kilter. President Mah-moud Ahmadinejad continued the pattern, calling the Holocaust a "great deception," declaring that there are no gays in Iran, and trying to destabilize the U.S.-backed government in neighboring Iraq. Ominously, he continues to pursue technology that could allow him to develop a nuclear bomb — and though masses of Iranians protested Ahmadinejad's 2009 reelection, his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, also wants nukes
"J" is for the JUSTICES. On a court plague by division. They bicker, squabble, then release Another 5-to-4 decision.
THE HIGH COURT has four reliably conservative justices and four generally liberal justices, with moderate Ronald Reagan appointee Anthony M. Kennedy often serving as the crucial fifth vote. As a result, recent cases on abortion, gun control, capital punishment, global warming, and terrorism have been decided by votes of 5 to 4. Only if one of the four conservatives departed would Obama be able to shift the balance.
"K" is for KISS and make up,
A gesture that's strictly token. Every four years they pledge bipartisanship, And within days the promise is broken.
It's COMMON after an election for the winner to talk about "bipartisanship." Obama made a point early in his presidency to sit down with Republican lawmakers to get their thoughts. But he quickly observed that "old habits die hard," and Congress quickly returned to the party-line voting prevalent under George W. Bush — who had also pledged to set aside partisan differences but never achieved that goal. The Democratic majority in the House passed Obama's economic stimulus plan without a single Republican vote.
"L" is for LOBBYISTS, A capital institution. Just pass the laws they want, And you'll get a contribution.
IT HAS OFTEN BEEN SAID that the United States has the best government money can buy, and there's some truth to that. Despite round after round of lobbying and ethics reform — including efforts to clamp down after the Jack Abramoff scandal in which several lawmakers and government officials were convicted — lobbyists and lawmakers continue to find loopholes. In exchange for "earmarks" — pet projects inserted into spending bills — lobbyists help raise money to reelect lawmakers.
"M" is for Michelle, Whose tastes are quite fine. At the White House she grows Organic arugula and thyme.
First Lady Michelle Obama has generally brought a common touch to the White House, eschewing high-fashion labels for off-the-rack clothes from the likes of J. Crew. But she showed a hint of elite tastes when she set out to grow an organic garden at the White House that would include arugula, the high-priced leafy vegetable that got her husband in trouble in 2007 when he asked an uncomprehending crowd in Iowa: "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" (The natural-foods chain doesn't have stores in Iowa.)
"N" is for Nuptials, Girl-girl and boy-boy. It's cool in states like Vermont But California sees no cause for joy.
By mid-2009, six states had decided to legalize same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. New York and Rhode Island, as well as the District of Columbia, recognized such unions from other states, while Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington had provisions to give unmarried couples some spousal benefits. But California voters approved, and the State Supreme Court upheld, a ballot initiative making same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The battle continues there and in several other states.
"O" i for OBAMA, An impressive speech-giver. Now the nation's waiting To see if he'll deliver.
BARACK Obama's list of promises was long: restore economic growth, bail out Wall Street and the automakers, create millions of jobs, end the war in Iraq, defeat al-Qaeda, improve America's standing in the world, reverse global warming, overhaul the nation's health-care system, save the Social Security and Medicare programs, and balance the federal budget. "I think even our critics would agree that, at the very least, we've been busy," the president speculated after three months on the job. It remains to be seen whether his efforts will succeed. The voters will decide, on November 6, 2012.
"P" is for PELOSI, Madam speaker of the House. Her strong-arm tactics are disguised In a silk Armani blouse.
THE FIRST WOMAN to be speaker of the House is no shrinking violet. As Nancy Pelosi put it, "Anybody who's ever dealt with me knows not to mess with me." Of her opponents, she has said, "If people are ripping your face off, you have to rip their face off." She punishes those who defy her by denying them committee chairmanships, and she has even taken on the CIA, accusing agency operatives of lying when they briefed her about interrogation tactics.
Excerpted from O is for Obama by Dana Milbank. Copyright © 2009 The Washington Post. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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