White House

The Obama-Limbaugh war: Good or bad?

Rush Limbaugh isn’t one of the most successful broadcasters in history because of his mild-mannered personality. The conservative talk-show host attracts 20 million listeners a week because he has a knack for stirring up controversy. And Limbaugh did just that within days of President Obama’s inauguration.

"I want him to fail," Limbaugh told Fox News. "If his agenda is a far-left collectivism, some people say socialism, as a conservative …, why would I want socialism to succeed?

Bill Clinton cashed in with millions from foreigners

Former President Bill Clinton earned nearly $6 million in speaking fees last year, almost all of it from foreign companies, according to financial documents filed by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that $4.6 million of the former president’s reported $5.7 million in 2008 honoraria came from foreign sources, including Kuwait’s national bank, other firms and groups in Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Portugal and a Hong Kong-based company that spent $100,000 on federal lobbying last year.

Barack Obama’s public diplomacy

Faster than a command to "lock-and-load," President Obama this week swiftly deployed and targeted a powerful but little-used weapon that could be crucial to winning what America once called its war on terror.

It is a weapon long championed by Obama’s two famous holdovers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus. And it was targeted this week at the Arab world.

It is public diplomacy.

Obama seeks help from GOP on economy

President Barack Obama is making good on his promise to hear from Republicans as he pushes for swift passage and bipartisan backing of his massive $825 billion plan intended to jerk the country out of recession.

The unanswered question: whether the new Democratic president will actually listen to GOP concerns about the amount of spending and the tax approach — and modify his proposal accordingly.

Obama continues to prove he’s not Bush

President Obama is not shy about breaking with the policies of his predecessor. He ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider whether California and 13 other states can mandate tough, new auto-emissions standards, tougher than the federal standards.

He didn’t directly order the EPA to do so, but a savvy regulator can sense which way the wind is blowing on this one. To underscore his stand on the environment and greenhouse gases, Obama made the announcement in the formal surroundings of the White House East Room.

Obama’s train ride to the future

Everyone will have her own way of thinking about the remarkable events centered on January 20, 2009. Some probably thought the over-sized bow on Aretha Franklin’s hat was outrageously over the top, but when she began to sing, everything about her — including the bow — was perfect.

Many will fondly recall the welcome sight of George W. Bush’s helicopter leaving Washington for the last time. Others will think of the fumbled oath of office, the multitudes on the mall, and the inaugural balls. Or President Obama’s speech.

As always, lobbyists find a loophole

President Barack Obama’s ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn’t mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won’t be able to funnel money to pet projects.

They’re just working around it — and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.

The projects run the gamut: a Metrolink station that needs building in Placentia, Calif.; a stretch of beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., that could really use some more sand; a water park in Miami.

Obama enjoys high initial approval ratings

President Barack Obama begins his administration with one of the highest public approval records in modern time — second only to John F. Kennedy.

A new Gallup poll shows 68 percent of those surveyed approve of Obama’s job performance so far — a better initial score than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or even Ronald Reagan.

The numbers also mean Obama must meet high expectations from a public that is expecting results.

Gates provides continuity for Obama

While the presidential campaign and President Barack Obama’s initial post-election formal statements have focused heavily on the economy, national security arguably is where the new administration has the greatest independent authority — and faces the most significant challenges, directly involving life and death decisions.

Memo to Obama: Try a little globalization

It was a distinct privilege for this political scientist — indeed this American — to be in Washington D.C. this week for the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama. In an age of persistent and pervasive change, this one instinctively feels most welcome — and much warranted.