Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday's best: Obama goes to church, hits the campaign trail

Happy Sunday from The Oval. On this day of worship for many Americans, thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Haiti.

President Obama attended services this morning at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church.

This afternoon, the president engages in the more temporal activity of campaigning. He travels to Boston to stump for embattled Senate candidate Martha Coakley. A Democratic loss in the surprisingly close race to replace Ted Kennedy would hurt Obama's domestic agenda.

Meanwhile, the Sunday morning news shows aired pre-taped interviews with former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who are heading up a major new fundraising drive for Haiti.

The Clinton Bush Haiti fund website is here. The two ex-presidents also authored a New York Times op-ed on their efforts.

They also reminded Americans on NBC's Meet The Press that helping Haiti will take time.

On CNN's State of the Union, Bush said he has not given Obama any advice based on his (heavily criticized) handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Said Bush: "People love to point fingers. But what people should focus on in Katrina is ... how the American people responded to help a neighbor in need. Same situation here."

Making his first trip to the White House since his term ended, Bush also told CNN's John King: "I frankly don't miss the limelight. I'm glad to help out, but there's life after the presidency is what I've learned, and I'm going to live it to the fullest, and this is part of living it to the fullest, to help other people."

Bush also decried political comments about aid to Haiti. Asked on ABC's This Week about questions from prominent conservatives on whether the U.S. should contribute money to Haiti given its government corruption, Bush said: "We've got to deal with the desperation, and there ought to be no politicization of that."

On CBS' Face The Nation, the ex-presidents spoke with Bob Schieffer about their personal relationship, which have included many phone calls in recent years:

CLINTON: I was always pleased when he called me. I'd make it a practice never to bother the president. I don't call President Obama, either ... You know, they have got plenty to do. But we have developed a very honest, good friendship. And we've made our disagreements respectful and we've had a good time doing it.

BUSH: My mother calls me my fourth brother -- calls him my fourth brother.

SCHIEFFER: Is that right?

CLINTON: The black sheep of the family.

Fox News Sunday also featured Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who called the Massachusetts "a referendum on the national health care bill." He also said the politics of health care are "toxic for the Democrats."

The Sunday interview shows also featured Gen. P.K. Keen, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command, and Rajiv Shah, the administrator of USAID.

In the meantime, newspapers are starting to publish stories on Obama's one-year anniversary in office, which rolls around Wednesday. The Washington Post today writes that Obama is "testing the promise of pragmatism."

And, lastly, we'd like to wish a happy birthday to first lady Michelle Obama.

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