While touring the pyramids at Giza, Obama came across a hieroglyphic that bore a striking resemblance to the 44th president – especially Obama’s prominent ears which Obama himself has pointed out many times since arriving on the national political stage.
“’It’s me,’” White House senior adviser David Axelrod says Obama said when the presidential entourage came across the hieroglyphic.
“And I have to confess that the ears were a giveaway,” Axelrod said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“It really did look like him. I was wondering whether someone chiseled that in there in honor of our visit. But apparently this was done some thousands of years ago.”
“We didn’t know what to make of it. But our guide said he thinks the president might be descended from King Tut,” Axelrod also told John King.
“We have no proof of that. We’re not claiming that. We think perhaps he says that to all the visiting dignitaries,” Axelrod quickly added perhaps trying to head off another partisan attack on Obama’s global celebrity status.
“But the ears were unmistakable, I must say.”
(CNN) - New Orleans, Louisiana, Mayor Ray Nagin, who traveled to China on an economic development trip, has been quarantined after possible exposure to the H1N1 virus, his office confirmed Sunday.
Nagin flew on a plane that also carried a passenger who is being treated for symptoms suspected to be from the virus, commonly known as swine flu, the mayor's office said in a statement.
Nagin, his wife and a member of his security detail have been quarantined in Shanghai, though all three remain symptom free, the statement said.
"The mayor is being treated with utmost courtesy by Chinese officials," the statement said.
(CNN) - In her strongest public remarks to date on the matter, Sarah Palin admonished the Obama adminstration on Saturday for proposing cuts to Alaska's missile defense network, a move she said would leave her state and the rest of the country vulnerable in the case of a future attack.
The administration cuts, which were announced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in April and would be enacted in the next fiscal year, would trim $1.2 billion from the Pentagon's missile defense programs. The expansion of a missile field in Fort Greely, Alaska would be halted under the proposed budget.
"Reducing Alaska's defense readiness in these perilous times is a show of weakness, it is not a sign of strength," Palin said during a celebration in upstate New York honoring native son William Seward, who negotiated the purchase of Alaska in 1867 as Secretary of State. Video of the speech was posted by the Web site "Conservatives4Palin."
Palin said Alaska's missile defense system is now more vital than ever, particularly in the wake of North Korea's recent nuclear and missile tests. She said a missile fired from North Korea could easily reach Alaska and other parts of the country.
"And yet, Washington thinks it's best now to actually cut defense spending in Alaska by hundreds of millions of dollars," she said. "Now that is an odd priority there."
Palin said she will "argue with every ounce of my being for Washington to pay attention."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Author and former Newsweek journalist Richard Wolffe is refuting charges that he acted more like Barack Obama's campaign spokesman than as a journalist covering Obama's presidential campaign. It was Obama, himself, who suggested that Wolffe write his book Renegade: The Making of a President. Wolffe, however, denied that writing the book meant trading objectivity for access.
"It certainly meant that I would have an access and a relationship with him and his inner circle that gave me an insight into him and his campaign that was I think better than anybody else," Wolffe told Howard Kurtz Sunday morning on Reliable Sources, adding that the newspapers that reviewed Renegade didn't seem to have problems with his reporting. "We were reviewed in The Washington Post and The New York Times. They're not pushovers, and they found the book to be fair and there were plenty of things they liked about it."
In Renegade, Wolffe chronicles Obama's frustration with Vice President Joe Biden's gaffes, and Obama's feelings toward comments former President Bill Clinton made in the press. The public does not often get to see a frazzled Obama, but Wolffe reported that Obama called some of Bill Clinton's comments "bald-faced lies."
Kurtz asked Wolffe why the normally cool-headed Obama would go on the record with such a potentially heated charge.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – On the heels of Congressional Democrats rolling out a draft of their health care reform proposal, a Republican strategist said Sunday that President Obama’s ambitious plans to remake the nation’s health care system are part of a larger pattern of government spending and intervention that should be cause for concern.
“The Barack Obama experiment is beginning to scare people,” Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said on State of the Union before he cataloged the hundreds of billions the new administration has spent helping General Motors and putting in place an economic stimulus package.
“When we’re talking about 17 percent of our gross national product - on health care, that’s what we spend. But, if that Barack Obama experiment with our health care, if that doesn’t work, we’re also talking about human lives. We’re also talking about the quality of our health care.”
Democratic strategist Donna Brazile sees the Obama administration’s unprecedented intervention in the economy and private industry very differently.
“We’re in this position because we’re in a deep recession and the financial markets collapsed and credit dried up and the government has intervened,” Brazile said Sunday in response to comments by persistent Obama critic Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.
“I don’t think this is a long term solution but I think we’re taking the necessary steps as a country to ensure that we rebuild the private sector so that every American can enjoy the benefits of living in this wonderful and prosperous country.”
As for the impending fight on Capitol Hill over health care, the Democratic strategist was blunt.
“This is going to be a long, hot summer . . .,” Brazile told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In this clip from Sunday's State of the Union, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos share their thoughts on the relationship between President Obama and his former rival Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
(CNN) – A trio of mayors whose cities have been hit hard by the troubles of General Motors said Sunday that they were happy the federal government had intervened. But they also faulted politicians in Washington for the partisan bickering over supporting the struggling auto industry.
“Well, certainly somebody had to do something,” Mayor Michael Brown of Flint, Michigan told CNN’s John King.
“This isn’t just about the auto industry,” added Brown, “the credit markets dried up. We’ve got a housing industry in crisis and certainly the federal government had to do something here ... Obviously, we want GM to be running their own business as we go forward but I think there was no alternative at this point in time as far as I’m concerned.”
Wilmington, Delaware Mayor James Baker agreed with Brown but took issue with the constant fighting in Washington over helping the auto industry.
“What we’re seeing is just a stack of cards or a domino effect where things have just gone awry,” Baker said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “And we’re all suffering, we’re all trying to deal with loss of revenues. I mean, it was just like our revenues went off the cliff.”
“I know there’s people that don’t want to see the government involved,” Baker continued. “And you get the dumb argument down there in Washington about the conservatives and the liberals. Who needs it? We need the country working together on our problems.”
“I’ve got to agree with both my colleagues here,” Mayor Michael Dinwiddie of Spring Hill, Tennessee told King. “I don’t think this is a Republican issue or a Democrat issue . I think the worst thing that we could possibly do is turn this into a political battle. This is an American issue. . . . This is a nationwide issue. I think that we need to do everything possible to come together and solve these issues now.”
All three men run cities who have been adversely impacted by the closure or possible closure of GM manufacturing plants as the once-great auto giant restructures in bankruptcy with substantial assistance from the Obama administration.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After any tragedy, it's not uncommon for finger-pointing to occur, and the aftermath of Dr. George Tiller's killing was no exception. Tiller, a doctor in Kansas who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death in his church last week. Prior to the incident, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly harshly criticized Tiller's practice dozens of times. O'Reilly called the doctor "Tiller the baby killer" and said that he "has blood on his hands."
Within 24 hours of Tiller's death, a heated debate broke out over whether O'Reilly's words could have incited the violence. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann urged viewers to turn away from O’Reilly and Fox News Channel saying the network will, “never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorism.”
At the same time, O'Reilly did denounce the violence on his program and claimed the killing would be a launching pad for his critics. "When I heard about Tiller's murder I knew pro-abortion zealots and Fox News haters would attempt to blame us for the crime." O’Reilly also defended his previous commentary about Tiller. "Every single thing we said about Tiller was true."
What responsibility do prominent media personalities have in this context? Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz discussed the issue with two well-known commentators: Bill Press, a longtime radio talk show host on Sirius Satellite Radio, and Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Writers' Group.
“I think this is kind of a sideshow,” Obama adviser David Axelrod said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“The point she was making is that we’re all the sum total of our experiences and you bring those experiences with you to the bench,” Axelrod also said in the interview. “It’s the same point that Justice Ginsburg and Justice Alito have made and I think that the debate is kind of a diversion from her 17-year record as judge.”
When attention is focused on Judge Sotomayor’s record Axelrod, one of the president’s closest advisers, said that Obama’s Supreme Court pick showed herself to be a fair, even-handed jurist.
“The fact is that there is nothing in her record that reflects anything but fairness and fidelity to the law and I think that’s what we want in a U.S. Supreme Court justice,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
Axelrod also said Sunday that Senate Republicans should not filibuster Sotomayor’s nomination, even though Democrats in the Senate have mounted filibusters against Republican judicial nominees in recent years.
“That would be a shame,” Axelrod said about the prospect of a filibuster against Sotomayor. “They ought to confirm her,” the Obama aide added.