At the behest of former President George H.W. Bush, President Obama is heading to Texas today where he'll deliver a speech in front of 2,500 at Texas A&M University. The occasion honors Bush 41's service organization "Points of Light," and is being seen by many as a major PR opportunity for Obama. He gets to brandish his community service bonafides while exuding a spirit of bipartisanship with his Republican predecessor. Here's what political observers are saying:
- I's Will Be Dotted, T's Will Be Crossed, writes Rachel Martin at ABC News: "After a heated late summer full of rowdy town halls and conservative 'tea party' protests around the country, targeting President Obama and his policies, President Bush is taking steps to make sure the event tonight goes off without a hitch (i.e. no one stands up and calls President Obama a socialist)."
- "Obama Risks Egg-Throwing," writes Johanna Neuman: "Texas is not Obama country. In fact Barack Obama lost the Lone Star State to Republican John McCain by a not-even-close 55-43 margin," warns the Los Angeles Times reporter. She says conservative student groups plan on protesting the event on a range of issues including health care reform, the war in Afghanistan and his recent acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize.
- A Political Victory for Obama, writes Michael Duffy at Time: "The political benefits of this stop are easy to spot... It does not hurt Obama to be seen in the Lone Star state with Bush and Baker, two of the state's favorite sons, not to mention Gates, a Kansan who in College Station is something of an iconic figure. And as Republican criticism of his busy legislative program has increased, Obama may benefit from a joint appearance with a popular former Republican President elsewhere in the country."
- Lifting a Line from Casablanca, Susan Davis at The Wall Street Journal writes: "If H.W.'s relationship with
former Democratic President Bill Clinton is any indication, today could
be the beginning of another beautiful friendship." Keeping his fingers
crossed, The Atlantic's Chris Good adds, "The discussion of community service will hopefully keep them off the
topic of all the bad things Obama said about the latter Bush during the
- Strikingly Similar Presidents, writes NBC's political team: "Sure, they are from opposite parties but on foreign policy, for instance, there are a lot of similarities (maybe that's why Bush 41 NSA Scowcroft frequently praises Obama national security decisions). But there's another part of Bush 41 that gets ignored too often and that's his pragmatic side. Bush 41 was a system guy, whether it was working with Congress or simply playing the Washington game, he set up his White House to be cooperative, not combative. Obama has shown similar traits. On one hand, it's a recipe for getting things down in Washington, on the other hand, it's also way to look TOO Washington and end up being out of touch, the exact issues that made Bush 41 a one-term president. Just something to (over)think about on this Friday."
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