The Edge: The Words He Spoke Are Secondary

National Journal Staff

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The Words He Spoke Are Secondary

President George H.W. Bush was fond of quoting Woody Allen to his schedulers that "eighty percent of life is just showing up." Wednesday, at the Lincoln Memorial, was one of those occasions for President Obama. Had he not said a single word – had he only arrived in the armored limousine under the protection of the Secret Service before returning to the White House – he would have redeemed a large part of the promise of Martin Luther King Jr. Here he was, an African American twice elected to the nation's highest office.

Half a century ago, that was beyond the imagination of those who gathered on the Mall. They were fighting for the right to vote, the right to ride buses, the right to get work. They dreamt of winning city council seats. But a little boy who had just turned two, liberated by the gains won by those who marched, dreamt bigger. Because he did – and because they marched – Obama did not have to say anything.

Fifty years from now, few will remember what he did say. But they will remember that he was there to represent the country.

George Condon


OBAMA: ECONOMIC JUSTICE 'REMAINS OUR GREAT UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Following weeks of anticipation, President Obama spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd number in the tens of thousands today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Obama said King's "words belong to the ages" and outlined a vision for a country that follows King's desire for an "economic system (that) provides an equal shot for the many." Obama added: "No one can match King's brilliance, but the same flame that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, I know that flame remains." Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter also spoke at the ceremony, as did Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. Read more

  • Clinton did not shy away from political advocacy during his speech, opting instead to push a policy agenda closely aligned to Obama's and to rip the Supreme Court over its decision on the Voting Rights Act, National Journal's Patrick Reis writes. Read more

U.S. CLAIMS PROOF OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE IN SYRIA. Officials say the Obama administration is convinced U.S. intelligence shows how Syrian government forces stored, assembled, and allegedly used chemical weapons in last week's attack that killed hundreds of civilians in a suburb of Damascus, The Washington Post reports. The administration reportedly plans to release the evidence as soon as Thursday. Officials are also worried that Assad could next order an attack on Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a stronghold for the rebels. Syria and Iran both denounced the escalating rhetoric Wednesday and warned of regional chaos if a strike occurs. Britain, meanwhile, sought to introduce a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military action. Read more

  • U.S. involvement in Syria—on any level—won't resolve the war there and will only serve to pull the U.S. more deeply into a widening regional conflict, The Daily Beast's Christopher Dickey writes. Read more

HASAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR FORT HOOD SHOOTING. A military jury sentenced Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to death for killing 13 people during a 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, the Associated Press reports. The same jury last week convicted Hasan in the attack that also wounded more than 30 people at the military base. Throughout his trial, Hasan never denied his role as the gunman and claimed his motivation was to protect Muslim insurgents fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. An execution data remains far off, however, as years and perhaps decades of appeals will follow today's sentence. Read more

U.S. CAPTURES MORE INFLUENCE OVER TELECOM INDUSTRY. The U.S. government, through the use of a merger-approval process, has increased its power over the telecommunications industry, The Wall Street Journal reports. The government has brought more companies under its oversight and has acquired input "over activities as fundamental as equipment purchases," thanks to a series of increasingly restrictive agreements between the companies and national-security agencies that stretch back more than a decade and in some cases involve deals with foreign companies. But industry consolidation and an influx of overseas investment have resulted in a larger segment of the industry being under the government's purview. Read more

BILL CLINTON TO ADVOCATE FOR ACA IN ARKANSAS. Bill Clinton will return to his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 4 to deliver a speech defending the Affordable Care Act, Politico reports. The speech will occur less than one month before the scheduled opening of the insurance exchanges established by President Obama's landmark health-care legislation. Arkansas also features one of the tightest 2014 Senate races, between Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor and GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, Politico notes, and the ACA has already become a lightning rod of an issue between the two candidates. Read more

  • A lot of people still don't like the ACA, but people like the idea of defunding it even less, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes. Read more

NEW YORK TIMES' SITE STILL DOWN AFTER HACK. The New York Times' website remained inaccessible for much of Wednesday after a Tuesday afternoon hack claimed by the little-known Syrian Electronic Army, a group that also took responsibility for a similar attack on Twitter, The Washington Post reports. The Times and Twitter have not confirmed whether SEA is responsible, but evidence strongly suggests they are the culprits, ThePost notes. Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the site problems were a result of an "external attack on our domain name registrar." Read more

THE MARTIN LUTHER KING NOBODY'S TALKING ABOUT. Martin Luther King Jr. was not just the safe-for-all-political-stripes civil-rights activist he is often portrayed as today, National Journal's Matt Berman writes. He was never just the "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered 50 years ago Wednesday. He was an antiwar, anti-materialist activist whose views on American power would shock many of the same politicians who are currently scrambling to sing his praises. As he himself said, King was always more than "I Have a Dream." His other stances—from economic justice to Vietnam—are just more controversial. That doesn't mean that, 50 years after his historic march, they deserve to be forgotten. Read more

IRS CONTROVERSIES AID TEA-PARTY RESURGENCE. After being marginalized during the 2012 election season, the tea-party movement is gaining traction thanks to the fallout following revelations the Internal Revenue Service targeted some conservative political groups for special scrutiny, The Wall Street Journal reports. The controversy has helped the tea party's image, according to polls, which found that 51 percent of Republicans had a positive view of the movement in June, up from just 42 percent in January. Already, some establishment Republican heavyweights, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., are gearing up to face tea-party primary challengers. Read more

DESPITE COPYRIGHT CLAIM, NETWORKS AIR FULL MLK 'DREAM' SPEECH TODAY. CNN and MSNBC were both planning to air rare rebroadcasts of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech in its entirety, The Atlantic Wire's Brian Feldman reports. CNN planned to air the speech once in the afternoon, while MSNBC scheduled to do the same at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. National Journalreported last week that the speech is rarely broadcast in full—and even harder to find online—because its copyright is still owned by the King family. But given the significance of today's 50th anniversary commemorating the speech, networks "are apparently shelling out the license fee to carry the speech on their networks." Read more


VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES DISCUSS ENERGY. The Consumer Energy Alliance will hold a "2013 Virginia Energy & Opportunity Forum: A Discussion with Virginia's Gubernatorial Candidates" at 9 a.m. at George Mason University School of Law, 3301 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Va. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe will participate.

FDIC RELEASES QUARTERLY BANKING PROFILE. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will hold a briefing to announce the bank and thrift industry's earnings for the second quarter of 2013 at 10 a.m., at 550 17th St. NW.


"You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there, they want to get people, so if they got the stuff they'll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring's got a little thing where you cut your finger.... It's that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder." -- Pat Robertson, saying gay men in San Francisco use rings to spread HIV (The Atlantic)


AFTER 9/11, NYPD INFILTRATED ETHNIC NEIGHBORHOODS. After Sept. 11, 2001, the New York Police Department went a step further than federal government programs that looked into Americans' data, authors Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman write, adapting part of their upcoming book, Enemies Within, for New YorkMagazine. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly hired David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer, to oversee the Demographics Division. Cohen brought in Larry Sanchez, a CIA analyst who remained on the agency's payroll. Goldman and Apuzzo write that the NYPD used police officers, known as rakers, to spy on Muslims "in their mosques, their sporting fields, their businesses, their social clubs, even their homes.... To catch the few, the NYPD would spy on the many." The FBI declined an offer of access to the reports because they violated bureau rules. Read more


SINGLE ... WITHOUT CHILDREN. American households have changed a lot over the past 40 years, but no change has been more dramatic than the rise of people living alone, The Atlantic Cities' Emily Badger writes. The proportion of single-member households stood at just 17 percent in 1970, but today that figure clocks in at 27 percent, a change coinciding with a drop in the share of homes with a married couple and kids. The Census Bureauhighlights that the sinking rates of married households is largely because of people delaying when they decide to marry and have children. In sum, the average size of the American household has fallen from 3.1 people per roof to just 2.6 today. Read more


WEAVING KING'S DREAM TOGETHER THROUGH THE WEB. From a Google doodle to unearthed newspaper front pages from 1963, to long editorials reflecting on how the country has changed over the last 50 years, it seemed that all of the Internet had its attention turned to today's 50th anniversary commemorating the March on Washington, The Atlantic Wire's Arit John writes. Even the Dalai Lama joined in, posting a video on YouTube sharing his dream that the world becomes a global community through "a sense of oneness of humanity," while The Wall Street Journal produced a video of people across the country reciting excerpts of the iconic speech. Read more


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