Look Who's Talking in D.C.

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ESSENCE.COM Feb, 20, 2009

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Washington, D.C., is a town packed with big news and even bigger personalities. Check out some of the most quotable politicians and newsmakers heard around the District over the past few weeks.

“This is where the magic happens. No one would expect that all that comes out of these dinners happens in this little bitty space.”

—First Lady Michelle Obama to a group of culinary students from L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland, who she invited to the White House kitchen hours before the National Governor’s Association Dinner on Sunday night. In the small, compact space she previewed the event’s menu, which included Wagyu beef, scallops and huckleberry cobbler. As an additional treat at the Obamas’ first state dinner, governors from around the country also enjoyed a concert by Earth, Wind & Fire.

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“But I also want to be very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans. It will not help speculators who took risky bets on a rising market and bought homes not to live in but to sell. It will not help dishonest lenders who acted irresponsibly, distorting the facts and dismissing the fine print at the expense of buyers who didn’t know better. And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford. In short, this plan will not save every home.”

—President Barack Obama, in Mesa, Arizona, outlining his Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, which involves spending $75 billion to prevent up to 9 million Americans from foreclosure

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“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

—U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, to Department of Justice employees at an event celebrating Black History Month

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“We need messengers to really capture that region—young, Hispanic, Black, a cross section. We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”

—National Republican Committee Chairman Michael Steele, to the Washington Times, on how he’d like to address the Republican Party’s image problem. He went on to say that the Party will launch an “off the hook” public relations campaign to draw in new demographics.

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“To all the captains of the universe sitting here before all of us, all of my life I have been in disagreement with the banking industry.”

—Representative Maxine Waters, to the CEOs of big banks including JP Morgan and Bank of America, at their hearing before the House Financial Services Committee. Waters then chastised the CEOs for raising interest rates on credit card holders, after they had accepted billions in bailout money from American taxpayers.

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“If I had done the things I’ve been accused of, I’d be too embarrassed to stand up here in front of you because you are my friends. You know the real Roland. I’ve done nothing wrong, and I have absolutely nothing to hide."

—U.S. Senator Roland Burris to the City Club of Chicago, a group of civic leaders, politicians and businesspeople, on allegations that he committed perjury in the impeachment hearing of ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Burris, who was appointed by the impeached governor to President Obama’s vacant Senate seat, disclosed this week that Blagojevich’s brother solicited money from him, and that he tried to get friends to donate money to Blagojevich but none of them did. Members of Congress have since called for him to resign.

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“Our people can virtually taste this vote.”

—Washington, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes on the passage of a bill that would give D.C. its first full seat in the House of Representatives. While Horton is allowed to serve on committees, because the District is not a state, she is not a member of Congress with permission to vote on the House floor. The city will be closer to getting representation on Capitol Hill when the legislation gets put to a vote in the Senate.

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“Although the American dream has turned into a nightmare for many during this economic crisis—many people have been living the nightmare for years. So we must continue to fight on their behalf, and we will.”

—Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee on the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

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“You’ll likely hear a lot this month about African-Americans doing great things, some of them for the first time, like our President Barack Obama. It’s okay; you can clap. We want you to feel comfortable.”

—Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon, chief usher of the White House, to a group of 180 Washington, D.C., schoolchildren. As part of her goal to open the doors of the White House to the D.C. community, First Lady Michelle Obama invited the students for a Black History Month performance by a capella group Sweet Honey In The Rock.

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“Above all, I believed then and now that we do not have to judge our future in Alabama by our past. There was a time in Alabama when we had never built a rocket and now look at what we’ve done in Huntsville at Marshall and Redstone. There was a time when we had never built a car and now the cars we make in Vance and Montgomery and Lincoln make us the envy of the world. And yes, there was a time when what I am about to try to do seemed as inconceivable as the idea of a Kenyan and a Kansan with Confederate roots joining to give birth to an American President.”

—Representative Artur Davis, in a speech in Birmingham, announcing his candidacy for governor of Alabama

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