"Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb."
January 17, 2012 4:58 PM   Subscribe

The attacks from both the right and the left on [Obama] and his policies aren’t out of bounds. They’re simply—empirically—wrong. ... Their short-term outbursts have missed Obama’s long game—and why his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this country’s future as his original election in 2008. Andrew Sullivan writes an intriguingly optimistic piece on why he thinks and hopes that Obama will be re-elected this year.
posted by WalterMitty (320 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
...and from a self-proclaimed conservative!
posted by Postroad at 5:05 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I figure he'll vote fore him for the same reason I will: he's not perfect by a long shot but he's better than any of the other choices.
posted by jonmc at 5:05 PM on January 17, 2012 [30 favorites]


He makes about as good a case as you can make, but some of it is hand wavey about how Obama is playing a long game. Kind of the same old 11th dimensional chess thing that gets brought up again and again. I think it's fair to judge him on what he has done in four years and what he promises to do the next four years, but you can't convince me based on a hidden long game. Sometimes Obama does not get the payoff he is going for. The Bush Tax cuts are going to come up again and it's hard for me to believe they will be handled.

Yes, Obama has waged a war based on a reading of executive power that many civil libertarians, including myself, oppose. And he has signed into law the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial (even as he pledged never to invoke this tyrannical power himself).

...and it's hard for me to let stuff like that go and still vote for the guy. It's a major issue, not an "oops" in one paragraph.

It's interesting how the right is responding to the article. It is really tough on both the left and the right but they aren't reading that far and are going after Sullivan.

Politico: A still from a Fox News segment on Andrew Sullivan's Newsweek article, 'Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?' Sullivan notes that Fox News blurred out his name when showing the cover.

Sullivan complains that his right wing critics in the blogosphere are not reading the article, a problem that seems all too common lately.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:09 PM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's hard to get excited about a "long term strategy" that includes signing the NDAA.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:09 PM on January 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


There are time I wish I was watching the present unfold from the future, where I could enjoy the intricate and subtle debates while still being secure that they will be resolved, not even satisfactorily resolved, just resolved, and one player will be proved 'right', another 'wrong'. Have the history books not to know the outcomes, but to be able to read these times as settled.

Here and now I am tired of this endless pandering and I've gotten to the stage where I don't even care about right, I just want over. I'm losing the ability to focus and, worst of all, care.
posted by litleozy at 5:11 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fox News' Megyn Kelly Trashes Andrew Sullivan, Newsweek Over Obama Story; Sullivan Responds.
posted by ericb at 5:15 PM on January 17, 2012


Weirdly enough, I agree with Sullivan in this article. As frustrating as Obama's policies seem -watching them unfold in achingly-slow-real-time - I think that in the future, we're gonna look back and be amazed at how effective of a politician he was.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 5:18 PM on January 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


He's only the president remember. If the other side won't cooperate and compromise AT ALL then there's only a certain amount he can do. He's president, not emperor. I remain bemused that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the US people continue to believe that their president has greater powers than is actually the case. Why doesn't reality - every 4 or 8 years - change this perverse, nearly religious, fervour and belief??? It's weird.
posted by peacay at 5:18 PM on January 17, 2012 [53 favorites]


Graveyard, meet whistler.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:18 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read it and it basically encapsulated my feelings.

Summary: he's done lots of great things in the environment he was given. He's also done some not-so-great things (NDAA signing). He's basically done what he said he was going to do (most of his promises are kept). He's made a lot of great accomplishments that both parties can, and should, praise in addition to some accomplishments that only liberals can, and should, praise.

In the end, he's better than the next guy (and the previous guy), and that's why I'm voting for him again.
posted by Defenestrator at 5:19 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Those in the mood for a Jeremiad in response to Sullivan could do worse than embittered liberal, Chicago blogger and sci-fi fan Driftglass' take on this.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:20 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


He's only the president remember. If the other side won't cooperate and compromise AT ALL then there's only a certain amount he can do. He's president, not emperor. I remain bemused that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the US people continue to believe that their president has greater powers than is actually the case. Why doesn't reality - every 4 or 8 years - change this perverse, nearly religious, fervour and belief??? It's weird.

This is a really good point, we all really overestimate the power of the Presidency. If Romney wins he will face much of the same problems Obama did in actually reaching his goals.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:21 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


peacay - He's only the president remember.

Even this article attributes things to him that he probably didn't have much to do with (plummeting support for Al Qaeda).
posted by Defenestrator at 5:22 PM on January 17, 2012


I lost interest when he announced that Goldman is free to break the law without consequences, and that none of his banker patrons will spend a day in jail. This is a country where the poor go to jail for stealing a toothbrush. Basta, this may be the first one I sit out.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:24 PM on January 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


If Romney wins he will face much of the same problems Obama did in actually reaching his goals.

Except that Romney's goals, to the extent that he has any distinct from "get elected," are all things that both the unified Republican front and the more conservative wings of the Democratic Party are more than happy to push through. Romney would have about as much ease as Dubya had during his heyday.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:27 PM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


He's only the president remember. If the other side won't cooperate and compromise AT ALL then there's only a certain amount he can do.

He could decline to sign bills revoking civil liberties. He could start negotiations from a position more likely to end up at a moderate position rather than starting at the moderate position and ending up on the right. He could...oh forget it. Obama will be President again next year and the country will continue it's decline to the right.
posted by DU at 5:27 PM on January 17, 2012 [25 favorites]


It's hard to get excited about a "long term strategy" that includes signing the NDAA.

Sure, completely defunding the military in an election year is awesome strategy.
posted by empath at 5:27 PM on January 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


Also, I'm almost certainly not voting for him again. I'd rather cast a tiny vote in favor of changing the system rather than a tiny vote for the still-evil lesser evil.
posted by DU at 5:28 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is Sullivan is sort of the Gruber of politics at this point? He's smart and interesting, but there's not really a lot of head-scratching about where he'll fall in some of these arguments.
posted by verb at 5:28 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


What a Romney presidency would be like.
posted by octothorpe at 5:29 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I rarely agree with Sullivan, but I think he makes good points here. Still, the Obama we all got wasn't the Obama most of us were hoping for, and even a cynical old bastard like me is disappointed and regrets, a little, the degree to which I thought we might be looking at a Brand New Day a few years back. Which is perhaps part of the problem -- that hope only goes so far when pitted against a system that is so hopelessly corrupt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:31 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


-Sure, completely defunding the military in an election year is awesome strategy.-

This x 100.

Many of you guys want miracles. You just can't have them. This shit is hard.
posted by peacay at 5:32 PM on January 17, 2012 [29 favorites]


I'll hold my nose and vote for Obama again, but so help me, I actually volunteered for the man the last time around. By now he's shown by word and deed that he doesn't need my help, and can just ask his buddies in the paramilitary-financial complex to give him whatever he needs.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:34 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, because this looks like someone my fellow liberals are too short sighted to be mad at.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:34 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Except that Romney's goals, to the extent that he has any distinct from "get elected," are all things that both the unified Republican front and the more conservative wings of the Democratic Party are more than happy to push through. Romney would have about as much ease as Dubya had during his heyday.

He deserves to pass things he can get bipartisan support for, just like any President. I agree with you that centrist/moderate Democrats are terrible leaders, they are too willing to compromise, but nothing gets done in a two party system without them. You can only fix that in the primaries. Anything truly over the line though and the Democratic party can stop it if they want to.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:34 PM on January 17, 2012


Andrew Sullivan writing a cover story of Newsweek (any cover story) represents everything that is wrong with this country. This guy's contribution to the public discourse is about on the level of Judith Miller.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:36 PM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sure, completely defunding the military in an election year is awesome strategy.

At some point, where does ironic-awesome-campaign-strategy-snark-disdain finally balance with oh-well-there-did-our-rights-but-go realization? I'm always curious where that fulcrum sits for today's 12D-chess-playing liberals. Those goal posts seem to keep moving as fast as rationalizations for Obama's decisions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:37 PM on January 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


Sullivan is a hack.
posted by Chuffy at 5:39 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll hold my nose and vote for Obama again

I felt like maybe I should do that with McCain because I disliked Obama so much, but I didn't. I threw my vote away on some third-party candidate.

I'd be happy to vote for Romney, if he's the nominee. If it had been Obama v. Palin, then I'd go for Door #3 again.
posted by red clover at 5:40 PM on January 17, 2012


Dear Andrew Sullivan: Why Focus On Obama's Dumbest Critics?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:40 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


-goal posts seem to keep moving-

Yes, because it's politics, the art of the possible and not lockstep idealistic rigidity. It's a dirty game certainly, but it's the only one we've got. If you guys think that by taking a totally uncompromising position on every damn piece of legislation is going to move the great tiller further to the left then you are hallucinating.
posted by peacay at 5:40 PM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Don't be too hard on Sullivan, he has some issues like trying to keep the Bristol Palin birther story alive, but for the most part he looks around the political spectrum and just gives his honest assessment.

Sullivan: "... I adore Ron Paul - for his courage, his candor, his extraordinary success in shifting our debate on critical questions of foreign policy and debt and freedom..."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:40 PM on January 17, 2012


What I learned: Obama is a centrist, which means the middle ground between the right and the center.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:40 PM on January 17, 2012 [32 favorites]


Yes, because this looks like someone my fellow liberals are too short sighted to be mad at.

Big companies that have lots of wealthy employees will always be overrepresented on a list of donors grouped by the donor's company. That does not imply conspiracy.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:41 PM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


you can't convince me it's based on a hidden long game

The thing is, the "long game" being referred to isn't even all that long, and you can already see some of the results (Iraq, DADT, bin Laden). Much of it is measured in months, not years, and it's only unusual because everyone else's game is measured in hours.
posted by alexei at 5:41 PM on January 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


If you guys think that by taking a totally uncompromising position on every damn piece of legislation is going to move the great tiller further to the left then you are hallucinating.

Then why the hell is that strategy working so well for the Republicans?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:42 PM on January 17, 2012 [28 favorites]


-Then why the hell is that strategy working so well for the Republicans?-

Because they are better at lockstep arrangements.

Clinton said "Democrats fall in love. Republicans fall in line". So you wanna blame Obama for the blue dog temperament too?
posted by peacay at 5:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yah but there is a large minority who continue to claim that Obama is (on the order of) The AntiChrist. He is Hell-bent on destroying this country.

I'm serious, it's scary. I get emails from my great-aunt Betty, and they're quite unhinged. If you average that out with the paranoid posts on my high-school era Facebook friends, the world is fire and its all part of Obama's master plan.

In the face of this level of grassroots panic/propaganda, reasonable analyses by reasonable conservatives are really not going to get a fair hearing.
posted by newdaddy at 5:45 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


(also: my feelings on Andrew Sullivan are this: sometimes he's right, sometimes he's wrong. he's usually interesting either way and he can write better than most.)
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think there's a good bit of truth in Sullivan's article. I don't necessarily agree with his takeaway, I think he's more right than wrong. Although I'm entirely too liberal to be satisfied with Obama, he has been much more effective than most of his critics (left and right) are willing to admit.

Given the opposition, voting for Obama next time around is a no-brainer, IMO.

(Also, Megan Kelly holding forth on what "real journalism" is, or calling anybody else a hack, just too ridiculous to believe.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:47 PM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you guys think that by taking a totally uncompromising position on every damn piece of legislation is going to move the great tiller further to the left then you are hallucinating.

Every piece? No, I think most critics have a few issues where they feel a less compromising position would be best. Obviously you have to work with the other party to get things done.

The thing is, the "long game" being referred to isn't even all that long, and you can already see some of the results (Iraq, DADT, bin Laden). Much of it is measured in months, not years, and it's only unusual because everyone else's game is measured in hours.

The long game I am concerned with is how we are going to fund our government in the future. On those issues Obama unquestionably takes the short term view. He traded away ending the Bush tax cuts for a short term unemployment extension. Now, put aside for a second if that was right or not, we know it was short term instead of long term. Same thing with the payroll tax cuts which are short term benefit for long term losing more funding for our social programs. Maybe it's right, but it is short term thinking.

So, I don't think it's fair to say short term thinking is the source of the criticisms when some of them come from the exact opposite perspective. I don't know if the short term thinking on the Bush tax cuts is going to change after 2012, and I can't be promised anything on that from the campaign that I didn't hear in 2008.

Obama inspired me with his long term thinking originally, remember this stuff?

"If we do not change our politics -- if we do not fundamentally change the way Washington works -- then the problems we've been talking about for the last generation will be the same ones that haunt us for generations to come."

"But let me be clear -- this isn't just about ending the failed policies of the Bush years; it's about ending the failed system in Washington that produces those policies. For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans."

"We are up against the belief that it's all right for lobbyists to dominate our government--that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we're not going to let them stand in our way anymore. Unless we're willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing else is going to change."

"If we're not willing to take up that fight, then real change--change that will make a lasting difference in the lives of ordinary Americans--will keep getting blocked by the defenders of the status quo."


He is saying it as clear as it can be said, without fundamental change in Washington there is no such thing as long term change that the status quo can not quickly reverse.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:53 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Many of you guys want miracles. You just can't have them. This shit is hard.

All I really want is a Democratic president who's recognizably a Democrat rather than a Republican Lite, but these days I guess that would in fact constitute a miracle.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:54 PM on January 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


Dear Andrew Sullivan: Why Focus On Obama's Dumbest Critics?

Because he's one of them?

They’re simply—empirically—wrong.

Something Sullivan has vast expertise in. For example..

Yes, Obama has waged a war based on a reading of executive power that many civil libertarians, including myself, oppose Iraq war supporters, including myself, advocated and caused to happen.

FTFY, Sullivan.

The more I read this article, the more pissed off I get. This article isn't about Obama, it's about why Sullivan is right about stuff. Mostly stuff that has nothing to do with Obama. And it has just obvious errors. Like:

The first is the simple scale of what has been accomplished on issues liberals say they care about. A depression was averted.

Looks like a depression to me. Sullivan is viewing this problem from the 1% side, while all of us are on the 99% side.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:56 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd like to hear Sullivan's answer to Driftglass's question:
I asked him to support his thesis by naming specific examples of comparably reckless, deluded behavior by Liberals as prominent/powerful as Romney, McConnell and Limbaugh.
posted by muddgirl at 5:59 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will only vote for Obama if he pulls a Sisco and shaves his head and grows a goatee.
posted by fuq at 5:59 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


For me, the Affordable Healthcare Act really trumps everything else he's done, good or bad. It's not even close to the system that I would have asked for but he pushed it through which is more than any democrat since FDR was able to do. But a lot of it won't go into effect until the next term, so I'd really like to see him stay in office to make sure that all the pieces actually happen. Once everything in the act actually gets going and people realize that it's not the first step to a Bolshevik takeover, it'll be pretty hard for even the Republicans to get rid of it. So whatever else he's done or hasn't done, that's more than enough for me to vote for him again even though I probably agree with every single criticism that people have made from the left.
posted by octothorpe at 6:01 PM on January 17, 2012 [21 favorites]


A caveat: I write this as an unabashed supporter of Obama from early 2007 on. I did so not as a liberal, but as a conservative-minded independent
Right. If you are a "conservative-minded independent" you should be happy with the Obama administration. No one on the liberal side has said otherwise.
For me, the Affordable Healthcare Act really trumps everything else he's done, good or bad. It's not even close to the system that I would have asked for but he pushed it through which is more than any democrat since FDR was able to do.
It's a good first step on that front, but this country has a lot of problems. All of them need to be fixed.

If you have three different terminal diseases, you can't just cure one and call it a day.
posted by delmoi at 6:03 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, Obama has waged a war based on a reading of executive power that many civil libertarians, including myself, oppose Iraq war supporters, including myself, advocated and caused to happen.

FTFY, Sullivan.


Nah, say what you will about Iraq but there was congressional authorization, the lack of which is what Sullivan is complaining about there. He has discussed his mistakes on Iraq before (Caution, photo with dead bodies above article), and if he is less willing to jump into military action now that seems like a sign of honest growth.

I recall very clearly one night before the (Iraq) war began. I made myself write down the reasons for and against the war and realized that if there were question marks on both sides, the deciding factor for me in the end was that I could never be ashamed of removing someone as evil as Saddam from power. I became enamored of my own morality and this single moral act. And he was a monster, as we discovered. But what I failed to grasp is that war is also a monster, and that unless one weighs all the possibly evil consequences of an abstractly moral act, one hasn't really engaged in anything much but self-righteousness. I saw war's unknowable consequences far too glibly.

And Libya:

None of this makes any sense, except as an emotional response to an emergency. I understand the emotions, and sympathize with the impulse to help. But I can think of no worse basis for committing a country to war than such emotional and moral anxiety. One fears this is Bill Clinton's attempt to assuage his conscience over Rwanda, rather than Obama's judicious attempt to navigate the Arab 1848. And as Obama said things like "Qaddafi has a choice," did you not hear echoes of Bush and Saddam?

Obviously most folks around here support the Libya action and consider this just another misjudgment but for someone who so idiotically supported Iraq I think it's good to step away from the idea that you can have certainty about what you are doing when you commit to military solutions to your problems.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:06 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a really good point, we all really overestimate the power of the Presidency. If Romney wins he will face much of the same problems Obama did in actually reaching his goals.

They aren't separate-but-equal platforms. A Romney presidency would have the full propaganda power of the corporate and conservative world behind it, the same networked that ginned up the Tea Party into something organized and angry enough to take the house and tons of state legislatures. Even without the extremely wealthy and powerful lobbying forces, it's generally easier to destroy good government than to extend and strengthen it.

Also, two words: Supreme. Court. The conservative wing is relatively young, the centrists and liberals much older. Even if Obama were a failure in every single respect, I don't think "teaching him a lesson" by acquiescing to a GOP victory would be worth making the Court firmly right-wing for the next decade or three.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:12 PM on January 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


Then why the hell is that strategy working so well for the Republicans?

Tough love is a conservative game. For a long time we gave people extra money for breeding on welfare and eventually horrified the middle class when drug dealers nearly earned it all back. And so the social conservative was born. There never was any corresponding social liberal, although they tried ridiculed ones they invented for that purpose. The point being that Newt Gingrich is still a supply-sider who argues for drilling for more oil as a replacement to the federal emergency heating program, by projecting an image of automatically lower prices in the voters heads, thus solving liberalism. It's a fantasy, obviously, but social conservatism is a way to sell a fantasy to people concerned about social issues as we haul in the safety net.
posted by Brian B. at 6:14 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every piece? No, I think most critics have a few issues where they feel a less compromising position would be best. Obviously you have to work with the other party to get things done.
Well, keep in mind what people are calling Obama's greatest achievement involved zero republican support, not even cloture votes. If you win a supermajority, why do you need to work with the other side? It just seems masochistic to me.

Obviously, if they win enough seats to prevent things from happening, you need to "work with" them but that can't happen if they refuse to do it.

If it's really true that our system of government really necessitates people working with the "other side", then given the fact that the republicans refuse to work with the democrats, you essentially have a system that is going to fail, and needs to be replaced.

Keep in mind, that is absolutely not the norm in the rest of the world. How often do you hear about David Cameron "working together" with the Labor party? Or Tony Blair / Gordon Brown working with Cameron?

It doesn't happen. When you win a majority in a parliamentary system, that's it. You get to do anything you want to do. That is by far the norm. It's only when no party gets a majority of seats that you have 'coalition' governments. But parties that are not coalition partners don't get any say at all.

Why should the U.S. operate differently from every other country in the world given that: it's not constitutionally required (the filibuster isn't in the constitution, and has only been used frequently recently) it works fine in other countries and clearly not doing it causes tons of problems here in the U.S?
posted by delmoi at 6:14 PM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sullivan is an almost-Republican centrist, and he approves of Obama. Why is that surprising?

Some of his points about liberal disappointment are reasonable, but he undercuts that argument when, trying to have it both ways, he explains why conservative disappointment is ungrounded. Every point he makes about why conservatives should be happier with Obama than they are, is a very good point explaining why liberals are justifiably disappointed:

"he has aggressively lowered taxes on most Americans...You could easily make the case that Obama has been far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor...The great conservative bugaboo, Obamacare, is also far more moderate than its critics have claimed....It is based on the individual mandate, an idea pioneered by the archconservative Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich, and, of course, Mitt Romney...He has offered to cut entitlements (and has already cut Medicare)..." etc.

The argument that disappointed liberals have only their utopian delusions to blame is one that is shared by many on the center left, such as Kevin Drum. But if we do want to stick with empirics, as Sullivan claims to, it is certainly the case that an unprecedented number of politically savvy voters (particularly the young) had much higher hopes for this administration than actually occurred. Perhaps they are all to blame, but there must be some reason so many made the same error. Sullivan himself accidentally acknowledges this:

"This is where the left is truly deluded. By misunderstanding Obama’s strategy and temperament and persistence, by grandstanding on one issue after another, by projecting unrealistic fantasies onto a candidate who never pledged a liberal revolution, they have failed to notice that from the very beginning, Obama was playing a long game. "

From the very beginning, huge numbers of voters on the left -- especially the young -- were severely mistaken about what Obama might do. It seems worth thinking about why that happened.
posted by chortly at 6:18 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


This made me laugh. Look, Sullivan is simply rationalizing his 2008 vote, and then-schilling for Obama. That's what this is about. I wish I had time to go through the article and respond, paragraph by paragraph. Reading through the whole thing, one gets the sense that Sullivan is patting Obama on the head for a job well done, and at the same time reinforcing the Great Myth of Obama's "long-term" strategy.

Just look at manufacturing, with the auto companies as one example. Wages in the sector are way down from prior years, and that's success? Many Detroit executives that mishandled their sector are still in place. Same with the criminal financiers who have helped to shred the middle class.

The fact is that Obama is a kind of intellectual technocrat who balances all of his decisions based on power balance. From his perspective one could say that that is a very smart strategy. From the perspective of the felt needs of the American people, he's been an abject failure - and that failure has been magnified by the delta that exists between what he promised, and what he delivered.

I really wish there was a Democratic Party alternative to Obama, but there isn't.

It really does make me laugh when I hear people ragging on Romney for being a rich investor, and not saying a peep about how Obama has probably done more for Romney's socioeconomic class in the last 3 years than anyone before him, in that he has helped them to consolidate power, and walk away virtually scott free.

If Obama takes it in 2012, don't expect much different. He will probably get to appoint 1-2 more moderate judges who lean a little more left, than right. Maybe. It's hard to tell. In fact, if Obama wins a second term, with nothing to lose for the next four years, we may find ourselves even *more* surprised at how far away from his claimed mandate that he is willing to stray. In fact, based on past behavior (as a predictor of future behavior), it's the latter scenario that is more likely than the one that Sullivan proposes.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:18 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


They aren't separate-but-equal platforms. A Romney presidency would have the full propaganda power of the corporate and conservative world behind it, the same networked that ginned up the Tea Party into something organized and angry enough to take the house and tons of state legislatures. Even without the extremely wealthy and powerful lobbying forces, it's generally easier to destroy good government than to extend and strengthen it.

I think you will find that Obama will have more power wrapped up in Super PACs and such by the time the election is in full swing and plenty of corporate donations just as he did in 2008. The parties aren't equal, but they are both reliant on corporate power and special interests. Do you think the insurance companies really want to end Obamacare? Really?

Republicans do need to get elected as well, talk is cheap and Bush made the government bigger instead of killing it, that's the way it always is.

Also, two words: Supreme. Court. The conservative wing is relatively young, the centrists and liberals much older. Even if Obama were a failure in every single respect, I don't think "teaching him a lesson" by acquiescing to a GOP victory would be worth making the Court firmly right-wing for the next decade or three.

Who said anything about teaching anyone lessons? If the Supreme Court is your most important concern, feel free to vote based on it. Eventually though a Republican is getting elected, you will be voting in every election ever on that basis if you use it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:18 PM on January 17, 2012


Looks like a depression to me.

Respectfully: your opinion is not a determining factor. When the real GDP starts contracting in a noticeable way, then a lot more people may consider it a depression.
posted by pompomtom at 6:23 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you think the insurance companies really want to end Obamacare? Really?

Yes, they really do.

The open secret of the American healthcare system is that its unsustainability comes not from failing to be a public system. The open secret of the American healthcare system is that it is unsustainable because Americans overuse health care and spend too much money on health care procedures. For decades, the private care system that dominates America has helped disguise this by chopping out all of the poor people - or at least by giving them plans that were effectively worthless. Obamacare ends this because now all the poor people (or, at least, a big chunk of them) will get subsidies to get public insurance, and the system will not hold. Five years, ten at the outside, and it will collapse, and the USA will cobble together some sort of public system to pick up the pieces.

The insurance companies want Obamacare dead because they know it's another nail in their coffin.
posted by mightygodking at 6:27 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What public insurance?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:28 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can we all agree to drop the whole 'FTFY' thing here? There are a lot of great points here, but I come to metafilter to escape the obnoxiousness of the rest of the Internet.
posted by graphnerd at 6:28 PM on January 17, 2012 [28 favorites]


Except that Romney's goals, to the extent that he has any distinct from "get elected," are all things that both the unified Republican front and the more conservative wings of the Democratic Party are more than happy to push through. Romney would have about as much ease as Dubya had during his heyday.
Well, unless they get rid of the filibuster (and it stands to good reason that they will) then Romney will also have to get some liberal senators to vote for his stuff too.

The problem, though, is the filibuster. It's untenable. Whichever side is in control when it goes away is going to get a huge boost in what they can accomplish. Which means that the democrats really should have gotten rid of it in 2009. Their not doing so, along with the stimulus being way, way to small are going to go down in history as two enormous mistakes.
Big companies that have lots of wealthy employees will always be overrepresented on a list of donors grouped by the donor's company. That does not imply conspiracy.
No one said it's a conspiracy: It's right out in the open. Everyone knows corporations donate to politicians for a reason, and Goldman Sachs and the rest of Wallstreet invested in Obama because they thought it was a good idea. Anyone who thinks that money is corrupting to politics can't suddenly make an exception when they like the guy.
Respectfully: your opinion [Looks like a depression to me.] is not a determining factor. When the real GDP starts contracting in a noticeable way, then a lot more people may consider it a depression.
How about Nobel Prize Winning Economist Paul Krugman?
It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.
(in terms of democratic values, he means Europe -- where there are actually huge governance problems right now)
posted by delmoi at 6:34 PM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Respectfully: your opinion is not a determining factor. When the real GDP starts contracting in a noticeable way, then a lot more people may consider it a depression.

That's not the technical definition of a depression. Heck, there is no technical definition of a depression in economics. But I hope we all can admit that "The Great Recession" is a desperate attempt to not say the D word, no? Krugman tackles the whole taxonomic problem here: The Third Depression. (I wish that article wasn't so right about everything.)
posted by mek at 6:34 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's hard to get excited about a "long term strategy" that includes signing the NDAA.

The NDAA authorizes nearly ever single Department of Defense program, pay for troops, TriCare health care etc. Last year, it repealed DADT. The government does not function without it. Vetoing it is essentially vetoing the Defense Department. So you have to have a really good reason.

So let's get specific. What exactly don't you like about it? How is it different from last year's bill or past bills regarding detainee issues.

The reason I point this out is that the fact that everything else is also attatched to this is a part of the issue. It is one of those complicating factors that everyone ignores (that and the actual wording of the section in question). Want to do a better bill? How does a better bill get written when John Fucking Boehner gets to write the first version of the bill? No bill regarding this can start anywhere but the House.

And how do the majority of American people feel about this? 2/3rds disagree with us and want Gitmo to stay open: http://www.gallup.com/poll/119393/Americans-Oppose-Closing-Gitmo-Moving-Prisoners.aspx#

For that reason, the 2011 NDAA bill, passed in 2010, specifically banned any money going to close Gitmo or transfer detainees to the US for trial. The Act passed by veto-proof majorities.

So many of the President's critics on the left act as if politics doesn't exist and that there would be no consequences for the President to veto this bill. These people are smoking some pretty strong stuff.

This isn't to say the bill is perfect, far from it--but Obama got what he wanted, first and foremost--the authority to get a waiver and avoid military custody all together. Such waivers were not allowed before this year.

For those claiming that this allows indefinite military detention world wide, please, please reread Section 1021 again, where the bill states it doesn't affect current law on the question of anyone in the US.

Finally, what are your options? Mitt 'Double Guantanamo' Romney? Ron "I Swear I didn't write that" Paul? Paul, that sudden hero for those who would scrap the entire country for the few this bill affects wants to get rid of fractional reserve banking and force the country back on to the gold standard. His crackpot views notwithstanding, he's also for cutting every dollar of humanitarian aid the US gives out. So no sending the Navy in to help Tsunami victims or condom distribution in Africa.

And the policy isn't one Obama ever wanted. It is a complete political, legal and moral clusterfuck created by George W. Bush. It carries with it dozens of poltical minefields and legal traps which could end a presidency on a snap. The fact that he hasn't come up with a magic wand solution to this matter is hardly a surprise.

Sullivan's article is right on. The President's critics haven't a lick of political sense on this issue and most certainly no plan to obtain the votes in Congress to fix these messes created by his predecessor.

And what wartime President has been better? FDR? Dude ordered the illegal detention of tens of thousands of US Citizens on US Soil. That paragon of liberalism, with one stroke of the pen imprisoned tens of thousands of citizens without due process. Lincoln suspended the right of Habeus Corpus.

So don't vote for Romney, because he sucks.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:35 PM on January 17, 2012 [44 favorites]


graphnerd: Can we all agree to drop the whole 'FTFY' thing here? There are a lot of great points here, but I come to metafilter to escape the obnoxiousness of the rest of the Internet.
I just don't understand this and similar complaints when they are trotted out on Metafilter.

Why is FTFY a bad thing? It's a rhetorical device, like so many others. It's a way of pointing out what you feel is a missing or mispresenting element of someone else's statements- and in charlie don't surf's case, to point out that Sullivan is basically being a hypocrite. Namely, that the civil liberties being trashed, which Sullivan claims to oppose in Obama's tenure, arose during a Bush era when Sullivan was one of the loudest supporters of Bush and the unending War on Terror, and when such trashing of the bill of rights was seen a necessary evil to end the Muslim threat. It's a shorter way of saying the above sentences, yet with more potency.

So why isn't a "FTFY" re-edit a perfectly terse, succinct, and meaningful way of expressing that? Not everyone's idiocy or hypocrisy deserves twenty paragraphs of Thomas Paine-level response.
posted by hincandenza at 6:36 PM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sullivan's article is right on.

...aside from his interpretation of the NDAA of course.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:38 PM on January 17, 2012


Grimgrin's link to Driftglass' response is really good:

As one of the millions of non-deluded Liberals who Andrew Sullivan simply refuses to believe actually exists, I am not pissed off because this Administration failed to live up to any "...absurd notions of what a president can actually do in a polarized country..." as I am well out of puberty and know better than to look for heroes and saviors in politics.

I am, on the other hand, very pissed off that this Administration has failed on its own terms. This Administration brushed past Liberal complaints by countering that the gravity of the times and circumstance require them to be hard-headed, real-world pragmatists, and yet during their first 2.5 years in office they have consistently and disastrously failed in the first duty of hard-headed, real-world pragmatism -- to accept and act on the irrefutable evidence which is pounding you over the head every fucking day.

The Obama Administration's signal failure was not how it handled single payer or Guantanamo Bay: its signal failure was its blithe obliviousness to just how bottomless the fanatical hatred of Right really was.

They failed because when faced with the reality of an intractable opposition of bleating, bloody-minded, knives-out lunatics, this Administration simply refused to believe that it could not charm or compromise or Centrism their way to victory. Instead of facing reality, they chose the siren's song of the Reasonable Centrist who told them that the one, sure-fire formula for success was to meet every obstacle by shoving the nearest Liberal principle out the airlock in the name of bipartisanship, taking whatever crumbs the Right might offer in return and declaring victory.

Except compromise didn't work. In fact, it emboldened their enemies. Hey, that's not good! What should we do about that?

Well, according to every clever, highly-paid Reasonable Centrist, when compromise with people who are now saying openly that they hate you and want to destroy you fails, the only solution is....more compromise!

posted by mediareport at 6:41 PM on January 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


In other news: he really loves you; that pain in your chest will go away if you ignore it; you can give up anytime you want; Saddam did have weapons of mass destruction; and that combover really does cover up your bald spot.

Everybody does it, but it's kinda sad watching other people justifying their self-deception. Particularly when it's a large swathe of a whole country…
posted by Pinback at 6:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


This conversation sounds like the reverse of a scene from the Oliver Stone movie about Nixon. Don't like Obama because he's not far enough left? Great. But what's your alternative?

Jack, I've learned politics is the art of compromise. I learned it the hard way. I don't know if you have. Well, let me tell you this, Jack. If you don't like it, there's an election in November, and you can take your money out in the open and give it to Wallace. How about it, Jack? Willing to do that? Hand this country over to some pansy poet socialist like George McGovern?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's fine. People over-react to FTFY all the time; it's a little snide, yes, but no more so than tons of other rhetorical devices. Get a grip.
posted by mediareport at 6:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dan Drezner at FP has a decent critique of the Sullivan piece here.

tl:dr "He makes some valid points, but he proffers some serious whoppers as well. This is far from a slam-dunk empirical refutation of Obama's critics."
posted by Wretch729 at 6:47 PM on January 17, 2012


So why isn't a "FTFY" re-edit a perfectly terse, succinct, and meaningful way of expressing that? Not everyone's idiocy or hypocrisy deserves twenty paragraphs of Thomas Paine-level response.

Listen, people can write what they want. There's no requirement that they advance the argument at all.

But you know what, if you want to convince, it is a terrible way of arguing. It makes the "FTFY"er look childish and unable to actually argue a point and that they cannot actually cogently respond to the argument about the premises. Its statement without justification and should be used rarely, if at all, if the purpose is to actually convince.

Sullivan was a guy who made a whole bunch of stupid calls. And gee, reality had a big surprise for him. But think of it this way--last night the remaining GOP nut jobs got back up on stage and gave out the message of ignorance which Josh Marshall famously called "Viva La Boosh! Viva La Muerte!" (paraphrasing a Francoist cry of the 1930s). Seriously, the guy he's going to run against got on national TV and swore on a stack of fucking bibles that waterboarding was not torture. And they cheered him!

Anyone who would put that man even one vote closer to the Presidency after what we've been through in the last 10 years would be certifiably insane.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:49 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm reading that correctly, but if you mean to say that "FTFY" is distinctive of Metafilter, it's not.
posted by Flunkie at 6:49 PM on January 17, 2012


Finally, what are your options? Mitt 'Double Guantanamo' Romney? Ron "I Swear I didn't write that" Paul? Paul, that sudden hero for those who would scrap the entire country for the few this bill affects wants to get rid of fractional reserve banking and force the country back on to the gold standard. His crackpot views notwithstanding, he's also for cutting every dollar of humanitarian aid the US gives out. So no sending the Navy in to help Tsunami victims or condom distribution in Africa.
It's really funny to see you grasping at straws for reasons why Ron Paul and Romney would be such a horrible monsters to liberals, since your entire rhetorical strategy is basically to argue that whoever the republican candidate Du Jure is is totally the next Hitler (Bachman, Palin, Santorum, Gingrich, Perry).

But Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts and he also implemented universal healthcare during his tenure! Obviously he's made some crazy statements trying to appeal to the base, but clearly he is not personally driven by insane conservatism.

Obama's greatest 'liberal' achievement is also Mitt Romney's. So if Romney wins, Obama won't really be able to campaign on it.

Then there's Ron Paul. Obviously his economic ideas are insane. But he won't actually have the power to "end the fed". Other then that, if you're someone who's worried about Civil Liberties and war then there is really no way you can claim Ron Paul is somehow worse. Stuff like cutting foreign aide is a really, really minor issue in comparison. And anyway, if congress authorizes it he can't stop it. On the other hand, he can certainly choose not to start wars without congressional authorization, he can choose not to order bombings, and he can choose not to have the military detain people indefinitely.

---

Finally, for those praising this article and claiming NDAA doesn't allow detainment, here's what Andrew Sullivan actually said:
Yes, Obama has waged a war based on a reading of executive power that many civil libertarians, including myself, oppose. And he has signed into law the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial (even as he pledged never to invoke this tyrannical power himself). But he has done the most important thing of all: excising the cancer of torture from military detention and military justice. If he is not reelected, that cancer may well return. Indeed, many on the right appear eager for it to return.
Apparently he's suffering the same delusion on this as EVERY OTHER NEWS SOURCE.
posted by delmoi at 6:50 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Please take further FTFY discussion to MeTa; generally speaking it's considered poor form and a bit toxic to discussion.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:53 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Then there's Ron Paul. Obviously his economic ideas are insane. But he won't actually have the power to "end the fed". Other then that, if you're someone who's worried about Civil Liberties and war then there is really no way you can claim Ron Paul is somehow worse.

Unless you're interested in gay rights, for one thing, or if you're interested in abortion rights, for another thing. Ron Paul supports DOMA, which is a federal measure against gay marriage, and he reintroduced the Sanctity of Life Act, which is a federal measure against abortion rights. He does not simply punt civil liberties issues to the states; he's a hypocrite who is happy to bar what displeases him at a federal level.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:54 PM on January 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


Guess we should vote for the guy who'd also sign the NDAA and then also outlaw abortion then.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:54 PM on January 17, 2012


A conservatist departs from objective reality? I am shocked - shocked I tell you.
posted by onesidys at 6:55 PM on January 17, 2012


But Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts and he also implemented universal healthcare during his tenure! Obviously he's made some crazy statements trying to appeal to the base, but clearly he is not personally driven by insane conservatism.

What's your plan? Angry Black man?

Seriously, so your plan is to yell and scream a lot? Because magically it will make a bunch of basically conservative people see the light? The country's 42% Conservative, 21% Moderate. You think yelling's gonna change that?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:56 PM on January 17, 2012


(Also, Romney would repeal Obamacare on "Day One"). So like his failed experiment with pro-choice, he's done with it.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:58 PM on January 17, 2012


alexei: "The thing is, the "long game" [...] is measured in months, not years, and it's only unusual because everyone else's game is measured in hours."

Diplomacy is about surviving until the next century; politics is about surviving until Friday afternoon.
— Sir Humphrey Appleby, "Yes Minister"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:58 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just to clarify on NDAA: Almost every major news article I've seen that goes over NDAA claims it does allow the detainment of Americans.

For example, the Daily Show, MSNBC, ABC news, Forbes, the New York Times, CNN, Colbert Report

(also the ACLU, which is not a news source)
posted by delmoi at 6:59 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


(Also, Romney would repeal Obamacare on "Day One"). So like his failed experiment with pro-choice, he's done with it.
Wait, so now presidents can just repeal laws they don't like? Just like that? I thought you always argued presidents are totally powerless, can't do anything, bla bla bla.
posted by delmoi at 7:00 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Also, Romney would repeal Obamacare on "Day One"). So like his failed experiment with pro-choice, he's done with it.

What Romney has shown is that he is a pragmatic politician who works within the realm of the possible. If Democrats refuse to go along with the repeal, it won't happen. If there is bipartisan support for repeal, that sounds like a law that was no written with long term thinking in mind.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:02 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama's greatest 'liberal' achievement is also Mitt Romney's. So if Romney wins, Obama won't really be able to campaign on it.

Oh, please. Obama and his campaign crew will be ringing that particular gong nonstop, because it will hurt Romney, horribly, among the ultraconservative wing of the GOP. Remember that for every person on the Left who, like you, thinks Obama is no better than Romney, there's a Tea Partier who thinks that Romney is no better than Obama, and is no happier about it than you.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:05 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, so now presidents can just repeal laws they don't like? Just like that? I thought you always argued presidents are totally powerless, can't do anything, bla bla bla.

Romney would presumably cooperate with the Republicans in Congress and those hangs-on in the Democratic wing who would be all too happy to succor favor with the conservative base. When the President wants something to happen which Congress wants to have happen, then things are relatively easy. When the President wants something to happen which Congress does not want to have happen, then things are much more difficult.

If there is bipartisan support for repeal, that sounds like a law that was no written with long term thinking in mind.

You are aware that any law can be repealed, and that even the Constitution could theoretically be amended out of recognizable existence, if enough support exists to make it so?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:08 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Sullivan] has discussed his mistakes on Iraq before.. and if he is less willing to jump into military action now that seems like a sign of honest growth.

Expressing regret for advocating, even pushing the world towards war, might be a mitigating factor. But he doesn't even express regret for what he did. He regrets that he was wrong:

What the war has done to what is left of Iraq - the lives lost, the families destroyed, the bodies tortured, the civilization trashed - was bad enough. But what was done to America - and the meaning of America - was unforgivable. And for that I will not and should not forgive myself either.

And here I will agree with Sullivan, for the first and last time. I will not and should not forgive you, for what you did to America. And you're still doing it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:09 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually what Romney wants to do is issue 'wavers' for states to implement their own systems, which the law allows the administration to grant. But Romney won't be able to take Obamacare away from states that want it.

I wonder what the law actually says on the wavers, I would assume that the states need to have a certain coverage level. If not, then it would have been an incredibly stupid mistake to include in the bill. So it seems likely.
Oh, please. Obama and his campaign crew will be ringing that particular gong nonstop, because it will hurt Romney, horribly, among the ultraconservative wing of the GOP.
Which won't matter at all in the general election. Those people are not going to vote for Obama instead. That matters in the primary, but it looks like it doesn't matter enough. The hard-core conservatives all think Obama is the next Pol-pot, they will come out to the polls against Obama, Romneycare or no.
posted by delmoi at 7:10 PM on January 17, 2012


I so want to agree with Sullivan. He does put things in a different light. I am sure that Obama is a much better President than generally credited, but my gut instinct is still that he could have done more and chose not to. I think Obama's most brilliant achievement may have been to convince supporters he was playing n-dimensional chess when he was really pandering to the elites. He certainly has accomplished much but I think he also has to be judged against what needed to be done in these extraordinary circumstances and that is where he maybe hasn't done as well. What is clear though is that he is still vastly better than any alternative, both in 2008 and 2012, but if he can't change the system probably no one can.
posted by blue shadows at 7:12 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ron Paul supports DOMA, which is a federal measure against gay marriage

Which was signed into law by Clinton and remains as law under Obama - like the NDAA he is just declining to utilize some of its powers. I know Ron Paul is a certified nutjob on women's and gay issues, but I think it's much more important to look at what politicians do, rather than what they say. DOMA Section 3 remains in effect. I hope the courts eventually kill it, but if they do, it won't have anything to do with who is in the White House.

On the other hand, a great deal of the GOP panders to the evangelical base with very little actual intent to legislate any of it - it's an election year wedge issue for them. Dubya was a great example of this - he was a neocon, not a fundie; he talked the talk, sure, but that's about it. Others are true believers, yes; Paul might even be one of them. (But he reads much more like a race-baiting objectivist than a Puritancal type to me.) Paul is definitely terrible on abortion, but the real action on tihs issue is at the state level, where red states have been increasingly restricting access to abortion. To me, any and all discussion of abortion at the federal level is just a distraction from the very real issues at the state level, which are continuing to reduce women's rights right now, even under Obama. At the federal level, passing an anti-abortion law would require a constitutional amendment, and I don't think that's within the realm of the possible.
posted by mek at 7:13 PM on January 17, 2012


After an election season where Obama and Romney try to out-centrist each other while furiously dog-whistling to activists, neither one is going to have a mandate to govern. If the economic crisis continues (and there's little reason to think it won't) then national politics in the next president term will be driven by extremists.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:16 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I certainly think an election between Ron Paul and Obama would be a lot more interesting then one between Romney and Obama.
posted by delmoi at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Unless you're interested in gay rights

Gawd, this thing... again.

In the grand scheme of things, Paul is really no better or worse than Obama on this front.

But if we are going to let party politics rule day, Democrats are significantly trailing behind aspects of the GOP on gay rights.


You don't get a free pass this time around. You're going to have to do more than pay lip service to the idea of civil rights. You're going to have to earn your keep.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 7:27 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The FTFY derail seems like a MeTa topic not something for the FPP.

And now back to the topic of the FPP:

Joe Leiberman, Arlen Spector, Roland Buris and Ben Nelson don't exactly make for a amazing super majority. Especially when Ted Kennedy is dying in the hospice along with Robert Byrd.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs hired a top criminal defense lawyer because the entire universe knows that the charges are comming. Fines against Wall Street firms have tripled wide Obama took office. It isn't eleven dimensional chess to understand that indicting and prosecuting billionaires takes time. Restricting the healthcare component of our economy may also take some time.

Al Qaeda has been weakened. The combat mission in Iraq is over. We've avoided war with Iran. The war in Afghanistan is on a schedule to end and we have had a significant breakthrough in talking with the Taliban.

Obama poured tons of money into mass transit, schools, and green energy R&D. He protected good union jobs and created the consumer financial protection agency to reign in banks. He nationalized the student loan program and has setup regulations which will cap payments to a percentage of income. His health care reforms has already eliminated lifetime limits, forced insurers to spend your premiums in providing healthcare, let parents cover their kids through age 26, and added coverage for commonly needed things like birth control.
posted by humanfont at 7:29 PM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


[DOMA] was signed into law by Clinton and remains as law under Obama

Who gives a shit that DOMA was signed into law by Clinton? Who was talking about Bill Clinton? Why are you bringing him up? Since when has Bill "DADT" Clinton been a hero of gay rights? Did Bill Clinton put a gun to Ron Paul's head and tell him to vote for DOMA, or was it Ron Paul's conscious choice to remain the hypocrite that he is?

DOMA Section 3 remains in effect. I hope the courts eventually kill it, but if they do, it won't have anything to do with who is in the White House.

Funny you should mention that. The Obama administration's official position is that DOMA is unconstitutional and that the DOJ should not defend it in court. Obama, as the head of the executive branch, and not a member of the legislative branch, cannot just get rid of it, but he can stop enforcing it. Which he has.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:33 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


he can stop enforcing it. Which he has.

Sorry. I meant, stop defending it in court.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:33 PM on January 17, 2012


It's a good first step on that front, but this country has a lot of problems. All of them need to be fixed.

Yes, let's fix all of them. How 'bout we start with one?

If you have three different terminal diseases, you can't just cure one and call it a day.
posted by delmoi


If you have three different terminal diseases, you don't cure any of them. You go to hospice and hope to die comfortably.

I'm disappointed in Obama in several areas, but you seem to be hoping for miracles.
posted by justgary at 7:37 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless you're interested in gay rights
Gawd, this thing... again.

In the grand scheme of things, Paul is really no better or worse than Obama on this front.
That's an interesting claim.

For example, Barack Obama signed the repeal of DADT into law, while Ron Paul believes that the Constitution gives individual states the authority to outlaw, as he calls it, "gay sodomy".
posted by Flunkie at 7:41 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Who gives a shit that DOMA was signed into law by Clinton? Who was talking about Bill Clinton? Why are you bringing him up? Since when has Bill "DADT" Clinton been a hero of gay rights?

Maybe you missed everything I said in the comment after the word "Clinton" but my point was that it isn't all that important who is president, as most of these are state matters. The Democrats had the House and the Senate and they enacted DOMA, and they haven't repealed it, and it remains in effect, actively harming multitudes.
posted by mek at 7:41 PM on January 17, 2012


Obama, as the head of the executive branch, and not a member of the legislative branch, cannot just get rid of it, but he can stop enforcing it. Which he has.
Of course, before that happened people defending Obama said that he simply had no choice but to defend, and that people complaining were complaining about something he had no power over...
If you have three different terminal diseases, you don't cure any of them. You go to hospice and hope to die comfortably.
So your solution to America's problems is that we, as a country, should "go to a hospice and die comfortably"?

Because that does not sound like an inspiring political message: "Obama 2012: Our country cannot be fixed so, so instead let's die comfortably!" Quite a change from "Hope."

Furthermore, you can't blame people for wanting something, and expecting even, something better from our politicians.
posted by delmoi at 7:42 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


What made everybody into libertarians? OWS? Ron Swanson?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Maybe you missed everything I said in the comment after the word "Clinton" but my point was that it isn't all that important who is president, as most of these are state matters. The Democrats had the House and the Senate and they enacted DOMA, and they haven't repealed it, and it remains in effect, actively harming multitudes.

DOMA is not a state matter. It's a federal matter.

It's irrelevant how many Dems are in Congress. Not too many Dems are interested in repealing DOMA. Hence Obama not approaching it that way. Because Dems aren't interested in that. Want to change that? Get better Dems.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:45 PM on January 17, 2012


He's only the president remember.
This all too common argument doesn't hold up.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:51 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I generally agreed with Sullivan's article, but I really sympathize with the Driftglass article as well. But my response is this:

You're disappointed in Obama. Fine. I am too. So what?

It's entirely possible that Obama could have been a more powerful leader and rejected the NDAA, pushed through the public option, etc. It's also possible that he's a right-centrist at heart and never intended to do anything about it.

But it doesn't really make much difference. He's better than the alternative, and he's probably going to win. So let him win.

If you want positive change, it's not going to come from the box marked "President" on your next ballot.

But it might come from the other boxes-- the senators and representatives. If there is a change there--and there will be change, one way or the other--more liberal bills will be sent to Obama for his signature. Maybe he didn't push for the public option hard enough, but he's not going to veto it, either. So getting it on his desk is the next step.

I guess it's just the nature of an international site like this that we can't really involve everyone in a discussion of the people on the ballot in Tennessee, so we get stuck in a rut, expressing our frustration at the national situation without any real hope of affecting it. Instead, start looking ahead at who's running in your district. If you live in a liberal district, work to get the people elected who really do represent positive change. If you're in a conservative area, work to toss out the lunatics and get the sane ones in.

That really could make for real change. And those races have hardly begun. You don't like Obama, fine. He'll take care of himself. Spend your energy where it matters.
posted by alexei at 7:52 PM on January 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


This thread is as good a place as any to repeat my prophecy from before the election: for better and for worse, Obama is the Democrat version of George H. W. Bush. He's lanky, stentorian, full of sangfroid, barely tolerated by his base, uninterested in shaking up the status quo, and relatively successful in a number of moderate ways, but without the huge flourishes of an FDR or a Reagan or even a Clinton or even a Dubya. He's not a revolutionary, nor even a progressive, and he's only a liberal in relative terms, but he's a competent President and he'd be more effective than any of the Republican candidates. Getting too emotionally invested in the areas in which he sucks is like getting angry at thunder or earthquakes. This is what a President looks like in our electoral system and political landscape. Got a problem with that? Work towards electoral reform and otherwise changing the political landscape.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:55 PM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's irrelevant how many Dems are in Congress. [...] Get better Dems.

Oh sorry, I thought you were trying to defend the Democrats we had.. I misunderstood. Allow me to propose step one of getting better Dems: identifying which ones suck.

DOMA is not a state matter. It's a federal matter.

It's a federal law which grants a state power. So it's both. My point, which you repeatedly miss, is that (assuming DOMA is unconstitutional, which seems highly probable, and you seem to agree with this position) that these both of these issues (gay marriage & abortion) are state matters, and virtually always an intentional distraction when presidential candidates are framed by these issues. They're being used cynically to rile the base.

Repeat after me: Ron Paul cannot ban abortion, even if he really, really wants to. Ron Paul can't obliterate gay marriages in states that recognize them.
posted by mek at 7:58 PM on January 17, 2012


For example, Barack Obama signed the repeal of DADT into law, while Ron Paul believes that the Constitution gives individual states the authority to outlaw, as he calls it, "gay sodomy".

Did you perhaps forget Ron Paul's vote on DADT? How convenient of you.

Or perhaps forget Obama's position on gay marriage?

“I agree with most Americans, with Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Cheney, with over 2,000 religious leaders of all different beliefs, that decisions about marriage, as they always have, should be left to the states.”

It seems he's not the only one to consider states rights.

And the full quote is:

Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment "right to privacy". Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states' rights – rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards

which seems to be more of a matter not allowing hard cases to make bad law (unless you REALLY want to invite the Federal government to start making determinations as to what is acceptable in the bedroom).

So yeah, I'd say they are about equal.

But it would be easier to actually debate the issue on actual polices than constantly correcting misrepresentations (I've had about enough of that with the NDAA subject). I mean the last great one was Ron Paul's vote on the MLK holiday (even though his actual vote was linked to no less than three times).

Perhaps educate yourself?
posted by quintessencesluglord at 8:09 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Repeat after me: Ron Paul cannot ban abortion, even if he really, really wants to. Ron Paul can't obliterate gay marriages in states that recognize them.

DOMA bars federal recognition of gay marriages, such as in federally administrated benefits, federal taxes, etc. It is a federal matter, in addition to any other state implications it may have. There will never be full marriage equality in any state, even if that state otherwise has gay marriage, as long as DOMA still exists.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:10 PM on January 17, 2012


Sorry, I meant to have responded to this quoted section: It's a federal law which grants a state power. So it's both. My point, which you repeatedly miss, is that (assuming DOMA is unconstitutional, which seems highly probable, and you seem to agree with this position) that these both of these issues (gay marriage & abortion) are state matters, and virtually always an intentional distraction when presidential candidates are framed by these issues.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:18 PM on January 17, 2012


It doesn't happen. When you win a majority in a parliamentary system, that's it. You get to do anything you want to do. That is by far the norm. It's only when no party gets a majority of seats that you have 'coalition' governments. But parties that are not coalition partners don't get any say at all.

posted by delmoi at 6:14 PM on January 17 [+] [!]


That's really not how parliamentary systems work at all. For example in Australia:

Former PM Kevin Rudd didn't have control of the Senate (upper house), so had to negotiate with the opposition party regarding his carbon trading scheme. Unfortunately for him, a leadership spill in the opposition party resulted in a more right wing opposition that completely opposed the legislation, so it didn't pass, and Rudd's refusal to call a double dissolution election to force it through fatally damaged his credibility, particularly with progressive voters, many of whom shifted their first preference to the Greens in the next election.

Former PM John Howard didn't have a majority in the Senate either when he was introducing the GST, and had to negotiate with the Democrats (no relation to the American party) which insisted on various changes, such as exempting things like fresh food and education from the tax. Somewhat unfairly this lead to the demise of the Democrats, who were replaced by the Greens as the third party in Australian politics, and who forced current PM Julia Gillard to make various amendments to the carbon tax legislation passed last year.

And this is not uncommon in the Australian system - there is a tendency for the party holding the Majority in the lower house to not have a majority in the upper house, requiring them to negotiate with either the main opposition party, or the minor parties and independents that hold the balance of power. There is also a tendency for the party holding Federal government to have to deal with state level governments from the opposition party, and thus having to negotiate on policy areas that straddle federal/state responsibility.

It is fairly rare for one of the major parties to have majorities in both federal houses and/or friendly state governments, and when they do so they generally get in trouble for going to far, i.e. Howard's 'Work Choices' IR reforms, that tend to damage them at the next election and remind Australian voters why it is a good idea to have a Senate that is able to prevent the Government from doing whatever it feels like.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:21 PM on January 17, 2012


Thanks for that Obscure Referenceman, I hadn't seen it.

I accept that there's some dispute as to how powerful (in a legislative, practical sense) the office of the president actually is. I don't think Greenwald is persuasive when he says the president gave some support to Blanche Lincoln as his kick-off point in the greater argument though. Of course his office has sway and has direct power in a large sense. But the point about his office having less power than the US people seem to consider it holds relates more to getting agendas through the congress; about advancing legislation successfully.

I can't go toe to toe against Greenwald. I'm sure he makes pertinent points. It still comes down to the fact that Obama gets blamed for lunatics in the Republican house and the fact that the majority of desired legislation can't overcome the outrageous filibuster tourette's syndrome of the republicans in the senate. Just because he's president, he can't say "we will do this thing" (eg. Guantanamo) and it will happen -- I'm not saying the office is powerless, just that a lot of the arguments on the left (as manifested in the rigid ideology seen in this thread) sidesteps the realities of getting stuff done.
posted by peacay at 8:21 PM on January 17, 2012


Okay.. this argument is degenerating into the usual one-issue politics. NDAA, DOMA, etc etc. This is what ruined politics. You're all playing Karl Rove's game and you don't even know it.

I would like to point out something that should have been taught in your jr. high school civics class, but is apparently unknown out in the electorate any more. There are 3 roles of the President.

1. Chief Executive
2. Chief Legislator
3. Chief of his Party

Everything else falls under one of those. For example, Commander in Chief is a function of the Chief Executive. That's the one most people get wrong, CinC is not a primary role.

What people don't appreciate is the last two items. The President has a primary duty to submit legislation and push Congress to enact it. If you don't think this is a primary duty, then look in the Constitution, the President is required to submit at least one major bill every year: the Budget. Look at the last time anyone was a really good Chief Legislator: LBJ. He was Senate Majority Leader and knew how to twist arms. When he got to be president, he was able to push through legislation like the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, The Great Society (e.g. Medicare, Food Stamps etc.) and most of that against serious opposition. LBJ sure screwed up the war, but hell, some of the greatest legislation, the legislation the GOP wants most to destroy, came from LBJ.

Now the other neglected issue is the President is the Chief of his Party. While some Executive functions are required to be blind to party affiliation, one of the his primary duties is to get more and better people from his party put into power. So it's his duty to promote his party's candidates in elections, appoint them to positions in his Cabinet etc. and use all legal means to advance the cause of his party. In this, I think Obama was a particular failure. With the poor showing in the midterm election, the loss of the House has hampered him more than any other factor. But perhaps it was necessary, to show how the GOP would work, and cause a backlash. Look at what the GOP is doing at the state level, like Gov. Walker's recall. The GOP may appear to have strong support from their base, but they're alienating everyone else in the process. This may be Obama's saving grace, though. If he manages to pull out this election, and swing the balance of power back, the GOP is neutralized, their obstructionism will fail, and be shown to be a failure.

If you're going to evaluate the success of an Obama presidency, you're going to have to look at those 3 major points, not specific issues or talking points. Nobody will ever doubt the "success" of Obama's powerful Executive role, he has more Executive power than any previous President, even Bush. His foreign policy has been almost completely unobstructed by Congress, because they don't have the power to stop him. So look at what he's done as Chief Legislator and as Chief of his Party. I give him low grades on both of those areas, but perhaps there is no place to go but up. Perhaps, without a powerful start like LBJ had in the Senate, improvement in those other two areas can only be achieved in a second term with a serious mandate and Congressional majority.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:25 PM on January 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


Sorry meant to add:

The upper house of Westminster style parliamentary systems are a key institution in the balance of powers arrangement, given the blending of the executive and legislative wings of government based in the majority party of the lower house, and that is something that voters tend to be aware of, based on past voting patterns.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:27 PM on January 17, 2012


If you're including the text "Ron Paul" within 500 yards of the conversation labeled "people who may be elected President (of the United States) one day," then you're wasting everyone's time, especially your own.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:30 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's only the president remember.

I have a very easy time remembering he nominated two center-right judges to the Supreme Court, where Bush settled on nominating a pair of bought-and-paid for tools after dabbling in cronyism.

I also remember the Citizens United decision.

I also remember Iraq and the complete bungling of Afghanistan.

I remember what happened to New Orleans.

I don't need a President who comes with a liberal talking points checklist all filled out (tho it would be nice.)

I need a president who won't fuck up the nation through misrule. The Republicans can't really give that to us at this point.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:32 PM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is a federal matter

I don't know why you're so hung up on this. DOMA section 2 clearly devolves power to the state level. And it's very, very clear that 1) gay marriage is largely a state matter and 2) Democrats aren't interested in repealing DOMA, and therefore the court will decide whether section 3 stands, so it therefore follows that: who is president doesn't matter in respect to DOMA, and DOMA doesn't matter in the long term in respect to whether gay marriages are recognized as valid. Unless, of course, DOMA remains as law, for which we would have the Democrats to thank!

joe lisboa, I completely agree. Which is why it's so completely infuriating to have the spooky horrible Ron Paul presidency presented as a defense of Obama's position on GLBT rights.
posted by mek at 8:33 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Former PM Kevin Rudd didn't have control of the Senate (upper house), so had to negotiate with the opposition party regarding his carbon trading scheme. Unfortunately for him, a leadership spill in the opposition party resulted in a more right wing opposition that completely opposed the legislation, so it didn't pass, and Rudd's refusal to call a double dissolution election to force it through fatally damaged his credibility, particularly with progressive voters, many of whom shifted their first preference to the Greens in the next election.

Former PM John Howard didn't have a majority in the Senate either when he was introducing the GST, and had to negotiate with the Democrats (no relation to the American party) which insisted on various changes, such as exempting things like fresh food and education from the tax. Somewhat unfairly this lead to the demise of the Democrats, who were replaced by the Greens as the third party in Australian politics, and who forced current PM Julia Gillard to make various amendments to the carbon tax legislation passed last year.
That's what happens when one party doesn't have a majority. The problem was, back in 2009 the democrats had a majority in the house and senate - but still the claim was made that they had to "work with the other side." I don't know about Australia, but in most countries when one party wins a majority, they win.
posted by delmoi at 8:39 PM on January 17, 2012


I love Andrew Sullivan, and I am not afraid to say so. Even on Metafilter.
posted by LarryC at 8:41 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


joe lisboa, I completely agree. Which is why it's so completely infuriating to have the spooky horrible Ron Paul presidency presented as a defense of Obama's position on GLBT rights.

Obama integrated the military.

And -- unlike via executive fiat -- he did so in a manner that will be essentially impossible to undo, despite the fact said manner infuriated precisely the sort of folks Sullivan (whatever his vices and blind-spots, and they are many and sundry!) calls out in this piece.

Also, the Obama DOJ has deliberately refused to intervene judicially in defense of DOMA and Obama himself has said DOMA should be repealed. Give the man enough solidly Democratic votes in the legislature to make this happen and it will happen.

We have a separation of powers. Enable the chief executive most sympathetic to your views to do something about and through (or despite) that fact. Or, you know, vote for the opposition party about spite if you have the luxury of doing so. Either way, have the courage to concede what you're doing and why.

Again, if civil rights for gay Americans is an issue for you (and I believe it should be), I haven't the foggiest notion why you'd invoke Ron freaking Paul of all people. The States' Rights parade float would be the first one to trample the Gay American marcher in said parade.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:46 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just look at manufacturing, with the auto companies as one example. Wages in the sector are way down from prior years, and that's success? Many Detroit executives that mishandled their sector are still in place.

Without Obama, there wouldn't be a Detroit.

Just to clarify on NDAA: Almost every major news article I've seen that goes over NDAA claims it does allow the detainment of Americans.

But the actual lawdoesn't say that:

(e) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
posted by spaltavian at 8:46 PM on January 17, 2012


Without Obama, there wouldn't be a Detroit.

Repeated for (admittedly self-interested) emphasis, and in before it becomes the tagline to a GOP-produced anti-Obama TV ad.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:48 PM on January 17, 2012


But the actual lawdoesn't say that:

I wonder how many know that while it repeals punishment for gay sex, it does allow sex with animals by service members.

Article 125 of the UCMJ makes it illegal to engage in both sodomy with humans and sex with animals.

It states: “(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense. (b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
posted by usagizero at 8:56 PM on January 17, 2012


There are, however, states' rights – rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments.

Have we already forgotten what Republicans really mean when they say "states' rights"?
posted by octothorpe at 9:00 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know why you're so hung up on [DOMA's federal effect].

DOMA only came up when people were trying to bring up Ron Paul as an unassailable champion of civil liberties. No supporter of DOMA can consistently say that they are a defender of civil liberties, especially since so many Ron Paul supporters like to imagine that Ron Paul only wants to spin gay rights and abortion rights to the states. Not so. He supports federal measures against these issues. Why? Because he is a hypocrite.

As for why I'm "hung up" on DOMA being a federal issue, I don't know what to tell you. The truth about DOMA is that it is a federal law which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Would it make you feel better if I lied to you and said that DOMA did little more than simply devolve the issue to the states?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:02 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


if you're someone who's worried about Civil Liberties and war then there is really no way you can claim Ron Paul is somehow worse.

You brought up DOMA first ITT in response to this claim. You specified that you meant specifically on gay rights. That is fair because even though Obama is bad on this...he thinks gay marriage is wrong and wants to toss the issue to the states (something Paul is attacked for on other civil rights issues), Paul is indeed worse.

However, it is not fair of you to claim that you were talking to someone who said Paul was an unassailable champion of civil liberties when they simply are trying to judge which of two candidates is worse or better on the overall topic of civil liberties.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:14 PM on January 17, 2012


Do you have a point, usagizero?

Section (e) is clearly saying the the provisions of NDAA don't apply to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

Of course, the Constitution and posse comitatus already made such protections. The NDAA doesn't expand the power to detain, in reality, it probably narrows it.
posted by spaltavian at 9:15 PM on January 17, 2012


I haven't the foggiest notion why you'd invoke Ron freaking Paul of all people.

I didn't, others did. Earlier comments.
posted by mek at 9:19 PM on January 17, 2012


DOMA only came up when people were trying to bring up Ron Paul as an unassailable champion of civil liberties.

Nobody said this. Least of all me.
posted by mek at 9:22 PM on January 17, 2012


That's what happens when one party doesn't have a majority. The problem was, back in 2009 the democrats had a majority in the house and senate - but still the claim was made that they had to "work with the other side." I don't know about Australia, but in most countries when one party wins a majority, they win.

Does that mean they can change the national religion to the flying spaghetti monster?

No.

This is a overly simple view of the way politics works in any country, especially one where individual member districts exist and where primaries exist. In the UK party elders decides who runs in what district. Here moonbeam loons like Christine O'Donnell run for the Senate and have to declare that they aren't a witch. If you break party discipline in the House of Commons, you won't be running again. If you break party discipline in the House of Representatives, nothing will happen to you. Don't believe me? Ask John Boehner twice in 2011, at absolutely critical junctures he needed his caucus to vote for a competing measure to show his strength. His backbenchers said no, led by his own second-in-command.

Seriously, spend some time reading Robert A. Caro's masterful bios of LBJ. You'll start to get an idea of the actual complexity of real-life politics in this country. Assuming that Comrade Obama could just force through the Consolidated Means of production Manifestation, Integration and Expropriation Act of 2009 is laughable. Its near-insanity to think that dozens of lawmakers are gonna vote to close Gitmo when Gallup shows 65-25 that the public opposes it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:23 PM on January 17, 2012


Assuming that Comrade Obama could just force through the Consolidated Means of production Manifestation, Integration and Expropriation Act of 2009 is laughable. Its near-insanity to think that dozens of lawmakers are gonna vote to close Gitmo when Gallup shows 65-25 that the public opposes it.

I demand Obama passes the Strawman Act of 2012 today!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:28 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obama is bad on this...he thinks gay marriage is wrong and wants to toss the issue to the states

So is Obama just another politician who says whatever he needs to, or do you think this is the area where his true principles come through?

Unless you think Obama really should try to pass the "Make Gay Marriage Legal Everywhere" bill through this Congress, the issue already is a state issue. The Federal government isn't going to lead on this issue, and I haven't spoke to a single gay rights activist or lawyer (or gay lawyer, for that matter) who thinks this is a federal battle. I'm not sure it would even be Constitutional to legalize gay marriage nationally through Congress.

Obama has done some historic stuff for gay rights. DADT repealed. DOMA is no longer being defended. The common thread is that those are federal matters.
posted by spaltavian at 9:28 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


the issue already is a state issue.

When the states fail to recognize civil rights, the federal government has to step in. State's rights are not a compelling argument to strip people's rights.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:31 PM on January 17, 2012


[Seriously, MetaTalk is your option if you want to defend your right to call people cunts on MetaFilter. Everyone, be cool please? Don't turn this thread into two guys wrestling with each other.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:42 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


And how do the majority of American people feel about [the NDAA]? 2/3rds disagree with us and want Gitmo to stay open: http://www.gallup.com/poll/119393/Americans-Oppose-Closing-Gitmo-Moving-Prisoners.aspx#

Flagged as irrelevant. Let's see the results of a poll asking whether respondents support indefinite detention of American citizens without trial, since that's what the primary objection is. Got a poll that shows 2/3rds of Americans disagree with us on that?

please, please reread Section 1021 again, where the bill states it doesn't affect current law on the question of anyone in the US.

Great - so what does the government understand that current law to be? In previous discussions you've cited to the Constitution, which is a non sequitur, since the government has no qualms about violating the Constitution in the realms of civil liberties and executive power (e.g. warrantless wiretaps, trial-free execution of U.S. citizens, etc.).

So let's dispense with the feel-good fiction that the government will rein in extraconstitutional powers it thinks it has and return to the question: what does the government understand that current law to be? I suspect that, like the government's secret interpretation of what the Patriot Act gives them the power to do, it's worse than we think, and we aren't going to find out anytime in the foreseeable future.

If the problem is so cut and dry and there's no possible way indefinite detention of citizens is implicated, why'd Obama add the signing statement? I mean, if the bill doesn't include that power, what's he pledging that his administration won't exercise? An imaginary power the bill never granted in the first place?

The country's 42% Conservative, 21% Moderate.

Time and time again I've mentioned the problem with this poll, and time and time again you've ignored it and continued to cite it as evidence that people want what the Republicans are fighting for. One more time: When the term "liberal" has been turned into a slur rather than a neutral appellation, asking people whether they self-identify using that term indicates nothing.

So how come you only cite to polls that reveal the majority of people support Republican policies on the War on Terror, and not the ones that show they support policies that are so liberal that American Democrats won't even fucking fight for them? How come it's suicide for the President to dare oppose a civil liberties nightmare when a poll shows that 60% of people support (the completely unrelated issue of) Guantanamo staying open, but it's not suicide for the President to go out and spend months telling Democrats in Congress that they need to get serious and cut entitlement programs, or to have his DOJ start busting California dispensaries, breaking his pledge and reversing two years of his own administration's policy? How come those things aren't suicide? Because a poll shows that people consider themselves "independents" even though they're in favor of liberal policies? Gimme something better.

The answer I've heard before is along the lines of what someone said much earlier in this thread: that politics is "the art of the possible," and with these gosh durn Republicans in Congress there's just no use taking a stand over anything because Democrats will fail and look stupid or something. Yeah, well, it's high time that Obama and the rest of his fucking party began to grasp that "the possible" isn't fixed; it's actually quite mobile, but you have to use a little fucking effort to move it. Republicans are never scared to yell and scream for wildly unpopular, illogical, and really bad policies, at length. And you know what it accomplishes? IT WINS SUPPORT FOR THOSE POLICIES. Over the course of months and months and months of screaming about how the public option would be a "socialist government takeover" and kill grandma and whatever else, public support for the public option dropped. Because that's what happens when you go out in public and passionately make the case for your side, over and over, even if it's stupid and wrong and bad and unpopular. (Especially when the president who "supports" what you oppose goes silent on the issue for months.) Jesus, imagine what you could do for policies that are already popular and would benefit people! Instead, we've got a situation where Democrats are too afraid to stand for what they believe in that we're losing ground on fucking basic-ass issues, like whether or not global warming is real and caused by mankind. You know, something that had such bipartisan acceptance four years ago that Gingrich was in an ad with fucking Pelosi about it.

And for that matter, stop giving in every time the Republicans throw a tantrum. A lot of what they say they're going to do is just posturing and they'd cave if they got called on it, especially when popular opinion favors the Democratic side. Look at what happened last month with the payroll tax cut vote - the House Republicans looked fucking ridiculous, and everybody realized it.

It doesn't matter how many elections Democrats win. If they don't start staking out liberal positions, and fighting fiercely for them instead of dropping some supportive words in a press conference and leaving it at that, we're going to keep sliding towards the right. If they don't start negotiations with fucking crazy, batshit left positions and making Republicans negotiate towards the center from there. If they don't stop giving in every time the Republicans threaten a childish walkout instead of calling their bluff.

I'm voting for Obama, I'm voting for my Democratic congresspeople, I'm not a closet Republican or crypto Ron Paul supporter or anything. But it's like being on a ship heading towards an iceberg, and the captain dies, and being asked to choose a replacement between the first mate who wants to accelerate towards the iceberg and a crazy vet who thinks the best way of avoiding the iceberg is to somehow steer the boat into an active volcano. Full of shit. In core of the sun. Like, yeah, I'm gonna choose the first mate, but I'm not gonna shut up and tell myself he's doing the right thing just because the other option's worse.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 9:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [33 favorites]


If we're going to send the National Guard out to force state governments to recognize, and when needed, perform same sex marriages- and mind you, I would be okay with this- we're going to need them to have a legal backing to do that. When troops were sent out to enforce integration, they were actually enforcing a Supreme Court decision, not just a concept of fairness. So that brings us back to to pushing for the "Make Gay Marriage Legal Everywhere" bill , which and may be unconstitutional, or getting this Supreme Court to declare that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriages. I want both, but I don't see either happening anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the good guys are slowly winning this in the states. New York last year and probably Maryland this year. Since Cuomo and O'Malley- two likely candidates for president in 2016 who are in effect already running- are pro gay marriage, we're going to see this debate shift even more soon.
posted by spaltavian at 9:46 PM on January 17, 2012


--but it's not suicide for the President to go out and spend months telling Democrats in Congress that they need to get serious and cut entitlement programs, or to have his DOJ start busting California dispensaries, breaking his pledge and reversing two years of his own administration's policy?--

I'll listen to you (properly) when you go and research your facts better and provide citations in support any of this nonsense.
posted by peacay at 9:49 PM on January 17, 2012


If we're going to send the National Guard out to force state governments to recognize, and when needed, perform same sex marriages- and mind you, I would be okay with this- we're going to need them to have a legal backing to do that. When troops were sent out to enforce integration, they were actually enforcing a Supreme Court decision, not just a concept of fairness. So that brings us back to to pushing for the "Make Gay Marriage Legal Everywhere" bill , which and may be unconstitutional, or getting this Supreme Court to declare that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriages. I want both, but I don't see either happening anytime soon.

Yes, we will need a legal backing, we know we aren't getting there with a President who opposes gay marriage and doesn't want a federal law.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:54 PM on January 17, 2012


--but it's not suicide for the President to go out and spend months telling Democrats in Congress that they need to get serious and cut entitlement programs, or to have his DOJ start busting California dispensaries, breaking his pledge and reversing two years of his own administration's policy?--

Obama Deficit Plan Cuts Entitlements and Raises Taxes on Rich. Feds escalate efforts to close California pot shops.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:57 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


A bit of a derail, but my upthread ref to Josh Marshall goes back to the heated days of the 2004 campaign. His reference goes back to the Spanish Civil War.

When the Duelfer Report came out saying that there were no WMD, David Brooks wrote a ridiculous column saying that it meant that Saddam "was on the verge of greatness. [Had we not deposed him] we would all now be living in his nightmare."

Josh replied "Viva Booosh!, Viva la Muerte!"

He was referencing a famous confrontation between on the Dia De La Raza on Oct. 12, 1936, nearly 70 years earlier when Franco's right-hand man Jose Millan Astray shouted down the leftist philosopher Miguel de Unamuno at the University of Salamanca. When Unamuno responded to Millan-Astray's barbs, the Francoist delightedly shouted "¡Muera la inteligencia! ¡Viva la Muerte!" (Death to intelligence! Long live death!"

And that is who we face. When our opponents stand on the stage and tell us that waterboarding is not torture and that we should double Guantanamo and that evolution does not exist, and that a woman's right to chose should be stopped, well, that is the death of intelligence. And those people must be kept from power--the years 2001-2009 cannot be forgotten. You may say that Romney will do nothing terribly wrong, but I cannot take that chance given where we just came from.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:59 PM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree, the bipartisan, centrist decision to go to war in Iraq is not a mistake that should be repeated.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:06 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, our only other proffered option to "Viva la Muerte" is to attempt to reach across the aisle and achieve bipartisan consensus with Death, resulting in either some of us dying or all of us dying somewhat. Yay.
posted by mek at 10:07 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I posted this I just thought it was a less frothing-at-the-mouth look at the Obama presidency and that it would be a nice read for the blue.

For me, personally, I'm just against SOPA/PIPA.
posted by WalterMitty at 10:07 PM on January 17, 2012


Ironmouth: "Lincoln suspended the right of Habeus Corpus."

Fucking Republicans.
posted by Bonzai at 10:37 PM on January 17, 2012


When I posted this I just thought it was a less frothing-at-the-mouth look at the Obama presidency and that it would be a nice read for the blue.

And that is the problem. Sullivan is the "less frothing-at-the-mouth" spokesman who carries water for frothing-at-the-mouth conservatives.

For me, personally, I'm just against SOPA/PIPA.

And that is the problem. Single-issue voters are destroying American politics. Do people really not know what Rovian Politics is? Karl Rove was the master of demographics for Nixon. He discovered how to pick niche issues that would bring selected demographic groups of single-issue voters to the polls. This would bring out Republicans that would never bother to vote in general elections, but hell, since they're here to vote on some specific thing they hate, they'll vote for the other Republican candidates while they're here. This has been very successful for Republicans and has not worked for Democrats.

Let me give you a specific example. A while back, an Iowa judge issued a ruling that legalized same-sex marriages statewide. Conservative groups poured huge funding into a campaign against the judges. Judges are nonpartisan offices and the campaign was officially nonpartisan but was obviously a GOP project. Usually it is futile to campaign against judges in an election, judges always get re-confirmed with like a 98% margin of victory. But the conservatives managed to unseat several judges they had labeled as "activist judges." The GOP didn't care about the judges. This was a mechanism to get the most right-wing single-issue voters to the polls, who just happened to be rabid Republicans. Republicans would ride the wave into office.

There was a close contest of the Democratic incumbent Governor, running for re-election against an old Republican ex-Governor. That GOP ex-Governor was one of the worst in recent history, he was voted out of office, and a wave of Democratic legislators took majority in the Statehouse. But now crazy GOP ex-Gov is back up for election, running against a Dem incumbent, and now there are huge numbers of crazy anti-Gay GOP voters turning out. Result, the judges are out AND the Republican Governor is in. Dems keep the state legislature (most were not up for re-election) but now the Republican governor is there to obstruct everything.

So you see, if you are only motivated by single issues, you are playing on the GOP's turf. You have to take a broader perspective.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:38 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll listen to you (properly) when you go and research your facts better and provide citations in support any of this nonsense.

You couldn't be MUCH more of a dick in how you chose to display your ignorance, but since I take the effort to respond to people even when I disagree with them, here you go:

it's not suicide for the President to go out and spend months telling Democrats in Congress that they need to get serious

Let's define our terms: "months" = greater than 1 month

January 16, 2009: He said his administration will begin confronting the issues of entitlement reform and long-term budget deficits soon after it jump-starts job growth and the stock market. "What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further," he said. "We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."

July 6, 2011: "Everything has -- we need to look at entitlements, and we have to say, how do we protect and preserve Medicare and Social Security for not just this generation but also future generations. And that’s going to require some modifications, even as we maintain its basic structure. So what I’m hoping to see over the next couple of weeks is people put their dogmas aside, their sacred cows aside; they come together and they say, here’s a sensible approach that reduces our deficit"

7/6/2011-1/16/2009 = nearly 30 months. He also pushed the issue pretty continuously through

and cut entitlement programs

The Obama plan proposed increasing Medicare savings by lowering means-testing thresholds and shifting more of the burden of paying for Medicaid to our (bankrupt) state governments. This was less extreme than the earlier version of his plan, which would have raised the retirement age.

to have his DOJ start busting California dispensaries

October 6, 2011: Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

breaking his pledge

March 2008: "I think the basic concept that, uh, using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs, prescribed by doctors, that's entirely appropriate. ... What I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue, simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism... ::laughter:: We've got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with."

and reversing two years of his own administration's policy?
October 19, 2009 DOJ memorandum:
The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States. ... The Department is also committed to making efficient and rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources. In general, United States Attorneys are vested with "plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters" within their districts. USAM 9-2.001.

In exercising this authority, United States Attorneys are "invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion in the exercise of such authority." Id. This authority should, of course, be exercised consistent with Department priorities and guidance.

The prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the disruption of illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking networks continues to be a core priority in the Department's efforts against narcotics and dangerous drugs, and the Department's investigative and prosecutorial resources should be directed towards these objectives. As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.
So peacay, are you ready to listen to an equal participant in a conversation now, or would you prefer to continue with the Internet equivalent of holding your fingers in your ears and saying "nyah nyah can't hear you"?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:45 PM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Thanks furiousgeorge. It doesn't mean that the way it was presented above was in any way balanced. It's the framing as "spent months" telling dems about entitlement cuts being needed as though that was the central aim.

There's very little around online about the pot clinic raids/notices beyond Oct 2011. I was of the understanding that the announcements, although from the DOJ, came from local Californian attorneys and didn't result from a D.C. directive. I am not certain of course.

In any event, I fully support cobra_high_tigers's right to their opinions, I just disagree with the raging blind partisan way they see things. You cannot have miracles people.
posted by peacay at 10:47 PM on January 17, 2012


cobra_high_tigers, I'd rather not engage with you, no.
posted by peacay at 10:50 PM on January 17, 2012


In any event, I fully support cobra_high_tigers's right to their opinions, I just disagree with the raging blind partisan way they see things. You cannot have miracles people.

My entire point was that public opinion polls show majority support for policies considered more liberal than anything Democrats have taken a stand for in years, and that I wish they would try harder to fight for things that, as shown, the majority of the public want. If advocating for, not even accomplishing, what the public wants instead of some half-ass compromise between the Blue Dog corporatist line and fucking rapture-ready Republicans is a "miracle" or somehow "raging blind partisan," then as a people there really isn't much hope, is there?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:50 PM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Karl Rove was the master of demographics for Nixon.

Karl Rove was with the college Republicans under Nixon.

Single-issue voters are destroying American politics.

I wonder how Democrats would feel if the single issue under consideration for abandonment was abortion? Probably not so good. Sometimes dropping an issue is the right move, gun control was clearly a loser, but sometimes you actually have to stand up for what is right.

What you should try and realize is that some people view other issues the same way a lot of voters view abortion. It's not practical to ask them to sacrifice their beliefs for other issues just because you think they are more important.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:54 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Single-issue voters are destroying American politics... So you see, if you are only motivated by single issues, you are playing on the GOP's turf. You have to take a broader perspective.

Oh... I'm not actually an American voter, so I find it difficult to be worked up about these things. I'm just your average non-American who's affected by American policies by dint of America being powerful and having outsize influence beyond its borders.

I can understand why people are getting worked up, of course, politics being what it is. Even in my country, where we've voted the same guys back into power for nearly 50 years and you might think that voters don't really have much effect on the outcome of an election, election season still sees people screaming at each other about how goddamned stupid the other side is. Then the same party gets voted back in. Ehh.

(If, hypothetically, I was an American, I'd be a Democrat. Probably. From way over here the Republicans look like the Nutjob Party.)
posted by WalterMitty at 11:01 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bit of a derail into Singaporean politics sorry:

I can understand why people are getting worked up, of course, politics being what it is. Even in my country, where we've voted the same guys back into power for nearly 50 years and you might think that voters don't really have much effect on the outcome of an election, election season still sees people screaming at each other about how goddamned stupid the other side is. Then the same party gets voted back in. Ehh.

Of course, it helps when the ruling effectively controls the major media outlets, amongst over structural things it has done to ensure that it stays in power.

I think the next elections in Singapore, and what the PAP does to shore up support until then, is going to be interesting, given the somewhat stunning results last year. I'm currently in Singapore, and the atmosphere seems quite different than it was when I was here at the same time last year in in years previous to that - the people seem more relaxed and confident about expressing their views, and the underlying tension I'd noticed seems to be gone.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 12:55 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama will win because lots of people won't vote for a Mormon. It's bias, yes, but this time it works in our favor.

And I appreciate Sullivan's attempt to make me feel better about voting for the guy I was gonna vote for anyway, but it didn't really work. I worked on Obama's campaign in 2008 and donated a whole bunch of money. I will never, ever, ever do that again. He helped me rediscover hope, and then he helped me rediscover cynicism. I used to say things like "I just can't understand people who don't vote." And although I will never join their ranks, now I feel like I understand them a bit better.

Having said that, if Sullivan is right and Obama really does pull a 180 in his second term, I will issue an official proclamation of I Was Wrong. Deal?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:32 AM on January 18, 2012


Also, if Romney DOES win, I'm willing to bet there will be at least one or two more wars. It's pretty much the only trick the Repubs have up their sleeve at this point. It's not like they have any actual ideas for how to fix things.

Heh. Maybe that should be Obama's slogan. "Obama in 2012 : at least he's *trying*"
posted by Afroblanco at 2:38 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...people won't vote for the Mormon.".

Given the choice between the Black guy and the Mormon, I suspect they WILL choose the Mormon.
posted by wittgenstein at 3:32 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama is playing a long game

And the people who claim this do they actually "know" what the gameplan is?

Back in 2009 President Obama said:
"More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border."

And in 2011 there is the gunwalker/Fast and furious issue - Federal agents seem to have been pushing shipping guns into Mexico - thus helping to make the 90+% statement true.

So I ask - to all of you "he's playing 11 dimensional chess" or "think of the long game" - explain exactly what the long game idea was/is with making the statement "More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border." then having Gunwalker/Fast and Furious happen? Bonus points if you can identify each law broken and why breaking these laws was OK for "the long game".

Because it doesn't look like any grand plan - it looks more like the standard BAU and anyone claiming N dimensional chess or masterful long game is just attempting to blow smoke up the sphincter. AKA Business As Usual.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:04 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


At some point, where does ironic-awesome-campaign-strategy-snark-disdain finally balance with oh-well-there-did-our-rights-but-go realization?

About the time the posters on the Blue are willing to ding a "D" the same way they'd ding an "R" for similar issues.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:48 AM on January 18, 2012


For example, Barack Obama signed the repeal of DADT into law, while Ron Paul believes that the Constitution gives individual states the authority to outlaw, as he calls it, "gay sodomy".
Did you perhaps forget Ron Paul's vote on DADT? How convenient of you.Good on Paul. Now when Obama starts talking about Texas having the right to outlaw "gay sodomy", maybe you'll have a point.
Or perhaps forget Obama's position on gay marriage?
“I agree with most Americans, with Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Cheney, with over 2,000 religious leaders of all different beliefs, that decisions about marriage, as they always have, should be left to the states.”
He's also strongly in favor of civil unions and visitation rights and such, and has more recently said that his position on gay marriage per se is "evolving".
And the full quote is:

Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment "right to privacy". Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states' rights – rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards

which seems to be more of a matter not allowing hard cases to make bad law (unless you REALLY want to invite the Federal government to start making determinations as to what is acceptable in the bedroom).
Oh, please. Paul is all about allowing the states to do whatever the hell they want to whoever the hell they want, Constitutional protections be damned (and in fact, as shown in the quote you quote and in other places, twists the Constitution so badly in an attempt to back his position that it's questionable whether he's actually read it or not). That he phrases it in a way of sure, *I* think outlawing the gay sodomy is silly, but if Texas doesn't like the gay sodomites gay sodomizing, who am I, who is the Constitution, who are the gay sodomites to say otherwise is just a pathetic attempt at applying a veneer of respectfulness to his atrocious civil rights positions - not just to "gay sodomites", but to everybody.

Ron Paul doesn't give a fuck about civil rights. Ron Paul gives a fuck about the Federal government being disallowed from saying anything about them.
So yeah, I'd say they are about equal.
OK. You're crazy.
Perhaps educate yourself?
Perhaps snide?
posted by Flunkie at 6:31 AM on January 18, 2012


Then why the hell is that strategy working so well for the Republicans?

It's like political aikido: When your political philosophy is based on the idea that government can't/shouldn't do anything to help, it's pretty easy to advance that agenda even in the face of political opposition, because in the kind of political system we've got (i.e., one designed to make it easier to prevent action than to take it), the very act of opposing and attempting to obstruct such an agenda in practice only helps further it.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:47 AM on January 18, 2012


And I appreciate Sullivan's attempt to make me feel better about voting for the guy I was gonna vote for anyway, but it didn't really work.

This sums up my reaction perfectly.

I worked on Obama's campaign in 2008 and donated a whole bunch of money. I will never, ever, ever do that again.

I see little wrong with giving limited funds to dedicated activism and advocacy groups rather than a Democratic political campaign that may or may not advance an issue if deemed politically safe to do so in Congress. Politics doesn't start or end at the ballot box.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:13 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


My opinion? Everyone takes politics way too personally. And they talk too much, too.
posted by smcdow at 7:13 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that most defines how out of touch Romney is with reality is that he believes he can win.
posted by nutate at 7:43 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Then why the hell is that strategy working so well for the Republicans?

It's like political aikido: When your political philosophy is based on the idea that government can't/shouldn't do anything to help, it's pretty easy to advance that agenda even in the face of political opposition, because in the kind of political system we've got (i.e., one designed to make it easier to prevent action than to take it), the very act of opposing and attempting to obstruct such an agenda in practice only helps further it.


It is easy to get people to approve doing nothing regardless of the risks because people think things will stay the same. It is hard to get them to take some additional risk based on actions because they know things will be different. It is easier to acknowledge the risks in that situation.

And history shows exactly that. Remember the Prescription Drug Benefit for Seniors? Tom Delay couldn't get the votes. He had to hold the vote open for three hours in the middle of the night and probably bribed a Michigan Republican House member too.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:52 AM on January 18, 2012


Enh, Romney could win, he just probably won't. Romney's chances seem better than McCain's did four years ago. There's a steady "anyone but Obama" drum which will probably activate a significant portion of voters, and while the "anyone but x" strategy doesn't usually win elections, it can and it has in the past.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:54 AM on January 18, 2012


"I think the basic concept that, uh, using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs, prescribed by doctors, that's entirely appropriate. ... What I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue, simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism... ::laughter:: We've got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with."

Let's see what he really said OK?
“My attitude is that if it’s an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else. I think there are legitimate concerns in not wanting to allow people to grow their own or start setting up mom and pop shops because at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate.” I’m not familiar with all the details of the initiative that was passed [in Oregon] and what safeguards there were in place, but I think the basic concept that using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate. I would not punish doctors if it’s prescribed in a way that is appropriate. That may require some changes in federal law.”
That's from 2008--from the exact same interview you cited. Obama wanted doctors to prescribe marijuana like regular drugs, like morphine, like you go into your doctor and get a prescription and go to a regular pharmacy. What he did not want was "mom and pop shops" because "at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate. Your edit is telling.

So the idea that Obama said he was for the current "medicine" the way its being distributed is a flat out lie. Listen, I think recreational marijuana being legal would be a good thing. But this President isn't for it. He never said he was. He said he was for doctors prescribing it like they do all the other drugs they prescribe.

And as for entitlement reform? What's your plan? Currently, none are sustainable in their current form. Even with the repeal of the Bush tax cuts they are not long-term sustainable. These are facts. So what is your plan that can get passed in Congress to deal with this? And who do you have lined up in your hypothetical majority to vote for it. Clinton had entitlement reform, too, you know.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:04 AM on January 18, 2012


IMHO, I'd like to see Ron Paul go all the way
posted by justinmichael at 8:05 AM on January 18, 2012


I will only vote for Obama if he pulls a Sisco and shaves his head and grows a goatee.

Interestingly, it is not outside the realm of possibility that he'd do something related to Star Trek.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 AM on January 18, 2012


You know, I think you COULD make the case that Obama's playing a "long game" by simply remaining calm and boring in the face of ridiculous and fanatical opposition. Sort of a "let Napoleon invade Russia and see how he likes our Russian winters" strategy. HOWEVER, that only works if Obama DOES get a second term. If not, he basically let Moscow burn for no good goddamn reason.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:14 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


A botched investigation into gun trafficking in Mexico begun under President Bush is a secret conspiracy to implement national gun control. The only conspiracy there is an NRA struggling
to stay relevant in the wake of total victory.
posted by humanfont at 8:16 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What sort of masochist could vote for Obama again in 2012?

"He only hits me because he loves me so much, so obviously I must be the one who let him down, and expected too much from him, and he's under so much pressure at work, and..."

How many ways has Obama betrayed his voters, exactly?
--He expanded America's secret prison camp archipelago.
--He increased torture, including torturing American whistleblowers.
--He sought and received the power to assassinate Americans who disagree with him at his own discretion.
--His indiscriminate drone strikes have killed thousands of innocent muslims in a half-dozen countries.
--He bailed out Wall Street and refused to protect Main Street from financial predators.
--He refused to prosecute financial crimes.
--He passed yet more job-killing free trade agreements.
--He refused to lift a finger to stop global warming.
--He continued the war on public education.
--He refused to close the Hedge Fund tax loophole.
--He extended the Bush tax cuts.
--He refused to negotiate Medicare drug prices.
--He killed health care reform for a generation.
posted by Matt Bird at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's from 2008--from the exact same interview you cited.

Yeah, no shit Sherlock. It comes from earlier in the same interview, prior to when he said that despite what he wanted the state of the law to be like, he "wouldn't use Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on the issue, simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism."

Your edit is telling.

Spare me. You're a fucking attorney, Ironmouth. You're supposed to understand the concept of prosecutorial discretion. Talking about what he wants the law to be someday, and how he'd use his DOJ resources today, are two separate issues. Not to mention that he HAS control over the DOJ, yet DOES NOT have control over which laws Congress will pass, as you're all too eager to point out when it serves your point.

Anyway, it's less telling than your repeated citation to a poll about Guantanamo from years ago to support the argument that the American people overwhelmingly support indefinite detention without trial of American citizens today, or your constant citations to the self-identification poll to support the idea that Americans are gagging for Republican policies despite all the polls repeatedly showing that, outside of War on Terror issues, if you ask them about policy choices they repeatedly choose positions more liberal than the Democratic party supports.

Do you ever respond to points that you don't like, or just pick off the ones you think you can nail somebody on?

And as for entitlement reform? What's your plan? Currently, none are sustainable in their current form.

An actual public option that would reduce medical costs across the board. Negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies for better prices on prescription drugs like every other fucking country. Raising the payroll tax ceiling. Focusing on job creation so that more people are paying into the system again. Most of all, waiting until sometime closer to when this would be a problem, decades from now, instead of wasting time and energy arguing about it in the middle of a severe recession and unemployment crisis. I'm not an economist or health care policy specialist, but plenty of people who ARE have said this is really not the right way to go about the problem, and I agree. Why don't you ask them instead of me? Oh, so you wouldn't have to respond to what I actually asked in my post.

And who do you have lined up in your hypothetical majority to vote for it.

I've told you time and time again, it's impossible to list the names of who would vote for a bill in a hypothetical universe where Democrats have a spine, take a stand, make a public case, and fucking fight for their policies, which was my complaint in the original post in the first place. We know your position - never lift a finger for anything you don't "have the votes for," because you'll fail and look worse. Yeah, well, as mentioned above, what you can muster the votes for depends upon where the voters feel pressure, and if you never put any pressure on them, they'll stay exactly where you don't want them.

FFS it's like you take control of a plane that's plummeting towards the ground from 40,000 feet and go "oh fuck! better bail out now!" instead of pulling back on the fucking yoke.

Clinton had entitlement reform, too, you know.

Yeah, and I didn't like it then either
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:42 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


All those claims are controversial (meaning, not as simply settled and black and white as you make them out to be), Matt Bird. That's my problem with those criticisms. And nearly all of them commit the fallacy of conflating Obama, personally, with either the entire executive branch or the entire federal government, while not taking into any account even the possibility of behind-the-scenes legislative and judicial power-plays that might have played a role in forcing some of those moves.

The arguments for Obama as traitor to liberalism, to me, largely just seem oversimplified and exaggerated. Some of them may have a kernel of truth in them (and I think it's perfectly fair, for instance, to take the administration to task on its expanded, extra-military use of drones), but I can't reconcile myself to ignoring all the untidy little facts that don't support the more simplistic narratives about Obama's sole responsibility for what are ultimately collective political failures of his party and the congress more generally in certain areas. And without a doubt, what missteps he has made are nothing compared to the deliberate steps a Republican president and congress would take, given that suicide pact they made with Ayn Rand and Grover Norquist.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:46 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What The Fuck Has Obama Done So Far?
posted by ericb at 8:51 AM on January 18, 2012


Defenestrator: Even this article attributes things to him that he probably didn't have much to do with (plummeting support for Al Qaeda).

So, you don't suppose that eliminating the figurehead leader (essentially without collateral damage), removing the occupying troops from Iraq, and not starting two separate wars of invasion on Muslim lands was a tad less incendiary than GWB's foreign policies? Really?

Because if I were an Al Qaeda recruitment officer, I'd really miss those golden days pre-2009, when the volunteers were lining up outside...
posted by IAmBroom at 8:51 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or, to quote TFA, Defenestrator:

Instead, Obama reversed Bush’s policy of ignoring Osama bin Laden, immediately setting a course that eventually led to his capture and death. And when the moment for decision came, the president overruled both his secretary of state and vice president in ordering the riskiest—but most ambitious—plan on the table. He even personally ordered the extra helicopters that saved the mission. It was a triumph, not only in killing America’s primary global enemy, but in getting a massive trove of intelligence to undermine al Qaeda even further. ... Since he took office, al Qaeda’s popularity in the Muslim world has plummeted.

posted by IAmBroom at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Full disclaimer: I've been saying for years that either Obama is the coolest, long-term player we've had as President in a long time, or he's one lucky sonofabitch, since important bits and pieces of his campaign agenda keep getting enacted, sometimes despite his apparent reluctance to pursue them.

So, naturally, I think Andrew Sullivan is a genius.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:10 AM on January 18, 2012


He killed health care reform for a generation.

This is, frankly, insane.
posted by empath at 9:13 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


he's one lucky sonofabitch, since important bits and pieces of his campaign agenda keep getting enacted, sometimes despite his apparent reluctance to pursue them.

Yeah, take the withdrawal from Iraq, for example. Obama will take credit for that, despite the fact that right now it's pretty clear that he thinks it's a bad idea, his advisors think it's a bad idea, and pretty much everyone in Washington thinks it's a bad idea. Yet, he's fulfilling a campaign promise that he actively tried to not fulfill.

So, n-dimensional chess, or luck?
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on January 18, 2012


How many ways has Obama betrayed his voters, exactly?

Matt Bird, I would categorically dismantle many of your arguments, but I don't have to. Your list is made up almost entirely of your personal wants, not campaign promises that he broke.

You're criticizing him with exactly the "I want it all and I want it now!" mentality that Sullivan decries. I'll admit Obama hasn't nearly met my desires for increases in citizen rights protection and so forth, but he really didn't campaign on that.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2012


Obama will take credit for that, despite the fact that right now it's pretty clear that he thinks it's a bad idea, his advisors think it's a bad idea, and pretty much everyone in Washington thinks it's a bad idea.

They wanted more soldiers to stay for 'training', that's all. Nobody suggested that US soldiers were going to stay for enforcing order or for any military operations.
posted by empath at 9:24 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Issuing the definitive order, as the acting Commander in Chief, for the troops to leave Iraq doesn't seem like the kind of thing you need to appeal to dumb luck to explain, but maybe that's just me.

Also, breaking news:

Obama Will Reject Keystone Pipeline Proposal

It's interesting how this is being reported. In a lot of cases I've seen, it's being reported more or less as "Obama Rejects Keystone Pipeline... For Now" or "Obama Rejects Pipeline but Will Allow Transcanada to Reapply," as if he specifically issued some order granting a special allowance to Transcanada to modify their proposal and reapply. But I'm pretty sure that's not really news, since companies (as far as I know) always have the option of reapplying for a new permit if they make changes to an application and file again. I don't see how it could be otherwise, really, but maybe I'm missing something, and there really does need to be a "But not so fast--there's still room for skepticism here" tone to the reporting, but some of the initial coverage of this latest move seems a little artificially "balanced" to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:31 AM on January 18, 2012


He killed health care reform for a generation.

This is, frankly, insane.


See, by passing health care reform, he killed for a generation, unlike Clinton who didn't pass it, but it was still alive. You see if we never pass health care reform, it will never die. I don't know why Obama doesn't go along with this obvious plan.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2012


I'm pretty sure this is a subtle troll by Sullivan.

Then again, the current crop of Konservative Krazee going in the US should make any small-c conservative worried any of the jokers get anywhere near the Whitehouse.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:33 AM on January 18, 2012


I'm pretty sure this is a subtle troll by Sullivan.

I read his blog every day. He's dead serious about Obama.
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looking at Obama's statements I suppose that we can quibble about "combat troops" vs. "training troops." I don't want to so I will conceed that Obama's promise to withdraw "combat troops" was fulfilled a couple years ago.

Issuing the definitive order, as the acting Commander in Chief, for the troops to leave Iraq doesn't seem like the kind of thing you need to appeal to dumb luck to explain, but maybe that's just me.

Sure, but that ignores the fact that after a certain point we were in Iraq at the pleasure of the Iraqi government, and if they had not continually objected to the presence of first combat troops, and then training troops (and indeed if they hadn't withdrawn legal immunity), Obama's advisors would have urged him to break his 'promise' and leave them there.

I suppose in a way, one could argue that Obama knew that the tide in the Maliki government was turning against the US presence, so he promised withdrawal knowing that it was inevitability. I'm still loathe to point to this as a strong and principled stand on Obama's part.
posted by muddgirl at 9:36 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a practical matter, President Obama will almost certainly win reelection unless something completely unforseen happens. Under current circumstances, it would take some foreign policy disaster combined with a scandal and some breakdown of domestic peace (probably as a result of the economy tanking again) -- not unthinkable but highly unlikely.

If the economy pretty much stays the way it is, the election will be closer than 2008, probably similar to 2004. But if the economy gets better and starts picking up steam, especially in spring and early summer, it will be almost a landslide.

As far as President Obama's performance, I think he was too cautious and willing to give in to conventional wisdom. And he seriously underestimated how Radical the Republicans have become. Overall, though, I think he's done a pretty good job considering the hand he was dealt, and I support him because I believe he is at least open to positive change if liberals (or progressives if you will) can continue to push in the right direction. And at least he is competent in running the government.

I also believe he is laying the groundwork for a truly liberal president. Remember, it will take years and years to contain and reverse the damage of the Bush Presidency and the Reagan-Nixon era. It's unreasonable to have expected everthing to change overnight, IMO.

I don't necessarily completely agree with Sullivan's article, but it's at least something to think about.
posted by JKevinKing at 9:45 AM on January 18, 2012


Also, it's amazing and heartening how scandal free his government has been. It's hard to see how (Hillary) Clinton, for instance, would have been as good in this regard.

The Rabid Right is so hard-up for a scandal, they tried to make a Halloween party for the kids of veterens into something!
posted by JKevinKing at 9:51 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


He didn't promise to close Guantanamo?
He didn't promise to end torture?
He didn't promise to limit extrajudicial executive power?
He didn't promise pull out of or renegotiate NAFTA?
He didn't promise to cut carbon emissions?
He didn't promise to end the Bush tax cuts?
He didn't promise to negotiate Medicare drug prices?

He made hard and fast promises to do all of these things. And now you refuse to hold him accountable?

Even worse, you DEFEND him? You're embarrassing yourselves. Have some self-respect.
posted by Matt Bird at 9:51 AM on January 18, 2012


You are aware that most of those things require congressional cooperation, yes?
posted by empath at 9:52 AM on January 18, 2012


The Rabid Right is so hard-up for a scandal, they tried to make a Halloween party for the kids of veterens into something!
What is this referring to, please? Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 9:55 AM on January 18, 2012


Halloween Party Not A Secret
posted by empath at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2012


Sure, but that ignores the fact that after a certain point we were in Iraq at the pleasure of the Iraqi government, and if they had not continually objected to the presence of first combat troops, and then training troops (and indeed if they hadn't withdrawn legal immunity), Obama's advisors would have urged him to break his 'promise' and leave them there.

See this is the problem with many of the complainers. In the end, they find some sort of way to "disqualify" everything Obama has done good, generally with counterfactuals like this, which have no basis in fact. So, you're friends with an Obama advisor who told you that he or she was going to do this? Because this isn't arguing from facts.

Let's review the facts:
…there was widespread support in Iraq for such an extension, but the Obama administration was demanding that immunity for U.S. troops be endorsed by the Iraqi Council of Representatives, which was never really possible. Administration sources and Hill staffers also tell The Cable that the demand that the troop immunity go through the Council of Representatives was a decision made by the State Department lawyers and there were other options available to the administration, such as putting the remaining troops on the embassy’s diplomatic rolls, which would automatically give them immunity. “An obvious fix for troop immunity is to put them all on the diplomatic list; that’s done by notification to the Iraqi foreign ministry,” said one former senior Hill staffer. “If State says that this requires a treaty or a specific agreement by the Iraqi parliament as opposed to a statement by the Iraqi foreign ministry, it has its head up its ass.”
So why on Earth would Obama insist on some sort of special Iraqi political procedure that could never get done practically rather than an easy fix?

Its called political cover, people. Gee things go to crap in Iraq, what's Obama going to say? He's going to say, I would have considered it but only if our troops were protected. Since the Iraqis weren't willing to do it, I wasn't going to have our boys in foreign courts defending their own right to defend themselves.

This is why I'm frustrated by the "qualifiers." Whatever Obama gets done, it wasn't done in some perfect way or another. The guy promised out of Iraq, end of 2011 during the campaign. That's exactly what happened. But he apparently has to do so in such a way that he plays a political price. Same with DADT. It doesn't count though, even though he did it, because he used a more secure way of doing it--making sure a repeal was needed. He would have never gotten the buy-in from Congress if he just did it the way people say he "should" have. No reason for people to stick their neck out if it is already something that is going on

So frustrating.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 AM on January 18, 2012


Thanks, Empath!

There is plenty of room for crticism for Obama's civil rights record, and we should continue to pressure him.

But lambasting him for Guantanamo is completely unfair. One of his first acts as President was an ececutive order closing it, but Congress has blocked it. And IIRC, he has continued to try to close it but has been unable to overcome Congressional opposition.

So he may have failed there, but he did try to close it.
posted by JKevinKing at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


He killed health care reform for a generation.

This is, frankly, insane.


The law that was passed did not reform health care: it merely tweaked the private health insurance industry a bit, and demanded that everyone buy in or else pay some extra tax. We did not get a new health care system that would have solved the problem of private insurance: we got a law that made the current broken system mandatory.

By knuckling under on the public option and pushing onward with the gutted bill anyway, and then calling it "health care reform" as though he had actually accomplished something significant, Obama did indeed kill all hope of meaningful health care reform for at least a couple of decades to come.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


A list of items which he's continued to push for but which have yet to clear the legislature isn't a list of broken promises.
posted by humanfont at 10:09 AM on January 18, 2012


By knuckling under on the public option and pushing onward with the gutted bill anyway, and then calling it "health care reform" as though he had actually accomplished something significant, Obama did indeed kill all hope of meaningful health care reform for at least a couple of decades to come.

Yes, I get that you would rather have nothing than something. It's still insane.
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is everybody forgetting that Obama came into office with vast majorities in both the House and the Senate? If he had shown a little leadership, and played a little hardball, he could have accomplished great things. He simply chose not to.
posted by Matt Bird at 10:12 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought the article made some good points, but this is flat out ridiculous:
Under Obama, a crucial state, New York, made marriage equality for gays an irreversible fact of American life. Gays now openly serve in the military, and the Defense of Marriage Act is dying in the courts, undefended by the Obama Justice Department.
Obama had nothing to do with marriage equality in New York (and very little to do with the legal challenges to DOMA) and to roll it up with DADT as if it were all part of his master plan to promote gay rights is absurd. It's also offensive to those of us in New York who actually were there on the front lines of that struggle.
posted by albrecht at 10:12 AM on January 18, 2012


Mars,

I didn't really completely like the reform, but I take a different view.

The reform established the principle of universal coverage, which will strengthen over time. The details will change as things develop, but the system will tranform into a sane system over time.

Plus, it gets a start on cost control.

And "Obamacare" has already helped people I know in tangible ways; my brother-in-law, as one instance, now has coverage under my in-law's policy. This recently cam in handy when he had an unexpected problem.

(My unsupported opinion is that the conservatives will rue the day they dubbed the reform "Obamacare.")
posted by JKevinKing at 10:14 AM on January 18, 2012


He didn't promise to close Guantanamo?--Congress said no. They took away any use of funds for this purpose. Get real.

He didn't promise to end torture?--Really? Cite one actual person he's "tortured." You cannot.

He didn't promise to limit extrajudicial executive power?--He's done just that. Read the actual bill, start with Section 1021.

He didn't promise pull out of or renegotiate NAFTA? Obama did not "promise" this. Read the articles. He wanted to make it a better treaty. Please find a cite where he "promises" absolutely to pull out of NAFTA.

He didn't promise to cut carbon emissions?-- Congress killed this bill.

He didn't promise to end the Bush tax cuts?--On December 31, 2012 these tax cuts will end.

He didn't promise to negotiate Medicare drug prices?--Congress has not passed it. You see, the GOP won the 2010 election.

He made hard and fast promises to do all of these things. And now you refuse to hold him accountable?--He didn't promise to provide the country with a dictatorship. That means he has to get OTHER PEOPLE TO AGREE. CONGRESS MUST VOTE ON THESE THINGS. HE CANNOT FORCE THEM TO DO THEM.

This is at core, the problem. The naive attitude, not based on any knowledge of the Constitution, that the President is all-powerful and can get everything done with a snap of the fingers.

Get real.

Even worse, you DEFEND him? You're embarrassing yourselves. Have some self-respect.

You bet your ass I defend him:

Why?

HCR
End of DADT
Wall Street Reform
Consumer Financial Protection
Out of Iraq as promised, on promised timetable.
Said he'd increase our commitment to Afghanistan, did so as promised.

These are titanic changes. But they don't "count" do they? Changes that Clinton couldn't make happen. Obama did it.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


He didn't promise to end torture?--Really? Cite one actual person he's "tortured." You cannot.

Bradley Manning was basically tortured. I'm not sure how you call it anything else.
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Said he'd increase our commitment to Afghanistan, did so as promised.

And killed Bin Ladin.
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on January 18, 2012


By knuckling under on the public option and pushing onward with the gutted bill anyway, and then calling it "health care reform" as though he had actually accomplished something significant, Obama did indeed kill all hope of meaningful health care reform for at least a couple of decades to come.

Really? How many people were covered by the Public Option?

6 million out of 300 million. That's 2% of the population. You would have him throw it all away--entirely. Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln said they'd never vote for cloture on a bill with a Public Option in it. They needed those two votes. What, exactly was your plan to get those votes?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:18 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bradley Manning was basically tortured. I'm not sure how you call it anything else.

The guy said he was going to kill himself so they put him on a suicide watch. Then they took him off it. That's not torture.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on January 18, 2012


Is everybody forgetting that Obama came into office with vast majorities in both the House and the Senate? If he had shown a little leadership, and played a little hardball, he could have accomplished great things. He simply chose not to.

There were Democratic majorities, but that doesn't mean very much. Only so many Democratic congresscritters are anything resembling progressives, and even a "centrist" majority isn't a majority when you have Lieberman and other DINOs as part of your so-called majority, especially when your majority isn't even filibuster-proof. Almost no one in Congress wanted to enact universal health care, say.

Obama had nothing to do with marriage equality in New York (and very little to do with the legal challenges to DOMA) and to roll it up with DADT as if it were all part of his master plan to promote gay rights is absurd.

Obama was not behind marriage equality in NY. However, the lack of DOMA defense is entirely the Obama administration's. His administration is choosing not to defend DOMA, as it is facially unconstitutional. Getting rid of DADT was also quite nice, and it was a large cultural moment for people not already invested in gay rights. It might not turn Obama into a gay rights hero, but it makes him a significant improvement over any other President in history, and certainly a significant improvement over any Republican challenger.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:21 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, I get that you would rather have nothing than something. It's still insane.

The American system where everyone has to buy private health insurance in order to get health care is the problem that needs to be solved. Far from solving that problem, Obama's law made it worse, by requiring everyone in the country to participate.

Obviously there are a lot of random little tweaks in the law that make life better for a bunch of people who were previously getting screwed. That's good. But the overall effect of the law is to screw more people, and to divert even more money into the pockets of the private insurance companies. Overall, then, I'd say that what we got pretty much does average out to "nothing", and I'd rather have had "something".
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:22 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is everybody forgetting that Obama came into office with vast majorities in both the House and the Senate? If he had shown a little leadership, and played a little hardball, he could have accomplished great things. He simply chose not to.
"Majority" is essentially irrelevant in the current Senate. The de facto situation is that you need 60% of senators to do anything. Obama came into office with 58% in the Democratic caucus, including two who are not actually Democrats and several who are significantly farther right than the typical Democrat or the typical Democratic senator.

If you think a "little" something would have overcome that and accomplish "great things", perhaps you could describe how you would convince a sufficient number of Republican senators to accomplish these great things.
posted by Flunkie at 10:23 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Far from solving that problem, Obama's law made it worse, by requiring everyone in the country to participate.

Obama could not have changed the entire system. He had to fight tooth and nail to even get what he got. So, he could have chosen to stay out of the fight entirely, leaving more people without health insurance, or he could have chosen to get more people coverage. I'm glad he chose the latter.

I'm imagining a 25-year-old grad student who is now covered under Obamacare. Now I'm imagining you berating him for "putting money in the insurance companies' pockets" for daring to be covered by his parents' health insurance. Now I'm imagining the hand gestures that grad student would make at you.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:30 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


JKevinKing: I acknowledge that your opinion is reasonable. There is certainly room for variance of perspective here. Besides, different people wanted different things out of health care reform, so not everyone is as disappointed in it as I am.

I'm mostly arguing against empath's notion that "this is, frankly, insane". The health-insurance reform bill drained all energy for dealing with health care; we won't get another bill of any significance for a couple of decades. This is obvious, no? So a person who feels like the bill accomplished little of significance would quite reasonably feel that the opportunity to change the health care system was wasted.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:31 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Muddgirl: Obama took office with 144,000 troops in Iraq. Bush had a plan that, on paper, would pull them out by 12/31/2011 but leave 50,000 troops "for training" indefinitely. Plus, no one believed he meant it -- any flareup would become justification for another surge. And every Republican candidate except Ron Paul has pushed for more troops in Iraq.

Obama announced a timeline to withdraw, within a month of taking office -- down to that 50,000 training-only level by August 2010, and the rest out by 12/31/2012. He did exactly that, right on schedule.

The immunity negotiation was over keeping a base in Iraq with about 7,000 troops after 12/31/2012, exactly like we do in Germany (from WW2) and Korea (from that war.) He couldn't get immunity, so he cancelled that too. Maybe it was even an excuse, as IronMouth suggests. That doesn't mean his Iraq withdrawal was fake, or the same as Bush, or a bad idea in his mind.
posted by msalt at 10:31 AM on January 18, 2012


(e) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
Is it possible that you're interpreting that paragraph (which only refers to 'this section') incorrectly, while every mainstream media site, including Newsweek here with Andrew Sullivan is getting it right? Seems like a definite possibility, especially when considering U.S. citizens captured outside of the U.S.
Of course, the Constitution and posse comitatus already made such protections. The NDAA doesn't expand the power to detain, in reality, it probably narrows it.
Obviously the "lawfair blog" is a more credible source then ABC, NBC, CNN, Newsweek, etc.
My opinion? Everyone takes politics way too personally. And they talk too much, too.
It's easy to take personally when it personally affects you, as something like SOPA might. If you're gay DOMA is really a big deal in your personal life.
What The Fuck Has Obama Done So Far?
What in the fuck has Obama done so far? (etc, etc, etc)

----
The guy said he was going to kill himself so they put him on a suicide watch. Then they took him off it. That's not torture.
Holy fuck dude do you have zero scruples at all? What happened to that guy was not at all a normal 'suicide watch'. I've never heard of a suicide watch that involves preventing you from sleeping. How many "Suicide Watches" result in UN officials complaining? or Amnesty international calling your treatment "inhumane"?

What bullshit. That's an unbelievably dishonest, Ironmouth, even for you.

I don't understand how people can lie all the time the way you do.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Even the state department's top spokesperson lost his job for calling manning's treatment "counterproductive and stupid" -- It obviously wasn't a normal suicide watch and you must have known that. The fact that you could be so cavalier and dishonest about a prisoner being mistreated illustrates exactly why we're not on the "same side".
posted by delmoi at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The guy said he was going to kill himself so they put him on a suicide watch. Then they took him off it. That's not torture.

They aren't paying you to be their lawyer, you should stop working for free.
posted by empath at 10:42 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it possible that you're interpreting that paragraph (which only refers to 'this section') incorrectly,

"This section" is the only section of hte bill that has to do with indefinite detention.
posted by empath at 10:43 AM on January 18, 2012


Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln said they'd never vote for cloture on a bill with a Public Option in it. They needed those two votes. What, exactly was your plan to get those votes?

Thank you for asking.

Tell Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln that they are free to vote against the bill with the public option in it when it comes to an up or down vote, but if they refuse to vote with the party and with the president's priorities on what is actually a procedural vote then they will find themselves stripped of party privileges and on the lowest prioroity for help from the party come re-election time. Leiberman, who is not even a Democrat any more, should have been threatened with removal from his Homeland Security committee post. In other words, Obama and Reid should act like the goddamned leaders of a political party. And before you say, "You can't do that!" explain why the Republican party does it and worse all the goddamned time.

Obama has done as good a job on many fronts, but he has failed to consolidate his leadership of the party, and that has cost him, and us, dearly. The best thing that could have happened to the Democrats would be for Harry Reid to have lost his re-election bid in 2010, because he totally sucks as a party leader. Allowing grandstanding jerks like Nelson to side with the Republicans on what are, once again, procedural votes undermines both the president and the Speaker's power and absolutely should not be tolerated for reasons that at this moment must be all too obvious.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mars,

Fair enough. I do disagree, though, that no bills of significance will be passed for a a couple decades. That could be true, but my position is that Obamacare made it more rather than less likely that further reforms will be accomplished, especially when the law comes into full effect. Having said that I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again.

We shall see! :)
posted by JKevinKing at 11:07 AM on January 18, 2012


How many "Suicide Watches" result in UN officials complaining? or Amnesty international calling your treatment "inhumane"?

How many suicide watches relate to high-profile military detainees, though, and offer obvious opportunities to make political hay, gain political leverage and potentially weaken what should be strong political coalitions of mutual interest?

If Bush had been president, Manning would have been executed by now, probably to cheering crowds and staged patriotic rallies. Remember, that guy personally directed his Secret Service to have one couple arrested just for peaceably wearing t-shirts critical of him to a public event at the Capitol.

Obama, in contrast, let Tea Party protesters openly brandish guns in protest during the health care town hall debates. And while there may have been arrests during the XL pipeline protests, there's no indication those were specifically directed by the executive or involved a disproportionate response (that is, those protesters likely wanted to be arrested for tactical reasons).

And before you say, "You can't do that!" explain why the Republican party does it and worse all the goddamned time.

Maybe because the Republican Party is organized differently than the Democratic Party? Or more specifically, because as this source puts it:
There are two fundamental differences between the parties in which all others are rooted. The first one is structural: In the Democratic Party power flows upward and in the Republican Party power flows downward. The second is attitudinal: Republicans perceive themselves as insiders even when they are out of power and Democrats perceive themselves as outsiders even when they are in power.
The Republican Party is literally organized in such a way that it's run as more of a top-down hierarchy than the Democratic Party. That's probably part of the reason the Republican Party has traditionally been easier for economic elites to capture.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:20 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what? I absolutely cannot explain it, but the tenor of this argument has somehow made me more sympathetic to Obama. I'm still pissed off about any number of things he did/didn't do. But comparing him to the bloodthirsty monsters on the other side, dear god. At least he's a human being.

Dunno if I can bring myself to work on his campaign again, though. Much like someone upthread mentioned, I feel like he's spent the last 4 years making it perfectly clear that he doesn't need me. It's really something I need to think about.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:27 AM on January 18, 2012


The President doesn't make Senate Comittee assignments. I'm fairly certain that Nelson and Lincoln knew that, so I expect your threat would be pretty ineffective.
posted by humanfont at 11:34 AM on January 18, 2012


Humanfront,

Well, if Obama had been effectively working with the Senate's leadership as a united front, Reid could have done so on Obama's behalf. The passage of the bill could have been handled differently, and Obama lack of legislative experience and clout no doubt hampered him.

Of course, dealing with the Senate and those particular Senators is like hearding cats, and it's easy to play armchair QB. It's not at all clear strongarming them would have made that much of a difference when all is said and done.

We all have to face the fact that this is not all black and white. No, Obama's not perfect, and it's perfectly reasonable to criticize and pressure him and yet think he's done a good job, overall.
posted by JKevinKing at 11:59 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


TPM: Key Reform Ally Dishes On "Weak Kneed" White House Health Care Push. Among the takeaways in that article is the fact, which everybody knew already, that Obama sold out the public option early in the process.

It's only fair to say that I have already personally benefitted from Obamacare, and suspect I will benefit more when it is fully implemented in 2014. And at this point, I will support Obama for re-election. But I stand by my criticisms of his tactics. The bottom line is, the Democrats have got to up their legislative game, and the only way to do that is to shore up and enforce party loyalty. That's the entire point of having political parties. They're playing against an opponent that is ruthless and disciplined, so they've got exhibit discipline, too, or they're going to continue to get their lunch money stolen. And I have no confidence that the current Congressional leadership can get that done.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:09 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dunno if I can bring myself to work on his campaign again, though. Much like someone upthread mentioned, I feel like he's spent the last 4 years making it perfectly clear that he doesn't need me. It's really something I need to think about.

I have to agree with this. He's done the math and decided he doesn't need the left, and his most ardent supporters make a point of reminding us of this fact. Well then, he's made his bed, let him sleep in it. I fought for him once, and I don't feel that fight was reciprocated. If he wants me to fight for him again, he needs to fight for me.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:15 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


vibrotronica, given that a refusal to vote for Obama is de facto voting to allow the Republican candidate to become POTUS... you're OK with that? Because I doubt that a Republican POTUS will fight any harder for someone who believed Obama was on his side, 4 years ago.

Pick your "evil" carefully; neither side is "good".
posted by IAmBroom at 12:20 PM on January 18, 2012


If he had "done the math" and decided he didn't need the left, the XL pipeline project wouldn't have been rejected, DADT would still be law, and we'd still be in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:21 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The automatic filibuster is not a reality. It is precisely the opposite: an unconstitutional political fiction that corrupt congresspeople use as an excuse for ignoring the wishes of their constituents. The Democrats could have done away with it at anytime, if they had wanted to actually show any leadership.

"They really love us, they do, and they want to change, but they can't, so we need to be more patient, and more understanding, and see it from their point of view. We should just hide our bruises, make more excuses for them, protect them from the consequences of their actions, and explain to everyone one else that they're special and we're not so we have no right to judge them!"
posted by Matt Bird at 12:24 PM on January 18, 2012


The automatic filibuster is not a reality. It is precisely the opposite: an unconstitutional political fiction
In what specific way is it "unconstitutional"? The Constitution specifically says that each house of Congress is allowed to determine its own rules.
posted by Flunkie at 12:32 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


And before you say, "You can't do that!" explain why the Republican party does it and worse all the goddamned time.

It's not that you can't do that because it's mean or something. You can't do that because it won't work. The Nelsons and Lincolns in the senate would be perfectly happy to call that bluff and go back to their home states and campaign as heroic independents who stood up to that socialist Obama. What's worse, they'd probably do it as independents, thus costing the Democrats the majority in the Senate. With the Republicans now in control of the senate, they get their cushy appointments back and Reid and Obama look like chumps and the Democrats yell at them for losing the Senate.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:38 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


End of DADT... These are titanic changes. But they don't "count" do they? Changes that Clinton couldn't make happen. Obama did it.

Putting DADT on this list strikes me as a tad bit, well, weird. Up to the eve of passage of the repeal amendment, advocates of the n-dimensional chess theory of Obama's tenure claimed it to be an albatross that would burn political capital best saved for the second term. Now they claim it as a vindication of Obama. While Obama openly praised the multi-decade long campaign to force DADT repeal in his HRC speech, his press office repeatedly attacked gay rights advocates for their activism on the issue.

Fundamentally, repeal of DADT wouldn't have happened at all if it were not for 20+ years of protests that kept the issue in the public eye, pressure on congress, and legislative allies who kept putting it up for a vote, starting under Bush. You don't wait for the votes, you make the votes. And that's a lesson, I'm sorry to say, that Republicans have owned since the Reagan years.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:08 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


How many suicide watches relate to high-profile military detainees, though, and offer obvious opportunities to make political hay, gain political leverage and potentially weaken what should be strong political coalitions of mutual interest?
You're talking about PJ Crowly, who was the head spokesperson for the state department? That was a 'political enemy' of Obama? Many Obama supporters complained about Manning's treatment. Including Andrew Sullivan
There is only one word to describe the treatment of this model prisoner: sadism. Glenn Greenwald has been following the case closely and has two disturbing must-reads here and here. We all hoped that under Obama, brutal treatment of military prisoners and lies about it would end. In this case, they haven't.
So, if your thesis is only Obama opponents complained, you're either seriously confused or lying.
Remember, that guy personally directed his Secret Service to have one couple arrested just for peaceably wearing t-shirts critical of him to a public event at the Capitol.

Obama, in contrast, let Tea Party protesters openly brandish guns in protest during the health care town hall debates. And while there may have been arrests during the XL pipeline protests, there's no indication those were specifically directed by the executive or involved a disproportionate response (that is, those protesters likely wanted to be arrested for tactical reasons).
None of that has anything to do with Bradly Manning. He was not a protestor. Bush not only didn't execute leakers, he didn't even really go after them. Obama has been far harder on leakers then bush , including prosecuting bush-era leaks that bush basically ignored. You cannot compare the treatment of leakers to the treatment of protestors. And as I said, Obama has been worse for leakers then bush.

Anyway, the treatment is over. Maybe you might think the guy deserved it for leaking such a high volume of data. I think people can disagree about whether it rises to the level of torture. Whatever. I'm not trying to argue that everyone needs to be horrified by what happened to Manning.

But what I am saying is that to claim that it was "no big deal" or nothing out of the ordinary is just really shocking.

---
In what specific way is it "unconstitutional"? The Constitution specifically says that each house of Congress is allowed to determine its own rules.
"not required by the constitution" would be a better term or "unrelated to the constitution" "aconstitutional" or 'nonconstitutional" might make sense but people would probably read those as synonyms for unconstitutional
posted by delmoi at 1:19 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only people who talk about n-dimensional chess are the Presidents critics. Mostly those critics seem utterly clueless about the legislative and rule making process.
posted by humanfont at 1:20 PM on January 18, 2012


Putting DADT on this list strikes me as a tad bit, well, weird. Up to the eve of passage of the repeal amendment, advocates of the n-dimensional chess theory of Obama's tenure claimed it to be an albatross that would burn political capital best saved for the second term. Now they claim it as a vindication of Obama. While Obama openly praised the multi-decade long campaign to force DADT repeal in his HRC speech, his press office repeatedly attacked gay rights advocates for their activism on the issue.

Fundamentally, repeal of DADT wouldn't have happened at all if it were not for 20+ years of protests that kept the issue in the public eye, pressure on congress, and legislative allies who kept putting it up for a vote, starting under Bush. You don't wait for the votes, you make the votes. And that's a lesson, I'm sorry to say, that Republicans have owned since the Reagan years.
The fact that DADT was repealed has to do with the fact that the gay community was absolutely unwilling to support him if they didn't see action. It was a win for activism. Of course Obama, nor his supporters are going to say "Oh yeah, we were going to just ignore the issue but because people wouldn't let up we had to do it".

Let's not forget that this was something that a lot of his rich fundraisers were also complaining about. Which was the biggest difference, IMO from a lot of the other issues people complain about.
posted by delmoi at 1:25 PM on January 18, 2012


"not required by the constitution" would be a better term
Yes, in that it would actually be true. However, it would also be completely unrelated to what seems to be Matt Bird's point.
posted by Flunkie at 1:27 PM on January 18, 2012


For example, Barack Obama signed the repeal of DADT into law, while Ron Paul
... voted, against 97% of his fellow House Republicans and against the wishes of most of the primary voters he's currently hoping to win over, to pass the repeal of DADT.

I see someone's already insinuated that you're making false insinuations, but it's probably still worthwhile to get a correction out there without layers of ambiguity.

It is true that Paul doesn't consider "constitutional" and "unconstitutional" to be synonyms for "good" and "bad", but that's the sort of criticism that can be thrown at any system of government other than the infinitely wise philosopher-king, no? We let people vote to try and prevent corrupt elites from making bad laws, then we try to invent supermajority-level safeguards for preventing ignorant voters from pushing through bad laws, and then we give states a lot of leeway (or we were supposed to, at least) so that minorities can vote with their feet when a bad law still gets through.
posted by roystgnr at 1:28 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Putting DADT on this list strikes me as a tad bit, well, weird. Up to the eve of passage of the repeal amendment, advocates of the n-dimensional chess theory of Obama's tenure claimed it to be an albatross that would burn political capital best saved for the second term.
That's pretty much the opposite of how I remember it going on Metafilter. The whole time, there were Obama-Is-A-Traitor-To-The-Cause types who were swearing up and down that he was going to veto it. I mean, literally up to the moment that he signed it.
posted by Flunkie at 1:30 PM on January 18, 2012


Yeah, yeah, roystgnr, the "Ron Paul voted to repeal DADT" thing has been mentioned. As I've already said, (1) Good for him on that, (2) Talk to me about how they're equivalent on this issue when Obama starts opining that the Constitution gives individual states the authority to outlaw "gay sodomy".
posted by Flunkie at 1:31 PM on January 18, 2012


(2) Talk to me about how they're equivalent on this issue when Obama starts opining that the Constitution gives individual states the authority to outlaw "gay sodomy".

Yeah, Obama is so much better on this, he wants them to have as much ass sex as they want as long as they want, just make sure they aren't allowed to marry like real couples.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:34 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Again, he's explicitly in favor of gay marriage in all but name, and has said that his views on gay marriage per se are "evolving". I understand that it would be better to explicitly be in favor of gay marriage in name, too, but if you genuinely believe that that in and of itself makes him equivalent on gay rights to someone who literally says that Texas should be allowed to outlaw gay sodomy, well, OK then, have your wacky opinion.
posted by Flunkie at 1:36 PM on January 18, 2012


I did not expect, or want, a messiah. I have one already, thank you very much.

Cocaine is a hellofa drug.

As for Obama...OOOH YEAH!!! *rips off shirt* IT'S OOONNN!!!

Don't turn this thread into two guys wrestling with each other.


Oh, right, sorry. *Adjusts shirt*
Ahem.

Yeah, he's playing the long game. Whether that's viable is debatable given the climate.
If we do elect someone from the GOP, we may well wish we had a tyrant under Obama who routinely violated the law to push forward certain pet issues.

As it is, I suspect any action along those lines plays into the hands of folks who look to justify presidential exceptionalism.
Bit like Sauron's ring. It's powerful. Someone with a strong enough will can use it. But it's corruptive.

Although Obama is a bit more Elrond than Gandalf.
And it's administration, and party, that irritate me more than the man himself.
Looking at where he's had his druthers, he's done some pretty nifty things.

But I don't think he's had what he wants.
This does not exonerate him in my eyes, but it does clarify the picture. He's not the man he's a package. As with any president.
Hell, even Bush might have been far less offensive if it weren't for Cheney the rest of the cast of characters in his admin and party.

As far as eliminating torture and military detention - Obama certainly has nullified that, but only for as long as he's in office.

Will he work to eliminate it systemically in his second term? Gotta vote for him to find out, because you know what the GOP will do.

So, not so much chess as poker.
Which I can appreciate even as I detest having my nuts grabbed to force me to vote for someone.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:37 PM on January 18, 2012


humanfont: The only people who talk about n-dimensional chess are the Presidents critics. Mostly those critics seem utterly clueless about the legislative and rule making process.

You misunderstand me. I'm not criticizing the President, who's made it clear that activism is part of the change process. I'm criticizing misguided defenders of Democratic electoral success who've repeatedly demanded that human rights activism be saved for a more convenient electoral season.

The president is a politically astute grown-up who can handle the criticism. His defenders, less so.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:46 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you guys really defending the automatic filibuster now? Really? Okay... As you might have surmised, it is "unconstitutional" in that that it violates the spirit of the constitution if not the letter (which is debatable). If you prefer "non-constitutional", so be it.
posted by Matt Bird at 1:50 PM on January 18, 2012


Matt Bird, please. I'm not "defending" the filibuster; I'm disputing your erstwhile claim that it's "unconstitutional". Your new "non-constitutional" is barely better, if at all; it is constitutional.
posted by Flunkie at 1:53 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is what happened in Iraq: The Pentagon and the Obama administration wanted to keep tens of thousands of troops in the country on major bases to train Iraqis and protect against the spread of Iranian influence. They put intense pressure on the Iraqis to begin negotiations to allow such troops. (solely for domestic political cover?) The numbers went down after negotiation with the Iraqis.

It was going to be a permanent presence much like we have in other nations where we maintain bases. The Iraqis were open to this as well but negotiations fell apart because of demands that US troops be answerable to the law of the country they would be stationed in. Wikileaks provided a major role in breaking up negotiations, so if this was all a 12th dimensional chess game to play with political cover in a situation the Pentagon viewed as a valid national security issue in regards to Iranian influence, it's amusing that Bradley Manning was an integral tool in the process.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:53 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Again, he's explicitly in favor of gay marriage in all but name, and has said that his views on gay marriage per se are "evolving". I understand that it would be better to explicitly be in favor of gay marriage in name, too, but if you genuinely believe that that in and of itself makes him equivalent on gay rights to someone who literally says that Texas should be allowed to outlaw gay sodomy, well, OK then, have your wacky opinion.

Civil Unions are not equal. His evolution of views start in 1996, when he was for gay marriage, that is devolution.

I don't think he is equal to Paul, I have already said in this thread Paul is worse, but I don't think you get a pass on your bigotry just because you are a lesser bigot.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:56 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think he is equal to Paul, I have already said in this thread Paul is worse
Then who were you arguing with when you sarcastically said "Yeah, Obama is so much better on this, he wants them to have as much ass sex as they want as long as they want, just make sure they aren't allowed to marry like real couples"? Was it me? If so, maybe you should be made aware that I was also saying that Paul is worse, and was not saying that Obama should get a "free pass". If it wasn't me, maybe you shouldn't have replied to me.

I'm done talking about this with you.
posted by Flunkie at 1:59 PM on January 18, 2012


I think the "so much" is the key phrase there. It's like trying to chart out how racist it is to either only oppose interracial marriage or also oppose integration of the army. Either way...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:04 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Specifically this by Sullivan: By misunderstanding Obama’s strategy and temperament and persistence, by grandstanding on one issue after another, by projecting unrealistic fantasies onto a candidate who never pledged a liberal revolution, (the left) have failed to notice that from the very beginning, Obama was playing a long game.

For Obama the "long game" is reelection, and he should play the game pragmatically toward that end.

For the left, the "long game" starts with the compromises and reforms Obama has made and continues from there. And you can't get there by silence.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:05 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's pretty much the opposite of how I remember it going on Metafilter. The whole time, there were Obama-Is-A-Traitor-To-The-Cause types who were swearing up and down that he was going to veto it. I mean, literally up to the moment that he signed it.

That's not how I remember it. But it's not just Obama because blaming Democratic failures on uppity queers has been a perennial theme for a good chunk of the last 15 years.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:10 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


(2) Talk to me about how they're equivalent on this issue when Obama starts opining that the Constitution gives individual states the authority to outlaw "gay sodomy".
He was talking about a specific case about a law that, specifically, targeted "gay sodomy"(in fact the law explicitly legalized straight sodomy).
It was going to be a permanent presence much like we have in other nations where we maintain bases. The Iraqis were open to this as well but negotiations fell apart because of demands that US troops be answerable to the law of the country they would be stationed in. Wikileaks provided a major role in breaking up negotiations
Exactly. It's deeply ironic that Obama's defenders herald getting troops out of Iraq as one of Obama's accomplishments, when the person most responsible is Bradley Manning.
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


voted, against 97% of his fellow House Republicans and against the wishes of most of the primary voters he's currently hoping to win over, to pass the repeal of DADT.

I'd add (although not specific to Paul) the incredible vulnerability such votes have.

Every person who voted against NDAA, for example, would have suffered scrutiny for unfunding the DOD, and yet the pragmatic argument for supporting such bills is portrayed as sage realpolitik, even though folks who apparently lack a sense of self-preservation continue to make the difficult decisions that may cost them dearly.

And not only there, but everything from the PATRIOT Act to SOPA; it would be too easy to simply tally every controversial vote to political expediency, and yet there are always reminders that this isn't so, that not everyone sacrifices to play n-dimensional chess, and they still survive.

And honestly Obama has been an abject failure in this regard, with the great irony that practicing realpolitik has cost him credibility, respect, and ultimately the support that allows him to continue to play such games.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 3:12 PM on January 18, 2012


Flunkie: you're wise to disengage furiousxgeorge. He has demonstrated again and again that he will beat his favorite drums and twist facts to do so. Easy example; just now quoting "tens of thousands" of troops planned to remain in Iraq, though the Guardian article he cited said no such thing.

The article was quoting Obama on how many troops would come home by 12/31/2011, and that number included both those he had asked for to remain on bases (approximately 7,000) and the rest of the troops that he had already announced -- in February 2009 -- would come home by that date.
posted by msalt at 3:28 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's deeply ironic that Obama's defenders herald getting troops out of Iraq as one of Obama's accomplishments, when the person most responsible is Bradley Manning.

You can't be serious.
posted by empath at 3:29 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that if you avoid twisting my words you will find that I stated both what the Pentagon and Administration wanted and that negotiations with the Iraqis ended with lower numbers, and I have provided supporting links.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:40 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


(If there is a supporting link for the Ironmouth assertion that this was all a political ploy played with our national security, bring it on!)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:46 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's deeply ironic that Obama's defenders herald getting troops out of Iraq as one of Obama's accomplishments, when the person most responsible is Bradley Manning.

You can't be serious.


Are there really people who don't know this? Do you get all your news from pundits? Yes, Obama was desperate to thwart Bush's pledge that the US would remove all troops by the start of this year. Yes, the revelation of new atrocities in the wikileaks cables killed those negotiations, denying Obama's attempt to prolong the war. What part of this is in dispute?
posted by Matt Bird at 3:50 PM on January 18, 2012


Everything you just said.
posted by empath at 3:54 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The question of it being a war or not is valid. In the sense that they would still be there, still be at risk of suicide bombings, still have a role in insuring the security of the state against Iran you could call it a continuation, and I think you should.

In the sense that they would not be actively fighting against forces in the country in their role as occupiers, it was not a continuation.

It's not a simple question, but there is no doubt the plan was for troops to remain and that Wikileaks contributed to that not occurring.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:58 PM on January 18, 2012


I'd argue that as long as the troops had no role in domestic policing, putting down insurgencies, etc, that having a base and some troops in Iraq after the conclusion of the SOFA would have been no more a continuation of the Iraq War than leaving troops stationed in Germany and Japan was a continuation of WWII, although I'm glad they left all the same.

In any case, the SOFA negotiations were always going to fail, wikileaks or no. There's no way that Sadr would have put up with US troops staying, and there wasn't enough (any) political upside for Obama to make having troops there a priority. They made some token gestures about keeping some troops there for training, but they didn't twist any arms over it.
posted by empath at 4:07 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's kind of silly to think that the Iraqis needed to the leaked cables to realize that US troops had committed atrocities there, btw. It was more news to Americans, I'm sure, and most Americans don't care, sadly enough.
posted by empath at 4:09 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


They made some token gestures about keeping some troops there for training, but they didn't twist any arms over it.

I think it's kind of silly to think that the Iraqis needed to the leaked cables to realize that US troops had committed atrocities there

Right you can keep saying this stuff but on the other hand I posted my sources.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:14 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can't be serious.
Feel free to explain how it's wrong. I'm talking about why there are zero troupes in Iraq, which is because the Iraq government refused to allow the U.S. troops to have legal immunity under Iraqi law, which is in turn because of Wikileak'd documents that went over war crimes perpetrated by U.S troops, which weren't prosecuted.

The person who leaked those documents was Bradley Manning.

Now, it may be that you don't think the Troops obama was negotiating to leave in Iraq are a big deal, so Manning's leaks didn't make a big difference. But the fact of the matter is that he's the reason there are zero troops in Iraq.
I think it's kind of silly to think that the Iraqis needed to the leaked cables to realize that US troops had committed atrocities there, btw. It was more news to Americans, I'm sure, and most Americans don't care, sadly enough.
Well, what they had was documented proof that crimes were committed, and not prosecuted despite the knowledge of people in charge.

Making a claim like "In any case, the SOFA negotiations were always going to fail, wikileaks or no." is kind of irrelevant, since we're talking about what actually happened.

Here's a CNN article
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top brass have repeatedly said any deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline would require a guarantee of legal protection for American soldiers.
But the Iraqis refused to agree to that, opening up the prospect of Americans being tried in Iraqi courts and subjected to Iraqi punishment.
The negotiations were strained following WikiLeaks' release of a diplomatic cable that alleged Iraqi civilians, including children, were killed in a 2006 raid by American troops rather than in an airstrike as the U.S. military initially reported.
So you are, once again, arguing against what's being reported in the mainstream news media, based apparently on your deep and intimate knowledge of the Iraqi position on the SOFA negotiations, which seems unlikely.

I'm not saying it's a big issue, it's not. Those troops wouldn't have mattered that much. But facts are facts. I don't really understand why you expend so much energy denying them.
posted by delmoi at 4:33 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln that they are free to vote against the bill with the public option in it when it comes to an up or down vote, but if they refuse to vote with the party and with the president's priorities on what is actually a procedural vote then they will find themselves stripped of party privileges and on the lowest prioroity for help from the party come re-election time. Leiberman, who is not even a Democrat any more, should have been threatened with removal from his Homeland Security committee post. In other words, Obama and Reid should act like the goddamned leaders of a political party. And before you say, "You can't do that!" explain why the Republican party does it and worse all the goddamned time.

Really? The GOP just up and removes sitting senators all the time from committee assignments?

Not only are we not supposed to get along with the other party, but we are supposed to keep our troops in line with threats? Sitting senators? You really have no idea how Washington works. Did Clinton threaten anyone with anything when the Dems wouldn't even bring Hillarycare to the floor? No. Of course not.

I think the problem isn't your image of Obama. Its your complete lack of reading the Constitution of the United States, which makes the legislative branch the preeminent branch of the government. Nothing, I repeat nothing can be done without them. Gonna cut off Blanche Lincoln's committee assignments? Guess what, she'll be a GOPer in 3 seconds, Ben Nelson too. You think you can stop them? Then where is your entire plan? Lost in the dust of the stupidest intimidation strategy ever.

The amount of reality that must be bent to come up with Obama being solely responsible for any of this is laughable. Would Obama have vetoed a bill with the Public Option attached? Why in the hell would he do that?

Guess what, time for real world lessons--you don't ever, ever, ever get everything you want in a negotiation. EVER. Someone has to give something.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:34 PM on January 18, 2012


Feel free to explain how it's wrong. I'm talking about why there are zero troupes in Iraq, which is because the Iraq government refused to allow the U.S. troops to have legal immunity under Iraqi law, which is in turn because of Wikileak'd documents that went over war crimes perpetrated by U.S troops, which weren't prosecuted.


The Iraqi Legislative Council has never, ever given such immunity. We just demanded and got it before. So Obama made it so damn hard that it couldn't be done by Malaki. You don't think the Iraqis wanted those troops in there? They were desperate, but could not politically use the vehicle Obama demanded. Why does Obama give two shits about how the Iraqis grant immunity? Because he wants them not to do it so he has cover in the upcoming Presidential election.

Read the FP article linked in my Time link. Just read it.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:37 PM on January 18, 2012


Hey, Ironmouth: Do you disagree with what Andrew Sullivan about NDAA in this article? You should really email him or something so he can issue a correction.

And what about Bradly manning? You'll probably want him to issue a correction on that as well, even though it was just his blog.

Or is Andrew Sullivan an unhinged Obama hater?
posted by delmoi at 4:38 PM on January 18, 2012


You don't think the Iraqis wanted those troops in there?

And yet, as I linked above, they only entered negotiations under intense American pressure. The Pentagon saw a threat from Iranian influence, a legitimate national security concern that you are now telling us is just a political game?

Guess what, time for real world lessons--you don't ever, ever, ever get everything you want in a negotiation. EVER. Someone has to give something.

Yeah, we know, thanks for the usual condescension bomb though.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:42 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm talking about why there are zero troupes in Iraq, which is because the Iraq government refused to allow the U.S. troops to have legal immunity under Iraqi law, which is in turn because of Wikileak'd documents that went over war crimes perpetrated by U.S troops, which weren't prosecuted

I'm sure the release of the documents made things more difficult politically, but I have my doubts as to how important they were. And surely the release of the documents wasn't the single most important thing, as you suggested.
posted by empath at 4:47 PM on January 18, 2012


Do you disagree with what Andrew Sullivan about NDAA in this article?

Why do you think an argument from authority is valid? I'm basing my interpretation of the bill on what the bill says. I don't care how anyone else reads the bill. It's not as if it's written in martian. It's written in plain english. I don't need someone else to interpret it for me.
posted by empath at 4:49 PM on January 18, 2012


I mean, it's one thing if we're talking about, say, what happened in a baseball game that I wasn't at, or a translation of one of the dead sea scrolls. I'll have to take someone's word on that, but the text of the bill is, like, freely available. You can read the damn thing yourself.
posted by empath at 4:51 PM on January 18, 2012


I could defend myself in court too, but I don't think it's a good idea. I know the resident Obama lawyer around here thinks it's clear but other legal minds, such as those at the ACLU, think that there are some valid concerns with how the detention sections could be interpreted.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:56 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, they weren't the only reason, but if it was something like 10% of the reason then you could argue that Manning was the single individual American most responsible, certainly more responsible then Obama, who was actively trying to keep troops there.

Which, as I said, makes it incredibly ironic for people to give credit to Obama.

--
Why do you think an argument from authority is valid? I'm basing my interpretation of the bill on what the bill says.
That's nice, but I was actually asking Ironmouth, which is why I wrote "Hey, Ironmouth: Do you disagree with what Andrew Sullivan about NDAA in this article?" -- That said, the plain language you refer to:
(e) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

Does that apply to US Citizens captured or arrested outside of the U.S? It's ambiguous. And in any event, while you can interpret it however you want, different people interpret it differently. And what matters is how it's interpreted by the people in charge, not how you, personally feel it should be interpreted.

The fact that people in at every major news organization think it allows the capture of US Citizens, while none think otherwise indicates the that your interpretation is unusual among people who actually know what they're talking about.

Anyway, I already know how you feel. My point is, if Andrew Sullivan is wrong, why don't you write him and get him to issue a correction? Since it's a simple matter of fact, it shouldn't be that difficult.
posted by delmoi at 4:58 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only thing that's 'muddled', as Greenwald put it, is whether American citizens captured abroad are covered under the section.
posted by empath at 4:58 PM on January 18, 2012


The only thing that's 'muddled', as Greenwald put it, is whether American citizens captured abroad are covered under the section.
Which is what I just said. But an American captured overseas is still a U.S. citizen. Which makes the statement "NDAA allows the capture and indefinite detainment of U.S. Citizens" factually true.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, I did beat a ticket for a U-turn once because the cop cited the wrong statute, but I don't think this will be quite as easy to figure out.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:03 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it's not factually true. I'd go so far as to say the language is muddled, and is as much as it might be interpreted to allow that, that interpretation would be unconstitutional.
posted by empath at 5:04 PM on January 18, 2012


If you don't like the laws change the lawmakers.
posted by humanfont at 5:16 PM on January 18, 2012


Americans do that a lot. 2006...2008...2010...lots of changes.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:23 PM on January 18, 2012


and is as much as it might be interpreted to allow that
Lots of people think that it's not unconstitutional.

In either case, the question isn't "Would it be constitutional if it were in the bill" but rather "What does the bill say". The fact you think it's unconstitutional is irrelevant, since you are saying the plain literal text of the bill prevents it.

Otherwise that section of text wouldn't even need to be included since you could say "Well, even though the bill says X it doesn't actually mean X because I think X is unconstitutional" Whether or not NDAA is unconstitutional isn't the issue, because if it ever comes to that, it's going to be up to the Roberts court, not you or I, to decide. (and before that, whatever president comes after Obama)
posted by delmoi at 5:25 PM on January 18, 2012


Does that apply to US Citizens captured or arrested outside of the U.S? It's ambiguous.

I think it does not. However, the Constitution holds that Americans cannot be held by the government indefinitely, anywhere. Since the Constitution overrules all legislation, I think we are fine.

But finally, finally we are getting to facts. An entire thread was dedicated to the proposition that the bill allowed indefinite detention of US citizens in the US. Now we are down to finally reading the bill and it most denfinitely says there is no indefinite detention of US citizens in the US. All the screaming, all the yelling, but now we read the bill. And now we see that the many, many people who swore on a stack of bibles that it allowed for indefinite military detention of US citizens captured in the US is utterly wrong.

More importantly, where are the votes for a better version? This version allows Obama to get a waiver on military detention. Before this year he had no fucking choice. So you veto the NDAA, shut down the DOD completely, and you are still required to militarily detain.

More importantly, the bill was gonna pass, veto or no veto. US house reps gonna vote against it and fuck up money to districts and soldier's pay? Get real. Overriden in a heartbeat.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:27 PM on January 18, 2012


More importantly, the bill was gonna pass, veto or no veto. US house reps gonna vote against it and fuck up money to districts and soldier's pay? Get real. Overriden in a heartbeat.
Then why not veto it?
posted by delmoi at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2012


An entire thread was dedicated to the proposition that the bill allowed indefinite detention of US citizens in the US. Now we are down to finally reading the bill and it most denfinitely says there is no indefinite detention of US citizens in the US. All the screaming, all the yelling, but now we read the bill. And now we see that the many, many people who swore on a stack of bibles that it allowed for indefinite military detention of US citizens captured in the US is utterly wrong.

Maybe you should go back to that thread an complain there to those people?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2012


Let's just break down the text in question.

"Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

There are two ways to read this:

A: US Citizens
B: Lawful Residents
C: Any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

or

A: Us Citizens (who are captured in the US)
B: Lawful Residents (who are captured in the US)
C: Any other persons (who are captured in the US).

I personally think the first interpretation is correct. Greenwald and others believe the second is correct.

I think the first interpretation is the only one that would hold up in court, it's the interpretation that Obama specifically used in his signing statement, so it's the only one that's going to matter.

For reference, here is Obama's signing statement about that clause:

"Section 1021 affirms the executive branch’s authority to detain persons covered by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note). This section breaks no new ground and is unnecessary. The authority it describes was included in the 2001 AUMF, as recognized by the Supreme Court and confirmed through lower court decisions since then. Two critical limitations in section 1021 confirm that it solely codifies established authorities. First, under section 1021(d), the bill does not “limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.” Second, under section 1021(e), the bill may not be construed to affect any “existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.” My Administration strongly supported the inclusion of these limitations in order to make clear beyond doubt that the legislation does nothing more than confirm authorities that the Federal courts have recognized as lawful under the 2001 AUMF. Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”"
posted by empath at 5:38 PM on January 18, 2012


Now, without leaning on a newspaper op-ed or some other 'authority', please tell me where you think my interpretation of the that section is incorrect.
posted by empath at 5:39 PM on January 18, 2012


And just to repeat another sentence for emphasis:

Section 1021 affirms the executive branch’s authority to detain persons covered by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note). This section breaks no new ground and is unnecessary.

The administration seems to think that section 1021 does exactly nothing, and was just political grandstanding. Which is also my interpretation of that section.
posted by empath at 5:42 PM on January 18, 2012


My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.

And therefore leave it on the books with the door wide open for another John Yoo to come along and interpret it differently, so even though Obama "strongly supported the inclusion of these limitations in order to make clear beyond doubt that the legislation does nothing more than confirm authorities that the Federal courts have recognized as lawful," the actual effect of his administration's actions is to permit an interpretation which does the exact opposite of his stated intention. Oops, sorry guys. Incompetence or malice? Take your pick.
posted by mek at 5:42 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


He didn't want section 1021 or 1022 in the bill AT ALL, and if it had to be in there, he wanted limitations on what it authorized.
posted by empath at 5:43 PM on January 18, 2012


You do realize that the bill passed with a veto-proof majority, yes? That a veto would have been symbolic and meaningless?
posted by empath at 5:44 PM on January 18, 2012


Well, the important thing is that it's ambiguous. When you're talking about the law, what matters is how judges read it, not how you read it. One key thing they try to look at is what the authors intended. Since there was an amendment to limit the bill to non-US citizens, and because Lindsay Graham was out there saying he definitely meant US citizens it seems more likely that the judges might think the legislature meant for it to apply to anyone outside the U.S.
And just to repeat another sentence for emphasis:
Keep in mind the main sticking point for the administration was their ability to use civilian process. The fact that Obama or any president can choose to give people a trial is not the important point, but whether or not they can choose not too.
posted by delmoi at 5:45 PM on January 18, 2012


Well, the important thing is that it's ambiguous

Well at least I've gotten you to admit that it's ambigous. Maybe you should say that next time, and we wouldn't have an argument. Maybe you would also admit that the administration believes that the bill isn't ambiguous at all and doesn't authorize anything new.
posted by empath at 5:48 PM on January 18, 2012


You do realize that the bill passed with a veto-proof majority, yes? That a veto would have been symbolic and meaningless?
Right, in which case at least we'd be here complaining about congress, not Obama. But in any event we don't know what would have happened if Obama had fought harder. Look what's happening with SOPA: massive public protest and Senators are dropping their support. Maybe if the president had actually tried to rally people, instead of just having his spokesperson blaber about 'flexability' things might be different.
posted by delmoi at 5:48 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe if the president had actually tried to rally people, instead of just having his spokesperson blaber about 'flexability' things might be different.

I do agree that Obama has never used his network of supporters effectively, but he hasn't done that on any issue from day one.
posted by empath at 5:51 PM on January 18, 2012


He got a good response when he called for calls to Congress during the debt ceiling battle. He really could have used some of that during the Healthcare debate.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:53 PM on January 18, 2012


More importantly, the bill was gonna pass, veto or no veto. US house reps gonna vote against it and fuck up money to districts and soldier's pay? Get real. Overriden in a heartbeat.
Then why not veto it?


Hello, read closely. He doesn't get the benefit of the waiver where he gets to avoid military detention at his discretion. Instead, he gets NOTHING and is forced to put more people in Gitmo. Pure stupidity.

A futile emotional gesture that creates an avalanche of negative press coverage and opens you up to general election attacks? Why would you do such a thing? Whay is the point of deliberately losing? To make the purity patrol emotionally fufilled while helping exactly no one.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:00 PM on January 18, 2012


He got a good response when he called for calls to Congress during the debt ceiling battle. He really could have used some of that during the Healthcare debate.

Huh? Totally did, put him over on final passage. You don't remember this?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:05 PM on January 18, 2012


They were too mad about him caving on the public option to notice.
posted by empath at 6:06 PM on January 18, 2012


The Republicans would still need Democratic votes to override, the Republicans don't magically get everything they want, I think you need to calm your emotionally driven centrism for a minute and regard this issue with the cool logic delmoi is employing.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:06 PM on January 18, 2012


Huh? Totally did, put him over on final passage. You don't remember this?

The thing I would want the calls on would be to dry and get more pressure on Congress from the public on the public option, but no I don't remember that please link.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:08 PM on January 18, 2012


Here's what would have happened if the had pushed the public option: The insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies would have spent billions of dollars destroying any hope of health care reform whatsoever, and everyone would have complained that he learned nothing from the Hillary-care debacle and destroyed any chance of health care reform for a generation.
posted by empath at 6:11 PM on January 18, 2012



The Republicans would still need Democratic votes to override, the Republicans don't magically get everything they want, I think you need to calm your emotionally driven centrism for a minute and regard this issue with the cool logic delmoi is employing.


When he issued a veto threat on stripping him of funds to move prisoners from Gitmo, his own party, in control of both houses voted the bill with veto-proof margins. This is real life, not make believe. That shit was gonna be overriden.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:12 PM on January 18, 2012


When he issued a veto threat on stripping him of funds to move prisoners from Gitmo, his own party, in control of both houses voted the bill with veto-proof margins. This is real life, not make believe. That shit was gonna be overriden.

It would have been over-ridden only with the provisions his own party supports, if the Democratic Senate wants to put people in Gitmo, let them. Minus the torture it's no better or worse than any other prison we dump terrorists in without trial for indefinite detention. Your raging emotional reaction to this is leaving you in some sort of fantasy candyland where the President writes the law. Only the lawmakers do that.

Here's what would have happened if the had pushed the public option: The insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies would have spent billions of dollars destroying any hope of health care reform whatsoever, and everyone would have complained that he learned nothing from the Hillary-care debacle and destroyed any chance of health care reform for a generation.

Gonna have to disagree there, the polling showed public support for the public option and as SOPA has shown the voice of the people can be stronger than corporate interests. After all, the public option was only a few votes short.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:19 PM on January 18, 2012


Don't kid yourself. There are huge corporations writing big checks right now to stop SOPA. The popular outcry is just convenient cover. And some version of SOPA is still going to pass.
posted by empath at 6:23 PM on January 18, 2012


I think you should stop selling the President short. He is a good man and he looked at the concerns of the public and made a strong statement in agreement.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:26 PM on January 18, 2012


I know you're being sarcastic, but I think he is basically a good guy, and while he is ideologically center-left, he's a small c conservative that prefers incremental change, and enjoys crafting compromises more than he likes arm twisting, probably to his and the country's detriment, but nevertheless was the best available option in 2008 and remains the best option this year.
posted by empath at 6:44 PM on January 18, 2012


I'm not being sarcastic, I give him credit where I agree with his actions. My complaints are with some of his results, strategy, and policies that add up to not being the best option for me in 2012.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:50 PM on January 18, 2012


The Republicans would still need Democratic votes to override, the Republicans don't magically get everything they want.
Ironmouth seems to assume that republicans never suffer any political consequences, or at least don't care about them. It may be true that they don't care as much but it's pretty obvious that they are suffering greatly due to their inability to work with the dems.

I mean really, how many Americans out there want the U.S. government to be able to indefinitely detain their fellow citizens? Why not turn it into a campaign issue? The republican base is full of anti-government 'libertarians'. How many of them support the clause in the NDAA if they know about it?

(Unless, of course, they're working with the dems on stuff like SOPA - which is why I think 'bi-partisanship' for it's own sake can actually be a bad thing)
posted by delmoi at 7:51 PM on January 18, 2012


Don't kid yourself. There are huge corporations writing big checks right now to stop SOPA. The popular outcry is just convenient cover. And some version of SOPA is still going to pass.
Just like how they passed the CBDTPA

Oh wait, they totally didn't.
posted by delmoi at 7:59 PM on January 18, 2012


enjoys crafting compromises more than he likes arm twisting…

I don't know why this should be a surprise for a guy who got on the map by saying "there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America." That's a big reason why I voted for him for President.

...probably to his and the country's detriment

I disagree.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:28 PM on January 18, 2012


I don't know why this should be a surprise for a guy who got on the map by saying "there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America." That's a big reason why I voted for him for President.
Just out of curiosity, why is it that you think centrism and bipartisanship are such great things? To me, it means stuff like SOPA, while hyper-partisanship gets us stuff like Obamacare (passed without a single republican vote)

I don't really get why it's so important for mega-millionares to say nice things about eachother on TV while doing whatever Lobbyists ask and without any way to vote against it, since 'both sides' agree.

What exactly is the benefit?
posted by delmoi at 8:42 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know why this should be a surprise for a guy who got on the map by saying "there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America." That's a big reason why I voted for him for President.

That speech always came to me as less about bi-partisanship, and more as calling for a truce in the culture war.
posted by empath at 8:44 PM on January 18, 2012


You know what? Fuck it. I've spent a day deliberating, and I've decided I *do* like Barack Obama. He's like the Cedric Daniels of the U.S. government. I think I may try to find some low-impact way to help the man with his campaign.

This thread has been sort of an inspiration. In a weird way.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:39 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


obamatherapy
posted by Afroblanco at 9:39 PM on January 18, 2012


I don't have a problem with people liking Obama. I'm just annoyed by the sort of annoyed by comments like:
"The guy [Bradly manning] said he was going to kill himself so they put him on a suicide watch. Then they took him off it. That's not torture."
And the sort of hectoring demand that everyone should love Obama and they're an idiot if they don't.
posted by delmoi at 9:45 PM on January 18, 2012


My complaints are with some of his results, strategy, and policies that add up to not being the best option for me in 2012.

But seriously, if you are a liberal, what better option is there? Obama is like every other option--not perfect--Libya was a mistake--he got lucky, frankly--but every other viable option is literally on stage proposing unbelievably terrible things that are bad for liberals.

I mean there are plenty of areas where one could wish Obama had done differently. But Romney wants to raise taxes on the poor and lower them for the rich. Same with all the rest of the GOP candidates. They want more war, Obama less. They want to double Gitmo, Obama's been trying to close it.

And the sort of hectoring demand that everyone should love Obama and they're an idiot if they don't.

That's just it. I don't care if you love him. Just vote for him and at least point out to everyone at the watercooler that he's the best liberal option out there. What other option is there? Putting the GOP back in is insane.

The other thing is this--if you want the Dems to do more liberal things, vote them in! The larger the Dem majority the easier it is for them to support things to their left. The smaller the majority, the more they will play it safe. Helping the GOP by not pointing out the obvious fact--that Obama is waaay better, makes no sense to me.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:51 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: But seriously, if you are a liberal, what better option is there?

1: Vote for Obama.
2: Continue open criticism of government policy in need of reform.
3: Donate to and participate in activism to make that reform happen.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:36 AM on January 19, 2012


It also helps to remember that a Democratic majority doesn't mean very much unless there are 60 or more "good" Democrats. Having 58 Democrats, when that 58 includes Lieberman et al., doesn't do much of anything. There has to be a critical mass of Democrats who even remotely share your concerns. For big-ticket items, DINOs are almost as bad as straight-up Republicans, and in some cases worse, because it leads to scenarios where people think Dems "can't get anything done," even when they allegedly have a majority.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:47 AM on January 19, 2012


So, if your thesis is only Obama opponents complained, you're either seriously confused or lying.

No, my thesis is that lesser known inmates get treated quite poorly by everyday standards in military brigs every day--it's not typically considered torture, and it doesn't typically get as much scrutiny. Plus, it helps to have highly-profile lawyers attracting attention to your circumstances. The fact Manning, by dint of the circumstances, is a potent political lodestone just makes the story more likely to get attention. I seriously doubt the treatment Manning has gotten is really all that unique or unprecedented.

In fact, if anything about Manning's case seems unprecedented to me, it's the fact that the death penalty isn't even on the table. I think it probably would have been throughout most of US history. Not that I'm saying it should be, or that Manning should even be locked up. But it's striking to me how little Manning's been officially vilified and how little official effort there's been to "make an example" out of him. That's how I see it from a distance, anyway.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:23 AM on January 19, 2012


Just out of curiosity, why is it that you think centrism and bipartisanship are such great things? To me, it means stuff like SOPA, while hyper-partisanship gets us stuff like Obamacare (passed without a single republican vote)

Bipartisanship would have gotten us stuff like Obamacare much, much faster.

Mind you, by "bipartisanship" I am referring to "both sides honestly giving in and compromising, rather than turning every damn discussion into a red-side/blue-side grudge match". It's what Obama was hoping to achieve, and it's what I want too. The reason it didn't work, though, is entirely because the Republican's didn't want to play that game and retreated further into the grudge match.

So yes, "hyperpartisanship" got us Obamacare, but TRUE bipartisanship -- in which the Republican hardliners got the hell OVER themselves and honestly sought compromise -- would have gotten us something better.

And it ain't Obama's fault that this type of bipartisanship didn't happen. Mind you, what he was trying to do to combat that didn't work all that great either, but there was a greater devil involved there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only are we not supposed to get along with the other party, but we are supposed to keep our troops in line with threats? Sitting senators? You really have no idea how Washington works. Did Clinton threaten anyone with anything when the Dems wouldn't even bring Hillarycare to the floor? No. Of course not.

No, he didn't, and he failed.

I think the problem isn't your image of Obama. Its your complete lack of reading the Constitution of the United States, which makes the legislative branch the preeminent branch of the government. Nothing, I repeat nothing can be done without them. Gonna cut off Blanche Lincoln's committee assignments? Guess what, she'll be a GOPer in 3 seconds, Ben Nelson too. You think you can stop them? Then where is your entire plan? Lost in the dust of the stupidest intimidation strategy ever.

I know plenty about the Constitution and the way the United States government works and I will thank you in advance for withdrawing what I consider to be a personal insult. First, Lincoln is no longer in the Senate. Despite her fearful pandering, that seat is now in the hands of the Republicans. This was an entirely predictable outcome, and had more effective arm twisting been applied, we would have most likely been in a similar tactical position today, only with greater party unity and a public option. Second, Ben Nelson is retiring this year, so there you faced with either a supposed Democrat that thwarts his supposed allies at every turn, or an actual Replblican. The long-term outcome is once again the same, only you have the rest of the caucus on notice that bullshit policial grandstanding and game playing will not be tolerated. Once again, if a Senator calls himself a Democrat but is willing to vote with the enemy on a purely procedural matter to derail his party's number one domestic priority, what the hell good is he? Third, look at what happened after the HCR debate: a persistent pattern of disorganized grandstanding by the Democrats and disciplined resistance by the Republicans, resulting in a whole bunch of legislative wins for the Republicans. This happened because the Senators saw how Reid and Obama handled Lieberman, Nelson, and Linciln and decided they could do what they wanted and not face any consequences. The Democrats' number one problem legislatively remains a lack of party discipline in the Senate and it makes them look weak and costs them support. Yes, it's a tough environment right now and getting anything done is going to be a tough fight. That's why, when faced with an intractable opponent like the current crop of Republicans, an effective party leader needs to pull everyone together. And if that means making an example out of a couple of people and sacrificing a pawn or two in your multi-dimensional chess game, then so be it. But the truth is that Obama had already dealt away the public option and didn't take the necessary steps to get it passed and now it is costing him.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:15 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Once again, if a Senator calls himself a Democrat but is willing to vote with the enemy on a purely procedural matter to derail his party's number one domestic priority, what the hell good is he?

Politics, believe it or not, is not all about one party vs another. And moreover, the parties are not ideologically uniform. All politics is local, and Senators like Ben Nelson quite frankly don't give a shit what the party in Washington has to say. He only cares about the party in his home state. You are not going to arm twist someone like Joe Lieberman who has his own local power base. A lot of 'moderate' Democratic senators would get a polling bump out of starting a conflict with the 'liberal' president.
posted by empath at 10:03 AM on January 19, 2012


Ben Nelson voted for cloture on HCR and Financial Reform. He didn't give you the public option, but you got more than you'd get from the party of no.
posted by humanfont at 11:44 AM on January 19, 2012


Also, Blanche Lincoln lost re-election in a landslide even after trying to finesse her health care vote in a conservative state. Ben Nelson decided not to even try to run for reelection, facing a very tough fight.

This stuff isn't easy, you know.
posted by msalt at 3:38 PM on January 19, 2012


But seriously, if you are a liberal, what better option is there? Obama is like every other option--not perfect--Libya was a mistake--he got lucky, frankly--but every other viable option is literally on stage proposing unbelievably terrible things that are bad for liberals.

Any candidate is viable with enough votes, so I'll stick with voting for the candidates with views closer to my own and hope everyone else agrees.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:49 PM on January 19, 2012


But it's striking to me how little Manning's been officially vilified and how little official effort there's been to "make an example" out of him.

Manning, Washington’s favorite scapegoat
posted by homunculus at 6:05 PM on January 19, 2012


But Romney wants to raise taxes on the poor and lower them for the rich.
Clearly wealth inequality is a problem, but not everyone values the tax code over civil liberties. In fact for poor people in this country their taxes are a pretty minor component of their problem portfolio.
It also helps to remember that a Democratic majority doesn't mean very much unless there are 60 or more "good" Democrats. Having 58 Democrats, when that 58 includes Lieberman et al., doesn't do much of anything.
Only if you keep the filibuster, which they should have disposed of along with Lieberman. Again, the 60 senator thing may be true today but it wasn't really true 10 years ago and wasn't even on the radar 20 years ago. Why should we expect it to be true in 10 years or 20? Why should it have stayed true in 2009?
No, my thesis is that lesser known inmates get treated quite poorly by everyday standards in military brigs every day--it's not typically considered torture, and it doesn't typically get as much scrutiny.
Thesis based on what? I've heard that for US military members in prison, the military prison system is far superior to state and national prisons. Can you give any other examples of members of the military being mistreated in military prison? this guy, for example claims to have been in a military prison and said it had none of the usual problems present in non-military prisons.
Mind you, by "bipartisanship" I am referring to "both sides honestly giving in and compromising, rather than turning every damn discussion into a red-side/blue-side grudge match". It's what Obama was hoping to achieve, and it's what I want too. The reason it didn't work, though, is entirely because the Republican's didn't want to play that game and retreated further into the grudge match.

So yes, "hyperpartisanship" got us Obamacare, but TRUE bipartisanship -- in which the Republican hardliners got the hell OVER themselves and honestly sought compromise -- would have gotten us something better.
Yeah but like I said, SOPA was a truly bipartisan thing. So was the Iraq War. Joe Lieberman is the archetypal bi-partisan. Like I said, it could be nice if the two sides got together and hammered things out but why assume that the result will be something you like or that will be good for the country, as opposed to whatever lobbyists are asking for at the moment.

The other thing, we got Obama care something like 15 months after he Obama was inaugurated. That seems like a pretty reasonable time frame for such a sweeping overhaul.

Let me see if I make this point in a concise way:

1) the more cooperation between republicans and democrats, the more bills they can pass.
2) How do we know those bills will be good?
What I'm asking is, how do we know they'll end up passing good stuff on a bipartisan basis, rather then bad things like SOPA or NDAA?
like Ben Nelson quite frankly don't give a shit what the party in Washington has to say. He only cares about the party in his home state. You are not going to arm twist someone like Joe Lieberman who has his own local power base. You are not going to arm twist someone like Joe Lieberman who has his own local power base.
Lieberman nearly lost to a primary challenge in '06, and has zero chance of winning again, thus he's not even trying. There's no leverage over him because he has nothing to worry about. Lincoln lost re-election, Nelson's not running again either. So it's not like their positions did them any good.

Anyway, like I said. Had the democrats gotten rid of the filibuster in '09, none of this would even be an issue. And it would have been better for the country for the long run. Parties would still be able to veto stuff if they had one house or the whitehouse. If they don't, then why should they have a say?

Anyway, my view isn't that the problem is Obama or whatever, but rather the entire system is rotten to the core, and needs serious reform.
posted by delmoi at 1:41 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, my view isn't that the problem is Obama or whatever, but rather the entire system is rotten to the core, and needs serious reform.

No argument there.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:58 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


David Frum Strikes Back at Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama

You don’t have to vilify President Obama as a Kenyan socialist to recognize that his policies are reorienting the country toward more dependence on the federal government. Through most of the past half century, the federal government has spent about one dollar in five of national income. Right now, it’s spending about one in four. If Barack Obama is reelected and his policies are continued, that one-dollar-in-four ratio will harden into permanent reality, on the way to one dollar in three, with state and local spending on top of that.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:40 AM on January 23, 2012


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