As I blogged recently, I think we on the left need to be more reasonable about President Obama’s accomplishments. Here is a good case for it here (from a fellow traveler).
Listening to President Obama’s liberal (or “progressive,” or whatever the proper term is) critics reminds me of this scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
While I too would like to have had a more comprehensive health care bill, the one we got is not only the best we could have procured given the circumstances, but the best one that has EVER passed (with the possible exception of the Social Security Act of 1965, which included Medicare). The Democrats didn’t even get a bill out of committee when Hillary Clinton (then First Lady) tried to steer one through. You might say she got the “Obama treatment” (remember the term “Hillarycare”?). Like Obama, she was also opposed by people in her own party, and the government had a lot more money then.
Would I like more reform of Wall Street? Of course. But why is it that Wall Street, at least at this moment, is opposing Obama?
I just read Jonathan Chait’s analysis of liberal criticism of Obama, and found it to be spot on (he mentions the Life of Brian scene above). Liberals have never been satisfied with Democratic presidents while they are in office; they seem to love them only in hindsight, and, as Chait points out, this even holds true for saint FDR. Money quote:
There is a catchphrase, which you’ve probably seen on bumper stickers or T-shirts, that captures the reason liberals have trouble maintaining political power: ‘Stop bitching, start a revolution.’ At first blush it sounds constructive. If you consider it for a moment, though, the line assumes that there are two modes of political behavior, bitching and revolution. Since the glorious triumph of revolution never really pans out, eventually you’ll return to the alternative, bitching. But there is a third option that lies between the two–the ceaseless grind of politics.
So, unless you want more Antonin Scalias on the Supreme Court, get out and work for a Congress that believes that government should actually exist (is this the Democrats’ new catch phrase?).
Dana Milbank had a rare gen yesterday in the Washington Post. On most days I don’t read him (he gets too snarky and cynical for my taste), but I thought this column on super committee nihilist Jon Kyl, Republican Senator from Arizona, was particularly cogent (I first encountered this article through Andrew Sullivan’s blog). Kyl is the #2 Republican in the Senate. As Sullivan would say, “money quote”:
‘Walking napalm’ is how one Democratic aide involved in the supercommittee described Kyl this week. And if the senator makes some mistakes as he burns down the village — well, that’s just a cost of doing business. Earlier this year, when Kyl was leading an effort to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, he claimed on the Senate floor that abortion is ‘well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.’ The actual number is 3 percent. An aide to Kyl explained: ‘His remark was not intended to be a factual statement.’
Facts only matter when they are true. Milbank, by the way, gives a lot more credit to the other Republicans than I would have, but I suppose he has his sources.
This is typical Newt bullshit. Remember, the Super committee was actually a bipartisan idea (not that Democrats and Republicans ever agreed on the reasons for it). President Obama had already offered 2.4 trillion dollars of deficit reductions, including “entitlement” cuts. Revenue from income would come from simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire. Remember?
From the National Journal, August 1, 2011.
President Obama announced on Sunday night a hard-fought deal with congressional leaders to slash the federal deficit by at least $2.4 trillion over 10 years and lift the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt-ceiling limit to avoid a catastrophic and unprecedented default. The pact includes no tax increases sought by the president.
Read my lips….
When your opponent’s playbook is written by Ayn Rand and Karl Rove you shouldn’t expect compromise, or “reason.” But when your own side blames you for lack of leadership because you failed to jawbone a raging pack of nihilists into thinking that compromise is honorable, there is no sanity. Despite what dingbats like Drew Westin say, there is no myth that President Obama could contrive that could make all this better. These are True Believers.
The Republican strategy is to make government appear to be dysfunctional by making it so. If you don’t believe me, read this from a disgusted former Republican congressional staffer.
Sadly, this strategy seems to be working. Democrats are getting mealy-mouthed and seem determined to lose again. I’m hearing and reading bullshit like, “I just wish that Hillary would run again.” And, “What we need is a third party!”
Yeah, like Ralph Nader.
Get a grip. The Republicans have your mind in a vice. They may be ignorant of how real people live, but they are not ignorant of how hardball politics works. They know how to push your buttons. They had no intention of giving President Obama anything, including all the shit they already liked, such as entitlement cuts. Never mind that Obama cut taxes for the middle class, killed Osama bin Laden, and helped organize the overthrow of Qadhafi. If it isn’t clear by now that Republicans will do anything to make sure that Obama will not succeed, then you haven’t been paying attention.
And it’s not like Mitch McConnell has been shy about this. In addition to the famous pronouncement that his number one goal is to make sure that Barack Obama is a one-term president, he also said the following on a talk radio program.
I refuse to help Barack Obama get reelected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy.
Co-ownership seems at least half fair.
I remember when I met then-candidate Barack Obama in a meet and greet at a coffee shop in Grinnell, Iowa. This was several months before the caucuses, but by that point I was already sure that this was my man. In town hall meetings he was always reasonable, thoughtful, and empathetic. He struck me as being much more mature than the other candidates. As I stood in line waiting to shake his hand, I thought about what I would ask him when I got the chance. But when it was my turn all I could do was thank him for running against cynicism. He looked me in the eye and said, “Well, that’s what we have to do!”
Look, I had to come crawling and screaming back to the Democratic party after years of cringing at their incompetence and hypocrisy. But let’s be clear: this President is the real deal, and the Republicans are doing their best to destroy his greatest strength, leadership. This is a classic Karl Rove strategy–go at your opponent’s strength, chip it away, and eventually he will look weak. (Remember John Kerry’s military service?) It may work politically, but at some point you have to govern. Any party that runs a pack of weirdos and blowhards like that for president isn’t serious about governing. When Newt Gingrich, who once controlled an entire branch of government and now wants to run another, can get away with campaigning as an anti-Washington crusader, we’ve gone beyond both irony and hypocrisy. We’ve entered Fellini land.
Let’s stop falling for the same old “okey doke” and get back to reality. What we must do is work for a Congress that at least believes that government should exist.
Wow! My kids’ first college football game, and they get this? My daughter, who is eight, said, “Football is way better in real life!” I worry that every other game will be a let-down. How could it not be?
Witnessing Jeff Woody’s will (and 240 pounds of steam), Jake Knott’s brilliant tip of Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden’s pass in the second overtime, and Ter’Ran Benton’s clutch interception of that same pass was absolutely breathtaking. I overheard one woman of a certain age telling her friends as she exited the stands, “This is really hard on us old people.” She had a broad smile on her face.
How about one more inspiring post-game speech from the man who put it all together, coach Paul Rhoads.
After reading this article in the New York Times (November 16, 2011), I’m beginning to reassess my thoughts about Joe Paterno’s culpability in the Sandusky case. It is simply too difficult for me to believe that he knew nothing about the 1998 incident, as he claims (like everything else, through his son). And if he denies knowing anything about that incident, then what to make of his account about the
2002 2001 incident?
A little context is in order. In 1998 Sandusky was one of the most famous defensive coordinators in the country, and Paterno’s top assistant. Paterno’s program was even known as “Linebacker U” for its consistently excellent play at that position, and Sandusky got the credit for that.
But, after the mother of an eleven year old boy complained that Sandusky had showered with her son, the university police, to their credit, investigated. In fact, their report is 100 pages long. State police, commenting on the matter to New York Times reporters, noted that the university investigation was so serious that the Penn State police even set up a sting operation to try to capture a confession from Sandusky. All of this material was turned over to the District Attorney, who, in a close call, decided not to press charges.
The Times report says that state police investigators question why the university did nothing to prevent Sandusky from potentially abusing boys after this incident. I can’t help but wonder if the university simply attempted to deal with Sandusky by forcing him to retire, which is, in fact, what he did following the 1999 season. He was only 55, a relatively young age for prominent football coach. As far as I know, he was not mentioned as a candidate for any head coaching jobs anywhere.
Now, Joe Paterno tells us that he didn’t know anything about this case. Good grief, my bullshit detector just exploded!
As for everyone else in the Penn State pantheon, this passage from the Times article sums it up fairly well. (Note, this is in reference to the second incident–the one in
2002 2001, when graduate assistant Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Sandusky in the act).
And in 2002 [sic], after McQueary had reported what he had seen to the university’s senior officials, those officials not only never told the police, but they also never even informed the university’s top lawyer. That lawyer, Wendell Courtney, said in an interview this week that he would have been duty bound to report to law enforcement officials any allegations of inappropriate conduct toward children by Sandusky.
Now, a quick review of the facts of the
2002 2001 case, as we know them: after allegedly witnessing the incident with the child, McQueary first told his father, then he told JoePa, then JoePa told something to the athletic director and the vice president in charge of the university police, which had already conducted an extensive investigation of Sandusky back in 1998. Then, according to McQueary’s grand jury testimony, he told the athletic director and the vice president in charge of the university police that he had seen Sandusky raping a child. Somehow that became, in the words of the higher-ups at Penn State, “horsing around,” which, by the way, is the term that Sandusky used to describe it in the Bob Costas interview.
What did the university do about this? They took Sandusky’s keys away from him. At this point, a reasonable person may ask, What in the hell was he still doing with keys? He was retired and he was already suspected of inappropriate contact with children. Our reasonable person may also ask, What in the hell was he still doing bringing children to the Penn State campus?
As for Paterno, one state investigator told the Times, “On that campus, telling Joe Paterno is like telling God.” Very strange religion.
On November 6th, at exactly 2 a.m., we entered “standard time.” I’m told that we got an hour back, which I’m grateful for. But whatever we want to tell ourselves about time, it is not really in our control. Yet we persist in the illusion that it is. We manage it, spend it and even waste it. If you are an efficient person, then you know how to save it.
But whatever time it is when I get up in the morning, nothing changes the fact that the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, and at least until solstice, darkness marches on. No arbitrary time standard can change that basic fact.
And darkness is hard. Only poets and the best musicians have the right language for it. That’s because they live in the twilight–the magic hour that photographers crave–when a life can turn one way or the other.
With more darkness coming on, I thought I’d launch a musical thread on this theme. I’ll start with three of my favorite “dark” songs. Know some others?
“He not busy being born is busy dying.” Bob’s epitaph?
“There’s a darkness on the eh-eh-eh-eh-edge of town!” This metaphor resonated with me when I was in college. It makes even more sense now.
“Behind every beautiful thing there’s been suuummm kinda’ pain.” I don’t think that’s true, but it is sometimes.