dot.comments says goodbye
I'll soon get to today's comments on an article about President Obama campaigning in a strong Republican district, but first I need to say that this is the final entry in the dot.comments blog. The Post continues to evaluate how best to handle the daily flood of reader remarks. Newer technology is making it easier to highlight quality comments, and Tweets about Post articles are being incorporated into the site.
I've had a blast. This blog has been running since June 2007 and has about 230 entries, most of them -- including today's -- about politics, which is as it should be in Washington. I have been fascinated by the way readers look at the same story and arrive at opposite conclusions about the motives or political leanings of the writer or the newspaper or both. I have been appalled at the absence of decency in many comments, especially about President Obama now and President Bush before. Despite the schoolyard taunts, I suspect both men have tried to do what they think is best for the country, even if not all of us agree on what it is.
On the other hand, I have been pleased and often amused by the way our Readers Who Comment correct each other. For example, in a comment stream on the Wikileaks documents about the war in Afghanistan, Backgroundthoughts asked, "Why can the WaPo give us thousands of pages of classified documents about the Afghan war, but not one page about Barak Obama's SSN, birth certificate, or college transcript?"
To which corrections replied, "Because the Washington Post has better things to do than pander to the delusional lunatic-fringe, to whom no amount of proof will ever convince them that they are wrong."
Precisely.Continue reading this post »
Obama and the apathetic left
A disheartened and sometimes angry Democratic base has captured the comment string in response to President Obama's warning to thousands of young voters in Madison, Wis., last night that apathy threatens his party's chances in the upcoming congressional elections.
The comments, growing by the minute, contain complaints about health care reform, the continuing unpopular war in Afghanistan, and, perhaps most importantly, a crummy job situation except for those bailed out on Wall Street. So why bother to vote?
As Anne E. Kornblut writes, "In returning to such a large-scale event, Obama was sure to provoke comparisons with 2008, both good and bad. While it was the thousands of screaming supporters who made his early presidential ambitions possible, his rock-star status also evolved into a trait Republicans tried to use against him, accusing him of being a "celebrity" and unable to do anything other than make eloquent speeches."Continue reading this post »
Obama's college campign
Our Readers Who Comment are reliving the arguments they had before the 2008 presidential election as they debate the importance of President Obama's plan to stage rallies on college campuses to urge young voters to get out there in November and vote for Democrats for Congress.
Republican-sounding readers are calling Obama the worst president ever, predict disaster for the Democrats, attack health care reform, and note that the first rally is scheduled for Madison, Wis., the location of a state university widely regarded as liberal. Democratic-sounding readers point to health care reform and economic recovery and attack memories of George W. Bush.
As Philip Ruckerand Anne E. Kornblut write, "without Obama on the ballot this year, his grass-roots network is a shadow of its former self. And with just five weeks before the midterm elections, Obama's political advisers acknowledge that transferring the goodwill he cultivated over a historic presidential bid to an array of other Democrats has proved difficult."Continue reading this post »
Ridicule, praise for the 'Pledge to America"
Our Democratic-sounding Readers Who Comment, largely silent recently, emerged from an apparent funk this morning to heap scorn on the Republican "Pledge to America," a House GOP promise on what it would do if it wins a majority in the mid-term elections.
While Republican-sounding voices are certainly heard, the majority of the more than 600 comments filed at the hour this is written seem to come from Democrats. They want to know why national security costs should be protected (and wonder where the savings will come if the defense budget isn't whacked), why health care reform should be repealed and why the wealthy should be protected from taxes while the nation continues to stick it to the poor.
As Paul Kane and Perry Bacon Jr. write, "The 21-page document is meant in part to echo the GOP's 1994 "Contract with America," a 10-point agenda unveiled at the same point in the election season before the party gained control of Congress in that year's midterms. But it is also an effort to signal that a new generation of Republicans is ready to lead."Continue reading this post »
Obama's town hall malaise
Our Readers Who Comment are busy bashing President Obama's policies and communications skills today after his CNBC town hall meeting on the economy, where some of his supporters expressed disappointment with the president's performance.
A clear majority of comments on Dan Balz's take suggest that the president is not providing answers they understand or want to hear. As Balz writes, "The questions illuminated the deep dissatisfaction the president's allies and opponents feel about his performance. The president's answers raised anew the issue of how effectively he communicates on the economy."
Many readers are not attacking just the president's communications skills, but also what they see as a liberal agenda. A few note that fixing the economy is hard and that there are limits to what any president can do. But the underlying theme is that White House fails to understand or address the concerns.Continue reading this post »
The Pelosi problem
With the exception of President Obama, no nationally known Democrat receives more scathing comments from our readers than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her detractors are revelling in the news that some House Democrats seeking re-election are busy distancing themselves from Pelosi.
Comment strings about Pelosi always contain such words as botox and witch. The virulence and lack of dignity in these attacks underscores her effectiveness. As Paul Kane reported back in May, the San Francisco Democrat is considered "a speaker on par with the revered Sam Rayburn, according to historians, pollsters and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle."
Today, Kane and Karen Tumulty write, "Distancing one's self from the speaker is nothing new for many Democrats... but the number of incumbents and the volume of their criticism of the party House leader is larger than it has been in past election cycles - and the volume of their criticism is louder."
Tea Party victory: Readers debate what it means
Our Readers Who Comment are having a spirited argument this morning about the True Meaning of tea party candidate Christine O'Donnell's victory in the Delaware Republican Senate primary.
It's all about spending. It's all about Obama. It's all about everybody in Washington. We will see the truth in November. If there is an underlying agreement on anything it is that the tea party is pushing the entire political spectrum to the right. A number of readers allege that the tea party is actually a racist reaction to President Obama.
As Karen Tumulty writes, "In defeating the GOP's strong prospect for picking up a Senate seat in Delaware - thereby dampening its chances of regaining a Senate majority - the tea party has delivered a clear message to the Republican establishment: You are not in charge."Continue reading this post »
Taxes? Who needs taxes?
Much for readers to discuss today:
So we're going to go with something else: a reader debate on a Senate Republican plan to let the Bush tax cuts go on forever, apparently along with an ever-increasing deficit, as outlined by Lori Montgomery.Continue reading this post »
Have we played into Bin Laden's hands?
Many of our readers spent the 9/11 anniversary weekend debating Ted Koppel's suggestion that the continued commitment of U.S. lives and resources to Afghanistan and Iraq represents success "far beyond anything Osama bin Laden could possibly have envisioned."
Readers either agree or disagree and seem about evenly split in more than 1,200 comments they have filed since Koppel's piece appeared. The questions he raises are worth pondering and, with the usual exceptions from the usual suspects, the discussion is more reasoned and civilized than many that occur on significant national issues.
Koppel writes, "Bin Laden deserves to be the object of our hostility, national anguish and contempt, and he deserves to be taken seriously as a canny tactician. But much of what he has achieved we have done, and continue to do, to ourselves. Bin Laden does not deserve that we, even inadvertently, fulfill so many of his unimagined dreams."
Columnist Fareed Zakaria arrives at a similar conclusion this morning, writing, "Bin Laden knew he could never weaken America directly, even if he blew up a dozen buildings or ships. But he could provoke an overreaction by which America weakened itself."
Ground Zero center sparks debate on freedoms
Over 650 readers have weighed in on the results of a Washington Post-ABC News poll that says two-thirds of the respondents object to the Muslim community center and place of worship planned near Ground Zero. Many agree with that sentiment. Others suggest that we have forgotten what the United States is about.
This comes as there is significant concern that a small-church pastor in Florida will ignite a dangerous response if he carries out his commitment to burn the Koran despite appeals from President Obama, evangelical leaders, Sarah Palin, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, among others.
As pollster Jon Cohen and Kyle Dropp write, "The new results come alongside increasingly critical public views of Islam: 49 percent of all Americans say they have generally unfavorable opinions of Islam, compared with 37 percent who say they have favorable ones. That's the most negative split on the question in Post-ABC polls dating to October 2001." The polling data is here.Continue reading this post »