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The politics of 'taking credit' for Iraq

Adam Serwer of the American Prospect is guest blogging on The Plum Line this week.

David Corn asks, "Why is Barack Obama giving a speech on Iraq?"

Wars are the most significant stuff of a presidency. There's not enough media attention devoted to the Afghanistan war. But politically there's little or no payoff for an Iraq war address. Obama can't brag, "Mission accomplished." (In fact, on Monday, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama would not be using those words.) He can't declare victory. He can only declare a murky end to a murky war. That's not going to rally the Democrats' base or win over independents. It was not mandatory for Obama to deliver such a high-profile speech. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Baghdad to commemorate this milestone. The administration has conducted other events regarding the end of combat operations. It's been duly noted.

It's not an arbitrary milestone, but it's not really the end, either. While Republicans have sought to emphasize the gains from the surge (a simplistic view that avoids other events that factored into the turnaround) the administration has sought to emphasize Republicans' opposition to a timetable for withdrawal, an argument that was essentially won when the Bush administration agreed to the current Status of Forces Agreement.

Things are hardly coming up roses in Iraq, though. As I wrote earlier, efforts to form an Iraqi government remain at a stalemate, Iraqis still face a daily threat of terrorism, and American soldiers are still at risk despite the fact that "major combat operations" have ceased. Casting the war as "won," though, allows Republicans to take credit for recent gains while avoiding the larger fact that the war itself was unnecessary and had nothing to do with fighting al-Qaeda. Arbitrarily deciding that the war is now "won" also allows them to blame the current administration entirely should things unravel.

The reason for the president to give a speech tonight, it seems to me, is not just to remind the American people how much the war has cost, but that this is hardly over. Declaring "Mission Accomplished" might be slightly less absurd today than it was in 2003, but that doesn't mean it's accurate.

Here are some end-of-the-day links:

How will Health Care affect the midterms?

A man wearing a turban was attacked in Seattle by another man screaming, "you're not even an American, you're al-Qaida. Go back to your country."

Jane Hamsher's health-care polling vindicated.

Liberal outside groups are doing lots of campaign spending.

Lisa Murkowski gets a ray of hope.

Spencer Ackerman hopes we can start to think more maturely about al-Qaeda.

Previewing Florida Democratic Senate Candidate Kendrick Meek's latest hit on Charlie Crist.

Matt Duss on Iraq.

By Adam Serwer  |  August 31, 2010; 4:08 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Boehner vs. reality on national security
Next: Obama's Iraq speech: a salute, not a victory lap

Comments

"David Corn asks, "Why is Barack Obama giving a speech on Iraq?"
---------------------------------------------

Gee, I don't know, Dave. Maybe because he's like, the president? Wars are kind of a big deal? They're among the kinds of things that presidents are kind of expected to talk about? TF kind of question is that, even? What kind of person would ask it?

Posted by: CalD | August 31, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's something for the liberal champions of Charlie Crist to think about, from Politico:

_________________________
Crist's tough math

"Steve Schale looks at Crist's math and finds that he needs 45% of the Democratic vote to win.

His math:

Here is one problem: Rubio is limiting him to 20% of the Republican vote. If Rubio keeps him at 20% of the GOP vote, Crist needs to get 45% of the Democratic vote in order to win, and according to the latest PPP poll, Crist is only at 38% today with Democrats.

Those Democrats include yellow dogs who aren't about to vote for the former Republican governor, and they also include black voters — about 20-25% of the Democratic electorate, Schale tells me — choosing between him and the state's first black Senate nominee."

__________________

Posted by: lynell33 | August 31, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"He can't declare victory. He can only declare a murky end to a murky war. That's not going to rally the Democrats' base or win over independents"

Honestly.

I have two words in response to Mr. Corn (who I normally love).

The first word starts with an F.

The second with an O.

This is absolute garbage.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

If this is an open thread I'm going to go ahead and post something illuminating:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht8PmEjxUfg

Posted by: nisleib | August 31, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

nisleib, I posted that this morning. (I watched it twice last night.) It's a stunner!

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 31, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

lynell33, absolutely right.

Meek has a good shot at winning.

The trick is to get the two REPUBLICONS to fight each other, which they inevitably will when it becomes apparent that the Dems are 'coming home' to Meek. It's going to get even uglier (for Crist) in October when the Jim Greer court case hits the newsstands.

Rubio himself is in DEEP DOO-DOO. Among other scandals (AMEX-gate), he's being implicated in a really fishy scheme around the construction of a new 1st District Court of Appeals in FL.

Check this bad boy out:

http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2010/08/marco-rubios-ties-to-the-taj-mahal-courthouse-scandal.html

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/alex-sink-orders-audit-of-taj-mahal-courthouse-finances/1118454

Check out both of those links. The 2nd one being the full story.

ALL DEMOCRATS should take note of Kendrick Meek's campaign. He's been written off more times than I can count BY DEMOCRATS.

And when the dust settles in November and he's the frickin new Democratic Senator of Florida I'm going to be telling you all I told you so way back in like MARCH! Which I basically did.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

On a happier note, 150 people turned out at a candlelight vigil at the building site of the mosque in Murfreesboro. One guy chipped in $100 to their building fund. Nice!

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100830/NEWS01/100830079/Murfreesboro-shows-its-support-for-mosque

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 31, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, I don't normally love David Corn and I'm sure not feeling any love now. What a stupid question. Sheesh!

Re Jane Hamsher--I think it's way too soon to claim vindication. But if she's pleased with herself, that's really sad.

Posted by: carolanne528 | August 31, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Some states suing feds also claim health subsidies

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than half a dozen states suing to overturn President Barack Obama's health care law are also claiming its subsidies for covering retired state government employees, according to a list released Tuesday by the administration.

About 2,000 employers have been approved for the extra help to cover early retirees, mainly private businesses. But the list also includes seven states suing to overturn the health care overhaul as an unconstitutional power grab by the federal government.

The seven are Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and Nevada.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HEALTH_PLAYING_BOTH_SIDES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-08-31-14-30-09

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Spencer Ackerman? Mature?

LMAO

Posted by: sbj3 | August 31, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Palestinian kills 4 Israelis on eve of peace talks

Palestinian gunmen opened fire Tuesday on an Israeli car in the West Bank and killed four passengers on the eve of a new round of Mideast peace talks in Washington. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility.

Assailants firing from a passing car riddled the vehicle with bullets as it traveled near Hebron - a volatile city that has been a flash point of violence in the past. Some 500 ultranationalist Jewish settlers live in heavily fortified enclaves in the city amid more than 100,000 Palestinians.

[...]

About 3,000 people joined a rally in Gaza to celebrate the attack. Hamas military wing spokesman Abu Obeida was among them and told The Associated Press: "The Qassam Brigades announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron."

Upon arriving in Washington for this week's talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack and said "terror will not determine Israel's borders or the future of the settlements." Borders and the fate of Jewish settlements on land Palestinians want for a future state are key issues in the negotiations.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/MIDEAST_TALKS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-08-31-18-10-04

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

David Corn is right - Obama should not be giving this speech.


There really is no upside for Obama - and the potential for downsides is great.


Obama can't take credit for the war - or the pull-out - So what is the point ?

No one in the country wants to hear Obama's views on the war - or any other of his far left-wing views.


The War on Terror is important - and if Obama is reluctant to fight it, it is a really bad thing for him to tell the country.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

House panel recommends 3 for further investigation

House investigators have recommended that three lawmakers be further investigated to determine whether political contributions were improperly linked to votes on the huge financial overhaul bill.

The independent House Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the member-run House ethics committee pursue potential rules violations by Republicans John Campbell of California and Tom Price of Georgia and Democrat Joseph Crowley of New York.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FUNDRAISING_INVESTIGATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-08-31-17-47-56

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Last one:

Drilling agency imposes conflict-of-interest rules

Scandalized by federal regulators who had sex with oil company executives and negotiated with them for jobs, the agency that oversees offshore drilling is imposing a first-ever ethics policy that bars inspectors from dealing with a company that employs a family member or personal friend.

[...]

Under the new policy, agency employees must notify a supervisor about any potential conflict of interest and step aside when inspections or other official duties involve a company that employs a family member or close personal friend.

Inspectors who join the agency from the oil industry cannot perform inspections or other work involving their former employers for two years.

The new policy, which takes effect immediately, comes after a series of jaw-dropping reports documenting the close relationship between agency workers and energy company representatives.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GULF_OIL_SPILL_REVOLVING_DOOR?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-08-31-17-21-22

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010


You are right that Meek has a chance to win - he will have organization on the ground with the Governor's race and Crist may totally fall apart at the end.

Everyone is still WAITING for you to say what the SPECIFIC democratic proposals are for the economy.

I suppose you don't have any.


Funny - neither does Obama - and it's his job that he is refusing to do.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Ohio from PPP:

"We'll start rolling out our Ohio poll results tomorrow but there's one finding on the poll that pretty much sums it up: by a 50-42 margin voters there say they'd rather have George W. Bush in the White House right now than Barack Obama."

http://publicpolicypolling.blogspot.com/2010/08/previewing-ohio.html

Ouch!

Posted by: sbj3 | August 31, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

sbj, then my conclusion is that 50% of Ohio is stupid.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 31, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Obama only beat McCain by 4.5% in 2008. That was at Bush's popularity low-point and Obama's popularity high-point.

Other than that, this statistic is totally irrelevant.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Edit:

Obama only beat McCain by 4.5% IN OHIO in 2008

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"sbj, then my conclusion is that 50% of Ohio is stupid."

Well, they did vote for Barry, so their stupidity is well established.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 31, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama: "Because of the extraordinary service that all of you have done, and so many people here at Fort Bliss have done, Iraq has an opportunity to create a better future for itself, and America is more secure."

Wait a minute - America is *more* secure? With a few more concessions such as this maybe he *can* get the independent vote back...

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/rubin/351046

Posted by: sbj3 | August 31, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

What made America great was cowboys, Marlboros, and semi-automatic weapons. Not necessarily in that order.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 31, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Truer words have ne'er been spoken! (At least on the previous thread.)

I'd only add Maureen O'Hara, who tied all the above together.

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

wbgonne:

(Carrying this forward from a previous thread.)

"I question you conceptions of freedom and rights, as well as your idea of
power."

I understand freedom to be the absence of coercion. That is the only coherent meaning of the term that I am aware of.

A right is a moral sanction on action. To say, for example, that a person has a right to pursue happiness means that the person is morally justified in taking actions that provide him with happiness. However, if rights inhere in all people equally, that necessarily means that all rights for all men must coexist. Rights, properly understood, cannot conflict. Hence my right to pursue happiness cannot logically impinge on yours. We must be able to pursue our own happiness at the same time and in the same respect. That can only be done in the absence of coercion. You cannot have the right to initiate force against me, just as I cannot have the right to initiate force against you.

This, BTW, is what justifies government and criminal law. The force of government is justified as prevention of and a reaction against the initiation of coercion of one individual against another. The force of government is not justified if it is being used to initiate coercion against individuals.

Power can mean many things, so I am not sure what you are looking for. But the power of government means one thing...the legal use of force.

“Do you say the health care bill is unconstitutional?”

Almost certainly it is. There is nothing in the text of the constitution
that gives the federal government the authority to compel a person to
purchase a product or service simply by reason of his existence.

But more importantly, whether or not it is unconstitutional, it is a clear
violation of the rights and freedoms that our government was established to
secure.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 31, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

One reason Pres. Obama is speaking tonight is because he failed to keep his campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay within one year, and this is a way of pointing to a high-profile example of a promise "he" kept. He doesn't want to go into 2012 with a reputation of a promise breaker.

Posted by: AmericanDelight | August 31, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

New Dem strategy...repeal the Bush tax increases!

From Taranto at WSJ:

"If you're lucky enough to have a job in the Obama economy, the bad news is that your taxes are about to go up. Unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will expire Jan. 1. The prospect of big tax increases has contributed to sluggish growth, and Democrats, facing increasingly dire forecasts for November, are beginning to think maybe it would be a good idea to extend the Bush cuts.

This creates a bit of a dilemma, because Democrats love taxes. The Hill quotes a Democratic operative who sums up the problem:

"It's hard to say the Republican economic policies were bad, [and] then continue them," Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and former adviser to President Clinton, told The Hill. "That is a bit of a mixed message." . . .

Or, as conservative blogger Ed Morrissey puts it:

"Democrats have a conundrum. If they agree to extend the Bush tax cuts--the heart of Bush's economic policies, which only have an expiration date in the first place because Democrats threatened to filibuster them otherwise--they're endorsing Bush's economic policies. If they don't extend them, Barack Obama and the Democrats still left in Congress will almost certainly create a double-dip recession that will threaten to make their party radioactive for the next few election cycles. Perhaps they should have thought their 2010 strategy of demonizing Bush through a little more."

But there's an easy out. Don't call it "extending the Bush tax cuts." Call it "repealing the Bush tax increase." This would be entirely accurate: Taxes are going up pursuant to legislation enacted by a Republican Congress and signed by Bush.

One could argue that it isn't entirely fair. Morrissey is surely right to suggest that Bush would have preferred the cuts to be permanent in the first place. But so what? Obama will take all the blame for ObamaCare, including the provisions that he didn't like but were necessary to win the requisite votes.

If President Obama and a critical mass of congressional Democrats announced tomorrow that they are determined to "repeal the Bush tax increase," what would Republicans do? Vote "no" out of spite? Defend Bush's legacy against this unfair attack? It seems to us the GOP's best response would be to go along with the hypothetical Democratic argument, for it would allow them to distance themselves from the still-unpopular Bush while enacting a policy with which they agree."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467004575463772860827634.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 31, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see the President hit one out of the park tonight!

Posted by: Andy94 | August 31, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

"sbj, then my conclusion is that 50% of Ohio is stupid."

You wanna know Democrats lose against the Republicans, despite everything? That attitude right there. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 31, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/

One more down, another 240 to go.

I sure hope partisans can at least take one moment to be thankful to the troops for the crap they had to put up with in Iraq to get that place into a semi-functioning state.

Those that nitpick on the things still wrong in Iraq are some of the same that nitpicked the Health Care law.

Jane Hamsher that twit should ask the millions of Americans that won't have to choose between food on the table or a medical procedure for them or a loved one. Poll those people and see if they approve of the legislation. Poll those that will finally be able to get insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Loved the speech.

I thought it was spot on.

Keith Olberman said the main thing that jumped out at him was making the case that the Iraq War hurt the economy and that we need to invest resources here at home. Chris Matthews evoked the term Peace Dividend (and seemed fairly impressed that Obama "drew the line" by saying Iraq is DONE, period). Rachel Maddow wanted it to be more harsh towards the people who got us into Iraq, but imho that is not proper, it just wasn't the time or place for that kind of judgment, factually correct or not.

I flipped to Fox and Bill O'Reilly was ranting on and on that he was boring, there was no passion and his body language was bad. Ummmm, yeah. Monica Crowley just lied through her teeth constantly, as she is want to do, saying that Obama has "lost control" of the Presidency and he needed this to boost his approval rating which she said was "in the low 40s, 42, 41, 40" -- he is at 45% approval in Gallup and 48% in Rasmussen.

All-in-all, I think Alan Colmes hit the nail on the head on O'Reilly, and that is that O'Reilly was attacking Obama's passion and body language because SUBSTANTIVELY it was near perfection. Yes, near perfection. Actually those are my words, Colmes said about O'Reilly, "you've got nothing," but basically, the speech WAS a home run.

The most stunning moment, to me, was when Obama talked about the 55 soldiers who were killed from Stryker Company -- the last brigade to leave Iraq -- and said that they were part of the over 4,400 soldiers who died in Iraq and tens of thousands of wounded.

4,400.

Think about that.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama's speech tonight was a complete failure

Obama dissed our allies who fought alongside us.


Obama failed to discuss the Surge - which won the war.


Obama failed to talk about the reasons for the war - and why our efforts WERE a success.

Obama messed this speech up because Obama's PRIMARY CONCERN WAS PARTISAN - Obama sidestepped the issues about the war.

All in all, Obama has EGG on his face on this war - and Obama just can't admit it

Overall, Obama is not exercising LEADERSHIP - he is NOT acting like the leader of ALL Americans - rather his remarks are covered with PARTISAN AIMS.

Overall, the speech was a disgrace - and a missed opportunity for Obama to be bipartisan, and act like a Statesman.


This could have been OBAMA'S LAST CHANCE - the public has TUNED Obama out - and no one wants to listen to him anymore - this speech was a CRITICAL ERROR ON OBAMA'S PART.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

SaveTheRainforest can't even take a moment to thank the troops, predictable.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Ethan
I saw the MSNBC crew but missed FOX, so thanks for the update. I agree with all your insights.

Posted by: Andy94 | August 31, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

MFA
You're right some people will always hate our country and the brave men and women of the military.

Posted by: Andy94 | August 31, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Is this just a slightly different take on the "Mission Accomplished" speech given by President George W. Bush from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003?

This war is no more over than the Vietnam war was over on January 27th, 1973. It was just over two years until the South Vietnamese Army surrendered to the Viet Cong putting a final end to the military action.

It would be interesting to see if the Iraqi people really think that the war is over. I rather doubt that either the Sunnis or the Shiites think hostilities have ended.

http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Baywoodfarm | August 31, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

BinCHI: I agree with you 100% on Ohio. I live there.

Posted by: DinOH | August 31, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

"As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It's well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush's support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq's future."

Most sober, wise and gracious.

Mr. Obama set a tone in this passage that I hope continues. Disagreement can still be expressed by patriots in honest, good faith opposition. He distinctly avoided making a moral pronouncement on the war.

nb.: There's chatter on the blogs re: the President's delivery (ie.: flat). I listened on-line, no vid, and read the transcript shortly after. I think it's helpful to do this and not get caught up in the "AmericanIdol" type of critique. It's his ideas I give a damn about not technique...he sounded, uh, presidential.

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

STR,

You from that other half of Ohio everyone's talkin' about?

{{{hey! no. I'iiimmm kidding about Ohio!
STR, I am not kidding about, an 1/8thwit I'd say.}}}

GO REDS!

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Good post, Tao. Glad you saw the good in the speech.

And that reminds me of another highlight of the speech for me.

That was the point when he said that we need to remember that projecting U.S. power can be done not only with the best military in the world, but with our commitment to human rights and favoring peace.

Here is the key graph:

"Indeed, one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone. We must use all elements of our power -- including our diplomacy, our economic strength, and the power of America's example -- to secure our interests and stand by our allies. And we must project a vision of the future that is based not just on our fears, but also on our hopes -- a vision that recognizes the real dangers that exist around the world, but also the limitless possibility of our time."

What a remarkable comment. Truly, Obama is deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize just for that statement alone.

"we must project a vision of the future that is based not just on our fears, but also on our hopes"

I challenge ANYONE to disagree with that statement. Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Sara Palin. If you disagree with that statement, you have bigger problems than political disagreement.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"What a remarkable comment. Truly, Obama is deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize just for that statement alone."

Apparently Monica Lewinsky and Nina Burleigh are not the only ones keen to put on their presidential kneepads.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 31, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I see Scott also can't take a moment to put the snipes aside. typical

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows Obama should not have taken credit for the pull-out from Iraq when Bush made the agreement to do just that with the Iraqi Government.


Also, Bush's Surge made the whole thing possible, with victory.

Obama just PROVED how shallow and partisan he is - completely unqualified for what he is doing.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

"I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It's well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush's support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq's future."

Does this mean that Barry does not believe the "Bush lied us into war" meme? Did he ever believe it? If he did, when did he stop? If he still believes it, why lie?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 31, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

ScottC,

APPARENTLY your mind is in the gutter.

So nice that you took a few seconds of your time to appreciate the gratitude Obama extended to the troops.

You know, the troops who have been serving in IRAQ for over seven years, over multiple tours of duty, who have been shot at, shot, killed, injured, had psychological problems, PTSD, families missing them at home.

Honestly ScottC?

THAT is your comment?

You sicken me.

In fact, you are so grotesque and misguided that I literally pity you.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 31, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, now SaveTheRainforest feels its OK to get back to sniping now that Scott has opened up.

You folks are too predictable.

What's the goal? Honest question.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

If words were Scandinavian Pre-Accomplishment Accolades then wishes would be...well, you get the drift.

Mr. Obama needs to make the diplomatic effort to stabilze the Iraqi polity stick! Mr. Biden does not make my heart soar with confidence.

"In Iraq, fortunately, we have a structure to support sustained U.S. engagement: the Strategic Framework Agreement negotiated and signed under the Bush administration, along with the security agreement. That agreement, embraced by the Obama administration, outlines a framework for cooperation in security and other fields, including diplomacy, economics, trade, education, science, technology and communications. It envisions a groundbreaking long-term partnership with Iraq that could fundamentally alter the strategic map of the Middle East. Such a relationship will take sustained U.S. engagement and resources, increasingly more civilian than military. And it may be that a new Iraqi government will request a U.S. military presence beyond the end of 2011. If so, I hope we will listen carefully." (Ambassador Ryan Crocker, 08.31.2010)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/30/AR2010083003773.html?sub=AR

Mr. Obama: "...to secure our interests and stand by our allies."

Bibi, call your office.

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

McWing, whatever he may believe in his heart, as Commander in Chief of the troops, I thought he did a good job of setting aside whatever differences many of us have had over the Iraq War and focused on the troops, their sacrifice and bravery. My only thought was that he might have mentioned more of the sacrifices of the Iraqi people, but maybe this wasn't the time and place. All in all I thought it was a very appropriate way to celebrate and mark what everyone hopes will be the end of combat.

Posted by: lmsinca | August 31, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

That said.

Why partisanpigpile on the guy when he's actually said something that's wise and gracious.

15 yard penalty for unnecessary cynicism. Next one and y'all can hit the showers.

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Murkoski's gonna concede tonight. Must have been guaranteed a sweet lobbying job.

It's a wingnut orgasm.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 31, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Greta van Susterin just had to defend Obama from Oliver North attacking Obama for not mentioning Odierno.

also...Fox just said Murkowski conceeded to Miller.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

TMcW,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but one thing I do NOT recall from Mr. Obama was trafficking in the "Bush lied" BS in the Senate or the run-up to 08.

His IL compenero Durbin, however, if there was any justice, would be sweeping out Chicago Sanitation/Dept trucks for the "troops are nazis" crack alone.

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

@Tao: "I'd only add Maureen O'Hara, who tied all the above together."

Ah! The Quiet Man--now there was a movie. John Wayne kickin' butt and sparring with (and romancing) O'Hara. Now, that's a fine, fine movie.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 31, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"So nice that you took a few seconds of your time to appreciate the gratitude Obama extended to the troops."

Don't go hiding behind the troops. You were fawning over Obama and his platitudes, not the troops.

Appreciating the troops, or even Obama's expressions of gratitude, doesn't require us to sit in silence while you act like teenage girl at a Beatles concert.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 31, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

The democrats voted FOR the war -


Then they turned against the war after men had already given their lives - the democrats abandoned the troops in the field.


Obama and the democrats wanted to DECLARE THE WAR LOST - AND LEAVE IN DISGRACE.

Let NO ONE forget that Harry Reid said the war was lost.


All during those years, Obama's primary concern was NOT National Security - but the overnight poll number of his own partisan party.


These motivations are NOT PATRIOTIC.


Obama has EGG on his face tonight.

Obama is not even MAN enough to admit that the Surge WON THE WAR - and Bush deserves credit for fighting this war - and protecting the national security of the United States.


This is the truth - and the democratic spin machine would prefer lies everytime.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Don't get sucked in Ethan. Scott is only happy when everyone is miserable. Don't give him that joy.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Tao9,

Agreed, but it is essentially lefty gospel that the war was trumped up to, I never was able to keep up with all the theories as to the why's: tried to kill Daddy, oil, so he and Rummy could sit in the oval office sipping scotch and personally direct Lynddie England "torture" sessions at Abu Graib, dry drunk, etc. So I wonder if this rather gratuitous slap at lefty dogma will have repurcussions. I'm pretty sure that Barry never took anybody aside, prior to his immaculation, and told them to tone down the "Bush lied us into war" stuff. Does this dissapoint the True Believers in that he either never agreed with them, just used their anger, or is just plain lying? And if it's the latter, than does it only matter to the left on who's doing the lying?

Ah well, Murkowsi's history. 'Cuda's knocked off the entire family I think. Dayum!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 31, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

SaveTheRainforest, combat troops are out.

Be thankful.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

ScottC3,

Beatles concert...ha!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 31, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

@tao9: "Mr. Obama set a tone in this passage that I hope continues. Disagreement can still be expressed by patriots in honest, good faith opposition. He distinctly avoided making a moral pronouncement on the war."

Obama is generally the epitome of good-faith opposition. Folks on the right lament the lack of Scoop Jackson Democrat, but Obama seems awfully close. Obama is the template many on the left would do well to emulate . . . but he will never get the credit he deserves from the GOP or conservative pundits. I wish more on our side could see the vast and positive difference between Obama and folks like (or worse than) Dick Durbin.

Obama offers an ideal template for civil discourse, and it's generally of ignored. Too bad. That, and drone strikes, are what I like best about Obama. He get insufficient credit for both.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 31, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Mike

Scott is right - we all know it.


Obama can not smooth over the desire of the democrats to LEAVE OUR NATION OPEN to terrorist attacks.


Saddam had CHEMICAL WEAPONS - the reason for the war to to prevent those chemical weapons from being transferred to terrorist and used on US SOIL.

Those chemical weapons were probably sent to Syria or to Iran - and there was adequate evidence of those shipments before the war.

Running around the country for years saying "Bush Lied" while troops are dying in the field - is NOT patriotic -


It is a horrible national security policy.

The lies of the democrats - desperate to get their domestic poll numbers up - were a disgrace.


Bill Clinton himself said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - to say "Bush Lied" is ridiculous and partisan.

THAT is the problem with Obama and the democrats - PARTISAN MOTIVATION.


Tonight was another violation of Obama's own commitment to be bipartisan - a commitment made to the nation.


Obama did not look Presidential tonight - he looked like a complete idiot.


Tonight was not about leadership, or uniting the nation - Let's be serious.


The people writing fawning comments on this blog are simply a bunch of liars - let's have some real thoughts from you.


Obama disgraced himself again tonight - his speech was SHAMEFUL.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Ethan

Perhaps you can write some quality comments on this blog and people will take you seriously.


If you ask a question - you should be willing to answer the same question for your side.


Instead, you simply seek to attack the other side.


That is not civil discourse at all.


Your fawning comments are nothing but deceptions and lies. What is wrong with you? Can your at least try to write something intelligent ??? It would help the discussion.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

OK. I give up civility.

You're a f'in idiot savetherainforest. Go play in traffic you mindless prick.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 31, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like a little rain to ruin a thread. Have a good night all!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: lmsinca | August 31, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

The major problem is the democrats are in some fantasy-fantasy land about national security.

Obama tonight said there are terrorists out there - planning on how to kill us.


But did we get a REAL vision for national security from Obama???


NO


From Obama tonight we got a formula for RETREAT - get out of the Middle East and concentrate on domestic issues. THAT is Obama's vision for NATIONAL SECURITY.

It is a disgrace.


Obama had a chance to be a leader tonight - he had a chance to be bipartisan - Obama had a chance to be a Statesmen tonight.

What did he DELIVER? A highly partisan speech which RAN from the real national security issues.


Sure, Obama said some good things about the troops - Of course Obama did the minimum.


But Obama failed to do EVERYTHING ELSE - Obama failed to talk about why were were in Iraq -


AND the importance of Iraq in the wider War on Terrorism.


Obama's speech tonight was a COMPLETE FAILURE.


Amazing - Glen Beck KNOWS how to raise to an ocassion and knock the ball out -


Obama's primary concern was his PARTISAN feelings - we don't want to hurt Obama's feelings tonight by saying that he was wrong about something - wrong about the Surge.

Obama WANTED THIS NATION TO LOSE THE WAR - AND LEAVE IN DEFEAT.


So did Harry Reid.


Obama is not a leader - this speech tonight was SHAMEFUL.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

TMcW,

Wonder how the chat w/ W went today?

Obama's a smart guy so I have to give him the benny 'o the doubt and believe he knew that the Bush lied thing was immutably baloney. It must have made some of the Dems (Rockefeller, Leiberman, Hillary, Nelson, Graham) sick to their stomachs shilling that for the team...for JFKKerry whom they all knew was a lightweight git. Mr. Obama also knows Bush would never betray a Presidential confidence if Mr. Obama actually said it.

The interaction of the living ex-presidents and the guy in the OvalOffc is fascinating to me. They know what's at stake, or they wouldn't have gotten that far. It's a relationship like no other in the world, something Amurricin's kin be proud of.

{{{None of 'em seem to like Jimmah much.}}}

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

The ONLY reason Obama was able to leave Iraq today in the condition it is - is because Bush took the courage to go AGAINST PUBLIC OPINION AND PUT THE SURGE IN.


The Surge was the key to the withdrawl.

Was Obama man enough to admit that ? NO

Tonight was a highly partisan speech, not what Obama promised this nation.

Did anyone else notice that Obama had NOTHING ON HIS DESK - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Kevin:

"Obama offers an ideal template for civil discourse..."

I don't disagree that he is civil, but he is the president. What president did not make efforts to appear civil to his opposition?

However, I think he is far from the epitome of good faith opposition. Do you really think was arguing in good faith during the the health care debates? Do you really think it was an act of good faith (or even, to be frank, civil) to essentially chastise the Supreme Court and misrepresent one of its decision, with them sitting in decorum-obligated silence not 30 feet away, during his SOTU?

Presidential, yes. Good faith opposition? I can't agree.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 31, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

For Mercies Sake StheRF: Edit yourself.

"NO" (@10:57pm) is not an f'n paragraph.

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm really disappointed in all of you. Shame on you.

Posted by: CalD | August 31, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

I know.
I'm really really sorry.
Thanks Dad...I mean, Cal.

;>)

Posted by: tao9 | August 31, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Tao9,

I agree with you. I wonder what Bill and GWB talked about? I'm guessing how each thought Gore was insane.

A commenter at HotAir said it probably went like this:

Sir: The President is on the phone
for you.

Bush: Dad?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 31, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow, this place reminds me of a middle school classroom with a substitute teacher (absolutely no offense meant to Mr. Serwer). Rowdiness rules.

And SaveTheRainforest, the expression is "rise to the occasion," not
"raise to an ocassion." You might want to pay closer attention in English class.

Posted by: carolanne528 | August 31, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

The democrats voted FOR the war -


Then they turned against the war after men had already given their lives - the democrats abandoned the troops in the field.


Obama and the democrats wanted to DECLARE THE WAR LOST - AND LEAVE IN DISGRACE.



Let NO ONE forget that Harry Reid said the war was lost.


All during those years, Obama's primary concern was NOT National Security - but the overnight poll number of his own partisan party.


These motivations are NOT PATRIOTIC.


Obama has EGG on his face tonight.



Obama is not even MAN enough to admit that the Surge WON THE WAR - and Bush deserves credit for fighting this war - and protecting the national security of the United States.


This is the truth - and the democratic spin machine would prefer lies everytime.



.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

David Corn asks, "Why is Barack Obama giving a speech on Iraq?"
---------------------------------------------

To reiterate, don't you have to stop and ask yourself what kind of question that is? And what kind of person would ask it?

I really think that civil people would want to take a moment to ponder that. Civility is the glue that holds civilization together. Below a certain threshold of civility, you can't actually have civilization anymore. It's not entirely optional.

Posted by: CalD | August 31, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The truth is that Obama has a fundamentally different view of national security than 90% of the country.


The democrats are deluding themselves.


Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons - and the danger was he was going to give those weapons to terrorists and use them in US cities.

Democrats - do you want to leave this nation OPEN TO CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS?


I tell you what - do you want to give the terrorists a LAWYER before you answer that question ???

How many more Americans have to die in terrorist attacks before the democrats take this seriously ???


Obama wanted us to LOSE the war - and leave Iraq in defeat. Bush insured that we have left Iraq in dignity and victory.


I find it offensive that when troops are at war - dying for this country - that the democrats are more concerned with their overnight poll numbers - rather that what is BEST for the national security of this nation.


Yes - the democrats turned Iraq into a PARTISAN ISSUE AFTER VOTING FOR THE WAR.


Obama is shameful - and a disgrace.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama is unbelievable -


Outside of fawning over Obama - I can see that as soon as real debate begins on the quality of Obama's speech, the democrats run away.


Obama was against the Surge - he wanted to leave Iraq in DEFEAT -


That did NOT happen because of George Bush.


A real man would have said ALL of that - a real man would have spoke about the reasons for the war in the first place - a real man whould have been honest about the policy differences over the years - but most importantly a real man would have recognized the accomplishments of George Bush and our military.

Obama's partisan motives and ego prevented him from delivering a proper speech.

Maybe someday we will have a real leader in the White House - one who is an adult and willing to represent this nation properly.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Let's just face it - Obama blew it tonight.


Obama had a perfect opportunity to be a leader - to represent the nation.


Obama had a perfect opportunity to be a Statemen


Obama had a perfect opportunity to FINALLY be bipartisan - and say honest good things about George Bush.

Obama is a complete failure.


When it is about giving credit where credit is due, that is about the "content of one's character."


On this Obama does not measure up. Obama doesn't even come close.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Why can't Obama just admit that the Surge worked ?

Obama failed to be a leader last night - because in part he refuses to admit the Surge worked.


At this point, it is a character flaw of Obamas - it goes directly to the "content of one's character."


Obama PROVED last night that he simply can not handle the job.


Obama had the perfect opportunity to be bipartisan last night, and what did the nation get in return ? Some partisan-laced pathetic ego-driven selfish exercise in nothing. Truly pathetic.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

@ScottC3: "I don't disagree that he is civil, but he is the president. What president did not make efforts to appear civil to his opposition?"

Well, that's a good point. I'd just add that compared to many of his fellow Democrats, and certainly the Democrat base, he is a model of civility. And I think people should get credit where credit is due. Even conservatives I like a lot, like Peter Robinson at Ricochet, described the speech as "grudging, incoherent, and disgraceful", which I think is unfair.

But I think politics is the sort of thing where we rarely want to give the other side an inch, especially in punditry.

"Do you really think was arguing in good faith during the the health care debates?"

I think so, actually. He had a signature piece of legislation, and he pushed are for it, and he played some politics. But I think he was moving forward in good faith--in no small part because it was his legislation and he really wanted it.

"Do you really think it was an act of good faith (or even, to be frank, civil) to essentially chastise the Supreme Court and misrepresent one of its decision, with them sitting in decorum-obligated silence not 30 feet away, during his SOTU?"

No, that's was completely inappropriate--wrong place, wrong time. And all the complaints were regarding the justices facial reactions to having had their decision mischaracterized.

Good point, but, on the whole, I think the right is judging Obama as something he's not. Of course, conservatives are constantly judged as something they aren't, so I guess it's just the field we're playing on.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

"Rights, properly understood, cannot conflict. Hence my right to pursue happiness cannot logically impinge on yours. We must be able to pursue our own happiness at the same time and in the same respect."

Your logic eludes me. And I think the historical evidence is reasonably clear that one person's "pursuit of happiness" not only frequently impinges another's, but that is increasingly likely as a society confronts the reality of scarcity. Government is how civilized people come together to manage the conflicting claims.

"This, BTW, is what justifies government and criminal law. The force of government is justified as prevention of and a reaction against the initiation of coercion of one individual against another."

That is exactly my point except that you appear fixated upon the word "coercion." One person's pursuit of happiness may -- and commonly does -- impinge upon another's and that is so regardless of whether the impingement is labeled "coercion." Arguing otherwise is an exercise in semantics.

"The force of government is not justified if it is being used to initiate coercion against individuals."

That is the ONLY way government operates, by arbitrating the competing pursuits of happiness. Making decisions for the greater good necessarily means that some individuals don't get what they want.

"Almost certainly [the health care bill is unconstitutional]. There is nothing in the text of the constitution that gives the federal government the authority to compel a person to purchase a product or service simply by reason of his existence."

But there is plenty in the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to foster the common welfare and regulate commerce.

"But more importantly, whether or not it is unconstitutional, it is a clear violation of the rights and freedoms that our government was established to secure."

Even putting aside all my earlier concerns, how in the world do you arrive at this conclusion? We have a culture that compels health care workers to provide uncompensated care in emergencies. Those costs are absorbed elsewhere in the system and they are exorbitant due to the ad hoc nature of service delivery. The American people, who ultimately finance our health care system, plainly have the "right" to decide that the costs be minimized and spread more fairly.

Let me put a fine point on this because I think it really explains much of the antigovernment rhetoric: You only want the government to do what you want the government to do. That is not a Constitutional theory. It is immaturity. We have elections and the winners get to put their preferred policies in place. Claiming otherwise is being a sore loser, nothing more.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 1, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

@tao9: "None of 'em seem to like Jimmah much."

I shook Jimmy's hand once. My only presidential encounter. I also sat and talked to Amy a few times, and I got the feeling her parents were sort of the absentee type, but I imagine that's pretty common when a parent is a serious politician.

He was entirely pleasant at the event (Amy's graduation from MCA). Also the only time I've actually seen the Secret Service, too.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

As for Obama, his primary problem is that he appears unable to grasp the demonic level of his opposition. Whatever its implications for his presidency, that probably speaks well of his character. And furthering my comment to Scott, the rage against Obama in many ways is just another manifestation of the Right's inability to accept that they don't always get their way in our democracy. Spoiled children come to mind.

As for Citizens United, I cannot think of another Supreme Court decision that was more wrongheaded both on Constitutional and policy grounds. SCOTUS is setting an anchor for plutocracy and whether or not one finds oneself aligned with the plutocrats at the moment and for whatever reasons, unless one actually is a plutocrat -- and I guarantee that most people taking up the corporatist cause in the guise of anti-governmentalism -- those interests will surely diverge. So, yes, when the Supreme Court makes a decision fundamentally at odds with the national interest, I think the president is quite right to be visibly disturbed. Congress would be, too, except that, after the corporatists themselves, Congress stands to be the prime beneficiary of corporations unfettered right to spend political money.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 1, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Nobody likes Jimmy Carter because he had the audacity to speak to Americans as grownups and state the obvious: our addiction to fossil fuels is underming our nation. People were much happier when Reagan told them what they wanted to hear and what made them feel good. We have wasted 40 years since Carter's warning. Nobody likes him, perhaps, because they are afraid to look him in the eye.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 1, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I find it very interesting that hardly anyone who evaluates the Iraq invasion mentions the 5 million or so refugees that we created. These refugees will be haunting us for a good generation, especially since some will want (justifiable) revenge.

So, yes, we killed a brutal dictator who was impotent to harm anyone outside of Iraq. In exchange we killed (one way or another) hundreds of thousands, and created millions of refugees. As a byproduct we convinced Iran that their security requires them to have nuclear weapons (can you recall Bush threatening N.Korea since they exploded that device?).

If this is what victory looks like, we obviously should avoid any more of these acts.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 1, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

The Iraq War may go down in history as the event that sealed America's decline. It will certainly be judged the worst foreign policy mistake ever, which is par for the worst president ever.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 1, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne @ September 1, 2010 8:32 AM wrote "The Iraq War may go down in history as the event that sealed America's decline. It will certainly be judged the worst foreign policy mistake ever, which is par for the worst president ever."

It's too soon to pass such a judgment on Bush.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 1, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Why do Quislings ignore the 22 other legitimate casus belli cited by a bi-partisan super-majority of Congress against Saddam: Saddam did try to kill a former American president; the U.N. embargo was violated (as were its inspection protocols); the 1991 accords were ignored; the genocide of brave Kurds did happen; suicide bombers were being given bounties; terrorists (including those involved into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) were given sanctuary by Saddam; and on and on.

Perhaps Quislings prefer the rape rooms of Qusay and Uday to the elected government of our new Iraqi allies?

But there’s no need to remind folks. Patriotic Americans are well aware that Leftists supported Saddam and al-Qaeda, you betcha'! BEHOLD! The Leftist-Fascist Hall of Shame @
http://www.zombietime.com/hall_of_shame/

Don’t be Saddam-apologists your whole lives, Quislings.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Valuable Lessons Learned

Surge: Good

Appeasement: Bad

Thank you, George Bush.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Kevin:

"I'd just add that compared to many of his fellow Democrats, and certainly the Democrat base, he is a model of civility."

I can't argue with that.

"I think so, actually. He had a signature piece of legislation, and he pushed are for it, and he played some politics. But I think he was moving forward in good faith--in no small part because it was his legislation and he really wanted it."

Well he certainly really wanted it. But it strikes me that front-ending the revenue stream and then back-loading expenditures beyond the CBO's outlook horizon in order to then claim that the program will reduce rather than add to the deficit is an exercise in bad faith. As was demonizing insurance companies as the villain of health care costs. Indeed I think the whole justification for the health care legislation was a bad faith arguement. Obama explicitly claimed that the purpose of the legislation was 1) to increase the number of insured and hence, by implication, increase the amount of health care consumed, 2) lower the cost of health care while 3) maintaining the same level of care and 4) not rationing care. These goals are mutually exclusive, at least to the extent that they can be achieved by legislation. He is too smart not to have known this. Hence, my belief that he was not arguing in good faith.

Posted by: ScottC3 | September 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne:

"Your logic eludes me."

Well, then, explain to me a) what you mean by a "right" and b) how, given that definition, 2 rights might coherently be said to conflict.

"One person's pursuit of happiness may -- and commonly does -- impinge upon another's and that is so regardless of whether the impingement is labeled "coercion.""

Can you give an example of one person's right impinging on another's in the absence of coercion (or fraud..I use the word coercion as shorthand for "force or fraud")?

"That is the ONLY way government operates."

No, it isn't. When the police arrest a mugger, it is not initiating an act of coercion. It is responding to the use of coercion by the mugger. Indeed, preventing/responding to the initiation of force by one individual against another is precisely the point of criminal law and, I would argue, the whole piont of having a government.

"But there is plenty in the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to foster the common welfare and regulate commerce.

Two points: 1) "Regulate commerce" does not mean "require commerce".

And 2) The "general welfare" clause occurs in the preamble to the constitution, which does not set forth the authority given to the government, but rather simply sets out the purpose of the authorities granted inside the constitution. Among the actual powers given to Congress in section 8 of Article I, you will search in vain for the amorphous power to simply "promote the general welfare".

Besides which, if the "general welfare" clause can be understood to mean "force people to buy product X", then it can be understood to mean virtually anything, rendering the powers of the government unlimited.

"Even putting aside all my earlier concerns, how in the world do you arrive at this conclusion?"

Freedom means nothing if it does not include the ability to make one's own decisions about how and when to manage one's own healthcare.

"Let me put a fine point on this because I think it really explains much of the antigovernment rhetoric: You only want the government to do what you want the government to do. "

Well, that is a mere tautology, true of everyone ( who in the world wants the government to do what they don't want it to do?), and so not terribly edifying. I suspect what you actually mean to say is that I only think the government is authorized to do things I like. But that, I can assure you, is absolutely untrue. There are plenty of things which I don't like the government doing, but which I recognize is well within the government's authority to do. Maintaining a progressive income tax, for example. I wouldnt argue that the government does nto have the constitutional authority to do that, even though I don't like it.

Posted by: ScottC3 | September 1, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Scott says:

"The "general welfare" clause occurs in the preamble to the constitution, which does not set forth the authority given to the government, but rather simply sets out the purpose of the authorities granted inside the constitution. Among the actual powers given to Congress in section 8 of Article I, you will search in vain for the amorphous power to simply "promote the general welfare"."

You are wrong. The General Welfare Clause actually appears TWICE in the Constitution, once in the Preamble:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

And then again exactly where you say it isn't, Art. II, Section 1:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States"

In other words, promoting and providing for "the General Welfare" is one of the cornerstones of the Constitution, just as it is for all democratic governments. It is only at this late date that Neoconservatives are "discovering" that the federal government cannot foster the general welfare of the nation. To be more specific, it is only since Democratic president Barrack Obama was sworn in that the Constitutional impotence of the federal government has become "apparent" to Republicans and Conservatives.

Methinks it false. The Conservative Republican Constitutional theory is that the federal government can only do what Conservatives and Republicans want it to do: conduct wars, put citizens in prison, etc. That "theory" will be maintained for just as long as the Conservatives and Republicans remain out of power. In case I've been too subtle: the Conservative Republican Constitutional arguments are bullsh*t. The rantings of spoiled children who want their country back, just like a schoolchild takes his ball and goes home when he's losing the game.

Look, you can argue for any policy you like, but please leave the Constitution alone.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 1, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Politics aside, the fact remains that there were no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 2001 until AFTER Obama took over. I don't know about you, but I thought for sure on 9/12 that we would be hit again even harder. If GWB drawing the terrorists into Iraq prevented another 9/11, then it was definitely worth it.

P.S. to Liam-still

Q: Are you claming that those people who were killed by the Anthrax Terroist Attacks, were not Americans?

A. No, I am claiming that those happened in 2001 (SINCE 2001, there were no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil until AFTER Obama took over).

Q. Are you claiming that those thousands of US soldiers, that were killed in Iraq, and the 100,000 soldiers who suffered serious wounds were not Americans?

A. No, I am claiming that those happened in Iraq, which is no U.S. soil (SINCE 2001, there were no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil until AFTER Obama took over).

Q. How the hell can you claim that Bush saved all Americans from terror attacks, after 9/11, when he got more Americans slaughtered in Iraq, than were killed on 9/11 mostly by Al-Qaeda, after 9/11.

A. See above.

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 2, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Others argue that, if your metric for measuring how good a President did is how "safe" he kept us, then GWB was the worst President ever. Not at all, FDR would be for Pearl Harbor. That is not my criteria though. It is an important fact in how history will judge GWB.

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 2, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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