Posts Tagged ‘shrum


‘obama’s momentous april’

President Barack Obama points to Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew during a meeting with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 31, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Robert Shrum (The Week): April is the unforgiving month that will make or break the Obama presidency. It will be a fitting climacteric for a half-term in power that has been an unremitting succession of crises….

In Libya, the president brilliantly passed the first test, securing a multilateral, Arab-sanctioned coalition that took control of the skies above the battleground just in time … He then endured domestic, often nakedly opportunistic criticism…

Now comes the really hard part. Having intervened, the only acceptable outcome is victory – not the partition of Libya, and surely not the resurgence of a mad dictator …

…Mike Rogers, the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who doesn’t seem very smart about the issue, opposes arming the rebels because we don’t know enough about them. But we know all we need to about Gadhafi … maybe Rogers is smart in a cynical and unworthy way, willing to see Gadhafi win if that means Obama loses.

But the politics doesn’t stop there. Most presidents facing a foreign crisis don’t have to contend with a simultaneous domestic threat. Obama does – in the form of a government shutdown or a refusal to raise the debt limit…

On the budget and the debt limit, the Republicans who control only one house of Congress are compelled more to demanding than actually negotiating, pressured internally to hold America hostage to a know-nothing Tea Party fringe….

….Obama, on the campaign trail and in office, has displayed a remarkable combination of patience and then decisiveness. He’s won the big ones. But they don’t come much bigger than they have this month.

The Republicans have a sad sack of 2012 candidates. Their best hope may be a mayday for this presidency. But if I were them, I wouldn’t count on Obama buckling in Libya or bending to Boehner. Instead, for this president, for the country, and for progressive principles here and in the world, April could be both the most trying and, in the end, the best of months.

Full article


‘enough said’

Robert Shrum: …The commentary on the president’s course in Libya has been instinctively adversarial. Much of the press may be compensating for its cheerleading or supine acquiescence in the fraud of the Iraq War. So reporters chase administration officials around briefing rooms and TV studios pressing questions that can’t be answered at all (about operational details), or can’t be answered candidly — for example, about the targeting of Moammar Gadhafi. On both sides, partisans join in — some Democrats apparently against any conflict anywhere — and Republicans who never questioned Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld, but somehow would scorn Obama even if he got Iran to surrender its nuclear weapons.

Having forged a genuine multilateralism on Libya and pulled off the miracle of no Chinese or Russian veto in the Security Council, the administration now has to speak diplomatically while wielding big missiles. But through the white noise of the media and political scrum, some truths ought to be clear even if Obama and company can’t clearly say them.

….didn’t Obama violate the constitution by not going to Congress for a resolution or a declaration of war? I have three words for the critics here: Grenada, Noriega, Balkans. Ronald Reagan, the first Bush, and Bill Clinton didn’t wait on legislative approval before invading two countries and bombing Belgrade when they decided the issues were urgent and the cause was just. …. Imagine if Obama had gone to Congress this time. In the Senate, Rand Paul would have filibustered while Benghazi burned. And perhaps the unserious Dennis Kucinich would have insisted on establishing his Department of Peace as Gadhafi slaughtered thousands. Enough said…….

Full article here – definitely worth reading


‘the gop’s bizarro economics’

Robert Shrum: With the economy finally, plainly on the mend, the Republican response — perhaps predictable from the party of death panels — is to deploy a bodyguard of lies about both the causes of the crash and the reasons for the recovery.

Up in New Hampshire last weekend, the latest reincarnation of Mitt Romney purloined the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan — is there anything authentic left about Mitt? — to denounce “the Obama Misery Index.” He blamed the president for “soaring numbers of Americans enduring unemployment, foreclosures, and bankruptcies.” Right index, wrong president. What about that guy George W. Bush, who left behind a spiraling downturn graver than anything since the Great Depression? Romney uttered nary a word about him, obviously calculating that Republican primary voters will buy Obama-bashing in any form. Romney apparently hopes to then persuade some, just enough, of the mainstream electorate of this ahistorical, economically senseless, and intellectually bankrupt anti-fairytale by repeating it over and over again.

…Republicans seem to expect or fear a continuing and convincing rebound in jobs and growth; they worry the president will get the credit. So they’re deploying their bodyguard of lies on a wider front than Romney’s incredible and inevitably time-limited attempt to blame Obama for the Bush disaster.

…That’s probably their only chance, assuming they can recruit a candidate stronger than their present field of losers. If Americans see and feel a recovery underway, they will reward the president and the party that did the heavy lifting, not those who try to lift the credit. The GOP’s bodyguard of lies will then be dismissed in defeat to the place they belong — the political and economic precincts of Bizarro World, where they famously turn up the air conditioning in order to get warm.

Full article here


‘obama threaded the needle in egypt’

Robert Shrum (The Week): Judge the president’s diplomacy by the results — not by the critics

A president can bluster or blunder this country into a world of trouble. That was the tale of most of the past decade. But with skill and judgment, with a nuanced combination of restraint and initiative, Barack Obama has just zigged and zagged his way through a crisis in Egypt in which he successfully secured American interests and ideals.

The 18 days in Tahrir Square now belong to history. Soon enough, what happened behind the scenes in Cairo and Washington will be recounted in some insider-infused first draft. But in an age of impatience, some rushed to conclude that Obama’s administration had bungled the crisis or caught up to the revolution a little too late. The truth, like Obama’s diplomacy, is more subtle.

…in carefully modulated fits and starts, the president, the Pentagon, and his national security team facilitated a more democratic dispensation in Egypt while simultaneously achieving the best that was possible for the United States and its allies.

…That Obama had got it wrong was the instant verdict of commentators; see how ineffectual he is, how little influence the U.S. has. The next day Mubarak resigned…

…Obama understands that diplomacy is not one-dimensional … the saga is unfinished there, across the region, and for the United States. But the results so far are not bad. In 18 days, the White House advanced our values, protected our vital interests, and demonstrated the power of America’s reach and influence.

Full article here

(Don’t know how I missed this article, but better late than never!)


‘the end of the new deal?’

Robert Shrum (The Week): …Barack Obama entered his presidency only months into the financial crisis. Compounded by the pressures of a hyper-media age, the public mood didn’t accord him many months before punishing him and his party in the midterm elections for a recovery that was taking hold but not fast enough, a recovery still more a statistical artifact than a fact of people’s lives. There are now more convincing signs of economic revival, which could yield decisive and Democratic dividends in 2012 — if the results of the 2010 elections don’t stall a reverse in growth and job creation.

…The GOP offered Americans a scapegoat in the recent campaign: A government doing big things in the face of a grave challenge was turned into the Big Bad Government. The very government that was preventing catastrophe was portrayed as causing it….

The wintry weeks of December did see a brief season of bipartisan compromise. But now the GOP, in the House and in newly captured state capitals, is marching relentlessly to the far right. That course won’t advance the economy…

In the House of Representatives, where John Boehner is less speaker than servitor of the Tea Party, the GOP has passed a budget resolution that begins the rollback. It slashes education; unemploys teachers, police, and potentially millions of others; and shreds the fabric of the safety social net, taking the most from those who have the least. The measure attempts to undo basic environmental, consumer, and financial regulation by defunding the regulators. Next on the chopping block, if Republican House budget guru Paul Ryan has his way, will be Medicare and Social Security, the heart of the New Deal legacy.

As economics, the reactionary spasm makes no sense. The evidence is already there. After two years of Obamanomics, forecasts for U.S. growth are being revised upward. At the same time, in the wake of sudden and sharp retrenchment in Britain, what’s rising is unemployment; growth is falling and house prices are predicted to plummet again. But as ideology, the Republican policy makes perfect sense — and presents a perfect opportunity for the true believers who were vanquished during the New Deal and decades afterwards. They lied about health reform — from nonexistent “death panels” to nonexistent cuts in Medicare benefits for the elderly. The Republicans opposed the bill and now propose to defund it. But what the House just passed goes far beyond that: It’s a draconian down payment on dismembering the architecture of social justice and corporate responsibility in America.

Full article here

Thank you Ladyhawke


‘the psychic satisfaction of obama-bashing’

Robert Shrum: There is something at the heart of progressive politics that yearns to turn on its own. So it’s open season on Barack Obama.

It’s right to expect the assault from the right; the patently obvious plan there is to oppose, obstruct, deadlock, and depress the economy.

Now, from the other side of the spectrum, progressives and the Democratic chattering class are increasingly and, at times, even bitterly critical. Obama doesn’t fight enough, communicate enough, change enough. Even his great achievements are tainted….

…The next two years will be decisive, not just for the election, but also for a generation and more. The stakes are too high for liberals to indulge the psychic satisfaction of Obama-bashing.

But the cudgels are in full swing. Paul Krugman, the canary in the coalmine of the liberal commentariat, has just assailed “progressives who had their hearts set on Obama”: They “were engaged in a huge act of self-delusion.”

Disgruntled with Obama from the start, Krugman has a Nobel Prize in economics, but not politics; he has never explained what the president could have done, other than stamping his foot, to secure a trillion or more in stimulus followed by a second one.

….The prospect of realignment should still beckon Democrats. They should pursue it; they can and should prod Obama; but in a tough and testing time, they also have to offer him a measure of trust. The alternative is a lost chance to bend history and probably a long exile in a cul-de-sac of liberal righteousness without results.

… He and they have their share of mistakes, missed opportunities, and miscommunications. That could be said of every great president. So it’s time for progressives and Democrats to concentrate their convictions and come to this understanding: Barack Obama’s all we’ve got—and he’s already gotten more done than any president on our side in half a century.

Full article here


‘principles matter, but not as much as progress’

Robert Shrum: The progressive resistance to the Obama deal on tax cuts is both unreasoning and unreasonable.

Unreasoning because the opponents, whose anger is congealing into adamantine ideology inside the Democratic Party, are pulling out a cascade of objections but offering up no practical alternative.

Unreasonable because what the president achieved – which in reality should be called an economic recovery package – is a fundamentally progressive deal.

Yes, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who skillfully negotiated with Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, had to concede on the top rate tax cuts – for now. Democrats can battle the issue out, and win on it, in 2012 – which is what should have happened in the midterms, and might have but for the counsel of some of the same members of Congress who are now digging in or dragging their heels against the agreement….

Now look beyond the concessions – and the tantrums of the blogpeople and electorally battered Democrats in Congress – and measure what Obama has secured in return.

Details here

For the hardest pressed, Obama won a 13-month extension of unemployment compensation for the long-term jobless. Nothing could be more regressive – or illiberal – than to sacrifice millions of workers who are out of work and out of benefits to a futile exercise in liberal posturing? …. Those who don’t have to worry about that should be cautious of trafficking in self-satisfying appeals to all-or-nothing politics. The unemployed can’t live on the porridge of ideological purity.

….Progressives can’t move forward by stamping their lame duck feet – by leaving the jobless with nowhere to turn, by letting the mainstream middle lose out, and by showing that they care so much for the unemployed that they’re willing to create many more of them.

….the president has accomplished more than any Democratic president in decades. In addition to health reform, financial reform, and college loan overhaul to benefit students not banks – in addition to the first stimulus that prevented a depression – he’s turned the Republican obsession with tax cuts for millionaires into a new engine for economic recovery.

It’s time for liberals to recall JFK’s description of what it means to be a liberal: “Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill and executive vigor.”

That’s what Barack Obama has done – again and again. In this tax debate, he didn’t triangulate; in fact, on cool reflection, it’s clear that he’s outflanked the GOP. The results, now and all across the past two years, aren’t perfect – politics never is – but the president has earned his progressive union card.

Full article here

Thanks for the link Hachikō







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