It may surprise you to know, but I have been wrong in the past. Dashingly wrong. Stupefyingly wrong. So wrong that the mistake could have threatened my future. So wrong that an immediate and heartfelt apology was all that would suffice.
I’m sure this has happened to most people. Humans are able to be counted on to, if nothing else, screw up spectacularly, in the most entertaining fashion.
An apology may or may not solve the issue. You may or may not be able to salvage your reputation, your relationships, your life. If you work hard enough, and are blessed with forgiveness, you may be able to do that.
But that’s for the real world, the place we proles inhabit. There’s another world much more rarified, where we’re not allowed, and where being “right” doesn’t count for as much as one would think it should.
It’s a peculiarity of the American ruling class that people who have been wrong time and again about, well, everything are still taken seriously. They’re still invited on “news” shows to give opinions. Various sectors seek their counsel. Rather than fading into penury, they reap the welfare circuit available only to those who muck up magnificently, but have the right connections.
More broadly – big picture – as you end this trip, I don’t think I have to remind you there have been a lot of unflattering portraits of your foreign policy right now. And rather than get into all the details or red lines, et cetera, I’d like to give you a chance to lay out what your vision is more than five years into office, what you think the Obama doctrine is in terms of what your guiding principle is on all of these crises and how you answer those critics who say they think the doctrine is weakness.
Well, Ed, I doubt that I’m going to have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine. And there are actually some complimentary pieces as well about my foreign policy, but I’m not sure you ran them.
Here’s I think the general takeaway from this trip. Our alliances in the Asia Pacific have never been stronger; I can say that unequivocally. Our relationship with ASEAN countries in Southeast Asia has never been stronger. I don’t think that’s subject to dispute. As recently as a decade ago, there were great tensions between us and Malaysia, for example. And I think you just witnessed the incredible warmth and strength of the relationship between those two countries.
We’re here in the Philippines signing a defense agreement. Ten years ago, fifteen years ago there was enormous tensions around our defense relationship with the Philippines. And so it’s hard to square whatever it is that the critics are saying with facts on the ground, events on the ground here in the Asia Pacific region. Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force. And the question I think I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget? And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?
My job as Commander-in-Chief is to deploy military force as a last resort, and to deploy it wisely. And, frankly, most of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people had no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests.
So if you look at Syria, for example, our interest is in helping the Syrian people, but nobody suggests that us being involved in a land war in Syria would necessarily accomplish this goal. And I would note that those who criticize our foreign policy with respect to Syria, they themselves say, no, no, no, we don’t mean sending in troops. Well, what do you mean? Well, you should be assisting the opposition – well, we’re assisting the opposition. What else do you mean? Well, perhaps you should have taken a strike in Syria to get chemical weapons out of Syria. Well, it turns out we’re getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike. So what else are you talking about? And at that point it kind of trails off.
In Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community. Russia has never been more isolated. A country that used to be clearly in its orbit now is looking much more towards Europe and the West, because they’ve seen that the arrangements that have existed for the last 20 years weren’t working for them. And Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world. And we’ve been able to mobilize the international community to not only put diplomatic pressure on Russia, but also we’ve been able to organize European countries who many were skeptical would do anything to work with us in applying sanctions to Russia.
Well, what else should we be doing? Well, we shouldn’t be putting troops in, the critics will say. That’s not what we mean. Well, okay, what are you saying? Well, we should be arming the Ukrainians more. Do people actually think that somehow us sending some additional arms into Ukraine could potentially deter the Russian army? Or are we more likely to deter them by applying the sort of international pressure, diplomatic pressure and economic pressure that we’re applying?
The point is that for some reason many who were proponents of what I consider to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven’t really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over again. Why? I don’t know. But my job as Commander-in-Chief is to look at what is it that is going to advance our security interests over the long term, to keep our military in reserve for where we absolutely need it. There are going to be times where there are disasters and difficulties and challenges all around the world, and not all of those are going to be immediately solvable by us.
But we can continue to speak out clearly about what we believe. Where we can make a difference using all the tools we’ve got in the toolkit, well, we should do so. And if there are occasions where targeted, clear actions can be taken that would make a difference, then we should take them. We don’t do them because somebody sitting in an office in Washington or New York think it would look strong. That’s not how we make foreign policy.
And if you look at the results of what we’ve done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest.
And that may not always be sexy. That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run. But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.
On This Day: Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking at a rally for the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama in Hartford, the day before the Connecticut Super Tuesday primary. Congressional Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Chris Murphy and John B. Larson are onstage behind Ted Kennedy, along with Caroline Kennedy and Barack Obama. February 4, 2008
3:0: The President and Vice President meet with Department of Defense leadership on Afghanistan
4:30: The President and Vice President meet with the House Democratic Caucus, The East Room
AP: Obama Secures $750M in Pledges to Get Kids Online
Claiming progress in his campaign to get American schools wired for the future, President Barack Obama is announcing commitments from U.S. companies totaling about $750 million to connect more students to high-speed Internet.
Apple is pledging $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools. AT&T and Sprint are contributing free Internet service through their wireless networks. Verizon is pitching in up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions. And Microsoft is making Windows available at discounted prices and offering 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office software.
Obama was to announce the commitments Tuesday at a middle school in the Maryland suburbs near Washington. Also in the pipeline: an addition $2 billion that the Federal Communications Commission is setting aside from service fees over two years to connect another 20 million students to high-speed Internet.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement at the Munich Security Conference, that Israel will face boycotts should negotiations with the Palestinians fail, is a level-headed view of reality that the Israeli government chooses to continually ignore.
…. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beats them all: Instead of welcoming Kerry as an ally, he publicly quarrels with him and hints that the secretary of state is trying to pressure Israel to “give up essential interests.”
Netanyahu refuses to understand that Israel’s most essential interest is ending the conflict, and that Kerry is a fair, dedicated, mediator who needs the support of all parties in order to complete this complex process. Netanyahu refuses to understand that now is the time for big decisions, not small politics.
A month ago, the president was on the outs – even among Democrats. Today, he’s quelled critics and getting his chance to make negotiations work.
The push for new sanctions on Iran has stalled. The Democrats who bucked President Obama to back the sanctions bill are backpedaling mightily—no longer even pretending they’re pushing Harry Reid to hold a vote on the measure. And while there’s still plenty of chest-pounding and posturing, the debate’s end result seems clear: The Senate will wait, at least so long as the negotiations move in the right direction.
That’s a full flip from just more than a month ago. Before the December recess, the Senate’s pro-sanctions faction was surging. Senators—including Democrats who are typically Obama loyalists—were agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear negotiations with Iran bordered on capitulation.
So how did Obama — a supposedly feckless president when it comes to handling Congress — turn the tide? Obama’s in-person, all-hands-on-deck advocacy campaign with the Senate appears to have advanced his cause, but it’s not that simple.
South Carolina’s battle over Medicaid expansion: After the Supreme Court ruled that states were not obligated to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, South Carolina was one of the first to opt out. PBS NewsHour’s Mary Jo Brooks reports on the effects for residents who are still uninsured, plus a small alternative program designed to reach some of them.
Bill Hammond (NY Daily News): Anti-Obamacare, facts be damned
House Speaker John Boehner lobbed a social media stink bomb this weekend that distilled Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act to their cynical, knee-jerk essence.
“Sick kids denied specialty care due to #Obamacare,” his Twitter feed proclaimed on Saturday, linking to a conservative blog post based on a TV news report out of Seattle. His Facebook page weighed in on the same story, calling it “heartbreaking” and vowing that House Republicans “will continue working to scrap this broken law.”
There’s just one problem: The shocking claim — that the President’s health reforms resulted in sick children being denied care — was flat-out false. Which Boehner’s staff must have known, assuming they actually read the material they were helping to spread across the Internet.
In fact, all of the children in question did get care, as was perfectly clear in the Jan. 30 press release from Seattle Children’s Hospital that got this snowball started.
President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next month amid reports of a strained American-Saudi relationship over Iran and Syria.
White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that Obama would meet with Saudi King Abdullah in late March, calling it “part of regular consultations” between the two countries.
“The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” Carney said.
The Saudi stop will be added to a late March trip that includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Vatican City.
Brian Beutler: Angry right’s secret revulsion: Why they really dodge minimum wage questions
Obama’s decision to increase the minimum wage for a small number of federal contractors has drawn out the crazies
It’s no great secret that Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage. They don’t pretend it’s something they want to do under any circumstances. They don’t even really bother disguising their opposition. They cloak their view in dated and oversimplified economic arguments about labor demand and economic growth when the real impediment is ideological, and so it’s a somewhat better kept secret that many Republicans oppose the minimum wage altogether.
Opposing the minimum wage isn’t a politically seemly thing to do, though, and thus the great political consequence of President Obama’s decision, announced during his State of the Union address, to institute a $10.10 minimum wage for future federal contracts, will be to draw the extent of this opposition out into the open.
The pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama conducted by Bill O’Reilly was not only notable for the Fox News anchor’s constant interruptions, but also for his harping on old news. The travails of HealthCare.gov, the murderous attacks in Benghazi and the actions taken by the IRS against conservative groups chewed up 9 minutes and 45 seconds of the 10-minute sitdown.
We all know that those topics are nothing but chum for O’Reilly’s anti-Obama audience. But the president successfully avoided the rhetorical traps set by the ambassador from “fair and balanced.” And he respectfully stood up to the disrespect demanded by said audience by giving as good as he got.
…. It’s always difficult to tell whether the tail is wagging the dog over there at Fox, but I would argue that the IRS conspiracy theories and others are in large part due to O’Reilly and Fox. Neither the station nor its anchor has shown Obama or his office the respect both deserve. And that 10-minute interview was a perfect illustration of it.
Every Saturday morning, President Obama delivers a weekly address, which is immediately followed by a Republican response, but this week’s GOP address was a little different: it was delivered by four Republicans instead of one. The message: there may be some room for a little “bipartisan common ground.”
…. Before getting into the particulars, it’s striking to realize just how small the “common ground” is. There are all kinds of popular ideas that enjoy broad public support – on job creation, aid to struggling families, immigration, public safety, etc. – but none of them made the cut in the official Republican statement.
Instead, progress is now possible in just four areas – four narrow areas.
Florida’s 13th congressional district will host a special election next month and by all appearances, it should be a close contest. Democrats have nominated former state CFO Alex Sink, who very nearly won the 2010 gubernatorial race, and have high hopes about her chances.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is also taking the race very seriously – so seriously, in fact, that the NRCC has come up with an unusual fundraising gambit.
Folks can go to a website that looks legitimate – contribute.sinkforcongress2014.com – and find a nice photo of the Democratic candidate alongside a graphic that reads, “Alex Sink – Congress.” If you’re not reading carefully, you might assume this is a page for Sink supporters to make a campaign contribution to their preferred candidate. But it’s not – this is a page set up by Republicans.
Rhodes Scholar Megyn Kelly of Fox “News” (snort*giggle*) has given us a wonderful opportunity to badger her again. It seems to happen every time she opens her mouth, but this time it was a doozy.
In an article written by Aisha Harris at Slate, Ms. Harris suggested that Santa didn’t have to be white. Which is a valid point to make, as Santa isn’t, you know, real. (Sorry to my 2 year old nephew for breaking the news to him.)
Kelly, in a fit of pique, had this to say:
“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” Kelly said. “But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But Santa is what he is.”
“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know?” she added. “I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.”
Of course, again, Santa isn’t exactly real—regardless of what NORAD says every Dec. 24—and Jesus, well, he was a Jew from the Galilee. Not a haven for 6-foot tall, blond, blue-eyed Nordic supermen—again, regardless of what painters from throughout Western history say.
Maybe Megyn Kelly wants to start a Race War on Christmas, or at least on those who don’t adhere to her yearning for a “white” Christmas. Whatever. Enjoy some Tweets.
Exclusive - TIME Magazine "Santa Claus Race Expert of the Year" Megyn Kelly. December 23, 2013 http://t.co/CtoH9iJLum
The previous President, after the attacks of 9/11, engineered a war with a state which, though abysmal to its own people, had had no direct or indirect link with any terror attack on the United States. It was, if anything, a mortal enemy of the group which carried out the attacks, as that group saw the ruling regime as corrupt and un-Islamic. As the history of that war is being written, the regime sought to stave off war, willing to give the previous President anything he wanted, save for the regime’s destruction. Of course, the regime as it existed stood in the way of the grand plan to remake the Middle East; its destruction, not its containment, was the goal. Anything short of political—and literal—suicide would not suit the ultimate purpose. So the country and the world were lied into a war, which cost nearly 5,000 American lives, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths; a war which was supposed to last a few weeks and pay for itself instead dragged on for nearly a decade, costing over $1 trillion. And the Middle East, far from being remade into a collection of benevolent American satrapies, teetered on the edge of all-out war for the eight years of the George W. Bush administration.
That President, however, was never asked to apologize for the disaster he had wrought. And if ever he had been asked to apologize in a face-to-face interview, he never offered one: no apology for the countless dead, for the treasure wasted, for the lives destroyed. It’s just not the done thing.
Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN’s Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans – wildly hyped by Fox News – that Holder may have perjured himself….
Greg Sargent: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 73-22 – thinks we should be placing a higher priority on the economy and unemployment than on the “scandals” gripping Washington. That includes 72 percent of independents, who are critical in midterm elections. At the same time, a variety of indicators, from rising home prices to buoyed consumer confidence to falling gas prices, suggest that the economy is improving at a stronger clip than previously anticipated.
If the recovery is strong next year, it could help Dems hold the Senate….
TPM: The White House has received more than 120 applications from health insurance plans looking to sell on the new federal health care exchange …. The success of the Affordable Care Act partially hinges on competition in order to keep premiums low, and, according to the memo, “the early signs are promising and demonstrate a significant increase in competition and an array of options for consumers everywhere.”
One out of four insurers that have applied to sell insurance in the marketplace is new to the individual insurance market and at least one new provider has been added in 75 percent of states with a federally run marketplace…..
Jonathan Chait: Pete Wehner, former Minister of Propaganda for the Bush administration, sees the excitement of the Obama scandals receding, and he knows just how to explain this. Not a lack of evidence to date that anybody in the administration has done anything wrong. It’s media bias ….. Yeah, that sounds right….
USA Today: The pro-Obama group Organizing for Action will hold 39 “founders events” across the country this weekend as part of an effort to build separate state chapters.
“OFA supporters, volunteers, campaign alumni and donors will come together to discuss what OFA has already accomplished as well as our goals and the path forward,” said an announcement from the group….
The Illinois State Founders Summit will be held Friday and Saturday in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, and will feature remarks by OFA Chairman Jim Messina and Executive Director Jon Carson.
They plan to discuss “how OFA plans how to continue to ensure the American people’s voices are heard by lawmakers as we fight to tip the scales of power back to the American people and away from the special interests to advance the issues the American people voted for in November,” said the statement.
President Barack Obama greets a little girl following his remarks during the Irish celebration at College Green in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
BusinessWeek: Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), labeled a “loser” by Mitt Romney during the U.S. election, is giving President Barack Obama’s green-energy strategy its biggest win after almost two years of failures pounced upon by Republicans.
The maker of the electric Model S car as early as today will become the first recipient of a U.S. Energy Department vehicle loan to pay off its debt. The Palo Alto, California-based company will do so nine years ahead of schedule, with taxpayers making at least $12 million on the $465 million lent.
People cheer as President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are introduced during an Irish celebration at College Green in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama’s 1979 Prom Photos
TIME Magazine: Tucked away in someone else’s shoe box of adolescent artifacts, there might be a picture of you in garish clothes and with an outdated ‘do, your arm around a high school squeeze. The President of the United States is no different. These previously unpublished photos, obtained exclusively by TIME from Obama’s schoolmate Kelli Allman (née McCormack), show a 17-year-old Barack Obama on the night of his senior prom.
Tom Kludt: President Barack Obama on Thursday will outline his administration’s counterterrorism policy in a major speech to be given at National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Obama will use the speech to announce new restrictions on unmanned drones.
According to the New York Times, the policy changes signed by Obama include a reduction of the “instances when unmanned aircraft can be used to attack in places that are not overt war zones, countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” The new rules will also establish “the same standard for strikes on foreign enemies now used only for American citizens deemed to be terrorists,” the Times reported.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Henry Healy, the President’s distant cousin, after arriving in Moneygall, Ireland, May 23, 2011. The President and First Lady were also welcomed by Counselor Danny Owens, Chair Offaly County, and Counselor John Kennedy, Chair Tipperary County, center. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Two years ago: President Obama shakes hands with a young girl after arriving at Miami International Airport, April 29, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
10:30: The First Lady speaks at a White House Forum on Military Credentialing and Licensing (White House live)
10:50: The President delivers remarks at the National Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary (White House live)
12:30: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
2:10: The President makes a personnel announcement
Tuesday: As part of the Joining Forces initiative, President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will make a significant employment announcement for veterans and military spouses. This event will take place at the White House
Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Thursday: In the morning, the President will depart Washington, DC for his visit to Mexico and Costa Rica
Friday: In the afternoon, the President will depart Mexico for Costa Rica
Saturday: In the afternoon, the President will depart Costa Rica and return to Washington, DC
Sunday: The President will deliver the commencement address at Ohio State University. He will return to Washington, DC, later that day
ABC: President Obama will nominate Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the new Transportation secretary on Monday, a White House official said.
Foxx, who has served as mayor of Charlotte since 2009, has overseen several major infrastructure initiatives in the city and rose to prominence after bringing the Democratic National Convention to Charlotte last year.
Anthony Foxx holds up his son Zachary to the microphone after being sworn in as Charlotte’s new mayor
…. with his grandmother Mary Foxx after mid-morning services at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on August 5, 2012. Anthony was raised by his grandparents, Mary and James Foxx, Sr., who led him into politics, and his mother Laura
Mayor Foxx at the 2012 Democratic National Convention:
AP: One of the architects of failed gun control legislation says he’s bringing it back.
Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday said he would re-introduce a measure that would require criminal and mental health background checks for gun buyers at shows and online. The West Virginia Democrat says that if lawmakers read the bill, they will support it.