If you haven’t read The Obama Diary’s call out to Shaun King (here and here), you really should.
Shaun King has been passionate about the horrors occurring in Ferguson. I don’t fault him for that. I actually laud him for his efforts to keep a light shining on something too many Americans want to have swept under the rug.
The crux of Chip’s open letters to Mr. King was that his attacks on President Obama were not helpful to the larger cause. That they were shortsighted. That they were unfair. That they were, at heart, dishonest. They certainly seem to be done as a pro-forma exercise. Pres. Obama always has to be criticized, as not being “good enough”. (The book I’ve been hawking for 2 weeks, “Against Football” by Steve Almond, descends in its final chapter to such an attack on the President.)
It’s the “not good enough” which kills the progressive movement. It’s the “not good enough” which destroys social justice.
Another piece you should read is one by Twitter warrior ReignOfApril. President Obama Is Not Our Savior is a slap to the face of every disappointed lefty who feels that every “failing” by this president is a betrayal of deeply held hopes.
The problem is that these hopes were of their own making.
When we accuse some right-winger of having “Obama Derangement Syndrome”, he will just scoff and point out that the Left was consumed with “Bush Derangement Syndrome” from 2001-2009. And to a certain extent, they’d be somewhat correct. For myself, I could only grudgingly applaud Mr. Bush for such things as AIDS initiatives for Africa, and his support for immigration reform.
But here’s the difference: I could acknowledge his (few) successes. For a Republican, reaching out to Africa and immigrants were things which went against the base, and required a certain bravery. The thing is, however, that the rest of his policies were so disastrous for the country that his few successes were dwarfed by them. From squandering record surpluses to crashing the economy to getting us mired in two mismanaged wars, his administration was a catalog of failure. It was already heading toward failure before 9/11; there was no doubt that he’d be a one term president. When the attacks occurred, he was able to refashion himself as a “war president”—a war he proceeded to prosecute in the most incompetent manner, sullying the nation’s ideals and honor. There was “Bush Derangement Syndrome” because everything he touched turned to lead. He didn’t kill bin Laden; he trapped us in disastrous wars; he oversaw a mass transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. So, while I agree that in some things he did well, they were drowned by his cacophony of failure.
Now let us turn to President Obama’s record. It began by him being the first African American elected president. He was able to pass a stimulus package which stanched the bleeding of the Great Recession. The US economy runs on two pillars: real estate and automobile manufacturing; real estate was on its knees; he saved the auto industry, without which the whole world would have sunk into a depression. He then fulfilled the great Democratic dream, passing comprehensive health reform, which would bring affordable health care to nearly every American. That achievement led to the GOP takeover of the House in 2010 in backlash, because some on the Left had a snit (more on that later). With the GOP in control of one house, he brilliantly conducted actions which stymied their most cherished goals, and preserved his priorities in the budget. Then against all the caterwauling of the media, he won a second term, in a convincing fashion. Then just this weekend, rattling a saber which opponents know he will use, he achieved a diplomatic resolution to Syria’s chemical weapon use, making the Autocrat of All the Russias climb down from his recalcitrant stance. And, of course, we can’t forget his other great triumph, along with Obamacare: healing that great wound in the American psyche by finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.
I did not grow up in an atmosphere of privilege. My dad owned his own barbershop, and my mom was a seamstress in New York’s garment district. I wanted for nothing, but I knew we were solidly working class. If I and my brothers wanted to go to university—and with our parents, it was expected—we would have to work for it. There were no college funds, and no rich uncle was going to swoop in and save us. All we had were each other, our willingness to work, and our native intelligences.
Not coming from a place of privilege, I know instinctively that most things in this life for most people come at a price, the price usually being hard struggle. The world gives up very little for free. Short cuts, when they do exist, are far and few between. As I said in my post yesterday, at first that made me a practiced cynic. Fortunately I grew out of it, and embraced the rewards that come with struggle; the struggle makes the reward all that much sweeter.
But just as cynicism infects our modern politics, so does a culture of privilege.
Charles Pierce: …. Emboldened by enablers, the bishops have expanded their demands for exemptions from simply Catholic institutions to every business in America. There’s a reason for this …. they’ve been sitting back on their ermined duffs, believing that they were done so very wrong in the investigation of their crimes, and nursing the mother of all grudges, for over a decade. Now they’ve decided to strike back for the power they’ve lost. Women’s health is the issue they’ve chosen, because, in their little unindicted world, women don’t count, and never have….
There were a couple of ways all of this could have been avoided. One … would have been to toss a whole lot of bishops in jail for conspiracy to obstruct justice, enough of them so their power to influence the secular law was destroyed forever. They needed to be humbled, unmercifully, until the hubris was wrung out of every damn one of them. Now, a woman working a low-income service industry job under the supervision of a Catholic boss will have her access to essential health-care truncated by a discredited encyclical to which no Catholic has paid any heed since the administration of Lyndon Johnson. These bastards needed to be broken, publicly, and into a thousand pieces that were scattered to the winds. Instead, they are “voices of conscience” again. It is to weep.
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): Is media getting politics of contraception all wrong?
Since the controversy over the White House’s new contraception policy broke, it’s been widely assumed that the battle is terrible politics for Obama, because it will cost him among Catholic swing voters.
But some polling from August suggests a majority of Americans supports the White House position – and that the opposition to the provision from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops makes no difference to them. Even a majority of Catholic respondents said the same.
….. The White House very well may buckle in this fight. But these numbers do suggest at least the possibility that leading commentators have been far too quick to declare this a certain political loser.
Greg Sargent: Since details of the big foreclosure settlement began leaking out, liberals have been watching to see how New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would react, as a sign of whether the deal is a giveaway to big banks – or whether it contains the promise of real accountability.
In an interview with me just now, Schneiderman – who has gained a national liberal profile for his insistence on true accountability for financial institutions – conceded the settlement announced today was “small” in financial terms, given the struggles of underwater homeowners and people who lost their homes.
But he insisted that time will show that today’s settlement was a win – that it secured a framework that will ultimately result in a true accounting of the role big banks played in sparking the economic meltdown…..
Attorney General Eric holder listens as President Obama speaks about a mortgage settlement in the Eisenhower Executive Office building
President Obama arrives to deliver remarks on the No Child Left Behind law in the East Room of the White House
Jonathan Bernstein (Washington Post): Today’s economic news is that new claims for unemployment benefits have fallen again, with the four-week average now at the lowest point since spring 2008. That’s not all; the stock market is also at its highest point since spring 2008, and Gallup’s economic confidence numbers are also approaching post-recession highs.
It’s no coincidence that the run of good economic news – and employment is only a part of that – has been accompanied by a climb by Barack Obama in the polls. Indeed, the Pollster average now has Obama with an average 5.5 point lead over Romney.
….. It’s certainly possible that the new economic momentum will, again, dissipate. But the signs are mounting that people are being a bit too pessimistic. And if so, there’s a chance that Democrats and the president could be about to receive a whole lot of unexpected good news indeed.
Megan Carpentier (The Guardian): If you told a liberal in 2008 that progressives ought to give Ron Paul a chance because he was the most anti-war candidate on the ballot, you would have been laughed out of the room … But in 2012, some prominent (and white, male) progressives are arguing exactly that. What’s changed? Not Ron Paul, that’s for certain.
…. to the women, minorities and LGBT people (and their supporters) who have paid attention to Paul’s record, it comes as little surprise that his most vociferous supporters on the left are pale and male … and their arguments stale.
…. Nonetheless, there have been calls by progressives, most notably Glenn Greenwald, to ignore all of that and more, and focus instead on Obama’s policy failings …. no policy priorities are more imperative than those – certainly not abortion, immigration rights, LGBT equality, racial justice or any other aspect of the US’s extensive foreign policy. (Greenwald, who is gay, was in the relatively privileged position of being able to travel to Brazil to circumvent Doma.)…
…. (their) lives won’t be directly affected by all those pesky social conservative policies Paul would seek to enact as president, either due to their race, class, gender or sexual orientation…..
Steve Benen: It was easy to imagine Mitt Romney winning the Iowa caucuses. It was harder to imagine Romney winning Iowa and looking weaker at the same time.
And yet, that seems to be a fairly reasonable assessment of the race for the Republican presidential nomination this morning….
….. there’s not much for Romney to boast about here. After five years of near-constant campaigning, Romney managed to get fewer votes in Iowa last night than he did in his first campaign. He also picked up the dubious honor of the weakest win in the history of the caucuses – no victor has ever managed to finish first with less than 25% of the vote until last night.
After spending nearly $4.7 million, most of it towards the very end of the contest, these are not results Romney should be proud of.
Okay, so we all know about the decision of Kathleen Sebelius to block the Plan B morning-after pill from being sold over the counter to young teens.
Today the President was asked if he supported the decision, and he said he did.
So, everyone has their own position on this – some back the move, some are outraged by it.
It’s, obviously, a hugely important debate, and once you exclude the voices of the nutjobs whose ultimate fantasy is to control what women do with their bodies, the genuine opinions on both sides are fascinating to hear and read – not least for someone like me who is torn on the issue simply because children are involved. And that’s what, say, 12 or 13-year-old girls are: children. Just because they can have babies at that stage of their lives doesn’t make them adults. When I was a 12 or 13-year-old girl I had significantly less sense than a lump of wood, so, even then, would have laughed at the notion that I was an ‘adult woman’ capable of making big decisions.
Any way, some of the anger about this decision is coming from genuine people who just think it’s seriously wrong.
I know, I know, it’s ridiculous to give any thought to a post that appears on Salon these days, it’s a long, long time since you could take the site seriously. This, after all, is the home of my most loved comedian, the increasingly hysterical Greenwald creature, who has just become a caricature of a caricature of a caricature of himself, “OMG! I SO TOTALLY HATE OBAMA” the gist of what he writes all day, every day. Cutting edge journalism. And then there’s the embarrassment that is Arianna Huffington-wannabe Joan Walsh, not to mention Gene Lyons who so stylishly compared Melissa Harris-Perry to the KKK.
If they just renamed the place The Anti-Obama Diary they might get a few more hits. Crikey, at least us ‘Obots’ are honest about our affections, but Salon still bills itself as progressively righteous. As the young people say: LOL.
Any way, Rebecca Traister posted a fairly extraordinary article on Salon in response to the Plan B decision, which was a whole lot more about releasing some of her pent-up loathing of the President than it was about the actual issue.
The headline: “Obama’s woman problem – The president shamefully uses his daughters to justify limiting the healthcare options of America’s young women.”
“When will Barack Obama learn how to talk thoughtfully about women, women’s health and women’s rights?”
(Funny, I thought he spoke pretty thoughtfully about women’s rights as early as his first month in office when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. But, never mind. Maybe Rebecca was still recovering from the pain of seeing him inaugurated, so missed the historic occasion? And she probably skipped his appointments of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court too, that level of woman-hating was way too much to take.)
“Obama pooh-poohed the findings of the FDA, which had concluded that Plan B pills posed no medical hazard.”
This is what the President said today (see his full remarks here):
“…. as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore, should be able …. to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect …. It has been deemed safe by the FDA. Nobody is challenging that. When it comes to 12-year-olds or 13-year-olds, the question is can we have confidence that they would potentially use Plan B properly. And her judgment was that there was not enough evidence that this potentially could be used improperly in a way that had adverse health effects on those young people.”
So, no, the President didn’t poo-poo the findings of the FDA at all – on the contrary, he said that “nobody is challenging” their decision to deem the product safe. His argument, which was crystal clear – whether you agreed with it or not – was that there were concerns that “12-year-olds or 13-year-olds …. would potentially” use it “improperly in a way that had adverse health effects on those young people”.
Hey, by all means, dispute his argument, but why completely misrepresent what he said?
“But part of what was most disturbing about Obama’s statement was his reliance on language that reveals his paternalistic approach to women and their health. “As the father of two daughters,” Obama told reporters, “I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine.”
So, a father of 13 and 10-year-old girls expressing concern about their welfare is “disturbing”? And suggests his approach to women and their health is “paternalistic”?
Call me weird, I just thought he sounded like a father who cares about the welfare of his young daughters and girls of their age. Is that a bad thing now? Is it way more progressive for a father to say to his 13 and 10-year-old girls, ‘hey, go get pregnant, there’s always Plan B!’.
“…. as an American, I think it is important for my president not to turn to paternalistic claptrap and enfeebling references to the imagined ineptitude and irresponsibility of his daughters …. Obama is just laying down some Olde Fashioned Dad Sense …. he diminishes an issue of gender equality, sexual health and medical access. Recasting this debate as an episode of “Father Knows Best” reaffirms hoary attitudes about young women and sex that had their repressive heyday in the era whence that program sprang.”
Please forgive my language: what a load of complete ****ing bullshit!
I’ve been a fiery feminist all my friggin’ life, but this kind of crap is cringeworthy and just gives ammunition to enemies of women’s rights – it’s pitiful, lamentable, pathetic, whingy shit. Take your pick.
“….the imagined ineptitude and irresponsibility of his daughters….”
His daughters are 13 and 10!!!!! They’re not inept or irresponsible, and he never implied any such thing – they’re not “young women”, they’re CHILDREN!! That is why their father is protective of them, it’s what good, loving fathers do. Father might not always know best, but fathers loving and caring for their young daughters doesn’t make them enemies of women, it makes them decent human beings and great friggin’ Dads.
“When he says that he wants to “apply common sense” to questions of young women’s access to emergency contraception, he is telegraphing his discomfort with the idea of young women’s sexual agency, or more simply, with the idea of them having sex lives at all.”
Oh God. It’s hard to know where to start here, and it’s certainly hard to compete with her psychoanalysis of the President.
Again, Traister chooses to categorize children, as the law regards them, as “young women”.
Help me out here? Traister is saying that the President experiences “discomfort” at the notion of children “having sex”. Children maybe as young as 13 and 10? Does that make him a woman-hating freak? No, it makes him sound a bit like my late Dad, and every normal loving Dad. You know, the ones who become clinically depressed when their daughters first start using lipstick. Does that make them woman-hating monsters? No, it just confirms they are human beings who don’t want their beloved little girls to grow up. And the mere thought of their girls having sex nigh on drives them over the edge. Why? Again, because they’re human!
Which is why we love them, because they actually care. Is it more progressive to be a ‘deadbeat’ Dad who couldn’t give a shit if his 13-year-old daughter is risking becoming pregnant? Most daughters, especially fatherless ones, crave ‘Olde Fashioned Dad Sense’ – that kind of love is worth the price of gold.
So, who is the oddity here: the President or Traister?
“Moreover, Obama’s invocation of his role as a father is an insult to the commitments and priorities of those on the other side of this issue. Are we to believe that those who support the increased availability of emergency contraception do not have daughters? That if they do, they care less about those daughters than Barack Obama does about his? And that if they do not, they cannot possibly know better than a father of daughters what is best for young women?”
Right, at this point Traister has mislaid the plot. Completely.
By citing his love and concern for his daughters, the President was pissing on those who don’t have daughters?
And he insinuated that he cares for his daughters more than any other parent cares for theirs?
Hey, call me cynical, but methinks Traister heard what she wanted to hear today, her misrepresenting of the President’s comments laughably deceitful.
Then she went on to detail the President’s varying positions on late-term abortions over the years, just to beef up her argument that he doesn’t like women much.
You know, I truly envy Rebecca Traister’s glib and easy stance on “reproductive freedom”. She’s so lucky that it’s all so uncomplicated for her. For some of the rest of us it’s way more challenging than that, we actually have to stop and think. Some of us are passionately pro-choice, but are uneasy about late-term abortions. No, that doesn’t mean we hate women, or that we’re Rick Perry-ites, it just means we think about these things, unlike the ideologically pure, for whom every issue is a bumper sticker, rather than something that makes you pause.
Traister, though, excelled when she turned her attention to the President’s view of his wife.
“…. the president “often points out that he is surrounded by strong females at home,” an argument that not only mimics an old saw about how being henpecked by women is equivalent to respecting them, but reflects a dynamic as old as patriarchal power itself.”
Interesting. Traister assumes that the President saying he is surrounded by “strong females at home” automatically means he is “henpecked” …. does this not say a whole lot more about her assumptions than those of the President? Why does she take it that “strong females at home” automatically equals “henpecked”? Heck, maybe it just means….. they’re “strong females”?
Does Traister, you can’t but wonder, have a problem with the First Lady?
She reckons the President’s comments on The View in 2010 about his wife watching the show suggested she “just doesn’t have a head for news delivered by anyone other than Elisabeth Hasselbeck”.
Really? He suggested that? He implied his wife was an airhead?! Truly? And he’s never, ever pointed out that his wife watches this stuff for light relief, just to escape the relentless bile directed towards him on all the other channels, that she is Princeton and Harvard-educated, is way smarter than him, that she is his rock and the first person he seeks advice from – on a personal and political level? And next in line is his longest term advisor, Valerie Jarrett – a mere woman! Yep, the President is a misogynist.
“…. no one seems to have told him …. that the best way to address a question of women’s health and rights is probably not by making it about his role as a father.”
Really? Why is being a father to two young girls so inconsequential when discussing issues like these?
Why is a “role as a father” something not to be mentioned?
When he cites his daughters, in an attempt to explain how he is emotionally involved in an issue, he is exploiting them.
When he doesn’t ‘humanize’ an issue like this, he is an aloof, professorial robot.
Rebecca Traister’s Salon article was a whole heap of steaming crap, of the very worst dishonest and disingenuous kind.
Why? Who knows.
But, by the way, she was a diehard Hillary supporter in 2008 and really has never forgiven Barack Obama for beating her pick.
And that is what this is all about – along with a brand of demented feminism that regards with contempt any role, however benevolent, fathers try to play in their daughters’ lives.
Why did I even draw attention to her pathetic article? Good question!
I just did it to try and shine a little light, again, on the agendas of the President’s most bitter detractors on the so-called left.
The thing is, they sneer at us ‘Obots’, but at least we’re honest about where we stand – these people are deceitful to their core. There’s usually an agenda. As there was with Rebecca Traister’s piece in Salon – all she succeeded in doing was unveiling her bitterness, again.
By all means, while sticking to the facts, attack the President for his position on Plan B …. but attack him for his relationship with his wife and daughters? Ah, that’s when the professional left becomes indistinguishable from Limbaugh and Co.
Andrew Sullivan: The one thing I noticed in my continental run-around this past week is just how mad liberals are at Obama. I remain as baffled by this anger as I am by Republican contempt for the guy. New York magazine has two superb essays that sum up my own feelings on both sides pretty perfectly – by Jon Chait and David Frum. Chait notes how systemic and eternal liberal disenchantment is, and how congenitally useless Democrats are in rallying round a leader, even one who has achieved so much in such a short time.
Many Dems even now think Clinton was more successful in fighting the GOP in his first term than Obama has been. (Memo to the left: universal healthcare was achieved under Obama). But much of this is the usual Democratic limpness and whininess. If George Bush had taken out Osama bin Laden, wiped out al Qaeda’s leadership and gathered a treasure trove of real intelligence by a daring raid, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now. If he’d done the equivalent on the right of universal healthcare, he’d be the second coming of Reagan. But Obama and liberals? If I hear one more gripe about single payer from someone in their fifties with a ponytail, I’ll scream.
… I remain unrepentant in my support for this president, a man who has accomplished more in the face of a more hostile environment in his first three years than any president since Johnson. I wish more reasonable Dems and a few moderate Republicans will soon have the courage to say so.
Robert Shrum: …. In a New York Times blog post titled “Decision 2013,” Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen offers strong opinions about the shortcomings of a president “tied up in knots of indecision” ….
…. It is a scathing indictment from someone who plainly feels his counsel and wisdom have been scorned. It is also a stunning repudiation of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s insistence that people are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
…. Westen launches an overall indictment of the president’s character – Obama is a president frozen in the ice of his own intellect, too logical, too rational, too disconnected from emotions …. the portrayal here of Obama is far removed from reality.
Ask Osama bin Laden if the president is indecisive. As for delay, health care reform was delayed for a century – and Obama passed it. The economy continues to be troubled, but Obama saved it from disaster … Financial reform, student loan reform, credit card reform, the greatest infrastructure investment in a generation – the list goes on. These are not the markers of indecision and delay. Nor is something else progressive critics thought Obama could never achieve. It was Bill Clinton, who famously felt our pain, who inflicted plenty of it by signing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law. It was Obama who repealed it with a masterful sense of timing and a cool and rational approach to the Pentagon.
That is a hallmark of his presidency. An effective president can’t be just a partisan, appealing solely to the base. But Obama has delivered more progressive change than anyone at anytime since the 1960s. He hasn’t, as Westen writes, “just run out the clock.” He’s moved history ahead….