January 30, 2010

I'm going to write about Obama at the GOP retreat, but only after tossing a bludgeon of law professor debate at Marc Ambinder.

There's a lot of enthusiasm about Obama's appearance at the GOP retreat — enthusiasm among Obama supporters. I skimmed the transcript late last night without finding something I could say. Obama seemed to be haranguing the Republicans about bipartisanship again, as he did during the State of the Union address, and I didn't see what this added, other than that it was nice/bold of him to show up at their event — give them some face time. But obviously, he's reaching out now because he needs them, as he did not before. Why, then, should I be impressed, and, more importantly, why should the Republicans help him now?

But given the amount of enthusiasm — e.g., Marc Ambinder gushing about "An Amazing Moment" — I decided — now that it's not late at night anymore — to take the time to watch the video and, as I go, blog from the transcript. Since that will take a little time, let me end this post now, so you can get the conversations started. Here's the video of the speech, and here's the Q&A section.

To give you something to chew on, here's Ambinder:
The moment President Obama began his address to Republicans in Baltimore today, I began to receive e-mails from Democrats: Here's an except from one of them: "I don't know whether to laugh or cry that it took a f$$@&$* year for Obama to step into the ring and start throwing some verbal blows... I'm definitely praying at mass on Sunday morning that this Obama doesn't take another 12 month vacation." 
Well, that's a funny contrast to Obama's big theme of bipartisanship!
This e-mail comes from a very influential Democrat. 
Hmm. Who? Some Catholic. Some Catholic who's praying to God that his guys kick the other guys' asses. 
Accepting the invitation to speak at the House GOP retreat may turn out to be the smartest decision the White House has made in months. Debating a law professor is kind of foolish...
Heh heh... bring it on, baby!
... the Republican House Caucus has managed to turn Obama's weakness -- his penchant for nuance -- into a strength. Plenty of Republicans asked good and probing questions, but Mike Pence, among others, found their arguments simply demolished by the president. (By the way: can we stop with the Obama needs a teleprompter jokes?) 
Okay, I will be looking for the strengthful nuance that knocks down all arguments.
More than the State of the Union -- or on top of the State of the Union -- this may be a pivotal moment for the future of the presidential agenda on Capitol Hill. (Democrats are loving this. Chris Hayes, The Nation's Washington bureau chief, tweeted that he hadn't liked Obama more since the inauguration.)
Got it. The Prez's people loved it. Maybe this wasn't really about inspiring bipartisanship but firing up the base. That's fine. If he does anything well, he deserves credit for the thing he does well. Let's just be clear about what the thing is.
During the presidential campaign, it was John McCain who proposed a form of the British Prime Ministers' questions for the president. It was derided as a gimmick. This is no gimmick. I have not seen a better and perhaps more productive political discussion in this country in...a long time. 90 minutes worth!
Like the spending freeze, it was a joke when it was McCain's idea.
Maybe since Al Gore debated Ross Perot on NAFTA. Republicans may have wished they had spoken to John McCain about what happened to him in the presidential debates before they decided to broadcast this session. 
No, it's the Democrats who shut down the cameras when they think things won't look pretty.
The president looked genuinely engaged, willing to discuss things. Democrats believe that he tossed away the GOP talking points and lack of real plans into a bludgeon against them. 
How do you toss away the lack of something into a bludgeon? To be fair, it was the "lack of real plans." There could have been some fake plans that, when tossed away... but even if the packet of fake plans hit somebody, it wouldn't feel like a bludgeon. Maybe paper cuts.
"The whole question was structured by a talking point," he told Jeb Hensarling....
"He"? Who's "he"? Obama? That Catholic guy? (And sorry about that last link. I thought it was "Hensnarling.") And what "whole question"? Is that a way to refer to all the questions?And is Ambinder's whole blog post copied (sloppily) from a Democratic talking point?

UPDATE: Here's the post I promised to write.

101 comments:

rhhardin said...

"Help with governing" equals "Take away liberty" is the thought I had last night.

Chase said...

This conservative found it to be fascinating TV. Despite the spin, the Republicans did not come off looking terrible or defeated at all. In fact, I believe that this forum actually gave those watching it somethings to think about when making up their minds about issues

I believe that regular sessions like this could actually revolutionize our national political engagement. Unfiltered, pundit-free - WOW!

Montagne Montaigne said...

I'm not sure that going at Marc Ambinder... who has a pretty fine record of balanced reporting, and is clearly one of the smarter political reporters, is really the way to go. It seems oddly defensive.

The reason the session was exciting wasn't because it was a game that Obama won. It's because both sides got to speak to each other in a way that was ever so slightly less fake than usual. It was a window into who they really are beyond the permanent campaign, which we never see.

rhhardin said...

The happiness of the nation depends on disagreement.

In particular disagreement about value.

I have something you value more than I do, and you have something you value less than I do. We swap, we both are happier, and our standard of living rises.

Add those disagreements up over a nation, and the nation's standard of living rises with each voluntary transaction.

That's why you want a free economy.

It doesn't work for compulsory transactions. Like ones the government imposes. The standard of living in general falls from those.

Both sides have to come out ahead, or it doesn't work to raise the standard of living.

Obama's idea of governing amounts to restricting legal transactions to the few that satisfy his own idea of value as well as that of the people involved.

That pretty much wipes out the standard of living.

It's also why capital is on strike. Until the Obama threat goes away, nothing's going to happen.

AllenS said...

If only we could get the health care debate televised.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Obama actually addressed the "closed door health negotiations" talking point. Can you respond to this? It's easy to run around talking about, "they need to put the debate on C-Span!" but no one actually thought beyond the slogan there. Except Obama seems to have taken the criticism seriously:

"Look, the truth of the matter is that if you look at the health care process -- just over the course of the year -- overwhelmingly the majority of it actually was on C-SPAN, because it was taking place in congressional hearings in which guys were participating.

I mean, the -- how many committees were there that helped to shape this bill? Countless hearings took place.

Now, I kicked it off, by the way, with a meeting with many of you, including your key leadership.

What is true, there's no doubt about it, is that once it got through the committee process and there were now a series of meetings taking place all over the Capitol trying to figure out how to get the thing together, that was a messy process. And I take responsibility for not having structured it in a way where it was all taking place in one place that could be filmed.

How to do that logistically would not have been as easy as -- as it sounds because you're shuttling back and forth between the House, the Senate, different offices, et cetera, different legislators. But I think it's a legitimate criticism. So on that one, I take responsibility."

Maguro said...

Heh...Ambinder is about as balanced as Robert Gibbs. He pretty much gives you the unfiltered WH spin on whatever's going on.

Anyway, I agree with the others that this is a good thing and I'd like to see more of it regardless of who bludgeons whom.

Chase said...

Not sure I'd ever say this more than once - but Monty is right.

Look, I am mostly conservative in my political views. But more than I hate hypocrisy (including when I find it in myself) I HATE it when people of any political stripe repeat the talking points of some pundit - how stupid do you have to be to not be able to make up your own mind without first checking out others from your side?

I blame our educational system, Seriously

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm not sure that going at Marc Ambinder... who has a pretty fine record of balanced reporting..."

You've got to be kidding!

"The reason the session was exciting wasn't because it was a game that Obama won."

Then you contradict yourself! Ambinder exulted about Obama winning.

Bizarre incoherence.

As for what I addressed and what I haven't addressed, did you even read this post?! I said I'm going to go through the whole damn thing and do another post, but I'm putting this up because it's going to take a long time. Jeez.

AllenS said...

Bizarre incoherence.

No shit.

WV: whoramer

Whoa.

Montagne Montaigne said...

I genuinely thought that Ambinder had a reputation for balance. I didn't realize he was part of the liberal MSM conspiracy. My apologies.

Chase said...

But more than I hate hypocrisy (including when I find it in myself) I HATE it when people of any political stripe repeat the talking points of some pundit - how stupid do you have to be to not be able to make up your own mind without first checking out others from your side?

Here is a short clip of Michael Medved schooling and absolutely decimating a brain-on-vacation Glenn Beck disciple.

I love when someone taking leave of their critical thinking on any side of the political spectrum gets their pants pulled down and exposed like this. Delicious!

SMGalbraith said...

Six months ago the President was encouraging his supporters to get "in the faces" of his opponents and instructing the Republicans to "get out of his way".

Several elections and gobs of approval ratings later, he meets with the opposition.

A day late and a 30% approval ratings short.

Good theatre, some interesting exchanges and a big victory for the President who, given the advantages he has, couldn't really lose this. This isn't like question time in the House of Commons where the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader are on equal ground.

Again, the President was impressive but policies are not words.

Five-plus percent GDP growth is worth about 10 of these. A drop of unemployment by another 1-2% is priceless.

lucid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lucid said...

Obamalists simply are desperate for some good news, any good news, any sign that there is an area of competence in Obama. And, true to his form and the Obamalists' form during the campaign, their area of greatest competence is snark.

Circumstances will continue to overwhelm this president. Snark will just make his base feel better for a brief time.

Jim said...

1. Saying that Marc Ambinder has a record of balanced reporting is laughably false. Even Mickey Kaus regularly takes Ambinder to task for his dutiful stenography of even the most obviously fallacious White House spin.

2. I agree with the general assertion that Obama didn't really say much yesterday that he didn't say in his SOTU speech. Nor was his tone any better. He repeatedly blamed the Republicans for he and his own party's inability to move his agenda forward. Shocker! Then he ludicrously repeated over and over again that it was the responsibility of Republicans to come to his side of the aisle.

3. The biggest takeaway in terms of actual news - rather than just spin - is that Obama was forced to admit repeatedly that the Democratic talking point of Republicans having "no ideas" or being the "Party of No" is, and always has been, a big fat lie. Republicans got him on the record about him having received copies of their legislation over the past year. "I've read that...", "I've seen that...", etc.

Since at least half of the Democratic electoral strategy going into the fall was attempting to paint Republicans as nothing more than obstructionists with no ideas of their own, Obama absolutely shattered his own party's plans for what he thinks was a short-term political gain. Yet another example of getting outmaneuvered in the long run.

4. There is a huge difference between "you haven't proposed any ideas," and "you've proposed lots of things with which I don't agree." To that end, Republicans wound up getting the better end of that argument as well. Obama was forced to swallow all his own talking points about Republicans. Go back and review Obama's many speeches about how we should pass his agenda because, hey, it's the only option available to fix a broken system. Turns out, he's been lying all along and yesterday he was forced to admit that too.

5. He backed Pelosi and Hoyer into a corner in the way they manage debates in the House. Every time Pelosi/Hoyer shuts Republicans out of the debate, Republicans will be able to march up to the cameras and point out how they're not living up to the bipartisanship House Republicans have with Obama. That sets up a very nasty inter-necine fight between the House leadership and Obama going forward.

6. Obama seems to forget he's not the entirety of the Democratic Party. He needs Pelosi/Hoyer to move his agenda. While he didn't explicitly throw them under the bus yesterday, he might as well have. He set himself up as the good guy, and the Republican caucus got to look like good guys for inviting him to their retreat and broadcasting their interactions. Guess who was missing? Guess who the Republicans immediately issued invitations to have the same kind of conversatino with? That's right. Pelosi and Hoyer. Now guess who will never show up to do that.

Now who looks like the ones who are getting in the way of accomplishing things on a bipartisan basis? That's right. Obama just set up the dynamic to make the Democratic House the bad guys...How many additional seats do you think this costs them in the fall?

I could go on, but I'm abusing our hostess' hospitality with this post as it is. I will close with this: those who think this was a "win" for Obama are thinking in terms of a single news cycle. They're missing the larger picture of just how much damage Obama did to Democratic Party politics in the long run.

Fred said...

MM, it doesn't matter that most of the debate was on CSPAN. The Pres. didn't promise that most of the debate would be on CSPAN, he promised transparency and that when the deals were made, we'd see who was making the sausage. Sure, the runup to the actual sausage making was in the open, but we didn't see the last part. I want to know what wound up in those patties before the vote, and more to the point, why it was put in. If it isn't on CSPAN or done in public, I'm assuming Bad Things are happening.

Mom said...

I thought this Reuters headline, highlighted yesterday by Instapundit, perfectly summed up the incoherence of all this:

"Obama assails Republican foes, urges bipartisan effort."

SMGalbraith said...

Ambinder has some interesting pieces but is clearly in simpatico with this Administration.

He's no hack like Sullivan or Joe Klein. But he's an Obama supporter, that's for sure.

EDH said...

Classic Obama, before and after.

Before, Obama says C-SPAN will televise "the negotiations," not just the public hearings we're familiar with.

"I am going to have all the negotiations around a big table … we will have the negotiations televised on CSPN. So that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents or for the drug companies.”

“We’re going to do it all on CPAN.”

“Here’s the difference, I am going to do it on CSPAN.”


Obama, after: turns out "the negotiations" were the minutiae of the normally televised public hearings. It'd be hard to "film" all backroom horse-trading sessions around town, you know, the ones even you Republicans lawmakers were locked out of yet still failed to get on board with.

Look, the truth of the matter is that if you look at the health care process -- just over the course of the year -- overwhelmingly the majority of it actually was on C-SPAN, because it was taking place in congressional hearings in which guys were participating.

I mean, the -- how many committees were there that helped to shape this bill? Countless hearings took place.

Now, I kicked it off, by the way, with a meeting with many of you, including your key leadership.

What is true, there's no doubt about it, is that once it got through the committee process and there were now a series of meetings taking place all over the Capitol trying to figure out how to get the thing together, that was a messy process. And I take responsibility for not having structured it in a way where it was all taking place in one place that could be filmed.

How to do that logistically would not have been as easy as -- as it sounds because you're shuttling back and forth between the House, the Senate, different offices, et cetera, different legislators. But I think it's a legitimate criticism. So on that one, I take responsibility.


Didn't these same people criticize Bush for saying "it's hard work" when talking about fighting a war, not just videotaping "the negotiations" in DC?

master cylinder said...

So much for the teleprompter myth, still think he cant think without it?

The Ghost said...

I would point out that Obamas greatest campaign hits from '08 which got his elected are the same things he is being hit over the head with today.
Anyone who says Obamas greatest strength is his ability to debate, i.e. communicate should look at where his policies are polling after a year of non stop Obama as far as the eye can see.
His supposed greatest strength is a myth and his greatest enemy is his mouth which never matches the Democrats deeds.

Chase said...

I think the point is being missed here. We all know the desire to spin winners and losers, but here's the thing: give the American people as much unfettered access as you can to times like these, and they will make better decisions, without always checking in for the official groupthink position.

I actually quit for the most part about 2 years watching Sports Center and Post Game commenters after college football games. When I discuss the game, I actually give my own take, unencumbered by the cliches of sportscasters and analysts: I saw the game - no one needs to tell me what I saw and what I thought about what I saw. Far better conversations, at least for me. You get the point.

The Ghost said...

Obama can certainly spew talking points elegantly without a telepromter. You'll notice what he didn't do yesterday. He didn't present any new reason for the GOP or America to accept ObamaCare. Not one good reason why his plan will actualyy do what he say it will.
It doesn't matter how good a talker you are, if the the product you are selling is rotten its a tough sell.

How about he actually holds a press conference more than once every 6 months ? The reason people started thinking he can't think without a promter is becasue HE HASN'T spoken without one in so long it made folks wonder.

Michael said...

I think Obama got the better of it, but it wasn't the walk Dems are desperate to spin it as. Regardless of how you score it, it was heartening to see him actually in the arena, not lecturing us as our Insufferable-Prig-In-Chief, not looking bored with the obvious thought "Okay, checked President off my list, now what?"

Argent Paladin said...

If it is foolish to debate a law professor (even if a marginal one), then isn't it exponentially more foolish to call out Supreme Court Justices? To their faces? On national TV?

The Ghost said...

Nice spin about the CSPAN stuff Obama. I just have one questions. Why couldn't CSPAN televise the union meeting AT THE WHITE HOUSE in a single room that you yourself were present at ?
That was certainly a negotiation and apparently in a backroom.
Hearings are not negotiations and you can try to tell us what the "real" definition of negotiation is until the cows come home but you know and America knows you are lying.

Henry said...

I find the kabuki theater of this event somewhat humorous. I find the people who are really really impressed by the kabuki theater of this event completely depressing.

What are you? 12?

master cylinder said...

Spin is why I am here. Information is transmitted in so many ways, that spin or CW is always a byproduct.
I go to Balloon Juice for pro-O spin and I come here for negative O. Gotta see both sides.

pm317 said...

I wondered where all the blogger boys were after the SOTU with their "best speech evah". Here they are, at least one of them with his amazing Obama.

Obama is good at bullying his opposition by saying things to their face that normal people hesitate to say. He did that in this GoP meet as well but I don't know how that will advance any bipartisanship -- Republicans can say, you guys (like Ambinder and his base) hate us anyway, so why do we have to cooperate?

He does not need a teleprompter for doing what he did because that is what he is good at -- a bully berating his opposition (only occasionally though because he is generally a wimp wanting to be with his waffle most of the times). Ask about policy, governance, then he needs a teleprompter. If he had answered Ryan's question about the budget then may be I would accept he does not need a teleprompter. No such luck.

Pogo said...

rhhardin said "It doesn't work for compulsory transactions."

In GM, health care, and banking, Obama is peddling a lie, selling the economic equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

People have always wanted to believe in bullshit, though, so it's a perfect match.

Montagne Montaigne said...

I'm just trying to understand here, pm317. How did he not answer Ryan's question? He answered it directly and at length.

I'm trying to understand how perception is so completely divided on this president. I really don't get it. In my opinion, you are reaching. You are stretching.

Jon said...

Re: Ambinder- Mickey Kaus has quite fittingly nicknamed him "The Dreidel" due to his constant spinning for Obama.

Re: The event- I thought both Obama and GOP came off about equally well. I'm not sure who a tie benefits more. But we should definitely abolish the standard State of the Union speech and replace it with something like this.

mtrobertsattorney said...

The President says he abhors the influence of lobbyists on legislative policy.

But I have a question: Why is it that labor union leaders like Andy Stein, who seem to have carte blanche access to the White House and the President himself, are not considered to be lobbyists?

Michael said...

M Montaigne:

I thought the session was excellent and I applaud the president for appearing. He clearly did not answer the Ryan question (I assume you watched the entire thing) because he could not. Ryan knows the budget better than anyone in the room and the president wisely ducked him.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Correction, my previous post:

It should be "Andy Stern" not "Stein". Stern is the president of SEIU.

Pogo said...

"I'm trying to understand how perception is so completely divided on this president. I really don't get it.

Thus speaks an unrepentant Bush-hater, oblivious to the irony.

Mimi Stratton said...

I don't see that Obama "bludgeoned, then asked for bipartisanship". I see nothing contradictory in his honest criticism of the policies he doesn't agree with, then asking for cooperation. Often to get people to hear what you are saying, you have to repeat yourself before it makes a dent in people's consciousness. I think Obama walks the walk. He is a centrist (not a progressive, I'd love it if he were, but he's not). He put stuff into the SOTU speech like oil drilling that many in his base would hate. Tax breaks for small businesses, etc for the Republicans. And what he's asking for is a little quid pro quo. Is that so hard?

spongeworthy said...

I am sure our hostess can tell us if she feels Obama actually answered the questions he was asked.

I do feel very reassured about the President's ability to dodge questions without TOTUS.

Big Mike said...

He is a centrist (not a progressive ...)

You must be at least three sigma left of center yourself, Mimi.

section9 said...

Here's the problem for the D's.

No one actually saw this. It was done on, what, a Friday? On C-SPAN? When everyone was still at work?

The only people who saw this were committed Obots like Montaigne Montainge and idle lawprofs with too much time on their hands. It will have no effect on the outcome of the Congressional.

Big Mike said...

And, Mimi, please explain what's "progressive" about pushing the same old BS that the left wing has been pushing since the 30's?

What's "progressive" about stuffing ballot boxes and stealing elections?

SMGalbraith said...

When President Obama does this with the Congressional Democrats - televised meeting where he challenges the Bulls - then he'll make an impression.

Yes, not bloody likely (hey, we're all British parliamentarians now) - the triumph of experience over hope, let us say.

Mostly sound and fury signifying (almost) nothing.

'Twas good for his political supporters though and right about now they need a little boost.

pm317 said...

Blogger Montagne Montaigne said...

I'm just trying to understand here, pm317.
-----------------------

He didn't. He said we will talk more later -- classic lecturer response to a student's question when he does not know the answer (or in Obama's case read, can not articulate it well enough without a teleprompter.)

Big Mike said...

@section9, well CNN was on the wall-mounted TVs where I ate lunch so I saw part of it.

I wasn't much impressed.

Obama was just finishing prepared remarks. Somebody came forward and with a paper in his hand, and asked Obama something but the CNN microphones didn't pick it up very well. Obama responded by reciting some of the same old talking points he's been pushing since early 2008 (CNN microphones picked up his voice pretty well, but, duh) but I don't know what he was responding to so I have no idea whether what he said was on point or not. Then I finished my salad and left.

Not CNN's best day, but they haven't been having very many good ones, have they?

Maguro said...

I will say that Obama's debating technique didn't seem all that impressive to me. On healthcare, he said: "You guys say the bill is some Bolshevik plot (strawman), but all the reasonable analysts say it's really a very centrist bill (appeal to authority)".

Not really mind-blowing rhetorical skill.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Bush was hated from the start, I will grant you. The election was razor close and the aftermath contested. Then 9/11 happened... and Bush had near universal support. Which he expended on the Iraq war, for me at least. I never believed the WMD hype as justification for war and turns out, I was right. The second term had a lot of unjustified mockery and anger directed at Bush... which has embittered about 30% of the country, it seems.

It's all well and good to confront that, but day-in, day-out, forever? When will it end? It's been over a year. I get it, you are still pissed about the ride Bush got. When does that fade? What can avenge it?

Obama gets mileage out of blaming Bush, sure. He also has to deal with the fallout of the Bush era in terms of how people see him doing the job. So I'd call that even at the very least.

The tea party anger about the deficit lays it ALL at the feet of Obama. ALL of it. Republicans are getting juice out of that anger, but outside of politics, it is a FACT that the vast portion of our debt and deficit was created during THE BUSH ERA. That is an undeniable fact.

virgil xenophon said...

Anne, get out your transcript. Someone--don't remember who, such is the nature of the blogosphere and my memory plus I didn't grab the quote--pointed out that the real "news" that was made in yesterday's colloquium was the casual admission by Obama that "perhaps" "someone" in either the House or Senate Bills might have "snuck in" taxes on lower-income middle-class people that broke his pledge about no new taxes on people making less than 200k/yr. If so, quite an admission, don't you think? And one that has been pretty much overlooked by the MSM.Can you confirm? As I missed the session in it's entirety and didn't Tivio it.

pm317 said...

And so I’m thinking to myself, well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist — no, look, I mean, I’m just saying, I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans — is similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

Obama on healthcare bill in the GoP meet. The lefties are excited about this? They are being taken for suckers by Obama and they are applauding him?

SteveR said...

The Dems strategy going forward to the fall elections will be to paint republicans as uncompromising naysayers. This was a first shot at portraying Obama as willing to reach out. Well bullshit.

AllenS said...

Obama has majorities in both houses, he doesn't need Republicans for anything. He should be able to pass whatever he wants. If he has a beef with anyone, it's the Democrats.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Here's a good post about how "Obamacare" is pretty much the health reforms Republicans proposed in the past.

Pogo said...

"It's all well and good to confront that, but day-in, day-out, forever? When will it end?"

Said, still oblivious to the irony.

The only answer a committed Bush-hater would understand?

"2012".

Fen said...

Obama has a growing credibility gap. People don't believe him when he speaks:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/january_2010/deficit_of_trust_most_voters_don_t_believe_president_s_assertions_about_economy

"The president in the speech declared that his administration has cut taxes for 95% of Americans. He even chided Republicans for not applauding on that point. However, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that taxes have been cut for 95% of Americans. Most (53%) say it has not happened, and 26% are not sure. Other polling shows that nearly half the nation’s voters expect their own taxes to go up during the Obama years.

The president also asserted that “after two years of recession, the economy is growing again.” Just 35% of voters believe that statement is true, while 50% say it is false.

Obama claimed that steps taken by his team are responsible for putting two million people to work “who would otherwise be unemployed.” Just 27% of voters say that statement is true. Fifty-one percent (51%) say it's false."

sydney said...

The moment President Obama began his address to Republicans in Baltimore today, I began to receive e-mails from Democrats: Here's an except from one of them: "I don't know whether to laugh or cry that it took a f$$@&$* year for Obama to step into the ring and start throwing some verbal blows... I'm definitely praying at mass on Sunday morning that this Obama doesn't take another 12 month vacation." ....


...Hmm. Who? Some Catholic. Some Catholic who's praying to God that his guys kick the other guys' asses.


Nancy Pelosi? Joe Biden? Just about any Democrat Catholic Congressman would fit. Most of them publicly scorn the principles of the Catholic faith. And most of them are very in-your-face confrontational with their political opponents. They just like to wear their Catholicism more publicly than their peers wear their religions because they think it makes them look like a Kennedy of the last generation.

William said...

I saw part of it. Obama is a man of genuine charm with an engaging manner. He sells himself very well, but he never makes a convincing case for the product he is trying to sell. I believe in him, but I don't believe him....By chance, Tony Blair, facing some hostile government inquiry, was also on CSPAN. He showed the way it is done. You sensed that he wasn't trying to score debating points or flash dimples, but to convince his interlocutor of the point he was making......I regard Obama as having proven himself unsuccessful in all his major initiatives. Not a catastrophic failure, but unsuccessful, nonetheless. I can see why liberals like him, but I cannot understand why they regard him as brilliant and successful. It's just not there.

Fen said...

it is a FACT that the vast portion of our debt and deficit was created during THE BUSH ERA. That is an undeniable fact.

More Lefty Lies. And "vast" ? LOL. Even you know you're spewing BS.

Wigboldus said...

Obama says he wants a dialogue but then hurls insults at those who question him.

For example, when questioned by Pence about the Republican alternative to the Stimulus Bill, obama stated that "The problem is, "I couldn’t find credible economists who would back up the claims that you just made" about the Republican Alternative.

I don't know whom Obama considers to be a "credible" economist, but I do know that Republican plan in many ways mirrored the tax cuts called for by Robert J. Barro, Professor of Economics at Harvard: "Much more focus should be on incentives for people and businesses to invest, produce and work. On the tax side, we should avoid programs that throw money at people and emphasize instead reductions in marginal income-tax rates -- especially where these rates are already high and fall on capital income. Eliminating the federal corporate income tax would be brilliant. On the spending side, the main point is that we should not be considering massive public-works programs that do not pass muster from the perspective of cost-benefit analysis."

Now, Obama and his devotees are free to disagree with Mr. Barro, but to imply that he is not "credible" is an insult--pure and simple.

LonewackoDotCom said...

I briefly scanned part of it, and to the average person BHO will have appeared to demolish the GOP: he had an answer for everything. He might have been lying or shading the truth about some of it, but most people won't know it and the GOP didn't call him on anything he said that I could see.

This is yet another illustration of the "smarts gap": most of the leaders of the GOP (broadly defined) just aren't smart enough (except when it comes to cashing checks).

Smarter people who weren't constrained by having to be overly polite could have made BHO look very bad by asking him real questions about the specific things he doesn't want to talk about.

Instead, you've got GOP leaders (broadly defined) like Glenn Reynolds and Jonah Goldberg who think the way to oppose Obama is to act like little children and mock him.

If you want to help prevent us sliding even further into Idiocracy, please see the link and write Goldberg with your thoughts (his email at the link).

pm317 said...

Gee, MM, that blog nails Obama's chicanery to boot. I feel sorry for his base.

So this is the cat he let out of the bag at the GoP meet (see my previous comment). I wonder what his earnest base thinks of him now, adopting Nixon's and Dole's bills for his own.

dave in boca said...

I'm not sure that going at Marc Ambinder... who has a pretty fine record of balanced reporting, and is clearly one of the smarter political reporters, is really the way to go. Uh, Ambinder isn't very smart if you read his silly commentary on how Obama knocked stuff out of the park.... As usual, BHO just mailed a lot of the stuff in and showed he was absolutely devoid of self-knowledge. Or a self-assured Bolshie agitprop political commissar---right out of Darkness at Noon before the Stalinist goon takes over the interrogation.

Obama's czar appointments are right out of Saul Alinsky's playbook---the fun is watching Obama's trying to defend his abysmal record by claiming he's some sort of centrist.

Ambinder is no better than Joe Klein or Altermann or the other JournoList cabal members. I'll take Megan McArdle when I go to the Atlantic blog.

dave in boca said...

Heh...Ambinder is about as balanced as Robert Gibbs. He pretty much gives you the unfiltered WH spin on whatever's going on.Thanks Maguro,

Every time I held my nose and peeked over at Keith OlberHauptFuehrer and Rachel M, it seemed Baghdad Bob was there giving succor to the famished and parched lumpenproletariat that actually watches those two nasty scammers.

Baghdad Bob makes Scott McClellan look like an acceptable WH spokesman. They both are third-rate and McClellan was a double-digit IQ turncoat.

AJ Lynch said...

Obama always speaks of common ground. Let's turn the tables on Obama. Would he support these types of reform that I consider to be common ground?

Would he consider health insurance vouchers? Would he promise that his healthcare bill will not add more than 100 new bureaucrats? Would he let individual states opt out of it with state legislature vote? Would he allow interstate competition so people could buy less expensive bare-bones major medical plans? Would Obama support meaaningful malpractice reform?

Would Obama kindly define "affordable health insurance" for us? That term is wielded about but WTF does it actually mean?

dave in boca said...

I genuinely thought that Ambinder had a reputation for balance.

Thought isn't one of your skill sets, mountain man.

pm317 said...

@LonewackoDotCom,

Smarter people who weren't constrained by having to be overly polite could have made BHO look very bad by asking him real questions about the specific things he doesn't want to talk about.

I agree with this without wanting to get into the smart label thing. They should go after him on substance more. They should also not frame it as a question if they ever have this again. Make it a long comment. Call out on his strategy (just like he did on theirs). Let it have shock value. This is what he did for most part.

SMGalbraith said...

Bush roughly doubled the national debt in eight years. I believe from $5.7 trillion to $10 trillion.

That's not creating the "vast amount" of our debt but it's absolutely indefensible.

Fen said...

Agreed. But Obama's budget triples it:



http://blog.heritage.org/2009/08/28/obama%E2%80%99s-tripling-of-the-national-debt-in-pictures/

"America would accumulate more government debt under President Obama than under every President in American history from George Washington to George W. Bush combined."

Flexo said...

From everything I've heard, the meeting was nothing more than Obama repeatedly telling the Republicans that they suck.

Why they would have wanted to have anything to do with this petulant little boy in the first place is beyond me. But I doubt that Obama did himself any favors.

pm317 said...

Table in this wiki shows the culprits on national debt are Reagan/Bush/Bush and now Obama. I wonder why the so called fiscal conservatives loathe Bill Clinton so much.

LonewackoDotCom said...

I have an article about how to ask politicians questions, and you can find a sample question here (second update) and a description of why a question promoted by another group is ineffective here.

I tried to ask BHO a question almost three years ago, and before the election I tried to get r/w bloggers like Instapundit, Protein Wisdom, Ace, Patterico, etc. to support my plan to encourage people to go out and "cross-examine" him. They refused, opting instead to entertain their echo chambers and lose the election.

pm317 said...

@LonewackoDotCom, yep. And it is really not that hard to tackle Obama because there is not a whole lot of prep work. For instance, that freshman congressman who asked him about his broken promise about C-Span, should have said BS and asked him if he would put his negotiations a la the BigPharma, the unions on C-Span next time. Go for the shock value. Obama lies through his teeth and it is perhaps enough to forcefully call him out on his lies and force that credibility gap.

Kirk Parker said...

MoMo,

"The tea party anger about the deficit lays it ALL at the feet of Obama. ALL of it."

Ah, so you've never talked to any of these folks, or been to any of their events, I see.

Ashley said...

MM - The tea party anger about the deficit lays it ALL at the feet of Obama. ALL of it. Republicans are getting juice out of that anger, but outside of politics, it is a FACT that the vast portion of our debt and deficit was created during THE BUSH ERA. That is an undeniable fact.

Wow, just wow. From the Huffington Post:

"Several Republican members of Congress spoke at Tea Party protests around the country on Wednesday," CNN reported. "Some were applauded. Others heckled. But only one, it appears, was booed relentlessly for the entire duration of his speech: Rep. Gresham Barrett of South Carolina."

Barrett faced the ire of the tea party protesters because of his vote last year for the $700 billion, Bush administration-backed financial bailout.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/18/gresham-barrett-gop-congr_n_188578.html

On this point, MM, you are transparently wrong.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

"...why should the Republicans help him now?"

Ummm... for the good of the country.

But keep with the pettiness. It's a sure-fire vote-getter!

Roger J. said...

i am curious why the comments of ANY pundit, right, left oenter, are or any significance at all. The most impressive pundits were, of course, the voters in MA--the voters are the only pundits that count.

Presumably w e cannot reach our own conclusions unless we have a PUNDIT to tell us what to think? We are truly a nation of sheep.

AJ Lynch said...

Roger:

I agree - these pundits get all caught up in the technical intricacies of legislative sausagemaking, bill negotiation, etc. Now the pundist are so proudof themselves [i.e see Kaus or Maddow] when they try to explain "Reconciliation" to us. It is just the the latest Beltway minutiae foisted on us by our betters in the media.

Well, Mr. Ambinder, we don't give a frig if you can diagram the political plays. How about you try and ask Obama some tough questions like I posed in my comment above?

Chip Ahoy said...

Bush, election, Iraq, WMD,

Jesus Christ! You son of bitches are boring.

Roger J. said...

While I do not consider folks like Ritmo and Monty to be pundits, frankly I would rather read their thoughts than the ambinders, gergens, and krauthammers of the world. At least they are not profiting from their punditry,and they give me insights into their value systems.

On the other hand, pundits are simly part of our politcal system, about which I am increasingly dissolutioned.

SH said...

"other than that it was nice/bold of him to show up at their event — give them some face time"

Yeah, don't know about nice.. the president lied (like usual) and used his talking points and debated the republicans as a partisan. Bold, yes, btw...

So, yeah, the president's more partisan fans liked it.

As to being bipartisan, I grade it a 'fail'.

rcocean said...

Chip,

Add the "Valarie P. Lame affair"

Howard Beale said...

As I get older I get more and more frustrated by the power we attribute to Presidents. Their influence over the economy is relatively small, yet we talk as if President's were like the Great and Powerful Oz.

Similarly, while Presidents surely deserve a good measure of blame for the spending that occurs on their watch, last I checked it was Congress that controlled the purse strings in this country.

I can't stand either party anymore and as find them both the be spendthrifts, but I think there is a fair bit of evidence that our deficits are smaller when Republicans control Congress. While Clinton absolutely deserves credit for the surpluses we ran during his time in office, I wonder how things would have played out if Pelosi and Reid controlled Congress back then.

pm317 said...

Blogger boys and girls who are cheering Obama on should probably listen to what he is saying:

Obama's Stunning Admission
Posted by Tom Bevan


There's been a remarkable amount of coverage of President Obama's appearance at the House Republican retreat today, but I haven't seen anyone focus on the President's rather stunning admission about the Democrats' health care legislation

Penny said...

Does Obama understand that he is President of ALL the people?

Someone needs to coach him on his use of pronouns. "I" works just fine. "We" works well if you are referring to all Americans, but I am offended by any president who uses "we" to refer to just one party, and "you" to refer to the other party. Particularly when he is trying to drive home the concept of "bipartisanship".

Peter V. Bella said...

Something that has not been mentioned about the SOTU and his divine presence at the GOP- that damn constant finger pointing.

He looks like one of those Nineteenth Century school masters just waiting to take a young lad out behind the schoolhouse with a switch.

The finger pointing is rude, inconsiderate, and demonstrates a lack of proper training in etiquette.




Oh, damn, I forgot, sheesh, he is a leftist.




wv: peducab=cabdriver that gives pedies

AJ Lynch said...

Penny:

To Obama, all the people includes the Lords and the serfs. He is one of the Lords, of course.

former law student said...

We have a Lib leader named Obam.
Who reaches out to the Right all he can,
But now in high dudgeon
He fashions a bludgeon
From the Right's lack of real plans.

Exordium said...

Hey Ann, this was a great post. Hopefully Glenn Reynold's will link to it, otherwise no one will read it. Take it easy!!

traditionalguy said...

Rh hardin@ 8:50 nailed it. The thought that comes is that like Meade and Anns new trees still rooted safely and dormant, when the spring of the getting rid of the socialist re-distribution poison in DC finally comes, then there will be a flush of new growth. Wealth is good. Obama and his plans to steal what we have and shut down our freedom to live in a free market is what is evil. Hurray for Wall Street, and to outer darkness with the mentally ill Marxist twerp and the Democrats he rode in on.

Synova said...

A couple of points without quotes to stuff.

First, It could well be that for the good of the country Obama should be opposed rather than supported. People with different ideas of what will help and what will hurt have those ideas because they think that different things will help and different things will hurt.

When I watched the speech (but not the Q&A yet) I noticed Obama saying he understood that the Republicans had different opinions, and of course are entitled to them, but I got a strong feeling that there was no possible consideration that those opinions might have validity or be honestly held. They were political opinions, and can't we move past those and do what is right.

This isn't respecting other points of view. It's just not. The words almost sound like it, but it's not.

To understand the difference in how the speech part was received think of it this way. As I watched it I imagined that Obama was talking to me personally. Would I be receptive to someone who used that tone of voice with me, that instructive manner, the "hectoring" and calling to task? No. I'd probably shut down into a mode of forced politeness and let the resentment build. It's the repressed Scandi thing to do. Now maybe someone else would respond more freely or not get as annoyed.

But I would think that there is not all that great a difference in reaction between people who thought Obama was great and those who think he really wasn't. For example... I also saw "verbal blows." The difference is that I think that "verbal blows" are never meant to build any sort of bridge.

Synova said...

I can't listen to the You Tube link of the Q&A. Maybe it's my headphones but the sound is too uneven.

Is there any other recording?

Fen said...

"...why should the Republicans help him now?"

Ritmo: Ummm... for the good of the country.

But keep with the pettiness. It's a sure-fire vote-getter!


Priceless. Ritmo implores the GOP to compromise for the good of the country, then confesses that votes are his primary concern.

You must have worked for Jogn Edwards.

Trooper York said...

If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?". - (The Merchant of Venice Act III, Scene I).

SH said...

Trooper York said...
"and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"."

Its not even the point. Obama is still claiming to be a moderate and saying if your against my crazy healthcare plan, your a crazy partisan!!! Its not revenge to keep trashing him when he down, it's that he's still fighting.

I've got a unique POV as I support universal healthcare but am a free market guy who doesn't want to use the government for forced equality (and 'fairness')... so, O's still playing games and not just trying to universal care... he's is pushing a socialist plot...

Joe Campbell said...

@pm317:

After Montagne Montaigne linked to a post on my blog, you wrote:

that blog nails Obama's chicanery to boot. I feel sorry for his base.

As a member of what would probably be considered his base, and writer of that piece, let me say: The piece was about demonstrating the opposite of what you're saying. Obama's approach to health care owes a lot to the political/policy breakthrough of liberal Jacob Hacker, whose basic framework was adopted by Edwards, then Clinton, then Obama. It combines an epistemologically modest approach with liberal goals. To presume that a plan must be awful simply because it shares many elements with a plan Republicans proposed seems partisan in the worst sense though...

The piece concluded:
The health care reforms being proposed today are based on the same framework as the two Republican plans of the past with one main exception: they provide a mechanism to allow the individual market to work more effectively. The health care reforms today attempt to preserve the current system – which is deteriorating year by year as more and more people are priced out of health insurance – while alleviating the worst problems and providing a separate and regulated market in which individuals could choose between different health insurance models.

While both the Nixon and Dole-Chafee bills sought to change the health insurance industry through pure government regulation and intervention. The Democratic proposal working its way through Congress now adds two elements – one from the left and one from the right. They propose creating a Health Insurance Exchange – a market for health insurance. On this exchange, one could choose a publicly-run insurance plan.

JorgXMcKie said...

Whatever happened to "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" and "Speaking Truth to Power"?

I guess now that Obama is in charge those are no longer useful, huh?

And, boy do I long for the good old days when Ritmo [I'm sure] and folks like him encouraged the Dems to work with Bush and not oppose him "for the good of the country."

And MM, you might want to go revisit that Authorization to Use Force. It had about 22 reasons beside WMD to go to war against Iraq. Also, the NYT, among others, got all hot and bother because Bush had *too many* reasons.

Of course, since it was Bush nothing was or ever will be good enough for victims of BDS.

And I'll quit bringing it up when Teh Won starts taking the blame for the messes he makes. I expect that to be never, at the rate it's happening so far.

JorgXMcKie said...

Whatever happened to "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" and "Speaking Truth to Power"?

I guess now that Obama is in charge those are no longer useful, huh?

And, boy do I long for the good old days when Ritmo [I'm sure] and folks like him encouraged the Dems to work with Bush and not oppose him "for the good of the country."

And MM, you might want to go revisit that Authorization to Use Force. It had about 22 reasons beside WMD to go to war against Iraq. Also, the NYT, among others, got all hot and bother because Bush had *too many* reasons.

Of course, since it was Bush nothing was or ever will be good enough for victims of BDS.

And I'll quit bringing it up when Teh Won starts taking the blame for the messes he makes. I expect that to be never, at the rate it's happening so far.

Jim B said...

Joe -

You're being completely dishonest.

Jacob Hacker admitted that his framework was specifically designed to lead to a single-payer system.

Any claim that it allowed free markets to work more efficiently, or in any way respected the free market flies in the face of Hacker's own words.

You're going to have to try harder to fool even some of the people some of the time...Especially when there's a ubiquitous YouTube video of Hacker saying precisely the opposite of what your post claims his framework does.

You know that if your preferred policy prescription actually made any real world sense, you wouldn't have to lie about it what it actually is....The fact that you intentionally omitted Hacker's own words on the subject are proof enough that you have no intention of carrying out anything other than intentional subterfuge on the subject.

You are dismissed.

Jim B said...

Synova -

The people who think "Obama was great" are applauding his verbal blows. These are the same people who thought the Democrats weren't fighting hard enough for the public option even as they called opponents of the public option "racists," "AstroTurfed mobs," "Nazis," and the like. They want the verbal combat from Democrats because the childish and completely counterproductive name-calling is the only way they know how to gauge whether or not someone is really "on their side."

If you didn't use an epithet to describe an opponent today, then you're one of those traitorous Blue Dogs or centrists or something of the sort. Since Obama lets his underlings sling the arrows, then he's the one who's not fighting hard enough.

They're not looking for bipartisanship. They're not looking for compromise. They're the playground bullies who think if you push people around long enough and hard enough then they'll simply abandon their principles and acquiese.

They're angry and bitter people, and Obama's hectoring tone appeals to them. Too bad it doesn't appeal to anyone outside of those 21% of Americans who call themselves "liberals."

I encourage them to keep pushing the Democratic Party further left though. New Jersey taught them nothing. Virginia taught them nothing. Massachussetts taught them nothing. And I, for one, am happy to leave them in the dark and ignorant - living in their cocoon of self-soothing lies about how none of those elections meant anything.

That's why, of course, there are already at least two possible primary opponents lining up for Obama for the 2012 election. Because those elections meant nothing.

"Speaker Boehner" and "Majority Leader McConnell" have a nice ring to them...and just to rub salt in the wound, maybe even "President Palin"...because 3 elections in a row are completely meaningless.

After all, if Axelrod says it then it must be so....

Joe Campbell said...

@Jim B -

That's a rather interesting type of ad hominem attack. I explain factually how 2 pieces of legislation have many similar stated goals and even mechanisms for those goals.

Your response is to (1) claim that one of the men who created the plan supports a single-payer system; and (2) attack me for not mentioning that one of the people who created the newer version of the plan supports single payer.

Yet every point I made remains valid.

It's also worth noting that pm317 read my post and came to the opposite conclusion of yours. While you are suggesting Obama is some leftist trying to impose single-payer, she is claiming he's adopting Republican ideas and selling out.

Your response also suffers from your knee-jerk assumption that there is a bright dividing line between the "market" and "government." This bright dividing line is an ideological distinction - rather than one based on reality. Throughout American history - and indeed the history of the world - the government has participated in the economy. From Alexander Hamilton to Abraham Lincoln to Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower.

And of those health care experts out there: Some, indeed many, do believe a single-payer system is where we inevitably will end up because it is the most rational system. Hacker seems to be in that category. However, anyone presuming our country will act rationally is bound to be disappointed in your view, eh?

As to being dismissed. That's just rude. You may be only commenting on a blog - but that's no excuse to be disrespectful to those you disagree with.

Media Mentions said...

Here's a little something extra I read about the topic today: http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=CHAZ59Y2B8Z&preview=article&linkid=40f60606-68fc-47db-8ead-487c078929bb&pdaffid=ZVFwBG5jk4Kvl9OaBJc5%2bg%3d%3d

It's worth a speed-read I believe.

Best regards,
MediaMentions

Pratibha said...

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