Free Markets, Free People
No, I’m not ready to crown Barack Obama the Worst President Ever just yet, but consider this:
Yes, George W. Bush wrecked our economy, destroyed New Orleans, turned a budget surplus into massive deficits, ignored warnings of a major terrorist attack and used that mistake to lead us into two disastrous military quagmires…
But he also pushed relentlessly for conservative policies and delivered for his base with war, deregulation, tax cuts, environmental rollbacks, and an army of right-wing ideologues embedded in the federal government and judiciary. He failed to privatize Social Security, but not for lack of trying.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, inherited a mess rather than creating one. But not only has he failed to create jobs or restart the economy, he has paid only lip service to progressive policies and betrayed his base at almost every turn.
Hmmm … so what should he have done, Eli? I mean I’m with you on the “failed to create jobs or restart the economy”. No rocket scientist needed to figure that out. But obviously, unlike W, who took every supposed opportunity to give his base those things they love – like wars (how’s it going in Libya these days, sport?) – your Prez isn’t giving you guys what you want?
Appreciate the fact you actually seem to believe the right loves wrecked economies (because you know, that’s super pro-business) and terrorist attacks (because he ignored intel? Guess Obama is the only one who inherits messes, huh?), but what should your man be doing?
Instead of using the financial crisis or the current debt hysteria to push through a progressive agenda like Bush used 9/11 to push through a conservative one, he’s using them as an excuse to capitulate to Republican budget chickenhawks, and even to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Ah, he’s violating the “never let a good crisis go to waste” maxim, eh? Good lord, yes, we should have spent gobs more money on, well, only Sheriff Joe knows, and he should have insisted on the public option, no wait, single payer, and on “teh ghey” issue, well he’s just been horrible. Right?
And he had that pure liberal Democratic Congress for how long? Yeah, 2 years, and what came out of there? *Sigh*. What’s a liberal to do.
So which is worse? The president who serves his base and sets the country on fire, or the president who stiffs his base and fights fire with gasoline?
Mmmm … I’ll have to think about that a second. Nope, don’t need too – the last guy. It explains why “Miss me yet?” t-shirt sales are booming.
John Cole, however, is having a cow stating sarcastically:
Any good liberal in the year 2011 would be confused when choosing between Obama and Bush for the title of “Worst President Ever.”
He seems to think FDL is effin’ “clinical”.
It’s tough when the blinders finally come off, isn’t it? Unsurprisingly, they’re still firmly in place at Balloon Juice.
BTW, read the comments at FDL – they’re equally as entertaining as the article.
I think we all know what would be the number one story today had we been this close to having this happen on the last president’s watch.
At issue: The 1973 War Powers Act, which says if the president does not get congressional authorization 60 days after military action, the mission must stop within 30 days.
The president formally notified Congress about the mission in Libya with a letter on March 21, which makes Friday the 60-day deadline.
See, here’s how this works … Congress makes the laws and the President signs them into being. Everyone is obliged to follow them. And that includes the President. However, that’s not the case, or so it seems, with Libya. Today is the last day of the 60 grace period for the President to get Congressional authorization and there has been no move to accomplish that. Apparently the administration believes they’re above the law.
The irony, of course, is that it was Mr. Bush who was continually accused of waging an illegal war. Yet it has been the last two Democratic presidents who are guilty of doing so:
But it is virtually unprecedented for a president to continue a mission beyond 60 days without a resolution from Congress.
"Make no mistake: Obama is breaking new ground, moving decisively beyond his predecessors," Yale law professors Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway wrote this week in the Washington Post.
The only thing that comes close is President Clinton’s military effort in Kosovo.
He failed to get congressional approval before the 60-day deadline was up. His administration argued that Congress had effectively authorized the mission by approving money for it, and the Kosovo conflict lasted 78 days.
The Obama administration doesn’t have that option with Libya, because the Pentagon is using existing money. Congress never specifically funded the mission.
Now, the administration is trying to figure out what to do.
“Now?” Now the administration is “trying to figure out what to do”? And “what to do” is fairly straight forward – seek congressional approval for the continuation of the “kinetic event” or whatever it is we’re calling it this week, or stop our involvement.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, tells CNN he believes Obama is trying to "bring democracy to Libya while shredding the Constitution of the United States."
"He cannot continue what he is doing in Libya without congressional authorization. When a president defiantly violates the law, that really undercuts our efforts to urge other countries to have the rule of law," Sherman said.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, concurs.
"You could say, ‘Well, we have a good president, he’ll do the right thing.’ Well, someday you may have a president who does the wrong thing, and that’s why you have rules, because you can never count on people being good people," Paul told CNN.
Indeed. The process and rules are only there for the little people I guess. The President appears to believe he is above the law.
Finally, where’s the Congressional leadership on this? Why isn’t Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid both banging the drum loudly and persistently while calling the president “incompetent” ? After all, only an incompetent would just now be trying to figure out what to do, no? And tomorrow will they declare the war “illegal” like it actually will be?
And where are McConnell and Boehner?
Time to elevate this and get a little bit of a firestorm going boys. If it were your side, you can trust that Pelosi and Reid wouldn’t be dawdling in their offices, they’d be attacking the lawlessness of the presidency.
Where are you, Congressional “leaders?”
Sometimes something is written which has you shaking your head in both wonder and disgust as you read it. Michael Hirsh manages that in his National Journal article entitled “Obama’s War” where he states:
Ever so gingerly, even as they praised President Obama’s success against Osama bin Laden, some former senior Bush administration officials have sought to take a little credit for the mission themselves. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, interviewed by MSNBC this week, even called the operation “a good story for continuity across two presidencies.”
That assessment couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, in a convoluted way, he’s right – the major kudos should go to the Bush administration.
Look, you expect a little cheerleading concerning the killing of Osama because of the desperate desire by the left to make Obama into something he’s simply not – the steely eyed Commander-in-Chief solely responsible for the result of the bin Laden raid.
But any impartial observer who knows a thing or two about how taking down someone like OBL occurs simply knows that’s not the case.
Given, Osama bin Laden was killed on Obama’s watch. He gave the order. Good for him, and thank you for making the decision. But let’s be real – it wasn’t much of a decision to make. This was America’s most wanted – heck, he was the West’s most wanted. How do you not make that decision?
But Hirsh, goes off into history revision-land in an attempt to give all the credit to Obama and none to Bush. He seems to understand that making the decision really isn’t that special so he attempts to rewrite recent history in such a way that he can, one assumes, credibly make the claim that this was all Obama. He, among a long line of journalists who may know politics, but have little knowledge of intelligence operations, makes a hash of his attempt. He attempts to convince us the only thing Obama didn’t inherit from Bush was anything to do with taking out bin Laden.
Hirsh pitches this:
From his first great public moment when, as a state senator, he called Iraq a “dumb war,” Obama indicated that he thought that George W. Bush had badly misconceived the challenge of 9/11. And very quickly upon taking office as president, Obama reoriented the war back to where, in the view of many experts, it always belonged. He discarded the idea of a “global war on terror” that conflated all terror threats from al-Qaida to Hamas to Hezbollah. Obama replaced it with a covert, laserlike focus on al-Qaida and its spawn.
This reorientation was part of Obama’s reset of America’s relations with the world. Bush, having gradually expanded his definition of the war to include all Islamic “extremists,” had condemned the United States to a kind of permanent war, one that Americans had to fight all but alone because no one else agreed on such a broadly defined enemy. (Hezbollah and Hamas, for example, arguably had legitimate political aims that al-Qaida did not, which is one reason they distanced themselves from bin Laden.) In Obama’s view, only by focusing narrowly on true transnational terrorism, and winning back all of the natural allies that the United States had lost over the previous decade, could he achieve America’s goal of uniting the world around the goal of extinguishing al-Qaida.
Very quickly after taking the presidency he “reoriented the war back to where … it always belonged?”
Nonsense. In Iraq – the”dumb” war – Obama followed the Bush plan to the letter, not changing a thing. Nothing. It still continues down the Bush timeline.
In Afghanistan, where Obama said we should be fighting, he actually surged conventional troops, and not to hunt al-Qaeda. Instead the focus of the surge were the Taliban. Again, the same focus the Bush administration had and one upon which Obama doubled down. So much for that laserlike focus on al-Qaeda.
And unfortunately for Hirsh’s narrative, the focus on al-Qaeda was already in place and functioning when Obama took office. We immediately learned, upon hearing of bin Laden’s death, that the beginning threads of intelligence came from interrogations in secret CIA prisons 4 years ago. Prisons which no longer exist under Obama, nor would have existed had he been president on 9/11. Where was Mr. Obama 4 years ago?
We also know that during the Bush administration, our intelligence community was put through a major overhaul that has yielded much better, fresher and actionable intelligence – all of which Obama “inherited.” Drone strikes generated by fresh actionable intelligence didn’t start on Mr. Obama’s watch.
Finally, a robust Special Operations Force command was created by, oh my, the “dark knight” – Donald Rumsfeld.
At the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, special operations – Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Delta Force, and Air Force AC-130 gunships – were generally neglected. The previous Clinton administration had not called on them to go after bin Laden or his network.
All that changed under Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld: Green Berets led the initial invasion of Afghanistan. Joint Special Operations Command enlarged and expanded its manhunting skills worldwide. The Marine Corps created its first special forces command.
“We increased the size of special operations forces,” said former Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “We obviously increased their funding for new technical capabilities.”
One key move was to make Special Operations Command a “supported” command, not just one that did the bidding of other commands, but could plan and execute battles.
“Rumsfeld elevated special operations to where they had field command empowerment, which is something they never had before,” Mr. Hunter said. “We increased generally across the board the size and the capability of special operation commands. … We made them more robust than they were.”
Shocking, I know, but then the media cheerleaders have never been particularly concerned with facts and history when they have a narrative to peddle.
It was Bush and Rumsfeld who built the organization that eventually got bin Laden:
President George W. Bush’s war on terrorism translated into robust spending on what are affectionately called “snake eaters.”
Special Operations Command’s budget grew from $2.3 billion in 2001 to nearly $10 billion today. Manpower expanded from 45,500 to 61,500.
“It’s an order of magnitude better,” said Adm. Worthington. “The training these guys are getting, it’s 10 times what we were getting when I went through. They’re getting training right now that makes them the best in the world.”
And it’s first success in getting a high profile al-Qaeda member didn’t come last Sunday. It came in 2006, something I’m sure Mr. Hirsh would find an inconvenient fact:
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Joint Special Operations Command has teamed with aviation units, CIA officers and agents of the eavesdropping National Security Agency to form potent manhunting groups.
This fusion first gained wide public notice in 2006, when the command, then led by Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, hunted down Abu Musab Zarqawi, a particularly deadly al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq.
That is the “gun” Mr. Obama inherited from Mr. Bush. And it had been fired a number of times successfully well before Mr. Obama ever darkened the entrance to the Oval Office.
Oh, and Mr. Hirsh? Even the Obama White House isn’t buying your claptrap theory:
An Obama White House official told reporters that killing bin Laden was the result of years of work.
“This remarkable achievement could not have happened without persistent effort and careful planning over many years,” the official said. “Our national security professionals did a superb job.”
Yes, Mr. Hirsh, Obama got Osama – but he pulled the trigger of the gun built and loaded by the Bush administration, and whether you like it or not, there’s simply no question about that.
Let’s just say I was “underwhelmed”. As a friend ask in an email, “where did the great speech maker go?” I can only contend that this speech was like a task you know you have to do, but really don’t want to do. And the results are usually along the lines of what you saw or heard last night.
The big questions were would he acknowledge success, victory or George Bush?
While he didn’t come right out and acknowledge success with that word, his “turn the page” comment implied success. Victory? No way, no how does that enter into the speech. And his acknowledgement of George Bush explains why:
As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.
How does one who so adamantly opposed a war he ended up in charge of characterize it as anything but a mistake that somehow, in general, turned out well? After all he was a “patriot who opposed it”. And please, let’s turn the page.
No acknowledgment of the fact that the surge worked when all – to include our “patriot who opposed it” said it wouldn’t. And even though he and his staff are now trying to rewrite history, it’s clear he was against the surge and claimed it wouldn’t work.
“I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” – Senator Barrak Obama in response to the PSOTUS. (January 10, 2007 on MSNBC)
Of course, they had precisely the opposite effect. Why this is so difficult to acknowledge even when there’s video of him saying it remains a mystery.
And, of course, even with the acknowledgment of Bush, Obama couldn’t resist a shot as well:
Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
That “trillion dollars” for war is not what has put us in the financial shape we’re in today. And anyone following the news knows that. That canard has been laid to rest. However, if you read the paragraph carefully, you find the usual lefty talking points firmly embedded in the substance of the message. Government is the answer and is the entity which should be making “tough decisions” about everything “from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform”. Of course not acknowledged in the paragraph is its previous decisions about those areas has given us what we have today. A pure mess.
Even in a speech about ending the combat mission in Iraq, Obama seems unable to avoid politicizing it. And, as usual, the blame Bush card – not as blatant as usual – is played.
Acknowledging the role of the military and the sacrifice of the troops, as well as the herculean job they did in filling roles outside their job description, was a good and appreciated part of the speech by all, I’m sure.
The rest – eh. The usual boilerplate, wordy finger-pointing delivered in an uninspired and flat speech. You can always tell when someone doesn’t have their heart in something. My guess is he’s not over his vacation-lag yet.
Perhaps – after that arduous night’s work, it’s time for another one.
UPDATE: And finally, Joe Biden is heard from on the subject:
Vice President Biden said the day after President Obama’s Oval Office address that the debate over who deserves credit for removing troops from Iraq isn’t “worth arguing about.”
And why is that Mr. Biden? Oh, yeah:
“At the end of the last administration, the transition was in place.”
Yes it was – which is another explanation for the lackluster speech marking the end of the combat mission in Iraq.
As I pointed out yesterday, for the first time the latest poll shows more blame Obama for the economy than Bush.
However, as someone pointed out, if they’ve blamed Bush this long, the attempt must have met with a measure of success. And that’s probably true.
But, as mentioned in the post, blaming someone else for current problems is only effective if it is clear that person is directly responsible for the situation today. 18 months after taking office and with more than enough time to enact one’s own economic policies makes that former connection iffy at best. Bottom line – blaming someone else for today’s problems has a shelf life, and in this case it seems it is expiring.
While it may be silly in some respects to blame (or credit) the president in power for the economy, it is the way politics in this country work. So, given that and the length of time Barack Obama has been in office, people are coming to consider this the Obama economy. And, as you might imagine, they’re not pleased.
So blaming Bush now, as the new poll demonstrates, is loosing whatever steam it once had. Common Sense 101 says you abandon that political card in favor of another one then.
But as I’ve pointed out so many times in the past, politicians and common sense seem only to meet by coincidence and not on purpose. Enter Congressional Democrats.
They’ve decided their best strategy for this November is to dust off the “blame Bush” mantra and have another go at running against the former president.
As they brace for a difficult fall election, dispirited Democrats hoping to get back some of that 2008 magic are turning to the president for inspiration.
President Bush, that is.
Grainy images of the former president flashed across the screen in a recent ad by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) is attacking his GOP rival in a Senate race for his "advancement of the Bush agenda."
Even President Obama has begun taking direct shots at his predecessor, something he had been careful to avoid in recent months. "They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas — not one," Obama said during a speeches this week at fundraisers in Atlanta and Chicago.
Such a strategy smacks not only of desperation but of an attempt to divert attention. If, as Democrats like to claim, they’ve “accomplished more” during this presidency and this Congress than any previous Democratic administration, why aren’t they running proudly on their record?
My goodness, they passed health care and financial regulation. They saved the car companies. They “saved or created” 3 million jobs via the trillion dollar “stimulus”. And they’ve got a 1.4 trillion dollar debt heavy budget in the wings waiting to be passed after the election. What’s not to be proud of?
Well, those polls they pay attention too and they know as well as anyone that running on their “accomplishments” is a sure-fire way to defeat.
So they will attempt to nationalize the mid-terms on the back of a former president thinking it will rescue them by repeating history.
"God bless America that he’s back in the conversation," a senior Democratic official on Capitol Hill said. "It’s a blessing from the heavens. If this becomes a referendum on George Bush, we are in a much better spot than anyone could imagine."
You have to chuckle at the inanity of such a statement, the pure stupidity that would allow someone to imagine that given their performance in these past 18 months and the visceral voter reaction to that performance, that trying to play the “blame Bush” card will do anything but worsen their defeat.
But most of us have always at least secretly wondered how those that reside within that fantasy land called “inside the beltway” become so disconnected from reality. Well, here’s a perfect example of exactly that. It must be something in the water.
That’s what Bernard Goldberg is saying. Yeah, this is ancient history now, but it is also one of the first controversies QandO got involved in up to our necks – the “Rathergate” story. The main part of that story was that CBS had allegedly been provided documents that proved that Bush had gotten preferential treatment joining the Air National Guard to avoid Vietnam, he’d gone awol and, in essense he was a “cowardly draft dodger”.
Of course that all came apart when it was proven that the documents were forgeries done with technology only available well after George Bush’s service.
One of the aspects of that story that sort of got lost in the shuffle was that Bush had volunteered to fly in Vietnam. It surfaced briefly and then, with all the other parts of the story taking on a life of their own, especially those linked to the documents, it was lost in the shuffle.
Goldberg finally read the 234 page report that CBS had an outside panel do about the Rather/Mapes story.
Until now, the controversy over the Rather/Mapes story has centered almost entirely on one issue: the legitimacy of the documents – a very important issue, indeed. But it turns out that there was another very important issue, one that goes to the very heart of what the story was about – and one that has gone virtually unnoticed. This is it: Mary Mapes knew before she put the story on the air that George W. Bush, the alleged slacker, had in fact volunteered to go to Vietnam.
Who says? The outside panel CBS brought into to get to the bottom of the so-called “Rathergate” mess says. I recently re-examined the panel’s report after a source, Deep Throat style, told me to “Go to page 130.” When I did, here’s the startling piece of information I found:
Mapes had information prior to the airing of the September 8  Segment that President Bush, while in the TexANG [Texas Air National Guard] did volunteer for service in Vietnam but was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots. For example, a flight instructor who served in the TexANG with Lieutenant Bush advised Mapes in 1999 that Lieutenant Bush “did want to go to Vietnam but others went first.” Similarly, several others advised Mapes in 1999, and again in 2004 before September 8, that Lieutenant Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam but did not have enough flight hours to qualify.
As I recall Bush flew the F-102, one of the more dangerous aircraft to fly. There were a number of squadrons of the aircraft Bush was flying still in service in the VN theater. But at that time they were being phased out. Bush apparently volunteered but because of the aircraft only those with a certain number of flight hour experience were being accepted. Great round up of the aircraft and its history here.
What were the charges?
Expanded executive power. Trampled on rights. Ruled by executive order. Creeping authoritarianism.
Does that about cover most of what the left tried to hang on the Bush presidency? And who was the answer to all those problems?
The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.
Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.
So it was never about principle, was it? It was always about politics.
Hope and change.