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.
The world is officially nuts. I’m not sure how else you classify what follows. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany recently remarked on the death of mass murderer Osama bin Laden saying was “glad” he’d been killed. That prompted the following from a German judge:
But Hamburg judge Heinz Uthmann went even further. He alleges that the chancellor’s statement was nothing short of illegal, and filed a criminal complaint against Merkel midweek, the daily Hamburger Morgenpost reported Friday.
"I am a law-abiding citizen and as a judge, sworn to justice and law," the 54-year-old told the paper, adding that Merkel’s words were "tacky and undignified."
In his two-page document, Uthmann, a judge for 21 years, cites section 140 of the German Criminal Code, which forbids the "rewarding and approving" of crimes. In this case, Merkel endorsed a "homicide," Uthmann claimed. The violation is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine.
"For the daughter of a Christian pastor, the comment is astonishing and at odds with the values of human dignity, charity and the rule of law," Uthmann told the newspaper.
Of course the judge is assuming it’s a “homicide” (certainly no proof exists that’s the case) and thus a criminal act. In fact, the Geneva Conventions will clearly show otherwise. Obviously he files his complaint with nothing more than his opinion as a basis.
So you say, it’s one extremist view, why get excited about it?
While the judge’s reaction may seem extreme, his sentiments are apparently shared by 64 percent of the German population. That was the proportion of Germans who said bin Laden’s death was "no reason to rejoice" in a poll published by broadcaster ARD on Friday.
Germany – never a bastion of human rights or individual freedoms – continues to live up to its past with a new extremist but pacifist twist. This is an example of absurdity masquerading as reason, extremism as normalcy and stupidity as compassion.
Everyone who loves freedom and hates mass murderers should be “glad” Osama bin Laden has been killed. He was a monster, just like one which once ruled the land this puffed up pratt Uthman lives in. As much as Germans claim to have been “disgusted” with the “jubilation” over OBL’s death, nonsense like this does them no favor. The disgust on this side of the Atlantic for a country that assaults free speech and protects the memory of a mass murderer by going after those who express satisfaction at his demise isn’t one that I or most anyone here would ever care to live in.
Like uncovering more nonsense to be found in the promises made for ObamaCare.
Such as, “when everyone has insurance, Emergency Rooms will no longer be overcrowded.”
Hospital emergency rooms, the theory goes, get overcrowded because people without health insurance have no place else to go.
But that’s not the view of the doctors who staff those emergency departments.
The real problem, according to a new survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians, isn’t caused by people who don’t have insurance — it’s caused by people who do, but still can’t find a doctor to treat them.
A full 97 percent of ER doctors who responded to the ACEP survey said they treated patients "daily" who have Medicaid (the federal-state health plan for the low-income), but who can’t find a doctors who will accept their insurance…."The results are significant," said ACEP President Sandra Schneider in prepared comments. "They confirm what we are witnessing in Massachusetts — that visits to emergency rooms are going to increase across the country, despite the advent of health care reform, and that health insurance coverage does not guarantee access to medical care."
Yes, that little 1/50th scale ObamaCare model that’s been functioning – well sort of – in Massachusetts (aka RomneyCare) has proved to be the debacle it was predicted to be.
And the ObamaCare promise hasn’t tested out there at all.
The Massachusetts story Schneider refers to is important because it shows exactly what we can expect under the new health care law. In the wake of the Bay State’s 2006 health care overhaul, which provided the model for ObamaCare, emergency room visits soared. Backers of that overhaul made arguments similar to President Obama’s, saying that they hoped that by expanding insurance coverage, they’d get people set up with primary care physicians and thus reduce the number of emergency room visits. Didn’t happen. Lines to see doctors got longer. And as they did, emergency room visits rose 9 percent between 2004 and 2008, at which point the commissioner of the state’s Health Care Finance and Policy division kind of shrugged his shoulders and admitted that the uninsured aren’t really the cause of emergency room crowding. Too bad, I guess, and too late: Massachusetts passed the law anyway. And now the rest of us are stuck with it too.
Yup. And the cost?
But John Goodman, the head of the National Center for Policy Analysis, did some rough calculations for the health policy journal Health Affairs last year, and he estimated that thanks to the law’s coverage expansion, we can expect somewhere in the range of 848,000 to 901,000 additional emergency room visits each and every year. ObamaCare’s backers are right that, as passed, the law will result in significantly greater health insurance coverage across the country. But all that coverage will come with a hefty price tag attached: about a trillion dollars over the next decade, and more like $1.8 trillion in the first full decade of operation. In return we’ll get longer wait times at the doctor, and even more crowded emergency rooms—but nothing like a guarantee of actual access to care.
Sucks, doesn’t it?
Allahpundit provides a roundup of quotes out of Europe concerning the celebration here of the death of Osama bin Laden. As you might expect, the latent anti-Americanism isn’t so latent anymore and the incident of bin Laden’s death provides the superior Euros a chance to do a little self-serving moral preening. For instance:
“At a press conference at Lambeth Palace, The Daily Telegraph asked [the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan] Williams whether he thought the US had been right to kill bin Laden.
“After declining to respond initially, he later replied: ‘I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling, because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done in those circumstances.’”
Really? It doesn’t? How does one define “justice” then? Certainly Europe doesn’t think “death” is justice regardless of how monstrous the deed is. Kill 3,000 people in NY plus Khobar Towers, two African Embassies and the USS Cole? Oh, and those subway deaths in London? Those deeds obviously don’t justify what just happened.
Nope - we should have caught him, tried him (and given him an international platform to spew his hate) and then locked him up? How’s that anymore justice than what happened? We have a mad dog on tape bragging about being the man responsible for all those deaths. We have intel that says he was going to kill more (attacking trains in the US on the 10th anniversary of 9/11). If ever justice was served anywhere, it was served on the night of May 1st in a compound in Pakistan. And no, I’m not uncomfortable in the least about that. Someone needs to remind the Archbishop that “justice” isn’t a process, it’s a result.
Next come those who would like to ignore the elephant in the room and those celebrations simply won’t let them do it:
“Nicolas Demorand, editor of the left-leaning French daily Libération, on Tuesday bemoaned the ‘toxic rhetoric’ of the campaign against terrorism. From that rhetoric, he wrote, stems ‘this base, uncomfortable joy, unprecedented in a democracy, that blew yesterday over the streets of New York.’
“Even the editor of the centrist weekly L’Express, Christophe Barbier, cautioned, ‘To victory one must not add provocation.’ He added: ‘To desecrate the cadaver or the memory of Bin Laden is to revive him. To cry one’s joy in the streets of our cities is to ape the turbaned barbarians who danced the night of Sept. 11. It is to tell them the ghastly competition continues between them and us.’”
Someone get a clue bat for Barbier will you? The “ghastly competition” does continue. Because they initiated it and haven’t said “uncle” yet. And it will continue until the murderous organization that has killed thousands over the years – primarily Muslims, btw – is destroyed, root and branch. Sniffing at the celebrations and calling them an “aping” of the barbarians is to use an equivalence that indicates moral cowardice that would welcome submission before resistance.
Finally, perhaps the most ironic condemnation comes from the country that was on the wrong side of two world wars, one of which required the civilized world rid itself of a monster that country put into power:
“The fashionable critique of Obama and the U.S. achieved its purest form on ARD Television, Germany’s equivalent of the BBC, where commentator Jörg Schoenenborn pompously observed that nothing good could come from Obama’s Bush-like breach of international law. ‘Al Qaeda will seek revenge,’ he asserts, ‘so, is the world any safer? No.’ Yet Americans dance in the streets, which Scheonenborn attributed to something essential, and essentially primitive, in the American character. The USA is, after all, ‘quite a foreign land to me. What kind of country celebrates an execution in such a way?’
I’ll take “primitive” over “barbaric”, “anti-Semitic”, and “murderous” any day. And no, Germany, you haven’t lived down your reputation yet. Not enough to take this sort of a position.
Of course AQ will seek revenge. But as mentioned above, they planned to attack anyway. So should we just sit back and let it happen? Would a few thousand more deaths have soothed your conscience enough to have you condone aggressive and justified action against the murderer? Or would it still have been considered a “primitive” action driven by blood lust? Instead, obviously, we should just roll over and allow these murderers to have their way. Apparently, that’s the European way.
There’s even more irony in this reaction though:
“[N]ow many of Obama’s erstwhile Euro-fans are feeling a twinge of buyer’s remorse. By ordering a covert raid on Pakistan that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of Navy SEALs, Obama has earned the kind of condemnation [from] Europe’s cognoscenti once reserved for his predecessor, George W. Bush…
I’m waiting for the first mention of “cowboy” to come floating across the Atlantic. It does make the point though that as long as you’re submissive and not aggressive in pursuing the best interests of the US, Euro’s will sort of, kind of pretend to like you. And we’ve all seen what that will buy. I wonder when the first calls for Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize to be withdrawn will begin?
I think Jonathan Tobin at Commentary best summarizes the reasons for Europe’s false and snobby self-righteousness:
It’s true that European snobbery is silly. But the factors underlying the Euro unwillingness to treat the battle with Islamist terrorism as a fight to the death are anything but a laughing matter. As Erlanger notes, the Europeans are genuinely afraid of the Islamic world, something that may have a great deal to do with the growing and increasingly assertive Muslim populations in Western European countries.
But the disdain for American joy about bin Laden’s death goes deeper than mere snobbery or concerns about local Muslims. It’s not just that Western European intellectuals don’t like the United States—they never have—but their unwillingness to countenance aggressive Western self-defense against Islamist terror is a function of their loss of belief in Western civilization itself. Many on the continent seem to have lost any sense that their countries and way of life as well as their faith is something worth defending. When it comes down to it that, and not the faux sophistication of Euro elites, is the difference between America and Europe these days.
For all of our problems and divisions, most Americans still believe in their country. All too many of our friends across the pond have lost faith in theirs. And that crisis in confidence, not good taste, is why Americans and not Europeans are celebrating the death of bin Laden.
It is a form of capitulation. If they can successfully continue to delude themselves into inaction by condemning our methods while draping themselves in false moral outrage, they can safely ignore the threat, even as it continues to build and subvert their own cultures. They don’t want to fight. They’ve already given up. All they want now is a way to justify their craven surrender. And that damn America keeps doing things that make that more and more difficult to do.
One of the most enduring themes of the Viet Nam era was that of the badly damaged Vietnam vet who came home and created mayhem – all because of his experiences and training. It was a myth that died hard only because the war was so unpopular and so many people wanted to believe it.
BG Burkett in his book Stolen Valor, completely takes all the underlying premises that supported that myth apart with facts and statistics. I don’t have time to relate them all but I cannot recommend that book highly enough.
The case against American soldiers accused of murdering Afghan civilians turns on the idea of a rogue unit. But what if the killings are a symptom of a deeper problem?
Instead of telling the story of the now infamous “kill squad” from the 5th Stryker Brigade out of Ft. Lewis WA, and the reasons for their actions and activities, Mogelson does what many hacks do and tries to conflate what happened in a single platoon out in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan with a problem that infects the entire military.
Granted – no, stipulated – war is hell, it changes people, it is something which anyone who has ever experienced it up close and personal would never wish on another person. And yes, there are stresses that come from multiple deployments, leaving your family behind and watching men you think more of than anyone in the world die in action. But those stresses aren’t unique to these wars. Yes, multiple deployments are fairly unique. But then the alternative is the duration – which my parents did in WWII – 4 years of war, from beginning to end.
But that’s not the point of the article. Mogelson does a credible job of telling the “kill squad” story. It’s a horrible story in which a deviant but charismatic junior leader, in an isolated outpost, talks some impressionable squad members into doing the unthinkable all while the weak leadership in charge of the platoon failed in their roles.
Had he left it here, I could actually find myself saying nice things about it. It is a story that must be told.
But he didn’t leave it there. He started to veer in that old and predictable lane in which the military is indicted for making robot killers out of their charges and becoming so good at it that things like this happen.
In fact, just the treatment of the title outlines his attempt. And interestingly, later on in the article, he uses the full quote from Gen. George C Marshall from which the line comes:
“Once an army is involved in war, there is a beast in every fighting man which begins tugging at its chains. And a good officer must learn early on how to keep the beast under control, both in his men and himself.”
Mogelson deals with the first part, but he makes absolutely no effort at all to understand the second part and how critical it is to the institution he attacks. That is, “good officer[s]” and NCOs do keep control of it and they comprise the vast majority of the leadership in our military. That’s why the military spends so much time and effort training them to do so.
Mogelson is reduced to using the Philippine insurrection and My Lai, two isolated examples decades apart as some sort of proof of his premise. They are, instead, outliers. As was Abu Ghraib. There are always going to be bad people found in good institutions. We see bad cops – but we don’t think all policemen are bad nor do we pretend that law enforcement as a whole deserves blanket condemnation. We realize that with any organization of size which deals in a deadly business that there may be some bad people who we will have to weed out at some point or another.
However, Mogelson, via sociologist Stjepan Mestrovic, rejects that premise:
If we lack a sense of collective responsibility for these more recent war crimes, Mestrovic blames this on our readiness to believe that such occasional iniquities are aberrations perpetrated by a derelict few, rather than the inevitable result of institutional failures and, more generally, the nature of the conflicts in which we are engaged.
Institutional failures? A military that fights the cleanest wars imaginable, does everything in its power to avoid collateral damage, demands that its leadership monitor and control that so-called “beast” by being totally involved and leading from the front. A military that has fought like no other military has ever fought in history is an institutional failure?
Yeah, it was 40 years ago too according to these experts. Except it wasn’t.
Welcome to my world of those long gone days of the Viet Nam era when exactly this sort of nonsense was written about Viet Nam and it’s vets. And, if you read the comments to this story, you’ll find “mission accomplished” is appropriate:
These men and women return to abuse and often kill innocent people stateside. Their minds are permanently mangled.
The United States military is not protecting us but putting every US citizen in grave danger from the killing robots they have created..
END the military. We will all be safer.
In sum, the military’s purpose in training young men and women is to twist, destroy, and pervert basic human decency, empathy and consideration of other human beings– everything that most likely his or her family has also strived to cultivate in him or her– in order to serve the aims of empire.
Thus, the military is essentially an evil institution.
The old meme is resurfacing and gaining some traction. As I said way back then, “never again”.
The military is both an honorable profession and a extraordinarily necessary one. Its members are not “victims” of some evil institution. They’re not robots. They’re not “killing machines” who come home to “abuse and often kill innocent people stateside”. The purpose of our military isn’t now nor has it ever been to “pervert basic human decency”. It’s to do a necessary and often distasteful and dangerous job for the BENEFIT of those back home – for their safety and freedom.
Ironically the NYT publishes this garbage just after some hard men heroically risked their lives in a daring raid to kill a mass-murdering terrorist who struck the very city they print this in.
This is the thanks they get.
Short version? Two words: Eric Holder. Or one word if you prefer: circus.
Here’s Sen. Jeff Sessions questioning Holder yesterday trying to get a little clarity on a particular subject, i.e. if there is a presumption that terrorists would be tried in civilian courts:
“My question to you fundamentally is every law enforcement officer involved out there, every military person involved out there needs to know what the policy is,” Sessions said. “So, is the policy that they [captured terrorists] would presumptively be tried in civilian court?”
Holder, citing the president himself, said there is a presumption of that captured terrorists would be tried in civilian courts.
“As I said, the archived speech that the president made was that there is a presumption,” Holder said. “It is not an irrebutable presumption that cases go to the civilian court with regard to the Miranda issue, but I think we have demonstrated hundreds of times, hundreds of times, that we can get actionable intelligence, while at the same time prosecuting people in jail for really extended periods of time.”
Of course Holder leaves himself some wiggle room, but it is clear he holds civilian courts to be superior to military tribunals. That, for some misbegotten reason, he believes justice can be best served in a civilian court regardless of any external concerns. And finally, people who’ve committed an act of war against the United States deserve all the rights reserved for citizens of the United States, even if the act occurred out of the US and they’re not citizens (obviously I withdraw the point if they are US citizens committing acts of terror in the US – the point is our Constitution guarantees their rights – not any rights of foreign nationals committing acts of terror/war).
It makes absolutely no sense to me. It demonstrates a bias that is both arrogant and dangerous. It also has little to do with “justice”. So, given that Holder is our AG and someone I have absolutely no confidence in legally or otherwise, I certainly am glad, frankly, that a couple of rounds found their way into the cranium of OBL. Imagine the three-ring-circus Holder and crew would have tried to put on had we captured him alive.
BTW, anyone know what “irrebutable” means?
If you’re a political junkie, then you’ll be interested in this new voter typology that the Pew Research Center has put together describing how the voting population is now configured:
The description of each of these is as follows:
The most visible shift in the political landscape since Pew Research’s previous political typology in early 2005 is the emergence of a single bloc of across-the-board conservatives. The long-standing divide between economic, pro-business conservatives and social conservatives has blurred. Today, Staunch Conservatives take extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues – on the size and role of government, on economics, foreign policy, social issues and moral concerns. Most agree with the Tea Party and even more very strongly disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance. A second core group of Republicans – Main Street Republicans – also is conservative, but less consistently so.
On the left, Solid Liberals express diametrically opposing views from the Staunch Conservatives on virtually every issue. While Solid Liberals are predominantly white, minorities make up greater shares of New Coalition Democrats – who include nearly equal numbers 0f whites, African Americans and Hispanics – and Hard-Pressed Democrats, who are about a third African American. Unlike Solid Liberals, both of these last two groups are highly religious and socially conservative. New Coalition Democrats are distinguished by their upbeat attitudes in the face of economic struggles.
Independents have played a determinative role in the last three national elections. But the three groups in the center of the political typology have very little in common, aside from their avoidance of partisan labels. Libertarians and Post-Moderns are largely white, well-educated and affluent. They also share a relatively secular outlook on some social issues, including homosexuality and abortion. But Republican-oriented Libertarians are far more critical of government, less supportive of environmental regulations, and more supportive of business than are Post-Moderns, most of whom lean Democratic.
Disaffecteds, the other main group of independents, are financially stressed and cynical about politics. Most lean to the Republican Party, though they differ from the core Republican groups in their support for increased government aid to the poor. Another group in the center, Bystanders, largely consign themselves to the political sidelines and for the most part are not included in this analysis.
On reflection, I think it is a pretty fair description of the electorate as it stands today. Pew’s article contains links to previous typologies it has published, this being their latest. The obvious point, after reviewing this, is that politicians of today must somehow satisfy their core constituencies but be able to reach out to the “independents” in a meaningful way in order to garner their votes. And, if you read the descriptions of each, there are plenty of clues as to how to do that. But there are also some possible show stoppers.
I don’t really have a particular problem with the breakdown of voting groups but – and this is just a sense – I’m not particularly convinced by their numbers. For example, I have difficulty believing that “Solid Liberals” outnumber “Staunch Conservatives”. That’s just not been the trend, and in my opinion, it is even less likely given the condition of our economy and our government’s finances.
Some key findings of the study:
More than in the recent past, attitudes about government separate Democrats from Republicans, and it is these beliefs that are most correlated with political preferences looking ahead to 2012.
Couple that with:
The GOP still enjoys an intensity advantage, which proved to be a crucial factor in the Republicans’ victories in the 2010 midterm elections.
Obviously that’s a perishable commodity that can be lost at any time.
Now add the independents and their attitudes:
Looking through that list, you can see that the “Libertarian” group has a natural affinity for the right as do most “Disaffected”. Even the “Post Moderns” group up in the majority “Moderate” area and not the liberal area. But look at what one could consider “wedge” issues and how they line up. It is all over the place and many of the answers are diametrically opposed to their supposed natural alliances. Probably the most disturbing to me is the “Business corporations make too much profit.”
Anyway, that’s a pretty heavy mine field politically speaking. But you’re also looking at (if you accept Pew’s numbers) 34% of the voting population – the obvious difference in any election.
By the way, click on over to the study and look at the comparison between the GOP and Democratic groups and how they answer the “Business corporations make too much profit”. What you’ll see on that particular issue are opportunities for the GOP among New Coalition Dems and for the Democrats among “Main St. Republicans”. On the latter, I’m not sure how “main street” of a Republican you are if you think that to be true about business corporations, but there it is.
Finally, some other findings to chew on. They illustrate the complexity of the electorate and the difficulty in attempting to address various issues:
- Majorities in most typology groups say the country will need both to cut spending and raise taxes to reduce the budget deficit. Staunch Conservatives are the exception – 59% say the focus should only be on cutting spending.
- Core GOP groups largely prefer elected officials who stick to their positions rather than those who compromise. Solid Liberals overwhelmingly prefer officials who compromise, but the other two Democratic groups do not.
- For Staunch Conservatives it is still “Drill, Baby, Drill” – 72% say that expanding exploration for and production of oil, coal and natural gas is the more important energy priority. In most other typology groups, majorities say developing alternatives is more important.
- Republican groups say the Supreme Court should base rulings on its interpretation of the Constitution “as originally written.” Democratic groups say the Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution means today.
- Main Street Republicans and GOP-oriented Disaffecteds are far more likely than Staunch Conservatives or Libertarians to favor a significant government role in reducing childhood obesity.
- Solid Liberals are the only typology group in which a majority (54%) views democracy as more important than stability in the Middle East. Other groups say stable governments are more important or are divided on this question.
- New Coalition Democrats are more likely than the other core Democratic groups to say that most people can make it if they are willing to work hard.
- More Staunch Conservatives regularly watch Fox News than regularly watch CNN, MSNBC and the nightly network news broadcasts combined.
- There are few points on which all the typology groups can agree, but cynicism about politicians is one. Majorities across all eight groups, as well as Bystanders, say elected officials lose touch with the people pretty quickly.
- Staunch Conservatives overwhelmingly want to get tougher with China on economic issues. Across other typology groups, there is far more support for building stronger economic relations with China.
- The allied airstrikes in Libya divide Democratic groups. Solid Liberals and New Coalition Democrats favor the airstrikes, but about as many Hard-Pressed Democrats favor as oppose the operation.
- Michelle Obama is popular with Main Street Republicans, as well as most other typology groups. But Staunch Conservatives view the first lady unfavorably – and 43% view her very unfavorably.
With all of that, though, here is the key to the next election:
The new typology finds a deep and continuing divide between the two parties, as well as differences within both partisan coalitions. But the nature of the partisan divide has changed substantially over time.
More than in the recent past, attitudes about government separate Democrats from Republicans, and it is these beliefs that are most correlated with political preferences looking ahead to 2012. [emphasis mine]
Those are the attitudes that the politicos are going to have to develop, sell and exploit in 2012. However wins will have done the best job of either selling big government or smaller government and all that goes with each. Or you’re going to see an attempt to co-opt “small government” by the left by attempting to do things like drastically reducing military spending and raising taxes on the rich and business while hardly touching entitlements and calling the result “small government” as “demanded” by the electorate.
It is going to be a very interesting political season. As interesting as it will be to see who ends up representing GOP hopes in the presidential election, it will be even more interesting – at least to me – to see how Obama plans to run on his record this time. Because he finally has too.
Yup, we’re right in the middle of the old Chinese saying “may you live in interesting times”. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure the saying necessarily meant those interesting times were good times.
I honestly don’t get this. Why in the world does Obama think that showing a photo of a dead OBL is akin to "spiking the football" and will only do harm, no good?
The apparent thinking is that showing such a picture will inflame the jihadists and have them seeking revenge? Like flying into Pakistan, assaulting Osama’s house, killing him, his son and sundry others and dumping OBL in the ocean won’t?
Reuters, by the way, has released 9 photos of the aftermath of the raid, including shots of 3 bodies. If you’re averse to blood and gore skip the last 3 photos. One assumes these photos won’t inflame anyone … I guess.
Oh, and to make the argument that we wouldn’t like it if pictures of an American soldier killed by the crazies was published is just silly. We’ve seen that since Somalia for heaven sake. It is irrelevant. The point, of course, is without proof the myth of OBL lives, and one would think that the entire point of going in and killing this larger than life (for the jihadist community) figure was to kill that myth.
Now, suddenly, we’re all about what is or isn’t appropriate. I mean, we’re going to have a Senate hearing about why the code name “Geronimo” was used for heaven sake!
Just when I thought we were getting our feet back under us, the political wusses reemerge.
Sure didn’t take long, did it?
UPDATE: More wussification – this time in Germany.
Seriously – this is just patent nonsense, offensive and a meme which needs to quickly die:
Try applying a different scenario (at the risk of violating Godwin’s law) - Those on the left are celebrating the death of 6 million Jews. Those on the right are celebrating the death of their murderer. If you can find those to be morally equivalent acts, then you’ll agree with the cartoon above.
Perhaps it is becoming clearer to even those in deep denial that that the Muslim Brotherhood is "moderate" only if the term is redefined into meaninglessness. The death of Osama bin Laden provides another indication of the MB’s true character:
But in its first public statement on the killing of bin Laden, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood used the honorific term "sheikh" to refer to the al-Qaeda leader. It also accused Western governments of linking Islam and terrorism, and defended "resistance" against the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as "legitimate."
The Muslim Brotherhood’s response to bin Laden’s death may finally end the mythology — espoused frequently in the U.S. — that the organization is moderate or, at the very least, could moderate once in power. This is, after all, precisely how Muslim Brothers describe their creed — "moderate," as opposed to al-Qaeda, which is radical. "Moderate Islam means not using violence, denouncing terrorism, and not working with jihadists," said Muslim Brotherhood youth activist Khaled Hamza, for whom the organization’s embrace of "moderate Islam" was the primary reason he joined.
Yet the Muslim Brotherhood’s promise that its "moderation" means rejecting violence includes a gaping exception: the organization endorses violence against military occupations, which its leaders have told me include Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Palestine — in other words, nearly every major conflict on the Eurasian continent.
It should end the mythology, but it won’t. There are those on the left to invested in the belief that they are a moderate force that they won’t back down even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. This is your “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood’s reaction to the death of bin Laden:
"The whole world, and especially the Muslims, have lived with a fierce media campaign to brand Islam as terrorism and describe the Muslims as violent by blaming the September 11th incident on al-Qaeda." It then notes that "Sheikh Osama bin Laden" was assassinated alongside "a woman and one of his sons and with a number of his companions," going on to issue a rejection of violence and assassinations. It goes on to ominously declare that the Muslim Brotherhood supports "legitimate resistance against foreign occupation for any country, which is the legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws and international agreements," and demands that the U.S., the European Union, and NATO quickly "end the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people." It closes by demanding that the U.S. "stop its intelligence operations against those who differ with it, and cease its interference in the internal affairs of any Arab or Muslim country."
As Eric Trager says, the statement issued by the MB is “vintage bin Laden”:
[I]t’s Muslim lands, not America, that are under attack; it’s Muslims, not American civilians, who are the ultimate victims; and, despite two American presidents’ genuine, effusive promises to the contrary, Islam is the target. It’s an important indicator that despite its increased responsibility in post-Mubarak Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood may well remain deeply hostile toward even the one of the most basic and defensible of American interests in the Middle East — that of securing Americans from terrorism.
In Egypt, at least, this is the result of the “Arab Spring”. As predicted, the best organized and most ruthless are winning out. And the result will not advance the peace process in the region. On the contrary, “moderate” has come to be defined by bin Laden, not by any recognizable dictionary. The Muslim Brotherhood has fooled a lot of so-called “scholars” into believing them to be a benign force for good and interested in democratic reform. Instead, they’ll most likely find out that they’re anything but benign and they are only interested in democracy if it advances their agenda. And that agenda is anything but moderate.