Obama's brand dithers

"We have the best brand on Earth: the Obama brand. Our possibilities are endless."Desirée Rogers, April, 2009

I'm wondering whats to become of the Obama brand now that he's a War President with his own war. I recall a post I wrote back in May of 2007, laying out the prediction that Obama would reverse himself, and find a way to oppose the supplemental war vote, while moving to his left on the issue:


I would bet that, in the end, both of them vote [Obama & Clinton] against it. Neither of them can afford to let John Edwards (or Chris Dodd for that matter) be the candidates that would end the war now. But especially Obama, as that's a big part of his brand, his credibility and his campaign.
Of course, Obama did find a way to make that move.

It may be that the Obama brand I'm talking about was just for candidate Obama purposes, and the real Obama -- the pragmatic whom is most symbiotic with a pol like Evan Bayh -- is now clear to everyone, but this anti-war brand I speak of was surely real to millions of people, and entirely attributable to the portrayal of Obama's own emphasis of priority:



Now, I know there's a whole 'got Obama's back' meme thats going on now which says that people like Tom Hayden and Micheal Moore are intent on ignoring that Obama campaigned on escalating the war in Afghanistan. Aside from the fact that this is Obama's 3rd escalation of troops in Afghanistan, and the likes of Moore & Hayden held back on criticism the first two times, it really strikes me as a dishonest and cynical defense, given that Obama laid the context of such a escalation meaning about 8,000 more troops at one time, and he's instead escalated for the third time now, for a total of over 70,000 troops.

I don't believe that the voices of Hayden and Moore are fringe leftist elements that can be written off as Obama not needing to be of his base. The people who are arguing alongside Obama in favor of a third escalation of troops, the neocon Palin & York types, are never going to support Obama. It may be, that he had a Hobson choice, and though I think of it more as a false dilemma created by Obama himself, regardless of how he got to being a War President, it seems obvious that the Obama brand lost something in going there.

Again, I'll grant 'the backers' with the realist nuance of Obama having verbalized, at times, that what he had in mind was a here-for-there continuance of enduring war; that of deescalating in Iraq while he escalated in Afghanistan. I just don't believe that this can be argued very persuasively to the supporters of Obama who feel betrayed given candidate Obama's brand, nor does it seem a very honest argument given that Obama has escalated at a rate faster in Afghanistan than the rate of deescalation in Iraq.

In fact, for the time being, Obama has quite remarkably increased the total deployment of troops to the ME beyond the highest Bush level. OK, if he's lost the anti-war brand that he held with Democratic voters, so what?

Well, a brand is meant to serve the purpose of feeling good; the person or voter that allies with the product or candidate does so because it makes them feel hopeful-- mostly about the common and individual future in the political realm. If you lose that feeling, its the brand that's lost, not the consumer/voter.

This is why Obama was so intent upon delivering the escalation with a timetable of when the escalation in Afghanistan would turn to a deescalation, and we arrived at July, 2011 as the "take it to the bank" line in the same moment of hopefulness grasp hold of for those who can thus find a way to rationalize support. But it's pretty obvious where we wind up in the fall of 2011 too; that Obama will need to move down just a few thousand soldiers from the height of 98,000 troops in Afghanistan to deliver on that promise, but with an end-date of no longer being an occupying force still many years beyond. And if you don't get how Obama is doing what he said he'd do by then, how dense can you still be?

I should make it clear that the part of Obama's brand I'm focusing on above is really his '01 anti-Iraq speech and '07 overcoming Clinton brand-- that of the "I'm not George Bush" and "I will end this war" brand. I've got another post coming up on the '08 primary, focusing on Iowa, where Obama's coalition for winning was really an unfathomable task that was remarkably done. And since I'm looking at where Obama's brand goes from here, it seems that if he's going to stop his slide downward in popularity and support, one potential is to someplace like what he did in Iowa; with finding something no one else could find; with being a coalition force in DC for governing that no one thought possible previously. It doesn't seem like a real possibility currently, and instead that Obama is more likely to be continually dithered on by the opposition, with a base that's not really finding a way to happily follow his lead.

Tags: Obama brand (all tags)

Comments

99 Comments

Re: Obama's brand dithers

I wonder if there's any room in this analysis for a component of simply trying to make the right policy decision.  I mean, by all accounts a truly amazing deliberative process was employed here.  As a candidate, Obama told us he felt we had national interests in Afghanistan that were worth pursuing further, but once you're in the White House that's where the rubber meets the road.  You finally get access to all the people and all the information you need to make a decision about what's best for the country, and hopefully you make a good decision.

So you start off with an understanding of the  national interests we hope to further in Afghanistan.  You bring in the generals and the military planners and they tell you, here's what we think we can get done on the ground.  You bring in the foreign policy experts and the diplomats from the State Department and they tell you, here are the angles, here are the alternatives, here are the risks and the downsides of your various options.  Maybe I'm idealizing this process, but by all accounts people who experienced the dysfunctional decision-making process in the last administration ("What does Dick want to do?") are in awe of the way this White House listened to all options, gave all the voices a chance to be heard, in what they view as a 100% good-faith effort to reach the right decision.  Look at Mike Mullen's comments the other day for an example.

Now maybe Michael Moore wasn't invited to the strategy sessions.  But Karl Eikenberry, our ambassador to Afghanistan, is a hardcore skeptic and he most certainly was a central part of the process.  So this is not another case of an administration that chooses to listen only to the data which supports its preconceived intention.  All the evidence points to the idea that they sincerely tried to get it right.

Now of course, you can try your darndest to get something right and still get it wrong.  I am not a cheerleader for this escalation, in fact I remain quite skeptical.  It's just that because of the complexity of the decision (with all due respect to those who feel the most obvious thing ever is OUT NOW) and the depth of the process that was followed, I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to this administration for now since I'm pretty sure I don't have all the answers myself.

But why is there this unwillingness to accept that maybe, just maybe, there was a good-faith effort to make a good policy decision in support of genuine American interests?  Why does anyone insist on trying to write this off as the product of some knee-jerk hawkish ideology or a blatantly political effort to split the difference between various factions?  I find the world is a cold, cold place when you go through life assuming that everyone who disagrees with you is acting in bad faith.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 05:47AM | 0 recs
What are you smoking?

This decision was made for 2 reasons:

1)  Obama wants a parade for winning a war.

2)  Obama gets off on those flag-draped coffins.

by Concern Troll 2009-12-03 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: What are you smoking?

This gimmick account doesn't seem to be getting the best reception.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

My question is from what behavioral patterns of this White House do you draw your conclusion? Anything is possible, but what is more likely based on what we know about their decision making process from past policy decisions?

by bruh3 2009-12-03 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

We know enough about the process by which this specific decision was made that I don't think I have to infer anything.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

You are not being asked to infer anything on the political front either.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Sure I am.  When we talk about motivations we are necessarily speculating.  This is not something transparently political like a flag-burning amendment, it's a ongoing situation the administration was forced to address one way or the other.

Maybe the only thing that mattered in the final analysis was David Axelrod saying, "Here's what your numbers look like for 2012 if you send more troops," but there was an awful lot of window dressing around the process if that's what really happened.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

The idea that we can not know to a high degree of certainty that the president makes policy decisions based on political decision making is false.  By political, I mean the politics of DC rather than the greater electorate.  I can not think of one policy decision he has made this year that is not shaped by the politics of DC. The real question that Jerome's article raises here, at least to me, is whether the political calculus he makes based on DC is hurting his branding outside of DC.

My argument does not mean that he is not considering policy. It is to say that politics interfering with effective policy making is not a speculative element of how this president thinks.

There are too many examples like stimulus and health care where it is clear that the politics of DC was  prioritized over the effectiveness of a particular policy.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I have not seen on other issues - certainly not health care - the same kind of relentless interest in getting the policy right.  In fact you get the sense that the majority of White House insiders simply do not care about the details of health care policy, and certainly I developed the same opinion of Obama himself during the primary campaign.

My argument is that the White House worked very very hard by all appearances to figure out the right policy solution in Afghanistan, in a way I have not seen them do on most other issues.  Your response is that it's simply not possible their primary concern was policy, because there are other issues where their primary concern hasn't been policy.  I don't really follow the logic.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

You do not see the logic of assuming that political animals are political animals? IMO, you are parsing too much here. Good or bad- I am who I am. I believe the same wholes true for President Obama. I find it hard to believe a major component of his thinking was not shaped by the politics of DC. That seems against his way of thinking. Now, maybe you are right, but I also think I am right that there is some very compelling evidence for how he thinks- which is the logical element of my statement rather than the specific policy in question or outward appearances. We did not know about what went into the stimulus for example until I believe a month or so ago although the decision making happened in Dec 2008.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

My view is that you don't have to be a political animal on all things or a policy wonk on all things.  For example, Bush's dad had a keen interest in foreign policy, but he just didn't seem to care one way or the other about domestic policy, it was just like "whatever, tell me where to sign."  I think it's overly glib to assume politicians don't care about policy on any issue at all.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

 We are disagreeing over degree. I am not saying that President Obama does not care about policy. I am saying that his political calculation trumps his policy considerations. I do not buy that this is particular to an issue with him because we have seen no indication of this sort of passion for policy above politics.  In other ares, such as FISA or the torture photos, he has flipped when it suited him and the politics.  I am trying to think of one issue in which I can say he would not bend to fit the politics of DC. Maybe you know of some outside of using what you believe to be his  heart felt views on policy for Afghanistan. If so, I would love to hear them. I want to be fair here.  So, if there are some good examples, I would be happy to say I am wrong.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

In a different thread someone suggested the KSM trials as an example.  I'll go with that one.

I am not saying Obama's position on Afghanistan is "heartfelt."  If it were heartfelt, he wouldn't have needed to spend so much time on it.  I'm saying it's the outcome of a serious, lengthy policy debate within the administration.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

KSM trials?

I have no idea how you know how serious they were in the White House other than that they told you they were. I do know that on other instances they claimed to be "serious" but were not. I simply again do not know how you are refuting this point given your arguments.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Right, the Beltway move certainly wasn't to announce civilian trials for KSM and friends.  So I think that's a suitable example.

How do I know they were serious?  Well, I referred to Admiral Mullen's recent statement as one piece of evidence.  Here's what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs had to say the other day:

   "I have seen my share of internal debates about various national security issues -- especially over the course of these last two years. And I can honestly say that I do not recall an issue so thoroughly or so thoughtfully considered as this one.

   "Every military leader in the chain of command, as well as those of the Joint Chiefs, was given voice throughout this process ... and every one of us used it.

   "We now have before us a strategy more appropriately matched to the situation on the ground in Afghanistan ...  and resources matched more appropriately to that strategy -- particularly with regard to reversing the insurgency's momentum in 2010.

   "And given the stakes in Afghanistan for our own national security - as well as that of our partners around the world - I believe the time we took was well worth it."

I don't want to bother conjuring up a linkfest, but there has been one story after another in the media about the deliberative process, the consultations, the strategy discussions going over every angle.  Maybe some of this was just propaganda but collectively I think it's hard to deny that they reflect the reality of what went on.

And I find it hard to believe that each and every one of the top military decisionmakers - Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus, General McChrystal - have any interest in carrying water for the administration by saying how awesome the deliberative process was.  They're going a lot further than just saying "yes, I agree completely with the boss's decision."  I think we know a lot about the deliberative process that occurred here, and it goes well beyond attempting to mindread the President or anyone else regarding their degree of seriousness.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I agree with you that there seems to be a lack of interest in "what if escalation IS the right policy decision?".  

Many people, not just here mind you, just cannot accept that there may be a good use for a more aggressive stance.  Period.  Not agressive to be belligerent, but to stand up where it needs to be done to actually make the entire world a better place.

It seems that there is more political calculation in being pro- or anti- war than there is in actually producing positive results with the said use, or lack of, force.  I have been guilty of this, so I am no innocent, but I can say that I got over myself and prefer my current viewpoint.

by Hammer1001 2009-12-03 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

This is false. Many people such as myself do believe there are legitimate reasons for forces even if I do not personally like force. BUT, you have to present those to me. Tell me how the political state objective in Afghanistan? As someone else explained it to me- explain to me whether the present corrupted government will still be in control. If so, what has changed?

by bruh3 2009-12-03 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I am not singleing you out Bruh, more the overall attitude.

Second, I do not think I would advise giving out the information you want.  If I was going to "encourage" a less corrupt govt without blatently removing the current one, I would certainly nto give them advanced warning so they can entrench themselves even more.  I honestly think that they want to tackle the corruption problem by going outside the walls of Kabul, but Kabul will be threatened by this and would probably work to actively disrupt this.  Better to cultivate a better working process and remove the corruption that exists in Kabul AND work on resources outside Kabul.  I think this is where it is headed, as all sources I am hearing from in the "middle management levels" says this is where policy seems to be going, to basically not rely on any one group and to build up as many "voices" as possible as a counter to the lone voice in power.  

And that the previous admin's policy was to simply put in a reliable leader, buy off the locals as needed, and coast.  Corruption is what killed that policy and what we have to clean up before we can move in another direction.

Speculation?...sure, so we will have to see what the next year or so holds.

by Hammer1001 2009-12-03 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I do agree that if the policy works out, and if that is what they are up to then no harm no foul. The real question is whether that's what they are up to. I also agree that this is not something you would necessarily telegraph, but so far this White House has not filled me with confidence so that's perhaps why I am so concerned. Well, that and the money. The amount of money going into these wars is offensive regardless of whether this policy right now to get out makes sense.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Yeah, the money issue bothers me a lot too.  I heard yesterday that roughly 20-25% of the budget for a project actually gets used on that project...the other 75-80% is used...elsewhere.  It was noted that non-military security costs were on the order of 10%, but there was no explanation as to where the other 65-70% was going.

My guess is either that heads will soon roll, or, more likely, that there is stuff going on way behind the scenes that we are not being told about/educated on.  I am not sure that just simple corruption is at work here, thought it is probably a large part (both in Kabul and with corporate contracts)...I think there are payoffs being made for "other" things, but what...?

Maybe, as has been suggested in other quarters, this is a run on securing what is left of the world's oil before "someone" else gets it?  I am not sure.

by Hammer1001 2009-12-03 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I have no idea what's going on with them. Frankly, to be quite honest, one of the reasons I am seriously focused on divorcing myself economically from the American economy is that economies like this do not end well historically. We are making some really , really bad choices.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 11:50AM | 0 recs
I'm still waiting, too...

I wonder if there's any room in this analysis for a component of simply trying to make the right policy decision...
This may sound counterintuitive, but I actually find the complete absence of policy from many of the more notable objections to the President's strategy heartening. It implies that he's making the right choice.

Oh, I believe the passions on the left are real, even after I discount objections from those who never cut the guy any slack. But emotions don't govern countries. Eight years ago we saw what happens when they did.

I don't like the War in Afghanistan any more than the objectors. But the lack of any concrete policy alternative from the left also leaves me wondering if Obama is doing the right thing.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-03 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm still waiting, too...

I dunno, Bush was opposed by a lot of incoherent people too. (Some would say we nominated one to run against him.) There are plenty of thoughtful critiques of the Afghanistan escalation out there, even if not everyone is being thoughtful.

Something I don't like is how discussions tend to echo the sort of "serious person" arguments we used to have back before the invasion of Iraq.  It was like, there were these people who loudly insisted that this was the stupidest war ever and would be a horrible horrible mistake.  And then you had these other people saying "look, this is complicated, obviously you're just not Serious enough to come to terms with the sophisticated arguments for and against."  In hindsight that one really was pretty dumb.

That's not to say that Afghanistan is Iraq, but simply that it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you must be right - or more right than the other guy - simply because you're thinking through things in a Serious way and they're not.  That said, of course I'm glad the President is being Serious.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 12:40PM | 0 recs
There's just a big difference:

Doing nothing was an option for Iraq.

In Afghanistan, nobody has ever been able to clearly articulate positive consequences from doing nothing or coming home altogether.

That's the seriousness I find lacking.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-03 12:54PM | 0 recs
Jerome and I have been telling you for months

that Obama is terrible.  A liar and scam artist of the first degree.  And now you're finally starting to listen to us.

Next time, just agree with us.  Better for everyone.

by Concern Troll 2009-12-03 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome and I have been telling you for months

You have? Then why is this your first post ever?

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-03 06:13AM | 0 recs
Probably against blog policy

But I would be curious if a web trace of that comment reveals anything interesting.

by Ravi Verma 2009-12-03 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome and I have been telling you for months

I suspect the only issue I will ever agree with Jerome about is the Grateful Dead.

Not so much with you, jackass.

by lojasmo 2009-12-03 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome and I have been telling you for months

he he, Howard Dean too.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-03 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome and I have been telling you for months

Okay..two things.  ;)

by lojasmo 2009-12-03 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome and I have been telling you for months

Why do people - both the cheerleaders and the true haters- persist in hyperbole. He is no better or worse than any other president we have had before him with regards to character. My issue with most who comment on him who are his cheerleaders is that he is not better, and I want better, but your post is over the top. You are not treating him like other presidents.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome and I have been telling you for months

I say again, sir.  I DEMAND that you cite the thread where I said I was a cheerleader in high school.

by lojasmo 2009-12-03 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome and I have been telling you for months

ZING! You got me.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 11:52AM | 0 recs
I have been trying to reach you for months

He is no better or worse than any other president we have had before him with regards to character.
Let's stop and think about this statement for a second...

I do give you credit for intellectual honesty, though. If all President's are equally bad, then all supporters are as equally evil.

But I do ask you, for once, to keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole with Obama. You know he has done some good, and as I argue, the potential to do more good over his term.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-03 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I believe most on our side who are against this escalation don't question Obamas motives it's his judgement and decision making .

by eddieb 2009-12-03 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

No doubt that Obama is suffering a bleed of support from the left of the party, but I think these people saw in Obama what they wanted to see in Obama. Votes like his votes on FISA and the Bush-Cheney Energy policy were excused simply because he contends that he would voted NO on the AUMF.

Still, I find it hard for me personally to say that Afghanistan trumps everything else. I know several people who are furious and are declaring that they will never vote for Obama again. Hayden suggested that he would come around if the opposition were a Palin but seem to leave it pregnant what he would do if the candidate were a Romney or Pawlenty. I just that's silly. The return of the GOP serves no one.

But ignoring the desires of a war-weary country is dangerous. Obama has himself quite the pickle.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-03 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Didn't this site recently publish polling showing Obama was most popular among liberal Democrats then other Democrats who considered themselves moderate or conservative? But don't let facts get in the way ...

by Lolis 2009-12-03 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Here's the crux of the problem:

The president's proposal for a troop increase represents one of the thorniest issues yet for these Democrats, and their wide-ranging reactions to President Barack Obama's speech Tuesday bore that out.

Conventional wisdom has it that Democrats risk alienating the liberal base by supporting an increase in troops, but by opposing it they oppose the president and could, in some cases, hurt their general-election prospects.
The candidates seemed acutely aware of this conflict, but they took different approaches to it.
While centrist Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) opposed the increase, his netroots-friendly primary challenger Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said he would support it. And Illinois Senate front-runner Alexi Giannoulias stood behind the proposal, while his primary opponents stood against it.
Specter was the most blunt in his opposition. "It is unrealistic to expect the United States to be out in 18 months, so there is really no exit strategy," he said. "This venture is not worth so many American lives or the billions it will add to our deficit."
The Kentucky Democratic primary was more nuanced. Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo supported the plan late Tuesday night and Attorney General Jack Conway said Wednesday morning he has "reservations."
"I do not feel President Obama has adequately explained how he will get Pakistan involved in the effort to combat al Qaeda," Conway said.
Conway wasn't the only one to reserve judgment. Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) also sounded skeptical, but didn't say no. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) called Obama's speech a step in the right direction but said he still has questions.
Others were clearer. Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher followed primary foe Jennifer Brunner's lead in opposing the increase, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) opposed it as well.
The top two candidates in next week's Massachusetts Senate election, Martha Coakley and Rep. Michael Capuano, also said no.
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) and Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan both said they supported the president and his proposal.
"President Obama's strategic review and subsequent policy decision on Afghanistan puts us on a course for success that we lacked for many years," Meek said.
Fisher said "defeating al Qaeda does not require 30,000 additional troops be sent to Afghanistan."
Fisher is a heavy favorite in his primary with Secretary of State Brunner and has raised far more money, but his position suggests he is still concerned about her. Bennet and Specter also have to watch their left flanks because of primary challenges, and they appeared to be doing so after the speech.
Giannoulias's decision suggests he is confident in his primary prospects; former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Robinson Jackson both said they opposed the increase. Of course, Giannoulias also might just want to say that he stood with his home-state president, whose Senate seat they are all seeking.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-03 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Polling:

"Only 35% of Americans approve of President Obama's handling of Afghanistan.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-r oom/news/70007-gallup-pegs-obamas-approv al-as-lowest-on-afghanistan

President Obama's current approval rating among ideological groups, compared to his 2008 voting percentages among each group:

Liberals: 77% approve, 89% voted for Obama in 2008
Moderates: 59% approve, 60% voted for Obama in 2008
Conservatives: 27% approve, 20% voted for Obama in 2008
Obama is 12 points down among liberals, and 7 points up among conservatives

http://www.gallup.com/poll/121199/obama- weekly-job-approval-demographic-groups.a spx

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results polls#USP00p1

More Democrats approve of President Obama's Afghanistan performance than Republicans, even though more Republicans than Democrats support increasing troops in Afghanistan.

http://www.openleft.com/diary/15981/majo rity-of-americans-and-democrats-oppose-t roop-increases-in-afghanistan "

Courtesey open left, but includes the original links so you will not make this over the source of where I found the data. They are from sources like Gallup. There are additional polls to back up the last paragraph. I can search for more data if you would like to further discuss facts.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

OMG ... Jerome is seriously suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome "the pragmatic whom is most symbiotic with a pol like Evan Bayh"

Let's compare Evan Bayh's reaction to the policy proposals of Barack Obama. Bayh went along with the stimulus (after he watered it down) but voted against the budget, which many people said was the most progressive budget passed in decades. Bayh has made negative remarks about health care and is not very supportive of a public plan. I think it is likely Bayh will vote against health care, though he hasn't been threatening to filibuster.

You really want to say that Obama is like Bayh? Obama is as liberal of a president as we were going to get. Jerome is delusional.

by Lolis 2009-12-03 07:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I was actually paraphrasing what his campaign manager said in his book, for why Obama had Bayh as his second choice for VP.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-03 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

You have a point, but with a little more context it falls apart.

Obama asked for a watered down stimulus to please some Republican Senators. Bayh's vote against Obama's budget was symbolic, the leadership had the votes it needed and let Bayh make a statement against deficits. Obama has consistently signaled that he is willing to trade away the public option, and Obama's representative on Health Care in the Senate, Max Baucus, is one of the few Democratic Senators more conservative than Bayh.

It's not that Bayh and Obama agree on every issue, but that Obama's legislative proposals have been written to appeal to Senators on Bayh's right, like the Republican Senators from Maine. If you look past the brand, rhetoric and cultural cues to the substance of what Obama proposed to do, he is and was throughout the campaign a centrist or conservative Democrat not much different from Bayh.

Obama's budget was, at best, the most progressive since Clinton's 1993 budget, which included substantial progressive taxes on the wealthy. So maybe you can call that decades.

by souvarine 2009-12-03 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Bayh is actually more conservative than Snowe and Collins. He has gotten considerably more conservative as hes gotten more "important".

Ofcourse we call him conservative, but as far as senate rankings go, he's bang in the middle of the spectrum (40-60 range).

by vecky 2009-12-03 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

By the way, technically speaking Obama still has the best brand in the world. Remember all those worldwide polls showing him as the most popular leader in the world and bumping the US up with him?

Obama is governing. I may not always agree with his decisions, and I don't support escalation, but Jerome having an opinion and trying to pass it off as what all progressives or Americans are feeling without any data is just irritating.

by Lolis 2009-12-03 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

From Der Speigel:

Obama's Magic No Longer Works

But in this case, the public was more disturbed than entertained. Indeed, one could see the phenomenon in a number of places in recent weeks: Obama's magic no longer works. The allure of his words has grown weaker.

It is not he himself who has changed, but rather the benchmark used to evaluate him. For a president, the unit of measurement is real life. A leader is seen by citizens through the prism of their lives -- their job, their household budget, where they live and suffer. And, in the case of the war on terror, where they sometimes die.

Political dreams and yearnings for the future belong elsewhere. That was where the political charmer Obama was able to successfully capture the imaginations of millions of voters. It is a place where campaigners -- particularly those with a talent for oration -- are fond of taking refuge. It is also where Obama set up his campaign headquarters, in an enormous tent called "Hope."

In his speech on America's new Afghanistan strategy, Obama tried to speak to both places. It was two speeches in one. That is why it felt so false. Both dreamers and realists were left feeling distraught.

The American president doesn't need any opponents at the moment. He's already got himself.

I'd say that is a tarnished brand.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-03 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

One article in an editorial in one paper? Really? Jerome's piece is making a much broader claim than some editorials in Europe. My point is there is no broad based evidence to back it up. Until there is, this seems like concern trolling masquerading as "I alone know what the world is thinking."

Also as a counterpoint there is this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anders-fog h-rasmussen/this-is-not-just-americas_b_ 376809.html

I am sure many people in Europe will be disillusioned by Obama's decision, but this is only one of many that he will make in his presidency, as you yourself has pointed out. One bad decision or editorial does not make for a completely diminished presidency or "brand." Governing is hard.

by Lolis 2009-12-03 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I like you ignore all the other evidence, and then just focus on the post you think you can attack the easiest.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

What other evidence Jerome?

by timp 2009-12-03 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Gabor Steingart - the author of the piece, has NEVER been a fan of Obama. Back during the GE he was pulling for McCain. It's an opinion piece, not news.

by vecky 2009-12-03 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Here are a small sampling of his doom saying:

http://www.oliverwillis.com/2009/11/23/gabor-steingart-der-spiegels-obama-doomsayer/

It's only a modest sample, trust me the actual articles are worse!

To view him as any way indicative of European PO is incorrect.

by vecky 2009-12-03 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

My worry is that we become so consumed about Afghanistan that nothing else gets done.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-03 07:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

the cynic in me wonders if that is the point.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

No doubt there is an opportunity cost that will limit domestic investment.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-03 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Some fine points...

It is questionable to say that Clinton's 1993 budget was progressive.  If it was, the top rate would have been what it was before Reagan-70%-rather than just 39.5%.  Clinton did more to confirm Reagan than to repeal him.

On Afghanistan, would Hillary Clinton-whom some people here supported in 2008 instead of Obama-as President have done anything better, or different?  It is something to ponder.

by demjim 2009-12-03 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I think Hillary Clinton's Afghanistan policy, were she president, would be identical to Obama's.

Obama set this course as soon as he became president, when he suddenly fired McKiernan and put McChrystal, a Petreaus counter-insurgency accolyte, in charge of Afghanistan. The policy Obama is pursuing is clear, well thought out and has been planned for a long time. I think it is the correct one.

The only difference is that fewer people would have been surprised were a President Hillary Clinton to choose this course. She was more clear, in the campaign, about the specifics of the foreign policy she would pursue. She didn't sugar-coat her policies with war skeptic rhetoric.

by souvarine 2009-12-03 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Well, she was not trying to brand herself in ways to manipulate the language of progressives to favor her in the race as far as I can remember. The only exception being the public option, which she adopted due to Edwards gaining tracking on that issue with her leftward flank.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I am not sure what language you are referring to but during the campaign in speech after speech and in a number of debates Obama was very clear that he was going "to do the job right" in Afganistan if elected president.

by timp 2009-12-03 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Here's what was said:

"
As you can see from Politifact and Newsweek, President Obama promised to send 2 more brigades. As the U.S. Army's website shows, a brigade is up to 5,000 troops, which means President Obama specifically promised to send 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan. He in no way promised send 47,000 more troops - or 9 brigades worth of troops - to Afghanistan, which is what he has done between his February escalation of 17,000 troops and now his December escalation of 30,000 more troops. And he in no way promised to send tens of thousands more private military contractors."

http://www.openleft.com/diary/16306/um-a bout-obamas-afghanistan-campaign-promise

I pulled this from David Sirota who pulled this from Newsweek, Politifact and the U.S. Army website.

I am on the fence about the policy side of this since I really do want to address the issue of terror orgs, but please give me a break with the revisionist history. You are not helping your case regarding my concerns over whether the policy is well thought out regarding change what's happening right now (We are losing) by spinning . More importantly, this is not what Brand Obama was promising. I doubt he would be President Obama now if people understood him to mean half the policies he has pushed since being in office. Some of which are direct flips from what he said while running for office such as the public option and mandates.  

by bruh3 2009-12-03 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Obama said atleast two additional brigades. And he always said, very consistently that "we need to pull out of Iraq so we can focus our resources on Afghanistan".

The numbers aren't important. What matters was the commitment. This is what Obama promised, those who argue otherwise are simply engaged in spin.

by vecky 2009-12-03 12:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

And let's not forget he kept on Gates as well. And Hillary is in the Cabinet.

However I don't think people would have been "less surprised" had Hillary sent reinforcements. Those who supported her but opposed the war in toto would have been just as blind. OTOH we would probably see a lot more "she had to send them because as a woman she had to show she was one of the boys" and "is she dithering because she's a girl" type comments from the talking heads (eagerly lapped up by those who should know better).

by vecky 2009-12-03 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

@ Jerome: you still haven't explained why your seemingly OK with an extra 8K but not an extra 30K or whatever other number.

by vecky 2009-12-03 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Obama talked about putting in 8K troops when there were 30K troops on the ground. That number of troops, call it a first surge, was implemented in late 2008. Are you asking me if I opposed that increase at the time?  If so, yes.

Obama did two subsequent escalations, one announced, another just done without press, which raised the number to about 70K troops. I said it would fail at the time.

Now, this is the 4th such surge of at least two brigades, since Obama pledged that we need a surge. Is the 4th try the trick?  No.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-03 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

That's not a coherent argument, it's no argument at all.

Obama talked about atleast two additional brigades, and refocusing our efforts from Iraq to A'stan. The fact that he has committed more troops and resources there is not a surprise. The number is not important, the strategy is. Your focus on the number just reminds me of a shrill game.

by vecky 2009-12-03 01:00PM | 0 recs
I don't think this affects the long run

I think in the long run the Obama brand will remain strong. Like any actual President it will rise and fall with the times and decisions.

However, I think lost in all of this discussion is that Obama seems to have done some things in making this decision that the previous administration was never willing to do:

a.) He seems to have relatively clear objectives.

b.) He has set a timeline in which to meet those objections.

c.) He listened to the experts. We may not agree with what is happening, but at least he is listening to what the military says it needs.

All things considered I am okay with the process that was used to make this decision and to me that is at least as important as the actual conclusion. He isn't going to get everything right and I am not always going to agree even when he might be right...but I cannot argue with the process.

I also think it is a bit absurd to lable him a "War President" or state that this is "Obama's War," however, that is the meme that will survive this, both because the media seems to love it and because we are willing to accept it as truth... I do wonder how this will effect him going forward.

by JDF 2009-12-03 09:17AM | 0 recs
I find this post very frustrating

For a few reasons.

1. Jerome has never liked Obama and never missed a chance to whine about him. Its really hard to take his opinion seriously when it is so apparent how much he viscerally dislikes the President.

2. So many commenters seem so comfortable questioning the President's intentions (bruh3 I'm looking right at you), not just his judgement. This is mostly disappointing because this is what we all did when Bush was President. Now that there is a Democratic President, who I would think most of the readers of this site vastly prefer to the other options we had in November 2008, and we still can't seem to offer him even a modicum of trust? I'm not saying you need to agree with him, but itwould be nice if you could at least assume that he is making a difficult choice between terrible options.

3. Overstating your expertise. Jerome, , Lemos, Bruh3 and others routinely fall into this sad pundit-esque tendency to claim more expertise than you have. For instance, don't talk about "brand" as though you have a history of brand management or analysis if that is not the case. Giving the impression that you have reviewed the intelligence assessment, the likely military outcomes and the details of the Pakistan situation when you clearly have not surveyed that landscape is not only annoying, its disingenuous. I don't have that information either, which is why I listened to the President's speech and went from being against the escalation to being supportive but very worried.

In the end, this post is so similar to emblematic of what has become of political journalism. Its also why non-blog readers are so worried about the death of real journalism and the rise of uninformed bloggers who pass themselves off as an expert that they are not.

P.s. yes this is my first post. Consider it a letter from a saddened and concerned reader.

by bg656 2009-12-03 10:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I find this post very frustrating

Yea, I found that Obama was too slick by too much for me after looking at his campaign with rose-tinted glasses after about two months. You can go back and read the archives with all the Edwards partisans bashing me as I kicked the tires and smelled the new shiny O leather in late '06 to early '07. Since then, I've been unimpressed and he has met that unimpressed expectation with his leadership.

In the case of Afghanistan, Obama did not even consider a pulldown of the troops at this time, and yet he factors it into his decision mere months later. That to me is bizarre given the situation will most likely not change at all for the better, and it shows a certain degree of either arrogance or stubbornness that is unbecoming of respect in the decision.

Well, I've got a mkt degree, and worked with corporations and campaigns and orgs with branding, and have made multiple posts on the subject, which makes it at least worth writing fwiw.I look at things with political and electoral implications, and unfortunately Obama hasn't been as transparent as he said he'd be in terms of his decision-making with Afghanistan, so I work with what I got when I have something I want to write.

I'm not a cheerleader to confirm opinions, but someone that comes to his own opinion regardless of what is expected by the reader.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-03 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: I find this post very frustrating

You may not intend this, but your post includes the greatest hits of denial:

1.  just because someone may not like Obama (if it is in fact the case)does not mean he cannot make valid points.  Here you engage in argumentum ad hominem.

2.  if it was okay to question Bush's intentions (some might have even felt it was their duty to view Bush's judgment and intentions with skepticism), why is it not similarly okay to do the same for this president?  Here your argument sounds like, hey, leave him alone, he's on our side.  I personally don't think there's any place for this attitude in politics.  Too much is at stake.

3.  This argument attempts to shut down discussion altogether.  If only experts (and how can that be accurately defined?  A degree means nothing if you're a moron, and there are plenty of heavily papered idiots out there) have a right to offer an opinion, then the rest of us should just shut up.  I find this particularly dangerous.  Rather, I suggest you read someone's writing and inquire as to on what their points are based and decide for yourself whether you think they don't know what they are talking about.  There are a lot of very bright people who can opine intelligently on a subject with no formal training (see one of my faves, Jane Jacobs).

As for real journalism, it is dead in the US (with some signs of life on the fringes).  Most of those talking heads on TV have no expertise (and certainly no insight).  They are mostly failed actors who are convinced their ill-informed opinions are reflective of the country.  I would advise turning them off.

by orestes 2009-12-03 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: I find this post very frustrating

There is no attempt to shut down discussion, their is an attempt to achieve rhetorical consistency. Both of the top '08 Dem contenders (Hillary/Obama) ran on escalation in A'stan. They may have run on it as a way of distancing themselves from a draw down on Iraq, but they ran on it nonetheless. If the anti-war crowd could have somehow brought themselves to support such then, they can certainly do so now.

Obama is not in this for personal pride, to secure re-election, for oil or to finish daddy's job. It's not a war of choice, but one of necessity.

by vecky 2009-12-03 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: I find this post very frustrating

I have no idea how your post is at all responsive to mine.  Rhetorical consistency?  What the hell are you talking about?  Your argument seems to be:  anti-war voters were okay with Obama as a candidate, so they should just shut up and support him now.  What?  

I have to say that I find people who are quick to assert what any politician's motives are or are not, without any support for such contention, to be middling thinkers.  Such statements add nothing to a serious discussion.  They cannot be proven and can only result in no, you're wrong; no, I'm right back-and-forth.

by orestes 2009-12-04 06:49AM | 0 recs
You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

On the war.  Who knows?  History might prove you correct.  But as for this:


Again, I'll grant 'the backers' with the realist nuance of Obama having verbalized, at times, that what he had in mind was a here-for-there continuance of enduring war; that of deescalating in Iraq while he escalated in Afghanistan. I just don't believe that this can be argued very persuasively to the supporters of Obama who feel betrayed given candidate Obama's brand, nor does it seem a very honest argument given that Obama has escalated at a rate faster in Afghanistan than the rate of deescalation in Iraq.

I'm relieved to see your concession, after a fashion, that Obama articulated positions about Afghanistan during the campaign are consistent with his current policy.  But how can you cite his 'brand' as a counter-argument to these without getting into the weeds of subjectivity?  He said what he said.

Citing a 'brand' in unfavourable juxtaposition to a stated policy with which one disagrees gives a lot of critical maneuvering room, to be sure.  But it also clearly places the critique in the realm of opinion with no more traction as 'persuasive argument' than anyone else's.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Let's look at it this way.  You know, as I do, that Obama had basically the same policy on Afghanistan as the other major candidates.

You know, as I do, that Obama had basically the same policy on Iraq as the other major candidates.  I'm talking about going forward, of course, not back in the day.

All three major candidates hewed fairly closely to mainstream Democratic views on the major foreign policy issues of the day.

Yet we saw the vast majority of the hardcore anti-war people lining up in Obama's camp.  Revenge on Hillary for voting for the war?  Maybe that's some of it, but still, when the candidates are proposing more or less the same thing, there's very little to account for someone who despises Hillary yet adores Obama if their main issue is foreign policy.  Yet we had not a few such someones, but a myriad of them.

The contention here - which I agree with, yet find less remarkable and less sinister than some others - is that Obama managed to get all these people to ignore his stated positions and line up with him based upon a sort of branding that goes don't worry, I was against the war in Iraq, you know I'm not a warmonger like those other candidates.  People decided they could trust his judgment, not thinking through the fact that if he has the same position as everyone else on the leading issues of the day, it's not possible that he has better judgment concerning those issues.

Obama was basically The Guy Who Hadn't Disappointed Us Yet - or at least, the guy who had done the least to disappoint us.  When people are desperately hoping that a candidate will emerge who doesn't hew to the same old hawkish line, they're willing to seize on any scrap they can find to believe they've found their savior.  Hillary voted for Kyl-Lieberman, while Obama found an excuse to skip the vote?  Aha, look, he's much better!  And so on.

To me, it's just smart politics, even if it involves an element of dishonesty like all politics.  But I don't think it can really be denied.  I don't think Obama and his campaign were looking around every day saying, "hey, why do we have such a large percentage of the anti-war voters on our side?"  They knew exactly what they were doing.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Well, maybe.  But it is a little tricky fitting this kind of thing into that context:


It is time to turn the page. When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland.

The first step must be getting off the wrong battlefield in Iraq, and taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Barack Obama - Remarks of Senator Obama: The War We Need to Win Speech at Wilson Center 1 Aug 07

That's pretty unequivocal stuff.  And I diaried it here at the time, citing those exact words, in support of Obama's campaign.  I am still wondering where the 'element of dishonesty' fits into it.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Didn't you notice when Obama gave that speech he was winking and had his fingers crossed behind his back?

These clear signs of the real plan were picked up by Jerome/bruh and others.

by vecky 2009-12-03 01:41PM | 0 recs
Wise Words

You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Something we all do with politicians we support is that we take a particular statement and act like it represents the totality of their position.  With politicians we don't support, on the other hand, we have no problem finding the hidden messages and dog whistles.  You yourself had little problem, as I recall, detecting Hillary Clinton channeling her inner George Wallace on a daily basis even though she never came out and gave a speech admitting that she believes Obama belongs to an inferior species.

If the quote you just recited (which I'm guessing not every person in America sat there and pored over and analyzed) truly represents the totality of Obama's campaign then how come the vast majority of the anti-war Democrats lined up with Obama and not one of the other candidates?

The point of branding and emotional signalling is that it has resonance that goes beyond mere parsing of position statements.  You make a speech and then you say something else or do something else that has the effect of signaling to people who have a different view don't worry, I'm on your side.  You make a speech in favor of gay rights one day and you make a show of talking about your good friend Rick Warren the next day, and everyone gets to hear what they want to hear.

When you analyze politics as though there's absolutely no subtext beyond what's written on the campaigns' white papers then you miss the majority of what's going on.  Do I think Obama was unclear about wanting to continue the war in Afghanistan, no I do not.  Do I think all the anti-war people who are disappointed are therefore mentally defective?  No I do not.  During the campaign, I told many of them I felt they were listening to the wrong set of signals, but they chose to go with their gut feeling that Obama was really on their side.  I can't pretend that they're 100% responsible for inventing that feeling because I think the Obama campaign put a lot of effort into trying to send that exact message.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 02:19PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

"then how come the vast majority of the anti-war Democrats lined up with Obama and not one of the other candidates?"

- Simple, the War in Afghanistan was simply not an important or over-riding factor in their equation.

Back in 06 and 08 the anti-war crowd was focused on Iraq. Those opposed to Afghanistan as well were like the Ron Paul/Kucincih coalition - barely 3-4% of the crowd. I can't even remember any of them bringing up "what about Afghanistan" - there simply weren't that many of them. The meme that Afghanistan was the "good war" and the only one "worth fighting" was mainstream. The fact that they never spoke up then to challenge that was IMO cowardice.

by vecky 2009-12-03 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

But all the major candidates had basically the same position on Iraq as well, with the exception of the bidding-war period where everyone tried to claim they would have the troops out 1 month earlier than the next guy.

I don't recall if you used to post under a different name but there were a few of us here who always complained they wanted a "real discussion" on Afghanistan that we weren't getting from the primary.  And as you can see, I'm not even someone who considers himself in the anti-war camp, I just felt that the candidates were all getting away with being way too glib about the topic.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

The same position, perhaps, but not the same track record.  And 'obliterating' Iran was a unique posture at the time among candidacies.  Let's not neglect the 'naïve and irresponsible' narrative on negotiating with dictators, probably the most significant policy issue in the summer of 2007.

Just sayin'.  Still looking to smoke the peace pipe with you on these matters.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

The year is almost up, and Obama has yet to "meet separately, without precondition... in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea." I think we can agree that whatever naïvety Obama may have displayed it is long gone. There is no chance he will meet with any of those leaders in the foreseeable future Begin/Sadat style. They would each have to significantly change their posture toward the United States before Obama would be willing to meet with them.

He is, of course, pursuing diplomatic talks with all of those countries, in the hope that they will change posture and give him the opportunity to meet with their leaders and "bridge the gap that divides our countries."

by souvarine 2009-12-03 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

'He is, of course, pursuing diplomatic talks with all of those countries...'  That'll do.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Well, you can't have it both ways.  Either you're supposed to go by a candidate's stated position and nothing else, or you can take other stuff like track record, inflammatory rhetoric, etc. into account when you evaluate what you think they'll do in office.

If it's the former, you've just rattled off a long list of irrelevant stuff.  If it's the latter, then you need to stop being perplexed by people who expected something different from Obama than what they got.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 05:06PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Ok, we'll stick with 'obliterate' then.  That was a policy comment.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 05:23PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Sure, a policy comment where Obama didn't disagree with anything but the rhetoric.  The context, as I'm sure you recall, is what would happen if Iran were to nuke Israel.  I don't think there's much chance that Obama would choose a diplomatic track in such an extreme situation.

The irony is that while I am doing my best to articulate the argument that bruh and others have made here, I've already told you that I don't really buy it, that I don't think Obama is guilty of anything more than the same sort of "trying to have it both ways" signaling that every other successful politician does.  But you still won't even admit that Obama campaigns on any other level than the raw intellectual level of policy statements!!

by Steve M 2009-12-03 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Well I did try, see comment below.  But I'm happy to agree with you about what you "don't buy" and leave it at that.  Really am trying to mend fences here, mostly.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

I think it was more a question of scale. Certainly Obliterating an entire country even in retaliation seems stark. More Stalin than Roosevelt if you get what I mean.

by vecky 2009-12-03 06:58PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Yeah, of course.  A moderate, proportional response to someone dropping a nuclear bomb on Israel.  Make that the linchpin of your campaign!

This example is actually pretty illustrative of my point.  Obama successfully used that incident as a way to convince some primary voters that he was better than that awful warmonger Hillary.  But he wasn't actually able to articulate any way in which he would react to that terrible hypothetical any different from Hillary; he simply manufactured the impression that he wouldn't be so rash without coming up with an alternative.

This is nothing more than successful politics.  But it's proof positive of what I thought we all understood, that politics isn't waged solely on the intellectual level of policy statements.  There's a gut-level reaction that sometimes even flies in the face of what's actually said by the candidates.

by Steve M 2009-12-03 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Yet you make it sound like he made her say it in the first place.  I can just imagine Wolfsen wincing as that slipped through her clenched teeth.

I'm not making this any better, am I?

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

It's a gaffe that was successfully exploited.  But there's no actual substance to the criticism.  It was not, as you suggested above, indicative of a difference in policy.

Perhaps the most famous example is the "Bush-Cheney lite" versus "naive and irresponsible" exchange in which BOTH campaigns made a huge rhetorical show out of a debate answer where there was absolutely zero difference between the actual policy positions of the candidates.  That's how politics works.  It's much more complicated than just "here's my policy position, now don't ask any more questions."

by Steve M 2009-12-04 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

I certainly agree with that example.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-04 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

I'm not arguing that the perceptions of some voters may have been more or less engaged than those of us here at the time.  That seems hardly the point and is understood.

But I fail to see how you can lay that at the feet of the candidate, or suggest the campaign had some broader, subtler strategy when the policy, which the media could have run with any way they chose, was clearly articulated.

As for the 'Southern strategy' components, real or imagined, of the Clinton campaign, I have long been earnestly hoping we could put that disagreement behind us.  Not for fear of arguing it, mind you, but as a respective acknowledgement that it is no longer of any relevance whatsoever and from a mutual respect for each other's sincerity and integrity in other matters.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

I thought it would be a pertinent example to illustrate my point.  Is it really possible Obama is the only candidate who wasn't trying to send hidden messages to anyone?  Did you truly think EVERY "mixed messages" gaffe like the McClurkin debacle was wholly manufactured, that his position papers were the only things that mattered?

by Steve M 2009-12-03 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Clearly not.  And I agree that national presidential campaigns have an aura which personifies the candidate rather than elucidates their policies.  And I also agree that there are any number of manufactured narratives for the media that 'position' the candidate, and Obama's anti-Iraq war position juxtaposed to Clinton's AUMF vote was clearly one of them, genuine or otherwise.  No argument, she basically created the opening there for his candidacy in the first event.  And, looking back, I'm guessing that's why Kerry decided not to run in December 2006.

And I am certainly not going to renew any debate on Clinton's run and our differences over it.  We can safely let history, such as it is, resolve that dilemma.

But on this particular issue I have a genuine frustration, exacerbated by Jerome's position up until recently of 'deception' in this matter.  I wrote about Obama's position at the time, used it as evidence of his 'realist' foreign policy, which was always my attraction to his candidacy, and reiterated it frequently.  I may be quite isolated in this position, as you suggest, but it always seemed to me that this was a crystal clear component of his policy and I supported it strongly at the time.  It was intentional and it blunted the 'weak on national security' nonsense about Democrats which was an essential component of his candidacy in the general election, as well as being arguably sound policy.

That he would now be following through on this may be fraught with political peril but it strikes me, as you noted, that it should be no surprise.  I don't quibble that others may have missed this in the blur of campaign narratives but it ain't Obama's fault, it seems to me.  The continuity seems clear.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-03 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: You Are Clearly Entitled to Your Opinion...

Terrific summation.

I can understand who Shaun doesn't like the frame to be one of deception, but if we looked back at the moment when the antiwar crowd went over to Obama, the signals were very clearly coming out as you portray them to be.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-04 12:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

"I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars." -B.H.O 2002

Obama was very clear throughout his campaign as to what he was going to do in Afganistan. Some how Jerome Armstrong thinks that those of us who were paying attention to this are being dishonest. J.A. claims its a matter of context. J.A. is cherry picking one instance of the many times Obama talked about Afganistan.

All throughout the election Jerome ran with the PUMA's. While the present sentiment on sites like this are general disgust with the racist sentiments of the birthers it has not really been acknowledged that all this garbage was introduced to the public by these people. And if you think it is disgusting now it was even more disgusting then -go read the archives at Taylor Marsh during the period of the primary or read alegre's corner any day of the week. While I think a lot of criticisms of Obama are in good faith I would take anything Jerome Armstrong has to say about President Obama with a huge grain of salt. He really should just recuse himself from ever talking about anything involving Obama.

by timp 2009-12-03 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

I will repeat what I Said above- many o f you in your zeal to throw the sink at Jerome are making absurd arguments. The best argument you can make by the way is that things change on the ground rather than trying to bullshit your way through what Obam promised before by technically saying "well he didn't say he was going to bring the troops home" while ignoring there is no way he said this escalation either. It makes whatever credible argument you can make seem less credible to make these claims.

by bruh3 2009-12-03 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

Obama was clear on the escalation... what kool-aid have you been drinking?

by vecky 2009-12-03 01:09PM | 0 recs
Marketing vs. governing

Brand brand brand.  A concept that became trite shortly after it was introduced outside the circles of real commodities.  Jerome is obsessed with "brand," which by the way, can't actually dither, but Obama is focused on governing and leading.  

by Thaddeus 2009-12-03 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's brand dithers

This diary is unfair and hardly helpful.

Jerome, all your recent diaries have been very nitpicky, more aimed at scoring points with selective information rather than a real deep discussion of issues involved.

Speaking of the Obama 'brand' however, he will lose it, not for the war, but for the ineptitude that the economy is being handled with.

We need more input from guys like Paul Volker, and believe it or not, a more conservative monetary policy whose answer shouldn't be to throw money into banks that failed, and the people that failed them.

Somewhere in there, he should make room for Howard Dean as well. The man is brilliant, and should be listened to.

Democrat 2010, and Obama 2012 will be about the economy and healthcare. As much as you like to talk about it, when it comes to the actual election (and not a poll a year away), Afghanistan will matter less on election day.

by Dickie Simpkins 2009-12-03 09:28PM | 0 recs
Obama's Afghanistan numbers improve

I agree that the Obama campaign was misleading in its appeal to anti-war voters, you need only look at the campaign's furious reaction to Bill Clinton pointing out that Obama's anti-war credentials were a "fairy tale" to sense that they knew how critical those voters were to their success against Hillary Clinton. But I think you are wrong about Obama's brand and the impact his Afghanistan policy will have on it. Sure, people like Michael Moore and Barbra Ehrenreich might have been fooled. But those people were Ralph Nader supporters, most Democrats just aren't that dumb.

Look at the post-speech Gallup results on Afghanistan, support for Obama's Afghanistan policy has jumped to almost 60% among Democrats. Most Democrats knew Obama planned to shift military resources from Iraq to Afghanistan, and once he made clear what he planned to do they support him. If he remains as clear and determined about Afghanistan then that support will build through the 2010 elections. The Democratic unease in Congress is just the usual political spinelessness that makes people not trust Democrats on national security. They got spooked by some bad poll numbers on Afghanistan instead of judging the policy on the merits.

The things that could damage Obama politically, and reduce turnout in 2010, are failure on health care or his handling of the economic crisis. If people think he spent a ton of money helping bank executives get bigger bonuses, but then he can't afford to put Americans back to work, he will have a real turnout problem. Anti-war sentiment was not a major factor in the 2008 general election, and won't be in 2010.

by souvarine 2009-12-04 09:21AM | 0 recs

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