Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Cruising the Web

John Hinderaker is right - Harry Reid's latest monomaniacal attack on the Koch brothers sounds like he's gone around the bend.

Politico laments that Hillary Clinton is going to be tied to Obama's presidency when she runs for the presidency and that it will be hard to separate herself from the failures of that administration. Foreign policy failures will be particularly difficult for her to escape. Well, yeah. She's going to have to explain how relations with Russia went from her silly reset button to today. And the explanation will have to include how she and Obama, like George W. Bush, totally missed the character of Vladimir Putin. Clinton and Obama thought all the tensions with Russia were simply due to Bush's blundering. Giving speeches at fundraisers comparing Putin to the Nazis won't do it.

President Obama demonstrates how very serious he is about Russia's invasion of Ukraine - by making his statement in an elementary school.

Dana Milbank thinks it's ha-ha funny that Republicans accuse Obama of acting with unconstitutional overreach in domestic affairs while also accusing him of being too timid and feckless in foreign affairs.
President Obama is such a weak strongman. What’s more, he is a feeble dictator and a timid tyrant.

That, at any rate, is Republicans’ critique of him. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Obama’s critics pivoted seamlessly from complaining about his overreach to fretting that he is being too cautious. Call it Operation Oxymoron.
Milbank thinks it's unlikely to believe both propositions.
In theory, it is possible for Obama to rule domestic politics with an iron fist and yet play the 98-pound weakling in foreign affairs. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense that one person would vacillate between those two extremes. A better explanation is Obama’s critics are so convinced that he is wrong about everything that they haven’t paused to consider the consistency of their accusations.
So untrue. Many conservatives like to point out that the only people Obama will act truly tough with are Republicans. Maybe Milbank just doesn't read any conservative writers. But I don't even see these criticisms as oxymoronic. He's willing to bully those who don't have the power or inclination to fight back. Notice his bullying of Israel. He's much more willing to talk tough to our ally than to our adversaries. And he is always more comfortable in political campaign mode. So that is why he can happily criticize Republicans and take executive actions to help himself politically because that is just politics and he's comfortable in that mode. He's not comfortable in foreign policy mode. So he's more pusillanimous when talking about foreign aggression. Victor Davis Hanson takes up this theme, but I guess that Dana Milbank wouldn't notice.
Of all the advice to Obama to reverse his brand of Carterism, the best might simply be to shut his eyes, and every time he gets angry and is about to say something about Israel, stop, and think first to substitute the reset vocabulary he has used with Putin in the past. And vice versa: Imagine Russia is “Israel!” and Putin “Netanyahu” each time he wants to see red and reset reset. The ensuing rhetorical adjustments would do our relations with each country a lot of good. Long ago he also could have warned Putin that time was running out for him, that he was now isolated from the world, and that our patience was limited, and cheered up Israel with an assurance of reset and flexibility in the future.

(But then again, that advice would work on a number of levels as well: If the president thought “Tea Party,” “Ted Cruz,” or “NRA” for China or North Korea, the accustomed Obama invective about the former might finally be directed at the latter. And if the president just equated Iran’s efforts to get the bomb with those of citizens to obtain semi-automatic rifles, or the plight of the Ukrainians with Skip Gates’s suffering at the hands of the Cambridge Police (i.e., a “stupidly” acting Putin), we’d be way ahead, (or if a snubbed democratic leader were only an autocrat or hereditary monarch, he might earn a bow . . .)

Andrew Kohut, former head of the Pew Research Center, writes that, just as Republicans have become more conservative, the Democrats have become more liberal. This has led to a division within their party.
While Democrats share many core values, there are a number of ways that liberals differ sharply from the rest of the party and the rest of the country.

First, in-depth Pew Research surveys find that many liberals are cynical about achievement. Most don’t agree with the statement that “people can get ahead if they work hard,” and relatively few fully agree that they admire people who have become rich through hard work.

Second, liberals give low priority to dealing with the budget deficit, a major concern for much of the electorate, and they are the only political segment that expresses majority support for paying higher prices for the sake of the environment.

Third, liberals are also significantly to the left of the rest of the Democratic Party on social issues. Unlike other Democrats, few liberals say prayer is an important part of their lives, most strongly favor same-sex marriage, nearly all support abortion rights, and a majority support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

And fourth, on foreign policy, most liberals reject the idea that the best way to ensure peace is through military strength; unlike other Democrats, a majority would find it acceptable if another country became as militarily powerful as the United States.

On the politically charged issue of the day, economic inequality, majorities of both liberal and more moderate Democrats agree that the government should make a significant effort to shrink the gap between rich and poor and reduce poverty. However, even there, most liberals think that government action can make a big difference, while moderate and conservative Democrats don’t share their optimism.
And just as splits within the Republican Party give Democrats weapons to use as political wedge issues, the same is true in reverse. And the Republicans should be ready and willing to do so.

University presidents are quite welcome to speak out on politics...unless they're conservatives.

Charlie Cook says that things are starting "to look grisly for Senate Democrats."