Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Potpourri: Spock imagery Edition

Atrios: People Don't Really Care About The Deficit
Yes when voters are unhappy it's something the opposition party can't point to which suggests that politicians are somehow being irresponsible, but if voters are happy it moves back into the "abstract concept I don't give a shit about" category. Congress needs to do something about jobs soon.

While states have various ways of getting around it, they're constrained by balanced budget requirements. Only the Feds really have the power to step in when there's declining state revenue.
DougJ: We are all Vulcans now

John Harris, in a list of ways to attack Obama that Republicans may find helpful:

Too much Leonard Nimoy


But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

Are there other first-world countries where the media spends a lot of time worrying that its leaders are too rational?

The next two criticisms are, by the way, in order “The rap is that his West Wing is dominated by brass-knuckled pols” and “But some of the same insider circles that are starting to view Obama as a bully are also starting to whisper that he’s a patsy.”

The Village attacks on Obama are just as inconsistent as the winger attacks.

John Cole: Tell Me Sully is Wrong

Just tell me he is wrong about this:

As Obama appears to be intensifying the lost war in Afghanistan, with the same benchmark rubric that meant next-to-nothing in the end in Iraq, he does not seem to understand that he will either have to withdraw US troops from Iraq as it slides into new chaos, or he will have to keep the troops there for ever, as the neocons always intended. Or he will have to finance and run two hot wars simultaneously. If he ramps up Afghanistan and delays Iraq withdrawal, he will lose his base. If he does the full metal neocon as he is being urged to, he should not be deluded in believing the GOP will in any way support him. They will oppose him every step of every initiative. They will call him incompetent if Afghanistan deteriorates, they will call him a terrorist-lover if he withdraws, they will call him a traitor if he does not do everything they want, and they will eventually turn on him and demand withdrawal, just as they did in the Balkans with Clinton. Obama’s middle way, I fear, is deeper and deeper into a trap, and the abandonment of a historic opportunity to get out.

It appears sully has finally attained the appropriate level of cynicism required when discussing the modern Republican party and the principled “conservatives” running it.

  • from the comments:


    I think the important issue here is not Sully, but Barack Obama. Waist deep in the Big Muddy, the big fool said to push on.

Atrios: And Then Politics Could Finally Stop Forever

Aside from its link-trolling inanity, Meacham's column is another entry in the Villager genre of wishing for some final political throwdown which would finally end all politics and political disagreement so that we could all stop arguing with each other and get back to sipping brandy on the porch.

I don't know exactly why they're constantly dreaming of a world where all political disagreement ends, but they do.

Aravosis: Wash Post: Palin particularly popular among fans of Limbaugh and Beck

You think? This isn't news. What is interesting, however, is the fact that yet another poll shows that the remaining people left in the GOP are far more conservative than just a few years ago.

Those who identify as Republicans today see themselves as more conservative politically than those who said so during the last years of the presidency of George W. Bush.
This is the challenge for Republicans. How do you deal with the pressure in your own party to veer to the right, when by doing so, you risk alienating the very people who left your party because it veered too far to the right - people you need back in order to win elections?

Think Progress: Just one person in Washington Post poll says Cheney best reflects conservative principles.

Two new polls report that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh are the most powerful conservatives in the country. According to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair survey, 26 percent of Americans rate Limbaugh as the most influential conservative voice, followed by Fox News host Glenn Beck at 11 percent. In a Washington Post poll, a plurality of Republicans say Palin best reflects their “party’s core values,” and they would vote for her “if the presidential nomination battle were held today.” Two people who don’t fare as well in the Post poll are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney:

Just 1 percent pick George W. Bush as the best reflection of the party’s principles, and only a single person in the poll cites former vice president Richard B. Cheney. About seven in 10 say Bush bears at least “some” of the blame for the party’s problems.

The Post surveyed 804 “Republicans and Republican-leaning nonpartisans” for its sample. Palin is particularly popular amongst the “loyal followers of Limbaugh and Beck.” “Overall, 18 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents cited her as the person most representative of the party’s core values. … Among those who regularly listen to Limbaugh, however, Palin was cited by 48 percent, and among Beck’s viewers, it was 35 percent, far surpassing others.”

DougJ: Dickmentum

Jon Meacham:

But I think we should be taking the possibility of a Dick Cheney bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 more seriously, for a run would be good for the Republicans and good for the country. (The sound you just heard in the background was liberal readers spitting out their lattes.)

Why? Because Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people. The best way to settle arguments is by having what we used to call full and frank exchanges about the issues, and then voting. A contest between Dick Cheney and Barack Obama would offer us a bracing referendum on competing visions. One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction. A Cheney victory would mean that America preferred a vigorous unilateralism to President Obama’s unapologetic multilateralism, and vice versa.

Didn’t we already have a referendum on the Bush years in 2008?

More to the point, the reason that Dick Cheney won’t be the Republican nominee in 2012 is that people don’t like him and he’d be guaranteed to lose in a general election. But why should we leave these political decisions up to primary voters? Wouldn’t it be better if Republicans just did what Jon Meacham told them to do?

The arrogance of articles like amazes me.


The Washington Post released a poll today on what Republican voters are thinking, and how satisfied they are with their party. The results were all over the place.

The Republican rank and file is largely in sync with GOP lawmakers in their staunch opposition to efforts by President Obama and Democrats to enact major health-care legislation, but a new Washington Post poll also reveals deep dissatisfaction among GOP voters with the party's leadership as well as ideological and generational differences that may prove big obstacles to the party's plans for reclaiming power.

What's tricky about all of this is trying to get a sense of direction. Rank-and-file Republicans aren't happy, but it's not altogether clear what they're looking for, either.

In 2005, 76% of Republicans were satisfied with the direction set by the party's leadership; now that number is 49%. About a third believes GOP leaders do not stand up for the party's "core values."

The next question, of course, is what Republican leaders should do in response, and that's where the poll offers few clues. It's one thing to learn that the party is off-track; it's another to know what to do about it.

It's not like there's a clamoring for an even more right-wing party -- 58% of Republicans want to see the party work with Democrats, and 69% said they approve of GOP candidates who take moderate positions on some issues.

There's also no real sense of what the party's priorities ought to be. About a third of Republicans believe the GOP should spend more time opposing gay marriage, but nearly as many believe the party should do the opposite. About a third of Republicans want to see more focus on abortion, and nearly as many prefer less. GOP voters expressed concern about taxes, spending, and the economy, but that's pretty much what the party leadership focuses on already.

This is not entirely unexpected -- when the party has a small congressional minority, no clear leadership, and no policy agenda to speak of, it stands to reason that rank-and-file attitudes would be all over the place. But the poll isn't much of a roadmap for what party supporters expect their representatives to do.

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