“This is what we said we wanted just two years ago”

Josh Greenman, NY Daily News:

Beware the clarity trap: Obama makes effective, principled case for U.S. involvement in Libya

Just a few years ago, we had a President who valued clarity so dearly that he labeled three utterly different countries, presenting drastically different security problems, an “axis of evil.” Didn’t really make sense, but lumping them together was catchy and, at least as far as it went, clear.

So, yes, everyone knew precisely where George W. Bush stood. That’s a big part of why he beat John Kerry in 2004; the chronically cautious senator got tagged as impossibly indecisive.

Barack Obama isn’t an all-or-nothing kind of commander in chief or an all-or-nothing kind of man. He gambled in pushing health care reform, but in his bones he’s a cautious leader who overcomplicates where others oversimplify. He turns bumper stickers into dissertations, not the other way around.

Those who are grousing about that fact now should count their blessings – and remember the alternative. This is what we said we wanted just two years ago, after eight years of Bush foreign policy impulsiveness, when offered a McCain-Palin ticket that promised more gut-driven decision-making. We wanted more candid discussion of risks and benefits. More sharing of responsibilities with allies. We wanted a President to think twice before playing Braveheart. Didn’t we?

But now, in the first major test of a crisis rearing its head on his watch, many have derided Obama’s approach as the professor’s way of war. So the pundits were craving clarity Monday night when he took the stage at the National Defense University in Washington, clamoring for something like an Obama Doctrine, a few snappy sentences that encapsulate his foreign policy, a formula where you plug in the variables and get your answer each and every time.

It didn’t happen. It was never going to happen. Nor should it have happened.

In typically Obamastic fashion, he rejected the arguments of those who suggested we should have allowed a humanitarian disaster to unfold while the world watched (that would have “been a betrayal of who we are”), and similarly dismantled the arguments of those who want a more aggressive, expansive, expensive campaign.

Did America dither when it should have acted, as many neoconservatives have insisted? No; as Daniel Foster, a writer on the conservative National Review Online, acknowledged, “POTUS landed at least one clean punch on his critics” when he soundly rejected that claim and said: “In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.”

To a skeptic like me, Obama made an effective and principled case.

But what about answering those broad questions to deliver that elusive “clarity” going forward? When will we as a nation lead, and when  will we support others? What, if anything, will we do in other countries where the fires are raging? Do we have a completely independent standard for intervention, or are future conflicts dependent in part on the convenience of military action and the approval of Europe and the Arab League?

The answers never came. And I for one couldn’t care less. Easy doctrines give us false comfort in an insanely complex world.

Disagree with the military action in Libya, by all means. I’m not sold. Our military is already overextended, and protesters are being suppressed from Yemen to Bahrain to Syria, which are all more critical to our national security. Congress wasn’t sufficiently consulted. We don’t know whether or how we’ll bring Moammar Khadafy down, and it’s possible we only postponed, rather than prevented, a slaughter. We know very little about the rebels, and apart from broadly lionizing the Libyan people, Obama shed no light Monday night on why they’re bound to be better than the devil we know.

This isn’t necessarily a brilliant war.

But don’t criticize the President because he’s failed some facile and arbitrary standard of perfect clarity. That would be, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, the hobgoblin of a nation that hasn’t learned its lesson.


People walk past the Cloud Gate sculpture aka ‘The Bean’ as One Prudential Plaza towers is seen over the north end of Millennium Park on March 28, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The building will house President Obamas campaign headquarters for the 2012 presidential race.:



123 thoughts on ““This is what we said we wanted just two years ago”

  1. Wishing you safe travels, Mr. President. And lots of money raised in NYC.

    2012 here we come.

  2. C-I-C looking good — little thin, but looking good. It will be a fun night in my hometown (and former residence) tonight!

  3. Am I the only one who looked back into the pundit-free thread and really enjoyed the fact that we created a remarkable comments thread which was about 85% free of the professional left, right wing, traditional media, megasite new media, etc.? Just organic reaction to the speech and positivity. I hope that from time to time we get more pundit-free zones, bwd, and just thanks a million from the bottom of my heart for trying that experiment.

    I hope that as time goes on, we get better at keeping the threads 100% free of that stuff.

    Then, this will become pretty much the only space which I know of on the left which will have completely pundit/criticizers/PL/TeaOP-free discussions for people who are seriously looking to get away from all negative content. That is a *major* selling point.

  4. Even the pundit zone wasn’t all that bad, which is a huge improvement, to be sure. Basically, I think people are learning to listen to their own thoughts and responses and not waiting to be told what to believe about anything. Truly honing our critical thought processes and learning more and more how to respond instead of react.

  5. To clarify: the pundit-free threads 100% free of noise. I personally still see some value in media analysis and critique, but there is, I suspect, a large group of people looking for 100% positive content and who would love the pundit-free threads (which are not available anywhere else that I know of on this level of sophistication and analysis).

  6. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the pundit zone and will from time to time continue to call out folks who aren’t keeping it real. I just think that if we could truly develop pundit-free spaces here and there on this blog like last night’s pundit-free live blog, those particular spaces would be incredibly attractive to people looking for high-level analysis which is 100% positive (and I don’t mistake no criticism for positive; there’s such a thing as positive critique). Nowhere else on the web has this to my knowledge in such an open community, and we’re close to developing these 100% positive content spaces here. I’m just a little proud and excited at this development is all.

  7. gn – I thoroughly enjoyed hearing all you thinkers give your opinions of the context of the President’s speech – rather than the talking heads. Even this morning, they were still re-hashing his motives, second guessing him and questioning his actions. I get so sick of it all. So, it was a real pleasure last night to force myself not to do that. This is a great site, with caring people….thanks.

  8. It is astounding to me that Americans have this craving for simplistic clarity in matters of war and peace, world affairs and policy. They want short, catchy slogans to cover complex issues. They want to spend a total of 20 seconds contemplating life and death.

    So they can get back to their basketball brackets. For THAT they have plenty use for complexity. And no trouble spending hundreds of hours watching men throw balls around.


  9. That thread was simply terrific and I enjoyed reading it as well; I had a ton of fun last night in both threads and am glad to hear that you found it fun as well.

  10. Gentle people staying positive will takes a long way, and i do trust PBO 1000@ his opponents of the President do not know how to handle this smart man with a vision for our country. Thanks BWD.

  11. I remember when President Obama dismantled the House GOpers at their summit last year in January. Fox had been trumpeting the impending knock-out of “the teleprompter n chief” by the GOPers. Halfway through it, Fox cut the feed. (I could imagine Roger Ailes yelling running down the hall, Turn it off!).

    After that happened, I knew I’d better watch CSPan for the healthcare summit because the MSM was going to make sure the GOPers won the next round.

    What happened? CNN went to a commercial and/or talked over Obama/Dems everytime they spoke. The GOPers got to spew their lies w/o interruption or pushback after it was over. MSNBC did the same. Fox didn’t even play it.

    These 2 scenarios reminded me once again that the owners of the media, who are either Republican or lean-Republican, do not like the fact that Obama is still president, kicking butt and taking names. This the same media that ran Rev. Wright 24/7 for 2 months straight but hardly touched McCain’s Keating 5 and Palin’s Alaska Independence Party (imagine if Obama had spoke to a secessionist group?).

    Does anybody remember when Obama’s WH press director Anita Dunn called out Fox for the GOP propaganda station that it is?

    Conclusively, I too enjoy the pundit-free zones. I just like reading the news and going straight to the source v. getting told “Here’s what Obama meant to/should /will say.” Anyway, rant over.

    Obama/Biden 2012!

  12. You are not the only one. And I think most people, based upon who commented, dipped their toes into both threads. The pundit free thread was great, because i think we all saw and heard slightly different things. I know I read some comments and thought to myself, well, I really didn’t think of that.

    At the same time, in the pundit thread, it was apparent that there were some pundits that got what the President was saying, even if they had disagreed before. And the reactions were pretty calm, even to those pundits who were still negative.

    It was like reading the all positive thread put most of us in such a positive mood that even reading about those who still complained couldn’t bring us down.

  13. Notice how nobody seems to be talking about primarying the President right now? I think even the hard-core adolescents (radicals) know that dog don’t hunt.

  14. It’s a nice article, but the thesis that President Obama did not enunciate a cogent statement of his approach to foreign policy makes one wonder if the author listened or read or/and has a comprehension defect.

    President Obama delineated two aspects of his foreign policy in non-nuanced language:

    1. “As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests.”

    2. “There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security …. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

    In such cases, we should not be afraid to act -– but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. …. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.”

    For # 1, the example he offered is our global seek and destroy persistent effort against al Qaeda, and for # 2, the example is what he has done the past 32 days regarding Libya.

    Long ago, for the sound-bite addicts, policy # 1 was summarized as ‘don’t tread on me’ and the President could not have been any clearer as to what he will do to anyone who harms Americans.

    # 2, well, I’d suggest the core policy message is – When asked for help, we will evaluate and respond collaboratively, always mindful of our interests and limitations.

    The two essential elements of # 2 – exemplified by the President’s actions regarding Libya – we were ASKED by the Libyan people and the Arab League and several European countries for help; and, all we did, we did collaboratively and in our strategic best interests, from the outset.

    Simple words, simple concepts, straightforward examples. What’s not to understand?

    Whether someone labels it the “Obama Doctrine,” is irrelevant.

    He offered an unambiguous statement of what the world can expect from America during his Presidency – mess with America, get ready to hurt; ask for help, we’ll do what we can, strategically and collaboratively.

  15. Did you watch Pres. Clinton in Kentucky before the election campaigning for Jack Conway? He specifically talked about how he studies the economy for an hour a day and how we all should do the same considering it is something that affects us all v. knowing the ends and outs of a particular sport that is merely entertainment value.

    I remember shouting at my computer, “Tell it like it is Bill!”

    This entertainment-driven, gotta-have-it-right-now culture, which has been building for over 40 years, is hard to change. What Pres. Obama is doing and what Bill correctly noted is like shock therapy to this nation. But hopefully after 8 years of this, plus another 4 of another Dem president, people will have cultivated a longer-term mindset that values thinking and not knee-jerk reactions.

  16. OMG that is such a great point:

    It was like reading the all positive thread put most of us in such a positive mood that even reading about those who still complained couldn’t bring us down.

    I read the most fantastic comment in which someone in the family said that she could now watch Maddow’s response because the positivity of the pundit-free responses and the pundit thread uplifted here. You’re exactly right, japa.

    I’m hoping to also draw in people who are completely uninterested in negativity of any kind, don’t know and don’t care about the traditional media at all, yet enjoy sophisticated discussions of events: basically, people looking for a positive news filter. I don’t think that we can do that on the entire site because there’s too much foolishness going on which rightly needs to be called out. But I think that 100% positive zones can easily became a feature and major selling point for this site. Just really proud of bwd’s place.

  17. (THE PL AND FRUSTRATI are wrong again, looks like eric holder is NOT in bed with BP afterall)

    ***DOJ to chrage BP with manslaughter:****

    Shares in oil major BP fell on Tuesday on a report the company’s managers could face manslaughter charges following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which could lead to much higher fines over the disaster.

    US prosecutors are considering whether to pursue manslaughter charges against BP managers for decisions made before the explosion on the rig that killed 11 workers and caused the biggest offshore spill in US history, a report from Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter.

    A US official said the Department of Justice is investigating possible criminal charges related to the deaths of the workers. These charges could include manslaughter, but the official declined to confirm this was under consideration.

    BP has admitted mistakes in the run-up to the rig blast but has denied accusations it was “grossly negligent”, a charge that could add tens of billions to the final bill it pays for the disaster.

    “A manslaughter charge makes a charge of gross negligence more likely,” one dealer said.


  18. I enjoy both you have to be able to talk about what being said. If a person wants to discuss a pundits point of view it should not be condemed,but reviewed and all opinion given, that how you dialog and discuss things. We seem to that in a civil and mature manner in which i enjoy.

  19. Oh, how I love The Obama Diary. There is a picture there today of the President playing peekaboo with a toddler in the outer office that is beyond charming. Pete Souza is one of the luckiest people on the planet.

  20. Even with all the false articles from the left, he has remained above the fray and composed!
    I am telling you, he will get alot of votes from people, just because of the crisis handling this president has done!
    One problem solved after another! He is basically keeping the whole world afloat! Seriously!

  21. It is exciting and supportive to our own opinions. In dealing with bullies we have to work in unison. Not conform but work in unison.

  22. Critical thinking is in short supply in this country particularly among our media class. The president is leading the way in bringing it back to the forefront and hopefully his methods will have a long term effect on political discussion. The issues that politicians deal with are complex and varied and require study, evaluation and intelligence to handle properly. That is something that only critical thinking can address. A resurgence in the value given to critical thinking would be invaluable in everything from scientific advancement and education to infrastructure and manufacturing. I do believe that even in only 2 and 1/2 years, the president has been able to bring more deliberative thought into the mainstream. I see it in the reaction to the slogan happy, but intellectually vacuous Tea Party. More and more people, many of whom originally were among the screaming Drill Baby Drill crowd, are now seeing the sloganeering and simplification of complex issues as unhelpful and even silly. After another term of President Obama leading the way, I see real hope that we can overcome the lazy thinking and really start to demand politicians who think of consequences and engage in long term thinking about issues.

  23. He clearly stated his foreign policy beliefs but they are not simple and can’t be boiled down to a simple sentence that covers all situations and that makes the media upset. They like slogans and catchphrases that they can sum up in 15 seconds or less. President Obama doesn’t work that way because the world doesn’t work that way and he gives the people credit for being able to understand more than 15 second soundbites. Eventually, the media will catch on that times have changed. People want more and the president brings the more every time. It may make the media’s job harder, because they can’t just spout off on every topic as if they were experts, but they will have to adapt and start responding with thoughtfulness if they ever hope to keep up with the President.

  24. And, indeed, Bobfr. As I listened, all pertinent asked questions were answered. Including the “end game” question. Answer: Gaddafi must go. We – the USA – will not directly engage – no boots on the ground – in regime change. Iraq has taught us that, though this might take a while, it is for the LIBYAN PEOPLE to do.

    Paraphrased, and, to illustrate my point, I’m able to do so because he was QUITE clear.

  25. I expect we’ll see more addresses right to the people (and the consequent bumps in poll numbers) as the re-election campaign heats up. Whenever he gets a chance to speak directly to the people, the people respond positively. It’s only the spin from the media that leads to confusion and misinformation bringing his numbers down.

  26. Yep, I tend to think like you.

    A brilliant and wise President, who leads a very very strong National Security Team. Their collective work in the past two years as been amazing. Amazing.

  27. Will you all please forgive me..another subject. I am watchin C-SPAN where they’re debating in the House the ending of the HAMP program. (Home Affordable Mortage Program). The Repub. are trying to kill the bill today. I did a little research on HAMP and in one article it stated that the President would veto the bill. This is a shame to hear what these people are doing to people who need the help from this bill. Try to listen, if you can. Barney Frank is speaking now.

  28. Check out the Barack and Michelle vid from last night as well. Can’t link to it, but it was the last thread of yesterday I believe.

  29. Well said; agreed. But I also see value in allowing people to opt in and out of content at their choosing. There really are a lot of people who just want to talk about their thoughts in a positive fashion; they’re pretty much done with the media. I’d love for one of this space’s selling points to be that we have places on the blog which are 100% positive for them to enjoy. That’s certainly not condemning the media analysis that most of us engage in; we’re super-tuned into the media–lots of people are not and have no interest in that.

  30. This is one of the best NS teams in history. What these people did over the past two years is just mesmerizing. And people were mocking PBO’s Team Of Rivals concept when he went with Hillary and Gates.

  31. I believe Gallup uses a three day rolling average so a lot of that bump would have actually come before the address last night.

  32. I agree, BWD.

    But, you KNOW what will happen… “He’s being over exposed”. Poll….”Is Obama being seen on television too much”? And, yadda foolishment.

    Do not miss that the Repubs are MESSING UP. Both in Congress and the States. And, he is not stopping them from cutting their throats. The people need to see this as well. And, they are.

    David Plouffe, is doin’ his thing, girl.

    Let us all hang in here.

  33. Bobfr, I agree with your analysis. The author of the article didn’t (or refused)to see or hear what was right in front of him. I was also a little put off by the assertion that the speech had the ring of authenticity, as if our President was ever anything but authentic. It is arrogance that gives pundits the belief that they’re wise enough to bestow approval on someone so much more intelligent than they are he’s operating in another league.

    That’s why a pundit free zone also feels more genuine, as if comments were expressed from the heart as well as the head. It’s real people talking to one another and sharing opinions without the pressure of appearing witty and receiving large salaries for it.
    I remember during the 2004 Democratic convention (the last time I listened to a pundit) I had the impression the commentators were on another planet sharing their own ideologies and their own “in crowd” smirks. They simply refused to listen to or react in any sensible way to what was actually being said at the podium. At that point I realized they had absolutely nothing to offer and were dumber in their commentary than the guy next door.

    There are all kinds of wars and revolutions going on across the world right now. Maybe our contribution is the revolutionary act of being positive in a world of cynicism, egoism and snark. It isn’t chic to engage your heart, but it’s what authentic really means in my opinion.

  34. Governor Scott approval rating has tanked:

    You could say Rick Scott’s honeymoon is over…but that would suggest he had one in the first place. A December PPP poll shortly before Scott took office found that only 33% of Florida voters had a favorable opinion of their new Governor to 43% who viewed him negatively. After a few months in office those numbers have only gotten worse- Scott’s approval rating is just 32% while 55% of voters in the state are unhappy with his work so far.

    Scott’s numbers leave a lot to be desired across the political spectrum. Only 57% of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing to 27% who disapprove. To put those numbers into some context his counterparts in the Midwest who are having their own popularity problems at least are doing far better within their own parties- Wisconsin’s Scott Walker stands at 86% with Republicans, Ohio’s John Kasich is at 71%, and Michigan’s Rick Snyder has a 68% approval with GOP voters.

    Outside of his own party Scott’s support is close to nonexistent. Only 31% of independents like what he’s done so far to 54% who disapprove. And with Democrats his approval is just 11% to 81% who disapprove. For sake of comparison Marco Rubio’s disapproval with Democrats is only 51%, 30 points lower than Scott’s and his disapproval with independents is only 31%, 23 points lower than Scott’s.

    The Florida Governor’s race was one of the closest in the country last year with Scott winning by a razor thin margin even in one of the best Republican years ever. If voters got to do it over again today it would be no contest- Alex Sink leads Scott 56-37 in a hypothetical rematch. Independents say they would vote for her by a whooping 32 point margin at 61-29 and even 21% of Republicans now say they’d vote for her, more than twice the 10% level of GOP support exit polls showed her winning in November.

    Some of the crosstabs in the ‘redo’ poll point to the Democratic turnout issues that made Scott’s victory possible in the first place though. For instance voters under 30 say they would support Sink by a 67-26 margin if the election was today- but those folks made up only 8% of the electorate in the state last year. If they had turned out in greater numbers Scott would have been in the dustbin of Florida political history four months ago. Turnout from African Americans (who say they would vote for Sink now 85-8) and Hispanics (who say they would vote for Sink 69-28) was also down as a share of the electorate last year from 2008. Democratic voters may be disgusted with Scott as Governor but to some extent they did it to themselves by not showing up to vote in November.

    Scott obviously has almost four whole years to rehabilitate his image but one thing’s clear- it’s not going to happen if he doesn’t change the way he operates.

    Full results here
    Posted by Tom Jensen at 9:27 AM
    Anonymous said…
    I love when Tom mentions that lazy Democrats and Independents did this to themselves, because it’s true nationwide. Sympathy is hard to muster when you Darwin yourself.

    March 29, 2011 10:10 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Martin O’Malley’s popularity plunged to low-to-mid 40s after he passed massive tax hikes and then he rebounded into mid-50s within a year. Scott will be fine. PPP would have everyone believe otherwise, but extrapolating the future based on a present poll is sillyness.

    March 29, 2011 11:38 AM
    Mike Huckabee 2012 said…
    It’s nice to see these new Republican Governors being so unpopular in states across the country.

    It’s sad that people voted for them in the first place.

    People just don’t pay attention. I never cease to be disappointed with the average voter.

    March 29, 2011 11:50 AM
    Anonymous said…
    No impostors are allowed here. It is better to be anonymous than to use someone else’s name like..”Mike Huckabee 2012 said…”

    March 29, 2011 1:08 PM
    Anonymous said…
    To the clueless person posting at 11:38 am, Martin O’Malley and Rick Scott are in totally different states. Martin O’Malley was a democrat in a heavy blue state where LV polling sample had democrats making up 60% of the vote. On the other hand Rick Scott is the governor of a purple states who won by 1% and only got elected because of the year. People are fully aware of his criminal activities something Martin O’Malley never had. To compare those two situations is just idiotic.

    March 29, 2011 1:16 PM
    Anonymous said…
    Good to see that support for gay marriage in Florida is the minority viewpoint. Just 28% support full-blown gay marriage compared to 37% who oppose any form of legal recognition for homosexual couples and 31% who support civil unions but not marriage. That means that 68% are at least somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of homosexual marriage.

    March 29, 2011 1:48 PM
    Smooth Jazz said…
    “It’s nice to see these new Republican Governors being so unpopular in states across the country.”

    LOL, And if you believe all these numbers from Daily KOS/PPP, I have a bridge in New York I can sell you for a huge discount. DailyKOS will have you believe that their rigged polls of Repub politicians are true, while Barack and all Dems are ascendant everywhere.

    Meanwhile, the independent daily tracking polls, with no allegiance to DailyKOS or George Soros, have Obama struggling in the mid 40s – Basically where he was when the Dems got slaugthered in Nov 2010Don’t believe these DailyKOS polls until you have verification from other “independent” polls.

  35. Dems in Massachusetts really need to jump on Brown for his lockstep vote on the GOP budget. He tries to weasel out by saying “The family planning cuts go to far” but then why did he vote for it? This guy pretends he’s a moderate, but he votes the party line whenever McConnell demands it.

    So far all the Dem Reps are sitting on the sidelines and the only declared candidate is Massie.

    Now I’ve read the Reps are sitting on the sidelines because of the current redistricting battles, as if any declared then it would make it easy for their district to be chopped up.

  36. The President was indeed clear on on the reasons of his decision and on the principles that guide him. What some critics and the media can’t cope with is UNCERTAINTY. President Obama can’t offer certainty, because the world is a messy, very complicated place.

    Critics falsely equate certainty and clarity imo.

  37. (And the GOP and the MSM(is their a differnce) want to drag POTUS into the negotiations so they can blame it on him, BUT NOOOOO):

    This was White House press secretary Jay Carney’s response Tuesday afternoon when asked if President Obama would get more involved in the budget debate as the April 8 deadline approaches:

    “We’ve been involved and engaged at a variety of levels, including the presidential and vice presidential level and the senior staff level, and we continue to do that. Writing legislation to fund the government through any fiscal year is the work of Congress.”

    More from his gaggle on Air Force One: “We have been very much engaged in the process of negotiating with Republicans and Democrats to make that happen. We have demonstrated with Democrats the fact that we’ve already come halfway and indicated that we’re willing to do more. And we look forward to all sides being willing to reach common ground and move off their starting position so that we can get this work done for the American people and move on to some of the other big issues that face us.”

  38. How many GOP politicians backed/endorsed Scott once he was the GOP nominee? Dems need to hang that around their necks next election. It will show their judgment and how they’re rank partisans who endorsed/supported Scott because he has the [R] after his name.

  39. The PL can’t primary Obama because they don’t have that much say, they are a small minority, and no one in the Democratic party besides Hillary Clinton could possibly take him down and that’s not going to happen since she is Sec. of state and she and Bill Clinton have become good friends since the campaign.

    Dennis the menace is a joke and everyone knows it. With around an 85 % approval with Democrats Obama can’t be stopped.

  40. It’s already 100% positive. A positive that combats the negative. People deal with different points of view daily and when you hear it you should be able to come and tell your family and get their input it helps you to get a better understanding and confirm . Just like Symmetry yesterday she able to come here and tell about a negative story and get good advice and talking points for to use. which also helped to calm her down. A negative statement is always around, you combat with bringing it to light and giving a postive. Thats what we do here, no one brings negativity view, BWD stops that in its track.

  41. Check this out:

    The U.S. Air Force general directing the airstrikes over Libya has flown aerial tankers into battle and commanded the pilots of Air Force One — and is now the first woman to lead a combat air campaign.

    Major General Margaret Woodward, 51, was in charge of the 17th Air Force, a unit that supports humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in Africa, when she was ordered to set up the United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya.


  42. And in terms of the government shutdown I say let the Republicans shut down the government. The public already has buyers remorse with the radical Republican agenda so let them shut the government down because polls show that the majority of Americans will blame Republicans.

    The Republicans will take a big hit in 2012 with this move along with radical Republican governors.

  43. Raising all sorts of cash for DNC:

    The White House announced that Vice President Biden will go to a “reception for the Democratic National Committee” Tuesday evening. The announcement didn’t say where. It’s at 5 p.m.

    Earlier, Biden huddled with the White House’s budget team. He’s scheduled to also meet with the deputy president of South Africa and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver before the fundraiser.

  44. But, you see, according to gingrich, they only care about getting re-elected in there district! so, this is good for the radicals in the House of republicans! Sigh!

  45. I so agree with other comments in this thread about how much I enjoyed the 2 threads last night. It was one of the first times I have interacted on the internet during a speech and came away feeling positive!!!! I agree that we do need to critique and not always agree but we can do it with civility and everyone learns something.

    I love to come here and know that I will learn more and share the excitement with others.

    I love reading the articles and looking at the pictures BWD supplies. Thanks everyone!

  46. I like that content most of the time and tend to engage it, but make no mistake, it is negative. It’s bringing someone’s negative thoughts into this space. Sure, it’s for the positive purpose of refuting it and keeping ourselves informed of media memes, but content discussing West’s remarks to Al Jazeera is simply negative content. I’m not condemning it whatsoever and I engage a ton of negative content here and elsewhere. I’m just saying that some people simply don’t want to read it, why not cater to them as well?

    I’m not saying stop it all together, which I think would be impossible and also not keeping it real, but that it would be a really special feature of this site if there were some spaces here which are 100% free of it, particularly in reaction to speeches (and townhalls as jovie noted above), for which there are people who have just no interest in what pundits and critics have to say about something which we can evaluate for ourselves.

    I’m for the bifurcated threads.

  47. True. But it won’t help the Republicans in districts that are swing districts or ones that normally go Democratic like Allen West in the Palm Beach area.

    One thing about Republicans is that they are good at fear mongering and lying to get elected but they are horrible at governing. They haven’t been good since the 70’s. Always count on them to mess it up.

  48. should have said Obama has become good friends with the Clintons since the election.

  49. We have two major problems in Florida – Scott took away the rights of over 150,000 people who served their time in jail – in spite of the fact that they paid their debt to society, they won’t be able to vote for 5 YEARS after getting out of prison!! Talk about unconstitutional – that’s Florida for you – if they make it a law somehow that makes it constitutional! Most of those people are Democrats.
    Second problem – he’s holding up the Fair Districts – this guy is something else again!

  50. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but I really liked it. If I felt like hearing what the pundits had to say, I could dip my head in. If not, I didn’t have to hear it. It was interesting that the pundit-free thread got more comments, and I noticed that more lurkers seemed to feel more comfortable posting there.

  51. I know that people were asking yesterday for some feedback from Libyans regarding President Obama’s speech.

    h/t miranda@weeseeyou:

    Obama Speech Buoys Residents in Rebel-Held Eastern Libya

    Residents of eastern Libya under the control of opponents of leader Moammar Gadhafi are reacting with approval to President Barack Obama’s remarks Monday night on the international coalition’s role in their country’s conflict. But many say they wish the coalition would do more to help them.

    A spokesman for the Provisional Council governing eastern Libya, Essam Gheriani, said Tuesday that Obama’s message sought to balance the needs of the Libyan opposition with the expectations of the international community and American people.

    “He has to comply with the resolution of the Security Council number 1973. The imposition of the no-fly zone was accomplished. The protection of the civilian population is being carried out quite well. Benghazi was saved, actually, by the strikes carried here out last Saturday,” said Gheriani.

    more here

  52. As a principle, I think we should be very careful not to lock ourselves in a bubble. I agree that some content is worthless BS, and I’m glad that lately we don’t see the copy/paste of all kinds of crap from other places – But I will stay very mindful that we won’t get caught in the bubble trap.

  53. How did I include the troll comments? UGGGH! They are the paid trolls all over the internet! My post should Never incldue them, sorry!

  54. you don’t have to comment. simple.i find this place positive and refreshing because its not the thoughts of any one here. Thats the difference,and its a place where the positive can come and vent about the negative. if its something i don’t want to discuss i don’t tell others what they should not bring i just don’t comment or reply to that persons comment. respect the basic rule that BWD has and enjoy. I enjoy everyone.

  55. One of the reason if you noticed last night there was’nt many pundits and they did not do their normal panel which is what made the difference and it was great.

  56. As far as critique I confess I find it very hard to do that with my President because I very seldom disagree with him

    I probably told this before but it is worth repeating – I have had two “blips” since he became candidate Obama –
    The first was during the debates when he was getting creamed by Hillary – I was at a small luncheon with Michele Obama – she came around to all the tables, talked and took pictures (and hugs – she is a GREAT hugger!) with everyone – I told her that I thought his speech writers should write him 30-60 second answers to questions he might get (because as much as I LOVE the fact that he is the smartest person in the room he was getting killed at that time! Remember? He was around 30 points behind) her answer to me was “Barack isn’t a 30 second guy!” I loved it!
    Second was during the discussions about giving tax breaks to the rich – I was finding myself getting upset with him – thinking he was going to just fold – as usual, he was way ahead of me and everyone else – yes, I HATE the tax breaks for the rich but I also recognize the fact (as did he!) that he NEVER would have got the other things he got in the new Congress – he has to get what he can get with the people he has to deal with – can you imagine what would have happened to the economy if unemployment insurance hadn’t been extended?

  57. Agreed totally with you and tulips in that regard. But it was incredibly fun to have a pundits-free zone last night and several people noted how uplifting the experience was. Just to be clear: I’m certainly not suggesting that every day we discourage media analysis; simply for special events, it would be spectacular to have a 100% positive, pundits/critics-free thread. I think it would enhance the site’s popularity even further if word got around that we were running two versions of live blogs during special events, one of which has no negative media discussions. Just my thought.

  58. My comments regarding West was not intended to bring anyone down or cause negativity. But, it sounds like it did and for that I apologize. I am not one to make many comments on any blog, so no worries. It won’t happen again.

  59. Jeesh, Kaddaffy forces captured 3 dutch marines:

    Members of the Dutch parliament have blasted the cabinet over a botched rescue mission by three Dutch marines, who were easily captured by Libyan forces soon after their helicopter touched down near the town of Sirte on February 27.

    Harry van Bommel, an opposition lawmaker, called the operation “inexplicable and irresponsible”, and Uri Rosenthal, the foreign minister, has admitted that a miscalculation may have been made.

    Al Jazeera-

  60. Yup, I think that a lot of people enjoyed it more than they thought they would. Thanks, Rina.

  61. Yeah but that was just approved in 2007 by crist, so most fleons did not know about it! And to mitigate this, African American popualtion grew in flroida, according to the census!
    Registration drives… We all need to study the census in our states, for our own regsitration drives… should tell us WHERE to go!

  62. I believe they were released, though could be wrong. it was a botched mission to get out a Dutch national, but the Libyan military was basically laying and waiting for the Dutch, to the point it looked like a set-up.

  63. No it did’nt please don’t apologize. you are fine Every one is please with the outcome of yesterday party.

  64. I’m not criticizing your West comments and I’m sorry that I haven’t made that clear–I was responding to Tulip’s example which I think misses the point and casts my opinion as a criticism which is not intended.

    I’m simply saying that it was nice to have two threads for the speech, one of which had pundit/critics content, and one which did not. And that I think that this should be repeated for all speeches/town halls because this is attractive to a set of people who don’t like to read negative content from critics and the media.

    That’s it.

    We *all* talk about the critics/pundits all the time, I did it just this morning here and elsewhere. I’m not trying to throw shade at anyone, just offering up a suggestion which I think can enhance the blog.

    Please don’t limit your comments because of this discussion, which is not intended to be insulting to anyone. I not only appreciated your remarks, but I brought them over to wsy upon which we went in on West again.

  65. Exactly right. I turn on Hardball with Chuck Todd filling in, and the first thing talked about is the Republican response to Obama’s Libya speech and why there wasn’t any discussion of what “winning the war” entails.

    How come the media thought everything Bush did militarily was right, and that everything Obama is doing is wrong? Is it because Obama made his case without bellicose saber-rattling, bumper sticker slogans, or rhetoric like “axis of evil” or “mushroom cloud”?

  66. Symmetry keep being you. No one was offended at all please don’t hold back your comments all you you make a difference for me.

  67. I agree (even though I inserted some punditry on the non-pundit thread – slow learner here:)). I think it’s a good idea to have the two threads because often times the issues (and there are many) we have with the talking-heads can overshadow the content of the president’s speech.

  68. No worries ms4t…..its in my nature to apologize if I feel like I offended someone or made someone feel uncomfortable.

  69. Gn it does not miss the point and after this i will drop it , Its point made to contradict your disapproval of people referencing negative comments. i just stated that i enjoy them bexause we turn it into a positive, by positive ppl on this site. So you handle you situation the way you want and i will mine. we continue to voice are comment and enjoy each other.

  70. you know i did not hear about them being captured its was’nt on the news much.

  71. Except that you’re inferring that I disapprove of people who make comments responding to negativity…yet I myself make comments responding to negativity quite frequently and did so today in the below thread. I have said over and over and over again that I find value in this sort of analysis. This is not a judgment or attempt to cast shade and I’ll be real with you, I resent that a pretty mild and benign suggestion for running dual live threads during special events was recast as a criticism of any bwd commenter which was simply not my intent.


  72. Yes. I think that was beautiful planning on the part of the President’s team. The timing of the speech was perfect in that ended just at primetime leaving no extra time for “analysis” to fill until reaching the top of the hour. Whoever planned that deserves kudos for it. Keeps the public happy by not having their regular programming pre-empted and keeps the cable “news” pundits from having time to spin it. Brilliant!

  73. ‘I hope that as time goes on, we get better at keeping the threads 100% [pundit]free ..’

    I hope so too GN, at least when the President speaks.

    I’m wondering if BWD reverses the order of the comment threads next time (please say there will be a next time, BWD) if that would help. I think maybe people signing on late just saw ‘comment thread 2…’ and joined right in before realising that that one was a no-pundit zone. If the no-pundit zone was underneath, those who really want this would already know to go down further. Hope that makes sense.

    I should add that I have no wish to offend those in our ‘family’ who need to vent from time to time – I have done my rants and been well supported here. 😉 Frequently, however, the comments of the know-nothings are so irritatingly ridiculous, especially when our very eloquent President has spoken, that one feels the need to distance onself from them and take the opportunity to enjoy our President’s brilliance.

    Speaking of brilliance, we need to create/choose new vocabulary to describe Prez O’s speeches! The word ‘best’ or ‘better’ is being overworked, as in ‘it strikes me as among the better speeches’ by Joan Cole. 🙂 Every time he makes a speech some reporter or other says it’s his ‘best’! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  74. Ladies, I adore you both. Each of you offer something special to this site.
    Please know that, I felt like my apology was necessary as I realize that it may have rubbed someone the wrong way. I didn’t take any comment as criticism, but more like feedback. Feedback in which I could reflect on and turn into a positive in the future.

  75. Oh dear, I entered my comment re the comment thread below, then come up to read the other entries only to find a ‘spicy’ ongoing discussion. Well I hope I haven’t offended anyone because I do feel that we have a vibrant community that is enhanced by everyone’s contribution. Nevertheless, I particularly enjoyed the CHOICE offered last night, and hope it will continue to be an option here whenever the President speaks.

  76. Oh no, now everyone’s going to feel guilty, lol; no one’s offended; the exchange is a little spicy because both tulips and myself are quite strong-willed and I’ve been around her blogging long enough to keep it real with her when I feel resentment. She’s just trying to make sure that this space continues to host media analysis and has a very good point in that regard.

    Peace everyone.

  77. I agree makesense4tulips. I view the comments as conversations (or potential conversations). Thanks BWD for making this space and sharing that New York Daily News article. It made my day.

  78. You are spot-on tj! The MSM propaganda channels that are not as obvious as Fox have been as actively engaged in undermining the President as Fox. Personally I don’t channels like CNN as that much different from Fox.

  79. I completely agree with you BWD that Obama’s NS is one of the best in history. I enthusiastically supported Hillary Clinton as SoS but I was not thrilled when Bob Gates was retained as SoD. Both Clinton and Gates have been wonderful. I don’t know why any one would doubt this President’s ability to do the right thing. All one need to do is just look at the people he selected to work with. Even the much maligned Tim Gaitner at Treasury has really been doing a wonderful job.

  80. No need to apologize, Symmetry11. Your comment inspired me and at least one other commenter to send emails to West voicing our displeasure with his nonsense. Thank you for keeping me informed. You are appreciated. There is nothing “negative” about being informed.

  81. Because two things drive ratings for news: fear and anger. Bush offered up fear by the bushel. But now terrorism doesn’t drive ratings so much and a new Democratic president doesn’t want to traffic in fear. That leaves anger and the party out of power has plenty of that on display.

    I think that is the heart of the matter and why we feel like conservatives and the GOP get better press. They have no qualms about using fear or anger to score political points and Dens seem to value reason. The PL understands that you need both to get your face on TV. They just haven’t figured out how to do it and still sound like Democrats.

  82. As usual, I am late to the party. Day late and dollar short – so to speak.
    I don’t watch the pundits and very little TV so I appreciate some postings of the disinformation that is out there. If it wasn’t for this sight, I would have given the DNC a donation this month. They would have incorrectly assumed that it is acceptable behavior for democrats to fight this President. But thanks to you guys, I withheld my monthly donation and complained (in writing and telephone) about both Kucinich and Weiner. Same with Matt Damon – I didn’t know he is PL’ter.
    The things you guys say can be verified. I can make an informed decision even though I did not see or hear the actual show. I think this is needed and please believe me when I say, it is welcomed. We will never know if Weiner turned down the volume on the rhetoric because we emailed or called the DNC, DCCC, his office in DC. We will never know if Damon’s movie wasn’t #1 because quite a few of us didn’t show up because of his political commentary. I like to believe we made a difference. I believe that if one complains, that is one too many. I am willing to be a member of the ‘scream committee’. We are not tea-party folks who are angry for anger sake. Our fight is justified and its right. This is how we can fight back. This is how we can change the narrative. This is how we can voice our displeasure. Yes, it’s just a few. In time, we have a larger voice and a large stage. This is what we have for now and everything counts.

    Remember that silence = agreement. We have been silent too long. I have been silent for too long.

    Those who can tolerate the pundits’ – I thank you for your service. This is an honorable service. Perhaps we can have an award show at the end of the year. Smile.

  83. I missed where I must have called her negative…I missed where I must have stated that there’s no value in keeping abreast of the goings on of the sole patrol when I talk about them myself here and elsewhere quite often, and I most certainly missed where calling for two threads for certain events, one with no punditry, to open the site on those occasions to people who do not want to consume it, should have created this sort of reaction…

  84. “My comments regarding West was not intended to bring anyone down or cause negativity.”

    I was responding to Symmetry’s comment that I quoted above. If my responds to Symmetry somehow offended YOU, I don’t know what to say.

  85. From my view, the apology was in response to a misunderstanding about whether those remarks upset or offended anyone. I am clarifying what I did *and did not* say during the course of this conversation to elicit that apology, a conversation which took a salty turn for reasons which are still not entirely clear to me. Have a nice evening.

  86. Did anyone see the Nicholas Kristof/NYT interview with Lawrence O’Donnell just now regarding Liyba? It was awesome. He pointed out the inanity of the criticism coming from the left and how time was of the essence so going to Congress the way they Congress wanted would have been a waste of time.

    And when will certain members of Congress stop whining that the president didn’t “consult” with them when he did? They’re mad because the Prez didn’t physically go to their offices or some such thing. Seriously, are they for real? Kucinich, Conyers and the like are utterly useless. Time for them to resign!

  87. As evidence of a short supply of critical thinking, I have to ask, how are you all uploading those pictures? I want a picture too and I have no clue as to how to do it. Help!

  88. You didn’t call my comment negative, GN. I thought it was negative (after reflecting). That’s why I apologized. I was having an extremely bad day at work and West through my emotions over the top. I normally vent to my husband, but couldn’t at the time and my small circle of friends either don’t get it or could careless about politics. So I vented my frustration here, which normally I would not do. But, BWD has created an environment where I felt comfortable expressing my frustration. When I am here (which is pretty much all day), I feel as if am amongst friends/family. It saddens me that this minor incident seems to have gotten bigger than it was meant to. And, GN your idea about the two threads was wonderful. I enjoyed being able to read each thread. And for once I didn’t really watch any of the pundits and that includes Maddow.

  89. The two most stupidest (yes double superlative) electorate ever were the voters as well as the non-voters of MI & FL given that the Prez did the most for them by way of auto bailout and medicare donut hole fill.

    Did I say stupid, stupid, stupid ?

  90. Yeah, the Internet is sometimes a less than ideal forum for trying to get points across; as I said to tulips, I think that we were simply talking past each other. I just don’t want you to think that anyone here was offended by you noting what West was up to yesterday; I was just noting that his remarks are negative, and what’s wrong with giving people who don’t want to hear it, even in the context of positive rebuttals of it, a few threads here and there during high news events, as I think that this can help to grow the site a little and reach a new audience. No one was offended at all by your remarks or found you negative at all from what I could perceive, especially not me; I personally appreciated that update and informed wsy about West’s remarks as well, crediting you. I truly hope that you continue to feel free to vent here and report about the sole patrol. Love your commentary to pieces and I don’t ever want to give the impression otherwise. Have a nice night.

  91. I have a great story that happened today. I teach US History to 8th graders, and I’m always warning them about bias in the media, and encouraging them to read different perspectives, etc.
    Well today one of my students told me that he watched President Obama on a TV station that had NO commentary and really enjoyed it.
    I was very happy that he did this.

  92. Well said Blackman! You did an excellent job in summarizing what the President said about “Regime change.” Like you I felt the President answered all the questions that were being floated by his critics.

  93. Hi CaliCat, I doubt that Conyers and Kucinich will ever resign, but I think it’s time for us to ignore them. The legal objections they’ve been raising are, IMHO, patently absurd. The President ordered a military action to enforce a U.N Security Council Resolution. Therefore he acted lawfully under International Law. The War Powers Act does not specifically require congressional approval before a President can order any military action. What it does is set a time limit on a military action ordered by the President without congressional approval after which the President then needs congressional approval to extend that military action.

  94. me too!! I watched the speech and then shut off the tv! I did check twitter and retweet the messages I agreed with

  95. No time like the present to start the campaigning for 2012.

    Even though the Republicans have some very weak and unpalatable upcoming candidates;let’s not be complacent.


  96. I’m not sure if you mean that you want to save a picture (as in – to your desktop, as I often do). I right-click on the picture, and then save as…

  97. HZ – I think people need to see the full horrors of the Republican plan. That’s the only way people will really believe what they are up to. The President always says it’s very difficult to prove that you’ve averted some disaster – in some cases, the disaster just needs to happen before people will see the light.

  98. Thanks, Nathan, that’s what I thought. So Conyers and Kucinich are both liars. What else is new? You’re right, time to put them on permanent ignore.

  99. The irony is, the House didn’t want to vote at all — they’d have to actually have to put themselves on the line. They want to criticize Obama as long as they can and then take credit if the Libyan situation improves because of Obama’s actions.

    Conyers and Kucinich have lost all credibility with me. You either have to convince me that they are phenomenally stupid by not knowing how the law works, or they are cynical liars. Either way they are unfit for the jobs they hold.

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