Friday, September 14, 2012

Obama's note to self on Egypt

Obama's Note to Self: Don't give lectures to Mitt Romney on the importance of foreign policy experience on the same day you declare that Egypt is not an ally.

Additional Note: Get Debbie Wasserman Schultz to explain that it never happened.

27 comments:

Old Rebel said...

Oh, give Barry a break. On the job training is tough.

Thomas said...

Actually, it was probably a pretty shrewd, intentional maneuver. Egypt's government was stoking the flames over the anti-Islam movie, and the remark clearly put pressure on Morsi to reign in the Islamic extremest elements that have come into power in Egypt. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/14/egypt-no-ally-obama-s-shrewdest-gaffe.html

Martin Cothran said...

Thomas,

Yeah. And how 'bout that State Department, coming out and trying to cover for him, but saying it ain't so, just to make it look real.

They're soooo tricksy.

Martin Cothran said...

I'd say Debbie Wasserman Schultz came up with that explanation, except it's far too clever. She just lies straight up.

Thomas said...

Legally, and to some extent in practice, Egypt has been an ally. Obamas statement was a strong hint that that could change if they continue to move in an extremist direction, one that was clearly made an impression. This is the sort of signal th at is common in international relations, and it's actually more proof that, for better or worse, Obama has been very aggressive on foreign policy.

Angela said...

Mr. Cothran, This doesn't have anything to do with your recent post, but I was wondering if you have a favorite math curriculum and why? Angela

Art said...

Lessee ...

The President makes a frank and honest assessment of the situation.

Romney attacks an embassy staffer who was trying to defuse an explosive atmosphere.

And Martin thinks that Romney is the one to support here. This is a teaching moment when it comes to that absolute Christian morality Martin thinks exists. Apparently, cowardice is valued over honesty.

Yes, Romney's statement are those of a coward. I'd love to hear Romney's comments if his son(s) were on duty at the Egyptian embassy. Would he still favor a course of action that inflames matters, that puts his family in jeopardy? (Of course, he shows no such concern for the Americans on duty at the Egyptian embassy. He'd as soon they get captured and worse, seeing as they are serving under the administration of a President he wishes to defeat.)

Mitt Romney - draft-dodging, anti-American, chicken hawk coward. Nice candidate you are supporting, Martin.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

Um, I hate to breat it to you but this post was about an interview in which, despite the fact that he has been commander-in-chief for almost four years, Obama said that Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy. The post had nothing to do with the communique sent out by the American embassy.

The bad news is that you are very confused. The good news is that you may be qualified for a foreign policy position in the Obama administration.

Thomas said...

John McCain said Obama was right. I think everybody understands what is going on here except fox news, who is determined to turn this into a gaffe. Obama is also probably factually correct at least about the practical relationship: Egypt does not appear at the moment to have aligned military interests and a functional relationship with the US. In fact they fomented anti US bies. I'm also unsure to what extent they are even legally allies to the US, Bush 1 said they were our allies, but they don't seem to fall under the statutory definition.

Art said...

Um, I hate to breat it to you but this post was about an interview in which, despite the fact that he has been commander-in-chief for almost four years, Obama said that Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy.

That you are mocking a strong, measured, and honest assessment of the moment is, as I said, itself a teaching moment about that absolute Christian morality some here insist exists.

Or maybe we're learning about the delusional state of conservatives in this country. In case you haven't noticed, things have changed in Egypt. We don't need a President who clings to the past and cannot adapt to or shape new developments.

(More news for Martin - the Soviet Union dissolved a few decades ago, American slaves were freed awhile back, and King George III doesn't rule the American colonies. Welcome to the 21st century!)

Thomas said...

Art,

I wouldn't get too worked up over Obama as the great liberal hope. On economic issues, he's center-right and has continued Reagan's neo-liberalization project. (Reagan hiked taxes far more than Obama has and Obama's health care plan was basically the Congressional Republican plan from the '90s, for example.) On foreign policy issues Obama is a hawk.

The only thing he's particularly left-wing on are social issues like abortion and gay marriage, and that's only when the political winds blow that way. The only substantive thing he's done in this area is the HHS mandate.

Singring said...

Thomas is absolutely right on all of the counts above. The fact that Romney is not doing better despite Obama really not being that popular even with the left-wing of the Democratic Party should give Republicans pause. They'd have a very decent chance of beating Obama if they had selected a moderate, centrist candidate. Oddly enough, Romney (apart from Huntsman) is pretty much the most centrist of the Republican candidates, which is just the more shocking, seeing as how far-right he is on most issues.
The Republican primaries have become a race to the right, with ever more extreme and unhinged candidates running (I mean, Michelle Bachmann???).

The real problem is, as I have said before, the complete lack of a credible left wing candidate in any primary. The last ones I saw were Kucinic and Gavel and they didn't stand a hope in hell.

All the more hilarious that Obama is labeled everything from a 'scoialist' to a 'marxist', when in most other countries of the world he would barely rate as a centrist (at least based on his record thus far).

ZPenn said...

I think the biggest problem with our political definitions is that they are so one dimensional. We talk about "left and right" as if they are such unambiguous things. The system is much more complicated. It's at least 3-dimensional, and I'd hazard a guess that even that is an oversimplification. I'm personally sick of the "left" and the "right".

Art said...

On foreign policy issues Obama is a hawk.

IMO, a hawk would have occupied Lybia and Syria, would have propped up Mubarak with any and all material and military means that Mubarak would have called for, and would have us in a shooting war with Iran. It's rather clear that Romney will have troops on the ground in Iran within 6 moths of his inauguration, and his party is the one that constantly clamors for invasion and occupation throughout the region. Worse still, they refuse to pay for these crusades, but rather insist that my children and grandchildren pick up the tab.

We've seen none of these developments with Obama, and I believe we are better off for it.

Lee said...

> I wouldn't get too worked up over Obama as the great liberal hope. On economic issues, he's center-right...

Nice spin. I wouldn't blame crony capitalism on the Right, at least not the philosophy behind it, even if the Right's practitioners have a bad tendency to get greedy along with the rest.

There is nothing right or centrist about bailing out corporations and taking sides as to who the winners or losers will be. Or telling bond-holders during a bankruptcy, sorry, no, back of the line for you. Or descending on would-be entrepreneurs with the full force of regulatory fiat and turning the act of going into business itself into a risk.

From a conservative perspective, there is little good to be had when the government eschews its position as referee and becomes one of the players, dispensing unearned victories to its favorite contestants.

Thomas said...

"There is nothing right or centrist about bailing out corporations ...."

The bailouts started under Bush II....

Lee said...

True, but not relevant to my point. I'm no lover of the great and principled GOP.

Thomas said...

So George W. Bush is a lefty? I think your political coordinates need an adjustment.

Lee said...

> So George W. Bush is a lefty? I think your political coordinates need an adjustment.

Why do you assume it takes a lefty to always do lefty things?

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas said...

You cited the bailouts as a reason that it was incorrect to call Obama's policies "center-right." The bailouts were instigated by Bush, not Obama, and were central to the Bush administration's response to the crises and--by extension--his economic policy. If the bailouts were sufficient to place Obama's economic policy on the left, they should be sufficient to do the same for Bush.

This is an instance, I think, of the Glenn Beck effect: to whip their hapless listeners into hysterics over a "socialist takeover" by exploiting their forgetfulness of history and lack of familiarity with policies. Not just with the Bush bailouts. The individual mandate was also a center piece of the Congressional Republicans health care plans for the last two decades and was brought into the political mainstream by the Heritage Institute. Once put into Obamacare, it became a left-wing conspiracy to "take over" the medical system.

I wish conservatives (of whom I am one) would turn off the TV, quell the hysteria and familiarize themselves with policies and their history. I don't think it will happen, but it would (finally) allow conservatives to provide an intelligent political alternative, which is, on the national level, almost entirely absent.

Lee said...

> If the bailouts were sufficient to place Obama's economic policy on the left, they should be sufficient to do the same for Bush.

And I agreed -- for that decision, at least. And let's add to it: Bush also expanded the entitlement state and let Ted Kennedy write his education bill. So what's the problem?

> This is an instance, I think, of the Glenn Beck effect...

Blah blah blah.

Basically, you think something is left or right based on who is saying it, or doing it.

I think it is left or right depending on the philosophy behind it.

Thomas said...

"I think it is left or right depending on the philosophy behind it."

I agree. You do realize that the doctrine of free markets is a liberal one, and follows the social model set out by classical liberals like J.S. Mill? And that philosophical conservatives have been much less enthusiastic about free markets, either thinking them useful if constrained by culture, morality and law (e.g., Burke) or else plainly destructive to the social fabric (e.g., Moser)? And that even radical libertarians like Hayek thought the government could legitimately provide things like universal health coverage as part of a guaranteed social safety net?

This test is generally how I judge whether one has imbibed the "philosophy" of Glenn Beck or has actually acquired a historical perspective on conservative political philosophy.

Lee said...

> I agree. You do realize that the doctrine of free markets is a liberal one, and follows the social model set out by classical liberals like J.S. Mill?

Yes, I'm aware that's the case. Things do change. I even remember when defending freedom of speech was a liberal doctrine.

It wasn't until about the year 1800 or so that the standard of living in Europe caught back up to the Roman Empire's. Until about that time, the biggest problem the world faced was infant mortality. One of the reasons a tiny little island nation like Britain could effectively colonize most of the world was, for the first time in history, there was a surplus of young men.

Another reason was the explosion of wealth that resulted from various areas of the British culture all coming together. The rule of law. Private property. The ongoing dismantling of the feudal system. Adam Smith's philosophy.

It was about this time and not too long afterward that the free market was considered a liberal idea.

And when something works as well as the free market does at lifting people from desperate poverty, it convinced even the conservatives.

And there is good reason to fear the market because it is a game-changer. It radically reconstructs society itself. It's a trade-off, though. There is also plenty to fear from those who would restrict the market.

But today's liberals owe far more to the Progressive movement than to Smith or Mill. They weren't very patient with outmoded concepts like the Constitution, viewing it as an impediment. Then Wilson was elected president and proved that statement, incarcerating thousands of people who dared to speak out against "the great war." Progressives grabbed the label "liberal" mainly to overcome their bad image.

For the record, I don't listen to Rush, Hannity, Beck, or Savage. But believe what you want. I used to read William Buckley and National Review, but this is not your father's National Review. I spend most of what time I have these days reading Thomas Sowell and Richard Fernandez.

Lee said...

Meant to add that the confluence of the free market and the conquering of infant mortality wasn't a coincidence.

Thomas said...

Lee,

Progressivism and libertarianism are both evolutions of classical liberalism. They are both strongly individualist and construe freedom as autonomy of the will--being able to do what one wants without interference. This is the fundamental tenet of liberalism in all its forms--progressive and libertarian--and it is deeply inconsistent with the sort of conservatism espoused by e.g., Burke, Moser, and Nisbet.

Lee said...

I agree that not all conservatives are enthusiastic about the free market, but I don't see anything essentially unconservative today about embracing the free market when we have so much evidence of its effectiveness. Earlier conservatives might be forgiven not perceiving that, as the ideas were revolution.

But more than 200 years of history confirms its effectiveness as well as the ineffectiveness of its opposite number. You'd have to have a heart of stone to want to go back to the days when people had eight kids because half of them were going to die. Some problems can be fixed with wealth. Not all, but some.

Part of conservatism is learning from history.

Are you familiar with Michael Oakeshott? He suggested that leftism and its various forms (going along with the idea of the free market as liberal) are reactionaries in that they want to usher back the feudal states. Because people, after all, can't be allowed to make their own economic decisions.