Category Archives: President Obama

‘THE REAL VOTER FRAUD IS PEOPLE WHO TRY TO DENY OUR RIGHTS’

US President Barack Obama addresses the National Action Networks 16th Annual Convention in New York City on April 11 , 2014. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama addresses the National Action Networks 16th Annual Convention in New York City on April 11 , 2014 | (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama delivered a fiery speech against Republicans on Friday, charging that the GOP is threatening voting rights in America.

Appearing at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference, Obama cited a 2006 DOJ analysis showing that out of 197,000,000 votes cast for federal elections between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for fraud.

“For those of you who are math majors, that is a percentage that is 0.00002 percent,” Obama said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Obama then pointed to who he considers to be the real perpetrators: the people behind these “bogus” claims.

“Let’s be clear,” Obama said. “The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud.”

More from the Associated Press below:

The election-year warning comes as Obama seeks to mobilize Democratic voters to fight back against state voting requirements and early balloting restrictions that many in his party fear will curb turnout in November. The president vowed that he would not let the attacks on voting rights go unchallenged, but offered no new announcements of specific actions his administration planned to take.

The president pinned efforts to curb access to the ballot box directly on the GOP, declaring that the effort “has not been led by both parties. It’s been led by the Republican Party.”

For the remainder of the year, no political issue stands out more prominently for Democrats than their ability to motivate voters to turn out at the polls in November. Control of the Senate, now in the hands of Democrats, is at stake, as is Obama’s already limited ability to push his agenda through Congress.

But traditionally weak midterm turnout by Democrats coupled with efforts in some states to limit early voting and to enact voter identification requirements have prompted the president and his party to raise alarms and step up their get-out-the-vote efforts.

Republicans have long argued that identification requirements and other voting controls are reasonable measures designed to safeguard the balloting process, not to suppress voter turnout. Democrats say photo identification requirements especially affect minority or low-income voters who may not drive and thus wouldn’t have an official government ID.

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Don’t listen to Obama’s Ukraine critics: he’s not ‘losing’ – and it’s not his fight

obama putin oval office call

The armchair class is certain that Putin is winning and Obama is losing. But the exact opposite is true Photograph: Pete Souza / White House via EPA

The Guardian

In the days since Vladimir Putin sent Russian troops into the Crimea, it has been amateur hour back in Washington.

I don’t mean Barack Obama. He’s doing pretty much everything he can, with what are a very limited set of policy options at his disposal. No, I’m talking about the people who won’t stop weighing in on Obama’s lack of “action” in the Ukraine. Indeed, the sea of foreign policy punditry – already shark-infested – has reached new lows in fear-mongering, exaggerated doom-saying and a stunning inability to place global events in any rational historical context.

This would be a useful moment for Americans to have informed reporters, scholars and leaders explaining a crisis rapidly unfolding half a world away. Instead, we’ve already got all the usual suspect arguments:

Personality-driven Analysis

Let’s start here with Julia Ioffe of the New Republic, a popular former reporter in Moscow who now tells us that Putin has sent troops into Crimea “because he can. That’s it, that’s all you need to know”. It’s as if things like regional interests, spheres of influence, geopolitics, coercive diplomacy and the potential loss of a key ally in Kiev (as well as miscalculation) are alien concepts for Russian leaders.

Overstated Rhetoric Shorn of Political Context

David Kramer, president of Freedom House, hit the ball out of the park on this front when he hyperbolically declared that Obama’s response to Putin’s actions “will define his two terms in office” and “the future of U.S. standing in the world”.

Honorable mention goes to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group for calling this crisis “the most seismic geopolitical events since 9/11”. Putting aside the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Arab Spring, Syria’s civil war and tensions in the South China Sea, Bremmer might have a point.

Unhelpful Policy Recommendations

Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Commander of Nato, deserves a shout-out for calling on Nato to send maritime forces into the Black Sea, among other inflammatory steps. No danger of miscalculation or unnecessary provocation there. No, none at all.

Inappropriate Historical Analogies

So many to choose from here, but when you compare seizing Crimea to the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, as Leonid Bershidsky did at Bloomberg View, you pretty much blow away the competition.

Making It All About Us

As in practically every international crisis, the pundit class seems able to view events solely through the prism of US actions, which best explains Edward Luce in the Financial Times writing that Obama needs to convince Putin “he will not be outfoxed”, or Scott Wilson at the Washington Post intimating that this is all a result of America pulling back from military adventurism. Shocking as it may seem, sometimes countries take actions based on how they view their interests, irrespective of who the US did or did not bomb.

Missing from this “analysis” about how Obama should respond is whyObama should respond. After all, the US has few strategic interests in the former Soviet Union and little ability to affect Russian decision-making.

Our interests lie in a stable Europe, and that’s why the US and its European allies created a containment structure that will ensure Russia’s territorial ambitions will remain quite limited. (It’s called Nato.) Even if the Russian military wasn’t a hollow shell of the once formidable Red Army, it’s not about to mess with a Nato country.

The US concerns vis-à-vis Russia are the concerns that affect actual US interests. Concerns like nuclear non-proliferation, or containing the Syrian civil war, or stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Those are all areas where Moscow has played an occasionally useful role.

So while Obama may utilize political capital to ratify the Start treaty with Russia, he’s not going to extend it so save the Crimea. The territorial integrity of Ukraine is not nothing, but it’s hardly in the top tier of US policy concerns.

What is America’s problem is ensuring that Russia pays a price for violating international law and the global norm against inter-state war.The formal suspension of a G8 summit in Sochi is a good first step. If Putin’s recalcitrance grows – and if he further escalates the crisis – then that pressure can be ratcheted up.

But this crisis is Putin’s Waterloo, not ours.

Which brings us to perhaps the most bizarre element of watching the Crimean situation unfold through a US-centric lens: the iron-clad certainty of the pundit class that Putin is winning and Obama is losing. The exact opposite is true.

Putin has initiated a conflict that will, quite obviously, result in greater diplomatic and political isolation as well as the potential for economic sanction. He’s compounded his loss of a key ally in Kiev by further enflaming Ukrainian nationalism, and his provocations could have a cascading effect in Europe by pushing countries that rely on Russia’s natural gas exports to look elsewhere for their energy needs. Putin is the leader of a country with a weak military, an under-performing economy and a host of social, environmental and health-related challenges. Seizing the Crimea will only make the problems facing Russia that much greater.

For Obama and the US, sure, there might be less Russian help on Syria going forward – not that there was much to begin with – and it could perhaps affect negotiations on Iran. But those issues are manageable. Meanwhile, Twitter and the opinion pages and the Sunday shows and too many blog posts that could be informative have been filled with an over-the-top notion: that failure to respond to Russia’s action will weaken America’s credibility with its key allies. To which I would ask: where are they gonna go? If anything, America’s key European allies are likely to fold the quickest, because, you know, gas. And why would any US ally in the Far East want Obama wasting his time on the Crimea anyway?

You don’t have to listen to the “do something” crowd. These are the same people who brought you the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other greatest hits. These are armchair “experts” convinced that every international problem is a vital interest of the US; that the maintenance of “credibility” and “strength” is essential, and that any demonstration of “weakness” is a slippery slope to global anarchy and American obsolescence; and that being wrong and/or needlessly alarmist never loses one a seat at the table.

The funny thing is, these are often the same people who bemoan the lack of public support for a more muscular American foreign policy. Gee, I wonder why.

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President Obama Pays Tribute to Harold Ramis With a Caddyshack Joke

The Celebrity Cafe

so undeniable that even President Barack Obama had to pay tribute to the late comedy icon. Ramis, who is best known for his roles in shaping American comedy during the 1970s and 1980s, was remembered by the president with a joke fromCaddyshack.

In a statement, Obama called Ramis “one of America’s greatest satirists.” The President and the First Lady were “saddened” to hear of his death.

“When we watched his movies – from Animal Houseand Caddyshack to Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day – we didn’t just laugh until it hurt,” the president said. “We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings.”

The White House offered “thoughts and prayers” to Ramis’ widow and their children, as well as “all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.”

As TheWrap notes, that last line is a reference to one of Bill Murray’s lines in Caddyshack. Ramis wrote and directed the classic comedy.

View image on Twitter

Ramis died on Tuesday at age 69 from a rare blood vessel disease. His final work was the comedyYear One and he also directed episodes of The Office.

You can check out our list of his best movies and tributes from his colleagues.

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Keeping Tabs on Obama’s Church Attendance Is No Way to Gauge His Faith

Photo by Pool photo by Drew Angerer

The Daily Beast

President Obama has demonstrated the depth and breadth of his faith in numerous ways and in a variety of settings since taking office.
An article in the New York Times last week tallied up the number of times President Obama has attended church while in office: more than Reagan, less than Bush, and when it comes to all presidents, probably somewhere in between. The piece sought to make a broader point about the president’s religiosity based on these rough metrics–but that equation misses a lot else in the process. So I thought it might be illuminating to provide just a glimmer of Obama’s faith, a few moments out of many that stood out to me over the years of working and praying with our president.One of my favorite memories in church with Obama was from 2007, at Brown Chapel A.M.E. in Selma, Alabama. The young senator was at Brown Chapel to worship and mark the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the day in 1965 when civil rights activists faced dogs and batons as they marched from Selma to Montgomery.

Obama took the pulpit to deliver a powerful sermon–one of my favorites, later called “The Joshua Generation” speech, in which he masterfully linked his own diverse lineage, the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, the journey of the people of Israel from Egypt to Canaan, and the political moment of that day.

But it was what happened before his formal remarks that really stood out to me. We staff had prepared a standard “acknowledgments card” for Obama to read, with the names of clergy, elected officials, and other dignitaries to thank before his speech. He read those acknowledgments but when he was finished, Senator Obama said there was one more person who hadn’t been recognized.

He looked out into the packed congregation and saw a wizened face sitting several pews back, an old man who looked to be well north of 80 years. None of the other speakers had noticed the man at that point, and we had not introduced him to Senator Obama before the service began. But Obama pointed to him and said, “and finally friends, here with us today is Dr. C.T. Vivian. Let’s pause and thank him. That’s the man Dr. Martin Luther King called the greatest preacher to ever live.”

Vivian’s smile grew wide and eyes teary at the unexpected acknowledgment. Several of us marveled at how we had missed the great Dr. Vivian–whose activism precipitated the 1965 march in the first place–and how Obama had picked his face out from so many others in the crowd. It was a beautiful nod across generations, a pause from that pulpit that I’ll never forget.

There were many other remarkable moments of worship. I remember being at Allen Chapel A.M.E. in Washington for Easter services in 2010, when the entire Obama family–Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and Ms. Robinson–knelt to take the bread and wine of communion. A week earlier, a drive-by shooting had rocked that same neighborhood, taking five lives and injuring four. The First Family’s attendance at that Easter service added a bit of temporal healing in that community to the eternal hope symbolized by Christ’s body and blood.

Continue reading here…

H/t: DB

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Greta Van Susteren Slams Media’s ‘Bad Questions’ For Obama

Is hell about to freeze over?  A Fox News commentator defending our President?

The Huffington Post

Greta van Susteren said on Sunday that President Barack Obama’s end-of-the-year press conference Friday provided further evidence of why his approval ratings have dropped so low and how the media are not helping.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” the Fox News anchor criticized reporters’ treatment of the president and the questions they asked at the press conference.

“The media beat up on him,” Susteren said. “The media had bad questions. They kept punching him.”

At Friday’s press conference, Obama was asked several times to reflect on what some are calling the worst year of his presidency. Most notable were the question from Fox News’ Ed Henry on the NSA scandal and the question from NBC’s Chuck Todd regarding the failures of the Obamacare website.

Susteren said that Obama’s presence on Friday was “depressing” and “pathetic,” concluding that the president has lost his greatest strength: “his ability to inspire.”

“He sucked the oxygen out of the room,” she said. “He ends the year where you just want to slit your throat almost because it was so depressing.”

Watch the video for the full clip.

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Is Obama really doing worse than Bush and Nixon?

Don’t count him out just yet. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Week

Obama’s dismal poll numbers are prompting dire predictions about what’s in store for the rest of his presidency

ne year removed from a comfortable reelection, President Obama is now mired in the lowest point, at least in terms of public opinion, of his presidency.

Battered by a litany of bad headlines, the president’s approval rating has steadily fallen throughout the year, bottoming out in recent weeks in the low 40s. In a Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday, 43 percent of Americans said they approved of Obama’s job performance, while 55 percent disapproved.

Given that trend, Obama’s sputtering presidency is drawing comparisons to those of other recent presidents with dismal second terms. In particular, Obama’s presidency has been likened to that of George W. Bush, since the two presidents’ second term approval ratings charted strikingly similar paths.

Yet while Obama’s woes are quite serious, the hyperventilating comparisons overstate the degree to which he is in jeopardy of going the way of his predecessor.

To be sure, Obama is hardly in a good place for a second-term president with an ambitious agenda. He’s been dogged all year by mini-scandals and a do-nothing Congress, culminating with the government shutdown and, more pertinently, ObamaCare’s disastrous rollout. In November, a majority of Americans for the first time didn’t find Obama honest or trustworthy, a supposed death knell, some said, for Obama’s presidency.

“Once a president suffers a blow such as Obama is now suffering with his health-care law, it is difficult to recover,” wrote the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, adding that it was “starting to look as if it may be game over.”

Yet one month removed from that prognostication, there are signs Obama could be about to turn his presidency around.

On an important front, Obama has already regained the public trust. According to the last Post/ABC survey, majorities once again think Obama is honest and that he understands the problems of regular people. And though Obama’s approval rating is still horrendous, it appears to have at least plateaued.

Focusing solely on the raw polling numbers though, sans context, Obama’s presidency does stack up unfavorably to that of past presidents. As Business Insider noted, Obama’s approval rating is the lowest for a president at this point in his tenure since Richard Nixon and his Watergate-fueled 29 percent.

But that’s a horribly misleading comparison.

Of the six presidents in between Nixon and Obama, three never served a second term and so don’t fit into the comparison. And though George W. Bush had a marginally better approval rating in thePost’s final 2005 poll, his numbers overall were right in line with where Obama’s are now. (Obama has a marginal edge at present per Gallup, for instance.)

So, to rephrase the Nixon comparison with those qualifiers in mind: Obama’s approval rating is tied or better than that of all but two of the past five two-term presidents through this point in their presidencies. Not so dire (and clicky) now, is it?

Moreover, these reductive comparisons tend to strip out necessary context.

Bush’s poll numbers post-Katrina only soured as the Iraq War worsened and Americans turned, in huge numbers, against it. Obama’s biggest blow this year, by contrast, was the terrible debut of his health care law.

A continuous stream of bad headlines about ObamaCare could certainly further erode the president’s standing over the coming months and years. On the other hand, ObamaCare is finally on the mend. Enrollments are, though still below expectations, surging. And polls have shown the public beginning to come around on the health care law. A recent CBS/New York Times survey, for instance, found that opposition to ObamaCare had dropped a net 19 points since mid-November.

If the health care law continues to improve — or if any number of other things go right for Obama — the doldrums of late 2013 could quickly become a thing of the past. It’s worth noting that Obama’s approval rating fell to near-record lows in 2011, only to surge back into positive territory one year later.

There is a tendency in political prognosticating to miss the forest for the trees. Obama is in historically bad shape now (trees), but his circumstances are vastly different from those of his predecessors, and there are signs he could soon turn things around (forest).

Obama does, after all, have three years left in the White House to chart his own course.

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Those Media Hysterics Who Said Obama’s Presidency Was Dead Were Wrong. Again.

New Republic

It’s been a pretty good week for the Obama administration. The bungled healthcare.gov Web site emerged vastly improved following an intensive fix-it push, allowing some 25,000 to sign up per day, as many as signed up in all of October. Paul Ryan and Patty Murray inched toward a modest budget agreement. This morning came a remarkably solid jobs report, showing 203,000 new positions created in November, the unemployment rate falling to 7 percent for the first time in five years, and the labor force participation rate ticking back upward. Meanwhile, the administration’s push for a historic nuclear settlement with Iran continued apace.

All of these developments are tenuous. The Web site’s back-end troubles could still pose big problems (though word is they are rapidly improving, too) and the delay in getting the site up working leaves little time to meet enrollment goals. Job growth could easily stutter out again. The Iran deal could founder amid resistance from Congress or our allies.

Still, it seems safe to say that the Obama presidency is not, in fact, over and done with. What, you say, was there any question of that? Well, yes, there was – less than a month ago. On November 14, the New York Times raised the “K” word in a front-page headline:

President Obama is now threatened by a similar toxic mix. The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.

A day later, Dana Milbank gave an even blunter declaration of doom in the Washington Post:

There may well be enough time to salvage Obamacare.

But on the broader question of whether Obama can rebuild an effective presidency after this debacle, it’s starting to look as if it may be game over.

And Ron Fournier, the same week, explained in National Journal that things were so grim for Obama because his presidency had reached a kind of metaphysical breaking point:

Americans told President Obama in 2012, “If you like your popularity, you can keep it.”

We lied.

Well, at least we didn’t tell him the whole truth. What we meant to say was thatObama could keep the support of a majority of Americans unless he broke our trust. Throughout his first term, even as his job-approval rating cycled up and down, one thing remained constant: Polls showed that most Americans trustedObama.

As they say in Washington, that is no longer operable.

Granted, finding overwrought punditry in Washington is about as difficult as hunting for game at one of Dick Cheney’s favorite preserves. Making grand declarations based on the vibrations of the moment is part of the pundit’s job description, and every political writer with any gumption is going to find himself or herself out on the wrong limb every once in a while. That said, this has been an especially inglorious stretch for Beltway hyperventilators. First came the government shutdown and the ensuing declamations about the crack-up of the Republican Party. Then, with whiplash force, came the obituaries for the Obama presidency. The Washington press corps has been reduced to the state of the tennis-watching kittens in this video, with the generic congressional ballot surveys playing the part of the ball flitting back and forth.

What explains for this even-worse-than-usual excitability? Much of it has to do with the age-old who’s-up-who’s down, permanent-campaign tendencies of the political media, exacerbated by a profusion of polling, daily tipsheets and Twitter. Overlaid on this is our obsession with the presidency, which leads us both to inflate the aura of the office and to view periods of tribulation as some sort of existential collapse. Add in the tendencies of even more serious reporters to get into a chew-toy mode with tales of scandal or policy dysfunction, as happened with the healthcare.gov debacle – the media has been so busy hyping every last aspect of the rollout’s woes that it did indeed start to seem inconceivable that things might get better soon.

But things did get better, as one should have been able to anticipate, given the resources and pressure that were belatedly brought to bear on the challenge. The fiasco took a real toll on the law and on the liberal project, for which Barack Obama bears real responsibility. But the end of a presidency? Take a deep breath, folks.

The sad thing about this spectacle isn’t even the predictable display of presentism. It’s the evident ignorance of the constitution and the basics of American politics. For the next three years, Obama will occupy the presidency, a position that comes with remarkable legal powers, especially now that he’s been partly liberated from the filibuster’s constraints. Washington columnists—the folks who presumably get paid to disseminate this kind of wisdom to the rubes beyond the Beltway—ought to know this better than anyone else, yet even as they fixate so much on the office’s aura, they are awfully quick to declare an administration defunct. News happens, and in the Oval Office, or the House majority, you always the ability to influence it, even when you don’t deserve it. Kind of like certain well-known writers I could name.

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Obama reminds GOP: U.S. is ‘not a deadbeat nation’

The Maddow Blog

President Obama’s weekly addresses are generally rather laid back and non-confrontational, so it was all the more striking to see the president use the platform to warn Americans about the looming Republican-imposed crises, while chastising the GOP lawmakers themselves.

After arguing that the economy continues to find its footing, Obama added, “[A]fter five years spent digging out of crisis, the last thing we need is for Washington to manufacture another. But that’s what will happen in the next few weeks if Congress doesn’t meet two deadlines.”

The first, obviously, is keeping the government’s lights on, and that deadline is now just one week away. The president marveled that “a faction on the far right of the Republican Party” would “actually plunge this country back into recession — all to deny the basic security of health care to millions of Americans.”

The second is raising the debt ceiling, which makes it possible for the nation to pay its bills. Note how Obama tried to help the public understand the issue a little better: “This is important: raising the debt ceiling is not the same as approving more spending. It lets us pay for what Congress already spent. It doesn’t cost a dime, or add a penny to our deficit. In fact, right now, our deficits are already falling at the fastest rate since the end of World War II. And by the end of this year, we’ll have cut our deficits by more than half since I took office.”

And with that, Obama made his position clear:

The United States of America is not a deadbeat nation. We are a compassionate nation. We are the world’s bedrock investment. And doing anything to threaten that is the height of irresponsibility. That’s why I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. I will not allow anyone to harm this country’s reputation, or threaten to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people, just to make an ideological point.

In case that was too subtle, Obama also called House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to tell him the White House will not negotiate if congressional Republicans hold the nation hostage again.

Boehner’s office told reporters it was “a brief call,” which certainly makes sense. How long could it take for a president to say he won’t negotiate with those threatening to hurt Americans on purpose?

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Obama May Have Played Us All And Won In An Audacious Display Of World Leadership

obama_got_this_answer_1_xlarge

Are you taking this all in Mainstream Media?

Addicting Info

Even the most ardent Obama supporter likely believed that the President backed himself into a corner with his “red line” comment. But as ABC News Chris Good stated, “President Obama’s ‘red line’ on Syria isn’t quite as straightforward as it’s been made out to be.”

The President’s exact words were “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized, ” …“ That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.” The press along with most interpreted this to mean military action. The President did nothing to dissuade that belief. In fact he sent out John Kerry with an almost definitive statement that leads everyone to believe America was gearing up for a strike. In fact he even sent the navy in a poised position to attack. It was all a Bush-like action.

The Left-Wing blogosphere along with most war weary Americans went berserk. Suddenly, the President changed his stance and decided to have Congress vote on authorizing a strike while still reserving  his right to strike irrespective of Congress’ decision.

It seemed as if he was trying to convince Congress to give him the approval in earnest. But even as he tried to convince Congress that this would be a surgical and rather minimal strike, it ‘leaked’ that the strike plans were much more extensive than previously advertised. That would seem like a sabotage of a ‘yes vote’ in Congress domestically, while scaring the hell out of the Russians internationally. After-all, there would be a good chance that the Russians would lose their only naval base in the region.

After the President got back from Russia where the President had some talks with Putin, Secretary of State Kerry had a news conference where he let it ‘slip out’  that Syria could only avoid an attack if they gave up their chemical weapons. Russia gave support to that statement faster than bloggers even noticed it was a statement of consequence.

President Obama never wanted war if it could be avoided. This is the man that said the following in his speech against the Iraq War on Oct 2, 2002.

After Sept. 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

That said, the President needed all sides to believe that he could be as reckless as Bush was. In doing so, the Russians were bound to use any opportunity or window to grab on to. Secretary of State Kerry gave them the necessary nugget.

From dire straits to possibility, was this all luck? For those who refuse to acknowledge the accomplishments of this President irrespective of the head winds from an intransigent and irresponsible Republican Congress, the answer is likely yes. Deep thinkers are likely to see this as a chess match and not simply luck in retrospect.

In one chess match the President was able to make the rank and file Republicans seem like doves, the neocons look reckless, the Tea Party wing seem like flip flopping buffoons all while potentially shutting down Syria’s use of chemical weapons without firing a shot or dropping a bomb. The Right Wing would have none of it. They are so filled with that disease, that mental disorder called hate that they would rather praise Putin as he ‘played Obama’. Remember, to the right, everything Russian is sooooo evil that even Obama’s “Czars” means he’s in league with the dirty commies.

Here is the reality; the only ones that weren’t played in this whole scheme were the President and his administration. This President is so self-assured that unlike many he is capable of taking a barrage  of incoming missiles without  responding. He keeps his eye on the ball. That is real leadership. One hopes that as he approaches the twilight months of his presidency, he will use this same technique for middle class centric issues, immigration issues, and other Plutocrat busting issues.

Now, it’s possible that our deal with Russia to have Syria sign the international chemical weapons ban will fall through. Russia, though, is now on the hook for Assad’s actions so it’s unlikely this will happen but there’s no guarantees in international diplomacy. But no matter what Obama’s critics claim, Syria, for the first time ever, has not only admitted to having chemical weapons but is also entertaining the idea of disposing of them. That, alone, is a significant achievement. And if Assad follows through? Obama will have shown that he can play chess on the world stage with the best of them. Is it any wonder his detractors are screaming foul?

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Policy Experts: A Cautious Speech From ‘Reluctant Warrior’

What’s your opinion of the POTUS’ speech last night?

The Wall Street Journal

Video: President Obama’s full speech.

Foreign-policy experts saw little in President Barack Obama’s speech on Syria Tuesday night that is likely to dramatically alter the contours of the debate.

Aaron David Miller, a retired Middle East negotiator at the State Department, said the speech came across more as a “progress report” than a rallying cry to the nation.

“It was not a speech that conveyed a sense of urgency,” said Mr. Miller, who is now a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholar. The president’s embrace of a Russian proposal to force Syria to relinquish control of its chemical arsenal and Mr. Obama’s decision to ask lawmakers to postpone a vote to authorize a military strike against Syria undercut his ability to deliver a compelling speech that could sway Americans, said Mr. Miller.

“The circumstances in which this speech was made didn’t afford an opportunity for greatness, clarity or decisiveness,” he said

Christopher Preble, a vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Mr. Obama failed to make a case that the national security of the U.S. was at stake in Syria.

“What is U.S. involvement going to do to change the situation on the ground in Syria, to improve the situation for the Syrian people and more important in what ways is it going to advance U.S. security,” he said. “He didn’t engage that argument at all.”

Mr. Preble said an equally compelling case can be moved that intervening would harm U.S. national security, weakening the Assad regime and causing chemical weapons to fall in the hands of extremist groups.

Some defense experts coupled their criticism with praise for Mr. Obama’s delivery and candor with the public.

Shawn Brimley, a former national security staff member in the Obama administration, said he thought the speech was well done, and came away with a feeling Mr. Obama intended to act.

“This is a president who doesn’t bluff, he doesn’t have a track record of bluffing,” said Mr. Brimley, now the director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank supportive of Mr. Obama. “He basically said the U.S. is going to prepare to act. … If we see Syria start to prevaricate and it becomes clear they are playing a game, he will let the Tomahawks fly.”

Christopher Hill, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said that the president presented himself as a “reluctant warrior” who is cautiously pushing to attack Syria. The address was initially intended to convince skeptical Americans that U.S. national security could be jeopardized by failing to attack Syria. But the unexpected Russian proposal and evolving international diplomatic effort changed his calculus, said Mr. Hill.

“He may have moved the needle in convincing people that something must be done, but I’m not sure if he moved the needle in convincing people that we must use force,” said Mr. Hill, who is now dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. “He clearly was trying to make a forceful case for the need to do something, but I think he wants to be a very reasonable person who is willing to pursue all avenues.”

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