Posts Tagged ‘Salon’

The Left’s Odd Abandoment of Obama: Matt Taibbi

Friday, December 18th, 2009

I recently castigated Glenn Greenwald for the umpteenth time for distorting the world to fit his ideological lens. He, like a significant portion of the left, seems to have turned on Obama. Despite his claims to judge politicians on a case-by-case basis and not to give them support or opposition based on their history, it is clear that Greenwald’s recent attempts at rationally ranting about Obama have a strong emotional core; I extrapolate this from the somewhat tortured manner in which he caricatures the positions of Obama and Obama’s supporters in order to take them down, and the eagerness with which he seems to try to get to his rants in which he loses the remaining bits of common sense he has. Thus, it isn’t that exceptional that he endorsed Matt Taibbi’s recent piece on the Obama administration. While Taibbi is sloppier than Greenwald – and lacks the “fair” persona that Greenwald sometimes adopts – both have a core position: they are anti-establishmentarian. Taibbi though writes news rather than opinion journalism and constantly hides behind the (no-doubt vigorous) fact-checking of his pieces by Rolling Stone – but his most egregious errors are implicit. He writes as if insinuation were fact, which makes him difficult to take seriously whether he is writing about AIG or Goldman Sachs or Obama. And his constant mode is paranoid conspiracy theorist – which certainly fits the moment. Perhaps the best response to Taibbi was to call him the “Sarah Palin of journalism.” And he certainly demonstrated that out-of-the-gate with his first sentence responding to critics:

When we went to print with the latest Rolling Stone piece about Obama’s economic hires, a couple of my sources advised me to expect some nastiness in the way of a response from Obama apologists.

Like Palin, Taibbi defends himself by pointing out who his enemies are, as if their existence makes him right. Granted, Taibbi is a better writer than Palin – and doubtless is better informed. But what he does with his knowledge is create elaborate conspiracy theories embedded in the colorful opinions he gives throughout his news:

The point is that an economic team made up exclusively of callous millionaire-assholes has absolutely zero interest in reforming the gamed system that made them rich in the first place.

Go ahead – fact check that! The main point of his most recent piece seems to be the pernicious effect of Clinton Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs head, and Citibank big shot, Robert Rubin. A good article could be written about this – but Taibbi chose instead to write a piece about Obama’s hypocrisy demonstrated by his embrace of Rubin’s mentees. Taibbi accomplishes this with a quick bait-and-switch, describing the vague hopes people had for Obama during the campaign – that he was “a man of the people” – and then deftly pivoting:

Then he got elected.

What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history.

Now – this assertion is the core contention Taibbi makes – yet he entirely fails to do several things: (1) to describe what Obama actually campaigned on; (2) to fairly or honestly describe the Rubin/New Democratic positions; or (3) to describe accurately the attempts made by Obama to reign in the financial industry. Instead, Taibbi merely lists the many people who worked for Rubin at some point who now work for Obama as if that proved the audacious opinions he starts his piece with. His entire piece would work better as a footnote supporting one contention in his three paragraph opening.

Tim Fernholz also writes a good piece taking on Taibbi’s anti-Obama screed.

Andrew Leonard of Salon provided a pretty good summary of Taibbi in general:

It’s the classic Taibbi approach: vastly and sloppily overstate the case in absurd, over-the-top rhetoric while ignoring any possible counterargument.

But Ezra Klein as always has an extremely intelligent take:

But in this case, Taibbi chose a swift-moving narrative at the expense of an accurate picture of how — and more importantly, where — Wall Street is capturing the political process.

The issue here is not that Taibbi should be nicer to the Obama administration, which is how he’s framing most of the criticism of his article. Quite the opposite, actually. Taibbi is being much too nice to the Obama administration. He’s imbued them with a lot more power than they have.

If the result of the 2010 election is that Obama fires his economics team and moves his administration to the left, but the Republicans pick up 60 seats on the House and move the body to the right, then American public policy outcomes move to the right.

The Un-American Pledge, Nietzsche (Republican), Islamists, Anti-Statism, Health Care Reform (again), and Abortion Politics

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Today, I present to you an early addition of the best reads for the long Thanksgiving weekend…

1. The Un-American Pledge. Michael Lind explains why the Pledge of Allegiance is un-American.

2. Nietzsche was a Republican. The Economist’s Democracy in America discusses Medicare and Nihilism. As it is undeniable that America’s population is aging, and that this accounts for the massive projected deficits in the future, and as everyone also acknowledges that such deficits are unsustainable, something must be done. The health care plans proposed by the Democrats include – along with various experimental measures to restrain health care spending – a Medicare commission “empowered to make decisions that automatically become law unless Congress comes up with equivalent savings” that will reduce spending as much. Republicans and the blandly smiling wise men and women of the pundit class have made it a point of conventional wisdom that Congress won’t be able to push through the cuts, and will find a way to circumvent this mandate. DiA, echoing a point Ezra Klein has been making repeatedly for the past few weeks, challenges those criticizing the plan to come up with something better:

If you don’t think an independent Medicare commission empowered to make decisions that automatically become law unless Congress comes up with equivalent savings will do the trick, then you have a responsibility to suggest something that will. Otherwise you’re just placing a bet that America’s government is going to self-destruct—a tenable argument, certainly, but not very helpful.

3. Learning from former islamists. Everyone else seemed to recommend this article a few weeks ago when it came out, but I just got to it recently myself. Johann Hari interviewed a number of former islamists who have recently renounced islamism and have begun to fight for their version of a “secular Islam” in Great Britain. He portrays this group as a vanguard. One of the islamists, Maajid Nawaz was a recruiter for an islamist group in Egypt for a time. Nawaz’s description of factors affecting recruitment seems to coincide with both intelligence agencies’ and liberals’ judgments, and to contradict the right-wing understanding:

“Everyone hated the [unelected] government [of Hosni Mubarak], and the US for backing it,” he says. But there was an inhibiting sympathy for the victims of 9/11 – until the Bush administration began to respond with Guantanamo Bay and bombs. “That made it much easier. After that, I could persuade people a lot faster.”

Eventually, Nawaz was imprisoned in Egypt. He was abandoned by the islamist group that he was working for. The only forces protecting him, as a British citizen, were forces he considered “colonial” and corrupt:

“I was just amazed,” Maajid says. “We’d always seen Amnesty as the soft power tools of colonialism. So, when Amnesty, despite knowing that we hated them, adopted us, I felt – maybe these democratic values aren’t always hypocritical. Maybe some people take them seriously … it was the beginning of my serious doubts.”

4. Anti-Statism: As American as Apple Pie. John P. Judis of The New Republic delves into the undercurrent of anti-statism in the American psyche.

5. Getting depressed about the public option. Timothy Noah depressed me more than anyone else with his ruminations on the public option.

6. Feeling better about health care reform. These pieces by Ron Brownstein and Andrew Sullivan though have made me feel much better about health care reform in general. Brownstein’s piece is especially helpful in looking at the various cost-cutting measures in the bill, and has a rather optimistic take. President Obama has apparently made that post “required reading” among White House staff. I’ll be following these posts up at a later date.

7. Abortion politics. The New Yorker had an extraordinary interview about abortion politics with Jon Shields. Shields seems to be, himself, pro-choice, but he seems to have reached an understanding of abortion as an issue which contradicts the propagandistic rhetoric that passes for most liberal commentary on abortion, which presents its opponents as being mainly concerned with keeping women in their place.

[Photo by road fun licensed under Creative Commons.]

The perfect encapsulation of the liberal attacks on George W. Bush

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Gene Lyons in Salon wrote the most awesome line. It is perhaps the perfect encapsulation of the liberal attacks on George W. Bush – and as such, is also practically a caricature of those attacks. I read it, cringed a bit, and then thought, “Well…..I’m not sure which part I would disagree with.”

If Pakistani terrorists had done to New Orleans what Bush’s hapless FEMA appointees did after Katrina, he’d have invaded Iran…

Must-Reads: Uighurs, Gay in Middle School, Vidal, Larison, the Public Option, and the End of Pax Americana

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

The Worst of the Worst? Del Quinton Wilber tells the story of two of the “worst of the worst,” the Uighur brothers Bahtiyar Mahnut and Arkin Mahmud. Neither brother was affiliated with the Taliban or Al Qaeda or had any reason to bear ill will towards the United States before their long detention. Bahtiyar, the younger brother, recently turned down an offer from the nation of Palau to leave Guantanamo to stay and look after his older brother, who was captured and turned over to the United States only because he went searching for his brother at their parents’ request. Arkin is the only one of the Uighurs not to be invited to Palau because he has developed serious mental health issues while in American custody.

How Things Change. Benoit Denizet-Lewis in the New York Times wrote on Sunday about a new reality that would have been unimaginable even a decade ago – of gay and lesbian middle schoolers coming out. It’s hard to describe how moving the piece was in how it so clearly suggested progress (reporting on the happy side of the news without focusing on the bad.) Slate’s Culture Gabfest followed up with an excellent discussion of the issues suggested by the piece – and even managed to link it to Fox’s new hit Glee. (Relating to the link to Slate’s Culture Gabfest, I must apologize for the lack of a direct one. The podcast doesn’t seem to be posted anywhere that accessible, but if you search for or subscribe to Slate’s iTunes podcast feed, it will be readily accessible.) Relating to Glee and gay youth, I would also recommend this interview of the creator of Glee by Terry Gross.

Gore Vidal. I’m not sure I agree with anything Gore Vidal said in his interview with Tim Teeman for the Times of London, but he proved interesting time and again, speaking of his long series of supportive letters to Timothy McVeigh, his disappointment with Obama, and his conviction that America is “rotting away at a funereal pace” and that a military dictatorship is coming. His opinions carry a unique weight given his proximity to so many centers of power in his time – from presidents to Hollywood to the media, and his series of perspectives on the matter, as historian, intellectual, novelist, activist.

A Hawk versus a Sane Person. Daniel Larison demonstrates once again thatThe American Conservative is one of the few magazines out there providing a coherent conservative worldview instead of mere anti-Obama bile with his post comparing Obama’s and Bush’s foreign policies:

What conservative critics ignore and what Andrew only touches on towards the end is that the Bush administration oversaw setback after failure after defeat for American influence and power. Iran has become a far more influential regional power thanks to the folly of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, democracy fetishists helped to strengthen the hold of Hamas in Gaza to the detriment of Palestinians and Israelis, and Russophobes helped to encourage Saakashvili’s recklessness with talk of NATO membershop and provoked Russian ire with the recognition of Kosovo that led to thede facto permanent partition of an American ally. Hawks have routinely unleashed forces they do not understand, cannot control and are unwilling to contain, and they still have the gall to shout “Appeasement!” when someone else tries to repair some small measure of the damage they have done. Compared to this partial list of Bush’s major failures, Obama has done reasonably well simply by not persisting in some of his predecessor’s errors, but it is far too early to speak of success or payoff and it is a mistake to measure Obama’s success in the way that his supporters wish to do. [my emphasis]

The secret to understanding where so many conservative and right wing publications have failed is their failure to acknowledge – as Jesse Walker of the libertarian Reason magazine does that “Obama is no radical.”

The Dearth of Support for the Very Popular Public Option. Ezra Klein continues his excellent health care blogging with a post describing the problem of the distribution of support for the public option. Klein explains:

It’s not a coincidence that the chamber representing the American people will pass a bill including the public option while the chamber representing American acreage is likely to delete it. The public option has majority support. But a lot of that popularity comes because a lot of people live in liberal centers like California and New York. It actually doesn’t have a majority in Nebraska, where not very many people live, or, I’d guess, in North Dakota, where even fewer people live. In the American political system, it’s not enough to be popular among the voters. You also have to be popular among wide swaths of land. Didn’t you watch “Schoolhouse Rock”?

The political answer this suggests is to allow individual states (or states banding together) to create a public option within their borders – which not coincidentally is exactly where the debate is now headed.

Pax Americana. Michael Lind at Salon describes the end of Pax Americana. Lind gives short shrift however to defenders of American empire – never clearly articulating their point of view as he attempts to debunk it. For a rather effective defense of the alternate point of view, I would look to Niall Ferguson’s excellent Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire. (Ferguson is rather influential among conservative circles, and was one of McCain’s advisors in the 2008 election.)

[Image not subject to copyright.]

The Smearing of Ezekiel Emanuel

Friday, August 14th, 2009

One of the more extraordinary things in the current distraction that is the right-wing response to health insurance reform is the smearing of Ezekial Emanuel. He’s quite an interesting figure – and the views being attributed to him are actually exactly the opposite of the ones he has consisently held for many years…

Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic:

In the course of his writings, which span academia and popular publications, he has argued forcefully and clearly against physician-assisted suicide. Yet somehow Emanuel finds himself accused of–wait for it–advocating physician assisted suicide.

Michael Scherer in Time:

“I couldn’t believe this was happening to me,” says Emanuel, who [spent] his career opposing euthanasia and working to increase the quality of care for dying patients…

In her Post article, McCaughey paints the worst possible image of Emanuel, quoting him, for instance, endorsing age discrimination for health-care distribution, without mentioning that he was only addressing extreme cases like organ donation, where there is an absolute scarcity of resources. She quotes him discussing the denial of care for people with dementia without revealing that Emanuel only mentioned dementia in a discussion of theoretical approaches, not an endorsement of a particular policy. She notes that he has criticized medical culture for trying to do everything for a patient, “regardless of the cost or effects on others,” without making clear that he was not speaking of lifesaving care but of treatments with little demonstrated value. “No one who has read what I have done for 25 years would come to the conclusions that have been put out there,” says Emanuel. “My quotes were just being taken out of context.”

Alex Koppelman in Salon also took on the smears.

A “Smart” Girl’s Partisanly-Selective Indignation

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

I know the blogosphere has a reputation as a place where any idiot can have a voice. That’s why I’m here.

But I have trouble respecting someone’s opinion when it so slavishly follows the party line as Dawn Kelli Hochhalter-Krauss of “Smart” Girl Nation in a piece posted by Dawn.1 Her article on the “U.S. Foreign Policy Circus” seemed to be of potential interest – though the picture of Obama in clown shoes labeled “Appeaser” was less promising. But her insistent and partisanly-selective indignation quickly lost me. An article that talks about our ballooning structural deficits which fails to mention they stem more from the actions of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush than the current White House occupant – that expresses shock at the fact that a liberal was chummy with a dictator without referencing Bush’s weekends at the ranch with Saudi Arabia’s tyrant and the countless chummy encounters between other prominent right-wingers and dictators; that professes outrage at opening up lines of communication with an enemy – as every President in history save George W. Bush did2; that presents Obama’s response to North Korea as a sign of weakness, while neglecting to give an alternate policy – which George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and presidents going back in history would have appreciated – as there are no good options there.

In short, in another piece posted by Dawn on Smart Girl Politics (in which the author confesses he is incapable of understanding the grammatical complexity of the phrase, “The Audacity of Hope” while trafficking in bizarre anti-Obama conspiracy) is anything but a “smart girl.” She does though have the audacity to attack Obama for not understanding the situation in Honduras and Iran while neglecting to take the time herself to catch up on these matters. It was a bit difficult for me to figure out she didn’t know what she was talking about – as she so rarely cites any sources or facts, instead relying on the gospel of her own opinion. She does give a few indications where she is coming from though – as she cites Fouad Ajami’s clueless op-ed on the Iranian crisis and refers to those opposing the demonstrations as “Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs” – when in fact, Ahmadinejad’s support comes mainly from the Revolutionary Guard and Basiji – and a large number of the mullahs are being rallied against him by Rafsanjani. This “smart girl” also dismissed out of hand the suggestion that the Bush administration’s action enhanced Iranian influence – despite the near-unanimity that it did so, if unintentionally. After all – we did take out two regimes that had opposed Iran, including their mortal enemy, Saddam Hussein.

I think what Hooman Majd (an actual expert on Iran, and indeed an Iranian with an actual stake in the Green Revolution) explained to Jeanne Carstensen of Salon also applies to Smart Girl Politics:

The John McCains of the world, they’re Ahmadinejad’s useful idiots. They’re doing a great job for him.

  1. The article was posted by Dawn but written by Kelli. Several other edits made given this. []
  2. Including Reagan over the objections of his right-wing staff. []

The Reagan Revolution (cont.)

Monday, June 8th, 2009

There’s been quite a strong response to Paul Krugman’s column last week blaming the financial crisis on Ronald Reagan. William Greider from the left and Richard Posner from the right both made the case that it was actually Jimmy Carter who’s to blame. But I think Andrew Leonard in Salon has the best take on the whole meta-debate over the debate:

The continuing influence of the banking industry on Congress, on which point we witness new revelations nearly every day, should be enough to underline how both parties succumb all too willingly to the financial blandishments lavished by Wall Street. I’m sure Krugman would acknowledge that. Despite Posner’s dismissal of Krugman as a Democratic partisan, it is well worth noting that Krugman has been far harder on the Obama administration’s economic policy moves than your typical Republican partisan was on George Bush until late in his second term.

But there’s a different, perhaps more profound sense in which Reagan really did do it. Momentum for deregulation may have gotten started during the Carter administration, but the ideological case for it didn’t crystallize until the election of Reagan in 1980. From that point on, the predisposition to loosen the reins on the financial industry became explicit. Both parties helped get us where we are today, but one party in particular identified itself with the all-knowing wisdom of the markets. And that party is paying the price.

I still like the formulation I used – that does not lay the blame directly on Reagan or his advisors – but indirectly:

To some degree, these changes had positive effects – as the market was freer, as the economy grew, as corporations thrived, as the overall wealth of America grew.

But they spelled trouble down the road. The stimulus spending and tax cutting, the informal Bretton Woods II agreement, and concentration of wealth created an unstable system. Internally, the society was imbalanced as extremes of wealth and power were accumulated by a small minority. This eventually undermined the very free market and democratic discourse that is essential to the American tradition. A course correction later might have saved the Reagan vision – and for a time it seemed as if Bill Clinton’s moderate presidency had, as middle class wages finally began to grow again – but Bush doubled down on Reaganism when he should have pared back, and we are left with this mess.

Is this collapse Reagan’s fault? I wouldn’t say so. But he set the initial course towards this iceberg, even if the iceberg was out of sight at the time he set the course. He – and the 1980s revolutions in finance, economics, and government that his administration supported and enabled – are the true authors of this economic collapse, even if they cannot be blamed for not forseeing it.

The Highlights From Davos

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Now that the World Economic Forum 2009 meeting in Davos, Switzerland has concluded, let me present some highlights.

The number one highlight, of course, is the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, storming off the stage after not being allowed to finish addressing Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on the issue of Gaza:

Keep in mind that the “spirit of Davos” is supposed to be international cooperation and civil discussion between the business and political elites and the journalists who so eagerly report on them- and that Turkey and Israel are allies rather than enemies. Dr. George Friedman of the Stratfor Institute saw this as the clearest demonstration yet of Turkey’s increasingly prominent role as the leader of the Muslim world – and certainly Erdogan is being lionized for standing up to the Western media and the Israeli prime minister.

But the immediate buzz in the hall wasn’t about the global significance of this fit, but about breakdown of the spirit of Davos. For journalists, Davos is a kind of ideal as William Lewis of London’s the Telegraph described it:

The beauty of Davos is that one can meet large numbers of the world’s most important/interesting/powerful/egotistical people in the space of four days. Interviews that would otherwise take months to arrange, and hours to travel to, take place in a small Swiss ski resort. It’s a journalist’s dream…

More significantly, Lewis noted that this year, for the first time in many years, Americans did not dominate. Barack Obama only sent his advisor Valerie Jarrett. The most prominent American present was Bill Clinton. More on him later. Instead, Davos was dominated by the Chinese premier and Russian prime minister, each of whom confronted America and blamed it for the crises in their countries in a different manner. Joe Conanson of Salon described the mood:

Accustomed to flattering themselves and each other as benevolent masters of the globalizing world, they now confront an unprecedented crisis – actually a conglomeration of crises – that has diminished their financial worth and moral credibility.

What roused the global elitists from their glum torpor was the opportunity to lay blame for the economic catastrophe that has befallen the world. There was one obvious target: the United States of America, whose stupid and criminal bankers have inflicted so much harm on the whole of humanity. It is an undeniable fact that the Russian and Chinese leaders explored with great relish at every opportunity.

The Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, in a characteristic manner, did not directly name America as the cause of the financial crisis, but elliptically described it as “attributable to inappropriate macroeconomic policies of some economies and their unsustainable model of development characterized by prolonged low savings and high consumption; excessive expansion of financial institutions in blind pursuit of profit,” etcetera. It was clear to everyone who he was talking about. Wen’s speech was warmly received – but his private remarks to a meeting of Western business leaders demonstrated his real political skill – as he charmed the gathered free market capitalists by referencing such touchstones as the work of Adam Smith (which he had recently re-read.)

Then, there were Vladimir Putin’s remarks on the “perfect storm” that is the current financial crisis. The theory of the perfect storm – “the simultaneous occurrence of weather events which, taken individually, would be far less powerful than the storm resulting of their chance combination” – seems to be a rather apt metaphor for the confluence of events shaking the global system. Putin placed the blame directly on America though, in part no doubt due to his honest assessment, and in part to deflect responsibility. While he was giving this speech, violent protests calling on him to step down were being put down back in Russia as many blamed his financial mismanagement as he bet Russia’s economy on strong commodities prices.

Finally, there was former president Bill Clinton. Clinton addressed the assembled world political and economic leaders:

This is not a time for denial or delay. Do something. Give people confidence by showing confidence. Don’t give up. Don’t bet against yourself. Don’t bet against your country. This is still a good time to be alive.

Described as “the lone American to whom anyone at Davos might actually listen as he attempted to uphold the name of his country,” Clinton not only tried to rally the world leaders from their sour mood, but also responded more specifically to Putin in response to a question:

Later, Clinton met with Putin privately for an hour and a half, seemingly with the consent of the State Department and White House.

The overall lesson of this year’s Davos seems to be a reinforcement of the consensus view of the foreign policy establishment: We are now living in a nonpolar world in which, though America retains great power and is the most powerful single force, it will not hold the same leverage that it once did. We can no longer act as the world’s only superpower – but instead can take our place as the first among equals.

Al Qaeda v. Barack Obama

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Interviewer: If McCain is elected, then how will the world react?

Bernard Henri-Levy: …The world will react badly. McCain may not be a bad guy, but he will mean – his victory will mean – the revenge, freezing, frightened, shy, rear-guard America. Rear guard. Not vanguard. Not victorious. Not optimist America.

That’s from a new interview with the American conservative movement’s favorite French leftist.

That’s also what former United Nations official Shashi Tharoor said several months ago. Obama represents the confident America, attracting other nations to it’s causes, standing for diversity and freedom and democracy – a country tolerant enough and open-minded enough to elect a black man whose middle name is Hussein president. Obama represents a country that could inspire people like Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan who Colin Powell referred to in his endorsement yesterday and Ali Soufan whose story I first learned from Lawrence Wright and now am reading about in Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side.

Barack Obama is – in the words of Andrew Sullivan:

…the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology… [He] proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

Perhaps that is why former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke suggests that Al Qaeda may attempt – through the release of a well-timed video or possibly an attack – to affect the election:

Opinion polls, which, as noted above, al Qaeda reads closely, suggest that an attack would help McCain. Polls in Europe and the Middle East also suggest an overwhelming popular support there for Barack Obama. Al Qaeda would not like it if there were a popular American president again.

And of course, Obama’s focus on limiting our involvement in the Middle East as much as possible would help counter Al Qaeda’s plan to defeat America by drawing into multiple conflicts in the Middle East. (Of course, even as this strategy has clearly hurt the United States, this strategy hasn’t been working out too well for Al Qaeda either.) Further, Obama has promised to focus on the central front in the war on terrorism – the Afghan-Pakistan border – rather than the sideshow in Iraq that Bin Laden has been begging us to focus on while he reconstitutes Al Qaeda.

As most citizens of the world see Obama as the clear choice for America, they see the main reason to oppose him to be as being racism – an idea fueled by many Americans at recent McCain-Palin rallies who speak of “Obama’s bloodlines” and use the words Muslim and Arab as epithets. This is an unfair characterization of many McCain supporters – but it is the clear international perception.

The overall point is – the world sees this election as a referendum on Barack Obama, a referendum on whether America will move confidently in the world and re-brand itself in the face of the disaster of the past eight years. John McCain – as good of a man as he may or may not be – cannot be this – which is part of what Powell meant when he said we needed a “transformational” leader. Neoconservatism has been tried and failed (and John McCain clearly self-identifies as a neoconservative); muscular liberalism and bipartisan realism need to be tried.

A victory by John McCain will make Al Qaeda’s job easier. A victory by Obama will make it harder – it will defy the worst stereotypes of America that Al Qaeda draws upon. It will be a victory for the American ideal.

Fun Fact About McCain #1: Panicking in a Crisis

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

John McCain has a history of over-personalizing and overreacting during crises – which has led a number of top former military officials and others who know him to voice concerns about McCain’s fitness.

True. Between McCain’s taunting of Putin and his scapegoating of SEC chief Cox, he has shown this tendency several times in the past month.
  • As one general said, “I am a little worried by his knee-jerk response factor. I think it is a little scary. I think this guy’s first reactions are not necessarily the best reactions. I believe that he acts on impulse.”
  • As another said, “One of the things the senior military would like to see when they go visit the president is a kind of consistency, a kind of reliability…McCain has got a reputation for being a little volatile.”
  • Conservative columnist and curmudgeon George F. Will wrote of McCain’s reaction to the current financial crisis: “Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama…[The more one sees of McCain’s] impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events the less confidence one has [in him] …It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?”
  • A Republican Senator stated, “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”