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A Lame American Presidency

Every crisis in his much-diminished presidency has been Donald Trump’s own fault, a self-inflicted wound. His enemies haven’t landed a serious punch yet, but they haven’t really had to. He’s doing a great job cold-cocking himself with regularity. Eight months in, it’s clear that the one thing President Trump is good at is making trouble for himself. Otherwise, he’s incompetent.

Chris Hayes told Ezra Klein: [1]

I don’t think the president wants to be in charge. I think he wants to sit on his couch and yell at his TV screen and tweet things, but he’s almost happy to be able to kind of get it out of his system and not have anyone listen to him. I think his optimal equilibrium is hectoring Jeff Sessions but Jeff Sessions not quitting, or tweeting out the thing about transgender service members and the military ignoring him, or tweeting out threats to North Korea and not actually changing American posture.

I think that that we have arrived at a new equilibrium in which both the interior members of his staff, the actual federal bureaucracy, the US Congress, the US public, the global public, and global leaders all basically understand the president is fundamentally a bullshit artist and you just shouldn’t listen to what he says.

Klein went on to say that Steve Bannon’s firing is part of a definite trend with this presidency. Whatever else might be said of him, Bannon really believed in Trumpism. And now he’s gone. Klein:

American politics is hurtling toward a very strange place. The president of the United States is clearly unfit for the job, but the good news, to the extent that there is good news, is that everyone around him knows it, and he is willing to be sidelined as long as no one takes away his phone. Whether he is being marginalized by his own administration or choosing to marginalize himself I don’t know, but Bannon’s ouster is another piece of evidence that Trump is interested in Twitter, not Trumpism.

So, who’s left in the White House? Jared and Ivanka. Gen. Kelly. Gen McMaster. Anybody doubt that with Bannon out and the generals having his ear, Trump’s decision on Afghanistan strategy, which he will announce in a few days, will mean sending more American soldiers to fight and die in this 16-year war? Reuters today: [2]

One U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Trump’s top national security aides are backing adding between 3,000 and 5,000 troops and allowing them to embed with Afghan forces closer to combat.

Michael Kugelman, with the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank in Washington, said an extended strategy review was somewhat positive because it showed that all options were being considered. However, recent gains by Taliban militants made it imperative that a strategy be announced soon.

According to U.S. estimates, government forces control less than 60 percent of Afghanistan, with almost half the country either contested or under the control of the insurgents.

“The Taliban insurgency has never been stronger… We need a strategy to address all this, and fast,” Kugelman said.

After 16 years of Americans fighting in Afghanistan, this is where we are. But unless Trump has a surprise in store, we’re sending more soldiers in. That would be a conventional Republican presidential move. According to the Weekly Standard, Bannon was the sole voice around the president who opposed sending more troops.  [3]

New York magazine writes: [4]

What happens inside of the Trump White House now is not yet as clear as what will happen outside of it. In just a few weeks, Trump has isolated himself by purging his inner circle of figureheads of the Establishment and the nationalist right. What’s left are his family members, some Republicans, and a curiously substantial number of Democrats. “You do have people who were with him throughout the campaign and they understand what the base wants, but I don’t see any senior decision-makers around the president besides the vice-president who are real conservatives,” a source close to the White House told me on Friday afternoon.

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over [5],” Bannon told the Standard on his way out the door. But Trump is still the president. I wonder if anybody still believes that he is capable of doing good things for the country, and leaving it in better shape than he found it. I’m serious about that. Me, I look forward to his appointments of federal judges, but politically, he has made himself so toxic that it’s hard to imagine that he has the political wherewithal to get an agenda through Congress. If he had an agenda, I mean.

Can he recover? And if so, how? Or is the best we can hope for a caretaker presidency that can do as little harm as possible before the next one takes over?

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97 Comments To "A Lame American Presidency"

#1 Comment By Heartright On August 20, 2017 @ 4:14 pm

Perhaps now the Americans will comes to the sensible conclusion that Governance must take place in Parliament ( congress ) with all other Offices, such as kings, presidents, governors, mayors, and whatnot being ceremonial.

Elizabeth, how can a man who seems so well aligned with SD be anything but toxic and detestable? We are, if you will remember, talking about Trump, who makes moderaterna look like they actually are moderates, rather an outlier.

#2 Comment By Clyde Schechter On August 20, 2017 @ 4:20 pm

“We’ll get something like GWB’s third term, only much dumber.We’ll get something like GWB’s third term, only much dumber.”
No, actually it’ll be GWB’s 5th term. We already had the third and fourth under Obama.

“So… we went from strategically entrapping the Soviets in Afghanistan to falling into the same trap ourselves 20 years later.”
Quite true. But there is more to learn from this. The Soviets’ blunder there led is to delude ourselves that we had won the Cold War. The reality we are now facing is merely that they lost it first.

#3 Comment By Ellimist000 On August 20, 2017 @ 4:20 pm

Noah172,

“Most of our troops who served in Afghanistan did so under Obama.”

That’s because Obama was about as conservative as Richard-freakin-Nixon on about every issue except the LGBT thing.

Shame the Right had so much Obama-derangement syndrome and yet such a blind spot to Trump.

#4 Comment By catbird On August 20, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

“Noah172 and the rest of the cheerleaders will proclaim that it’s liberals and the media who are hampering Trump.”

You don’t understand. Listen to what they’re saying.

Under Trump, America is becoming more polarized, less safe, government less functional, political parties are become more racially focused, American identity is becoming weaker, and possibility for practical policies that actually make a positive difference in people’s lives is slowly disappearing.

Trump’s core thinks these are all good things. It’s what they elected him for.

A few are pretty conscious about their nihilism, but most only semi-conscious. They don’t quite want to admit to it yet, so they tell themselves it’s the Anti-Fa and the SJW snowflakes who are turning them into Nazis sympathizers, all unwilling.

So there you go–they grumble a bit, because their conscience tells them they have to, but underneath they’re happy as clams.

#5 Comment By bt On August 20, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

“We didn’t elect him to do half the stuff he’s been wasting his time on.”

——————————

Here’s a new Flash:

Republican President Donald J Trump is going to do the things that Republicans do:

-Tax Cuts, Yes. Deficits, who cares.

-More Defense Spending, Yes.

-Send more Troops to somewhere and tell them to win, Yes.

-Remove restrictions of any sort on any business, Yes.

-Massive Infrastructure Plan, No.

-Restrict Immigration and / or do anything to raise the wages of American workers, No.

-Do something constructive with the health care system, No.
(Something which might sound like this, to quote Donald J Trump himself:
“If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. I mean, it’s no good. So I’m very liberal when it comes to healthcare. I believe in universal healthcare. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better”)

It would take a man of profound talent, intellect and charm to get the GOP to do anything differently than what they have been doing for the last 40 years. Donald J Trump is not this man, and that should have been clear to anyone who was paying attention. He is a mistake, people.

#6 Comment By Gern blandersong On August 20, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

Trump is an old man at 70 years old and he will not change. Trumps methods and rhetoric are what got him the Republican nomination and won him the presidency. He has had a clear goal of doing things differently and fighting the establishment. Remember how many times he would say the elites are stupid people? Trump is who he is and will always be. Now is the time for TAC to move past the Trump bashing and start writing about topics that will influence our feckless Republicans in Congress to start getting something done.

#7 Comment By VikingLS On August 20, 2017 @ 5:04 pm

“But yeah, you’ll get your judges. Whoopie!”

But that matters.

Clinton was still going to do many bad things to many people, you just weren’t one of them. It’s easy for you not to care about here role in blowing up Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, because you have no interests there. If she wanted to supported genocidal maniacs, well it wasn’t going to be your people getting killed, so it was not a big deal to you.

It was to other people who are not you.

#8 Comment By SteveM On August 20, 2017 @ 5:47 pm

Re: “The president of the United States is clearly unfit for the job, but the good news, to the extent that there is good news, is that everyone around him knows it”

Only now nearly everyone around Trump is either a Goldman Sachs crony or a Pentagon/Deep State militarist.

#9 Comment By Sands On August 20, 2017 @ 6:18 pm

Trump doesn’t have the temperament to accomplish much of what he promised. It’s a shame, really.

#10 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On August 20, 2017 @ 6:46 pm

Trump has forgotten what got him elected: immigration.

Incoming Migrant Millions Immolate Great Republic Amazingly Turned Into Oblivion Nation.

Build the wall.

#11 Comment By collin On August 20, 2017 @ 6:56 pm

“We’ll get something like GWB’s third term, only much dumber.We’ll get something like GWB’s third term, only much dumber.”
No, actually it’ll be GWB’s 5th term. We already had the third and fourth under Obama.

Or maybe we are in the 8th term of the Bush Sr. administration of a Post Reagan Revolution world.

#12 Comment By TR On August 20, 2017 @ 7:04 pm

I wish we could stop with the what-ifs. He won and he is what he have to deal with.

What we have, in addition to the daily soap-opera of Twitter, is gridlock. Sound familiar? And how many times were we told in the past that gridlock suited the power structure just fine? The last thing they wanted were surprises.

And from the left, I will take gridlock to Pence.

#13 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 20, 2017 @ 7:10 pm

It was always a long shot, that at this late date America could be reformed to take account of its own people first, against the will of its elites. Things have gotten to almost impossible, when Donald Trump was the last, worst hope. Every viable candidate save the socialist Sanders was in the bag, of the bag men.

That he even managed to be elected with the money power that both parties are beholden to was thought unthinkable. Given that the voters lose their power as soon as the election’s over, that he would be allowed to change anything for Hillary Clinton’s fifty million voting deplorables for the better was an even longer shot.

#14 Comment By ken On August 20, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

I know you appreciate conservative judges’ rulings on religious liberties and social issues, Rod. I’m curious what your take is on their decisions on cases such as Citizens United that promote corporate interests at the expense of working people and our democracy.

#15 Comment By Whine Merchant On August 20, 2017 @ 7:52 pm

Here is a move we should have learned after Viet Nam: Let the other side win, let them fix-up the place and then we can trade with them and win the long game with consumerism promoted by Hollywood inspired myths of the good ole USA.

#16 Comment By KevinS On August 20, 2017 @ 7:57 pm

Collin writes, “So he can stop tweeting, and act Presidential (go to the Kennedy Awards & stuff). In the abstract I guess he can. In reality…No. He. Can’t. This is who is and 70+ year old men do not change.

#17 Comment By Jones On August 20, 2017 @ 8:18 pm

@EngineerScotty

“How soon before we start hearing that the Trump presidency was a George Soros funded left-wing plot to destroy and discredit the GOP, and that Hillary and the Democrats (along with Director Come) conspired to throw the election?”

How soon? I’m already hearing it, that’s how soon.

#18 Comment By Dale McNamee On August 20, 2017 @ 8:23 pm

Hared and Ivanka are not qualified in any sense to be in government and should be in PR work…

They are marginally equipped to even do the simplest PR jobs…

But, Trump is a “dotty,doting,dad”…

#19 Comment By David On August 20, 2017 @ 8:27 pm

Ah, we’ll all wake up tomorrow saying, you know what? The NYT and MSM are right.
Not.

#20 Comment By Michelle On August 20, 2017 @ 9:20 pm

Clinton was still going to do many bad things to many people, you just weren’t one of them. It’s easy for you not to care about here role in blowing up Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, because you have no interests there. If she wanted to supported genocidal maniacs, well it wasn’t going to be your people getting killed, so it was not a big deal to you.

Trump’s foreign policy, such as it is, will also likely end up getting a lot of people killed. He’s already bombed Syria and will likely be announcing tomorrow that we’ll be sending more soldiers off to Afghanistan. Who knows what he’ll do about Iraq or Iran, where he wants to negate the treaty Obama negotiated. With Bannon gone, so too went any chance for a non-hawkish foreign policy and an end budget busting increases in military.

So spare me the sanctimonious BS about not caring because it won’t be my people getting killed, as if you even know who my people are. You don’t. But go ahead an lob personal insults if it makes you feel better.

#21 Comment By PacNW On August 20, 2017 @ 9:28 pm

The biggest thing that will happen under Trump is that our precious gift from nature — our environment — will be destroyed. To destroy America’s environment is to destroy America. Trump will do it to make a handful of very rich people much richer.

#22 Comment By Anne On August 20, 2017 @ 9:37 pm

“…Obama was about as conservative as Richard-freakin-Nixon on about every issue except the LGBT thing.”

Yes, but then Nixon died in 1994, 18 years before even Obama had changed his mind on that. Before 1980, many, probably most, conservative Republicans took positions on domestic issues considered “liberal” today. Barry Goldwater’s wife was a founding member of Planned Parenthood. Conversely, since that time Democrats have moved steadily rightward on most fiscal, trade and foreign policy issues. It’s only on what used to be considered matters of “personal morality” — abortion, homosexuality, same-sex unions — that Democrats have taken a strict “individual’s rights” position, with Republicans defending what used to be the status quo. Neither would have been called necessarily “right” or “”left” 50 years ago. As I said, Peggy Goldwater was a founding member of Planned Parenthood, and she was far from the only Republican sympathetic to that cause. Today’s liberals and conservatives might think a little more on how far we’ve come since the “transformative presidency” of Ronald Reagan, and how generally unthinking that journey has been.

#23 Comment By D On August 20, 2017 @ 10:20 pm

There’s a slim chance Trump may surprise on Afghanistan but it seems unlikely. He’s been the disaster most of us knew he would be. Let’s just hope it remains somewhat contained by his inability to work effectively with congress.

As for the judges, yeah, they’ll come down more on your side re: religious liberty issues. But ask yourself, how have many of these “conservative” federal jurists ruled in other respects? Corporate personhood? Cementing the legal case for an ever more imperial presidency (granted, liberal judges have done this too, but none so forcefully as Justice Thomas and his intellectual heirs)? Pro-business at the expense of everything else? Examine your premises; there’s actually room for some dialogue here between traditional leftists and center right populists.

#24 Comment By RP_McMurphy On August 21, 2017 @ 4:54 am

@Redbrick:

“We tried something new…. and it didn’t work and basically we got another average Republican president. More war in the barbarian lands and more status quo tax cuts.

But we can still look forward to a few good judges and some great red meat comments from Trump that will piss off the far left.

Just relax and enjoy the next 3 years……it’s not the end of the world.”

You act as though there’s no cost to your mistake. Imagine you’re a member of my generation, and the only presidencies you’ve really experienced are those of Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. Clinton and Obama left office with approval ratings of ~60%. Bush was at ~30% in January of ’09, and I can’t imagine Trump will be any higher in January of ’21. So two relatively popular Democrats and two epically awful Republicans. Gee, which party should we support?

Trump, along with Bush, will have succeeded in poisoning an entire generation against the Republican Party. Given what we know about partisan identity — it tends to imprint when one first enters the electorate — that damage will be lasting. So when the 50+ set is sufficiently cleaved by the reaper, it’s lights out for the GOP.

#25 Comment By Sawbuck On August 21, 2017 @ 8:56 am

RE the Gray’s Harbor article. Those poor souls voted for Trump because everyone had left them to twist in the wind, he was a option they have not had in decades. That he failed to deliver is a reflection on Trump, and other political leadership, not them. They were looking for a way out. You hit bottom and see what you will do to get out.

I used to work in DC, now I try to live my life everyday in a way that prevents anything anyone does in DC from screwing it up. I am calmer and happier for it.

#26 Comment By bkh On August 21, 2017 @ 9:40 am

But who is someone to unite the factions? Are we to a point that no matter who is in DC he/she will be impotent? I cannot see the Left accepting anyone on the Right and vice versa. Is Trump just a symbol of what is to come in future presidencies? I am afraid neither side will accept a middle of the road candidate. For all Bernie’s blather, his own party torpedoed him. Cruz would bring more status quo Republican garbage. Would even Rand Paul be any different in the long run? I think it is time to stick a fork in the idea of a functional DC. It is a shame, too, because both sides have some good ideas. They are just buried among bad ones and no one will allow a compromise.

#27 Comment By Polichinello On August 21, 2017 @ 11:02 am

If the GOP wants to be rid of Trump, they can adopt the immigration issue that saw him elected. It really is that issue. Adopting the provision of the RAISE act, fulfilling the Secure Fence Act, instituting mandatory e-Verify and Biometric tracking of entries and exits. That would protect them from being primaried. It’s just that simple.

A further help would be a full re-evaluation of their foreign and trade policies. If you think it’s crazy with PDT, that’s nothing to the current Invade the world, Invite the world, In Hoc to the world policy the GOP keeps pushing.

#28 Comment By Jon S On August 21, 2017 @ 11:03 am

“It is a shame, too, because both sides have some good ideas. They are just buried among bad ones and no one will allow a compromise.”

DC is just a reflection of the moral degeneration of the American people themselves. And that moral degeneration has nothing to do with religion, but has everything to do with selfishness.

#29 Comment By Dan Green On August 21, 2017 @ 11:25 am

The media overall reminds me of economist always going over the past as in looking in the rearview mirror. The Trump Administration and therefore his being President should come as no surprise. The primaries and the outcome of the election were a clear indication both Political Parties are clueless. Both have lost their support by Joe Q Public. Were so called rudderless. The Clinton option was mis guided.

#30 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 21, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

I cannot see the Left accepting anyone on the Right and vice versa.

I can see 55 to 60 percent of the population voting for candidates, or a party, who is None of the Above. Never mind uniting the factions. Push the factions into outer darkness.

Those poor souls voted for Trump because everyone had left them to twist in the wind, he was a option they have not had in decades. That he failed to deliver is a reflection on Trump, and other political leadership, not them.

All true. Which is why I respond sharply to those who think belittling Trump voters is the way back. And don’t forget, a lot of bitter clingers voted FOR Barack Obama. It was comfortable suburban hunters who already voted Republican who put up little lawn signs.

#31 Comment By Alan On August 21, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

“I wonder if anybody still believes that he is capable of doing good things for the country, and leaving it in better shape than he found it.”

You’ll have to forgive me Rod for answering your question with “who cares??” Bush and Obama left the country in far worse shape each after 8 years, and probably north of 90% of Americans love one of those two clowns.

#32 Comment By Hound of Ulster On August 21, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

@Jon S

My father told me once about a meeting he had with the union rep at his school. It was in the downturn that led (I think) to Clinton’s election in 1992. The district was asking for some small (in hindsight) givebacks from the AFT local to ride out the downturn. When my dad suggested ‘paying it forward’ so the next generation of teachers in the district could get higher starting salaries by giving up a little bit of retirement benefits, the union rep literally said ‘screw the new people, I want my benefits!’ in response.

This happened throughout the 1990s. Boomer union leaders screwed their children and grandchildren over economically, weakening an already weak union movement, just to get a few extra pension dollars every month. I have seen countless examples of this in every Union shop I have worked. Boomers hoard the hours, salaries, and benefits, while leaving the possible future of the union and company with nothing. And then wonder why the younger employees jump ship or loaf.

#33 Comment By VikingLS On August 21, 2017 @ 2:52 pm

@Michelle

First of all, do you think all your comments about Trump supporters don’t sound sanctimonious and insulting? If you can’t take any criticism, you need to stop dishing it out.

Trump did one punitive strike on a Syrian airfield, that’s NOT the same thing as establishing an ongoing no-fly zone, something most of the establishment of both parties want to do, including our VP. Even that was very unpopular with a lot of that base you so deplore.

Unfortunately Trump probably will escalate in Afghanistan, something the supposedly evil Steve Bannon opposed. Would you have backed off on the “Breitbart is evil” rhetoric to save a few lives in Afghanistan? I am guessing the answer to that is no.

FWIW this is not about you as an individual, it’s jsut something people do. Were middle Eastern Christians evangelical protestants most Republicans wouldn’t regard them as acceptable collateral damage of our Middle East policies. Unfortuantely for them they’re mostly Orthodox, Copts and Maronite Catholics, and even American Roman Catholics regard them as an afterthought. If the Ukrainian rebels were Southern Baptists Republicans would call them freedom fighters. (Democrats would probably call them terrorists.)

At any rate even if Trump has been at best an unreliable ally for certain people who voted for him, he wasn’t an avowed enemy, and for some of us, that’s the first person to run for president in a long time that wasn’t. When you write your snarky little comments about how evil and stupid we are, yeah, that’s not just insulting, it’s clueless.

#34 Comment By TR On August 21, 2017 @ 3:17 pm

VikingLS’s middle three paragraphs (2:52pm) are not partisan; they don’t veer to the left or right; they are simply true.

#35 Comment By Jeff K On August 21, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

Nate J says:
August 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

The amazing thing is that the GOP will not be in any trouble come 2018, and Trump will likely cruise to victory if he can just get out of his own way ever-so-slightly…..

In a way, Trump is the perfect foil to the crazed identity left. His own boisterousness brings forth their worst tendencies. I don’t know what comes after Trump, but I also think that won’t be until 2024.

As far as that goes, I don’t know how anybody believes that 2018 won’t be a disaster for the Republicans. The Democrats may not take the Senate, and may not even take the house (although I think they will).

So many of the people I consider moderate (either moderate Republicans, independents, or somewhat conservative democrats) that voted for Trump are absolutely regretting their votes. And will probably not vote Republican again in 2018.

I know, I’ve seen so many articles and news stories where the Trump voter is pleased and is sticking with him. But here in PA I just do not see those people in the circles where I run. But I do see a whole bunch of people that despise Trump. And they are very motivated to vote in 2018.

2018 will be very interesting indeed.

#36 Comment By FiveString On August 21, 2017 @ 5:18 pm

I can’t fathom why anyone thought Trump would accomplish anything outside of getting a righty into the SCOTUS spot stolen from Obama — though admittedly that’s enough to satisfy many of his supporters, along with the fact that he is Not Hillary.

Those who truly believed Trump would rise to the job of POTUS were foolish, to be extraordinarily polite. At this point, I’m so cynical about the state of political discourse — and Redmap gerrymandering — that I doubt he’ll hurt the GOP much.

Prediction: despite David Duke’s steady loyalty, Trump will become dismayed by a dearth of reverence so he’ll just quit. The 2020 election will be Kid Rock/Ted Nugent versus Ben Affleck/Lena Dunham, and the independent candidate(s) will still get less than 15% of the popular vote.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 21, 2017 @ 6:49 pm

I know, I’ve seen so many articles and news stories where the Trump voter is pleased and is sticking with him.

News stories I’ve been reading reflect at least two classes of Trump voters. Those who were really inspired by him and dedicated to him are unreservedly behind him now. Those who voted for him with some degree of reluctance, of out of hope he might do some good, or above all because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton, are turning against him. Both of these things are happening simultaneously, so one cannot speak in a unitary way of what “Trump voters” think of the job he’s done.

Bush and Obama left the country in far worse shape each after 8 years

Could you elucidate on that unsubstantiated allegation? I might agree with you on Bush, might not on Obama, but it takes some facts to substantiate either position.

#38 Comment By Lllurker On August 21, 2017 @ 8:53 pm

“Unfortunately Trump probably will escalate in Afghanistan, something the supposedly evil Steve Bannon opposed. Would you have backed off on the “Breitbart is evil” rhetoric to save a few lives in Afghanistan? I am guessing the answer to that is no.”

Yeah Viking … I’m afraid that dog won’t hunt. These reductionist binaries pretty much ruin your chance of carrying your point by the way. What was it the other day, we were headed into a shooting war with Russia if I didn’t agree with your talking point?

#39 Comment By EngineerScotty On August 21, 2017 @ 9:33 pm

This happened throughout the 1990s. Boomer union leaders screwed their children and grandchildren over economically, weakening an already weak union movement, just to get a few extra pension dollars every month. I have seen countless examples of this in every Union shop I have worked. Boomers hoard the hours, salaries, and benefits, while leaving the possible future of the union and company with nothing. And then wonder why the younger employees jump ship or loaf.

To repeat a prediction I’ve made before.

A good chunk of politics in the next decade will be Millenial voters giving Boomer pensioners a haircut, on the specific grounds that “you voted yourselves ridiculous retirement benefits without saving/taxing yourselves to pay for them, and expect us to foot the bill. Ain’t happening, Grandpa”.

#40 Comment By Number Nine On August 21, 2017 @ 11:28 pm

@Siarlys Jenkins – “Bush and Obama left the country in far worse shape each after 8 years

Could you elucidate on that unsubstantiated allegation? I might agree with you on Bush, might not on Obama, but it takes some facts to substantiate either position.”

Obama ratified Bush’s wars and added new ones. He institutionalized and expanded NSA mass surveillance. Ditto for most of the Patriot Act s*** that should have expired on his watch. His lying and failure to get out of Afghanistan as promised were the setup for Trump’s strategic bathos earlier this evening. Failed to move the needle even a little bit on illegal immigration (the “11-12 million” are still out there, God knows who, God knows where, God knows what), continued to let regular immigrants in at record levels, same with work visas for foreigners taking American jobs. Yemen: supposed the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, featuring starving millions and a cholera epidemic in the hundred of thousands, enabled and facilitated by Obama and then handed over to Trump. Then there’s income inequality, the opioid epidemic, record low workforce participation, mounting racial tensions, rising crime, more or less open war crimes in the killing of civilians consequent to his fiat assassination program, etc etc etc.

#41 Comment By VikingLS On August 22, 2017 @ 9:32 am

“Yeah Viking … I’m afraid that dog won’t hunt. These reductionist binaries pretty much ruin your chance of carrying your point by the way. What was it the other day, we were headed into a shooting war with Russia if I didn’t agree with your talking point?”

Actually sometimes binaries are appropriate. Michelle has demonized Brietbart conservatives here, but they’re largely opposed to interventionism, which puts them at odds with the Republicans, and much of the Democrat establishment. Since it’s become apparent that Trump is not doing his own thinking anymore, we need to look at what the realistic alternatives were.

No, I asked you if wanted a shooting war with Russia, and if not, why not? That was a sincere question as it puts your own comments in context.

The dog will hunt, it just doesn’t answer to you.

#42 Comment By Yemen = Obama On August 22, 2017 @ 11:06 am

@Number Nine : “Yemen: supposed the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, featuring starving millions and a cholera epidemic in the hundred of thousands, enabled and facilitated by Obama and then handed over to Trump. ”

This will haunt Obama and America for a long time to come.

You can debate whether Obama is a depraved monster or just criminally stupid and ignorant, but there’s no question that he made us a party to this crime.

#43 Comment By Michael R Honohan On August 22, 2017 @ 12:14 pm

I still really enjoy reading you when you write about issue outside of your Benedict Option~

#44 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 22, 2017 @ 1:01 pm

Thank you Number Nine — Alan hasn’t answered as yet, but you made a good faith attempt to offer some substance.

Obama famously said in office that he didn’t like any of his options in Afghanistan, after saying during the campaign that we have to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Its been argued that surge, followed by withdrawal, was putting your right foot in and taking your right foot out and still being in the dance. I don’t know that he left us any worse off, but he was so pragmatic and determined to do things smoothly, I think he failed to make a decision and then stick with it.

No argument on NSA and Patriot Act. Illegal immigration into the country fell sharply on President Obama’s watch, for which he doesn’t actually deserve all the credit, but it happened. As to those already in the country, you haven’t made a case that the country as a whole is “worse off” because he didn’t deport them en masse. I for one don’t think that is a good idea.

Yemen, I think everyone in Washington in both parties is clueless, and most of the American people have only the haziest idea what is going on there.

But the hypothesis is, Obama LEFT the country in FAR WORSE shape after eight years. He did pull us back from the brink of Great Depression 2.0, lower the unemployment rate considerably, reduce the size of the budget deficit, which looking at the last 60 years is progress, so I dispute the general characterization. Barack Obama was a flawed president, like all our presidents, and he was in many ways a disappointment, but I’d say he left the country in better shape overall. That includes the Affordable Care Act.

As for killing of civilians… there have been a handful of people on active duty with Daesh, al Qaeda, or affiliated paramilitary outfits who held American citizenship, and have been killed while so engaged. I can’t fault that as assassination of an American citizen without a court order. Suppose a few German-Americans had volunteered to fight for the Wehrmacht, and were identified serving in one of the English-speaking teams wearing American uniforms siezing bridges and misdirecting traffic during the Battle of the Bulge. Do you really think a court order was required before shooting at them?

#45 Comment By JonF On August 22, 2017 @ 1:17 pm

Re: Obama ratified Bush’s wars and added new ones.

I will grant you the foreign policy and surveillance state stuff: I am a critic of Obama on those too. But on immigration you also have to factor in Congress (and yes, they are a factor in matters of foreign policy and surveillance too). The simple fact is that every attempt to address the problem since George W Bush was in office has been been met with “my way or the highway” absolutism by the extremists who apparently prefer to the present situation (no matter how much they whine about it) to only getting a half loaf of what they want. This is a very real problem is many, many areas: the inability of the Right (and it is mainly a problem on the Right) to compromise.

#46 Comment By Noah172 On August 23, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

JonF wrote:

The simple fact is that every attempt to address the problem since George W Bush was in office has been been met with “my way or the highway” absolutism by the extremists

The commenter to whom you responded mentioned legal as well as illegal immigration. Before Trump, broad-based reduction in legal immigration was off the political table in Washington (despite significant support among the public). The 2013 amnesty bill, notably, contained an increase in legal immigration, an “extremist” position given the already historically high level of immigration. As for illegal immigration, handing out US citizenship to 8 or 12 or heaven knows how many million foreign intruders, after an amnesty for 3 million in 1986 and lies about “just this once,” is an “extremist” position to many people, even if it isn’t to you.

#47 Comment By JonF On August 24, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

Noah, you illustrate my point. On this subject at least you refuse any sort of compromise. But when a large fraction of the public does not agree with your position, and proposes things instead that you do not agree with, then compromise is necessary if anything is to get done at all. So I have trouble seeing how there is any alternative between compromise and do nothing at all. And for me, this is very much the trouble with our whole politics these days on a whole phalanx of issues– the unwillingness of too many people to be willing to give something to get something.

On immigration specifically let me state here for the record I would be in favor of implementing a Canadian-style “points” system. Perhaps my position will not be misrepresented again.