Search Results For meep meep.

Meep. Meep.

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 29 2008 @ 10:43am

Daryl Cagle nails it:

Acmecagle

President Obama Departs White House En Route To Colorado

Cast your mind back, if you can bear it, to the frenetic last days of the campaign in the mid-terms. The world, the GOP kept insisting, was coming undone – and everything was Obama’s fault. Somehow, Obama had fumbled the response to Ebola, letting infected people into the country, and risking a huge and fatal pandemic. At the same time, ISIS represented a grave threat to American security, was expanding with no limits in sight, proving that Obama had lost Iraq or thrown “victory” away in an act of reckless disengagement. And for good measure, Russia’s Putin was running rings around the president, creating a new world order in the Caucasus, while Obama fecklessly wrung his hands.

As a piece of political performance art, you have to hand it to the Republicans. They rolled up so many base-tingling themes into one hellish, end-times scenario: Obama as Carter, unable to stand up to the Soviets Russians; Obama as secret Muslim terrorist, standing by as Islamists terrorized Iraq and Syria; Obama as a dangerous import from Africa, which is why, we were told, the “O” in Ebola stood for Obama.

Funny, isn’t it, that almost all these themes evaporated after the election. And we now, moreover, have more time and evidence to judge how the president has responded to these different, emergent challenges. There have been no new Ebola cases in the US since the election; and the demon doctor who went bowling is now cured. Today, Obama touted some other measures of progress:

The administration announced Tuesday that it has set up a network of 35 roadrunnerhospitals across the country to deal with Ebola patients. It also said that the number of labs that can test for Ebola has increased from 13 in 13 states in August to 42 labs in 36 states. The White House said the administration has also increased the deployment of civilians and military personnel in West Africa, bumping the U.S. presence to about 200 civilians and 3,000 troops. It said the U.S. has opened three Ebola treatment units and a hospital in Liberia …

NIH researchers last week reported that the first safety study of an Ebola vaccine candidate found no serious side effects, and that it triggered signs of immune protection in 20 volunteers. U.S. health officials are planning much larger studies in West Africa – starting in Liberia in early January – to try to determine if the shots really work.

The downside? The GOP is unlikely to apportion enough money to keep the progress up. Concern about Ebola seems to be acutely timed to election campaigns. Afterwards? No longer that worried.

Then the campaign against ISIS. I’m still opposed to what the administration has done. But it behooves me to note today’s key measure of real progress – the new Iraqi prime minister’s deal with the Kurds on oil revenues:

In reaching a deal, Mr. Abadi, who has been prime minister for less than three months, has further distanced his government from a legacy of bitter sectarian and ethnic division under his predecessor, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. As prime minister, Mr. Maliki deeply alienated the Kurds and enraged Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority with his confrontational personality and policies that were seen as both exclusive and abusive. “The new team, under Abadi, is a cooperative team, a positive team,” said Mr. Zebari, a Kurdish politician who was also Iraq’s foreign minister in the Maliki government.

This is the easy part, compared with an attempt to include the currently revolting Sunnis into a genuinely multi-sectarian government, and to roll back the territorial gains of the Islamic State. But it’s a start. My own skepticism about whether Abadi was truly a unifying figure deserves provisional retirement. And the IS has been rolled back in several key areas. And Kobani has not fallen. If you take Obama’s posture at face value – that he was trying to prevent much worse happening in Iraq and laying out a years-long strategy to nudge Iraq’s democracy along – I can’t see clear evidence that he has failed. Within the very limited goals he set, he has so far succeeded.

Then Putin.

The right was all aglow either with envy of the diminutive tantrum-thrower or with disgust that he had so easily rolled the West on Ukraine. Many found the slow, undramatic unfolding of sanctions as pathetically weak in the face of such unvarnished aggression. But, again, look where Putin is now. I’m with Kevin Drum:

Ukraine is more firmly allied to the West than ever. Finland is wondering if it might not be such a bad idea to join NATO after all. The Baltic states, along with just about every other Russian neighbor, are desperate to reinforce their borders – and their NATO commitments. Russia has been dumped from the G7 and Putin himself was brutally snubbed by practically every other world leader at the G20 meeting in Brisbane. Economic sanctions are wreaking havoc with the Russian economy. China took advantage of all this to drive a harder bargain in negotiations over the long-planned Siberian gas pipeline. Even Angela Merkel has finally turned on Putin.

Russia, meanwhile, is headed for an outright recession next year, hobbled by sanctions and the collapsing oil price (caused in part by America’s shale oil revolution in the Obama years). Now, as with Ebola and ISIS, there are obvious caveats. Obama’s successful cornering of Putin could mean the dictator could get even more reckless; Ukraine remains torn apart in the East. But from the perspective of now, does Putin seem the stronger strategist or does Obama?

I point this out because the conservative media-industrial complex is really about delivering news that can work as political messaging. When the news doesn’t fit that template, they move swiftly on to something else that does. But reality tells us something different: that you should judge a presidency not by short-term panics, but by long term progress in the face of contingent events. Six years after the worst recession since the 1930s, we have accelerating growth, a collapsing deficit, falling healthcare costs and universal health insurance; a decade after the Federal Marriage Amendment, we have over 30 states with marriage equality; six years since Obama took office, we have the toughest new carbon regulations yet on the books and an agreement with China.

I’ll say it again. Meep meep.

(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty)

obamasmug

There are plenty of imponderables left on the fate of the ACA, Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. Premiums could still spike later this year; the full data on the numbers with actual, paid-for health insurance via the exchanges is not yet known; the resistance on the right to it is still mighty; in many states, the lack of Medicaid expansion guts a key part of the law’s intent. If you want to read an attempt to argue that Obamacare is as big a liability for Obama this fall as the Iraq War was for Bush in 2006, well go read JPod. My reaction after reading his screed was: seriously?

There’s simply no denying that the law has been rescued by an impressive post-fiasco operation that did to ACA-opponents what the Obama campaign did to the Clintons in 2008 and to Romney in 2012. Obama out-muscled the nay-sayers on the ground. I have a feeling that this has yet to fully sink in with the public, and when it does, the politics of this might change. (Since the law was pummeled at the get-go as something beyond the skills of the federal government to implement, its subsequent successful implementation would seem to me to do a lot to reverse the damage.) There are some signs that this is happening. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds the following:

Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats’ plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. This marks both an uptick in support for Democrats and a slide for Republicans since a similar poll in February.

That’s mainly because of renewed confidence and support from previously demoralized Democrats. But it’s also a reflection, it seems to me, of the political vulnerability of Republicans who have failed to present a viable alternative to the law, and indeed seem set, in the eyes of most voters, merely to repeal ACA provisions that are individually popular. And this bad position is very likely to endure because of the intensity of the loathing for Obama/Obamacare among the Medicare recipients in the GOP base. It seems to me that right now, the GOP cannot offer an alternative that keeps the more popular parts of Obamacare without the air fast leaking out of their mid-term election balloon. And so by the fall, the political dynamics of this may shift some more in Obama’s direction. By 2016, that could be even more dramatic. One party – the GOP – will be offering unnerving change back to the status quo ante, and the other will be proposing incremental reform of the ACA. The only thing more likely to propel Hillary Clinton’s candidacy would be a Republican House and Senate next January.

It’s that long game thing again, isn’t it? Like the civil rights revolution of the Obama years, it seemed a close-to-impossible effort to start with, and then was gradually, skillfully ground out. It also seems true to me that the non-event of the ACA for many, many people will likely undermine some of the hysteria on the right. The ACA-opponents may be in danger of seeming to cry wolf over something that isn’t that big a deal. Yes, they may have premium hikes to tout as evidence of the alleged disaster. And every single piece of bad news on the healthcare front will be attributed to the ACA, fairly or not. But the public will still want to know how premiums can go down without people with pre-existing conditions being kicked out of the system, or without kids being kicked off their parents’ plan, and so on. I think, in other words, that the GOP’s position made a lot of short-term political sense in 2010 and even 2012. But it’s a much tougher sell in 2014, let alone 2016. Once again, they have substituted tactics for strategy. Every time they have done that with Obama, they have failed.

Or maybe I’m biased because my own insurance situation has gotten better. Here’s what’s happened in my individual case.

I stayed on my Newsweek plan via COBRA for my first year as a new business-owner. But when I went on the exchanges this year before my COBRA ran out, I was pleasantly surprised. My old plan had a premium for me and my hubby of $1,535.59 per month, with an in-network out-of-pocket maximum of $2,500 per person. So in 2013 I had total out-of-pocket costs (premiums plus my out-of-pocket maximum of $2,500) of $20,927.08. This year, my ACA plan – a Platinum DC-based one – has a monthly premium of $1,106.33 for the two of us, with an in-network out-of-pocket maximum of $1,800 per person. My out of pocket medical costs this year will therefore be $15,075.96. (One small note: my previous plan was slated for a reduction in premiums this year as well. Not by as much as my current plan – but a significant one nonetheless. But since my COBRA option ran out this June, it wasn’t really a choice.)

So I’m a lot better off with Obamacare this year. I’m also buoyed by the fact that DC’s exchanges have a high number of the young and healthy in them – balancing out my aging AIDSy ass. So I’m reasonably confident my plan won’t go down the toilet any time soon, or face big hikes in premiums. And this new insurance means a lot more to me than the old one – because it cannot be taken away, even if the Dish goes belly-up. When you are a long-term HIV survivor, that kind of health security and independence is, well, priceless. Obamacare affected me in another critical way as well. Its assurance of a stable insurance market that does not screen out someone with a pre-existing condition made me far more comfortable starting my own business. It gave me a baseline of security that simply didn’t exist before. It helped make entrepreneurialism possible.

Yes, I am just one tiny, and rare example. But for me, at least, Obamacare has over-delivered and over-performed. If my experience is replicated more widely, then I suspect the polling and politics will shift yet again.

Meep motherfucking meep.

(Photo: Dennis Brack/Black Star/Getty Images)

Meep Meep, Motherfuckers

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 15 2013 @ 10:32pm

obamasmug

“Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear, they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy. We know that, because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq war,” – president Obama.

Oh, snap!

It’s been awesome to watch today as all the jerking knees quieted a little and all the instant judgments of the past month ceded to a deeper acknowledgment (even among Republicans) of what had actually been substantively achieved: something that, if it pans out, might be truly called a breakthrough – not just in terms of Syria, but also in terms of a better international system, and in terms of Iran.

Obama has managed to insist on his red line on Syria’s chemical weapons, forcing the world to grapple with a new breach of international law, while also avoiding being dragged into Syria’s civil war. But he has also strengthened the impression that he will risk a great deal to stop the advance of WMDs (which presumably includes Iran’s nukes). After all, his announcement of an intent to strike Assad was a real risk to him and to the US. Now, there’s a chance that he can use that basic understanding of his Syria policy – and existing agreement on chemical weapons – to forge a potential grand bargain with Iran’s regime. If that is the eventual end-game, it would be historic.

To put it plainly: Syria is the proof of principle for an agreement with Iran. And an agreement with Iran – that keeps its nuclear program reliably civil and lifts sanctions – is the Holy Grail for this administration, and for American foreign policy in the 21st Century.

As for the role of Putin, I argued last week that it was the Russian leader who had blinked, the Russian leader who had agreed to enforce Washington’s policy, and that the best response was to welcome it with open arms. So it was another treat to hear the president say, in tones that are unmistakable:

“I welcome him being involved. I welcome him saying, ‘I will take responsibility for pushing my client, the Assad regime, to deal with these chemical weapons.’ ”

Meep meep.

(Photo: President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on September 13, 2013. By Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images.)

Another Meep-Meep Moment? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 12 2013 @ 10:50am

Readers keep the spirited debate going:

This talk of a meep-meep is absurd and could only be dreamed up by Obama-bots who are just as determined to wear rose-colored-glasses with all-things Obama as you declare the Right to be obstructionist against his every move. The only crisis averted was Obama’s crisis of accountability for his red-line stance on Syrian use of chemical weapons.  The actual crisis that you and Obama keep talking about, the fact of chemical weapons being controlled and used by madmen like Assad (and/or the Islamist rebels, take your pick), is far from resolved.

A wiser person would reserve the victory dance and cheers until some Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 4.47.16 AM actual, verifiable results are forthcoming from the Russians and Syrians in producing and destroying their chemical WMD stockpiles.

Given the basement-level of trust any sane person would place in the parties involved here, extreme skepticism would seem to be warranted towards this agreement.  The appearance of progress was certainly made Tuesday – unless the primary concern was making progress towards finding a face-saving way out for Obama.  From your writing this week, it seems the latter was a more dire concern at the Dish.

I remain convinced that the actual issue of concern here remains far from resolved, and that all that has been accomplished is to kick the can down the road, postponing what is likely to be a renewed call for intervention by the U.S. in the near future.  I fully expect Syria and chemical weapons inspections, or lack thereof most likely, to still be in the news six months from now.  It will be interesting to see if Obama then ultimately follows through with his “serious threats” of “unbelievably small” attacks if (when?) Russia/Syria fail to meet their obligations.  Or whether the goalposts start getting moved by Kerry and Obama.  We shall see.

I have a post in process (update: now posted) that addresses some of these points. But my basic answer is this: what Obama has achieved is an unprecedented concession from Assad, and a much, much higher likelihood that chemical weapons will not be used again in this conflict in the way they just were. Fr0m my point of view, that’s our fundamental interest right now. And Obama has secured it – for a while. But unless we truly want Assad’s fall soon – and we obviously don’t – buying time is a perfectly good option. Another reader:

You seriously need to read James David Barber’s Presidential Character, about the primary traits of presidents and how they can predict presidential behavior. It will give you a good idea of what Obama is doing at any given moment because once you figure out what an Active-Positive is capable of then you know what Obama is capable of.

The key trait of an Active-Positive is Adaptive. Lincoln, for example, constantly looked like he was wavering between every issue during the conduct of the Civil War but in fact he was trying out every possibility towards a larger goal. Much like he wrote to Horace Greeley in that famous letter, if Lincoln had to free the slaves to preserve the Union he would; if he couldn’t to preserve the Union he would; if he freed only a portion of the slaves (the Emancipation Proclamation) he would do that. Lincoln was proved right: the Proclamation effectively blocked any European involvement and made more Union supporters into supporting the eventual end of slavery.

Adaptive A-P Presidents are more keen on compromise than the other three types (Active-Negatives won’t, Passive-Negatives might but would rather let someone else do it, Passive-Positives never want to rock any boat), and are certainly more creative in their solutions and in seeking alternate solutions as well. While the Active-Positive may look like a flip-flopper (especially to the more extremist wing of the president’s party) he’s actually shrewdly calculating the “long game” of getting his enemies to trip over themselves and his allies standing there gawking like they’ve never seen the Hand of God before.

I don’t buy into the current “story” that Obama got Kerry to float the chemical weapons solution that the Russian government quickly seized as a viable diplomatic answer. It really does look like Kerry pulled a gaffe. The genius of an Active-Positive President is to seize a gaffe and turn on a dime into making that gaffe work to his advantage.

The bad news about all this? Well, you see it makes you into the Horace Greeley of the story. Sorry (insert meaningful sympathetic pat on the back here). Hope you don’t mind. Meep-Meep.

Another:

You thought the money quote from Obama’s speech was when he agreed that the United States should not be the world’s policeman. Unfortunately, Obama contradicted this sentiment moments later with this:

My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security.  This has meant doing more than forging international agreements – it has meant enforcing them.  The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them.

Last time I checked, one who enforces laws is a policeman. Although in this case, the U.S. is the self-appointed policeman. Likewise, Andrew, you are talking out of both sides of your mouth.

You claim that Obama is moving us towards a world that is less dependent on the power of the U.S and strengthening international cooperation. Obama (and his “cast-iron balls“) did this by proposing unilateral humanitarian bombs be dropped. This is wonderful community organizing. To nudge diplomacy along sometimes you need to threaten unilateral strikes. Without threats, diplomacy is just “meaningless blather” – got it. To avoid wars, we need to threaten war. I am doubtful these tactics will take us to a better place.

Chill out with the Obama hagiography; leave that to MSNBC.

Wow: the notion that the credible threat of force may make diplomacy more effective seems a strange idea to my reader. Yet it is a core feature of international relations, with successful examples littering history. And it has taken us to a better place. Syria has admitted its chemical weapons stockpile and agreed to sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Another piles on:

I appreciate the way you present things, the way you get all worked up, and the way things generally work out for you, but sometimes, you seem a bit shrill when defending yourself against the readers who question you. Here’s a good example: “Has it occurred to my reader that it was necessary to actually risk another war to get the diplomatic solution we now have? ”

This was one of your responses to criticism for your seeming about-face on Obama’s performance in this Syria fiasco. It seems very flippant and smug, because I’d immediately turn it back on you, and ask: “Did it occur to YOU, at the time when you were shrieking about his leading us to war, that it was necessary to actually risk another war to get the diplomatic solution we now have?”

Another quotes me:

And you don’t have to argue that Obama is some kind of Jedi warrior who saw all this from the start (a silly idea) to see that he was able to pivot, shift, test, improvise and flush out new options in a horrible situation as the crisis careened from one moment to another.

Amen to that. Watching Serious Foreign Policy Experts debate this on TV has been mind-boggling, as they all appear to have that same “silly” expectation. But really, solving difficult problems rarely works that way, where leaders announce a goal from on high, draw a straight line from A to B, and then follow that line. Rather, Albert Herschmann had it right in 1967 when he wrote about the “Principle of the Hiding Hand.” The entire essay [pdf] is worth a read, especially for those working in or around global development.  Money quote:

Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.

Or, put differently: since we necessarily underestimate our creativity it is desirable that we underestimate to a roughly similar extent the difficulties of the tasks we face, so as to be tricked by these two offsetting underestimates into undertaking tasks which we can, but otherwise would not dare, tackle.

This isn’t the most comforting truth in the world (especially, it seems, for the pundit class), but it’s a truth nonetheless.

Another reader:

In taking account of the President’s actions regarding Syria, and reading your view of this, I can’t help but thinking of this scene from the West Wing:

I know you can be lukewarm when it comes to Sorkin’s work, and maybe others have already sent this along as well, but it keeps running through my head as I watch the way this thing in Syria unfold (and hope it continues to).  I don’t believe that the President had all of this in mind from the start, but I think he was smart and nimble enough to see an opportunity and willing to be misunderstood for a period of time.

Another Meep-Meep Moment?

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 11 2013 @ 10:57am

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 4.47.16 AM

A reader writes:

You and Charles Pierce both seem to have done a 180 on the Syria question, and neither of you seems to have explicitly admitted it.  You’ve gone from slamming Obama for being imperial, idealistic, bloodthirsty, foolhardy – and God knows what else – to praising him for his subtlety, nuance, willingness to listen, and so on. Which, fine. But maybe somewhere along the way, you could just throw in a bit of an acknowledgment along the lines of: “Oops, I jumped the gun on this one; I overreacted, got hysterical, and now I see the President doing his characteristic thing – seeing the big picture when others did not.”

I don’t think I’ve done a 180. I remain opposed to any military intervention that could be seen as a way to alter the outcome of the Syrian civil war. I remain of the belief that the Congress should have the final say on any war, large or unbelievably small. Where I have shifted – and this may be a function of being off-grid when this atrocity occurred – is a greater awareness of and concern about the breach of the international norm with respect to chemical weapons. I have acknowledged this shift – here. Money quote:

I have to say I found myself shifting a little – not a lot, but a little – after reading the transcript of the president’s press conference at the end of the G20 Summit.

A better grasp and appreciation of the entire history in this area also affected me. And as this has all shaken out, I see a way to reconcile all these apparently conflicting goals in Russia’s and Syria’s public acknowledgment of the chemical weapons stash and apparent willingness to sign up to the Chemical Weapon Convention. This may turn out to be illusory, or too difficult to accomplish, or some kind of ruse to keep Assad in power for a while longer, but no president would turn such an offer down. If only such an offer had been possible in Iraq in 2003. Another reader wonders if we are “finally hearing the meep meep”:

I’m so glad you have calmed down about Obama on Syria. He is on the verge of accomplishing, without firing a shot, what Bush launched an invasion to do.  Congress is going to get him out of bombing Syria, and yet Obama is going to be able to point to the Republicans and call them the ones who blinked as a dictator massacred his people.  He is re-establishing the precedent that going to war requires congressional approval. He will have enhanced internationalism.

Republicans are loving this right now because they think Obama looks incompetent. They are blindly stumbling into an outcome that gives Obama everything he has ever said he wants, ever. And they’re not going to realize it until it’s too late. It’s such a perfect outcome, how could this have not been planned? Is Obama on the verge of pulling off the greatest rope-a-dope in the history of US politics?

Another isn’t buying it:

Your reaction to Obama’s address last night sounds suspiciously like you’re getting ready to declare another “meep, meep!” victory for Obama’s long-view, chess playing strategy:

Will Assad be more likely to surrender his chemical weapons if the US attacks or if Russia insists on their destruction? Please. It isn’t close.

As if Obama planned on this all along!  Putin may very well have just pulled Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire, while saving Assad and further ensconcing Russia as Syria’s and Iran’s protector (assuming, of course, that Syria indeed does hand over those weapons and this transfer can be verified). So Russia might have just saved Obama from himself. His policy and performance in regard to Syria has been jaw-droppingly amateurish, beginning with his drawing of “red lines” a year ago that he had no will to enforce, and the absurdly thin arguments he has advanced for military action, contradictory goals, general incoherence and flailing of these past weeks.

Even if this all works out in the end, this has not been Obama’s finest hour. Even admirers of Obama like myself must admit this. He was more than willing to get us into another stupid fucking war until the American people rejected it and the Russians intervened.

Has it occurred to my reader that it was necessary to actually risk another war to get the diplomatic solution we now have? Obama had to make that proposal credible and serious for it to work. Yes, it was a huge risk. Yes, it places a premium on restricting WMDs that may be too ambitious. But it may have paid off. And in the end, a president needs to be judged on results, not news cycles. And those alleging incoherence have not acknowledged that diplomacy – always Obama’s first preference with respect to Syria – sometimes requires a deadly serious intent to do something you don’t really want to do. It requires some level of nerve-wracking bluff. Bluff is not incoherence, although it sure can be risky. And a president who can live with that risk is a president with some cast-iron balls. And that’s why the view that this has revealed weakness in Obama seems completely wrong to me. It has revealed steel.

And you don’t have to argue that Obama is some kind of Jedi warrior who saw all this from the start (a silly idea) to see that he was able to pivot, shift, test, improvise and flush out new options in a horrible situation as the crisis careened from one moment to another. This is what leadership can be – and you saw a very similar set of patterns in Eisenhower’s administration, and even, as Michael Dobbs noted today, in John F Kennedy’s haphazard, contradictory, and risky maneuvers in the Cuba missile crisis. Eisenhower was ridiculed, and regarded as an idiot from day to day in Washington. Can you imagine what the neocons today would say if a president cut off a war as Eisenhower did in Korea? He’d be Carterized immediately. And Eisenhower was indeed regarded as out of his depth by the hard right, if not an active Communist appeaser. But he endures as one of the greatest foreign policy presidents of the last century.

Another reader ladles on the scorn:

Assad and the Russians have no intention of agreeing in a meaningful and substantive way to giving up all these weapons and allowing a verifiable implementation of any agreement.  They are going to make us a laughing stock by delay, denial, and obfuscation.  On the other hand, it does give President Obama a little face-saving in the short run from the big mess he let himself get into. There are no good alternatives in this morass, but I think this might be the least worst alternative.

But again: why is the US on the hook for this? Russia has said this is what it wants; so, staggeringly, has Syria. They are the ones now on the hook. And the key objective is to stop future chemical attacks by Assad and to minimize the dangers of those weapons being dispersed or in the hands of Sunni Jihadist terrorists. Isn’t that far more likely now than, say, a week ago? Mission advanced. Another pivots back to domestic politics:

I hope that Assad can be made to back down. But in a way, the best thing that could happen at home would be for the Republicans to vote down the use of power.

It would inoculate Democrats for a generation against going to war: “The Republicans voted against punishing Syria, which was a threat to Israel, why should we support this next war?” Who would have predicted that in a long interview on NPR, Republican Tom Cole would have said that Assad’s use of chemical weapons did not result in any direct security threat to America or its allies.  Democrats will be able to play back that interview for years: “Syria, Israel’s most hostile neighbor, deployed chemical weapons and the Republicans voted against any use of force.” Meep meep?

Another adds:

Seems to me that AIPAC and the Israeli government are still pushing for a strike, latest developments be damned. If, as it appears likely, the US Congress either votes down the authorization to strike, or doesn’t bring it to a vote, it’d be the first Congressional rebuke of AIPAC that I can remember. Does your crack staff know the last time that happened?

Another awesome development. Another reader references Kerry’s historic gaffe:

Just a funny thought: remember another time that an Obama surrogate went out in public and accidentally blurted out a major shift in policy that immediately set in motion a process no one expected would start, and is at this point now a reality? Marriage equality?

Another points to another major achievement that many, including me, thought would never come:

I’m with you on Syria. I don’t think Obama gives two shits how he gets there; he’s just concerned with the final destination.  Does anyone remember all the ups and downs and sausage-making over the ACA? Nope. They just know it’s Obamacare.

The way I see it, we have a president confident enough and secure enough in his authority to let others take the credit, to let the Russians lead.  Because in the end, who cares how we get there? What matters is that the weapons are gone.

But of course the Washington class will frame this as a huge loss for the president, because.  Can you imagine George W. Bush or Dick Cheney taking this route?  Not a chance.  They would’ve bombed the shit out of Syria just to show they could.

The current solution doesn’t have the drama of dropping bombs or sending sorties over Damascus, so Obama comes off as a bit of a dull president.  And in this case, that’s fantastic, because he’s getting shit done.  He always does.

Meep meep.

Meepage Update

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 4 2011 @ 7:22pm

After his alleged humiliation, the latest poll from the NYT/CBS sees the silver lining for Obama. He doesn't come out smelling like roses, but the GOP has tainted itself badly by its tactics in the eyes of Americans. Obama's handling comes out a wash, 46-47 approve-disapprove; Boehner does worse: 30 – 57. His 57 percent disapproval is up from 41 percent in April, with all the undecideds headed into the disapprove column. On who is trusted the most on the economy, Obama beats the GOP 47 – 33. And on the core question of whether this is a time to compromise or to stick to principles, compromise wins 85 – 12.

Ask yourself: between Obama and the GOP, who has landed on the right side of that equation? Meep, meep.

Meep Meep: Readers Respond

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 23 2009 @ 2:21pm

A reader writes:

Your views aren't part of the minority, they're part of the Silent Majority.  The Vocal Minority may win the news cycle (i.e. fantasy world), but out here in the real world, we can see the progress.

Another:

It is disgusting to see the far left complaining about Obama as much as the right wing does. Hope the sane Center holds.

Another:

There is actually a pretty simple reason for the unhappiness with Obama of many on the left.  Many on the left decry the consumerist behavior of some Americans — spending on anything that happens to catch their fancy, whether they really need it, or can afford it, or

not.  But much of the left is infected with exactly the same flaw: the

demand for instant gratification.

They want all of the things that they want (albeit not material goods, mostly), and they want them NOW!  And those who are not merely unhappy, but furious at not getting all the wonderful things that they expected from an Obama administration, simply have a more severe case.

Real life doesn't work that way.  But the spoiled baby boomers (and their children who were raised on the same philosophy) never accept that — and I know, that's my generation.  So they will never be satisfied with the performance of anyone, simply because instant gratification is impossible.  It would be impossible even in an absolute dictatorship, and it is many times more impossible in a democracy.  Sorry folks, but you can't have all of what you want; and even the things you can have, you won't get instantly.  Deal with it.

Of course, i complained loudly about the foot-dragging on gay issues. But I understand the logic from Obama's point of view. My main beef was with the HRC which failed yet again to stand up for the gays on the core issues. I think the marriage fight is largely won but fear that a loss of Democratic majorities in 2010 could prevent the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Four More Years: Reader Reax

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 7 2012 @ 8:44pm

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A reader writes:

Well, someone's gotta say it: meep meep.

Another:

This morning, still on a high but starting to think clearly again, I started reflecting on the results from last night. I believe that this election is in some ways just as historically significant as the last one. You could make the case that voters in 2008 were rejecting the Bush years as much as they were endorsing Obama. The presidential contest this year, however, was all about Obama.

And while conservatives tried to attack Obama for not bringing the "change" he’d promised, it’s clear that change has come – a black president is re-elected, female candidates were winning all over the place (including all four House and Senate seats from New Hampshire now being represented by women), marriage equality won in multiple states and we have our first openly gay Senator. Turnout remained high (or went even higher) among those in the Obama coalition – the young, blacks, Latinos – who would supposedly not turn out this time. Even legal pot won!

I’m not convinced that this election will cure the GOP of their intransigence, but I hope these results help them read the writing on the wall.

Another:

One of my close friends is a dutiful Beck-Limbaugh-Fox supporter who echoed George Will and Dick Morris in predicting a Romney landslide. His confidence was so strong he contemplated not voting yesterday – and he lives in Virginia. He ended up voting and told me afterwards that while chatting to folks in line at the polls, he was stunned how many Obama supporters he encountered.

It makes me wonder if the right-wing propaganda machine didn't do more harm than good with its outlandish and unrealistic confidence in a Romney victory. Instead of his supporters being fired up to vote in a nail-bitingly close election, they believed the gasbags in la-la land who claimed there was no chance Mitt could lose. Sort of the reverse effect of the exit polls in 2004, when Kerry seemed like such a sure thing mid-day that lots of Democrats didn't bother casting a ballot.

On that note:

A caller to Bill Bennett's radio show this morning, almost in tears:  "I hate to say this, but people like Sarah Palin and Karl Rove need to go away." Bennett deflected to a comment about how, if anyone is unrelatable and deeply hated by many people, it's Barack Obama.

Not one of those people:

I am an Obama-supporting Democrat living in red and rural Pennsylvania.  Sometimes I feel very alone.  I voted at 7:00am yesterday morning – the 3rd to vote in my precinct.  The rest of the day I felt anxious and nauseous. My whole body ached for the unknown.

Oh, that wonderful feeling of knowing President Obama won reelection!  I danced around my living room, laughing and drinking wine!  I was one very happy American woman!

I do have one presidential election tradition that I started during the Bush-vs-Kerry year.  I take a vacation day on the Wednesday following the election. Being that I live in red and rural Pennsylvania, almost all my co-workers are hardcore Republicans and now Tea Partiers.  These are people whom I like, but I just can't be around them the next day.  When Clinton won reelection, I remember hearing one coworker fantasizing about assassination and saying something to the effect "If I wasn't married with children, it would only take two bullets – one for Clinton and one for Gore."  It completely through me off guard!  I liked my coworker. I still like him.  How could he possibly say something so horrible?  So now I always take this day off, because if my side wins, I don't want to hear it.  And if my side loses, I don't want to hear it.

So I sleep in. I read The Dish.  And I rake the leaves in my yard … with a big smile on my face!

Another observes:

It occurs to me that this election bears striking similarities with Obama's primary victory over Clinton in '08. In each, he and his team dug deep into the mechanics of the how the victory was ultimately going to be decided and worked to get an edge in those places that would give them the most bang for their buck. In '08, it was targeting the caucus states where his organizational prowess could have an outsize effect, and this time around, it was targeting specific populations in the key swing states to turn them out in higher numbers using his well established, funded, and organized ground game. Well played.

Another:

As a social scientist I cannot help but feel validated by the results of this election. 

Statistical analysis of human behavior has achieved a new level of legitimacy.  We have here a shining empirical example that we can measure people's thoughts and intentions and actually use that to make accurate and forceful predictions about their behavior.  This makes society more democratic.  Instead of elites and experts trying to guess what crowds want or what they will do, decision makers can simply ask and take action based on that. 

Secondly, the strategic story of this election is that Obama won the ground game.  This tells me that institutions matter.  That even as technological advancement enables us to reach more people in more ways than ever before, these methods work best when they are used to augment our fundamental human need for community, collective engagement, interpersonal contact, and action.  These lessons not only apply for political mobilization but have broad implications for how we accomplish things in the realm of commerce as well and I hope they're heeded.

Another:

The only place the GOP held this election was in the House. The reason for that is redistricting. Redistricting is a manipulation of the vote to protect incumbents. Republicans had more incumbents (and in many many states just finished a new round of redistricting). If the ability to redistrict was denied to the parties – in other words, if redistricting was done on a neutral basis – the GOP would have lost the House as well. So Republicans lost the presidency, the Senate, on social conservative issues, and they would have lost the House under neutral redistricting rules. It's something for Republicans to think about.

Another:

It's been the talking point from the pundits for years that the US is a "center-right" country.  Can we change that now?

Another:

One positive and promising sign that I took from last night's election is that during Romney's concession speech, no one from his audience booed when President Obama's name was mentioned. That is a far cry from what happened in 2008. And when Obama said in his speech that he wants to meet with Romney to discuss how they can work together, his audience applauded.

I understand that we won't be joining hands and singing kumbaya. I know that the uber-partisans will do all they can to block and prevent bipartisan solutions. I realize the monied interests will just dust themselves off and continue to attempt to influence the agenda. And I understand there will be those who out of self-interest will continue to stoke the fires of our differences to blind us from our commonality.

But as for me, I want to use the results of this election as an opportunity to start anew. I'm willing to wipe the slate clean. Moving forward, I know that there will be heated debates on a variety of issues, but I'm hoping that we can turn down the levels of animosity and disrespect so that we can work together to address the many challenges that we face as a nation.

Another:

I wrote you about Romney's 2007 candid video. I expressed how it was the first time I'd felt sympathy for him. Last night, I saw that same Romney. My heart breaks for him. He's a good man. But his party is rotten at the core and he didn't have the courage to tell it to them straight.

Bush's tragedy was hubris. Romney's tragedy is cowardice.

Another:

I am unexpectedly emotional tonight. I shouldn't be surprised. My father died because of the healthcare law. No, not because of death panels; because a loophole allowed his insurance to drop him without an alternative being offered within six months. In that time, his kidneys failed, his heart failed, and his brain failed. In short: he died. He died, and as his 24-year old son I had to give the order to pull the plug. It is a decision that will haunt me until I die, and if there is even a trace of thought after death it will trail me there.

I supported Obama. His healthcare law, it could be interpreted, facilitated my own father's death. Not something I've admitted much before. I've contained this, I've continued to root for Obama, not in spite of this but because of it knowing that, if Obamacare could be upheld, my father's case can become an anachronism. I want no child to go through what I have; if things continue as they have, they never will.

Yes, yes I am crying tonight, and yes, it is partially in remembrance of my father (who was a stalwart Republican and would hate every word of what I wrote). Mostly it is because my suffering may soon be something of the past, and that is something which could only have happened with an Obama win.

Another looks to the next big battle:

The four victories for marriage equality last night are wonderful news, but that's not the end of it. It seems likely that there is a fifth state which will also have marriage equality in the near future: California.

Currently, the lawsuit over the constitutionality of Prop 8 is stalled at the Supreme Court, waiting to be certified (or not). In many discussions online, people have been speculating that the court is waiting until after the election to decide whether to hear the case; this seems to be the case, since just over a week ago the court scheduled it for conference on Nov. 20. Why did they wait?

Probably for two reasons: to avoid influencing the election by raising the same-sex marriage issue and to get a feel for which way the winds are blowing. Well it's clear now that the winds are blowing toward full equality, so that leaves the justices on the right in a bit of a bind. Should they simply refuse to hear the case, in which case marriage equality comes to California? Or should they hear the case and run the risk of invalidating ALL anti-marriage equality amendments and laws?

I believe that the justices will refuse to hear the case. It takes the votes of four justices to agree to hear a case and unless the four on the left really want to push this issue (which I doubt), I suspect the court will simply let Prop 8 die. We could know as early as Wednesday, November 21 if marriage equality is coming to California.

One more:

As a former Texan who started reading your blog in 2004, who grew up in Mississippi, who never had a black friend, who never knew a gay person, who drove for hours to see Obama in Seattle four years ago, who went in for the bro grab with Barack and got whiffed at the last second, who found himself leading the cheer in an Oregon pub tonight for marriage equality and not giving the tiniest shit about race, I want to thank you and your magnificent editorial team for helping me understand what this is all about. You speak for many people you will never know.

I have never been prouder to be an American.

(Photo: Supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama cheer after networks project him as reelected during the Obama Election Night watch party at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on November 6, 2012. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Long Game Of Barack Obama

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 5 2015 @ 12:02pm

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Perhaps the prevailing theme of this blog these past seven years has been the hope and promise of the Obama presidency. I’ve long insisted that his record will only be fully understood after eight years, that his role as the liberal Reagan of our time could not be glimpsed fully in real time – the only time a blog can function in – but needed some perspective. I’m sure in the future I will write an essay on all this, but I owe you my current state of mind before I bid farewell tomorrow.

First up: notice how his approval ratings have rallied since the Republicans trounced the Democrats in the mid-terms. He isn’t headed into Bush territory any time soon:

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Obama’s average approval in the last quarter was ten points higher than Bush’s at this point. Obama’s ratings are now a smidgen higher than Ronald Reagan’s at this point in their time in office. Reagan came crashing down to earth in his second term after Iran-Contra:

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The Republican Congress, as one might expect from a brain-dead party, has staggered or meandered out of the gate in 2015. It awaits a message and a platform from a presidential candidate. And look a little at what they’re saying. Romney wanted to run on tackling poverty. Jeb Bush is running on economic mobility. There is, in fact, a budding consensus that social and economic inequality is a real problem – and that the right should have some sort of answer. This is the moment for the reformocons to make their move, and I’m glad this blog has championed (and even employed) them over the years as well. But as growth has returned, the Democrats have the advantage: “middle-class economics” may well only work by raising some taxes on the extremely wealthy, in order to de-rig the system, and the Democrats may be the only party prepared to do this. The last six years, moreover, have vindicated the Democratic strategy of using a stimulus to get out of recession, rather than the Republican one of following Angela Merkel toward deflation.

The wars? They’ve become minimalist. The economy? It’s growing faster than anywhere else in the world. The deficit? Plummeting. Unemployment? Lower than before the recession. Gay rights? A revolution. Climate change? A decisive shift in government spending and regulations. Healthcare? A new guarantee of security for millions (including me) that will become very hard to take away – unless the Supreme Court decides to politicize itself more profoundly than it has since Roe vs Wade. Iran? Still very hard to tell if the negotiations can work – but we seem to have avoided premature Congressional meddling. Legal weed? He got well out of the way. Iraq? So far, the ISIS containment strategy seems to be holding. Israel? The final showdown with Netanyahu is imminent – but again, Bibi may have over-reached in the last few weeks. If he is not re-elected, it will be a huge triumph for the president. Torture? Ended with at least some formal, public accounting. There is much more work to be done. But we have made a start.

Knowing Obama – and history – some of these assumptions will shift in the next two years.

He’s always worked our nerves – and so can events unknown. But the case for this unlikely president as a pivotal figure in American history – ridiculed by so many for so long – is mounting. I have mixed feelings, of course. Obama challenged my own free market, small government principles in ways no previous politician had – and the evidence of history did the rest. But an Oakeshottian conservative knows better than to stick to dogma in the face of data, and I can see this presidency as a critical balancing out of the excesses of the Bush-Cheney years – and the Reagan legacy – in order to keep the ship of state on an even keel. What happens next I may find less congenial – a more liberal and expansive role for government. But the Clintons have to make that case on new foundations in a new world.

I’m known for changing my mind, when the facts change. But on this, I remain convinced that we were more than right to elect Obama twice. His even temperament, his endurance of so many slings and arrows, his integrity and his patriotism loom large at this moment, but will seem, in my view, even larger from the rear-view mirror. We will miss this man when he is gone; and I am deeply proud of having played some small part in framing the case for him, and in seeing it through.

Ah yes. One last time with feeling.

Meep meep, motherfuckers. Meep Meep.