On Syria, Obama is leading to failure
1/25/2014 8:34 PM EST
The problem with Barack Obama’s leadership in a representative democracy is Barack Obama. Nothing in his career (actual or imagined) suggests he has developed the political skills necessary to forge bipartisan compromise – or even legislative leadership within his own party. His legal career was unremarkable, teaching (non tenure) – the same. At the Illinois statehouse, his tenure was marked by voting ‘present’ 300 times. In the US Senate, four years was spent voting against Bush appointees, running for President & beating Hillary Clinton (both successful). Obama does not appear to relish (or even like) the political deal making, horse trading or ego stroking – and that is just with members of his own party – let alone the Republican Opposition which apparently he regards as illegitimate. He is portrayed as ‘cool’ or ‘cerebral’ by a fawning press, but the reality is his aloofness has worked against him in that he cannot shape the political discussion in a constructive manner. The Republican Opposition, shut out, steamrolled and demonized the President and his shills, will hardly be in a mood to ‘work together’. Obama’s signaling of working around the Congress is not surprising, nor is it reassuring.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Sunday that President Obama’s failure to craft relationships with senators has made passing legislation more difficult.
Obama’s outreach to Capitol Hill has often been the subject of debate, with many Democrats saying privately that the White House falls short in that regard.
Manchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that everyone has their own style, and Obama can’t be the same gregarious character that Bill Clinton was as president. But he also said Obama isn’t doing himself any favors when it comes to his agenda.
“It makes it more difficult,” Manchin said. “It’s hard to say no to a friend. When you build that relationship and that friendship, you’re looking for ways to try to work things out and find a compromise. That friendship means an awful lot. When you don’t build those personal relationships, it’s pretty easy for a person to say, ‘Well, let me think about it.’”
I applaud Steve Neimiller for his Dec. 12 letter, “ Here’s a plan of action for the United States in 2014.”
I came to this country with my parents and brothers legally and followed all the rules to become an American citizen.
I have three children in college. I pay out of pocket and have taken out loans to pay for their schooling. No one gives us a free handout.
I have a son who has Crohn’s disease. My husband and I pay $541 a month for him to get proper care. Do you think under Obamacare my son will get the same services and care he deserves?
President Obama is destroying this wonderful country. He has no respect for the Constitution. He has no respect for “we the people.”
May God save our country.
I agree with Martine Nielsen’s Dec. 16 letter. The president does not respect the Constitution. I see he got the award of the year for “lie of the year” for “Obamacare.” I agree 100 percent he is destroying our country.
Where are all the jobs? Big businesses moved overseas, mom-and-pop stores are gone. Unemployment is down because half of the people who were on it have been removed from those who are counted. No job security, food stamp cutbacks, prices rising sky high for food, gas and everyday needs. You drive down a street, any street, and see two or three houses up for sale, sitting empty. People are losing everything.
This country really needs to be turned around before it’s too late.
The Pres. promised to “never bail out private companies again, PERIOD! “. Another lie or did he fail to include the insurance companies in that quote? Staff didn’t include him in the memo?
paine 2 Days Ago
ahh sandy, I as well long and yearn for those days of olde, when mission accomplished meant just another eight years of war and billions of dollars needlessly spent, and it was sad that many of our military died and were wounded but at least we were not in shambles as we are today, and good thing that all of us patriotic people were not aware of all that snooping into people’s lives and backgrounds back in the good all days–you remember sandy when we were just sailing along with all of the good things. then someone got the notion we might elect that socialist, muslim from Kenya and decided lets send this country into a recession , make this country a complete shamble and see what he can do. there were and are so many rip van winkles from 2001 thru 2008– HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR IN 2014 with a POTUS that has turned us around despite the naysayers
When you can’t defend the present just refer back to the past (or slam Fox News). Great job.
Nobody is surprised.. It’s in the Democrat playbook.
van243 2 Days Ago
It’s been great. Obama created so many jobs that we can stop the extended benefits for the unemployed. You can’t say he isn’t doing a good job now. If you still don’t like it I think you can go to a golf course in Hawaii and complain.
kenboy 2 Days Ago
Interesting stat. Roughly 1.92 million jobs created while Obama has been in office, Not such a good jobs record, but makes the unemployment numbers look better. Less than 300K were full time. The rest, part-time. http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2013/aug/5/obama-economy-part-time-jobs-swamp-full-time-jobs/
edaman 2 Days Ago
Interesting that this article provides no stats/data/anything to support the numbers. Just states it is fact. Kenboy, can you provide the data that supports your assertion? What you are saying is not supported by the data provided by the BLS.
The King of Funny Faces 2 Days Ago
can you find another administration that was more transparent?
Change-it-Back 2 Days Ago
The administration was not noticeably different than any other with respect to transparency. King, if you can’t recognize this as a broken promise then you really have no ability to be objective to any level when it comes to Obama
lifelong18102 2 Days Ago
no other Administration has ever made that promise, Obama did and he knowingly lied, again.recently a few posters were making a connection between conservatives and Chicken Little saying the sky is falling,,,,,, well hows this connectionOur President is like the boy who cried wolf, over and over and over again, now when he speaks few listen, and even fewer yet believe him.Now this is where it gets serious, some posters have admitted PBO lied but that they are not serious lies,,,,,, suppose, god forbid, we have a crisis like 911 or worse, could he possibly get support from the American people to do what must be done, or will we be afraid to trust him, I pray we never find out.
Lee M 3 Days Ago
Good letter. The question is why has it taken many people almost five years to notice.
2013 was Barack Obama’s worst year as president – his annus horribilis
By Tim Stanley US politics Last updated: December 31st, 2013
Obama: good at winning elections, but little else.
A suggested New Year’s resolution for Barack Obama: try harder. After all, 2013 was not a good year for the President. In fact, it might have been his worst yet.
The litany of failure began with his attempt to pass a modest gun control bill in the wake of the Newtown massacre. The vast majority of Americans were favourable (if probably uninterested), the media backed it and – in the aftermath of that bloody horror – it seemed inevitable. Yet the President couldn’t garner the votes. The problem wasn’t just the Republicans being mean or the NRA being surprisingly smart, it was that Obama’s 2012 victory had come at a price. He’d so slandered, slammed and irritated his opponents that they refused to work with him. And so the lame duck presidency became a dead duck.
Example #2: Syria. Presidents rarely have trouble sending Americans to war. There’s a tradition that it’s the executive’s prerogative and Congress usually defers to the hawks. But on this occasion Obama first said he’d go to the Congress, then declined even to do that, then allowed all talk of war to slide into silence. Again, his nervousness about seeking approval wasn’t just down to Republican partisanship (on this occasion, the GOP establishment queued up to back him). It was because Obama had weakened the case for war through incompetence. As I wrote at the time, the President had:
refused to do anything in Syria for two years, b) been goaded by the British and French into action, c) arbitrarily drawn a “red line” in a press conference, d) denied drawing said line, e) asserted his privilege as President to pursue military action, f) then asked Congress for permission to pursue military action, g) forced congressional leaders to parade in front of the cameras pledging support, h) realised at the last minute that he’s not got the votes in the House to win a vote, and i) decided to do basically what Putin always said he should do by returning to the themes of diplomacy and asking Assad nicely to hand over his chemical weapons.
The upshot was that Assad stayed in power and Putin humiliated the West. For the record, most of us never wanted that war in the first place. But it would have been nicer to stay out on a point of humanitarian principle rather than bad policymaking.
Finally, there was Obamacare. This was the most important screw-up of all because it related to the biggest proposal of the first term: universal healthcare coverage. It was promised that people could keep their old insurance plans, that costs would fall, that the system would be easy to navigate. On the contrary, millions risked higher premiums and losing their old plans. And the website – the basic nuts and bolts of the operation – functioned less professionally than a 13-year old’s tumblr of cute looking cats. To be fair, many of these problems have been addressed. But the damage is done. Obamacare looks overambitious and poorly conceived.
Red, blue states move in opposite directions in a new era of single-party control
California, Texas and America’s red-blue divide: Three-quarters of state governments — more than at any time in recent memory — are fully controlled by either Republicans or Democrats. The values that underpin these governing strategies reflect contrasting political visions, and their differences can be seen in stark terms in when comparing Democratic-controlled California with Republican-controlled Texas.
A challenge to Obama and Romney: Deliver one truthful campaign speech
…I would like to issue a challenge to you both: Give at least one campaign speech, on a substantive policy issue, lasting at least 15 minutes, that does not contain a single factual error or misstatement.
Barack Obama personifies the confusion and contradiction in our country. Americans do not grow up in Indonesia, eating dog meat. Was he born in Hawaii? The birth announcement in both major papers indicates he is an American citizen, native to the country.
Is America still the land of opportunity for the majority or for the connected class?
Has President Obama become a celebrity or is he leader of the free world?
“…And at the top of this heap is a president who hasn’t a clue as to how to be president.”
Young Barack Obama had great ‘sexual warmth’ but sharp edges… and he ‘didn’t have a black bone in his body’
By DANIEL BATES
PUBLISHED: 12:59 EST, 2 May 2012 | UPDATED: 11:54 EST, 3 May 2012
He has modelled himself as a cool, calculated leader of the free world.
But at the age of 22 Barack Obama had a strong ‘sexual warmth’ that overwhelmed his girlfriend at the time, according to a new book that identifies her for the first time.
Vivid diaries written by Genevieve Cook reveal she was driven wild by the smell of sweat, smoking and deodorant that emanated from his bedroom.
President Obama’s first serious girlfriend, Genevieve Cook, has shared her diaries about their year-long love affair for a new biography and how the then 22-year-old Obama had great sexual warmth
Cook, seen her in college at Swathmore, wrote how Obama loved running and lived in an apartment that smelled of raisins and sweat. The 22-year-old would sit around shirtless in a sarong on weekends and do the Sunday crossword. She was 25 when they dated
She said that on Sundays the future U.S. President loved to lounge around bare chested in a white and blue sarong whilst doing the newspaper crossword.
In a controversial claim she also recounted how he was deeply confused about his racial identity and ‘felt like an imposter because he was so white’.
In the end Mr Obama, who was raised in Hawaii by his white mother, decided that he needed to ‘go black’ because it was best for him.
Ms Cook has long been hailed as the ‘mystery woman’ from Mr Obama’s days in New York that he wrote about in his own memoir.
This is the first time she has been identified or revealed her extensive diaries from the time she and Mr Obama dated.
The disclosure are from a forthcoming book, ‘Barack Obama: The Story’ by David Maraniss and features in the June edition of http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/06/young-barack-obama-in-love-david-maraniss Vanity Fair.
The extracts reveal Mr Obama and Ms Cook met at a Christmas party in New York’s East Village in December 1983 when she was 25, three years older than him.
Mr Obama was still in his ‘cocoon’ phase and figuring himself out whilst working a dull job and living in a modest Manhattan apartment.
The two began seeing each other every Thursday night and on weekends and Ms Cook instantly found herself drawn to her ‘startling’ new friend.
In one diary entry she remarks: ‘How is he so old already, at the age of 22?’
The book reads: ‘She remembered how on Sundays Obama would lounge around, drinking coffee and solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, bare-chested, wearing a blue and white sarong.
‘His bedroom was closest to the front door, offering a sense of privacy and coziness.
‘Genevieve described it in her journal this way: ‘I open the door, that Barack keeps closed, to his room, and enter into a warm, private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits – running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing.’
An entry dated February 9 1984 reads: ‘Today, for the first time, Barack sat on the edge of the bed – dressed – blue jeans and luscious ladies on his chest (a comfy T-shirt depicting buxom women) the end of the front section of the Sunday Times in his hand, looking out the window, and the quality of light reflected from his eyes, windows of the soul, heart, and mind, was so clear, so unmasked, his eyes narrower than he usually holds them looking out the window, usually too aware of me.’
The two eventually moved in together and spent their days cooking – Mr Obama loved to make a ginger beef meal or tuna sandwiches the way his grandfather had taught him.
The read books together, spent hours talking about authors and Mr Obama kept up his passion for jogging that he would keep with him in the White House.
In her diary Ms Cook writes: ‘The sexual warmth is definitely there – but the rest of it has sharp edges and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all…’
‘…his warmth can be deceptive. Though he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness – and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me’.
Genevieve was also with him when he had the dream of about his father, for which his first memoir ‘Dreams from My Father’ was named, in which the already-dead and barely present anyway Obama Sr says, ‘Barack, I always wanted to tell you how much I love you.’
Genevieve recalls the morning he woke up.
‘I remember him being just so overwhelmed, and I so badly wanted to fix him, help him fix that pain. He woke up from that dream and started talking about it. I think he was haunted.’
The future President went on to write about Genevieve in the memoir, but did not by name. Their relationship was part of a composite girlfriend he created to protect his previous lovers’ privacy.
In an interview for the new biography Mr Obama admits that one anecdote he described in ‘Dreams’ never happened.
In ‘Dreams’ he described seeing a play by a black playwright with his girlfriend.
After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time,’ he wrote in part, ‘And she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater.’
‘That was not [Cook],” Obama admitted to Maraniss for the new biography. “That was an example of compression… I thought that [the anecdote involving the reaction of a white girlfriend to the angry black play] was a useful theme to make about sort of the interactions that I had in the relationships with white girlfriends.’
But during their relationship Cook and her lover did often talk about race and when they did Mr Obama was quite revealing.
The book reads that it was part of his ‘inner need to find a sense of belonging’ and Ms Cook encouraged it.
The book reads: ‘If she felt like an outsider, he was a double outsider, racial and cross-cultural. He looked black, but was he? He confessed to her that at times: ‘He felt like an imposter. Because he was so white. There was hardly a black bone in his body.’
‘At some point that summer she realized that: ‘In his own quest to resolve his ambivalence about black and white, it became very, very clear to me that he needed to go black.’
Ms Cook, who is white, also writes that she was unable to shake the suspicion that his ideal woman was ‘a fighter, a laugher, well-experienced—a black woman I keep seeing her as.’
By the autumn of 1984 Ms Cook began teaching at a primary school and Mr Obama had set his sights on Chicago where he would work as a community organiser before going to Harvard Law School.
They broke up and in her diary she claims he was too cold and not giving her the level of emotional involvement that she needed.
In an entry from May 1985 she writes: ‘Now, at this point, I’m left wondering if Barack’s reserve, etc. is not just the time in his life, but, after all, emotional scarring that will make it difficult for him to get involved even after he’s sorted his life through with age and experience.’
Of the breakup she wrote, ‘I was not the person that brought infatuation. (That lithe, bubbly, strong black lady is waiting somewhere!)’
Mr Obama went on to marry his wife Michelle in 1992 and have two children with her. The couple have been married for almost 20 years.
Obama’s Watch: 39 Months, 69 Percent of Afghan War Casualties
Congress’ intelligence heads: Taliban stronger
Posted: May 06, 2012 10:59 AM EDT
Updated: May 06, 2012 12:59 PM EDT
By ANNE FLAHERTY
WASHINGTON (AP) – The leaders of the congressional committees said Sunday they believed that the Taliban had grown stronger since President Barack Obama sent 33,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2010.
The pessimistic report by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., challenges Obama’s own assessment last week in his visit to Kabul that the “tide had turned” and that “we broke the Taliban’s momentum.”
Feinstein and Rogers told CNN’s “State of the Union” they aren’t so sure. The two recently returned from a fact-finding trip to the region where they met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“President Karzai believes that the Taliban will not come back. I’m not so sure,” Feinstein said. “The Taliban has a shadow system of governors in many provinces.”
When asked if the Taliban’s capabilities have been degraded since Obama deployed the additional troops two years ago, Feinstein said: “I think we’d both say that what we’ve found is that the Taliban is stronger.”
More than 1,800 U.S. troops have been killed in the decade-long war. About 88,000 service members remain deployed, down from a peak of more than 100,000 last year. More troops are expected to leave by the end of summer with all combat troops gone by the end of 2014.
Feinstein said she wishes she had the chance to meet with Pakistan’s leaders to discuss the need for more help from the country to break up the Haqqani network. Congress has passed various restrictions on U.S. aid in Pakistan after Osama bin Laden was found hiding within its borders. A recent defense policy bill would withhold 60 percent of military aid if the defense secretary can’t show the money will be effective in fighting the Taliban and ensuring Pakistan helps with efforts to counter roadside bombs.
Rogers said that he and Feinstein agree the first step should be for the U.S. to designate the Haqqani group a terrorist network and “take aggressive steps” to disrupt their operations. He said that group is responsible for nearly 500 U.S. deaths and continues to operate outposts along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Republicans have turned the war into a campaign issue, despite waning public support for the conflict, by criticizing Obama for setting an end date for U.S. combat operations.’
“We ought to have a hard discussion about saying listen, war is when one side wins and one side loses,” said Rogers. “And if we don’t get to that calculation of strategic defeat of the Taliban, you’re not going to get to a place where you can rest assured that you (U.S. troops) can come home and a safe haven does not reestablish itself.”
Professor of Literature at Yale
The Peace Prize War President
Posted: 05/03/2012 2:41 pm
President Obama, it has been said, is a master of having it both ways. Nowhere is this truer than in foreign policy. He ended the torture regime at Guantanamo, in line with rulings handed down by the Supreme Court. At the same time he assured impunity to the lawyers who justified torture and the agents who executed it. He publicized his intention of closing the prison itself as a matter of principle; but when resistance sprang up, he scuttled the plan. To facilitate the extension of the war in Afghanistan, he allowed American diplomats and military officers not to inquire too closely into the treatment of enemy combatants at Bagram and elsewhere.
Obama initially condemned enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects because, under the American constitution, suspects have legal rights and all torture is illegal. Meanwhile, he maintained his credit as a war president, not distracted by constitutional niceties, by ordering terrorist suspects to be killed rather than tortured. (We are talking about persons named as suspects, on evidence seen only by a few, not murderers found guilty by a legal process.) The killing is done by drones; and the drones, for now, seem very far away, though we know they are coming closer.
What are the refinements that especially recommend this new method of killing? The president’s counter-terrorism czar John Brennan recently estimated the civilian casualties from drone attacks at zero. Impartial judges have estimated civilian casualties somewhere between 400 and 800 (including 160 children). Practically speaking, these deaths are the cause of an anger that every day gains fresh recruits for the terrorist organizations.
But the drone killings and black-ops killings are done, at least in part, for a domestic audience. The aim is to establish President Obama as prudent, calm, and canny about the ways of modern war. Yet there is something ominous about these administrative killings, something beyond the dissociation between the killer and the killed. The method — which has been declared legal by a secret finding — seems likely to spur feelings of impotence more desperate than those a strong army inspires in soldiers of a weak one. Drone killings, the experts tell us, are more economical than a shooting war, but may they not be more subtly murderous in their effects?
George W. Bush strove to exhibit a strutting aggression as manliness. It won him re-election in 2004, but has lost him respect already among the near posterity of a decade after. Until last week, Obama’s most conspicuous difference from Bush on foreign policy had seemed to be his determination to talk softly no matter how aggressive the actions he ordered. His recent ad celebrating the killing of Osama bin Laden changes that picture. The president, in his bid for re-election, has stepped forward now as another hero of martial virtue; and he deploys as his central exhibit the sort of black-ops killing that alongside reliance on drones has marked the distinctness of his war presidency.
Obama’s command call for the Navy Seals to launch the attack in Abbottabad is interpreted in the text of the ad as an embodiment of the same qualities George W. Bush claimed for ordering an army of a hundred thousand to invade and occupy Iraq. Bush launched a war of aggression. Obama violated the national sovereignty of another country. Both did it to “protect” America — a word that Bush abused to cover such actions, and Obama has ratified the abuse. In this killing game, Bush may be the more literal-minded player; but we should not confuse the difference of manner with a difference of morale. The game itself is base. The effect of the ad will be to repel many Americans who deprecate a contest to decide who is the coolest killer. On the minds of those who admire such actions and such players, the effect will be something worse.
“Ends are literally endless,” wrote John Dewey; and he meant that you must show the nature of the ends by your practice and selection of means. Is it true for Obama that every means is a means to another means? Saying is not doing. If you re-christen the Global War on Terror as “the war we’re in,” but broaden the field of action and run executive-command black ops at an ever lengthening tether from the Constitution, you do not act to improve the prospects for peace or the fortunes of liberty.
It would appear that the case is complicated for Barack Obama by the particular way he looks at the world and himself. He is tempted to suppose that the nature of an action is changed by the fact that he is the one who performs it. He seems to have believed, for example, that he was ministering to human flourishing in some way by allowing the honor of the Nobel Peace Prize to be bestowed on him in 2009. The prize was announced and accepted before Obama had done anything to advance the cause of peace. (In 1973, the North Vietnamese diplomat Le Duc Tho was awarded — jointly with Henry Kissinger — the Nobel Peace Prize for the Paris negotiations, but Le Duc Tho refused it on the ground that he had not yet been able to deserve the honor.) When Obama addressed the international gathering at Oslo, however, he spoke not with humility but with magnificent condescension. The new American president rode a high horse into that ceremony, as presider over an American beneficence that had blessed the world by military protection ever since the Second World War. He alluded to the great exemplars of non-violence, Gandhi and King, not with deference but with a quiet superiority. Unlike those theoretical idealists, said Obama, “I face the world as it is.”
Of course, that is the usual profession of realists. But coming from the most powerful man in the world as it is, it was a deeply puzzling declaration. Does Obama merely face the world, and reflect its contents as they are, or does he play a distinct role in determining the shape of the world? His anti-Romney ad on the killing of bin Laden wonders if Mitt Romney would have had the self-command to order the killing at all. Is this a demonstration of Obama’s capacity for facing the world? His apologists deny that there is anything extraordinary in it: he talks like this, or his campaign does, in order to prove that he is the conventional politician whom the average American wants and the politician whom the mainstream media expect in foreign policy. The usual expectations require the ad to say what it says: that Barack Obama is a gunslinger with excellent luck and dead aim.
The best and worst that one could say about George W. Bush was that he was all of a piece. Obama, on the other hand, impels us continually to ask who or what he imagines that he is. In his campaign to win the election as a war president, he flatters the worst vices of chauvinism and panders to the most vulgar and brutal idea of the qualities that define a leader and the actions that ennoble a country. No alchemy of eloquence can atone for the confession of moral surrender involved in such a boast.
Pragmatism in politics is a word that covers a multitude of evasions. At its most extreme, it may suggest the authorization or support of a wrong, by whose enactment alone an important right is banked on to emerge. Yet the Obama taunt against Romney’s presumed unmanliness is not pragmatic even in that questionable sense. It is a case of a political act that is purely wrong. No conceivable right, however distant, can be counted among its consequences. If Romney wins the election, the challenge will stick in his mind: an incitement to prove himself by one-upmanship, against the killer prowess of Bush and Obama. And if Obama wins? By this appeal to the Republican household gods of war and warcraft he will have made it harder for himself to steer away from war — supposing that to be his intention. The words and images of an ad like the one described above do not face the world as it is. They change the world as it is. They change it for the worse. They are a means to another means.
Why are we in Afghanistan for the long haul?
By Eugene Robinson, Published: May 3
Show of hands: Does anybody really understand the U.S. policy in Afghanistan? Can anyone figure out how we’re supposed to stay the course and bring home the troops at the same time?
I’m at a loss, even after President Obama’s surprise trip to the war zone. The president’s televised address from Bagram air base raised more questions than it answered. Let’s start with the big one: Why?
According to Obama, “the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al-Qaeda could never use this country to launch attacks against us.” I would argue that U.S. and NATO forces have already done all that is humanly possible toward that end.
The Taliban government was deposed and routed. Al-Qaeda was first dislodged and then decimated, with “over 20 of their top 30 leaders” killed, according to the president. Osama bin Laden was tracked to his lair in Pakistan, shot dead and buried at sea. To the extent that al-Qaeda still poses a threat, it comes from affiliate organizations in places such as Yemen and from the spread of poisonous jihadist ideology. Al-Qaeda’s once-extensive training camps in Afghanistan have long been obliterated, and the group’s presence in the country is minimal.
That smells like victory to me. Yet 94 American troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan so far in 2012, U.S. forces will still be engaged in combat until the end of 2014, and we are committed to an extraordinary — and expensive — level of involvement there until 2024. Why?
Of the U.S. troops who died this year as a result of hostile fire — as opposed to accidents, illnesses or suicide — at least one of every seven was killed not by the Taliban but by ostensibly friendly Afghan security forces.
A report by military and political behavioral scientist Jeffrey Bordin, commissioned by the Pentagon last year and now classified, concluded that “the rapidly growing fratricide-murder trend” of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police against U.S. and allied troops reflects “the ineffectiveness in our efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan, developing a legitimate and effective government, battling the insurgency [and] gaining the loyalty, respect and friendship of the Afghans.”
Policies such as nighttime raids, in which civilians have been killed, and incidents such as the burning of Korans by allied soldiers have generated increasing resentment in a country that has never taken kindly to foreign occupation.
These friendly-fire killings are not just isolated incidents, the report says, but a “continuing pattern” that is leading to a “crisis of trust” between allied and Afghan forces. Unless there is reform of “profoundly dysfunctional Afghan governmental systems and key leaders,” the report predicts, “any efforts in developing a legitimate, functional and trustworthy Afghan army and police force will continue to be futile.”
It should be noted that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan strongly disagree. They express confidence that the Afghan army is becoming a much more competent and professional fighting force. But they acknowledge that the process requires time and a continuing commitment of troops and funding.
As Obama knows, however, polls indicate that Americans are weary of this war. He told the nation Tuesday night that 23,000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of the summer. This will reduce troop levels to about 65,000 — still far above what Obama inherited in 2009. By the end of 2014, Obama said, “the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.” But how many Americans will remain? And, again, why?
At that point, Obama said, we will leave behind just enough personnel to support the Afghan government in counterterrorism operations and provide continued training for Afghan forces. At present, however, we’re in the midst of a counterinsurgency campaign of the kind that takes decades, at best, to succeed. If we’re going to switch to counterterrorism in a couple of years, why not just make the switch now?
Another question: Obama said we will establish no permanent bases in Afghanistan. But the agreement he signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai gives the United States continuing use of bases that we built and intend to transfer nominally to Afghan control. What’s the difference?
The United States has agreed to support Afghanistan’s social and economic development and its security institutions through 2024. Does this sound like nation-building to you? Because that’s what it sounds like to me.
“Tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan,” Obama said Tuesday. We’re still waiting.
Obama has held more re-election fundraisers than previous five Presidents combined as he visits key swing states on ‘permanent campaign’
By TOBY HARNDEN
PUBLISHED: 07:41 EST, 29 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:16 EST, 29 April 2012
Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book.
Obama is also the only president in the past 35 years to visit every electoral battleground state in his first year of office.
The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.
Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.
Since then, Obama has held another 20 fundraisers, bringing his total to 124. Carter held four re-election fundraisers in the 1980 campaign, Reagan zero in 1984, Bush Snr 19 in 1992, Clinton 14 in 1996 and Bush Jnr 57 in 2004.
Doherty, a political science professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, has also analysed presidential travel to battleground or swing states, which change and fluctuate in number with each election cycle.
In their first years in office, Carter visited eight out of 18 battleground states and Reagan seven out of 17. Bush Snr, Clinton and Bush Jnr all visited around three-quarters of battleground states while Obama went to all 15 within his first 12 months.
While the Obama’s campaign activities in office have been largely in line with historical trends, he is especially vulnerable to criticism because in 2008 he promised to change how politics works and to curb links with special interests.
Vowing in 2008 to ‘launch the most sweeping ethics reform in US history’ Obama said that if elected he would ‘make government more open, more accountable and more responsive to the problems of the American people’.
In his State of the Union speech in January, Obama bemoaned the ‘corrosive influence of money in politics’. The following month, he reversed course and announced he was allowing cabinet members and top advisors to speak at big money events for so-called super PACs – unaccountable outside groups raising money for his re-election.
During the 2008 election, Obama abandoned a pledge to opt for public funding of his campaign, instead opting to raise an unlimited amount privately. He then raised and spent approximately $730million, almost double the campaign funds of Senator John McCain, his Republican opponent.
Up to the end of March, Obama had raised $191.6million for his re-election bid, compared to $86.6million raised by his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. His frenetic fundraising activities are in part because he is lagging behind campaign expectations. Early last year, some advisers spoke privately of raising $1billion.
Predecessor: George W. Bush, pictured at a rally in Milwaukee, was a less active campaigner
In his book, Doherty writes that in his first full month in office Obama visited Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina – all battleground states – in 2012. ‘Clearly, the White House made a point of the president travelling to key electoral states early in his term in office.’
This week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) lodged a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about alleged misuse of taxpayer money by Obama.
The Obama campaign dismissed the complaint as a ‘stunt’ and the White House said that it would follow the same rules as previous administrations and refund the appropriate amounts.
In the complaint, Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, wrote: ‘Throughout his administration, but particularly in recent weeks, President Obama has been passing off campaign travel as “official events,” thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his re-election efforts.’
Doherty, however, said that although the tactic of labelling Obama’s activities as fraud was ‘novel’ in reality the opposing party always complained about a president facing re-election dressing up political events as official ones.
‘This is not new. The Republican complaint is more of a situational complaint than a principled complaint because they certainly weren’t complaining when George W. Bush did this eight years ago.’
Contrast: Ronald Reagan apparently did not hold a single re-election fundraising event in the election year of 1984
He added: ‘In 2004, President George W. Bush broke all records for presidential fundraising in terms of time devoted to fundraising and in terms of money raised and at the time Democrats hit him hard for that.
‘Obama has already surpassed Bush [Jnr] in numbers of re-election fundraisers, but not yet in money raised.’
The rising costs of campaigns, lower contribution limits, the breakdown of the public financing system, the 24/7 media environment and the professionalisation of campaigns had all led to successive presidents having to devote more and more time and energy to raising money.
He added that the ‘big picture’ was incumbent presidents fearing defeat. ‘Until 1976 [when Carter beat President Gerald Ford] no sitting president had been defeated for re-election since 1932. It had been 44 years.
‘And then three of the next four presidents who tried [Ford, Carter and Bush Snr] lost. Of all the presidents re-elected since Ford lost to Carter, only Reagan has won in a landslide. George W. Bush’s re-election [in 2004] was close, Clinton got less than 50 percent [in 1996]. There is a very keen sense among presidents that they really might lose.’
Kirsten Kukowski, an RNC spokesperson, said: ‘It’s no surprise that the Campaigner-In-Chief has taken raising money for his re-election to a whole new level. The worst part is the American taxpayer has been footing the bill.’ The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Obama Sees Steep Drop off in Cash From Major Donors
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and DEREK WILLIS
Published: April 20, 2012
President Obama’s re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on to run against http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/primaries/candidates/mitt-romney?inline=nyt-per” >Mitt Romney, with sharp dropoffs in donations from nearly every major industry forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors.
From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.
With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Mr. Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. And Mr. Obama is asking far more of those large donors still giving, exploiting his joint fund-raising arrangement with the Democratic National Committee to collect five-figure checks from individuals who have already given the maximum $5,000 contribution to his re-election campaign.
“They clearly are feeling the pressure,” said one major Obama fund-raiser, who asked for anonymity to characterize his conversations with campaign officials. “They’re behind where they expected to be. You have to factor in $500 million-plus in Republican super PAC money.”
With no primary to excite his base, the economy struggling to rebound, and four years of political battles with Wall Street and other industries taking their toll, Mr. Obama’s campaign raised about $196 million through March, compared with $235 million at the same point in 2008. It has lagged behind its own internal quotas in some cities, according to people involved with the fund-raising efforts. But that has been offset by a highly successful joint fund-raising program with the national committee, which raised about $150 million, twice as much as in 2008.
Mr. Obama has held more than a hundred joint fund-raisers since last spring, far more than President George W. Bush during his 2004 re-election, and has tucked fund-raising stops into many of his official presidential trips.
The result: The national committee’s fund-raising from the technology industry, entrepreneurs, Wall Street and the entertainment industry have all risen sharply compared with 2008, even as the Obama campaign’s performance in those areas has tailed off, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. And with no primary to fight, Mr. Obama is spending much less than he was at this stage in 2008: He had about twice as much money in the bank at the end of March than he did four years ago.
All told, Mr. Obama and the Democratic committee ended March with about $130 million in cash on hand, a sizable war chest and far more than Mr. Romney and the Republican National Committee. Candidates typically raise more as the election nears, and Mr. Obama’s fund-raising accelerated sharply in the summer of 2008.
But Mr. Obama faces a major challenge in the months ahead. To raise as much money for his campaign as he did four years ago, the president would have to raise about $70 million a month through the end of the election cycle, more than triple the rate he has been bringing in cash so far.
Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, has publicly set a more modest goal, saying the campaign expects to exceed Mr. Obama’s 2008 fund-raising of about $750 million only by counting money he is raising for the national committee as well. That would require the campaign and the committee to raise about $51 million a month through November. Mr. Messina has also warned the party’s two Congressional campaign committees not to expect their traditional allotments of Democratic National Committee cash this year, money Mr. Obama is husbanding for his own efforts.
Mr. Romney, the likely Republican nominee, ended March with just $10 million in cash on hand, according to campaign reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, and has raised about $87 million during the Republican primary season. His aides are hoping to raise a total of $800 million for the fall elections in combination with the Republican National Committee, which last week finalized a joint fund-raising agreement with Mr. Romney. The committee ended March with $23.4 million in cash on hand.
But Mr. Romney is also expecting significant support from Republican super PACs and other outside groups. On Friday, officials at American Crossroads, the leading conservative super PAC, reported that they had raised close to $100 million so far this year for the group and an affiliated organization, Crossroads GPS. Crossroads alone is aiming to raise as much as $300 million this year, while other conservative groups, like Americans for Prosperity, have aimed at raising close to $200 million.
The super PAC backing Mr. Romney in the Republican primary, Restore Our Future, has raised $51.9 million, and plans to raise twice that by November.
By contrast, the network of Democratic super PACs has raised far less. Democratic groups with close ties to the party’s Congressional leaders have raised about $18 million so far during the 2012 cycle. Priorities USA Action, founded by former Obama aides as a counterweight to Crossroads, raised about $9 million through the end of March.
To remain competitive, the Obama campaign has spent millions of dollars on high-tech, small-dollar prospecting. They have used sophisticated data mining techniques and low-dollar promotions — like $3-a-head raffles for dinner with the president — to reassemble the network of millions of supporters whose contributions helped propel him into the White House.
All told, about 58 percent of Mr. Obama’s total fund-raising during the election has come in checks of less than $200, compared with about 38 percent in 2008. In March alone, Mr. Obama took in $14.2 million worth of checks under $200 — more than all the money his campaign raised in February.
Obama Fundraising Yields 10-To-1 Cash Advantage Over Romney
Big money in a big way for Obama’s reelection campaign
Obama tries to rally a jobless generation
‘Official’ campaign launches Saturday
By Dave Boyer The Washington Times Thursday, May 3, 2012
President Obama kicks off his “official” re-election campaign Saturday with college rallies in Virginia and Ohio — the latest in a series of events aimed at shoring up flagging support among the coalition of women, minorities and young voters that propelled him to victory in 2008.
With unemployment of people younger than 30 well above the national jobless rate, the president and first lady Michelle Obama will try to rekindle excitement with visits to the campuses of the Ohio State University in Columbus and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Two-thirds of the 18-to-29 age group voted for Mr. Obama in 2008, but signs of an enthusiasm gap are showing this time.
“A number of surveys over the past year indicate their support in that demographic is really lagging,” said Paul Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit devoted to educating and mobilizing the under-30 crowd. “The No. 1 issue is jobs, or the lack of jobs.”
Republican officials were critical of the notion that Mr. Obama is “starting” his campaign this weekend and said he has been making campaign-style appearances in battleground states under the cover of official business for about a year.
White House officials say they have followed the rules scrupulously and reimbursed the government for political travel. But Generation Opportunity conducted a study that found administration officials have held more than 240 youth-oriented events at taxpayer expense in the past year on college campuses and other locations across the country, often in battleground states.
Wooing young voters
The events have targeted 18- to 29-year-olds, not just college students, the group said.
“What they’ve tried to do, in our opinion, is tailor their operations across government to make certain their surrogates are dispatched in a targeted and coordinated manner to shore up this particular constituency of 18 to 29, especially college-educated,” said Mr. Conway, who has served in four administrations, most recently under George W. Bush.
Other administrations have used official government travel and expenses to promote policies with a political agenda in mind, but Mr. Conway said the Obama administration is taking it to another level.
“What’s different on this one is the size and scope in going after a specific demographic of voters,” he said. “The American taxpayer has already footed the bill for a yearlong campaign targeted to the 18- to 29-year-olds on at least 130 college campuses.”
In 2008, Mr. Obama thrilled crowds on the campaign trail with lines like “Now is our time “and “We can change the world.”
But with the national unemployment rate still higher than 8 percent, the president is confronted with defending his own policies in this campaign.
Mrs. Obama gave a preview of the Democrats’ re-election theme this week at a fundraiser in Nevada.
“Whether it’s health care or our economy, whether it’s education or foreign policy, the choice we make this November will determine nothing less than who we are as a country,” she said. “We cannot turn back now. We need to keep moving forward.”
Targeting Ohio and Virginia
The campaign’s choice of Ohio and Virginia for its official rollout is also an indication of those states’ must-win status. Mr. Obama captured both states in 2008, and Republican George W. Bush won them in the previous two elections. Virginia GOP Chairman Pat Mullins said it will be different for the president this year.
“Republicans won big in Virginia in 2009, 2010 and 2011,” Mr. Mullins said. “We’ve seen important victories every year since President Obama has been in office, because Virginians are rejecting his agenda. He’s been exposed for what he truly is: a cold, calculating, Chicago political operator.”
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, campaigned in Virginia ahead of Mr. Obama on Thursday. He criticized the president’s energy policies for harming the state’s coal industry and thwarting jobs by preventing offshore oil drilling.
But Obama campaign officials signaled Thursday that they intend to focus the discussion in Virginia on women’s issues. In a memo, campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Mr. Romney and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell “share an extreme agenda on women’s health and economic security.”
“Mitt Romney supports handing over women’s health care decisions to their bosses, promises to defund Planned Parenthood and refuses to say whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that helps women fight back when they’re paid unfairly,” the memo says. “Women can’t afford to turn back the clock by electing Mitt Romney.”
To illustrate the point, the Obama campaign’s website is introducing an online tool called “the Life of Julia,” which shows voters how each candidate’s policies would affect a typical middle-class woman from cradle to grave. Suffice to say, “Julia” emerges much more healthy and better educated under Romney up in recent polls
In Ohio, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows that Mr. Romney has pulled into a virtual tie with http://www.washingtontimes.com/topics/michelle-obama/” >Mr. Obama after trailing by 6 percentage points in late March. The survey now has Mr. Obama at 44 percent and Mr. Romney at 42 percent, well within the poll’s margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
Pollster Peter Brown attributedMr. Romney’s improved showing in Ohio to his win in the Republican nominating race and to continued concern about the economy.
“Voter optimism about the economy has leveled off,” Mr. Brown said.
The same poll showed Mr. Romney in a virtual tie with the president in Florida, another critical battleground state (the Republican leads 44 percent to 43 percent), after trailing Mr. Obama there by 7 points in late March. In Pennsylvania, another state Mr. Obama won four years ago, the president has expanded his lead over Mr. Romney from 3 percentage points to 8, 47 percent to 39 percent.
Obama’s foolhardy trip to North Carolina
By Kathleen Parker, Published: April 24
Either President Obama has wings of Kevlar — or he has the most incompetent scheduling staff in White House history.
What president flies purposefully into the eye of a perfectly awful, two-front political storm, especially one as sordid as that plaguing North Carolina this week? Obama’s arrival in the Tar Heel State coincided with former senator John Edwards’s trial, as well as an exploding sexual harassment scandal involving the state’s Democratic Party leader. Jay Parmley recently resigned as executive director of the state party after an employee accused him of showing him a lewd photograph and making inappropriate sexual remarks.
Talk about the audacity of hope. Or is it the incompetency of arrogance?
Trouble is one thing presidents typically don’t seek out — especially during a tough reelection season. And North Carolina is nothing but trouble these days.
Edwards’s trial, which began Monday, not only promises the resurrection of all the salacious details of his doomed tryst with Elizabeth, was dying of cancer, but several high-profile Washington Democrats, including Obama’s deputy communications director, will likely be called as witnesses.
Perhaps the president is merely displaying confidence in his incumbency, or solidarity with his staff members. On the other hand, is he perhaps clueless? As Dana Perino, former communications director for George W. Bush, remarked: “Over my dead body would I have sent President Bush to a state like that to do an event.”
It isn’t that Obama has anything to do with either Edwards or Parmley, but he risks being dragged into the fray. You don’t want to be in the same camera frame or news cycle with the least attractive members of your party. Moreover, plenty of media will be on hand to ask uncomfortable questions, such as, for example: “Mr. President, will you be visiting the grave of Elizabeth Edwards while in the state?”
As unappealing as such a question seems, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. Obama ran against the Edwardses and knew Elizabeth. Such questions are never posed for the answer but are proffered for the express purpose of creating an awkward moment to which there really is no good answer. In other words, to trap the responder.
Bush staffers were well familiar with this routine, which is why they never would have allowed him to be in such a situation. Perhaps, as another close political observer suggested to me, the Obama White House has no such concerns. The media simply do not come after Obama in the same way they did Bush, notwithstanding recent research showing that Obama received the most negative coverage of any presidential candidate during the Republican primary. The Bush White House was under siege and conducted itself accordingly. No T’s went uncrossed.
This sort of attention to detail, as well as to decorum, characterized the tight ship known as the Bush White House. Whatever one thought of Bush’s policies, his administration’s management was a tribute to precision.
These distinctions are worth noting as they speak to top-down executive acuity. The CEO sets the bar and managers stand on their toes. What were Obama’s people standing on?
Obama’s trip was part of a three-state, three-university tour to make a case for keeping low-interest rates on student loans. Although some Republicans disagree with the president’s position, Mitt Romney agrees. It’s a pretty popular stance on university campuses, as one can imagine. The youth vote, which has been slipping away from Obama as job opportunities continue to be scarce, needed a little tweaking.
To that end, Obama taped a show with late-night host Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday while in Chapel Hill. He was also scheduled to pre-tape with Jimmy Kimmel in advance of Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. But why North Carolina at this time?
White House scheduling concerns may seem like so much political arcana to the world beyond the Beltway. But just as questions sometimes reveal more than the answers they elicit, small details can reveal larger flaws in the infrastructure of an administration.
Either Obama’s staffers are so consumed with other matters that they failed to focus on what was happening down South. Or, they know they don’t have to worry about untoward treatment by the media.
Alternatively, this avoidable risk suggests a standard of laxity in the midst of a campaign tour masquerading as a policy parade. Revealingly, the president’s target audience consists of unwitting metaphors for the state of the union — unemployed and deep in debt.
Chewing the fat: First Lady Michelle Obama appears on NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
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