Posts Tagged Democrats
It’s an unlikely double case of “senioritis,” Jon Stewart commented in his recent interview with President Barack Obama.
Jon is leaving The Daily Show in two and a half weeks, and some sort of national neurosis seems to have shifted Obama into his lame-duck period a bit early. I’m trying very hard to pretend that none of this is happening.
Whether speaking the truth about President George W. Bush when seemingly no one else would, or keeping Democrats from getting complacent in the Age of Obama, Jon has been, as Obama himself put it, a “gift to this country.”
He should know. Obama has been on The Daily Show numerous times both as a senator and president, and is in fact the first sitting president to appear on the program. Some may consider that a cynical ploy to win favor with the young voters that seem to listen only to Jon (and, until recently, Stephen Colbert), but regardless it’s been pretty entertaining.
Yet like most of those interview, this final installment wasn’t a love fest. Jon’s first two interviews with Obama as president were pretty awkward, and this time he started with a ribbing about the first 2012 presidential debate (where Obama’s appraised poor performance took precedence over Mitt Romney’s pigheadedness), and engaged in a more serious discussion on the VA toward the end.
Despite all of the enthusiasm of the 2008 election, it seems like criticizing Obama has become an initiation right for the liberal club over the past seven years. Maybe old Bush-era habits are hard to break, or maybe the Left has become a collection of gutless hipsters that can’t be associated with anything too popular.
Over the years, Jon Stewart has repeatedly shown how to do this right. He criticizes constructively and when he believes it is warranted, not simply attacking Obama and other leaders for not following a narrow ideological path. And his job is actually to make fun of those leaders, what’s everyone else’s excuse?
I spent most of college watching Obama make his way to the White House, and most of the time since watching him try to steer the country in the direction of progress. Things haven’t gone perfectly, but looking back I’d say it wasn’t exactly a fiasco either. All along the way, Jon Stewart has been there to help us make sense of everything, by not blowing it all out of proportion.
For what it’s worth, I’m proud that Barack Obama is my president, and no matter who is in office, I hope there will always be someone like Jon Stewart to make fun of them, although Jon himself is irreplaceable.
Because no matter who is sitting behind the desks in the Oval Office and a tiny studio in Hell’s Kitchen, meetings like this are probably good for the country.
The most painful part of today’s passage of a bill that will allow people to keep their health insurance plans–regardless of whether they meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act–isn’t watching President Obama capitulate to more Republican pressure. It’s listening to everyone complain about it.
Obama was wrong to say that people could keep their plans in all circumstances but this, along with the constant criticism of Healthcare.gov, is getting out of hand.
The President should have been clearer about the law, and the people handling its rollout should have made sure the website worked. They didn’t. It’s not that big of a deal.
People like to point to the constant political strife in Washington as the nexus of this country’s problems, but the strife runs much deeper than that.
The Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is a very middle-of-the-road policy, which is why no one likes it. Liberals don’t like it because it’s not a single-payer system. Conservatives don’t like it because Obama created it.
Everyone else seems to be disgruntled because it requires them to change policies or pay more money. Never mind that they’re getting more coverage.
“Healthcare reform” means just that. It’s about providing access to healthcare for the maximum number of people, and implies no guarantee that certain people won’t be inconvenienced by a change of the status quo.
That big-picture reality applies to people’s ideas about healthcare reform as well.
Many liberals decry Obama for not enacting a single-payer system, and instead delivering millions of customers to the insurance companies. But where were these people when the Affordable Care Act was being drafted?
Did they stare down conservative opponents of the law, or just criticize the President for not doing what they wanted?
Two years after the passage of Obamacare, people are still complaining about the lack of a single-payer system. Yes, that would be fantastic. But the time to advocate for it was when the law was being drafted.
The biggest problem with Obamacare may just be that it is the President’s signature domestic policy. It makes it too easy for people to criticize the man and abandon the policy in the process.
Supporters of healthcare reform need to be for healthcare reform, not their own specific idea of healthcare reform. They need to stop throwing their hands up and shaking their heads every time a setback occurs. The ship will never get anywhere if everyone jumps off.
I am immensely relieved that the government shutdown is over, and that Democrats were able end it without defacing the Affordable Care Act.
I tend to give less emphasis to these types of events because, right or wrong, I feel like this is simply how things should work.
The Republican healthcare-for-hostages scheme was completely unreasonable; the GOP was trying to block a law that had already been approved by Congress, and vetted by the Supreme Court and the people’s votes for President Obama in last year’s election.
Republicans may not like the law, but that’s not a reason for shutting down the government. Wednesday’s solution was the only logical way for this to end.
I say that not as a supporter of Obamacare gloating over a hard-won victory, but as someone who has faith in the mechanisms of the Federal government.
In a democracy, not everyone will agree 100 percent of the time, but our system of government has always been able to contain those disagreements (with the exception of the Civil War). Over the past couple of weeks, that system was tested by a group that simply wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, and it passed.
The American people passed the test too.
We stood up for that system of government, not letting concepts of “fairness” or “compromise” become transmuted into a tyranny of the minority, realizing that adults need to be able to handle not getting their way.
Many people assume that constant fighting is an inherent part of how Washington works, but the government shutdown has shown that obstruction by a few shouldn’t be misconstrued with overall incompetence.
Now that we’ve gotten a taste of how government is supposed to work, maybe we’ll be less lenient the next time Republicans conjure up a crisis to advance their agenda.
“Our political life is becoming so expensive, so mechanized and so dominated by professional politicians and public relations men that the idealist who dreams of independent statesmanship is rudely awakened by the necessities of election and accomplishment.”
I guess it’s good to know that some things never change. Then-Senator John F. Kennedy wrote the above description for his book Profiles in Courage, which was published in 1956. As we wait to experience the fallout of the Sequester, it seemed especially timely.
Kennedy could have easily been describing the political madness of 2013. The “necessities of election and accomplishment” seem to take precedence over government.
As Kennedy says, that kind of political life is indeed expensive and mechanistic. Candidates have to spend millions and billions of dollars on ads in a seemingly never-ending election cycle, inviting special interests and rich backers to gain undue influence. Every appearance and statement is tightly choreographed, making our representatives seem like walking lists of talking points.
Of course, things have changed since 1956. Kennedy goes on to mention the Cold War and how the rigid ideology it spawned was also affecting American political discourse. It’s also hard to compare the party dynamics of the 1950s Congress to today’s without doing some more research. Perhaps another day.
Regardless, the government Kennedy worked in, as both a Congressman and Senator, and later led as President, was able to muddle through several international crises and the Civil Rights Movement. Have our leaders done everything perfectly over the past 57 years? Nope. Yet the government, and the United States itself, is still here.
Political strife may have reached an all-time high, but parties and individuals have been arguing with each other since this country was founded. Just look at the stories of the eight Senators Kennedy profiles, or watch Lincoln.
Past Congresses have had to enact the founding principles of the United States, fight wars, and bring about social change. All this Congress had to do was pass a budget. Its members may not like each other, and they may need to get their priorities in order, but that didn’t stop their predecessors.
I was very pleased by the results of Tuesday’s election, but they do put the country in an interesting place. As Jon Stewart pointed out, Obama is still president, the Democrats still control the Senate, and the Republicans still control the House, so America’s billionaires apparently wasted their money. So how do we keep from repeating the mistakes of the past four years?
Bipartisanship seems to be the key, and it is, but not all the time. If both parties put aside their differences, forgot the ugliness of this decidedly ugly campaign, and compromised to create practical policies, it would be a major achievement for rationality. However, it might not solve every problem.
I’m a fan of Matt Taibbi, but when he wrote, on the morning of the election, that there was essentially no difference between the candidates, I had to disagree.
“When push comes to shove, we all should know most Americans want the same things, but just disagree on how to get there, which is why it should be okay to not panic if the other party wins,” Taibbi wrote on the morning of November 6. That’s true, but sometimes Americans disagree. What then?
The vitriol and plain bullshit slung by both politicians and the media in this election was awful, not just because it made compromise harder, but because it obscured real issues that Americans genuinely disagree about.
Could a woman really believe that Romney had her interests in mind, even after he talked about banning abortion, or after his “binders full of women” comment? If one of the two main presidential candidates make a threat to one’s rights a part of his platform, there is no reason to assume that he will not act on that. Otherwise, why bother having elections?
So the solution to America’s problems isn’t blind compromise. Politicians and their constituents should stop the name calling, and generally recognize their opponents’ humanity, but both sides have the right and obligation to try to enact their policies.
Some might argue that this is what caused the ongoing deadlock in Washington: both parties pushed to get what they wanted done, and tried equally hard to obstruct their opponent.
However, we just had an election, where the majority of the country chose a Democratic president, that seems to point things in a certain direction. The Democrats shouldn’t ignore the Republican constituency, but the Republicans need to acknowledge that, in the White House and Senate races, they lost.
After a major Republican upset in the 2010 midterm elections, Mitch McConnell said that, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Someone really needs to call the Republican party on this counterproductive behavior.
When Mitt Romney is accusing President Obama of being anti-coal, and the President is accusing the former governor of being a corporate raider, some people think that all the parties care about is defeating each other. However, we need to remember that this all started with the Republicans and, now that they’ve lost the presidential race, they need to be stopped from continuing to obstruct the functions of government.
A maxim of journalism is that there are always at least two sides to every story. That’s true, but not every side is equal. In politics, compromise is important, but the job of politicians is to serve the people, and the people have spoken.
I was finally able to vent my near-homicidal rage against television journalists and concentrate on the issues (imagine that!) in the final presidential debate Monday night. As usual, I was left wondering if Mitt Romney actually hears the words that come out of his mouth.
Twice, the former Massachusetts Governor told President Obama that, “Criticizing me is not a foreign policy.” That seems like a noble statement, except Romney spent almost the entire debate criticizing the President while offering only a vague phantasm of what he would actually do if he wins on November 6.
Romney criticized nearly every aspect of Obama’s foreign policy, from the drone strikes that killed al Qaeda’s leadership, to his use of economic sanctions on Iran, to when he “skipped Israel” during a trip to the Middle East.
Obviously, debates are all about criticism, but if Romney wanted the President to say something constructive instead of just attacking, why didn’t he?
Instead, Romney went for semantics. He said he would put tougher sanctions on Iran, and label China a “currency manipulator,” which is apparently more severe than actually prosecuting China for trade violations, as Obama has done.
When asked what he would do if Israel decided to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, Romney begged off saying he wouldn’t answer a hypothetical question like that. Instead, he used the time to attack Obama… again.
Perhaps it was because Romney didn’t know how long it would take Israeli planes to reach Iran: earlier in the debate, he said Syria was an important ally for Iran because it gave the latter access to the sea. Iran has its own coastline, and the two countries do not share a border (Iraq is in between).
So much for building a foreign policy on ideas instead of criticism. Obama, on the other hand, gave specifics, as he always does. He outlined the aforementioned cases against China, and reminded Americans who was responsible for eliminating their arch enemy, and a dictator that even the Republicans’ favorite president, Ronald Reagan couldn’t take down.
With regards to Iran, Obama, said he would put every option on the table. That sounds a lot more presidential than Romney’s “answer.”
Conservatives probably have their own criticisms regarding Obama’s policies, but what I want to emphasize here is Romney’s “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. If attacking your opponent doesn’t help build a foreign policy, then stop wasting time attacking your opponent. It goes both ways.
Romney doesn’t seem to think the laws of language apply to him; he thinks that he can say one thing and have it mean something else. That is one of many reasons why he is unfit to be our president.
As President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stepped away from their podiums on Wednesday night, I was satisfied with the President’s performance. It was only when the post-debate coverage started that I became nauseous.
The mistake I made was apparently listening to what the candidates were saying more than their mannerisms. The general consensus is that Obama looked like he was asleep, while Romney was fired up and confident.
That may be true, but what Romney actually said doesn’t amount to much. At the beginning of the debate, moderator Jim Lehrer said he wanted the candidates to explain their positions in detail. Obama did that, and Romney did not.
Obama gave a detailed account of his work over the past four years, including a surprisingly long string of legislative victories (from Obamacare to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”) and an explanation of what he will do in the next four, if reelected.
The President talked about investing in education and the green energy industry as ways of improving America’s position in the international community, while growing the economy. He also discussed an ongoing effort to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next ten years. Whether you agree with his policies or not, you can’t say the man didn’t explain himself.
Romney refused to go into details. He said he wouldn’t cut taxes by the rich by $5 trillion, he would reduce the deficit, and that he would or would not do many other things, but he never explained how.
In fact, Romney seemed quite evasive about answering questions on his policies, at least to this viewer. When Lehrer questioned him about federal funding for education, Romney went off on a tangent about Obama’s green energy funding, without even mentioning schools or teachers.
Romney may have been more aggressive, but what he was saying utterly lacked substance. This debate was supposed to be an opportunity for candidates to introduce and elaborate on their plans for the next for years, but all Romney did was attack Obama. We still don’t know any more about his plans for this country than we did on October 2.
Obama made his share of mistakes too: he filled in some of the blanks of Romney’s vague policies to make himself look better, and he really was lacking energy. Still, does that negate outright lying and evasiveness? Does the fact that Romney continued to quote the “$716 billion Medicare cut” number, even though it was debunked during the party conventions, not matter because Obama didn’t smile enough?
People may be disappointed with the President’s performance, but that is no reason to give the win to Mitt Romney. At the very least, it’s a tie, between a man who impulsively says “$716 billion of Medicare cuts and $90 billion to green energy” regardless of their truth or context, and a man who says rational, sensible things in a less-than-exciting manner. I know who I’m voting for.
In this brave new world of instant media gratification, fact checking has separated itself from conventional journalism, since time is required to check facts. Through the two national political conventions, the morning after each speech has been followed by a barrage of asterisks from PolitiFact, FactCheck, and other independent organizations. Now, like the conventional media, their work is getting political.
Trying to see if a politician is telling the truth should seem like a straightforward, non-partisan thing, but that’s tough for a party that lies so much to accept.
Republican demigod Ronald Reagan once said that “facts are stupid things,” and his party proved that at their convention last week. A quick Internet search will turn up thorough dissections of each speech, showing where each candidate was less than truthful.
How does a political party respond when it is caught with its pants on fire? Blame the fact checkers! In an interview on the Colbert Report earlier this week, CNN Contributing Editor Reihan Salam tried to take some of the heat off his fellow conservatives.
“I think that people are being obtuse,” Salam said. He said the issue was not whether Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan lied about the closing of car factory or whether he voted for Simpson-Bowles, but that both parties were making claims about lying to distract people from the issues.
“When people hear something that sounds vague, seems like it’s ill defined, they don’t say “Oh, that must be what he meant,” rather, they say, “Let’s define it as narrowly as possible as a lie, rather than have a real conversation about what we’re saying,’” Salam said.
While it’s true that reality is rarely black-and-white, and that political parties deserve to emphasize certain (factual) points to make their candidates’ case at their own conventions, some things are simply false. Salam defended Ryan’s claim that the plant in Janesville, Wisconsin closed during the Obama administration, saying it had only been mothballed in 2008 due to low demand for SUVs, not fully closed. Who’s being obtuse now?
That is a distinction without a difference. The plant was still closed: it was not producing cars, and its employees were out of work. In addition, if the reason for the shut down really was lack of demand for SUVs, then Obama cannot be blamed for it. The President may be the most powerful man in the free world, but he can’t stop poor product planning.
One person’s views do not always represent those of an entire political party or movement (Salam could’ve also been kidding, I suppose), and I hope this isn’t how conservatives plan to deal with their leaders’ penchant for stretching the truth.
If given the opportunity, politicians will endlessly stretch the truth until it’s nothing but Orwellian doublespeak. People get frustrated by political lies, but the media gives them an opportunity to see through those lies. If someone doesn’t want to acknowledge the truth, that shouldn’t be everyone else’s problem.
On Tuesday, the New York Times was full of disturbing headlines. A couple dealt with Rep. Todd Akin’s remarks on “legitimate rape” and the Republican’s somewhat nonsensical decision to announce an anti-abortion platform plank as they denounced Akin. Another was a grim milestone: the death of 2,000 Americans in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, there’s only so much outrage one person can muster.
If you take the time to find out what is going on in the world, it’s hard to know what to do next. This would be an appropriate time for remarks about how Americans forget the wars they send other people to fight and how we should “support the troops,” but how?
I think, now that Osama bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is no longer a threat to the United States, we should extricate ourselves from Afghanistan. President Obama thinks likewise; he’s said on multiple occasions that he is working on getting our troops out. Unless your name is John Rambo, it’s hard to speed up the process.
By the same token, should one pay less attention to the abortion debate, especially when one party makes a major political move, because it is less important than one of the nation’s longest wars? Regardless of how you feel about abortion, if you feel strongly about it, it’s hard to ignore something like Akin’s comment, or the Republican anti-abortion plank.
I can see why some people don’t bother voting. In November, the Republicans will either be rebuked or confirmed, and both sides will be reminded about Afghanistan, but what do we do until then? Argue amongst ourselves?
These issues are much larger than any individual, but that can be pretty overwhelming for said individual.
In the beginning, Senators were chosen by state legislatures, not the people. Lawmakers reasoned that people weren’t informed enough to make those decisions. Not anymore: today Congressional candidates feel like telemarketers. Thank God the primaries are almost over.
If a politician or their representative calls you several times a day, does that make you want to vote for them? It’s no wonder they don’t get anything done: they spend all their time campaigning, and telling people what they plan on doing.
On the other hand, maybe the blitz of phone calls and junk mail is a response to low voter turnout. People will be motivated to vote if it makes the voices go away, and it’s not like they’ll forget what day the primary is.
It doesn’t stop either. I went to the polling place and filled in the circles on the official piece of paper (when did voting become the same as the SATs?) hours ago, but they’re still calling. Maybe things will quiet down when the polls close (I’m writing this at about 7:00 EST Tuesday night), but I doubt it. On to the general election!