Courage. Competence. Commitment.

Amidst the Professional Left’s sackcloth and ashes routine about a debt deal result which they helped engineer–by kneecapping President Obama at every turn and depressing turnout in the midterm elections, giving us Speaker Boehner and the petulant childrenunrepentant racists/mighty party of Tea–was this extraordinary sight:

Nearly eight full months after being shot in the head by a political terrorist (who could hear the dog whistle from his house), Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made a surprise appearance today to vote for the debt ceiling plan.  I draw two conclusions from this event: first, if the extent of potential human depravity is staggering, the capacity of human courage and compassion is equally great…something which is deeply encouraging in often difficult times.  Second, if Giffords could make this kind of an effort to attend this vote, there must be something she saw of value in it.

And indeed there was: the ending of a hostage crisis, the establishment of some basic sanity to political discourse, and a plan which–shockingly!–seems to have, again, left Boehner and company with a bitter taste in their mouths.  As this article from The People’s View succinctly demonstrates, in the end this plan is a bad loss for Republicans, and begins a long overdue process of adding back two critical factors into the American public discourse: taxes can be not only acceptable but often desirable, when fairly distributed (and we have a long way to go to reach that state of affairs), and the absurdly bloated defense budget is long, long overdue for trimming–nay, slashing–nay, clear-cutting.  If the debt ceiling debate produced nothing else, these two outcomes would have been enormously beneficial, but as Deaniac from TPV points out, it produced much more.

None of this is to say that this is a delightful state of affairs, or that negotiating with irrational hostage takers is a fun way to spend time which ought be spent on figuring out how to address critical concerns about foreign policy, the environment, clean energy, civil rights, restoring economic fairness and creating jobs.  But it is to say that again, as usual, President Obama has turned something disastrous into something potentially game-changing.

Courage from Rep. Giffords.  Competence from President Obama.  Such things require commitment from us–a commitment I hope most Americans will have the wisdom to provide in the weeks and months ahead.

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4 Responses to “Courage. Competence. Commitment.”

  1. Aaron M. says:

    Greg-

    I respect your opinions. I know they are well thought out and researched. I am just incensed that a person as smart as yourself could look at the results and reach these conclusions. How little would have to be achieved in Obama’s first term for you to be disappointed?

    I am not surprised you feel this way about the debt deal. My theory on the Obama apologists of your ilk, is that you and they are turning your/their anger for Obama’s dismal flop of a damp squib presidency on the rest of the left. Mad that we had such “Jesus-like” expectations for the president, you excoriate us for our expecations.

    Why would have expected results before 2013? Who assumes results in the first term? How greedy of us.

    Maybe the President himself set up those expectations, after all on the campaign trail back in 2008 he said, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment–this was the time–when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.”

    This week he had pared things down to apologist-size, “You (the American people) deserve better than you’ve been getting out of Washington over the last 2½ months–for that matter, for the last 2½ years.”

    Thanks, Mr. President!

    Haven’t you been in charge that whole time, sir?

    Didn’t you have a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress for the first two years of your term?

    And let’s see: the war in Iraq on-going, the war in Afghanistan on-going (despite killing Osama), more missiles shot from pilot-less drones at Pakistani villagers than ever, Bush tax for the uber-rich still in place, immigration policy unchanged, and in fact, seeing more long time United States residents being held without trial and subsequently deported for nothing more than traffic tickets than ever. (At least he closed Guantanamo and Health Care wasn’t rammed through behind closed doors, only to be found unconstitutional.)

    So, having reassessed our goals and lowered our expectations from Jesus-like to 70% of Carter would be nice, we are supposed to be excited about a budget deal that slashes $0 from Defense Budget, until and unless, Obama gets re-elected??

    A budget deal that does not touch the Bush II tax breaks for the uber-wealthy until and unless, Obama gets re-elected?? (And has the balls not to cave-in, again, ala 2010, Lando Calrissian style…Republicans in Congress as Vader to Obama’s Lando, “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” Picture Obama rubbing his throat wishing Luke Skywalker was coming around the corner instead of Joe Biden.)

    Excited about a budget deal that doesn’t actually reduce the deficit, but only slows down the existing rate of growth of the debt??

    Excited about a budget deal that pushes $896 out of $917 billion cuts past the 2012 election??

    I read the article you linked over at the People’s View. Convenient how in his summary he neglects to address the ephemerality of this deal. The whole section under the heading “Details” could be footnoted with 1. Provisional, assumes Obama wins re-election. Two paragraphs later he admits it, nothing is locked in, it is all conditional, based on the next Congressional and the Presidential elections.

    Boenher got nothing?!? Obama got less than nothing, unless he gets re-elected while presiding over the worst economy in eighty years. (Not his fault, but a tough road to hoe. The morons the Republican’s are throwing up give him a puncher’s chance. He sure could use a 3rd party candidate from the right wing to help him.) So we are supposed to get out and campaign our asses off for him, because this term he is really going to start getting stuff done? Or that is to say, none of his faux first term claims of achievement, like this budget deal, will mean diddly after his dithering concession speech to the likes of Michelle Bachmann Hold on…pausing to reformulate plans for obtaining Canadian citizenship ;)

    Anyway, in my view, it is too bad Obama didn’t aim a little higher: wait, unfair, because, as we know, expectations of accomplishments and policy change in the first term are Jesus-like.

  2. Greg says:

    Sigh…once more (and hopefully last time) unto the breach, huh?

    “Greg-
    I respect your opinions. I know they are well thought out and researched. I am just incensed that a person as smart as yourself could look at the results and reach these conclusions. How little would have to be achieved in Obama’s first term for you to be disappointed?”

    While I appreciate the sentiments of respect about my opinions, Aaron, you
    could prove you felt that way by actually reading them. I’m really, really not in the mood to go back and forth with you about this again, since I feel we’re
    continuing to cover the same ground; again, please look at our previous
    discussions for my responses to much of what you say here. But very briefly:

    “I am not surprised you feel this way about the debt deal. My theory on the
    Obama apologists of your ilk, is that you and they are turning your/their anger for Obama’s dismal flop of a damp squib presidency on the rest of the left. Mad that we had such “Jesus-like” expectations for the president, you
    excoriate us for our expectations.”

    One: I’m not an Obama apologist. I’m a pragmatic progressive who once loved to tilt at the same windmills you now do before I realized how many people get forgotten–or hurt–in the process. Then I became interested in getting things done, not just shouting louder than the next guy. Two: I–and the rest of the majority of Americans who find both the Tea Party and the Professional Left equally problematic, though the Tea Party is as bad in its motivations as its results–don’t excoriate you for your expectations. I leave the excoriation of people to you. When I call your patron saint Ralph Nader (or Dennis Kucinich, or whatever flavor of the month Jane Hamsher is saying it’s okay for the left to approve of) a “dismal flop of a damp squib,” you can feel free to accuse me of excoriation. Until that time, physician, heal thyself.

    But then, it’s hardly surprising you use this language, because you’ve been given your marching orders by Firebag Lake or whatever it’s calling itself these days. The meme is everywhere on the leftier-than-thou sites: the president is “weak.” “Spineless.” A “caver.” And on and on. Then when this “weak, spineless caver” seems less than enthusiastic about inviting you to the table so he can receive more abuse, you cry and pound your fist on the table, because how DARE this man ignore the will of–well, of you? The “hippie” he punched? (Hey, remember when you folks drew a cartoon of him dancing in front of a panel of Republican leaders, in a paper-thin reminder of the minstrel show? Good times, right?)

    “Why would have expected results before 2013? Who assumes results in the first term? How greedy of us.”

    As I said before, I am not going to go back over the list of accomplishments
    which I’ve posted and referred to on several occasions, because it’s now
    obvious you’re just going to keep ignoring them since they don’t fit your
    narrative. If and when you choose to acknowledge and address them, I’ll be
    happy to engage in that discussion.

    Until then, my response remains the same: this is the most progressive president of the past fifty years–by a lot–all in the face of a radical and bigoted opposition on his right which would gladly destroy the country if it means destroying him, and the constant bitching and moaning from his left.

    “Didn’t you have a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress for the first two years of your term?”

    He had a Democratic majority in the House and a non-filibuster proof majority in the Senate, largely thanks to Senator “I swear I’m a Democrat!” Lieberman who loves nothing more than to carry Israel’s water while grandstanding on every right wing issue he can grab a hold of. That might not have mattered had the Republicans not decided, in accordance with Rush Limbaugh and the rest of their Tea Party masters, to remain steadfast to one goal: destroy “that one” whatever the cost. Mitch McConnell made this desire explicit. Never before in the history of this country, even during the worst of the “attack Clinton” era, has a president faced opposition this extreme, this ideological, and this determined to ignore anything related to the common good. (The filibuster rate was far higher during Obama’s term than at any other time in decades.) Victory at any cost is their motto, and victory means getting rid of President Obama one way or the other.

    Additionally, nothing amuses me more than hearing a true believer from the left talk about Democratic majorities in the Congress when they spent most of their time in the lead-up to the midterms talking about making Obama pay fr his lack of purity, voting the “traitorous” bums out, voting for the Green Party, staying home, etc. The result? A low turnout, a depressed electorate, and a Republican takeover.

    Just as in 2000, when a few savagely narcissistic ideologues thought it would
    be better to back a rich multi-millionaire from Greenwich, Connecticut than a Democrat with an actual chance of winning, and threw the election as a
    consequence to George Bush, the same mistake was made in 2010. The result then was a radical right president, tax cuts for billionaires, two super
    conservative Supreme Court Justices, and hundreds of thousands dead in two
    needless wars. Not satisfied with that amount of blood on their hands, the
    Professional Left moved on to the next target: yelling at President Obama for
    being unable to move mountains at the proper pace. For the results of that
    spectacular failure, see Wisconsin. The debt ceiling crisis. The abhorrent
    anti-Muslim committee of Rep. Peter King, who never saw a Arab face he couldn’t subpoena (no word on when he plans to go after the white supremacist terrorists, like the Anders Breviks of the world).

    Like what you see? If not, take a good look in the mirror and realize what
    produced it: not President Obama, but a depressed Democratic turnout, lying
    squarely at the feet of the Fox Newses of the left, the Huffington Post and Daily Koses of the world. Elections have consequences. It’s a shame the latter-day Naderites will never, EVER admit that fact.

    “And let’s see: the war in Iraq on-going”

    Bush’s war, which Obama is trying to end–and making serious progress, FAR
    MORE than any of his political rivals (including Hillary Clinton) would have
    done based on their own stated positions. But in the real world, you don’t just pound your fist on a podium and thunder “It is ENDED!” from a pulpit. It takes
    time and planning–and most important, it takes thought.

    “the war in Afghanistan on-going (despite killing Osama)”

    As you know, I agree with you on this.

    “more missiles shot from pilot-less drones at Pakistani villagers than ever”

    Again, Obama is in an impossible position here. He can’t simply stop all action in that area of the world and pull out all troops while the rest of the U.S.’s allies savage him for doing it. He needs to think ahead to figure out the best way to stop the action–no easy task when the Pakistanis, whom America played footsie with for far too long when it thought it could get some benefit from them, are more interested in protecting their Al-Qaeda buddies than in actually stopping attacks being launched from within
    Pakistan’s OWN BORDERS.

    “Bush tax for the uber-rich still in place”

    Not for long, and even more important, Obama has actually changed the narrative on taxes–people now agree that taxes need to be addressed, which is a stunning sea change for a country which has been allergic to the idea of increasing revenue for the better part of two decades (thanks, St. Ronnie).

    “immigration policy unchanged, and in fact, seeing more long time United States residents being held without trial and subsequently deported for nothing more than traffic tickets than ever.”

    I guess you missed the Federal Government’s lawsuit to stop Arizona’s
    disgusting anti-immigrant law? Or the Justice Department’s greatly increased
    prosecution of anti-immigrant hate crimes? Or the Administration’s active support of the DREAM Act, a bill which previous administrations have found
    politically radioactive?

    “(At least he closed Guantanamo and Health Care wasn’t rammed through behind closed doors, only to be found unconstitutional.)”

    One: the idea that this was “behind closed doors” is utter nonsense, and you
    know it. You could argue Obama spent too much time soliciting opinions from every corner on how to reform health care. The fact that the new plan is already beginning to save money while having real, tangible effects–like the hundreds of community health clinics which are now going into service as a result of the law–may explain the solid support of the law from the majority of Americans. As for being found unconstitutional, wake me when a non-Republican appointed court makes this claim. How about the three courts
    which upheld the law entirely, or do those not count? And come on, Aaron…do you really want to use constitutionality as determined by split Republican courts as a measure of the law’s quality? How do you think your precious single payer system would have fared with these bastions of legal veracity?

    “So, having reassessed our goals and lowered our expectations from Jesus-like to 70% of Carter would be nice”

    Or just, you know, the most successful progressive agenda in fifty years. If
    we’re going to talk truth and not Cenk Uygur retread talk, of course.

    “we are supposed to be excited about a budget deal that slashes $0 from Defense Budget, until and unless, Obama gets re-elected??”

    Well, the timeline is completely wrong, but to your larger point: am I excited
    about this deal? No. If you were this worried about such a deal, where were you in 2010 when the Democrats were staying home in a fit of pique while the Tea Party flexed its muscles (despite representing a fraction of the
    electorate)? Were you out knocking on doors and organizing to keep Democrats in control?

    “(And has the balls not to cave-in, again, ala 2010, Lando Calrissian style…
    Republicans in Congress as Vader to Obama’s Lando, “I am altering the deal.
    Pray I don’t alter it any further.” Picture Obama rubbing his throat wishing
    Luke Skywalker was coming around the corner instead of Joe Biden.)”

    Props for the Star Wars reference. No props for the tired and utterly
    inaccurate representation of Obama as “caving,” which didn’t happen no matter how many times you stamp your foot and say it did. Actually, he ate Boehner’s lunch, which conservatives are curiously far more willing to admit than some liberals.

    “Excited about a budget deal that doesn’t actually reduce the deficit, but only
    slows down the existing rate of growth of the debt??

    Excited about a budget deal that pushes $896 out of $917 billion cuts past the
    2012 election??”

    I don’t get it–I thought you believe there is no debt crisis, and we should just be spending until the cows come home. You actually want more cuts now, this second? If so, better turn in your Paul Krugman for President badge right now. If not, don’t you think Obama delaying the vast majority of cuts past 2012–when hopefully the Congressional makeup will be much more in his favor–might be a lot, LOT more preferable? This is a FAR better outcome than the alternative.

    “I read the article you linked over at the People’s View. Convenient how in his
    summary he neglects to address the ephemerality of this deal. The whole
    section under the heading “Details” could be footnoted with 1. Provisional, assumes Obama wins re-election. Two paragraphs later he admits it, nothing is locked in, it is all conditional, based on the next Congressional and the Presidential elections.”

    Er–no. The Committe is making its recommendations well before the 2012 elections. And even if Obama was voted out of office, the Bush tax cuts will expire in 2012–when Obama is still, you know, President. Your timeline and argument is utterly wrong here.

    “Boenher got nothing?!? Obama got less than nothing, unless he gets re-elected while presiding over the worst economy in eighty years. (Not his fault, but a tough road to hoe. The morons the Republican’s are throwing up give him a puncher’s chance. He sure could use a 3rd party candidate from the right wing to help him.)”

    Hey hey, something isn’t Obama’s fault! Sound the trumpets! (And for the record, he’s got way more than a puncher’s chance. Did you see any of the Iowa debate? Or the mainstream media’s (even Fox News, for God’s sake!) reaction to it? No one was in a better mood than the Obama team after watching that train wreck.)

    “So we are supposed to get out and campaign our asses off for him, because
    this term he is really going to start getting stuff done? Or that is to say,
    none of his faux first term claims of achievement, like this budget deal”

    Not faux; see previous list of accomplishments you continue to refuse to acknowledge.

    “will mean diddly after his dithering concession speech to the likes of
    Michelle Bachmann Hold on…pausing to reformulate plans for obtaining Canadian citizenship ;)”

    Agreed, if I thought Bachmann has a snowball’s chance of getting elected. I fervently hope to see her walking on stage at the GOP Convention to accept the nomination, before getting crushed by fifteen points in the general election. Much more likely is Rick Perry, who is more of a challenge, though he’s got plenty of his own problems.

    “Anyway, in my view, it is too bad Obama didn’t aim a little higher: wait, unfair, because, as we know, expectations of accomplishments and policy change in the first term are Jesus-like.”

    Nope, normal expectations are normal, “Jesus-like” expectations are “Jesus-like,” and high expectations–which Obama has usually met, and occasionally exceeded, especially when taking into account the toxic environment he faces on a daily basis–are a reasonable basis on which to judge Obama. On that basis, he’s come through with flying colors. Once again, I hope you’ll take a break from coming up with new adjectives to call the President (I mean, “damp squib?” Come on, man.) and take the time to look at the real details of his record. When you do, I’ll be happy to talk about them.

  3. Aaron M says:

    Hey Greg-

    Thanks for responding.

    I guess we both know where the other fellow stands.

    I personally thought that damp squib was nice metaphor, since you didn’t like the ad hominem attacks last time, I thought I had at least find one that fit the bill. Today, seems like an especially appropriate day to remember that as the President allows John Boehner to pre-empt his address to the nation for a Republican Presidential primary debate. No worries, the President will only be going head to head with NFL season opener the next night. (That’s our guy, Obama, sticking it to’em again.)

    Also, I thought I read there was a Clinton appointee on the panel that struck down health care? My thought on this very specific subpoint is that regardless of our strong disagreements of the efficacy of Obama’s health care bill, it is going to get struck down by a conservative majority Supreme Court. He wasted 99.5% of his political capital on a bill (I don’t like) that won’t ever come into effect.

    Anyway, I always appreciate the vigorous debate. Hopefully, the Republican’s pick somebody so vapid that Obama gets a second chance. America is the land of second chances, right?

    Peace.

  4. Greg says:

    Hey Aaron,

    Nope, that’s the President being the President. You folks will just never get the fact that he’s not supposed to be “your guy” or mine or anyone else’s–he’s supposed to be the President of the United States, not the left-wing Bush you want. Also, his speech is right before the football game, not during it (not that I want to get in the way of your narrative). And finally, the Clinton appointee on the panel dissented in the opinion. I still don’t understand how you think the Supreme Court will strike THIS plan down but WOULDN’T have struck down your holy grail of a single payer system. By your own logic, that means you wanted Obama to waste 99.5% of his political capital on a super-spectacular flameout, right? I guess as long as he proves he’s “your guy.”

    Ditto on appreciating the vigorous debate, but I don’t see why you’d want the Republicans to pick someone vapid. Your fondest wish is for Obama to go down in flames so you guys can bitch and moan about the state of the country for the next eight years under the Republican Genghis Khan II, isn’t it? :) Either way, I think vapid and crazy or disingenuous and sleazy are the two front runners for the GOP nomination, and I don’t think either one is going to sell with in the general election, but we’ll see…

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