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GEORGE KENNEDY: Seeing Barack Obama as a pure-blooded pragmatist

Thursday, August 18, 2011 | 5:12 p.m. CDT

I’m one of those pitiful souls who pays more attention to national politics than can possibly be good for me. I suspect many of you suffer from the same depressing habit.

If I’m correct about that, you’ve probably noticed that President Obama’s 50th birthday hasn’t been very happy. His approval rating is down; the economy refuses to perk up; Republican candidates are elbowing each other in their eagerness to get a crack at him. The talking heads on Fox are gleeful.

What must be especially painful, though, is the beating he’s taking from the liberals within his own party.

His base, to use a term the political cognoscenti like to toss around, feels disappointed — even in some of the more extreme cases, betrayed. Where’s the change we were promised, they ask, at varying decibel levels and with varying degrees of bitterness.

Regular readers know that I’ve been an Obama supporter all along. I voted for him in 2008, and I expect to do so again next year. But I’ve found myself among the frustrated, if not the disillusioned.

As I’ve watched him try, and fail, to win concessions from the right-wingers who’ve taken over the Republican caucuses in House and Senate, I’ve often wondered whether this is the guy I helped elect.

It turns out that the answer is yes.

On one of my frequent forays into the public library, I ran across a book I recommend to anyone who seeks to understand Mr. Obama.

It’s written by a scholar, and it’s not a likely “One Read” nominee. But it provides a deeply researched and persuasively plausible explanation of the qualities that make our president such an appealing figure and such a puzzling politician.

The book is “Reading Obama.” The subtitle is more revealing than most: “Dreams, hopes and the American political tradition.” The author is James T. Kloppenberg, a Harvard historian.

Prof. Kloppenberg has retraced Mr. Obama’s steps as he read his way through Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law School. He has studied not only the two books Mr. Obama has written, but Mr. Obama's work on the Harvard Law Review. He has interviewed instructors and classmates.

The conclusion is that Mr. Obama is a “philosopher president,” our first since Woodrow Wilson. His classically American philosophy is one first articulated in the 19th century by William James and elaborated in the 20th by John Dewey, John Rawls and others.

Mr. Obama, the professor argues, is not the ideologue his enemies of the right fear and his critics of the left demand. He is instead a man of the intellectual middle, a pure-blooded pragmatist.

A philosophical pragmatist follows James and Dewey in rejecting dogma, embracing experiment and believing in the value of continuing conversation.

He believes with Dewey that democracy is best understood as a process rather than as a set of institutions. A pragmatist sees open-minded inquiry and debate as the route to attaining the good society.

So Mr. Obama’s famous speech in which he decried the division of America into “red states” and “blue states,” insisting that we are, or should be, “united states,” was more than an applause winner. It was an expression of his pragmatist creed.

His persistence, which irritates so many on the left, in talking calmly to his most hardwired opponents and seeking points of agreement rather than exploiting differences is not, in this reading, a ploy or evidence of weakness. He is an intellectual standing true to his core beliefs.

As Prof. Kloppenberg points out, and as the headlines remind us daily, a pragmatist’s stance isn’t always comfortable. The ideologue enjoys a certainty denied the pragmatist. Not every experiment succeeds. You can’t have a productive conversation when the other party would rather shout slogans. It takes two to compromise.

Mr. Obama has been described by critics of left and right as being either stubborn or weak, arrogant or indecisive. What he really is, this book demonstrates, is an intellectual who knows both what he believes and why, even when that’s not so clear to the rest of us.

The New York Times had a story the other day about the argument inside the White House over whether Mr. Obama should maintain his current course or be more aggressively partisan. He’s certainly sounding at least a little harsher as he buses through the midlands.

That’s no surprise. We shouldn’t be surprised, either, if he strikes a tougher tone when Congress returns. After all, pragmatism is a constant search for what works. His philosophical forebears, even though they never ran for office, would understand.


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Comments

Paul Allaire August 18, 2011 | 6:19 p.m.

That is probably the best article from you that I have read.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 19, 2011 | 3:50 a.m.

The basic problem is that a lot of things Obama and the two houses are trying to do will not solve our fundamental economic problems. Our basic problem is that we are trying to maintain economic growth in a world of constrained energy supply. Without increased energy supply (and more importantly, CHEAP energy supply), the economy becomes a zero-sum game where someone's gain is someone else's loss, and maintaining real wealth generation is impossible. Once we face up to this issue, we can then fashion ways (not necessarily easy or painless ways) to deal with it.

DK

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 19, 2011 | 8:42 a.m.

btw - the 'talking heads' at Fox are not gleeful. They are sick to death of the truth being buried in the Democratic agenda to get this man re-elected at any cost.
"What he really is, this book demonstrates, is an intellectual who knows both what he believes and why, even when that’s not so clear to the rest of us." This should concern anyone who would like to know where their leader is leading us. I don't follow someone in a direction that is unclear to me, even if they are so sure it is in their best interest. It rarely turns out to be in mine. His failed policies benefit WHO?
Truth and full disclosure! Let us decide! That too much to ask B?

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm August 19, 2011 | 9:02 a.m.
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Greg Allen August 19, 2011 | 10:57 a.m.

It's amusing and maddening to watch the Republican side refuse to work or compromise with anything Obama, then label Obama's work as a failure. Has cause and effect ceased to exist?

Cheyenne: "It rarely turns out to be in mine." This illustrates the point. 'Outside my agenda' is not the same thing as failure. 'Outside my understanding' isn't necessarily wrong; I've been led by people -- bosses, advisors, parents -- who were more skillful and could see further down the road than I, to great benefit for me. As long as we don't follow someone blindly we should be okay. You appropriately question Obama, but be careful to not reject him just because his party, philosophy, and style is not the same as yours.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 19, 2011 | 11:40 a.m.

Even when his party was the majority in Congress and he was still riding a wave of popularity, he couldn't get 'er done. His presidency should remind voters and pundits about the fact that it's Congress that really holds the power. A president can lobby, plead and cajole Congress, but unless he's got the fear, respect and charisma of, say, LBJ, it's Congress that determines not only what hits his desk to sign, but his legacy, too.

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 19, 2011 | 11:41 a.m.

"I ran across a book I recommend to anyone who seeks to understand Mr. Obama."

Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Obama's problem and the reason for his "numbers" is that no book is now needed to "understand him". His actions since his inauguration have shown those always concerned, "understanding" of this person. Those actions and the destruction to our economy they have caused, now add large new numbers to the concerned group and leave him with the 26% poll approval rating he presently "enjoys". The progressive socialists of Europe have put those countries and their gov'ts on the brink of collapse. Most understand this. Mr. Obama and his wrecking ball crew are moving as fast as is possible in our country, to catch up and join these unfortunate peoples under the wing of the U.N. Most now understand this.

How much more "understanding" do we need before we reject this man and his Party as undesirables concerning the health and wealth of our country?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 19, 2011 | 11:46 a.m.

Question?

How do you get described as;

"believing in the value of continuing conversation."

"not the ideologue his enemies of the right fear and his critics of the left demand. He is instead a man of the intellectual middle"

"talking calmly to his most hardwired opponents and seeking points of agreement rather than exploiting differences"'

when you say,

midwesterners "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations"

"I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites"

"I will stand with the Muslim's should the political winds shift in an ugly direction"

and you have the most devisive staff in history as evidenced by your vice president and previous cheif of staff continually dropping f bomps when describing the enemies of their ideology and even go so far as to call 28% (percentage of people who identify with the tea party) of Americans "terrorists".

There can only be one answer....

JEDI MIND TRICK !!!

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 19, 2011 | 12:19 p.m.

Greg Allen August 19, 2011 | 10:57 a.m.
"It's amusing and maddening to watch the Republican side refuse to work or compromise with anything Obama, then label Obama's work as a failure. Has cause and effect ceased to exist?"
Oh no, cause and effect is alive and well; Obamacare - effects have been less provisions and more cost so far (Repubs fought this I believe), Stimulus packages - $multi-million for as little as 16 jobs - non-productive jobs - little effect on borrowed money, cash for clunkers - what was the effect of that? "However, almost all of the additional purchases under the program were pulled forward from the very near future; the effect of the program on auto purchases is almost completely reversed by as early as March 2010 – only seven months after the program ended." (Economists Atif Mian of Berkeley University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business). I could go on but you get the point!
And here we go, right over the cliff. In your defense, Greg, I'm not sold on Repubs either, looking for something a little more common-sense not common-cents!

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 19, 2011 | 2:00 p.m.

I'm a dope who takes direct quotes from this person and chooses not to look at them through your rose colored glasses (I noticed you just took issues from the quotes from his books and not when he called us bitter fools clinging to our guns and religion and his vice pres called us terrorists...) yet you belive this jedi when he tells you the stimulus is working when it's stated goal was to put people to work and billions later unemployment is up.
I'll see you dopes in 2012 !!!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 19, 2011 | 2:03 p.m.

"Stimulus packages - $multi-million for as little as 16 jobs - non-productive jobs - little effect on borrowed money, cash for clunkers - what was the effect of that?"

The effect of that was that we still have three large automobile manufacturers in the United States. We almost didn't.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 19, 2011 | 2:27 p.m.

P.S.
I realy don't have a problem with having an elected official that is different from me. I am used to it. I will never 100% agree with a republican because I don't believe the government should be legislating what happens in our bedrooms and bodies and such and I will never agree 100% with a democrat because I am a firm beliver in the right to work without joining a criminal organization known as the union and I don't believe in welfare. (we used to have a productive lower middle class, but since the government started offering those folks 70% of what they made working to stay at home and collect a check from the other "chumps" (you and me...) that still work on the first of the month that went bye bye...)

But, having said this, if the point of this was to say we need to come together as a nation and be able to have constructive conversations, I agree wholheartedly. I also believe we need to be honest with each other in order to mover forward and calling this president in so many words a centrist that will not engage in rhetoric is not being honest. An honest person could only describe this president as an idealogue.

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 19, 2011 | 2:31 p.m.

Allaire - not every relationship is a causal one.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 19, 2011 | 2:46 p.m.

@Mike Mentor: It would be impossible to have constructive conversations with someone who thinks unions are criminal organizations, and that we have 9 percent unemployment rate simply because so many people are willing to sit around and collect 70 percent of their salaries. And you'd have to be pretty ideological yourself to believe Obama is an ideologue, because the facts simply don't support it.

(Report Comment)
Frank Michael Russell August 19, 2011 | 2:48 p.m.

Everyone, thank you for the healthy debate in this comment thread. However, we've had to remove a couple of comments because they violate our policy against personal attacks.

Frank Russell, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 19, 2011 | 3:09 p.m.

@Brian
Sometimes I rant faster than I clarify. I don't have a problem with unemployement benefits for people that have worked. I do have a problem with welfare that is nothing more than a poverty trap for the lazy and disilusioned paid for by working people. Sorry to burst that bleeding heart, but yes I do believe the people that collect welfare and have never worked a legal job are one of, if not the biggest problems in this country. I respect people that have earned respect and hold different viewpoints than me. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt :-)

Look up the definition of idealogue. This guy is a true believer...

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 19, 2011 | 3:14 p.m.

Mike M. - This is where we are at in our politics (politics-the factor that most directs the way we live today.).

Mr Wallstin has just rejected conversation with you because of your three points that he considers contentious. He did this without one word of defense of His position and is now, I would assume, content with his feeling that he has shown you "the way" tho he never provided one word of reason to convince anyone that he is right, or you wrong. The liberal says it, so it is correct!

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 19, 2011 | 3:33 p.m.

dang I missed it - was it an attack on me? may be just my ego.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 19, 2011 | 5:18 p.m.

The comment removed said for someone to stop being a dupe. Of course, someone couldn't read and thought that the person said to stop being such a dope. The person also provided a link that showed the quotes provided by a Mike Mentor to be either completely made up, condensed to alter their meaning beyond recognition, or taken out of context, depending on which quote. I thought it was a fairly good comment as I do get tired of people repeating things that other people have put out knowing them to be false.

And I can remember a lot of people berating the president and his political party for bailing out the automakers. I believe the government actually generated a profit. There were many people on the right wing side of things that said we should let the companies go bankrupt. Now they berate the president and his political party for not creating enough jobs. I'm sure the employment picture would be much better had we allowed the auto makers to fail. (for the less intelligent readers, please note that the previous line was intended sarcasm.)

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 19, 2011 | 9:59 p.m.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax -
Of cabbages - and kings -
And why the sea is boiling hot -
And whether pigs have wings."

- From "Through The Looking-Glass," by Lewis Carroll

[After reading the article and the above posts this seems appropriate. As a future event we might discuss whether pigs actually do have wings.]

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 19, 2011 | 10:00 p.m.

"And I can remember a lot of people berating the president and his political party for bailing out the automakers. I believe the government actually generated a profit. There were many people on the right wing side of things that said we should let the companies go bankrupt."

http://www.autoblog.com/2009/06/22/repor...

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frank christian August 19, 2011 | 10:17 p.m.

Ellis - Yes, then there is, "will you walk into my parlor, said the spider to the fly?" Possibly this bit may be more appropriate for this piece from Mr. Kennedy.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 19, 2011 | 11:06 p.m.

Interesting link Frank, I had not heard that story before. I'm also reminded of the teacher's pension fund (Ohio, perhaps?) which was paid pennies on the dollars for the corporate bonds they purchased, as well as the vitriol they received for asking the automakers to honor their side of the deal.

(Report Comment)
Ed Lane August 21, 2011 | 12:15 p.m.

obama is a typical, self-serving, Washington sleeze. His transparency is like a blackboard (HA). By far, the WORST OF THE WORST as far as being potus and congress is just as bad!!!!!!!! The United States is in trouble when it comes to political parties - they both suck!!!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 21, 2011 | 2:02 p.m.

It was Obama's fault the automakers went broke.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 21, 2011 | 5:54 p.m.

He also spoke sharply to my kitten.

Heck--Michelle Bachmann thinks (or wants us to think) he caused the recent swine-flu outbreak!

He seems like a MEAN MAN!

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 22, 2011 | 5:47 p.m.

Hello Paul.

Hope you had a nice weekend. You got a little slippery there when you described those quotes as "known falsehoods". They are in fact all direct quotes from him. Now, I will grant you that the quotes from the books were taken out of context, but if that is agregious to you then politics are not for you my friend. Welcome to the party. Sometimes even when something is taken out of context it provides some insight. You will never, ever, hear me say something like, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my Country". Of course that was our first lady. I don't care what context you put that in, it provides insight. The quote that is most demeaning to myself personally was not taken out of context at all. Obama explained away me and almost everyone I know (the red state middle America), as too dumb "clinging to their guns and religion" to comprehend his vision as a reason we we all voted against him.

The topic of discussion was Mr Kennedy's description of Obama as a centrist and not prone to rhetoric. I took offense to this as I observe him to be an idealogue who looks down upon the rest of us that don't share his vision for a Socialist utopia (the only possible reason we could possibly disagree with him is because we are too dumb... a little narcissism anyone???) and one who's silence speaks volumes when his staff and lawmakers on his side engage in vitriolic speech. Lo and behold, look what came out over the weekend...

A national Tea Party group urged Democrats to adhere to their own calls for civility after Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters told a restless crowd over the weekend that the "Tea Party can go straight to hell."

Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin, who lead the Tea Party Patriots, suggested President Obama should step in to put a check on the overheated rhetoric.

"We've had Democrats calling American citizens 'terrorists' and 'hostage takers,' and now an elected Democratic representative says that we can 'go straight to hell.' The president and all leaders of the Democratic Party, who have called for civility in the past, are neglecting to censure their own. Is civility only required from their opponents?" they asked in a statement. "Perhaps it's time for a new-NEW era of civility. ... The president's silence on these latest violations of civility has been deafening, but not surprising."

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 22, 2011 | 5:48 p.m.

I do share your frustration with misinformation. I was in Jiffy Lube Saturday waiting for my car to be done and the two retirees that were ahead of me in there were talking about a proposed tax on bank account holdings. (I have never heard any talk of this, but that isn't the point...)The one who was listening to the other describe sounded shocked and dismayed. Then, in a split second all that shock and dismay hit me like a ton of bricks when guy number two said, "That must be a tea party thing. That sound crazy and those guys are crazy!"

Well, as anyone with half an interest knows, the tea party is against new taxes and this would be opposite of their view points. Something tells me these guys were getting their information from the lamestream media that likes to vilify those that don't agree with their liberal, socialist agenda...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 22, 2011 | 5:59 p.m.

P.S.

The auto industry almost went bankrupt because the companies were, "held hostage" by the unions and forced to pay higher wages and benefits than the market would bear. During the time those companies were going out of business, 'cept for the bailout, there were Japanese companies Toyota, Honda, and Nissan that were making cars right here in the good old USA and they were thriving. The people working for these companies had very good jobs and were very happy. Oh, and they were not union... The unions and the workers they represent would have learned a tough lesson had they driven themselves right out of a job which should have happened. I guarantee you it would have changed the landscape of the "entitled" worker which is a problem in places...

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 22, 2011 | 7:01 p.m.

http://factcheck.org/2008/06/obamas-drea...

"They are in fact all direct quotes from him. Now, I will grant you that the quotes from the books were taken out of context, but if that is agregious to you then politics are not for you my friend."

It is not necessary to be a dirtbag in order to engage successfully in politics.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 22, 2011 | 7:22 p.m.

Thank you Paul. For someone to argue that "even when something is taken out of context" the material should still be read "as if" it wasn't (which is the implication in the foolish words above) simply boggles the mind.
.
In such a case, all implications are fair, and the notion of context itself becomes simply a hindrance to one's political point-scoring, to be ignored at will. That is a politics of pure fantasy and narrow-eyed paranoia.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 22, 2011 | 8:52 p.m.

o.k. Paul. I'll play your game. You want to obsess on the quotes and ignore everything else, here you go. Next time you might want to pause before you call someone names because you think they are wrong because you read something similar on the internet. Especially if we are talking about what a book says as that can be easily verified by going to the book instead of a website. I'll save you the trouble though. I used two quotes from the books.

Quote #1
From page xv in the introduction to "Dreams From My Father".

"I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites."

Oops. You got me. I used the numerical representations of the numbers twelve and thirteen instead of spelling out twelve and thirteen to exactly match the book.

Quote #2
From page 261 of "The Audacity of Hope"

"I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

Gasp! This time I sinned. Inadvertently, that thing you mentioned called context that was lacking, was provided by substituting "Muslims" for "them" as a clarification though it is commonly understood who "them" was referring to in the book.

These quotes were probably a part of a larger collection of quotes, some of which may have been wrong, I don't know, that circulated the internet. You mistook that entire collection for my two. Don't worry, no grudges. It can happen. I won't return the favor of the name calling.
Anyway, since I only have 3000 words in a post, I am not going to do the grunt work of providing all of the context and spin that meets your liking just as I would not expect it from you if our roles were reversed. Next time try adding to the discussion by positing something yourself instead of whining about they way I framed my statements. Liberals already have a reputation for being whiners. You even have your own Facebook Page :-) Be careful or you might perpetuate that stereotype...

Now, getting back to the subject. Obama can not fool those of us that are not under his spell. It means nothing to us when he talks about being nice to each other and compromising (see that's what polls show we the people want so that is what Obama will say) while he sits silent and his vice president calls those he disagrees with politically, "terrorists" and "hostage takers", and says "f" them and lawmakers on his side says we "can all go straight to hell" all because we don't want to increase the governments allowance because they have shown an enormous propensity to waste it or worse yet give it away to their political backers to keep the cycle going. This good cop bad cop routine works in Chicago, but not on me.
I can't speak for others that might identify with tea partiers, almost 1/3 of the nation, but I would like to see some responsibility shown by the government to get it's house in order before I throw more good money at the bad.

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 22, 2011 | 8:55 p.m.

Tim Trayle more often than not, seems to draw His rhetoric from the "implications" he discerns (falsely) from the rhetoric of others.

Mr mentor wrote far more about the state of our politics than the context of it's language. Why don't either one, or both of you rehash those other comments. We'd love to read it.

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 22, 2011 | 9:26 p.m.

TT - "the proposed law reeks of typical conservative efforts to minimize democracy in this country."

Am I taking you out of context or are you saying that conservatives are extending efforts to minimize democracy in this country?

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 23, 2011 | 8:53 a.m.

Mike considers reading comprehension "grunt work," apparently. Given that admission, not sure why we should take anything he says seriously. But maybe he can at least grasp the meaning of context, which seems to confuse him.

Here's a rebuttal to just a few of the many quotes either falsely attributed to Obama or that were manipulated for malignant purposes and spread via a mass email. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/...

1. "I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites."

This quote, taken out of context, is part of a longer explanation of how people react to Obama when they discover he is biracial and grew up with a white mother.

"When people who don't know me well, black or white, discover my background (and usually it is a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am."

2. "I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race."

This quote is a fabrication and does not appear in either of Obama's books.

3. "I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

Obama talks about speaking in front of audiences of immigrants, and how he often tells them that they embody the American dream. But he wrote that when he speaks to audiences of Pakistani and Arab-Americans, their message to him has a more urgent quality.

"(T)he stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

Obama doesn't mention Muslims. And the e-mail version suggests this is a declarative statement Obama is making, when actually it is what is being asked of him. That's why we concluded this statement was False.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 23, 2011 | 10:43 a.m.

@Brian
As much as you and your cohort would like to create smoke screens and pontificate on what Obama meant with two quotes that are only a small part of a much larger body of devisive rhetoric from Obama, his staff, and lawmakers on the left, I am not confused.
I certainly wouldn't throw Obama under the bus because he had feelings about some discrimination he suffered as a child. That's his to own and I am sure that growing up as a mixed race child when he did was not easy. But, those of us that do comprehend what we read well can gain some insight with how things are put down on paper. With that first quote, IMHO, he wanted to make sure the black community knew he was no "uncle tom". Being seen as an "Uncle Tom" in the black community would have been bad for his political ambitions. Again, IMHO, when he was talking about immigrants he chose a devisive, us and them, stance instead of more inclusive language. Maybe, just maybe, he was trying to ingratiate himself to immigrants who he sees as millions of votes. This kind of thing is not as troubling as saying rural Americans "cling to their guns or religion or antipathy for people who are not like them" when describing me and my family and my community just because we don't believe in him. While the points he was trying to make in the book could have been made with language that wouldn't have been as devisive, we are talking nuance there. How can anyone in rural middle America not feel directly attacked with that last statement? No skin off Obama's back because he was again ingratiating himself to his voter base and pissing off the people that for the most part weren't going to vote for him anyway. Can you imagine what would have happened to John McCain in the press if he used stereotypes to talk about people who live in the inner cities? He would not have receive the free passes that the liberal media grants Obama on a daily basis, I assure you.
(cont.)

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 23, 2011 | 10:44 a.m.

This brings us back to the point of this whole mess which is he uses devisive languange, some might call it rhetoric, to make his points. At the same time, he speaks out of the other side of his mouth and says, "Hey you on the other side. Stop doing what I do". See, he has read the polls that say we want politicians to stop behaving like children and work together so he sees another chance to ingratiate himself to voters. However, it means nothing when he and his do what they do. Apparently, he has fooled Mr Kennedy with his good cop bad cop routine, but some of us see between the lines. He has no moral authority from which to preach when he has continually used devisive language and his vice president has called me a terrorist and hostage taker and "f" him and lawmakers on his side have told me I can go straight to hell.
You guys and Obama have some things in common. When Obama was pressed about these things he plays the victim card and starts talking about how bad he has been treated, even though he has been treated as the second coming by the press compared to the last president, to change the subject. The subject here was not about how many words I chose to include in a quote and whether or not that provided enough context for you. Read the article and tell me why you think it is right or wrong. I think that is what these forums are for. You needn't worry so much about how I express my opinions if you have none to share about the subject at hand.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 23, 2011 | 11:45 a.m.

"I was in Jiffy Lube Saturday waiting for my car to be done and the two retirees that were ahead of me in there were talking about a proposed tax on bank account holdings. (I have never heard any talk of this, but that isn't the point...)The one who was listening to the other describe sounded shocked and dismayed."

Shows how much they know. For decades the federal government has taxed the interest on bank account holdings.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 23, 2011 | 11:52 a.m.

Mike, Since you asked, I think GK is right on. There is no substantive evidence - I'm talking about facts, not carefully manipulated soundbites and wildly misunderstood policy proposals - that Obama is a socialist, a Kenyan anti-colonialist, not a citizen of the US, a chimpanzee (see San Diego Tea Party), the second coming of Adolf Hitler, that he hates America, that he ever dressed like a witchdoctor (see below) or that he bears any resemblance to the blatantly racist and ignorant things the Tea Party has said about him, all of which make your complaint that Obama is "divisive" something of a joke.

http://likeawhisper.files.wordpress.com/...

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 23, 2011 | 12:28 p.m.

Here is some of what I have taken out of this discussion so far...
..."he has continually used devisive language and his vice president has called me a terrorist and hostage taker and "f" him and lawmakers on his side have told me I can go straight to hell."
"You guys and Obama have some things in common. When Obama was pressed about these things he plays the victim card and starts talking about how bad he has been treated, even though"...
"At the same time, he speaks out of the other side of his mouth and says, "Hey you on the other side. Stop doing what I do"."
"They are in fact all direct quotes from him. Now, I will grant you that the quotes from the books were taken out of context, but if that is agregious to you then politics are not for you my friend."
"These quotes were probably a part of a larger collection of quotes, some of which may have been wrong, I don't know, that circulated the internet."
"Something tells me these guys were getting their information from the lamestream media that likes to vilify those that don't agree with their liberal, socialist agenda..."
..."I am a firm beliver in the right to work without joining a criminal organization known as the union."
"Don't worry, no grudges. It can happen. I won't return the favor of the name calling."

(Report Comment)
George Kennedy August 23, 2011 | 1:58 p.m.

Paul Allaire began this string of commentary by saying this was the best essay I've done. I can't be certain he was serious, but I'll take a compliment any time I can find one. It has at least stirred up more argument than anything else I've written. That's mainly good, I think. I do hope some of the commenters are inspired to read the book. Thanks for reading, and for joining in the argument.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 23, 2011 | 4:04 p.m.

@GK
Right on! I enjoy a healthy sharing of opinions. It just might help us to understand where the other half is coming from. I am trying to mellow as a age and take in to account that even though much of the liberal agenda seems to be directly at odds with what I think has made this Country so great, these are real people with real opinions and they are as much Americans as I am. Boy, you don't know how hard that was for me to type :-)

@Brian
Not to beat a dead horse, but you did it again. Your "proof" that there is no evidence that Obama is devisive or an idealogue is that devisive and mean things have been said about him. That's not the way it works unless your Johnny Cochran and I'm Judge Ito. I tried to give examples of some of devisive language that he has used in the past and that his vice president and lawmakers have used very recently. The evidence to prove him an idealogue is harder to pin down. IMHO, we could look at the health care bill being pushed through and the speaker claiming, "We have to pass the bill in order to find out what's in the bill" and his over all aire of arrogance as indications that he belives what he believes and what he believes is right and the only reason people don't agree with him is they are not as smart and just don't know any better.

@Jimmy
The way these guys were describing the tax, it would be a tax on the actual holding amount and not just on the income. I guess as punishment for saving instead of spending. I'll bite my tongue and hold my opinions about that to myself. I don't see anything like this ever getting passed talk radio talk.

Thanks for jumping in George !

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 23, 2011 | 4:07 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Michael Williams August 23, 2011 | 4:15 p.m.

I think there is a bill advocating a tax on all bank and finance transactions somewhere out there.

i.e., If a dollar changes hands at the bank (a withdrawal or deposit), or if you buy/sell a financial instrument (stock, bond, currency transactions, etc.), there will be a federal tax. I don't know who is supporting it.

Personally, I think it would just facilitate an underground cash-as-much-as-possible economy. Bartering, also.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 23, 2011 | 4:48 p.m.

Mike - I guess what I'm trying to say is, you haven't made your case. You tried to make it by using quotes that, it turned out, were made up or purposely misread by you. Then, when challenged and forced to admit the quotes were taken out of context or "may have been wrong," you doubled down by saying, in essence, "it doesn't matter - I know what he meant."

And yes, I brought up all the mean things the Tea Party said, for two reasons: First, to show you what people who lack moral authority really look like; and because they make your hurt feelings about Obama's "divisiveness" that much more pathetic.

I'm not asking you or anyone else in the Tea Party to vote for Obama or even like him. But could y'all at least base your criticism on reality and facts rather than emotion.

(Report Comment)
Nick Gass August 23, 2011 | 4:58 p.m.

Hey, everyone. As the discussion continues, it wouldn't be a bad idea to check out our full comment policy, linked at the bottom of the page. We will remove comments that contain personal attacks or profanity.

— Nick Gass, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 23, 2011 | 5:38 p.m.

@Brian
Slow down there cheif. If you read what I wrote carefully you would see that the quotes I used were exact quotes except for the substitution of "Muslims" for "them" so as to provide context as to who "them" referred to. Paul said I was a dope because a website said there was a common e-mail floating around that contained these quotes and a bunch more and some of those others that I never used may have been untrue. Possibly jumped the gun a little because of an emotional reaction, but I didn't attack him for his oversight, yet you have attacked me using his oversight as your weapon of choice. The quotes I used are very much true. Then, I tried to explain that whatever context you felt was needed to provide the adequate background for you to fully understand the quotes was subjective to you and I don't feel a responsibility to you to spin things the way you want. Then I said that the 2 quotes you all have beaten to death are just small examples of what lead me to form my opinions. Spending the time and energy disecting really hasn't been fun or enlightening, so let's move on.

Let me help you out with this whole debate thing. The subject at hand is whether Obama is a pragmatic centrist as the book and the essay above claim or is he a more of an arrogant idealogue as I have claimed. A pragmatic centrist would be someone who has a practical approach in what needs to be done and how to do it and who's beliefs about the way things should be fall somewhere close to the middle of the spectrum. If you believe this describes Obama, tell me and tell me why. An idealogue is, "often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology" or "an impractical idealist". If you think this doesn't describe Obama, tell me and tell me why.
I'll hang up now and listen for your answer...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 23, 2011 | 6:14 p.m.

Nick:

Well, at least send my post to my email so I can fix whatever was wrong with it. I didn't 'zackly keep a copy, dontcha know...

Hey, if it'll help, I'll change my grade and give George an A-.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 23, 2011 | 6:17 p.m.

"Well, George. I don't know if this was your best missive or not since my history of reading your stuff is rather short.

Certainly it was well-written and the grammar was correct as was the spelling. Theme and paragraph development were excellent and both deserve at least a B+. You faltered a bit on logic when you stated you were disillusioned yet would still vote for this President; rather, I suggest you find a different candidate.

As to the validity of your theme, this President is supposed to be a manager and leader of people. That's the job of ALL presidents...perhaps the main one. In this, I find him extraordinarily flawed and incompetent. Even worse, he tends not to accept responsibility for failed actions, up-to-and-including his ridiculous statement that he had the recession under control until a couple of world events happened over which he had no control. In the words of my grandson, "Well, duh!" Too bad the President and his minions don't give GWB (Dubya) the same "pass" on 9-11.

Bad things happen, I've found. Planning for only good things is usually a recipe for disappointment down the road, especially when it comes to leadership. A good manager (in business or politics) will "suck it up" and make other plans when his/her best plans go awry, not whine to the minions "It's not my fault." Quite frankly, I was embarrassed for the man.

Perhaps pragmatism isn't his thing; realism might work, tho. Or, if he insists on being pragmatic, perhaps he should formulate better theories from the available data.

To summarize, I find your article is just another effort at excuse-making, to wit: The President is pragmatic and just hasn't found the right mix yet.

I think that's wrong. Rather, I think he is simply an incompetent manager/leader who insists upon an ivory-tower theoretical approach that has little basis in real-world facts.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 23, 2011 | 6:28 p.m.

Nick:

Thanks.

(Report Comment)
Nick Gass August 23, 2011 | 6:44 p.m.

Michael,

You are welcome. Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

— Nick Gass, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 23, 2011 | 6:59 p.m.

Mike, I thought it went without saying that I agreed with GK. I felt no need to amplify his thoughts or add my own because there was no need - who am I to make George Kennedy's argument for him. Instead, I chose to engage you, who jumped in early to challenge George's piece based on information that, as you admitted later, "some of which may have been wrong, I don't know, that circulated the internet."

You thought you were presenting facts to support your view that Obama is an ideologue. When presented with evidence that those "facts" had been manipulated, you acknowledged the quotes may be suspect even as you kept returning to them as if they validated your argument.

George's piece doesn't need a five-star review from me, but if I disagreed with any of it, I'd be much more careful about the information I used to challenge it.

My understanding of the whole debate thing is that when your argument fails, you move onto another one. I'm not sure you're capable, and to give you an idea why, here's the top of your last comment. (By the way, it was me not Paul, and I didn't call you a dope, I asked you not to be duped.)

"... a website said there was a common e-mail floating around that contained these quotes and a bunch more and some of those others that I never used may have been untrue. Possibly jumped the gun a little because of an emotional reaction ... The quotes I used are very much true."

Do you have anything else? Other than opinion, I mean. Can you point me to one policy decision, Congressional debate, or economic move that doesn't support the idea that Obama is a "pragmatic centrist"?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 23, 2011 | 8:23 p.m.

I find it absolutely fascinating that I can find all sorts of *very* recent references (predating GK's current missive) from a variety of news sources that the President is a pragmatic centrist.

And, voila, we have a new editorial on the same topic here in Columbia...seemingly outa nowhere.

Is this simply an informally-organized remaking of a President?

Now, if Fox News did such a thing, we'd hear all sorts of loud noise about "talking points", that conservatives can't think for themselves and simply follow talking-head trains of thought.

But not here. Not even a little peep.

We've seen this before, despite denials to the contrary.

Can you say "gravitas"?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 23, 2011 | 8:56 p.m.

I don't know if there is some sort of a "flame war" on this thread or a "love affair" occuring before our very eyes...

But I do wish that the Missourian would just let some people "vent" a little without feeling the need to moderate a barely "heated discussion". Afterall, we are talking about Politics... What exactly do you expect?

Ricky B. Gurley.

RMRI, Inc.
http://www.rmriinc.com
(573) 529-0808

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 24, 2011 | 8:23 a.m.

@Brian
Well there you have it. I went to the upteenth degree to try and explain to you that all of the information I used was factual, even going so far as to provide you with the page numbers were you could find it for yourself, and that Paul had incorrectly attributed my facts to an e-mail that had apperently contained some nonfactual statements, but those nonfactual statements have nothing to do with my factual ones other than they appeared together in some viral e-mail (btw, Paul called me a dope and his comment was removed...).
In addition, after I gave you an example of a huge policy decision, Congressional debate and economic move in the way of Obamacare where his ideals of socialist health care took precedence over the practicality of whether or not it was constitutional or economically feasible to begin with (shows impracticality), whether or not the majority of Americans wanted it (shows leftist not centrist), and without actually having all the details for how it was to work as evidenced by the speakers famous comment as part of the congressional debate, "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in the bill" (again shows idealism over practicality), you ask for an example of a policy decision, Congressional debate or economic move that indicates he is not a pragmatic centrist.
It has become clear to me that our "conversation" ended a while back, I just didn't know it. In order for us to actually have a conversation you have to be able to understand what you read and respond and clearly you are not getting it. I don't need to go out on a limb to suggest that everyone else that may be reading has found clarity in my statements where you have not. So, you can poke till your hearts content, but you won't be getting responses from me. I very much enjoy a good conversation, but wasting time, not so much... Have a good one...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 24, 2011 | 8:33 a.m.

@Michael
You are on to something. I can see them now in the re-election war room (the oval office is what they used to call it...).

O.k. Lets brainstorm and try and think of what the presidents biggest weakness is.

Well, that's easy. He will be seen by those midwestern heathens as an idealistic socialist.

O.K. then. What we have to do is get all of our friends in the media to continually claim that our guy is a pragmatic centrist, even though it is contradictory to the truth, and by the time election time rolls around we will have convinced at least a few...

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 24, 2011 | 4:53 p.m.

I think someone has a complex. A dope complex.

Because I'm not the one who made the comment that got taken down. Someone who made the comment even indicated the fact to you.

They also didn't call you a dope. Remember, only dopes call people dope. He merely asked you not to be a dupe.

Dupe is a noun that is used to describe someone who is easily duped. Now when you come out here with something that has about two percent fact and ninety eight percent wild stupid hysteria, then you are either a dupe or you are trying to dupe someone else. Either way I have no respect for you in your self perceived role as a messenger of bull feces. I think it is an excellent word for you and I'm sorry someone removed their comment!

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 24, 2011 | 8:11 p.m.

It's hard to take seriously claims that "Obamacare" is somehow evidence of Obama's longer-term goals of driving the U.S. into a socialist frame (per mike m. above), when said "Obamacare" provides PRIVATE health insurers with millions of extra patients.
.
"Obamacare" is a profoundly centrist plan that seeks to provide access to insurance to a *much* greater segment of the population, in ways that U.S.-style capitalism will find halfway palatable. It is an acknowledgement that the possibilities of the welfare state have withered in a real way.
.
(God Almighty--I shudder to think what the conservatives would have said if Obama had gone for a single-payer system. "Satan Hisseff!")
.
As far as some kind of pragmatic media conspiracy goes, what we're seeing (to those of you who do not recall the beginning of previous 2nd-term presidential campaigns) is merely the highlighting of a whole host of issues on which Obama looks pretty damned centrist:
.
He didn’t immediately withdraw from Iraq, but instead followed the previous administration in favor of a phased, gradual exit. He has increased our military involvement in Afghanistan (NOT something one might expect from one rooted in leftist ideology). He was quite flexible in the negotiations concerning the health care reform bill--for example, accepting the COMPLETE absence of a public option as well as other weakened parts of the bill. Hell, he gave an assurance to pro-life Democrats in the House that he would order the bill *not* to change the application of the Hyde Amendment. Shall we go on? He has completely changed his stance about the treatment of detainees from our “war on terrorism” in favor of closer alignment with how the Bush administration conducted the issue (in the process, *fundamentally* alienating parts of his own constituency). He remains very strongly in favor of enforceable sanctions against Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear bombs. He has *strongly* supported legislation that gives tax credits for small businesses. In the debt ceiling farce, he signalled from the start that he'd be willing to jettison tax reform/revenue demands. And though my own Dad loathes this, Obama acted to drastically privatize the space program.
.
He is pragmatic--a Center-Left politician who is also a bit of a technocrat (look it up). His efforts to emphasis this non-ideological aspect is typical of 2nd-term candidates. Bush did it; Clinton did it; Bush Snr *tried* to; Reagan did it, etc.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 24, 2011 | 9:10 p.m.

I must have been teleported to another world...either that, or my head is about to explode.

Some folks (Kennedy and others recently before him) cast the President as a pragmatic centrist. Everyone jumps on board and...ALL OF A SUDDEN...all those things liberals wanted from this President, but didn't get, get cast by the wayside and...

All of the disappointments become OK?
All of the disappointments become excellent policy?
All of the disappointments now become something to applaud?
All of the disappointments are now championed?

And, above all, the disappointments are now reasons to not be disappointed at all?

Wow, I've seen it all now. Liberals can't admit they were wrong about what they asked of this President, so they embrace Bushian outcomes just because...Oh Joy!...he's a pragmatic centrist.

Just......wow.

We are now watching something truly remarkable: The attempted remaking of a President who has sorely disappointed his base.

By the simple and sudden recognition that...All is ok; he's a pragmatic centrist! We are saved!!! (in more ways than one...especially our psyche)

What a truly remarkable man is this President! He has corrupted the intellectual honesty of his own base via a quick morph of their collective minds and...voila...everyone is faithful once again.

I respected y'all more when you stuck to your guns.

Just...wow.

PS: Lemmings.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 24, 2011 | 9:31 p.m.

Further....

From a political POV, I've seen intellectual corruption of this magnitude only one other time in my life on such a scale: The Nixon/Watergate years when common Republicans stuck with the man to the end...as though their conservative values were inextricably linked to the man, not the values themselves. It goes: If the man goes down, so does all I believe in.

I know this because I was one of them.

And it's intellectual corruption at its worst.

The man/woman in charge represents us. That's it. He/she is NOT the arbiter of our individual values. They are not linked.

Well, they shouldn't be.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 24, 2011 | 11:48 p.m.

@the peanut gallery
Dupe, dope and bull feces. Wow! I think I'll go have a cry and then read the above few comments as they have something to say even though one of them I don't agree with.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 25, 2011 | 6:40 a.m.

Michael,

No, no. no. From a liberal-left perspective, the failings of this president are serious indeed. That's why his approval ratings among those who define themselves as "liberal Democrats" have significantly declined over the past year--a recent Gallup study revealed this. Obama's approval ratings are down among all constituents. No one's continuing some kind of starry-eyed acclamation of the Second Coming.
.
By noting his pragmatism, liberals--those who haven't abandoned Obama--are acknowledging that he has to work within a system where accommodations with Republicans are a must. But believe me, there are *plenty* of liberals who are quite disillusioned with Obama. Evidence for that is not at all hard to find--I'm surprised you seem to ignore that.

best,
TT

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 25, 2011 | 6:44 a.m.

PS: Let's note also that, for the most part, Obama *ran* as a Center-Left candidate in 2008. As a candidate in 08, HRC's social and political policy positions were to the left of BO's.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 25, 2011 | 8:28 a.m.

TimT: But believe me, there are *plenty* of liberals who are quite disillusioned with Obama.
_____________________

Indeed, I do see clear evidence of that.

And this recent and apparently coordinated "pragmatic centrist" business is the effort to get the wanderers back into the faithful fold. An intellectual sop, if you will...a new buzzword around which all can rally yet save face. "Gravitas" on a grander scale.

I stand by my analysis.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 25, 2011 | 9:08 a.m.

@Tim: I admire your patience.

And thanks for summing up Obama's centrist record with actual substance. It exposes the glaring lack of the critics here to offer anything other than their standard bluster.

Michael must be watching a different channel, because ... well, I don't what he was trying to say. That liberals are disappointed? Well, yeah, but how does that square with Obama as a left-wing idealogue?

Liberals are disappointed precisely because they didn't expect such a "pragmatic centrist." And yet we're supposed to believe, according to the bright lights assembled here, that Obama has launched a PR strategy to bring back liberals by portraying the president as ... a pragmatic centrist.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 25, 2011 | 10:42 a.m.

Obama the socialist... The Early Days...

"New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate)"...
Obama's campaign in 2008 denied the then–presidential candidate was ever an actual member of the New Party.
But print copies of the New Party News, the party's official newspaper, show Obama posing with New Party leaders, listing him as a New Party member and printing quotes from him as a member.
Among the New Party's stated objectives were "full employment, a shorter work week, and a guaranteed minimum income for all adults; a universal 'social wage' to include such basic benefits as health care, child care, vacation time, and lifelong access to education and training."
The New Party stated it also sought "the democratization of our banking and financial system – including popular election of those charged with public stewardship of our banking system, worker-owner control over their pension assets, community-controlled alternative financial institutions."

KABOOM!

A little Later we had the famous conversation with Joe the Plumber.
“It’s not that I want to punish your success,” Obama explained. “I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody … I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

BAM!

Remember his unconditional meetings with a few of his worl leader buds after his election.
"If Barack Obama’s goal as President is to ’spread the wealth around,’ perhaps his unconditional meetings with Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro, and Kim Jong-Il aren’t so crazy — if nothing else they can advise an Obama administration on economic policy,”

KABLAM!

Then we had the whole AIG fiasco. The mortgage industry crumbled when the democratic initiatives of putting people in houses they couldn't afford because they were just as entitled to a MCMansion as those that worked for it brought down the paper that backed these mortgages that had always before been safe investments. So we obviously have the banking and mortgage industries to think about, but also look at the auto industry and the the health-care industry that the government has taken or is taking over.

POW!

Maybe now would be time to review just what socialism means. Courtesy of Webster...
Definition of SOCIALISM
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

Now, are the "right" minded the only ones that see a connection between the definition of socialism and what this president has said and done for his entire political career?

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 25, 2011 | 11:02 a.m.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't we been talking about what Obama has done since becoming president that marks him as a socialist, not who he posed for pictures with 15 years ago?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 25, 2011 | 11:06 a.m.

@mike mentor:

But of course those folks and their ideas pose no danger whatsoever to our republic. The danger comes from those folks with their guns and their Bibles (and their tragic lack of degrees from Harvard). They are truly dangerous people! :)

So now we actually are having a discussion about whether pigs have wings.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 25, 2011 | 11:34 a.m.

@Brian
*Sigh*
I started at the beginning. You know back when he was a "community organizer" that qualified him for his presidency. Then picked something from his campaign days. Then gave two examples after he was president. Tried to pick just a very, very, small sampling of troubling events that I remember and give examples from different times in his career to show this is not new to him nor should it even be a question that needs discussion. You claim I should have said something about what he has done after the election and 2 of the 4 things listed were.
Hmmmmmmm...
I'm done with you...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 25, 2011 | 11:37 a.m.

@Ellis
:-)

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 25, 2011 | 12:02 p.m.

You forgot to post the photos that clearly show the young Obama being hatched by the Lochness monster, Nessie. If more readers saw that I'm sure they would be ashamed of themselves.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 25, 2011 | 12:06 p.m.

Mike, wrong on the facts, again.

The subprime mortgage bubble burst in early 2008 and AIG cratered in Sept. 2008, so how Obama's "socialism" contributed to any of that I have no idea.

As for the auto industry, "both automakers are here today, building cars, mostly in the Midwest, and re-hiring thousands of workers, because the U.S. government kept both companies, in the midst of the meltdown of financial markets in 2008 and early 2009, from being chopped up piecemeal... In all, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich., reckons the government's bailouts of the U.S. auto industry spared more than 1.14 million jobs in 2009, and prevented 'additional personal income losses' of nearly $97 billion in 2009 and 2010. Another 314,400 jobs were saved in 2010. The research organization based its conclusions on the potential impact of auto-industry collapse for jobs at U.S. automakers and suppliers, and ripple effects on the economy at large."
http://autos.aol.com/article/auto-indust...

I think Tim said it best regarding the enormous profits in store for the insurance industry under Obamacare. I'll just add that most Republicans were for the individual mandate before they were against it. I guess that makes them socialists, too.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 25, 2011 | 12:40 p.m.

"I've seen intellectual corruption of this magnitude only one other time in my life on such a scale: The Nixon/Watergate years when common Republicans stuck with the man to the end...as though their conservative values were inextricably linked to the man, not the values themselves. It goes: If the man goes down, so does all I believe in. I know this because I was one of them."

That doesn't surprise me.

However, that you projected the posture your personality allowed for onto other people, thinking that each of their motivations is as low and as flawed as your own, does. (DID) Even I thought better of you than that. But now I have seen a painful reality. You can't even imagine someone who's mind isn't run by the lowest order of emotionalism. It's beyond your comprehension. That's why your arguments look the way that they do. You know no better. You're completely sure that everyone thinks and behaves just as ugly as you do and you base your arguments on that assumption.

Also, it took me a couple months after the election for my own disappointment to set in over a couple of things. Since that time I have been more surprised with positive events than negative ones, regardless of whether one party would have allowed themselves to declare a victory because of them. And I'm under the belief that this is the way that it is "supposed to" be. And I'm under the belief that many of you are not in the way that it is "supposed to" be. What a shame.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 25, 2011 | 1:53 p.m.

Regarding "the enormous profits in store for the insurance industry under Obamacare," those will materialize only if the vast majority of uninsured choose to buy insurance. For example, many people might choose to pay the annual fine ($695 or 2.5% of income) because it's much cheaper than paying several thousand dollars a year in premiums.

The wild card is how many. The CBO estimates that about 4 million people will choose to pay the fine and that the government will collect about $33B in fines over 10 years. That $33B is just from individuals. Another $134B would come from employers that don't offer insurance or do but don't contribute enough toward the premiums.

So I'm skeptical that the new law will automatically send insurance company profits skyrocketing.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 25, 2011 | 5:13 p.m.

@Mike
Why would you post what you did the first time when you could have posted what you did the second time?

As to the second post...

The socialism comes in to play with examples like you gave where the government has stepped in and taken ownership interest in the auto companies. That falls in to the very definition of socialism. Your argument (thanks for actually presenting one instead of name calling bs...) is actually an argument, that in this particular case, a little socialism was a good thing and not whether or not it was socialism.

@Paul
keep making lochness monster posts and I'll send you to Iraq!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 25, 2011 | 6:13 p.m.

Will there be loud noises?

Like KABOOM!?

Or like BAM!?

KABLAM!?

Will I become a POW!???

http://sites.google.com/site/barackobama...

and a photo...

http://www.broowaha.com/articles/168/pre...

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 25, 2011 | 6:29 p.m.

Mike, We find common ground at last. Yes, in the case of the auto bailout, a little "socialism" was a good thing.

Bush thought a little socialism was a good thing when he signed TARP. IN a CNN interview, Bush admitted, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." He said he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

In the same interview, GWB also said he recognized that a "disorganized bankruptcy" of the carmakers could create "enormous" economic difficulties.

This whole thread has been about whether Obama is a centrist or a left-wing idealogue. I've said I think the auto bailout was a good thing. I'm not sure about TARP, but that's not the point.

Obama and Bush acted out of the same impulse, which had nothing to with ideology. It was pragmatism.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 25, 2011 | 8:36 p.m.

@ MM, who wrote this: "The socialism comes in to play with examples like you gave where the government has stepped in and taken ownership interest in the auto companies. That falls in to the very definition of socialism. Your argument (thanks for actually presenting one instead of name calling bs...) is actually an argument, that in this particular case, a little socialism was a good thing and not whether or not it was socialism."
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First, "comes in to play" is a very vague phrase. What do you mean by it? Is it something less than actual evidence?
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But okay: you're sorta right on a small thing, but wrong on a big one. Yes, Obama's administration stepped in with a bit of "socialism" to keep the automakers afloat. Let's note that had they failed, not only GM and Chrysler, but a whole host of suppliers would likely have gone belly-up. Now, we can't *know* this, but I would lay gobs of money (if I had it) that *any* sitting president--Reagan, Bush, McCain, you name them--would have stepped in with a little socialism to prevent that economic catastrophe. I am confident of that. Still, let's say you're right on this: the move did represent a little bit of "socialism": gov't temporarily assumed "ownership" of major portions of two automakers.
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But you're quite wrong about a bigger thing: right from the start, the gov't support offered to GM & Chrysler was viewed as a very very temporary thing. Gov't was not stepping in to assume longer-term--or even medium-term--management of auto production. Isn't that odd? Actual socialism would have gov't *retain* control, and indeed seek more, as a longer-term goal of actual state-run auto production.
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Here's one more thing: I think you actually *know* this. Anyone who understood socialism at an even rudimentary level would see that a *temporary* gov't prop to failing automakers (who stand at the apex of a vast chain of employment) doesn't really look like socialism in any real sense of the word. Obama did not seek to turn GM or Chrysler into, say, Renault before its privatization in 1996.
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So here we are: efforts to represent Obama's presidency as that of a left-wing zealot continue to lack substance in this forum. MM: Why not show us the actual policy initiatives that convincingly reveal Obama's true socialism?
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From where I stand, he's keeping that stuff pretty well hidden. Instead, I see the pragmatic responses of a center-left politician. You can argue that his policy-decisions are wrong-headed, failures, etc. That's fine. But to represent them as "socialist" or even "socialistic" does violence to the accepted meaning of those terms.
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PS: Obama didn't meet with Jong'il or Castro, and his meetings with Chavez were insubstantive. Anyway, where's the logic in your comment? Heck, Churchill met Gandhi, but that doesn't make Churchill a pacifist. I met my cat this morning, but try as I might, my "meows" are not authentic.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 25, 2011 | 8:47 p.m.

Jimmy Bearfield wrote this: "So I'm skeptical that the new law will automatically send insurance company profits skyrocketing."

It doesn't have to send them skyrocketing. It simply had to offer them promise of enough additional market share to pull them with reform rather than line them up against it (the mistake 0f 1993/94). Insurance companies reacted to the market incentive of a larger customer base which they otherwise would not choose to reach.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 25, 2011 | 9:30 p.m.

"Insurance companies reacted to the market incentive of a larger customer base which they otherwise would not choose to reach."

If they wouldn't choose to reach them before, why would they choose to reach them now? For one, the new laws says that only around 35% of a premium can reflect obesity, age and other things that increase the amount of money that the insurer will have to spend on that person. For another, the law doesn't make someone who couldn't afford a $200 or $500 or $1,000 per month premium today magically able to pay in 2014.

So where will the extra money come from? Out of profits? Maybe, but even if all profits were confiscated, it wouldn't be enough. That means the shortfall will have to be made up with higher premiums on those able to pay and with higher taxes. That will be a shock to those who assumed that the new law would reduce premiums and taxpayer subsidies.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 26, 2011 | 12:12 a.m.

@Paul
:-)

@Brian
I didn't really say it was a good thing. I said it was socialism whether anyone on the left wants to admit it or not. I left open the possibility that your argument which was piggybacked on by Tim about all the jobs and supportive industries and their jobs it saved was a good thing or not. If we do not get labor reform out of this where we get all 50 states on board with right to work legislation, being able to get a job without joining a union, then we will be in the same boat again and again and IMHO history will show it to be a mistake.

What problems do I have with forcing someone to join a union? Unions have a long history of actively supporting liberal causes which should be seen as a clear violation of constitutional rights to associate and donate to whatever political causes you want and not what the unions bosses want. How would you like it if you had to make a donation to FOX News or the RNC out of your paycheck every week? They also have a long history of being intimately connected to organized crime. In 1986, the President’s Council on Organized Crime reported that five major unions—including the Teamsters and the Laborers International Union of North America—were dominated by organized crime. Labor racketeering has become one of La Cosa Nostra’s fundamental sources of profit, national power, and influence. FBI investigations clearly demonstrate that labor racketeering costs the American public millions of dollars each year through increased labor costs that are eventually passed on to consumers. (In this case driving those consumers away from US automakers and bankrupting the companies.)
Labor unions provide a rich source for organized criminal groups to exploit: their pension, welfare, and health funds. There are approximately 75,000 union locals in the U.S., and many of them maintain their own benefit funds. In the mid-1980s, the Teamsters controlled more than 1,000 funds with total assets of more than $9 billion. In recent years, four of eight Teamster presidents were indicted, yet the union continued to be controlled by organized crime elements.
(You can fact check this on the FBI website if you want...)
Wrapping things up here, IMHO, the auto industry takeovers are clearly socialistic and Obama's idealism is clearly shown in the Obamacare law that is unconstitutional although it has yet to be declared so by the Supreme Court. It was shoved down peoples throats by bribing lawmakers with pork to get it passed because it was not universally popular. And if, "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in the bill", doesn't scream of, do it because idealistically it is what I want even if I can't tell you how it will actually work as a practical matter, and isn't evidence of an ideologue then we should toss the word out of our vernacular!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 26, 2011 | 5:59 a.m.

A new comic strip will appear in syndication in the United States in September. The comic strip, popular in Japan for several years, is called "Bruce, the Bionic Labrador Retriever." As one might expect, the American version will employ English text.

In the initial series of daily strips we will learn that Bruce, who is capable of leaping over very tall fire hydrants, is both a pure-blooded Labrador Retriever and a pure-blooded pragmatist.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 26, 2011 | 6:33 a.m.

Sigh...alright, I give up, at least in this thread.
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Clearly Obama is a closet Red, and in this country, we now define socialist as anyone to the left of the John Birch folks.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 26, 2011 | 12:11 p.m.

@Tim
Thanks for the conversation and I'll let you keep that last little dig as the last word. Have a good weekend...

(Report Comment)

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