A perceptive piece by Daniel Larison (via his blog):
Critics have been belittling President Obama’s recent visit with Latin American leaders as a “contrition” and “apology” tour. But a more accurate tag would be “accountability” tour, and it’s long overdue.***
What is interesting about Obama’s non-confrontational approach to both leaders is that it suggests Obama has learned not to feed the proverbial trolls. On the one hand, Obama has shown a willingness to engage hostile or critical foreign leaders in discussion. But he has also shown no desire to participate in international polemics, perhaps because he has come to see that the U.S. gains nothing from such confrontations. Better still, by largely ignoring the rantings of anti-American zealots, Obama may be able to split persuadable critics of America from those who are reflexively and genuinely anti-American. In an amusing irony, Obama, who is often accused of being an insubstantial rhetorician, has refrained from the long-winded, idealistic bluster on the international stage that his predecessor frequently indulged in. And it may already be paying dividends.
Well worth a read.
As has been pointed out frequently, we already knew this from the 2008 campaign. I guess what’s interesting is that the man’s style of campaigning did indeed reflect his style of governing.
Before Ross Douthat was chosen to replace William Kristol, Andrew Sullivan had suggested Daniel Larison be his replacement.
The average person couldn’t read the average Larison column.
@JK: Can we just clone him and replace what’s left of the GOP?
So had John Cole. Larison dismissed the suggestion outright.
I read the Larison column and was pleasantly surprised. Larison has generally been pretty critical of Obama in terms of his policy, so if he’s saying that Obama’s been making some good strides in foreign policy it probably means he is.
I think that the state of conservatism could be immeasurably improved if the Washington Post dumped Bill Kristol and Chuck Krauthammer and gave columns to Daniel Larison and Reihan Salam. That would actually make the Post a much better paper, come to think of it.
Yes, it was a good column. I like the line about trolls, because Obama definitely does not feed the international trolls. Refusing to shake Chavez’s hand would have been immature and would have made Obama an international laughingstock. Shaking hands is merely a professional courtesy. On the other hand, Team Obama does seem to strategically feed some of the national trolls like Limbaugh. They are very smart indeed.
you don’t alienate potential markets.
No one could have predicted that acting like a grown-up would be a positive attribute for the POTUS.
How dare you! Larison and Salam occasionally get it right. How do you think George Will and Richard Cohen would feel about that? What about their needs?
But…but…having a President who acts like a grownup will alienate the millions of parochial Americans who have the mindset of children, who want an arrogant, impulsive fratboy struttin’ the world stage, talkin’ like a comic book.
And the nicknames! Who will tease the corporate press courtiers with snappy nicknames?
Choking On the Ashes of Her Enemy
I think that the state of conservatism could be immeasurably improved if the Washington Post dumped Bill Kristol and Chuck Krauthammer and gave columns to Daniel Larison and Reihan Salam.
That would highlight the yawning chasm between reasonably principled conservative pundits and tired Republican establishment hacks, and the Washington Pest would never embarrass The Party that way.
Andrew Sullivan continues the thankless task of mapping the Unbearable Stupidity of Peggy Noonan
“The Democrats had long labeled the impeachment debate a distraction from the urgent business of a great nation. But the Republicans argued that the pursuit of justice is the business of a great nation. In winning this point, they caught the falling flag, producing a triumph for the rule of law, a reassertion of the belief that no man is above it, and a rebuke for an arrogance that had grown imperial,” – Peggy Noonan, December 21. 1998.
“It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, ‘Oh, much good will come of that.’ Sometimes in life you want to keep walking… Some of life has to be mysterious.” – Peggy Noonan, April 19, 2009.
oh, to be fair, even though I despise George Will, he does get it right one out of about every 8,000 columns, usually when a rethug has done something so jaw-droppingly stupid even he can’t stand it.
Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the SCt comes to mind. Ole George aced THAT m*th*rf*cker.
It was a good read. Thank you.
It is this sort of subtlety, nuance, and intellectualism that could, hypothetically, bring the GOP back from the brink of wingnuttia.
However, the GOP have for so long hitched their wagons to the reactionary right-wing of the party they they are going to follow it right over the cliff.
Colbert did a delightful imitation the other night of the way Noobrain played with her hair when she delivered that gem, on whatever Sunday show it was.
I have found things growing in my fridge that could do the same thing.
And they only need to be paid in leftovers.
Democratic Senator Ben Nelson is all but certain to vote against Dawn Johnsen
H/T Greg Sargent
Key Dem Senator Likely To Vote Against Top Obama Legal Nominee
@eemom: Yes that Colbert segment was great. It’s a tragedy that someone as hopelessly moronic as Peggy Noonan has enjoyed so much career success.
I will now have this song in my head for the rest of the afternoon.
“I think that there’s a real concern. I mean, the message that we saw coming out of the last few foreign trips — I mean, forget Republican and Democrat, as an American it concerns me when I have a president that doesn’t stand up and say, ‘Wait a minute, you know, I’m going to defend the United States of America because we are a beacon of hope for people all around the world,'” she said.
The former Vice President’s daughter. Still riding on daddy’s coat-tails, well into middle age.
I really resent that I was hijacked into employing the otherwise unemployable Cheney clan.
Nepotism must be one of those “core values” conservatives are always crowing about. By the way, she was in charge of diplomacy with Iran. Her record speaks for itself, don’t you think?
We have a mature leader with a brilliant strategic and tactical mind.
Previously we had an administration whose leadership “took on all comers” rhetorically but never fully figured out tactics having to match with strategy or many times didnt have a discernible strategy beyond talking points and vague ideals. They tied this country into knots and knots of difficulties from poorly thought out reactions and no reality testing. They bound us into years and years of having to sort out and unwind distorted alignments and for all the knots, very little real fabric or substance.
The Republicans and half of the MSM and old DC leadership are both spellbound and in a panic – carrying out pointless activities and responses. It is not working; what Obama is doing is shifting the landscape into reality again, to adult policy and merits and criteria based decision making. After longer than 8 years of being knotted into reaction and emotion, they have no tools to counter this. They are having to “go back to school” and are having to remember how cause, effect and consequence are related rather than separate and independent entities to be manipulated independently to achieve short term political gains.
This is a sea change more profound for the US internally almost than internationally. The gap between the opposition and the speed and scope of where Obama moves is going to grow, not shrink with time, in my opinion. Woe to those who underestimate him…
Obama = strong, smart, wise.
“Weak” criticisms of the trip = stupid, childish, self serving.
We have a saying – “the mouth writes checks that the ass can’t cash”.
It describes guys like John Bolton to a “T”.
Larison’s old-fashioned Conservatism puts him, for me, in the same class as those very few bankers who spoke up against the ‘new economy’ and warned where it would lead. I respect him for genuinely believing what he says, even though I don’t agree with what he believes in. You know you could come to a compromise with someone like Larison and trust that he wouldn’t stab you in the back. So, if Conservatism has to have a ‘face’, his wouldn’t be a bad one. The BS quotent of politics would return to tolerable levels, and people of differing ideological viewpoints could actually – talk – to each other for a change.
But it won’t happen, because, like the Banks, the GOP has hollowed itself out by subverting all the rules in order to make the maximum short term profit. It’s fired the doomsayers, given bonuses to the worst offenders, and is loudly defending all of its rule breaking to anyone who will listen. Cassandras like Larison have no home to go to anymore, because the GOP as it stands won’t let them in.
The Republican Party – Too Big to Fail.
imitation the other night of the way Noobrain played with her hair when she delivered that gem, on whatever Sunday show it was.
“Sometimes in life you want to just keep walking,” Noonan said, adding, “Sometimes, I think, just keep walking…. Some of life just has to be mysterious.”
hey, she’s blanche dubois.
THAT kind of average will get you DFA’ed, in baseball terms–i.e., fired.
That kind of average means you can’t hack it in the big leagues.
Agreed. Somewhere here posts that Obama always moves the ball. To keep the football analogy going, right now he’s juking the secondary, who have tied their own shoelaces together. He’s going to be alone in an empty backfield before too long, with only his own team’s players able to trip him up. I’m looking at you Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh and Di Fi.
Sometimes I feel as though O is not even on the same field of play. He is something like the Germans in WWII flying OVER the Maginot Line where the French were anticipating a ground assault.
He is changing the game. They know it and back to your analogy, they can’t stop it. They are drawing fouls and penalties hitting out of bounds, using late hits, too many men on field of play and in the end, confusing and hurting themselves more. And it is happening very, very, fast.
Some people talk about Obama’s problems with 2010 and 2012 — as though we are still in the old paradigm and he is going to be disrupted with the same ol same ol. Naw — not in my opinion. He will make his mistakes and have risk, don’t get me wrong — but he is so changing the context and content that unless the republicans and their surporters truly wake up, they will be unable to function beyond being some rump party in exile. Obama is moving and the country is moving with him, leaving them further and further behind. I think they know that too.
This GOS diary is an interesting tour. I didn’t realize how many colorful individuals Republicans have met with.
mao has to take the cake. but this guy too is a top contender. he’s known for throwing opponents in acid.
Leelee for Obama
I hate to keep beating the same meme, but I have always thought of Obama as Paul Atreides in Dune, and nothing had happened that has changed my thought. Traveling without moving-it’s even kind of a b-ball metaphor.
Obama just seems to slip out of their field of vision every time they think “got ‘im!” I actually wish he was more Swedish/German/French in his thinking-but he knows what’s needed in this country.
I’m still pissed at my Dad for not taking the whold fam damily back to Canada when I was little.
Why would you want to be in Canada now?
While I truly admire Canadians and they are generally more progressive, it is not across the board. They have and are screwing up a lot of their precious environment for greed’s sake on the oil sands of Alberta. The Western provinces are wealthy and very conservative compared to the eastern provinces. Remember, they swung to the right too with the election of Harper as PM.
No biggie — I just don’t think they are that big a deal. Besides, I want to get my popcorn and watch what happens here more. We have the size, diversity and constitution to be right with ourselves and the world. We just have to fix a few things…
Leelee for Obama
@Elie: Health care for one. Their conservatives are more like Blue Dogs Dems, not batshit insane, misguided. I watched a few of their hearings about the Auto Industry-not one of the politicians sounded like a complete imbecile, not one. The union guys were empowered, the Management guys were respectful. They’re still better on the environment even with the oil sands exploitation. I could’ve stood 8 years of Harper in my sleep instead of spending that 8 years NOT sleeping!
My BIL is British/Canadian and a conversation with him is about as refreshing as it gets, even when we don’t agree.
I love that I was able to vote for Barack, but I wouldn’t have known that if we had headed back to PEI when I was 6.
@Leelee for Obama:
Canada’s Banking System World’s Soundest
Leelee for Obama
@omen: Thanks for that article. I’m not surprised by it, just kinda wistful, ya know?
Well fuck, just change the name from Will to Sullivan and the same applies. These men truly believe they have something special to offer, and yet, every time we turn around either they are astoundingly wrong about every single issue, or, like Sullivan, just change their tune a little bit to make it appear that they weren’t really and truly as wrong and they were.
Two amoral fucknuts who claim their belief in sky daddy somehow justifies the shit they toss out for public consumption.
I’m still waiting to hear back from Sullivan about the new book I want to publish — The Rainbow Curve, how stupid gay men are ruining our country — it comes with serious science and stuff … such as … also. My guess is the prissy little bitch won’t publish it for me.
If this were still a right wing blog, I’d be all “Regulation, bitchez!”. As it is, I commiserate with your Bush-inflicted woes.
I love Nirvana!
I know how much John respects Larison. ‘ve even followed a couple links to his writings (I recognize the picture).
But how in the Eff you double K, can Larison sound like a grown-up of neither party.
Monstrous good analysis, even discounting my active D partisanship (as one should).
No worries. I accept your positivity about the Canucks..
That said, more as a warning to them than us, the fallen, never take your goodness for granted…It has to be earned and worked on…
I think that if the US can make it through this, we will be in pretty good shape to look ourselves and anyone else in the world in the eye.
We are apples to oranges with the Canucks in a couple of ways:. They have 22 million peeps spread mostly across the border with the US in terms of density and we have ten times than many. Canucks are diverse, but not like us. Their health care system has its woes if you read up on it a bit — don’t let me guide you, do your own reading.
I admire their uniquely low key bonhomie and quiet intelligence without the typical American showboating.
I used to climb and my hubbie and I absolutely enjoyed hanging out with our Canadian friends during the dark Bush years — they had opinions, but they didnt just HATE Americans so we could hang out and talk and laugh real easy. Many, many good times in the incomparable Canadian Rockies…I appreciated that you could say nothing and yet totally groove…I always tear up at the anthem of “Oh Canada” and feel kinship that is real…
I agree. His meeting Chavez, accepting his stupid book, was a pat on the head, nothing more. And the fact is, I’ll bet Chavez was exultant at the bone he was thrown. But he’s still a nobody, he has no power to harm us, despite frothing on the Right-wing.
Obama knows and understands the power of diplomacy, but also stardom- giving a tiny big man like Chavez attention means winning him over- diplomacy often works by massaging outsize egos, even in the most perfunctory sense. It’s so little effort for a charismatic person like Obama, and it pays off in spades. The Bush brigade though being bullying macho dicks was the way to get what we want, -how juvenile. And destructive.
It’s often said of charismatic people- stars- that one talent they develop is to treat every person (of importance) they meet as if they were fascinating, worthy of attention. JFK, Jackie, Clinton- they all had it. Merely paying attention, feigning intent interest- that person will be so flattered they will speak of it for decades. Don’t underestimate charisma and diplomacy and star power- put to good uses- which is what I see Obama doing here, smartly.
He should replace Douthat at the Atlantic.
I don’t think that the piece was particularly perceptive, because the author seems to think that Chavez feels isolated. Hardly; he’s the head of a growing bloc in Latin America, with strong allies in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Argentina, and decent relations with most others. Those countries all went strongly left because the voting public has rejected American views about how economies should be run, and with the financial meltdown neoliberalism has lost what remained of its credibility.
Yes, Chavez is a power-grabbing windbag, but then so was George W. Bush. He’s weakened by the decline in the price of oil, so he doesn’t have as much money to throw around.
Has it ever considered to anyone on Earth that Chavez actually has a brain in his head, and actually would really, really like a better United States to deal with?
Even Latin American leftists often have a simultaneous incredible love for the USA and its history of struggle while hating the Empire.
Chavez says this stuff all the time. It’s not like it’s rare, or that Latin Americans and Latin American leftist leaders are mindless automatons while We and our Politicians in the North are able to analyze history, and reflect upon it.
Yeah, whatever on the praise for Larison. Forgive me for not being excited that one of them is slightly less insane than the others. Right wing isolationism and pacifism grew out of an inward looking, racist xenophobia and affinity for strongman rulers. Think The Bund and Reagan’s adoration of right wing central American dictators, not some Chomskyian respect for other countries. As an outgrowth of their world view, paleos felt compelled to oppose entry into WWII and a lot of them – like Lindbergh, for instance – were pretty damn suspect even when the shooting was going down.
^blah blah blah smear smear smear, history of perfidy and evil
What a brilliant title to this – it is too early in the morning for me to say more
Many in the media and among the rabid populists will caterwaul over the notion that public discourse ought to involve good manners and civility. Hence a President who behaves with some decorum and dignity is suspect. The rabble will no doubt continue to slaver and rage. It’s what they do for fun. But any real conservative movement must by nature be aristocratic in the best sense. When conservatives rediscover Russell Kirk they have a beginning. The rest is barbaric yawps