At Washington Monthly, D.R. Tucker is at his wit’s end with conservative writers made unreadable either by voices in their head or the fear of getting Frummed. I think most of us can agree with his general point, but it strikes me as unfair to single out as counterexamples just Larison at AmCon* and one guy at OTB. Setting aside Pat Buchanan and maybe Dreher, the entire stable at American Conservative consistently put out some of the best work in my RSS feed. If you enjoy criticism of modern Republicans, and I know you do, the takedowns at AmCon strike me as all the more authoritative for their evenhandedness.
Grabbing the most recent thing I liked, this essay on the Corbusier/Bob Moses problem in China’s potemkin eco-towns makes the exact same arguments that you read daily from Duncan Black at Eschaton**. Basically no matter what else you do with construction and design, a city where you cannot walk is not green. This idea that ‘green’ could mean widely separated buildings, car-centric streets and no walkable commercial districts would make Jane Jacobs stab someone with a fork.
Nobody pays me anything to promote those guys and in fact they probably would prefer that I stop comparing uncle Pat to Gilbert Gottfried reading from Fifty Shades at the Algonquin round table (the guy hires solid writers but honestly, his own columns are pretty jarring). Overall I just find myself consistently impressed by the writing there and I feel like I should recommend the mag whenever the question of readable conservatives comes up.
(*) Yes I am aware of Larison’s southern sympathies. He is not writing for Mother Jones, and his general policy judgment is still excellent.
(**) I would link a more apt post but Duncan has written thousands and searching his archives is hell.
So the search for the last sane conservative continues. I think we may have more success in find Yeti or Nessie.
Speaking of 50 Shades, I was not surprised to read that people in Bible belt states are the most eager to see the movie, pre-ticket sales already sold out.
I agree that TAC has some very interesting writers. But I add Dreher to the list. I hate-read him so that I can learn what someone is an absolute polar opposite from me actually thinks. (although some days I think he’s trolling his readership to keep his hits up. No one can manufacture that much outrage over such trivial issues.)
@schrodinger’s cat: I think it depends on how you define conservative, and sanity is a spectrum. Chris Wallace > Megyn Kelly > Bill O’Reilly > Hannity.
They’re made unreadable by the fact that no matter what they squirt out of their keyboard, they get paid.
Also, normal people don’t want to be associated with that shit. Really? You can be a conservative writer, but you’ll have to hang around with the likes of Krauthammer and Will?
That should be Washington Monthly.
@Bob: Yikes. Thanks for correcting me.
The distinction, of course, is that the stable at AmCon is mostly traditional conservatives, not the movement conservatives that dominate today’s republican party and conservative “think” tanks. This liberal finds much common ground with the former.
@bemused: I saw the trailer on TV the other day. The lead pair has zero chemistry. One movie not worth seeing even on Netflix, me thinks.
I hope somebody from among the Juicitariat will be kind enough to go see Fifty Shades and report back. Because, as you all are aware, it will not be shown in Malaysia.
@Amir Khalid: Why not?
@bemused: Porn watched, pretty much all the most Republican states.
Update: the states with the most porn watched, Republican.
Ha, do you think the Bible belt fans will notice the lack of chemistry or just project their own fantasies on the movie?
Not interested in reading the book or seeing the movie. I did very much enjoy the twitter, etc snark when the book became so popular such as the pair of horses canoodling with caption 50 bales of hay.
@wvng: Krauthammer and Will were also traditional conservatives once upon a time. Hailing from a time when the GOP was capable of sanity does not mean a given columnist is themselves sane.
Because the Malaysian Board of Film Censors smote the movie with its banhammer.
Ain’t no gorram reason to see 50 Shades when Magic Mike XL is just five months away.
The article on the city is interesting but I would like to see a retirement of the indictment of the trope of the design of housing projects as the main reason for their many failures. In the case of Pruitt-Igoe a lot of the problems were caused by the local authority that did not do the necessary maintenance to keep the buildings in shape – what would be a true broken windows policy!
@bemused: Why is a rich playboy using an innocent woman as his sexual plaything supposed to be romantic? That’s how it was promoted in TV ad, as a romantic movie for V Day.
Grumpy Code Monkey
In this particular case, that may not have been such a bad thing…
The idea that there aren’t any conservatives worth reading is pretty pathetic. And it emphasizes a major problem with Lefties. You’re 100% correct about everything, and anyone who doesn’t agree 100% with how you see the world is a worthless idiot.
That also leads you to constantly trash even moderate writers who agree with you on a lot of issues. It’s intellectually ridiculous. Yeah, wouldn’t want to have your opinions challenged.
There are a lot of thoughtful conservative writers. And Rob Dreher is one of the best, and the discussions on his blog are particularly good, in fact they’re much better than the discussions here at BJ. And Dreher is pretty tolerant of dissent. He runs a good blog. But of course he’s a conservative Christian who is opposed to same-sex marriage, so he’s worthless as a thinker.
It’s been widely reported that they can’t stand each other.
For me, every time I see a clip with Dakota Johnson the word that immediately comes to mind is “simpering”.
@Amir Khalid: The Mallet of Loving Correction
“Fifty Shades” should not be taken as license for old turds to go after young stuff. It’s immoral and ugly,even when I was wearing my Axe Body Spray and Hi Karate aftershave.
For that mortal insult, Dakota Johnson can have you thrown to her grandmother’s tigers.
I first ran into writers from “The American Conservative” at Antiwar.com and was so surprised that I so often agreed with “conservative” writers. Most of the people there seem to fall under one of my definitions of conservative, look before you leap.
Yes, there are vast swaths of issues on which we would not agree but quite often they have interesting things to say.
@Amir Khalid: Is the book available there? Movie’s not trying to do anything radically different than the original story, as far as I know.
@schrodinger’s cat: I mentioned in a comment last night I read some erotica.
It is kind of the thing in the genre. I tend to like female writers. They don’t go there as often. But the most popular e-books on Google Play in this genre are of a billionaire having this way with his younger secretary. Buying her things then getting sex for it.
I find it both strange and not sexual pleasing.
Larison is easily the best of the lot because he almost always sticks to foreign policy and because he’s more anti-interventionist than most liberal pundits, let alone conservatives. What’s weird, though, is that he keeps insisting that caution in overseas commitments is a conservative virtue, and eagerness to intervene is characteristic of liberals. Maybe he reasons you have to say this to bait conservative numbskulls to ease up with the warmongering.
I’ve mentioned this in another recent thread, but another conservative writer often worth reading is Christopher Caldwell. I’m working through his book on immigration in Europe (particularly from Islamic countries), and it has some pretty trenchant observations. There’s much of it I don’t like as a liberal, but it’s not easily dismissed.
He’s written other good long-form stuff as well. Some of his shorter articles tend more toward the wingnutty, though….
The stars supposedly have even admitted that they didn’t care for one another and, based on the commercials, aren’t good enough actors to fake that they did.
And if the dialogue in the film is as cheesy and stupid as the dialogue in the book (my sister read a few pages out loud at her bachelorette party but gave it up as too lame), you’d want to just kill yourself for sitting through it.
I think it’s going to ripped to shreds (as it should) for the crappy movie that is most assuredly is and will only make $$ where most porn makes money, the Bible Belt.
Meanwhile, I have some asshat all over my FB feed trying to get me to sign a petition to get Chris Kyle, psychopath, a Medal of Honor.
@Bobby B.: About the only sin the book *doesn’t* commit is the May-December romance. Female lead is 21, male lead is 27…which is still an age gap of note, but nothing to rival Hugh Hefner. It means the plausibility of the setup takes *another* hit because the high powered, super successful executive is nearly a decade away from being old enough to be President, but Mr. Gray isn’t chasing someone his daughter’s age.
Sure. There’s no pictures or video, so the prudes are perfectly okay with you reading the book.
@Bobby B.: No, no, no! Keep that secret quiet.
The more KidzThezeDayz wear that smelly crap, the more they take themselves out of the game. I am all for my (presumed) competition defeating themselves without me having to lift a finger.
(Edit: Not disagreeing with you about the scorn for age-inappropriateness.)
@Kylroy: Are you implying that I read the book or saw the movie? NOW I’m insulted.
It’s a complete mystery to me but evidently quite appealing to some conservative women. Eeww.
Yes. There are a lot of odd disconnects in the Bible belts. I watched an episode of Southern Justice of a NW North Carolina county. One police officer questioned some people meeting in a parking lot at night for something illegal. What really incensed the officer was that they doing some illegal deal in a church parking lot. The narrator said there were about 126 churches in that county of only 27,000 people. Then cops went on to check out abandoned houses that may be meth labs saying there were about 126 incidents of finding meth lab houses in one year. That blew my mind.
Davis X. Machina
It was in 1916, which is where he gets the rest of his politics — and the firm belief the South shall rise again.
That was a pretty good article about the Chinese eco-town
I’m less interested in the definition of conservative than I am in what conservatives do. Conservatives align themselves with the Republican party, so that’s who I’m looking at for the definition of conservative. Whatever the Republicans do, that’s the conservative take on things. If they don’t like it, they can disassociate themselves with the word conservative.
@bemused: I was just chatting with my friend about this last night. I read somewhere that people raised in religiously controlling environments in which SEX IS BAD is constantly drummed into them, end up way more likely to be into “punishment” sex fantasies. It actually makes a lot of sense.
You’re ignoring the conservative Democrats in that formulation – there are still a lot of conservative Democrats out there. Probably more conservative Democrats than there are liberal Democrats.
Yes, this is a good point to make, especially for a post about conservative writers, and even a conservative site, that the FPer likes. Ah, but he has a slightly different opinion of Rob Dreher than you do, so it’s utterly useless.
No ironies there!
@bemused: Not done an entire county search. 17 churches in my town of well under 10,000. I don’t mind churches. I might be an atheist but I want people to respect my views. Might not agree, but respect. I just want the same thing in return. When that isn’t given I push back, often hard.
@Kylroy: Age-gap relationships aren’t a “sin”, as far as I am concerned. There is nothing inherently immoral about banging or marrying a much younger or older adult as long as the usual rules of decent relationships apply — you know, no coercion, no lying, no abuse. Beyond that it’s just prejudice against what “normal” people do. I’m in a relationship with an 18 year age difference, so admittedly I’m a little sensitive. But I have no idea why otherwise liberal people become conservative ninnies on this particular issue. It’s pretty much exactly like gay marriage: we’re happy together, we’re consenting adults, so it ain’t your business.
@Citizen_X: I’ve never understood this argument. Of course I always think I’m right. If I thought I was wrong about something I’d change my mind and then I would be right. Am I supposed to believe something I think is wrong to avoid the sin of always believing I’m right?
What kind of nonsense is this? How do you expect me to ever have a relationship without tactically employing these fundamental staples?
Sheesh, might as well hang up the ole spurs.
@NonyNony: I don’t think I am. The word “conservative” is aligned with the Republican party in the United States of America. Elsewhere it means other things politically. It also stands alone as a word to define, for instance, someone’s general personality or take on life, but it has been so joined with politics and Republicans that it isn’t used in this sense very often in the US.
But I don’t really care about that because “conservative” is a shorthand for “Republican” and people who define themselves as “conservative” tend to vote Republican. That you have to say “conservative Democrat” kind of proves my point. You don’t have to say “conservative Republican” because everyone knows Republicans are conservative.
No doubt there is a lot to that. Punishment has to go hand in hand with religiously controlling communities, spare the rod, spoil the child, offend the church get kicked out, terrify church members with specter of hell, etc.
Did the bride to be and bachelorettes crack up over the cheezy dialogue? I remember starting to read the first book in Left Behind series and couldn’t finish it. It wasn’t only the premise of the book that I couldn’t take, it was the miserably awful writing.
I’ll keep watching Southern Justice to see if cops ever find an abandoned church used as a meth lab but doubt that will ever happen. With that level of church goers in the county, it’s not likely that a church building would be abandoned for long without another congregation moving in.
@sparrow: Completely agree with you. A good friend started dating a man 20 years older than her when she was quite young (but an adult). We were all worried, including her parents. But they stayed together–dated for several years, eventually got married and now have two kids. They’re happy.
@Citizen_X: I was staying away in the hopes it wasn’t just a drive-by.
Hmm… The Brownback budget, ’50 Shades of Grey’ in fiscal form?
Grumpy Code Monkey
@beejeez: Larison’s right that traditionally it was the liberals who were all for getting into foreign wars while conservatives were isolationists. Wasn’t it Madeleine Albright who said something to the effect of “what’s the point of having an army if you’re not going to use it?”
What do Wilson, FDR, Truman, and Kennedy all have in common?
There’s a reason Wolfowitz and Feith are referred to as neo-conservatives; 40 years ago they were right in line with the rest of the Democratic party.
Foreign intervention didn’t become a conservative virtue until Reagan invaded Grenada.
They tried this in Boston in the 60s. Fortunately they only managed to erase one and a half neighborhoods before everyone collectively shrank back in horror and disgust. At the time Boston was ashamed of itself and in fear of falling behind. I can easily see something similar happening in China: raw desire to modernize and “catch up” could lead to them embracing all the same mid-century mistakes we made in both conception and execution.
Well if you look back at still relatively recent history, many of our foreign interventions were done by democratic presidents. Kennedy, LBJ, Carter, Clinton. All of them did foreign interventions/wars during their terms. Not saying all of these were not necessary but both sides of the aisle have issues. We see the latest fiasco in the ME as the defining one but the other side of the aisle sees it differently. And if they see this century differently than we do they certainly would see the last one differently as well.
@different-church-lady: probably the only thing good about Le Corbusier’s love of concrete was that it tends to decay quickly.
It all seems to be punishment in one form or another with ultra conservatives.
Quite right, though my “fix” above is just to illustrate that the trope goes both ways: and, somewhat sadly, illustrates, IMO, the basic theme of an unfortunately large percentage of political or policy writing on the Internet. I agree with Tim F., though: AmCon is (marginally) a cut above the usual right-wing drivel. And I, too try to read Daniel Larison’s columns nearly every day, even though he does tend to be Danny One-Note sometimes in his FP analyses, most of his pieces tend to follow the same format:
1. Republican/conservative says something stupid* about foreign policy.
2. Larison calls them out and points out how stupid* it is.
3. Repeat as needed.
* typically belligerent, prejudiced or warmongering. Or some combination thereof.
Sorry to go off-topic, but this is an interesting approach to discouraging soccer hooligans.
But you’re making the classic “all dogs are furry therefore everything furry is a dog” fallacy. Sure all Republicans are conservative, but we haven’t by any stretch reached the point in this country where all conservatives are Republican.
In fact I know quite a few conservative Democratic voters who are former Republicans who switched sides during the W years and continue to be amazed at the stupidity of the Republican party. They claim that Republicans “aren’t conservative” at all and in fact are radical reactionaries.
We have to say “conservative Democrat” because Democrats are a big tent who take conservatives, liberals, moderates, progressives, and various other voters. We don’t say “conservative Republican” generally because they have a one-size-fits-all tent and to be in that tent you not only have to be conservative, you have to be a particular kind of conservative.
Paul in KY
@Amir Khalid: Wouldn’t want you pure folks to get any nasty ideas…
I remember the 90’s scandal of Bob Dole talking about “Democrat wars.” But that was then.
Paul in KY
@schrodinger’s cat: You wimmens are supposed to like that, especially when ‘rich’ is in the descriptor ;-)
Paul in KY
@Tommy: I don’t think they are written for you.
Villago Delenda Est
@Socrates: If they weren’t all so busy defending inherited privilege, and selfishness, and totally unconcerned with the plight of anyone outside of their immediate circle, perhaps we’d take them more seriously.
As it stands, no one will mourn them outside that immediate circle when they take their well earned tumbrel rides.
@Grumpy Code Monkey:
1. Given that Wilson campaigned in 1916 that “he kept us out of war” I am not sure that his basic leaning is towards intervention.
2. For the case he was involved in, I would argue that FDR was RIGHT, and ahead of the country on his interventionism.
3. Truman. Is it intervention when you go in to stop further invasion of Korea? Was the GOP opposed at the time? MacArthur certainly wasn’t.
4. Kennedy. Was the GOP opposed at the time to intervention? I did not notice that.
so, one of four where the Democrat was more interventionist than the rest of the country.
Paul in KY
@Grumpy Code Monkey: I do think FDR tried his damdest to stay out of WW II. It just became impossible and morally wrong to stay out of that existential fight.
When I first read the post, I thought being Frummed was being attacked by Frum. Then I remembered.
Frum and Bartlett are two conservatives who occasionally say something of interest. Funny how popular they are on the other side.
@Paul in KY: I totally disagree. FDR was backing Great Britain as much as he dared, basically breaking all kinds of neutrality laws. He was way ahead of the rest of the country in wanting to go to war because it was necessary.
@NonyNony: I’m not making a mistake. I’m pointing out reality. The Republican party has hijacked the word “conservative.” The dictionary definition of the word is very different from what the Republicans are using it to mean. But, unlike your friends, who say this:
I don’t really care that the Republicans “aren’t conservative.” The word “conservative” is associated with Republicans in the US. Therefore their actions–as crazy and reactionary as they may be–define “conservative” in this country.
Rather than wasting all sorts of effort on defining this or that as conservative or not, why not just let them have it. Then let all the not so crazy people–like I’m guessing your friends are–run away screaming because they don’t want to be associated with anything that is “conservative.”
Just like “conservatives” spent a lot of effort turning the word “liberal” into a dirty word, I’m completely happy to let the reactionaries that run the Republican party own the word “conservative” and see where that gets them. Why help them climb out of the hole they’re so frantic to get into?
@Grumpy Code Monkey:
What should we say to Mossadegh, Arbenz, Sukarno, Allende, et al.?
@Alex S.: 50 shades of red ink
@Grumpy Code Monkey:
Indeed! And the spirit of liberal interventionism survived for quite some time in the New Republic.
Frum has pretty much learned his lesson after the Frumming. He may not spout crazy, craven BS all the time but he almost never calls anyone out for doing so anymore.
I disagree with Bartlett on a number of items but he is damned funny to read nowadays.
Villago Delenda Est
@catclub: Hitler did FDR a tremendous favor by declaring war on the US right after the US declared war on Japan. FDR was given cover for what he really wanted to do, and proceeded to: take out Germany first, and the War in the Pacific was reduced to pretty much a holding action/battle of opportunity while most of the resources went to Europe.
@Villago Delenda Est: I don’t know what it is about your post that triggered this thought, but it as I read it, it did strike me that the reason we’re confused about why there’s so much crazy coming out of the right is that we’re still thinking about it in political terms, rather than commercial terms. There is now a pre-built market for crazy. The club they’re worried about getting kicked out of isn’t poticial, it’s economic. They are dumping as much crazy as they can into the world because there’s a very hungry and willing audience to eat it up. And today it’s mostly internet driven. You couldn’t get away with this kind of penetration back when it was 3 major networks and dinky newsletters. Rush and Fox built the genre, and then blogs made it scalable. People who are actually interested in politics (or, god forbid, policy!) are left scratching their heads over the disconnect because this stuff is still superficially about politics, but in reality it's entirely about hatred and resentment as entertainment.
Villago Delenda Est
@Cervantes: Under the banner of “anti-Communism” the Republicans abandoned, for the most part, isolationism.
Pat Buchanan’s neo-isolationism has everything to do with fighting the “wrong enemy” during WWII. Now that Communism is effectively dead, there’s no need to intervene anywhere.
@Cervantes: I’m afraid it’s going to be rather difficult for us to say anything to that listing. Because you see, like Gen Franco, they all also remain quite dead.
Larison does say some good stuff, but any place that publishes Dreher has zero credibility to me. He’s the worst sort of religious zealot and an idiot. I feel sorry for his wife and kids with his ongoing search for the most conservative form of Christianity. If I was stuck in a room with him & Douthat ala Saw and had only one bullet in the gun I would shoot myself.
You forgot fear. That’s a key player. Hence the “We’re all going to die” comment from Lindsay Graham. Can’t even remember if that was about Ebola or ISIS. Doesn’t matter. Fear is what they’re selling.
Villago Delenda Est
@Violet: And sales are brisk!
@Cervantes: Or “Who Lost China?”
@Socrates: that may be the funniest thing ive ever read online. Rid Dreher is “worthless as a thinker “because he’s not very intelligent. Its got nothing to do with his stance on ssm. And by the way he has never tolerated dissent on his blog and i was banned there many years ago for disagreeing with him.
@Violet: Fear. Fear and surprise. Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical dedication to the pope.
I’ll come in again.
@Aimai: Pretty sure Socrates was DougJ trolling the blog.
Paul in KY
@catclub: He was still keeping us out (ground troops fighting in Europe), all the way until the Japanese made his decision for him.
This. You said it properly, adults in an adult relationship.
I was in a long term relationship with someone 9 yrs younger and it worked for us. We respected each other, loved each other and treated each other very reasonably. Now, as I’ve gotten way into grandpa age, someone much more than 5-10 yrs younger than me just doesn’t hold an intimate relationship possibility. It’s not that it seems weird, just very little in common.
Paul in KY
@Cervantes: Er…those weren’t ‘intervention’ interventions! Yes, that’s the ticket…
Paul in KY
@different-church-lady: Excellent point! There’s a club aspect to it all.
Tim F, Mr. Larison doesn’t have “southern sympathies” (that is wrong on many levels), he is a “proud member” of a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) definition of a “hate group” includes those having beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.
@NonyNony: I agree with that. I’ve come to the conclusion that this country has a conservative party, and a radical, right wing nationalist party with a taste for authoritarianism and theocracy. My views really haven’t changed that much since I thought of myself as a conservative, I just realized which party was better connected with reality. We could use an honest-to-god left-wing party in the USA.
@schrodinger’s cat: Malaysians have good taste?
I’m not sure that falls under your request, but according to The Independent inital audience reactions appear to indicate displeasure that the first scene of real interest appears only after 40 minutes. The Independent references an article in The Sun (which I wound link to on grounds of not providing that paper any clicks) according to which the audience was already getting restless by the 40 minute mark.
Villago Delenda Est
@Pogonip: You can get good grammar AND good taste with Malaysians.
@SRW1: They do understand this is not actually a pornographic film, yes?
@schrodinger’s cat: I had to laugh out loud at your comment since there was a time when I actually thought that Joe Scarborough was a sensible conservative. Boy, was I wrong.
Apparently, that kind of is the problem.
ETA: In The Sun the boobs appear already on page 3.
@SRW1: Well that is just dumb. Shouldn’t they know they should start with the sex scene, stop it midway (there is some phrase for that), then flash back to explain how it came about.
“Husband arrives back home” ?
Where is that fickle Davis X. when one needs him most?
@catclub: I also suggest reading the name ala Bill and Ted; So-Crates.
Frum is no less a snake than he ever was before though. He’s just pissy that he got thrown out of the treehouse. Just like so many other “reasonable conservatives” or “reformicons” or whatever banner they are marching under right now, Frum follows a mendacious and ultimately useless template when he offers the GOP advice.
[provocative headline re GOP dumbshittery]
[Intro: Lately the GOP has been doing some stupid shit…]
[First body paragraph: “To be sure, Obama/Democrats/liberals are totally wrong and dangerous and rahrahrah.]
[Rest of piece: “Here’s what the GOP should do…; followed by slightly saner-sounding reheating of odious, failed GOP policies of the past, but with less bigotry or innumeracy…(or if we’re really lucky, the recommendation will be something the Democrats are already doing, just without the yucky liberal Obama cooties, so totally original and conservative). And in case you forgot, I do totally hate Barack Obama.]
End of piece.
It’s the fucking same every time. Ramesh “Party of Death” Ponnuru, Yuval “never met a lie about the ACA he wouldn’t parrot” Levin, Reihan Salam, David “Please let me back in the club” Frum, and let’s not forget David f’ing Brooks. They don’t have a useful idea between them and I refuse to pretend they’re “sharp conservative thinkers” just because they can write using big words without crapping themselves like most of their party does.
@different-church-lady: Yes, it why David Frum called it the Conservative Industrial Entertainment Complex on Scarborough after the 2012 election. I don’t think he has been invited back much since then. (Scarborough apparently, seeing the the vast ocean of money the Kochs are willing to dole out to all hacks who spout the party line has gone pretty much full Wing-nut since his attendance at the Kochs’ confab a few weeks ago). As Driftglass points out in Andrew Sullivan’s case, one can only fail up ward to riches and position once you are a member of the “Conservative Club.”
But on the point of the article, Larison and Digby may be polar opposites on cultural, religious, and race issues, but when it comes to foreign policy, they are soul siblings. Larison’s analysis of the folly of American foreign policy establishment is spot on. The only thing he misses, which another honest conservative, Andrew Bacevich, catches is the institutional constraints built up by 75 years of war and empire and wars of empire that surround any President. Interesting article in Salon about President Obama being about as anti-war and non-interventionist as possible given the Washington – New York Village media, economic, and political elite constant instinct for making war.
But I keep hearing from my liberal-er than thou acquaintances (I live in the SF area, near Berkeley, so there’s a fair number of them) is that Obama is a remorseless bloodthirsty monster because drones, often with obligatory reference to Sir Glenn of Greenwald. Maybe worse than GWB even, they tell me. To which I respond, “flaws and all, he’s about as good as it’s gonna get and you’re going to be amazed at how much you miss him when he’s gone.”
and yes, a few of these goofballs seem sincerely intrigued by a potential Rand Paul presidency. Head, meet desk.
What would he, or any president, have to do, or authorize, or not punish, before you’d respond differently?
@Mike Furlan: I will admit to not having been familiar with larison’s history. Let me just say….it is ugly
That’s not a useful question, as I prefer to look at the bigger picture rather than say “well Obama authorized [x], so he’s conclusively a foreign policy monster.” But here goes.
Further ground invasions or continued endorsement of torture are the biggest single factors. He passes those tests, which I’m not sure any other potential presidents, including Hillary, would have. I’m disgusted that the Bush war criminals weren’t punished for their shit, but I never thought there was any chance they would be, by any subsequent president. Even less so when Obama had to take office in the middle of an economic calamity and had to spend all his time and political capital on that. Though I’d agree now that given how little cooperation he got from the GOP on it, in 20/20 hindsight he had little to lose in siccing the DOJ on the Bush crime syndicate.
Most of the could-be-or-coulda-been-presidents in the Obama era would have gotten drawn into a mess in Syria long ago, very likely would have authorized and backed an Israeli strike, or launched a strike of our own, on Iran – and assuredly would NOT be attempting peaceful talks with them, would have an itchy trigger finger on sending combat troops back into Iraq (if they ever left in the first place) to fight ISIS, would not be normalizing relations with Cuba (mayyyybe Hillary), would not be trying, albeit fitfully, to empty and/or close Gitmo, and probably would not have gotten bin Laden. And who the hell knows what kind of clusterfuck a President McCain or Mittens would have bumbled into in dealing with Putin by now.
I will add the obvious qualifier that “as good as it’s gonna get” is a much lower bar than we need it to be. Be that as it may, in my opinion, man, Obama’s done well given the constraints and pressures he’s under. Most modern presidents have made ugly moral judgments in foreign policy.
FDR – internment of Japanese Americans, various WWII atrocities that seemed justified in the moment
Truman – Hiroshima, Nagasaki, getting us into the Korean War
Eisenhower – meddling in Iran and other places, ramifications of which we’re still dealing with
JFK – Bay of Pigs, nuclear brinksmanship, seeds of Vietnam escalation
LBJ – duh
Nixon, see LBJ
Ford – pardoned Nixon, meh otherwise
Carter – pretty good, for all the political good it did him
Reagan – Iran Contra, Lebanon, more nuclear brinksmanship
GHWB – was OK, benefitted from peace dividend era
Clinton – see GHWB.
GWB – life’s too short to list them all
and aside from the Church Committee and some post-Watergate reforms, the national security/spying state grew like weeds throughout all of these presidencies.
I think Obama’s made fewer messy decisions than most, and certainly fewer than his rivals for the office would have had they been in his place. If people expected him to govern as a pacifist or disband the NSA, that’s on them. And even the people who did expect that of him will miss him when he’s gone. Bank it.
Dreher is the living embodiment of “screaming harridan”…except for the fact he is male.
He cannot go a day without finding an unknown liberal college professor, transgendered woman or grad student to mock and then blame for the moral decay of western civilization. Then, he gos on to tell us (again and again and again and again…) about his dead sister and how reading torture porn Dante saved his life and it would save all of us if we could just fucking understand the higher plane he is standing on to lecture us from.
Rod has some serious issues ( His obessession with trans women is looking particularly stalker creepy)…and no, he doesn’t take criticism or differing opinions real well. People who agree with him get away with a lot more in nastiness to other posters than critics who find they have to be overwhelmingly polite to avoid getting banned He is also utterly unable to acknowldge when his various panic stories are debunked by critics (he only makes corrections if he gets info from is own private sources, apparently).
Aaaaaaand Dreher is at it again trying to go panting sniffing on those tricksy trans women he loves to spy on!
I was all fired up to snark on this, but I think it’s awesome just as it is.
@dedc79: Kind of makes any discussion involving him one of those, “Other than that Mrs Lincoln how did you like the play” sort of thing.
Thanks for finding this, I had not read it in a while.