Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 17, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From Brendan Nyhan, commenting on yesterday's hyperbolic New York Times story about continuing racial divisions in the United States:

Shorter New York Times: Barack Obama hasn't magically healed racial divide in the US. He's been the Democratic nominee for more than a month. What is he waiting for?

There's no question that Obamamania was a real phenomenon during the primaries, but the press magnified it into something way bigger than it ever was and then ended up believing their own hype. That's how we end up with stories like this.

Kevin Drum 12:42 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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It will be very interesting to see the reaction to Obama as he continues to assume he can just fix situations with new, transparently false, rhetoric. Obviously, as many others were, he was wrong on whether the surge would work. He could have said in a clear speech that he was wrong about the surge. He could have said he was proud that the surge had worked. Unfortunately, in a lawyerly like op-ed, he tried to rewrite history.

"But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge."

These may or may not be his opinions now, but is not why he originally objected to the surge, and it is wrong to characterize his objections as based on this. He previously very clearly announced why his judgment was against the surge :.

After Bush delivered a nationally televised address on Jan. 10, 2007, announcing his plan, Obama argued it could make the situation worse by taking pressure off Iraqis to find a political solution to the fighting. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there," the Illinois senator said that night, a month before announcing his presidential bid. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

I understand how many of you will be still for him because, being the Democratic nominee, he is the best hope for the liberal or progressive cause. You can vote for him for this. Just don't believe him to be anything more than your standard "damn the facts, just say what it takes to get elected" politician, with the polish of some outstanding rhetoric.

Posted by: John Hansen on July 17, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

When is obama lying?

WHEN HIS LIPS ARE MOVING!

On Iraq, he's was agin' it before, but he's for it now.

On Iran, he's was for it before, and agin' it now.

On FISA terrorist surveillance, he just voted for what the hysterical Left has convinced itself to be a Nazi attack on civil rights.

On Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he's danced about that one half a dozen times, always ending up on a different side.

Obama is going to attack John McCain from the right, believe it or not, figuring that the Sucker Vote will fall for it. And he might be right.

Posted by: on July 17, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

What's so utterly retarded about that article is that approximately 80% of Obama's supporters are white because approximately 80% of America is still white. Where is this racial divide? I think the only incongruity to some observers is why 100% of all African-American voters aren't enthusiastic Obama supporters, but that is a question for another thread.

It's true that some of the people not supporting Obama (but not necessarily supporting McCain) are racists and will never vote for anyone who isn't white. But the majority of people not supporting Obama are simply stupid, regardless of their "ethnicity."

A certain percentage of these people are committed right wingers. They wouldn't vote for a Democrat even if he or she had the means to cure cancer, bring world peace and solve the global warming crisis.

Some if not the majority of these people are the same idiots that didn't support Gore or Kerry, but don't really have a real political philosophy and tend to vote, whether they would admit it or not, on the basis of one or two issues that may or may not directly affect them, but typically are of less import to the nation as a whole (guns, gays, abortion, gas prices, religion, what-have-you). He hasn't made the right noises for these people and so they may vote for McCain, even if they are dissatisfied with the current administration and they are ignoring the fact that McCain has offered nothing so far other than the continuation of those failed policies.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 17, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

"but the press magnified it into something way bigger than it ever was and then ended up believing their own hype"

[the media] "here's what everyone is saying"
[you] "yes, but who is "everyone"?"
[the media] "you know, us - the media"
[you] "so you guys are telling me what you guys are saying?"
[the media] "yeah, pretty much"
[you] "thanks, I guess... but where does this recursive circle-jerk start?
[the media] "no one really knows."
[you] "but how about telling me what is true or false about what is being "said" by you guys"
[the media] "but it's the public's perceptions that matter.
[you] "which come from where?"
[the media] "hey, you know what everyone is talking about now?".........

Posted by: flubber on July 17, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin why do you continue to let one jerkoff post comments witout putting his name up ?

Posted by: Gandalf on July 17, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, if I try that the thing rejects me.

Posted by: on July 17, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

As Brad DeLong likes to put it,
"Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?"
He keeps giving them so many years, but as dopey as many readers are, who knows if they'll turn into the well-deserved press corpse or not.

delver23

Posted by: ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 17, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Gandalf, tell Kevin that if you just make spaces, the stupid machine thinks you've given a name. Maybe there's even some other way.

I don't see why the anonymous idiot above feels the need to be nameless. I mean s/he could just name him/herself "anonymous." Stupid. Or maybe mhr has tricked the system.

David in NY

Posted by: on July 17, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen: Don't have time for all, but I think Obama was quite right about the surge, it wouldn't and didn't solve the political problems in Iraq. At most it has driven them underground. I think that's the reasoning behind the Iraqis quoted in the NYT's story this morning about hesistation among Iraqis, especially those connected with the current regime, to have us go. They know that no peace has been made among the factions, they're just biding their time. We'll leave someday (even McCain suggests 2013) -- we can't afford to stay. They can wait. Getting out now will have the virtue of accelerating the ultimate resolution of the political situation there.

Posted by: David in NY on July 17, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

on Jan. 10, 2007, announcing his plan, Obama argued it could make the situation worse by taking pressure off Iraqis to find a political solution to the fighting. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there," the Illinois senator said that night, a month before announcing his presidential bid. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Which it did, if you can read a graph. After which point, the US stopped fighting some militias and started sending them care packages full of cash. But "the surge worked," right?

Look, I understand that, on the right, "the surge" has been dumbed down to "more troops!" and "worked" has been dumbed down to "less violence," but some of us think for a living, 'm kay? This is why we're not susceptible to bullshit stories like "Obama scrubbed his website."

You know: not morons.

I understand how many of you will be still for him because, being the Democratic nominee, he is the best hope for the liberal or progressive cause.

No, on this issue, I'm voting for Obama because he's willing to talk about the issues in their complexity, while McCain is still actually saying that Iraq is in danger of being run by al Qaeda!

The Democrat is talking sense. The Republican is talking like he's at the kiddie-table.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 17, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, my post is awaiting moderation.

Too many links, I guess.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 17, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY

LOL

So when was obama right? When he was against it, when he was for it, or when he started advocating for endless wars?

Posted by: on July 17, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama was quite right about the surge, it wouldn't and didn't solve the political problems in Iraq

Which, of course, was the actual stated purpose of the surge, were Republicans able to remember anything earlier than lunchtime yesterday.

Posted by: shortstop on July 17, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

So when was obama right?

Uh, when the violence and deaths increased with Teh Surge™?

If my post ever gets out of moderation, you can go look at pretty graphs.

In the meantime, as for "When he was against it, when he was for it", you can go here for the adult version. Obama's position on Teh Surge™ hasn't changed, it's just the usual idiots chanting it all at once to exploit the stupid people...

... again.

Now, about that post, still in moderation.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 17, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

During the primaries Obama definitely promoted the idea that his election would help eliminate the racial divide (I'm thinking of BO's MLK rhetoric and the anecdote about the white and black campaign workers in the Philadelphia speech). I thought it was bound to encourage unrealistic expectations, so it now seems unfair to blame the press alone if people end up disppointed. It wasn't just the press's "own hype," it was Obama's hype.

Posted by: Wesley on July 17, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK
During the primaries Obama definitely promoted the idea that his election would help eliminate the racial divide ... so it now seems unfair to blame the press alone if people end up disppointed.

So, you're posting from mid-November, 2008, or early February, 2009?

Can you tell me if a particular precious metals fund has posted big gains in your recent past/my present? I'd be willing to give you a percentage.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 17, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

All the mods are in Austin, I think. This would be a good time to prank them. Everyone start making "on the one hand, on the other hand" comments and accusing Kevin of intractable opinions mired in radical leftism.

Posted by: shortstop on July 17, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

All the mods are in Austin, I think.

Uh-oh. There are rockers there, too. Could be nasty.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 17, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, degree by degree America is being dragged slowly back from the edge of change...because fear is in control of America today and the Republicans are in control of the fear.

Posted by: Zit on July 17, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, shortstop, I think this is a time for us all to write responsibly and respectfully of the opinions of others, no matter how stupid, to demonstrate just why we don't really need mods.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 17, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers wrote: "I think this is a time for us all to write responsibly and respectfully of the opinions of others, no matter how stupid"

With all due respect, I responsibly suggest that that's a stupid opinion.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 17, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, shortstop, I think this is a time for us all to write responsibly and respectfully of the opinions of others, no matter how stupid, to demonstrate just why we don't really need mods. Posted by: Ron Byers

Fuck that noise.

In any case, the only things that get pulled are posts that are pointless trolling or so off topic that it frightens the moderator. Speaking of which, all of Jerry's shit yesterday should have gotten pulled.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 17, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

All the mods are in Austin, I think.

Uh-oh. There are rockers there, too. Could be nasty. Posted by: Grand Moff Texan

Yes. They all went down on the train. The 5:15, I think.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 17, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Silly Ron. "Disrespectful" isn't the criteria for pulling posts. "Pushing the mod's particular buttons" is. Kevin was very clear about that after we pressed him at some length to explain his commenting policy.

Posted by: shortstop on July 17, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

We shouldn't expect that any 'dialog on race' will be pretty but the NYT analysis is just plain absurd. Every day now, the Times seems to offer some front page negative spin. Yesterday it was white people, today it's Iraqi generals who are 'uneasy'.
I think the NYT is uneasy....

Posted by: Bruce Johnson on July 17, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

"today it's Iraqi generals who are 'uneasy'"

Yeah, I loved the Times' sources in that piece. It was one of those, "If you want a certain answer, you go to a certain person cases." But I quit about half-way through. Did they ever reconcile Malki's statements in favor of withdrawal (like, they're necessary because 95% of the population wants us gone) with these other guys?

Posted by: David in NY on July 17, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

From John Hansen:

Obviously, as many others were, he was wrong on whether the surge would work.

Man, it's pretty amazing how low people's requirements for success are. There are so many reasons violence is down (and notice I said down, and not gone), but the chief one is the so-called Sunni Awakening. And I have yet to hear from "the surge worked" crowd how exactly moving more troops into Iraq CAUSED the Sunni Awakening. The reason is obvious, the process of reaching out to Sunni leaders was begun long before this magical surge took place.

Add to that the fact that much of Iraq's mixed communities are no longer mixed. The ethnic cleansing was largely complete before the surge started. There was so much bloodshed and people seeking refuge elsewhere, that it was impossible for that level of violence to continue indefinitely.

But, and this is most important, the WHOLE POINT of the surge was to buy the Iraqi government time to work out their differences. The little progress they've made hardly validates the claim that the surge worked.

And then of course, there's the deeper question about what our desired result actually is. For some reason we favor Maliki and his Iranian sponsored Shia group over Sadr's Iranian sponsored Shia group. So, we appear to be there to ensure that the Iranian sponsored Shia group of our choice wins....because if they don't, then the other Iranian sponsored Shia group will win.

Posted by: Joe on July 17, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK
Man, it's pretty amazing how low people's requirements for success are.

They voted for George Bush, for instance.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 17, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

During the primaries Obama definitely promoted the idea that his election would help eliminate the racial divide (I'm thinking of BO's MLK rhetoric and the anecdote about the white and black campaign workers in the Philadelphia speech).

Uh, "help eliminate" or "eliminate"? Because they're not the same thing, you know....

Posted by: Stefan on July 17, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: John Hansen accuses someone else of "transparently false rhetoric."

Posted by: Gregory on July 17, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

If Barack Obama becomes the President, then so long as the Republicans don't find a way to bully him into pretending he's in the Taliban, it will be very good psychologically for our nation, in terms of race relations.

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymous Obama-basher wrote: "Now obama announces he wants to create a nazi-style youth brigade."

You are really a major dumbass. Is your intention simply to impress yourself with how stupid and annoying you can be?

And I say that as a registered Green Party voter who is not a particularly big fan of Obama.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 17, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Swan,
Your spelling is fine. Mine, as has been pointed out, is sometimes less than perfect. Enough of that.

But how in the world are they going to "bully him (Obama)into pretending he's in the Taliban?" They could perhaps fool people into thinking he's in the Taliban, but that's something else entirely.

Posted by: thersites on July 17, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK
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