Obama Needs to Channel Nixon

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nixon_mao.jpgOne of the reasons that the New America Foundation and I worked to get America and the World: Conversations on the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and David Ignatius published is that it was supposed to be a primer for the Obama team to look at the plethora of challenges ahead through a Nixonian, realist portal.
Michiko Kakutani picked the book as one of her top ten favorites of 2008.
I think for a while, this strategy worked — as Obama did tilt toward a realist course in foreign policy. He recognized that like Nixon he had under his stewardship a constrained and limited presidency given the damage during the Bush years.
Only problem was that Obama’s realists don’t do realism so well — and many on his team are not sold on the discipline and importance of national priority-setting that a realist, or progressive realist, approach requires.
Walter Pincus has a nice piece in today’s Washington Post looking back at “Nixon the Political Scientist” and finding many lessons the Obama team better learn quickly.
Pincus starts off:

“In the final analysis, elections are not won or lost by programs. They are won or lost on how these programs are presented to the country, and how all the political and public relations considerations are handled.”

That could have been President Obama after the Massachusetts special Senate election last Tuesday. But President Richard M. Nixon wrote those words to his White House chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, on Nov. 22, 1970, commenting on staff memos he received about “problems ahead” as they looked forward to his reelection effort, then two years away. The 30-page memo was among the 280,000 pages of documents from the Nixon Library released last week.

Beyond the domestic challenges the Obama White House faces and which have gotten worse rather than better since they took the helm is a grim foreign policy plate.
Nixon changed the way global gravity worked by engineering an opening to China — and Obama, more than anything else, needs to refashion his vision and get the backbone to do the same kind of gravity-curving work on Israel-Palestine matters, Cuba, Russia, China and Iran if he wants to reinvent American leverage and regain momentum.
For those interesed in Nixon, an interesting site to check out is “The New Nixon“.
Here is the link to the Richard Nixon Library & Museum and the release of materials mentioned in the Pincus article.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

68 comments on “Obama Needs to Channel Nixon

  1. Carroll says:

    Posted by JohnH, Jan 26 2010, 9:36PM – Link
    Maybe Nadine should read the Middle East Report before she dismisses it out of hand. (I know that keeping an open mind is asking a lot!)>>>>>>>>>>>>
    If I am not mistaken I believe the MER is put out mainly by a a group of former and/or US Intelligence,CIA, and State Department officials and employees who joined up becuase their continuing interest in those affairs.
    Could be wrong but seems when I checked them out that was the makeup.

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    http://www.acorn.org/fileadmin/HomePageNews/2009Dec/Video_Transcript_Analysis_withExcperts.pdf
    Yes, Nadine, it’s from ACORN’s own, BUT — it links right to O’Keefe’s own transcripts of the ACORN videos he made. Somehow the transcripts he posted do not exactly match what was said in the videos. There are some very interesting differences.
    So, if the source for the transcript is O’Keefe himself, I prithee tell how you reconcile the two?

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  3. questions says:

    Nadine,
    I’ll wait on judging the New Orleans Fab 4. They entered Federal property under false pretenses. Their lawyer is claiming innocent prank. What else can he do? There was a van with a listening device in it, occupied by one of the Fab 4. O’Keefe likes to take “gonzo” “journalism” to the next level. We’ll see. But, no, I’m not convinced by the prank story. And the Dai guy may actually have the training to do the bugging work if that was their plan.
    We’ll see.
    By the way, I don’t recall your having responded to my suggestion that the corporate structure is moral hazard itself. Or does the phrase only apply to low income people?

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    POS, you moron, Bush’s term will look idyllic in comparison after Obama destroys the dollar with his $10 trillion in new debt and “pays” for it by printing money. I know you don’t understand the first thing about economics but can you get that everything we import (which includes oil) will double in price?
    It was Congress who protected Fannie and Freddie and the housing bubble. It was Bush who tried to rein them in, but nooooo. They greased enough palms in Congress to keep going: Dodd, Frank, Obama were the chief beneficiaries. Any private firm would have its CEO in jail that behaved like Fannie and Freddie. They blew up the housing bubble and exploded — and the used Treasury backing to do so.
    I bet you don’t even know that the Democrats have run Congress since the beginning of 2007.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Of course not; they think they are horrendous ideas that will lead to ruin. Their own ideas were not even listened to for a second”
    Actually you ignorant wretch, their ideas were in place for eight years during Bush’s term. How’d that work out, genius?
    Do you get paid for this shit????
    Shove it.

    Reply

  6. nadine says:

    questions, the affidavit in the O’Keefe arrest has now been posted online, and it turns out to have nothing to do with bugging at all (but that didn’t stop the same WaPo reporter who had accused O’Keefe of racism for videotaping ACORN from saying that it did. And you wonder why people no longer trust MSM). Turns out they were investating reports that Senator Landrieu’s phone lines were always busy and nobody could ever get through. They were trying to see if she had taken the phones off the hook.

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  7. nadine says:

    questions, “who knows what really happened” in the ACORN story? Well, you might try watching the videos; they might give you a clue. Of course, ACORN is trying to claim vindication, which is absurd and would be seen as absurd by anyone less biased than MSM; they were caught red-handed on the videos.
    But maybe you don’t want to be confused by evidence.
    “And you are here to tell me that Republicans were eager to cooperate on passing a budget, stimulus and omnibus bill?” (Dan Kervick)
    Of course not; they think they are horrendous ideas that will lead to ruin. Their own ideas were not even listened to for a second. That tends to put a damper on bipartisanship, as I have mentioned before.
    I’m somewhat amused to see Steve’s passion about this phony “spending freeze.” It only applies to 17% of the budget, and Obama just hiked that part of the budget by 25% or even 50% in some cases. At the most optimistic, it will “save” 15 billion….gee, that’s 0.1% of this year’s deficit…if that throws a spanner in your plans they must have been pretty fragile to begin with.

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  8. Don Bacon says:

    Who really cares what happened, since it’s OT.

    Reply

  9. questions says:

    From HuffPo today….
    “Now ACORN is back in the news, but as part of the “back story” linked to O’Keefe’s arrest. In reporting on O’Keefe’s arrest, however, the mainstream press continues to botch the ACORN story. In her report for National Public Radio, for example, reporter Eileen Fleming said that in reaction to the controversy over ACORN, Congress had blocked federal funds going to the group, without mentioning that a federal district court ruling had overturned Congress’ action on December 12, 2009. The Associated Press omitted the same important fact. Reporting in the The Times-Picayune, David Hammer, repeated the myth that O’Keefe was dressed as a pimp when taping ACORN employees. In fact, O’Keefe presented himself to ACORN staffers as a friend, or boyfriend, of his colleague, Ms. Giles, who was posing as a prostitute. O’Keefe wore a dress shirt and normal clothing when he was in the ACORN offices, but spliced in shots of himself wearing the pimp outfit in the final videos to make it appear that he had worn them in the meetings with ACORN. The New York Times’ story on Tuesday, by Campbell Robertson and Liz Robbins, made the same mistake.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-atlas/acorn-is-back-in-the-news_b_438324.html
    This is an interesting take on the previous O’Keefe escapade. Who really knows what happened.

    Reply

  10. Don Bacon says:

    Obama told us how he was going to operate, that is in a non-partisan way, four years ago. He’s been consistently up-front about hows he operates, and he believes he got elected by people who want to see consensus and not contention in Washington. So if he’s correct then we got we asked for. Dan Kervick certainly did.

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  11. John Waring says:

    Thank you, Dan Kervick.
    Obama and his advisors are playing bean bag, not national politics. Rahm and the boys got taken to the cleaners time and time again.
    You campaign with oratory. You rule with a club ever at the ready. It’s all about getting and keeping leverage. If you are not gaining and exercising power, you are losing it.
    The Golden rule of American politics is not “Love Thy Enemies. Do Good to Those Who Hate You.” Quite the opposite. In our system, you either win, or you get plowed under.

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    “He passed the budget, stimulus and omnibus bills without them.”
    And you are here to tell me that Republicans were eager to cooperate on passing a budget, stimulus and omnibus bill?
    Republicans let it be known from the first week of the administration that their political strategy going forward would consist in highly disciplined, party-line non-participation in governance. If Obama announced he was adding Ronald Reagan’s mug to Mt. Rushmore, they would oppose it.
    The Republican strategy of opting out of the government has been very successful politically, Nadine. I’m surprised you aren’t just supporting it, instead of inventing uncanny stories about disappointed Republican efforts at bipartisan cooperation.

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  13. nadine says:

    questions, Andrew Breitbart knew that ACORN would lie when the tapes came out, so he was clever; he dribbled them out one by one (& says he has more in reserve).
    So every day ACORN’s explanation of the previous night was shown up as a lie…”it’s just a few bad apples in one office”…”it’s just a couple of offices”…”they were entrapped”…”they were turned away in Philadelphia”…”well, okay, they weren’t turned away in Philadelphia, but they were turned away in other places”…and so on.
    Remember the low income tenants ACORN thought they were aiding was a brothel full of underage Salvadorans; and nobody batted an eyelash; just gave advice on how to fill out the forms and hide the cash. In the San Diego office one of the ACORN workers (who was evidently thinking of asking Hannah Giles’ rates, from the way he was ogling her) offered to help smuggle the girls in.
    This is flat out criminal. And let’s never mind the 15 or so ACORN workers in jail for voter fraud, which ACORN committed on a wide scale in 2008.

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  14. nadine says:

    No figure on ACORN is complete without combing the current budget, stimulus, and omnibus bills….boy did they collect. Remember, ACORN’s MO is to get relatively little directly; but to throw out an ever-changing group of subsidiaries, 30 or more at once, to obfuscate the money trail. There is a whistleblower, I don’t remember her name offhand, who became outraged at their shenanigans and exposed their methods. You can google it.

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  15. questions says:

    Nadine,
    Russell Hardin has a lovely, if a teensy bit dry, book called _Trust and Trustworthiness_. He makes a pretty useful distinction between the two terms and shows that we often mean “trustworthy” when we talk about “trust.” I think you should think of this distinction as you go back over that poll. Just cuz ya trust don’t mean ya have a good reason to!
    And re ACORN, the number bandied around for their federal funding is 53 million since 1994. They help low income people with landlord/tenant disputes, tax preparation, mortgage documents, and the like. They hire people without a lot of experience and give them some work experience. And some of the people they hire do less well than some other of the people they hire. So how’s about we nail every group, corp, comp., university, department, agency… that has even one employee who has done even one stupid, shady or criminal thing ever?!!!!
    Would anything be left standing?
    The 8 billion figure is “up to” or “eligible for” which is a kind of fudging way to say something like “They’d apply for some money. There’s 8 billion in the pot. ACORN would get a few million to help with the census…..” Please try to couch things properly without the partisan exaggeration endemic in some partisan press outlets.

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  16. nadine says:

    questions, Public Policy Polling (a Democratic polling outfit; not a criticism, that’s just who pays them) just issued a poll on trust in media. The results may interest you:
    “Americans do not trust the major tv news operations in the country- except for Fox News.
    Our newest survey looking at perceptions of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News finds Fox as the only one that more people say they trust than distrust. 49% say they trust it to 37% who do not.
    CNN does next best at a 39/41 spread, followed by NBC at 35/44, CBS at 32/46, and ABC at 31/46.
    Predictably there is a lot of political polarization in which outlets people trust. 74% of Republicans trust Fox News, but no more than 23% trust any of the other four sources. We already knew that conservatives don’t trust the mainstream media but this data is a good prism into just how deep that distrust runs.
    For Democrats the numbers are a complete opposite- a majority trust all of ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC while only 30% have faith in Fox News. Continuing the trend in our polling over the last few months that independents hate everything, a plurality of them distrust all five outlets we looked at.”
    http://publicpolicypolling.blogspot.com/2010/01/fox-leads-for-trust.html

    Reply

  17. TonyForesta says:

    In a world where there are no laws, – there are no laws for anyone!!e
    To quote Harry Truman, “Nixon is a no good lying sonofabitch”. China in 72 was all about CokeaCola, oil, energy, and certain other select US oligarchs profiting in China, and visa versa and NOT any great or noble opening of cultural or national boundaries. Nixon was a fascist! Enemies lists, Watergate, the whoswho in Amerika’s brood of fascist PNAC vipers and thieves. Nixon is the spawning of the fascist gop, and eventually, what has become fascist Amerika.
    If your point, Mr Clemons is the opening of lines of international communication, – we all applaud that process and any positive step is welcome, – but if you are in anyway glorifying that slithering reptile, criminal, and vindictive fascist Nixon, – think again. Nixon was and will always be a criminal, a kleptocrat, and a fascist. He went after John Lennon for heavens sake! “Have you lost your wits?” Nixon was a megalomaniacal predator whose unholy spawn populate the fascist redneck Amerika gop today, and the predatorclass. The Nixon administration was a shifting point in America’s history, wherein the direction and the spirit of the nation changed forever. I associate the Nixon administration to the poison dart, – and acting term that descibes the point or moment in a scene or a play wherein everything, every relationship, and every perception subsequent is changed forever. Nixon was a poison dart tossed into the heart of America.
    Were it not for Fords horrific pardon of this criminal and fascist, – Nixon would have been damned to infamy as one of the most venal, deceptive, and tyrannical villains in America long and sordid history.

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “Really? Name one Republican who has paid any kind of price for his craven obstructionism and opportunistic demagoguery. These brazen cats have been running scott-free to pursue whatever mischief they want. Joe Lieberman openly campaigned for John McCain, and was rewarded with a committee chairmanship and a series of ever more voracious blow jobs.”
    Um, Dan, Joe Lieberman is an Independent. He’s part of the Dem caucus. They need him.
    If you’ll remember, early last year, Obama told the Republicans “I won” and shut them out of negotiations. He passed the budget, stimulus and omnibus bills without them. He tried to do the same with health care reform. That did have an effect on Republican attitudes, unsurprisingly.
    Had Obama remained popular and passed popular bills, the Republicans would have paid a price. But Obama is incompetent. Like I said, the will is there, the competence isn’t.

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  19. nadine says:

    John, how many Jews would have survived if the five invading Arab armies had won in 1948?
    Second question: if Israel was “ethnically cleared” in 1948, where did the million Arab citizens of Israel come from?
    Bonus question: If the Arabs had won in 1948, would an Arab country of Palestine have come into existence?
    Second bonus question: did an Arab country of Palestine ever exist? If so, what were its dates of existence and what were its borders?

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  20. JohnH says:

    Nadine claims that Israeli apartheid is only a response to terrorism. In fact, Israeli apartheid goes all the way back to the ethnic cleansing of 1948, when Ben Gurion was just creating a little lebensraum. Of course, people like Nadine are outraged at the memory of Germany creating lebensraum at their expense but totally comfortable with the concept when her side does it.

    Reply

  21. Carroll says:

    Stephen Walt just put “Steve Clemons” on the list of advisers Obama should be listening to in the speech that Walt wants to hear from Obama tomorrow night.”
    That is interesting! If only he would.
    Then of course Steve would need to put we,his most loyal followers, here on his advisors list.
    Must mail Walt and push this idea.

    Reply

  22. Outraged American says:

    I’m with Nadine on this( (Nadine) “I would say that Nixon’s downfall
    was his paranoia. You keep expecting enemies, you make enemies.”
    Israel? Israel? Are you listening to Nadine, Israel? I would adjust
    Nadine’s statement to this:
    “I would say that Israel’s downfall was her paranoia. You keep
    expecting enemies, you make enemies.”
    Nadine needs to loosen her head scarf before it cuts off all
    circulation to what’s left of her brain because yet again her original
    quote, in all its inability to understand its own irony, proves that
    Nadine actually works for Hamas.

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    “He can be an SOB against Republicans.”
    Really? Name one Republican who has paid any kind of price for his craven obstructionism and opportunistic demagoguery. These brazen cats have been running scott-free to pursue whatever mischief they want. Joe Lieberman openly campaigned for John McCain, and was rewarded with a committee chairmanship and a series of ever more voracious blow jobs.
    Someone in that town needs to wake up with his horse’s head in his bed.

    Reply

  24. nadine says:

    “The chief thing Obama needs to learn from Nixon is how to be an SOB, and how to identify and punish his enemies. Of course, being an SOB was the ultimate cause of Nixon’s downfall. So I wouldn’t recommend whole hog Nixonianism. But the fact is, there doesn’t seem to be a single person in Washington who is afraid of Barack Obama, and that is a sure recipe for failure in that city.” (Dan Kervick)
    Obama seems to know that, but only in the context of politics. He can be an SOB against Republicans. Against America’s enemies, he only displays wooly-headed proffers of engagement. And even when he tries to be an SOB, he way overestimates his own powers of persuasion and influence. The will is there, the competence is missing.
    I would say that Nixon’s downfall was his paranoia. You keep expecting enemies, you make enemies.

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  25. nadine says:

    JohnH, there is nothing remotely “independent” or balanced about an article that goes on and on decrying Israeli security measures and calling them “apartheit” without once mentioning the terrorism to which they were a response. Before 1987, there wasn’t even a marker on the Green Line Border, let alone a fence.
    This is like decrying American imperialism in West Germany during the Cold War without once mentioning the USSR or the Warsaw Pact. Come to think of it, I’ve read a lot of leftist histories just like that.
    It’s child’s play to make one side in a war look really nasty — just erase or whitewash the other side out of the picture. Presto! Aggression against innocent lambs!

    Reply

  26. Don Bacon says:

    Somebody should tell the Chinese people how bad-off they are. One point three billion people just don’t get it.
    Pew Survey, July 2008
    As they eagerly await the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese people express extraordinary levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in their country and with their nation’s economy. With more than eight-in-ten having a positive view of both, China ranks number one among 24 countries on both measures in the 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project. These findings represent a dramatic improvement in national contentment from earlier in the decade when the Chinese people were not nearly as positive about the course of their nation and its economy.

    Reply

  27. RazzleDC says:

    Hey everyone,
    I never post comments here because I am usually afraid of ticking off Pissed Off American or Nadine or someone in between, but I have important news.
    Stephen Walt just put “Steve Clemons” on the list of advisers Obama should be listening to in the speech that Walt wants to hear from Obama tomorrow night.
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/01/26/the_state_of_the_union_speech_what_id_like_to_hear_but_wont
    Steve Clemons, who I have watched for a long time tie Washington tighter and tighter into his web, is a great person and knows everyone and makes people feel good even if they are pretty dumb. He’s just that kind of guy.
    I love Stephen Walt too. So great to have one recommending the other!!

    Reply

  28. Dan Kervick says:

    The chief thing Obama needs to learn from Nixon is how to be an SOB, and how to identify and punish his enemies. Of course, being an SOB was the ultimate cause of Nixon’s downfall. So I wouldn’t recommend whole hog Nixonianism. But the fact is, there doesn’t seem to be a single person in Washington who is afraid of Barack Obama, and that is a sure recipe for failure in that city.

    Reply

  29. JohnH says:

    Maybe Nadine should read the Middle East Report before she dismisses it out of hand. (I know that keeping an open mind is asking a lot!)
    My favorite gem was about the Palestinian driver who got pulled over. As the police were confiscating his car, he said, “What did I do wrong?” Answer: “You were on a Jews only road.” Palestinian: “how was I supposed to know that? Answer: “your’re just supposed to know.” Palestinian: “Why don’t you post a sign?” Answer: “We can’t put up a sign because then somebody would take a photo, it would wind up in the Western press, and we would be accused of apartheid.”
    The magazine is an excellent, independent source of information about what is happening in the Arab world. Most of its articles are not about the Israeli Occupation.
    Of course, since it doesn’t tow AIPAC’s line, it must be smeared, condemned, and dismissed by Israeli propagandists.

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  30. nadine says:

    Neo, you are the embarrassment to any sentient being, spilling your bile and hatred without even the flimsiest cover of an argument.

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  31. Neo Controll says:

    “It’s child’s play for a propagandist to rewrite . . . ” (Nadine)
    Can I get an Amen!
    I think I’d quite now Nadine before you become such a caricature of yourself that it become embarrassing to your handlers.
    BTW, you haven’t answered jdledell’s question below about the massive guilt trips, and tax deductible extortion of the diaspora.
    How, indeed, do you live with yourself?
    –NCHQ

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    JohnH, The Middle East Report is an Arab propaganda sheet.
    It’s child’s play for a propagandist to rewrite the Separation Wall as “racist” – just ignore the suicide bombers, the thousand dead Israelis and the 10s of thousands attempted terror attacks. Also ignore the million Arab citizens of Israel.
    Oh, those Israeli meanies, building all those terrible walls for NO REASON WHATSOEVER! They must be racists! That’s it! exactly like apartheid.
    Um, is Egypt practicing apartheid too? They are also building a wall. Actually, if you look at the history of Egypt’s dealings with Gaza, apartheid charges are easier to support, though of course race has nothing to do with it.

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  33. JohnH says:

    Liver acting up today, Wigwag? A little excess bile?
    Of course I don’t approve of a lot of things China does. But, unlike you, my like or dislike of a country isn’t totally predictable according to its attitude toward Israel. Nor do I apply a double standard to human rights, condemning THEM for their abuses, while turning a blind eye when OUR side commits the same abuses.
    BTW you might enjoy the latest issue of the Middle East Report. http://www.merip.org/mer/mer253/peteet.html
    It gives a lot of details on how the Israeli apartheid system works.

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Heck, we have several 9/11 conspiracy loons on TWN”
    Actually, Mark, the ignorant loons are the ones that accept the official narrative. I include YOU in that category.
    I really don’t know “what” exactly transpired, but I do know that the 9/11 Commission was a fuckin’ joke, and some of the “explanations” given to us by our government are only believed by fools and idiots.

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  35. nadine says:

    Who is liberal on Fox? Juan Williams and Mara Lliasson, both NPR reporters, are panel regulars on Fox. Hannity has a panel on every show with a liberal on it.
    By the way, the arrest of O’Keefe is being reported by an AP whom he embarrassed badly and has a lot of motivation to paint him as guilty, so I would not run ahead of the evidence here. Media Matters is slandering Andrew Breitbart by called the four “Breitbart’s crew” when Breitbart says he never even met the other three and never communicated with them. Breitbart says he has no information about beyond what he’s reading in AP today. If Media Matters keeps this up, Breitbart will have a legal case against them.
    Trying to bug a US Senator makes no sense as a form of investigative journalism. O’Keefe didn’t strike me as stupid. Something about this story is not adding up.
    Hey, if you think funnelling billions of taxpayer dollars to a criminal outfit with long and deep connections to the President (he has at various times, worked for ACORN, funded ACORN, and hired ACORN) is no biggy, that’s your choice.

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  36. WigWag says:

    Don’t you think China deserves some criticism, JohnH? You do think people should be able to practice whatever religion they want to without governmental interference don’t you? You do think people should be able to say whatever they want to and write whatever they want to without threat of criminal sanctions, don’t you? You don’t approve of limiting internet access as a way of controlling information, do you JohnH? You do think that the electoral systems in the West (especially the electoral systems now in place in the former Soviet satellites and republics) are far superior to the Chinese approach to elections; or am I wrong?
    As for your comment about whether China poses an existential threat to Israel, JohnH, you have it exactly backwards.
    Chinese indifference (along with Indian indifference) to Palestinian national aspirations is actually a significant existential threat to the development of self-determination for the Palestinians.

    Reply

  37. questions says:

    Since I don’t have cable, I’ll have to rely on someone else’s characterization — MSNBC has Olbermann and Maddow and that’s it for liberal.
    I get the feeling that we would disagree on the definition of “liberal” and “lefty” by the way.
    For me, “lefty” is kinda like Chomsky, and liberal is kind of like Krugman. And then you start running towards the right.
    So who is lefty on CNN, maybe I’ll recognize the name?
    Who is “liberal” on Fox? And is your definition of “liberal” any where near mine?
    Hobbes spends a decent chunk of the Leviathan giving dictionary definitions of words. He’s pretty convinced that most of our carping comes from our using the same words in very different ways and we ought to standardize our vocabulary. Further, we have a pretty strong duty not to lie or do anything else that would undermine basic sociality and risk our falling back into the state of nature. So maybe we should start defining terms?
    Re the Acorn thing, less than meets the eye, I think. Doctored film, the advice givers were not officials with official knowledge — how criminal is this — please give a citation. And the reason for restoring the funding is that the law Congress passed amounted to a bill of attainder which I think is unconstitutional (at least according to my copy!) — at least AFAIK…..
    Read something non-Foxy about the Acornorama before you’re totally convinced by the one true version. Try googling something like “doctored acorn video” and the guy’s name and see what pops up.
    The outrage at ACORN does not at all match the size, effectiveness or set of concerns of the organization. Save it for something real. Like, ummm, tapping the phone of a federal officer on federal property! Now there’s a felony!

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  38. JohnH says:

    You cannot blame Nixon for the dysfunctional trade relationship with China. Bill Clinton deserves all the credit for that.
    Too bad no one followed through on Nixon’s visit to Damascus!
    So, Wigwag, can I infer a looming existential threat to Israel from your criticisms of China?

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    Hey questions, Fox has conservatives and liberals on its panels. CNN has liberals and lefties. Which is more fair and balanced?
    Let me let you into a secret: if Fox is biased one way, CNN is biased the other, even worse. And MSNBC is off the deep end.

    Reply

  40. WigWag says:

    “Nixon changed the way global gravity worked by engineering an opening to China…” (Steve Clemons)
    Would we really be better off if Obama took Steve’s advice and “channeled” Richard Nixon?
    Was Nixon’s China policy an outstanding success or a dreadful failure? Should Nixon’s China policy serve as a model for Obama’s approach to Iran and other world trouble spots or should it serve as an example of what to avoid at all costs?
    While the answer may seem obvious to realists like Steve Clemons (and crack cocaine realists like Flynt Leverett), I think the answer is far less obvious than Steve and his colleagues think.
    Nixon’s approach to China essentially exempted China as an American adversary in the Cold War; obviously Nixon made this decision because he believed that it provided the United States with a strategic advantage in its competition with the Soviet Union. But did it?
    Maybe yes and maybe no.
    What we can look at today are the results of Nixon’s decision. Here’s what we know.
    Almost every American adversary during the Cold War is a liberal democracy today (there are very few exceptions; Cuba being one). The former Warsaw Pact nations are all increasingly prosperous, increasingly free and they are all staunch American allies. Even Russia, while far from perfect, enjoys free elections relatively untainted by corruption and maintains a modicum of freedom of the press and almost complete freedom of religion. China has few of those freedoms. While it now practices state capitalism instead of communism, it is still a one party state, free expression is rudimentary at best; free exercise of religion is mostly unavailable and China is still censoring the internet, banning “You Tube” (like Turkey) and launching cyber attacks on Google.
    Approximately 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Empire has largely been dismembered and most former member nations of that Empire now exercise self-determination; the Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, the Ukrainians and Georgians all come to mind although admittedly the situation in some of these former Soviet Republics is far from perfect.
    Compare and contrast what’s happened to the slave states of the former Soviet Union with what’s happened in Tibet which suffers from Chinese oppression that is increasingly brutal. A wonderful but chilling recounting of what it was like to live behind the Iron Curtain could be found in Kati Marton’s excellent book, “Enemies of My People.” I wonder if Ms Marton is glad that Nixon didn’t exempt the Soviet Union from the Cold War the same way that he exempted China.
    Had Nixon not made the decision to exempt China from the Cold War would it be a liberal democracy today? Would Tibet be free?
    Obviously we will never know. Certainly other factors are at play here (especially the heritage of Confucius in the Far East). But isn’t it at least reasonable to speculate that far from being a success to be emulated, Nixon’s China policy was a tragedy to be avoided?
    Many commentators at the Washington Note (including Steve Clemons) have mentioned the dysfunctional trade relationship between China and the United States and the resultant currency dislocations as one of the proximate causes of the recent world financial meltdown. Isn’t it possible that this is also a legacy of Nixon’s decision to exempt China from the Cold War?
    What makes Steve so sure that if Obama were to follow the “Nixon goes to China” approach, the world won’t be far worse off 50 years from now instead of better off?
    Are the Chinese better off today because of decisions Nixon made 40 years ago or are they worse off? Is the rest of the world better off or worse off because of Nixon’s China policy?

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    Hey, any Foxwatcher out there, I would LOVE to know how many minutes Fox spends on this story. This is the one about how that guy who filmed ACORN was caught bugging Landrieu’s office phone!!!!!!!!
    They’ll be very suspicious of political payback driving the arrest, and probably will want more information about the evidence before saying much.
    By the way, advising clients how to get government money to run a brothel full of underage Salvadoran girls isn’t “iffy”, it’s criminal. As Jon Stewart noticed, ACORN didn’t even bat an eyelash, at office after office. Yet I notice nobody has been prosecuted and Congress has been working hard to restore ACORN’s money.

    Reply

  42. nadine says:

    “It’s obvious to me that the so-called “teabaggers” aren’t so happy with Republicans either. It’s just moronic of the Democrats to heap insult on disgruntled voters.
    How does that win a single extra vote?” (MarkL)
    I agree. The tea partiers are trying to work out how to return the Republicans to fiscal sanity. They are far from happy with the DC Republicans; the GOP only looks good by comparison to the Democrats.
    The other day, I heard Rep. Boehner (House Minority Leader) say that he had told the President that Obama’s spending levels and attempts to ram through health care reform with who-knows-what level of new taxes were scaring businesses and preventing them from hiring. Boehner said the President slapped the table and said, “I’m not scaring people. It’s you Republicans who are scaring people.”
    I wish I could believe Obama was lying. Unfortunately, I think he was quite sincere. Obama does not believe in basic economic theory. He just doesn’t. He think he can making hiring more expensive by some unknown degree, make unemployment more lucrative (up to two years of benefits now), and yet not affect unemployment levels.

    Reply

  43. questions says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/26/james-okeefe-arrested-in-_n_437506.html
    Hey, any Foxwatcher out there, I would LOVE to know how many minutes Fox spends on this story. This is the one about how that guy who filmed ACORN was caught bugging Landrieu’s office phone!!!!!!!!
    Let’s do a minute to minute comparison. A few ACORN workers gave some iffy advice, a film was made and doctored…. I believe Fox emphasized this story.
    Now that same person has been arrested by the FBI for impersonating a phone company guy and trying to bug a member of Congress.
    Which is more serious? Which will get the most press play? Enquiring minds wanna know!

    Reply

  44. questions says:

    The bloc of people arrayed against Obama indeed won’t listen to his golden tongue BUT they might listen to a Republican with really strong street cred. Why won’t the Republicans take on some of the Fox crowd? Well, when a few have tried to get these guys to back off, they’ve been roundly trashed and forced to come back into the fold groveling. This pattern was repeated several times before Republicans gave up.
    As I said above, it’d be nice if some Republican were willing to risk his career in the party to get up and say, you know, there are some serious problems with my party. And it’d be great if that person could do it on Fox and stick to his guns and let the Foxworld know that the purge of the Republican Party is doing no one any good at all.
    I have to admit, though, the Fox devotees I know are not so good at being calm enough to listen to actual facts about events and actually change their minds. Fox put a spell on them (to paraphrase a song.)
    *****
    The number of documented instances of Fox’s deliberately distorting video, altering chyrons, telling falsehoods is really a thing to marvel at. Nadine, they aren’t “fair and balanced” just to let you in on a secret!
    The allure Beck has comes from his very public displays of insanity and inanity and false emotion. People get worked up over the contentless crap he spews, and he isn’t called on it because for now, Fox is Teflon.
    Eventually, the Fox thing will go the way of all crazes. These guys will have cashed in, caused a huge amount of suffering (how many Fox viewers are among the uninsured and uninsurable? How many would really benefit from the occasional government program?) and then there will be some new thing for people to use up their anxiety on.
    But for now, Fox has a hold on the political imagination of some people, the political rhetoric of an entire party, the political possibility of the current administration, and the people who actually could take this institutional mess on are, sadly, some of the same people who benefit from their own silence.
    A few good Republican whistle blowers — now that would be something.
    And Nadine, I don’t really believe that the trad med are democratic in outlook. The basic categories of reporting are fairly conservative in the way they cut up the world. Fox may be at the far end of right, but ABC et al are divisions of large conglomerates with fairly business-oriented thinking. The NY Times has a “business” section, not a “poverty’s effects” section. They cover art openings and the opera. There’s a slant there in basic outlook about what matters in culture, what matters in human experience. Fundamentally, it’s aimed at the oligarchic end of things.
    And Paul, the populism IS crap. The partial budget freeze is populism for the right — and it’s been denounced by many many economists including self-proclaimed “deficit hawks”. The stomp on bankers thing is populism for the left and it’ll disrupt a range of economic forces we might actually want stabilized for a little longer. Populism is stupid politics. It’s aimed at what we feel, not what we know (to borrow from Chris Hedges/Sheldon Wolin).
    Knowledge stuff is boring, tedious, thousand-page bills, too many words, too many arguments, too much complexity, oh my poor little head I can’t take it just tell me what to feel. So then we’re back to Glenn Beck who is more than happy to tell you what to feel.
    Obama is a better political figure when he sticks to the wonky end of things. Policy is wonkdom. And wonkdom is glorious stuff.
    But Fox’s siren call pulls a lot of people in the easy direction of not having to try to figure out why it is that guaranteed issue needs mandates, or Gitmo needs fair trials.
    There are siren calls on the left, as well. But the left doesn’t have Fox.
    It’s not that I see that there’s nothing to be done. In fact there’s plenty that could be done. If health care gets rammed through in some procedurally acceptable way, and if the Republicans can be stopped from taking revenge, it’s possible that people will like having health care available and that people will stop focusing on the political process long enough to relax. Just this would do Obama a world of good.
    If these politicians of ours could get some kind of jobs based stimulus through, without the damned tax cuts, that would do Obama a world of good.
    If in some small ways, people end up benefiting from having voted for Obama, that would do him a world of good.
    If someone could shut up the VRWSM long enough for legislators to do some actual legislating in the real interests of their constituents and not at all for Sunday morning public affairs programs, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh et al, that would do Obama a world of good.
    I don’t know how possible this all is, but it’s a far better idea than some of the populist crap coming out of DC.
    ****
    And as for the basic idea of change, Paul, I feel like screaming GIMME A FUCKIN’ BREAK. But I won’t!
    Instead I’ll say that the moment one becomes really policy aware, one realizes that it’s really important to think through as many alternatives as one can think of, to do one’s best to look for unintended consequences, to gather as much info as possible and then to report on that.
    In ME relations, I run up against what seems to me like a bunch of poorly thought out rants around here. So I present caution. The choices here are usually, ummm, defund, block funding, threaten to defund, threaten to block funding, pull back funding, ummm, and, oh, threaten funding. That’s the range of policy suggestions I seem to remember from here. If there are others, feel free to remind me. I’d be happy to read something that didn’t say “pull funding” or “threaten to pull funding” because I don’t think this one helps. Does that make me paralyzed? I don’t think so. Does it mark me as AFRAID OF CHANGE ITSELF? I don’t think so. It may, though, mark me as someone who, for a variety of already spelled out reasons, opposes blocking funding!
    On other change issues, I am all for changing health care — but if the change someone advocates is, say, giving up funding cancer care, I’d probably object that we might not like the consequences to the social contract of giving up on cancer care.
    So it really depends on the change that is suggested, not on the issue of change itself.
    There are things I’d like to see in the ME. There are things I’d like to see vis-a-vis the GWOT. There are a lot of things I’d like the Senate to do. There are things that are institutionally possible and things that are not. I don’t advocate changing the unchangeable. Only a masochist would do that!
    Hope this clarifies at some level…. If nothing else, conservation of mass means I’m not actually wasting electrons. (I think!)

    Reply

  45. MarkL says:

    I agree part way with Nadine:
    It’s obvious to me that the so-called “teabaggers” aren’t so happy with Republicans either. It’s just moronic of the Democrats to heap insult on disgruntled voters.
    How does that win a single extra vote?
    And yeah, there are plenty of crazies on the left.
    Heck, we have several 9/11 conspiracy loons on TWN.

    Reply

  46. nadine says:

    Paul, where do you get your impression of the tea parties? CNN coverage?
    Let me explain CNN’s method: find the nuttiest looking protester in the crowd of thousands (there will always be some nuts), provoke them into a screaming argument, and then photograph them, hopefully foaming at the mouth, as a representative sample.
    In reality, the vast majority of tea partiers are what used to be called petit bourgeoisie, small business owners or middle class people who work at small businesses, who understand basic economics and are terrified that the US is on the road to finanical ruin. Giving the uncontrolled spending in Washington, this fear is not paranoid at all, but entirely rational.

    Reply

  47. Paul Norheim says:

    Uh, I have no problem agreeing that the powerful people and institutions are powerful,
    Questions. Looking at the whole picture, however, instead of the singular points, one
    has to conclude that this is some kind of masochism – as well as an indirect defense of
    status quo.
    Your dreams of better alternatives may be radical, even drastically so, but they are as
    private as faith is in a society strictly separating between the political sphere and
    our private religious believes: the more crazy one’s faith, the better, since it has no
    consequences whatsoever. You privately wish that things were different, very different
    indeed, but in real life, i.e. in politics, “nothing works”, and you explicitly warn
    against political alternatives.
    Every single time a fellow commenter even hints at some change – especially in the
    Middle East and Central Asia, you send strong warning signals about the horrible
    unintended consequences that may be the regrettable outcome. “Consequences…
    dilemmas…impossible…complex…oh, oh…be careful…read up instead…doing nothing
    is wrong…doing something is wrong…oh, oh…”. Like it or not, but this is the
    regular pattern of your posts. And since your posts often provoke reactions and
    influence the direction of many threads, I find it appropriate to mention this general,
    underlying aspect of your comments.
    JohnH asks above: “If the Republicans are an intractable block, as questions says, why
    isn’t Obama using his golden tongue and community organizing skills to make them feel
    some heat? Why did he just give up? I don’t necessarily fault him for getting defeated.
    I fault him for not trying.”
    To which you, Questions, probably will say something like this: “Obama’s golden tongue
    won’t help against these forces, and the POTUS should not engage in populist tactics,
    because that’s oh so dangerous and oh so impossible in the face of these intractable
    and overwhelming forces. Obama is doing the right thing under the current
    circumstances.”
    Correct? At least these are the kinds of arguments you’ve used over and over since
    everyone realized that Obama is in big trouble.

    Reply

  48. nadine says:

    lol, conservatives have Fox, the Wall St. Journal, and talk radio.
    Liberals have ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, Time, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times, the Washington Post, The LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, etc, etc.
    And yet it’s not enough. Murdoch is supposed to be some kind of controlling media god. Rupert Murdoch is not holding a gun to anybody’s head to make them watch Fox. Whatever you can say about Fox “creating anxiety” — CNN and MSNBC are trying to do it too, but it’s not working so well for them.
    Fox gets more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined. How long can you avoid the obvious conclusion that Fox is making more sense to more viewers?
    “It’s about coping with sharing the planet with a lot of people I don’t really like, agree with, want to have a beer with, but who all have just as much right to be here as I do.”
    Or, put a different way, it’s about not pretending that the left side of spectrum is all there is.
    It’s very strange watching the largest and oldest media brands destroy themselves for the sake propagating a left-wing ideology. Oh, I don’t think it’s deliberate, it’s just what happens when 95% of your reporters are Democrats. But you’d think somebody would notice the reason they are losing market share and money.

    Reply

  49. JohnH says:

    If the Republicans are an intractable block, as questions says, why isn’t Obama using his golden tongue and community organizing skills to make them feel some heat? Why did he just give up? I don’t necessarily fault him for getting defeated. I fault him for not trying. Past Presidents went on the road to campaign for their agenda. Obama just sits in Washington
    Some of would love to see Republican Senators put through the ordeal of a real, live filibuster–talking day and night for a couple weeks. Let everyone see what obstructionists they are. Why doesn’t Reid even try?

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    Oh dear.
    I don’t think I quite agree with that view of me, but maybe you’re right and my sense of me isn’t.
    I think that the Fox take on the world speaks deeply to some people. I think that Fox helps create a kind of anxiety that people both love and hate (the way we love and hate horror movies, violent relationships and other things that are bad for us but pleasurable. Reminds me of a scene in the Republic where Leontius is quoted as screaming at his own eyes to focus on the dead and mutilated body that he is both drawn to and away from. Plato uses this story as a way of proving that the soul has multiple parts.)
    In our love/hate/fear/avoid/fascination with the abomination mode, Fox allures and repels.
    Fox has enough audience power at this point that it can make and break Republican candidates and MCs. Republicans have crossed Fox hosts and had to crawl back on hands and knees repeatedly.
    Fox’s rhetoric encourages copy cat rhetoric on other networks, as it’s all about audience share for other networks. There’s a business plan at work here.
    Because Fox is run by a former head of the Republicans, it is made in the likeness of its creator, and so it, too, is Republican in outlook. It rewards Republican thinking of a certain sort and is rewarded in turn. There’s some serious backscratching going on here.
    With the kind of audience share Fox gets, with the kind of rhetoric Fox rewards and punishes, fox has become fairly influential in Republican behavioral control. The Republicans are amazingly organized on the talking points issues. They circulate e-mails, commit things to memory and repeat the same phrases often enough that those phrases become the thing to talk about regardless of where you are in the media. It’s predigested, easy, works for lazy journalists who refuse to do their own thinking, who are afraid to disagree with the people around them, who bend as soon as they are crossed.
    The community of “journalists” in the US is a sad lot of unthinking and highly complacent well-paid people who seem terrified of striking out on their own, disagreeing with one another in any significant way, reading up on material that might help them understand what’s going on, and avoiding conventional wisdom and easy narratives.
    Fighting this system takes what I said above — a brave BIG RED MEAT REPUBLICAN to challenge it. Then you, Paul, said it was impossible. To which I said, yeah. And then you nailed me for agreeing with you.
    So I’m a little at sea here on how to reply.
    Fox is influential and its influence can be traced as above very clearly. I don’t remember seeing much in the way of scholarly debate about the influence of the VRWSM.
    On the lobbying stuff, oy. Here we go again. The scholarly disagreement was not invented BY ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was reporting what actual congressional scholars have shown with actual data analysis. If you want to gripe about it, take it up with a scholar, and please leave me out of it. I don’t have the energy to go over this shit again.
    Yes there are dilemmas because in a country of 300 million people and on a planet of 6 billion people, there are actually a wide range of different and incommensurate desires, needs, preferences, outlooks, positions, interests…. So things get balanced, not solved. Agonistics is irreducible. There are somethings to be gotten right perhaps, but most things are to be gotten temporarily managed by truce.
    It’s not about masochism. It’s about coping with sharing the planet with a lot of people I don’t really like, agree with, want to have a beer with, but who all have just as much right to be here as I do.

    Reply

  51. questions says:

    I think the Hedges piece is a little too overarching in its characterization, and a little too static in its sense of the tug back and forth between the oligarchs and the democrats.
    I like the description of “feeling” as knowing for many of us. It gets at the basic sense of irrationality that seems to dominate discourse. But that “feeling” is sometimes grounded on real differences in interests and so needs to be used in careful ways. Some people are indeed well-insured, well-taken care of, secure, able and not in need of support. Some people, indeed, are willing to take their chances despite not being in great shape. These people are instinctively Republican and they are likely quite right to be thus.
    Where it gets weirder is for those who really are vulnerable but who would prefer a fantasy of invulnerability to one of coping. Examples of this kind of thinking showed up when the recession was worsening and formerly middle class people were using the local food pantries. Many were quoted as saying things like, “Well, I’m not one of those lazy undeserving people. So even though it never occurred to me that I might need help, I still am not undeserving.”
    The fantasy that lets those in need not feel their own need as akin to the need of others, that separation into the worthy needy and the unworthy needy may be one of our biggest cultural problems. We don’t feel together in our sinking ship, we feel privileged and individual, and we fail to see the whole for the parts.
    Hedges/Wolin capture a piece of what’s going on, but not enough of the context.
    Even the use of “corporation” is problematic given the way that the stock market works, given the way that incorporating protects small business as well as large business, given the way that organizations of all sorts engage in lobbying, given the way that governmental largesse is distributed, given the way that the defense industry is as much a socialist jobs program as it is anything else.
    I’d like to see a much more nuanced and careful reading of the social conditions under which we live.
    And as for foremost political thinkers, Wolin has nothing on Slavoj Zizek, who though not American, is profoundly brilliant, gets in psychoanalysis in beautiful ways, understands both the political and the philosophical and so isn’t simplistic in his use of categories.

    Reply

  52. Paul Norheim says:

    “Nothing will work.”
    Once again: N O T H I N G W I L L W O R K.
    I think I get it now, Questions. Allow me, as a service to new readers, to sum up much of
    what you’ve been saying, on and on, on different threads during the last couple of years
    – regardless of the topic at hand:
    1) The American talk show hosts and the Murdochs of the world are almighty gods in
    control of the media machine, and facing these insurmountable obstacles, the POTUS and
    those who elected him have no options but to bend over.
    2) And if not for the overwhelmingly powerful right wing machine, there is always the
    overwhelmingly complex political processes, which restrict the options to incremental
    steps and tiny, trivial details.
    3) And if not for B, don’t even contemplate substantial changes, especially not on
    foreign policy issues, because that would probably destroy the oh so fragile and oh so
    overwhelmingly complex balance of power, created through decades by very powerful
    players, and backed up by very complex, fearful, and intractable domestic constituencies.
    4) AIPAC is a more or less powerless entity. If you want to know the real answer as to
    why America provides unconditional support to Israel (and rightly so), see point 1, 2,
    and 3.
    5)Read up on Plato, Aristotle, and Kant.
    6) In politics there is no such thing as “options” – only dilemmas.
    7) Nothing will work.
    ———————————–
    Sounds like the world view of a born masochist.

    Reply

  53. erichwwk says:

    “Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction
    by Chris Hedges
    http://www.commondreams.org/print/52029

    Reply

  54. questions says:

    And you make my point for me.
    Obama is limited by the utter intractability of the right in this country. What do you think would happen to any Republican who crossed the aisle at this point? What kind of pressure is there on these people to do the wrong thing? And to do it over and over and over.
    This isn’t a lobby, it isn’t a public interest group, it’s a coordinated media machine designed to increase Republican power, decrease democratic power, distort numerous issues in order to increase its own power. And the “beauty” of the system is that it plays into the self-interest of a lot of people and plays into the fears of others. If I can serve my own self-interest by terrifying you, AND you almost enjoy being terrified so you’re kind of having fun too, what a system I’ve created.
    So look up Roger Ailes, Murdoch Jr’s response to Ailes, Murdoch Sr’s political concerns, the audience numbers, the feelings this media mess evokes in people…. And what you find is Obama’s sad reality.
    I cannot for the life of me think of a way around the VRWSM. Truth doesn’t do it. The internet doesn’t do it. Obama’s “cool” doesn’t do it. A great speech, a noble act, justice…. Nothing will work. It’s as intractable as is Islamism and any other fundamentalism that evokes gut responses rather than rational responses. People don’t like wordy arguments, they like fearful imagery.
    I suppose Obama could try to terrify us out of our rightwingery. But the left isn’t really good at scaring people.

    Reply

  55. Paul Norheim says:

    “Make O’Reilly rethink. Make Limbaugh re-think.”
    Changing “the way global gravity works” would be a piece of cake, compared to making
    O’Reilly or Limbaugh “re-think”. If you don’t think that these demagogues are “too far
    gone”, you live on a different planet than most of us. The point is that Obama’s
    bipartisanship, if it succeeded, would be a threat to these extremists, cutting the ground
    from under their feet.

    Reply

  56. questions says:

    FWIW,
    Find a stack of red meat Republicans who:
    Don’t care about re-election
    Do care about the US as a totality and not as a giant electoral contest/winner take all/Republicans must then win
    Who are articulate, smart AND well informed
    Get them booked on every Fox show there is. Make sure they can’t be dismissed the way that, say, Colin Powell was.
    Hand out facts to the Fox end of the universe.
    Show Palin’s positions to be clearly untenable. Make O’Reilly rethink. Make Limbaugh re-think. Probably Beck is too far gone.
    Until it’s safe to re-start relations with Cuba and get rid of DADT, or until the dems give up on the 2010 elections, ain’t nothin’ gonna change.
    If OBAMA gives up on his own re-election (as a Huff-Po headline seems to have indicated) the dems in Congress still don’t want to do so. So anything that needs to go through Congress will stop the moment that Obama declares war on the prejudices of the right.
    Paul suggested on another thread that my ideal was to ask Palin what we should do and then do just that.
    Well, not really. The problem though is that anything that needs legislative support, well, needs legislative support. It’s all deal-making in a hydra-headed government.
    Obama doesn’t have magical powers to convince us all that things need to happen. And though there are scads of executive orders he can issue (and he has done a bunch of this stuff), many things must go through Congress. W/o the Republicans, it’s pretty difficult. W/o half the dems, it’s simply over.
    So there’s a lot of calculating going on about how much Obama can push for clearly just positions on, say, Cuba and DADT and the GWOT and health care, how much congressional dems can cope with, how left the electorate is, what are the pivot points (whom does he lose w/DADT our the window, whom does he gain…), and, of course, what the sound machine will do.
    If we could deliver the equivalent of noise-canceling headphones to those exposed to the VRWSM (vast right wing sound machine), that would take a huge amount of pressure off of Obama and he’d have the space to make a really long down-field pass.
    Any BIG NAME Republicans out there game?
    Anyone wanna interrupt the right wing money/media game? Challenge O’Reilly and Limbaugh? And not come grovelling back? You risk your career and you save your soul. It’s a good deal. And maybe the New America Foundation will give you a job, or at least a place to grab a shower after you wake up on a park bench. Steve could maybe work this out.

    Reply

  57. Don Bacon says:

    It does make a lot of difference. Nixon had “content.” That’s Steve’s point.
    Look at that photo of Nixon and Mao in a warm handshake! That’s Mao Tse Tung, the leader of Red China, the embodiment of everything evil to every single conservative in the USA! That handshake changed the world! That’s content.

    Reply

  58. JamesL says:

    OK Don, “Content doesn’t matter as much as Nixon-fills-in-the-blank. I don’t see that it makes a lot of difference.
    Nixon saw the importance of directing perception, not exactly a rare political trait. Steve re-branded this into “gravity-curving” and said Obama need to learn how to do it like the successful Nixon.
    Less than an hour ago Yahoo Top World News headline page carried the following piece titled “Minister: Israel rejects UN Gaza war probe call”, accompanied by a photo of incendiary bomblets raining down on a Gaza school. It was pulled by Yahoo in less than 30 minutes, then re-mounted after another half hour. That’s news management, if a little uncertain.
    Article:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100126/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians
    Photo:
    http://d.yimg.com/a/p/afp/20100126/capt.photo_1264500086104-1-0.jpg?x=400&y=235&q=85&sig=VYTctsMfLEHnd6KCYImZkA–

    Reply

  59. Don Bacon says:

    Nixon didn’t say content doesn’t matter he said it doesn’t affect elections. There is more to life than elections, as we continually are forced to accept.

    Reply

  60. JamesL says:

    Pincus’ Nixon quote could be paraphrased: “Content doesn’t matter. Public perceptions and how they may be manipulated are what matter.”
    That could be said about any number of presidents and campaigns over the last fifty years.
    Nixon as scientist misleads. Nixon as a social scientist (or using them) is more accurate. With China, Nixon combined realism with social science, using a bold move and theater to overcome entrenched US positions.
    As far as Obama, he has displayed theatrical ability, and has no shortage of juicy targets that would repay him with general public approval. Opening the doors to Cuba, rolling back the Patriot Act, condemning and ending torture for real, closing Gitmo, hammering the MIC and the uber rich daily, demanding of Israel behavior that he demands of every other country, helping and heealing the middle class. It is a target rich environment with approval paybacks. But he is not acting in those directions and appears afraid of every one. He may be thinking he is acting in more important directions, but where he is headed is away from public health–economic and physical– and away from away from public approval, which is in fact democracy.

    Reply

  61. Paul Norheim says:

    “I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want
    clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship
    that had been missing.”
    This analysis of Reagan the President is also an accurate description of Obama the
    campaigner, but not Obama the President. Did he panic after 11/4 2008, or did he find
    someone else to admire? Carter? I doubt it. Bush père?
    In any case, as a President he’s neither channeled his inner Reagan (which one would
    think would be easy for him to do), nor his inner Nixon, which may not exist.
    “The inner Nixon” has a Janus face: the bold visionary who goes to China, and the paranoid
    crook. While the former is absent, the latter is currently channeled on a daily basis, in
    radio talk shows, Fox News, among teabaggers, etc.

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  62. Don Bacon says:

    Obama — Reagan beat Nixon and Clinton.
    “I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what’s different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
    http://openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3263
    Which explains a lot.

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  63. JohnH says:

    Lets not forget that Nixon went to Damascus, too.
    Today he would be written off as certifiably crazy, because he was willing to talk to his enemies. And talking does nothing to bolster “defense” budgets.

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  64. Paul Norheim says:

    erichwwk,
    I’m sure many prominent GOP politicians and conservative pundits are big Nixon fans,
    but hesitate to say it loud on TV because of Watergate, so they praise the palatable
    Hollywood actor instead. McCain strikes me as a possible example. He worked for the
    Nixon center in the 1990’s, but praised Reagan as his big hero during the ’08
    campaign.
    In 10-20 years, this may change.
    I’m also sure Steve could provide plenty of anecdotes about this phenomenon.
    Even Obama frequently said, during the campaign, that he admired Reagan. Was that
    entirely sincere, or did he just want to signalize a bipartisan spirit? I wonder
    what he thinks about Nixon. If he admires him, he’ll never admit it in public.

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  65. erichwwk says:

    grr….. i think i got it right the first time. Apologies for spouting off, when i don’t really have the time to make sure i say it right.
    i’ll just shut up for a while, although this is a topic I have passion about.
    In any case I admire many of Nixon’s acts- NEPA, OSHA, China, “Blue Lake”, etc. while I see Reagan as mainly a GE/corporate/fascism advocate, replacing science, reason, and market economies with dogma, propaganda, and oligopolies.

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  66. erichwwk says:

    mea culpa.
    I meant to say the opposite in the first sentence, which i hope the rest conveys.
    I remain perplexed as to why NIXON, and not Reagan is the former recent GOP Pres. to be admired.

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  67. erichwwk says:

    While Nixon’s paranoia and ethical lapses are not to be condoned, I remain perpetually perplexed as to why Reagan, and not Nixon is the former Republican President to be admired or emulated. Nixon did get so many things right, and Reagan got so many things wrong.
    Is it Hollywood/ illusion industry, and that a glitzy packaged fantasy is preferred to a less glitzy, but more substantive, reality? That it is not the quality of a product that matters, but the extent to which the product is spun as BEING better? Does that explain why we have a health care system that ranks among the worst, but is perceived as “the best”?

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  68. Cato the Censor says:

    Nixon was clever and ruthless. Obama may have the former quality (although he hasn’t shown much sign of it lately), but has provided zero evidence that he possesses the latter quality to any degree. Nixon was a consummate, hard-nosed politician, absolutely ready to cut anyone off at the knees if he thought it would advance him or his goals. He was ready to engage in Machiavellian analysis and behavior (the real thing, not Karl Rove’s pathetic Mayberry version). The only thing Obama can think of to do is continually extend olive branches to his sworn, blood enemies (today’s extreme reactionary GOP which Nixon helped create). Why you think somone like Obama could draw from Nixon’s playbook completely escapes me. Then again, you also seem to think that the political situation in DC is still somehow salvageable.

    Reply

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