Obama on the Court in Copenhagen

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climate obama wen.jpgPresident Obama demonstrated his work-the-situation prowess in Copenhagen in which he molded a meeting planned with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who may have been trying to duck Obama, into a five way chat between the leaders of China, Brazil, India, South Africa and the United States.
When Obama is on, he really is on. Obama biographer Richard Wolffe hammered home Obama’s approach to challenges as basketball games and how he sees situations like the one he confronted in the quickly deteriorating Copenhagen scene.
I wish there were more situations — Israel/Palestine comes to mind — where he was able to get his game on, and move others to get to “yes” more frequently.
I realize that there are a lot of doubts lingering about the details and substance of the Copenhagen agreement, but what Obama achieved there in the last hours of the Summit is impressive. (Here is a pdf of the text of the Copenhagen Climate Accord.)
From Politico‘s Glenn Thrush:

A senior administration official, briefing reporters aboard Air Force One en route Andrews Air Force Base: “[T]he President said to staff, I don’t want to mess around with this anymore, I want to just talk with Premier Wen. … Our advance team called their advance team to try to set this meeting up, and in all honesty make one more chance, make one more run at getting something done.
The Chinese say they need to call our advance guys back. So it’s clear that it’s going to take some time to get this Wen meeting done. … The Chinese then call and say, can we move our 6:15 p.m. bilateral back to 7:00 p.m. And we said — we put them on hold, talked a little bit, the President walked up, the President said, move it to 7:00 p.m., I’m going back to the multilateral. … [A] couple of us start to walk up to the room where the multilat is because we had sent advance to look at the room, the room where we were going to have the China bilat and realize the room is occupied by what we think are the Chinese and we can’t get into the room to look at it.
So they come back and it sort of got our antennae up a little bit. So by the time several of us, including Denis McDonough and I, got into the multilateral room we’ve now figured out why we can’t get into that room: because that room has Wen, Lula, Singh and Zuma. They’re all having a meeting. …
“[W]e weren’t crashing a meeting; we were going for our bilateral meeting. We found the other people there. … That’s when the President walks in … ‘Are you ready for me?’ … [T]here aren’t any seats, right, I mean, I think if you’ve seen some of the pictures, there were basically no chairs. And the President says, ‘No, no, don’t worry, I’m going to go sit by my friend Lula,’ and says, ‘Hey, Lula.’ Walks over, moves a chair, sits down next to Lula. The Secretary of State sits down next to him. … [A]ll four countries that we had been trying to arrange meetings with were indeed all in the same room. … [T]he room that the meeting is being held in for our bilateral currently contains the leaders of those four countries. …
He said, ‘Good,’ on the way to walking to the meeting. … We briefed him that our 7:00 p.m. meeting is in a room currently occupied by not just the Chinese, but the three other countries. And the President’s viewpoint is, I wanted to see them all and now is our chance. … [A]ctually I think we were shown into the room, in all honesty. I think we were shown which direction to go to the room and I think there was no doubt there was some surprise that we were going to join the bigger meeting. … I want to make clear, we did not break into what we thought was a secret meeting, okay? … We were walking to meet our 7:00 p.m. appointment.”

Obama-style statecraft achieved a deal. Now, we need to see more of this in other policy arenas.
One really interesting thing that some may note is the role of National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
Recently, I asked General Jim Jones, National Security Advisor to the President, about climate change as a national security issue — and how complicated it must be to build in climate and other avant-garde modern security issues into the decision-making process. Jones has a thoughtful, sophisticated approach to broadening the voices included in policy consideration and decision making, but in his response — he intimated that he personally would not be going to Copenhagen.
The fact that McDonough as there from the National Security Council does underscore what Jones was saying — that climate change is a real national security concern, and this is reflected in the types of personnel involved.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

30 comments on “Obama on the Court in Copenhagen

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Like most jackasses of Nadine’s ilk, she just can’t seem to wrap her mind around the fact that if you fill a bubble with poison, everything in the bubble is eventually gonna die.
    Thats as complicated as the science need get. And if you can’t grasp that simple bit of science, then you should avoid the headier stuff like the plague.

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  2. Martin says:

    Nadine, THAT was your point? You could have saved us a lot of time be getting to it earlier. Your ignorance of climate science is telling. Every single statement you made about it is wrong. I just went back through your posts. Yup, every point is wrong. You’ve got the talking points DOWN!
    –Martin

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  3. nadine says:

    “But Nadine, what’s your point? That there are people who see this is a chance to accumulate power or make money? Shocking. But so what? That doesn’t undermine the need to take action or imply that it ISN’T about global warming.” (Martin)
    My point is that that the engine of this train is the drive to install transnational global regulations, which is why lack of scientific proof or evidence of global warming must not be allowed to derail the movement.
    There’s been no warming for 11 years now. What the models foretold in 1998 has not come to pass. But we are not allowed to doubt them on that account. Instead we are told daily that global warming, now rechristened “climate change,” is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow in the East, with everything cited as “proof”: heat, cold, rain, drought, storms, calm. It’s presented as an unfalsifiable thesis.
    And why? Too many careers and too much money ride on this turkey to back out now.
    The Climategate emails, and the smoking guns in the code, only lift the curtain to show science corrupted into cooking the books to serve political advocacy. The scientists will tell each other “it’s a travesty we can’t explain the lack of warming” in private, but forbid any wavering in public.

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  4. Martin says:

    But Nadine, what’s your point? That there are people who see this is a chance to accumulate power or make money? Shocking. But so what? That doesn’t undermine the need to take action or imply that it ISN’T about global warming.
    So what if Hugo Chavez uses it as a platform for his usual rhetoric. Hell, for all I know he really IS concerned about global warming. Don’t much care. The biggest contribution he is likely to make is to continue to mismanage his country’s oil resources into the dust. But by all means, keep tossing up red herrings.
    On the other hand, based on what they’re already doing, I’m pretty sure China IS concerned about climate change. Of course, they’re also very concerned about perpetuating their economic growth. (The main reason why, despite its inherent nastiness as a fuel, coal is going to be with us for some time and why we better find some to capture emissions from it.) Are they one of your “watermelons”?
    –Martin

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  5. nadine says:

    Ah, but global energy regulator is such a comfy and well-paid berth. You don’t think the watermelons (green outside, red inside) are really hopping on the bandwagon? Why did Hugo Chavez get a standing ovation, then? Is he some new environmental champion, then? Or just the same old anti-American champion?

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  6. Maritn says:

    Ahh Nadine,
    I actually don’t care why they do it. Just as long as they do it. But like I said earlier, they don’t actually need a binding international agreement. It would just make it a better system.
    The global government thing is BS promulgated by folks who want people to believe that combating climate change will be the most horribly intrusive process that will decimate economies and make us all paupers living at the whim of a global government. It’s right up there with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
    Everyone needs their conspiracy theories! Birthers, Truthers, Protocol junkies, One World Government paranoids… gotta love ’em. Just keep in mind: they really ARE out to get me,
    Cheers,
    Martin

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  7. nadine says:

    Ah Martin, you’re too innocent. This isn’t really about climate change. That’s just the current excuse. It’s about global government. The Copenhagen Accord they were supposed to sign even used those very words.

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  8. Martin says:

    It would have been rather more symbolic for Obama to have flown home to a heat wave, but never mind….
    I was chatting with someone who’s a bit of a UN-skeptic and a bit of a climate-skeptic, and he asked why it was necessary to go through all the negotiating. Why couldn’t countries just do their own thing?
    I think there are some pretty good reasons why an international agreement can make combating climate change more effective. On the other hand, the most important thing is that the major emitters do what they need to do. Ultimately, forging an agreement with the entire G77 is not immediately necessary. As much as I’d like to see a comprehensive, binding international agreement and am disappointed that we don’t seem to be close to one, I’d prefer to see something that makes it more likely for the Senate to get off its duff and take action.
    I hope that as individual more countries take unilateral action, the logic for an international agreement will become more persuasive. We just really need to see that action.
    Sigh.
    –Martin

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  9. nadine says:

    An account of the meeting from a German mag, Welt Online, as translated on smalldeadanimals blog. They say “Obama style statecraft” destroyed the chances of a real agreement:
    US President Obama Falls from the Climate Summit
    (Article introduction and summary)
    The collapse of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen is a serious defeat for US President Barack Obama at the international level. He and Chancellor Angela Merkel left before achieving a serious result. Worse, he let the Chinese make him look like a fool.
    (Article)
    His arrival was immediately followed by a pithy presentation. Right after his arrival at the conference center, he let it be known to those present: “The time for [mere] talk is over.” He would assume leadership of the negotiations.
    Together with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leaders of Russia, Brazil, Japan, the European Union and of other important countries, Obama went to work. But it did not go quite as the Nobel Peace Prize-winner had imagined. Only Norbert Röttgen, Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety remained optimistic. In spite of the tough negotiations, a compromise can be found, he said. “Today the die will be cast.”
    Instead a fiasco had begun making itself visible and felt. It began during the night of Friday and Saturday. A small group of negotiators assembled from among the 30 important and representative countries, among them Germany, were still discussing the main features and principles to be included in a twelve-point document. It was titled “The Copenhagen Accord” and consisted of a three-page collection of vague aims, without specific legally-binding goals that were to be achieved.
    Although China is among the worst climate polluters and has had a long ascent in becoming an industrial power deserving of respect and recognition, Premier Wen Jiabao was not among the participants in the talks-not that his participation was not desired. To the contrary!
    According to rumors in the Bella Center, US President Barack Obama at about 11 PM, had impatiently asked to speak with Wen Jiabao in order to advance the discussion. But Obama had to wait. Wen, who, it was rumored, had rarely left his hotel room, could not be found. Finally, the US delegation located him in a room set aside for negotiations. A visibly furious Obama, according to reports, stormed into the room. “Are you now ready to talk with me, Premier Wen?” he was reported to have shouted. “Are you now ready? Premier Wen, are you now ready to talk with me?” What a scene for a US president.
    Wen was not alone in the room at the time when Obama quite literally burst into the room, according to participants. At the time, the Premier was in a conversation with India’s head of state, Mammohan Singh and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. Suddenly the group saw itself forced into a conversation with the US president.
    At the insistence of the impatient Obama, this unplanned and coincidentally-assembled negotiating round and participants, agreed on a minimal compromise.
    Obama should have discussed, coordinated with and agreed to this compromise with his closest partners: the European Union or the G77 Developing Nations. Instead, at about 10:25 PM, he called together a number of American journalists for an impromptu press conference. There he announced, the “Copenhagen Accord” as the conclusion and product of the two-week long conference. He was aware, that many countries would consider the result as insufficient and unsatisfactory. More, however, was not achievable.
    He thought it a significant achievement and milestone that large developing countries like India and China had, for the first time, recognized the necessity of reducing emissions and accepted to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
    With that, he packed his bags and flew home. Chancellor Angela Merkel also left and went back to Berlin. Both left Copenhagen without having achieved a clear result. And, what is even more serious, without having bothered about a follow-on to what had been announced as an historic conference. Dealing with climate was left to others. It was a serious mistake that would soon make itself manifest.
    Even while Obama and Merkel were on their way home, late during the night, the EU Commission, even as they gnashed their teeth, declared themselves prepared to accept Obama’s minimum compromise. Unlike the Europeans, many African nations were not prepared to follow. At the plenary session, Sudan’s head, Lumumba Di-Aping was beside himself. No one is entitled to destroy Africa said the Sudanese who was the spokesman for the G77 Developing Nations. He said the document would mean the death of millions. Finally, Di-Aping aroused outrage in the main meeting hall by comparing the accord to the Holocaust.
    The Pacific island-states also declined to agree to the Obama document. With an eye toward the promised $30 billion in aid mentioned in the final document, the president of the Maldives declared he was not prepared to sell-out his islands for “30 pieces of silver.”
    The erratic and unfocused-appearing Danish president, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, at 8 AM declared that he, as president of the 193 nation-conference, could not agree to the Copenhagen Accord.
    One final last-minute attempt was made to avert the total failure of the climate conference. For that reason, a negotiating session was announced. After hectic bilateral talks, at 10:30 AM, the conference agreed to “recognize the existence of” the Obama Document. With this lowest-level of diplomatic recognition, the outright rejection of the compromise by the United Nations was narrowly avoided. But no more.
    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/012940.html

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  10. samuelburke says:

    “What happened in Copenhagen? The answer is: not much. Facing a
    very real possibility of complete failure — a two-year buildup to a
    cacophonous conference that ended in de facto deadlock — a
    select group of major powers cobbled together a non-binding
    “agreement” to undertake various purely voluntary actions, aimed
    at an arbitrary target for limiting future atmospheric warming. As
    Greenpeace noted on its Twitter page: “2 years planning, 2 weeks
    negotiating = worse than half-assed deal in the last 2 hours.
    Climate change you can believe in.” And I assume you didn’t
    missed the symbolism of Obama leaving the conference a day early
    so he could get back to Washington before it snowed.”
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/12/21/what_happened_
    in_copenhagen

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  11. Tosk59 says:

    OK, so the President ended up with probably as good an agreement as was possible, but if you read the plane briefing by the “senior administration official” I am not sure how you get President Obama as “really on”
    First, for flying across the world on what could be the biggest challenge facing the planet, it all sounded “very seat of the pants” (“we should meet in a group of three with Lula of Brazil, Singh of India, and Zuma of South Africa”)!
    Then they can’t pull it off (“… Brazil tells us that they don’t know if they can come because they want the Indians to come…” & “… we were told Singh was at the airport…”). Somehow **China** gets the group together when the U.S. couldn’t and they meet and hammer out the accord…
    http://www.ph2dot1.com/2009/12/saving-day_20.html

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  12. Martin says:

    I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks that the agreement reached in Copenhagen is the final solution. But I think some kind of agreement there is necessary for mitigation efforts to move forward on a national level in the US. Imagine how much harder it would be to get legislation through the Senate if absolutely nothing had come out of Copenhagen….
    There’s still a long way to go, but at least the US is back on the path. I hope.
    Cheers,
    Martin

    Reply

  13. MarkL says:

    Here’s something about the provenance on HCR.
    http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2009/4/21/key-us-senate-leaders-confirm-timeline-for-health-care-reform.aspx?topic=health%20care%20reform
    “In a letter to President Obama Monday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) confirmed their respective panels’ plans to mark up separate health care overhaul bills in June, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/20). ”
    This proves the first point I made, about Baucus not being the only choice.
    I don’t care to google any further, but it is my firm recollection that Obama is the one who singled out Baucus as the one whose plan would be the benchmark for the final bill.
    Only someone who has not been paying attention for the last 6 months could not be aware of this history.

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  14. MarkL says:

    A couple of points, Richard.
    First, I don’t believe you are correct that only the finance committee could have written the bill.
    Second, Obama unduly singled out Baucus over the summer, giving him extra influence. Why not talk about the importance of the House bill, and the need to satisfy the progressive bloc, for example?
    Or, instead of saying one million times how important President Olympia Snowe’s vote is, Obama could have tried praising some Democrats.
    Not once was a Blue Dog chastised by the White House, that I can recall, over the progress and content of the health care bill.
    By the way, the original plan was to have a bill at the end of summer and then use reconciliation, if necessary, to create a final bill (Obama himself mentioned reconciliation 6 months ago).
    The primary reason we won’t see reconciliation is that Baucus stalled so much—with full White House approval, IMO.
    If you assume that Obama’s intent has been to create health care reform (I don’t), his approach for the last six months was guaranteed to fail.
    In my opinion, the “we need one Republican Senator for a bipartisan bill” refrain was simply a cloak for the actual intention of molding the bill to favor the moribund health insurance industry over the interests of patients.
    Lastly, I think the politics of implementation are exactly backwards—that is, I don’t believe Obama and the Democrats are insulated from the political repercussions of the bill because it doesn’t take effect until 2013.
    It seems to me that the mandates PLUS the excise tax on so-called “cadillac plans” (which many middle class people have) will make the plan unpopular enough to really hurt the Democrats next year.
    “Cadillac” health care insurance—like the fable of the Cadillac driving welfare queen—those words should not be used by Democrats.
    But then, what do you expect from a man who openly reveres Reagan and derides Clinton?
    If you don’t have high blood pressure, read what Obama
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec09/obama_07-20.html said last July.
    How does
    “PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I said during the campaign — when this was raised by John McCain, he had proposed to eliminate completely the exclusion on the taxation of health benefits. I had said that this would be the wrong way to go because it would be too disruptive. Essentially employers would stop providing health care. John McCain had suggested everybody gets a tax credit, but the concern was that the tax credit wouldn’t be sufficient to actually buy health insurance on the market. So I am still opposed to that and would veto a bill if that was the approach.
    What’s being talked about now, I understand, is the possibility of penalizing insurance companies who are offering super, gold-plated, Cadillac plans. I haven’t seen the details of this yet, but it may be an approach that doesn’t put additional burdens on middle-class families. My whole goal is not to add burdens to folks who are already having tough times affording insurance, but actually to relieve it. And so I’ve got to look at the details of that before I make any kind of final determination.

    square with the current proposals?
    It’s not just the excise tax, Robert “Osama” Gibbs
    was on TV this morning explaining helpfully that health insurance costs would be capped at 8% of total income. Wow!! And will he let them eat cake too?
    I don’t think Obama is out of touch, btw—he’s a corrupt plutocrat who is filling his campaign chests with promises from the insurance and pharamceutical industries as he straps down the middle class with extra burdens through a plan whose excise tax may REDUCE access to health insurance, according to the CBO.
    But heck, if you want to defend Obama, be my guest. He needs it.

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  15. RichardS says:

    MarkL,
    You criticize Obama’s healthcare strategy saying “Putting Baucus in charge of writing the Senate bill was another clue”. Baucus was chosen by the Senate Democrats to be chair of the Finance committee which clearly had to produce a healthcare reform bill. Are you suggesting that Obama should have ordered Reid to replace Baucus by Bernie Sanders or Tom Harkin?
    Your criticism reminds me of Sir Hugh Foot, British Governor of Cyprus, who was criticized for the slow pace of settlement talks. He said “Anyone who thinks there is a simple solution to the Cyprus problem merely proves they do not understand the Cyprus problem”.

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  16. samuelburke says:

    Ultimately the science ought to be the deciding factor that
    determines the validity of the climategate issue. But the
    measure of success seems to be– how many people can we get
    to believe some faux climate data.
    lets just expose all the science to the disinfectant light of truth.
    lets listen to the heretics as well as to the faithful and determine
    where the truth lies.
    Phil Jones resignation and michael mann being investigated at
    penn did not come about because the science was flawless.
    if the science honestly points to warming or freezing then
    humanity will be willing to move forward with some plan.
    but when the entire process becomes a political tour de force
    with its main aim to propagate false information to get the
    people to believe a lie to then get congress to rubber stamp the
    laws which will bring about the taxation which is at the heart of
    the matter, how can “we the people” not question this project.
    and how audacious are those of you who question anyone who
    questions the climate warming/change project.
    is it elitism that causes you to be so haughty…or is it your
    superior wisdom and knowledge?
    panem et circences.

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  17. angellight says:

    Pres. Obama on Copenhagan Accord:
    “I don’t know how you have an international agreement where you don’t share information and ensure we are meeting our commitments. That doesn’t make sense. That would be a hollow victory.” President Barack Obama also stated: “For the first time in history,” Mr. Obama said, “all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.”’
    _____________________
    The accord provides a system for monitoring and reporting progress toward those national pollution-reduction goals, a compromise on an issue over which China bargained hard. It calls for hundreds of billions of dollars to flow from wealthy nations to those countries most vulnerable to a changing climate. And it sets a goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2050, implying deep cuts in climate-altering emissions over the next four decades.
    Some environmental groups gave a cautious nod of approval to the agreement as a good start.”
    ‘“The world’s nations have come together and concluded a historic — if incomplete — agreement to begin tackling global warming,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. “Tonight’s announcement is but a first step and much work remains to be done in the days and months ahead in order to seal a final international climate deal that is fair, binding and ambitious. It is imperative that negotiations resume as soon as possible.”
    Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and lead author of the Senate’s climate change bill, said the accord would drive the Congress to pass climate change legislation early next year.
    “This can be a catalyzing moment,” he said. “President Obama’s hands-on engagement broke through the bickering and sets the stage for a final deal and for Senate passage this spring of major legislation at home.”‘
    Some fail to Recognize or even take hope in this small beginning — even a tree starts as a seed! After all President Bush did nothing on climate change for 8 years. At least a beginning is being made!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/19/science/earth/19climate.html?_r=1

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  18. Warren Metzler says:

    This is how legends get made. There is nothing about that
    agreement that any practical substance. Once again Barack has
    conned people into accepting that a document with quite
    obtuse wording is a clear and unequivocal statement. Given
    that wording, no one had to change a single real position from
    before; the collections of which were proving impossible to
    arrive at an agreement.
    Isn’t it obvious to all by now, that Barack has not an ounce of
    integrity in his body, it is all about words and posturing, and
    acting in a way that attempts to please all who are considered
    to be important????
    The Palestine / Israel situation takes courage, character, willing
    to insist on a very unpopular series of actions, calling a spade a
    spade. None of which are present in the real personality of
    President Obama.

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  19. JohnH says:

    Copenhagen, Health Care, Financial Reform, Iraq Withdrawal, Afghanistan–we’re all on pins and needles: ‘is there any there?’ Basketball analogies are fine–well executed pick and rolls, nice drive down the lane, great hand in the face. It’s fine to “accept the challenge, but can BO finish? Can he make stops and score?
    IMHO BO may go down in history not for his basketball skills, but as the world’s greatest paper hanger. He appears to have a consummate ability to paper over anything and not accomplish anything!

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  20. Steve Clemons says:

    KOTZ… Not a bad response actually. Look forward to debating soon.
    Happy holidays!
    All best,
    Steve

    Reply

  21. kotzabasis says:

    What a mockery of prowess Clemons makes when he measures its depth with Obama’s “work-the-situation” and “basket ball” games. Obama has irretrievably failed in all his major foreign policies; in the Middle East, as Clemons himself indicates, in his diplomatic overture to Iran, and now in his Copenhagen Climate Accord sans substance and which is no more than a political statement with no bindings. Yet Clemons considers it to be an “impressive” achievement by Obama. Clemons with his “hybrid” realism, to use his term, which like all hybrids is barren, and with his inexorable wishful thinking politics has yet to realize that Obama is one of the most weak and ineffectual presidents and a crashing failure in the sphere of foreign policy if not totally in domestic policy.
    And in regards to Copenhagen, Clemons should bear in mind that an alternative to nothing is worse than nothing. Or better still take heed of King Lear that “nothing comes out of nothing.”

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  22. MarkL says:

    JohnS,
    I think a key difference between Clinton and Obama is that Bill Clinton was very wonky and actually understood economic issues very well.
    I don’t see evidence of that level of understanding from Obama; I believe his economic policy will depend on who has his ear.
    Again, in foreign policy he seems to be in command, even though I don’t agree with his AfPak policy.

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  23. DonS says:

    Gleen Greenwald has an interesting post on Obama’s governing style, a continuation of Clintonian/DLC practice, that many call “corporatism”, running the government, domestic, foreign and military policy, to benefit corporations, not the rest of us.
    Interesting on a number of levels and with regard to the spectrum of issues. But in relation to this post and the topic of climate change, thinking in my own simplistic way, if Obama views the issues surrounding climate change through a “corporatist” lens, there is no way we can count on there being either transparency in the policy arena, or goals that represent anywhere near best science.
    If we think the health care issue polarizes large corporations from the rest of us (the ‘health insurance reform’ legislation), how much more so with regard to the wide and deep reach of meaningful climate policy and legislation?
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/12/18/corporatism/index.html
    I’m not trying to be particularly hard on Obama and certainly will support positives when I see them (which by the way, except for not being Bush, I haven’t seen many), but he is the only president we have and my concern for the well being of this country and planet far outweighs my concern for Obama’s image. If you aren’t sick by now of having all the important issues of the day being subject to the caveat of “political realities” than I guess I’m just pissing in the wind. It’s too comfortable an excuse for folks who were elected to govern in the name of the people, not cower, much less be in bed with, moneyed interests.

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  24. Steve Clemons says:

    JohnH — What is behind my praise of Obama is that the consequences of absolutely nothing coming out of Copenhagen would be really quite terrible — and while some purists would argue that that is better than the non-binding agreement that emerged, I just see it differently. Things were bad in Copenhagen — very bleak.
    China is full of swagger all of a sudden. Previous deals that the US administration thought it had in approximate form with China were unwinding. I think that this is a case in which Obama showed his ability to stop a disaster, pull in general consensus of major developing nations, including India. And he outran Wen Jiaobao sort of.
    I am not a climate change purist as I have never been enthusiastic about doing health care and climate while the economy was flat on its back — but these were “defining challenges” the administration accepted….and given the other possible scenarios on the table this week, I think Obama got to the very best one realistically available. Those who had higher expectations probably don’t agree — but that is why I am giving Obama praise today.
    Some are challenging me on other blogs — but serioiusly, the US went it with very little, pushed the needle forward a bit, and stopped a full collpase of the process. I think that deserves some applause and support.
    best to you and all for the holidays,
    steve

    Reply

  25. MarkL says:

    David Mercanus,
    I think Obama may be doing well in the foreign policy area; however, it is not too early to judge him on domestic policy.
    The White House clearly was coordinating to kill off progressive elements of health care reform.
    In fact, the very fact Obama used the words “health insurance reform” was enough to clue me in. Putting Baucus in charge of writing the Senate bill was another clue.
    Obama acted on the insurance companies’ side in IL; he is doing the same as President, predictably.
    What else could you expect from Joe Lieberman’s mentee?

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  26. JohnH says:

    I’d love to know what’s behind Steve’s flattery of BO.
    I hold my praise until I actually know what came down.

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  27. David Mercanus says:

    Copenhagen actually is a necessary and productive step. (see http://www.climateprogress.org) It has not “failed.” Expectations were way too high, as they always are when people fail to understand the incremental nature of progress in human history. Yep. Throughout history.
    And Steve, of course, Obama, like any human, can deliver sometimes, but sometimes he can’t.
    Too many people on the left think that just because he can do some things phenomenally well some of the time, he can do *everything* and get miraculous policy results, regardless of systemic and procedural roadblocks…which just happen to be colossal in this world.
    I call for a realism of expectations with respect to Obama, both on domestic and foreign issues. I think he’s doing a very good job in an extremely difficult job. Wishers for magical results will be disappointed.

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  28. DonS says:

    Obama “had to beg for a meeting” according to this from Americablog:
    http://www.americablog.com/2009/12/ambinder-obama-lied-to-by-allies-at.html
    Same meeting, different view? Obamaspin?
    I look forward to a more extensive followup than the “tweet” on which the link is based.
    But having seen too much name calling by the Obama’s WH staff’s performance recently, fundamental trust is wearing thin. Their obvious disdain for progressives aside, one wonders if the WH is in general disarray; hence bring on the optics gurus to work overtime.
    If a health care bill of any shape is voted out one wonders if this will further encourage the spinmeisters in the sow’s ear department. The topics seem limitless.

    Reply

  29. MarkL says:

    Clearly, it was not realistic to get an agreement with enforcement mechanisms at this date.
    What matters is how this sets up a framework for future negotiations.
    Have they set a date for a next meeting; was there any agreement on possible enforcement measures to implement in the future, for example

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