Get PJ Media on your Apple

Belmont Club

When Summers is Gone

September 17th, 2013 - 2:35 pm

When you can do no wrong, you can do no wrong. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum writes that despite President Obama’s widely advertised debacles “Syria is a very minor blip in the course of US Foreign Policy”.

American credibility has barely been scratched. Our foreign policy is intact; the rest of the world is pretty clear on what it is; and our reluctance to engage in military action one time out of dozens of opportunities simply doesn’t change anyone’s view of American power. If a congressional repudiation of a president happened over and over, that would change some views. But once? Please.

Obama’s leadership chops have likewise barely been scratched.

The same message is sent by Max Fisher at the Washington Post: “Why Obama’s indecisive, wishy-washy Syria strategy is actually working”. The reason for its success, Fisher believes, is because Obama proved himself to be so irrational that his foes are actually treating him like a mentally handicapped monster child.  They both fear him and yet are determined to talk him out of his candy.

In the United States, all we saw was Obama’s inability to commit to a single strategy on Syria, whether strikes or diplomacy, which certainly looked like weakness. But maybe Moscow and Damascus saw it differently, reading it as Obama’s inability to fully back down from strikes. That unpredictability may have put Putin and Assad on the back foot. They didn’t know what Obama was going to do — that doubt is called an “information problem,” because they didn’t have all the information necessary to decide how to act — and were thus forced to tread a bit more cautiously.

More to the point, the wishy-washy U.S. strategy encouraged Russia and Syria to negotiate. It’s easy to imagine both Putin and Assad concluding that because Obama was uncertain, he was also persuadable. And that gave them a big incentive to try to persuade him.

Think Progress dismisses any talk of damage and triumphantly proclaims that polls indicate a plurality sees Obama’s vacillation as “‘leadership and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances,’ rather than ‘weakness’”. Indeed the only danger facing the country, as Mother Jones already pointed out, is the clenched and constipated Republican Congress which alone might have “repudiated” a president and weakened him. But never fear, the comeuppance of those old white guys will be shortly forthcoming since Greg Sargent is reporting that “the big story this fall will be divisions within the GOP”.

Sargent says “high profile pundits such as Albert Hunt and Stuart Rothenberg” who predict the Syria crisis could weaken his ability to handle domestic politics and have repercussions in the debt limit and government shutdown fights are wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary the real story Sargent believes, is that the GOP is on the point of collapse.

GOP obstructionism of Obama’s agenda has in many ways been unprecedented, and the party’s conservative wing is both asymmetrically radical while wielding outsized control over the party, thanks in part to GOP lawmakers’ fear of primary challenges and other structural factors. The main storyline this fall will turn on whether GOP leaders can figure out a way to overcome this, now that it has veered out of their control. Not much else matters.

In that Sargent might be right. But the Democratic Party is not looking too healthy either, as the saga of Larry Summers shows. David Graham at The Atlantic describes how “a Small Team of Democrats defeated Larry Summers—and Obama” by taking advantage of his political weakness. The “small team” consisted of radical feminists out to get him for voicing his doubts over feminine math aptitudes, the left wing and Wall Street factions. The money factions feared he would cut back on easy credit. The result was that this “small team” joined forces to block Obama from getting enough votes in his own party to carry Summers. Facing certain rejection, the former president of Harvard withdrew his nomination.  Graham rhetorically asked whether this were not revolt and political strongarming.

Yet on Syria and now on Summers, Senate and House leaders have shown themselves unwilling or unable to unify their caucus behind the president. … what does this say about the state of discipline in the Democratic Party?

No of course not. How could it be strongarming? Strongarming is merely “dissent” when it’s done by the left. In fact, getting strongarmed is one of Obama’s talents too. Ezra Klein writes that “something very strange has been happening during President Obama’s second term. It’s called dissent. And, unusually for a chief executive, Obama is letting it — even inviting it — to get in his way.”

The other word for finding yourself on the ropes 3 minutes out of every round is letting yourself get pushed around. And that’s a feature in Obama’s leadership style, never a bug. One of the prime examples of pushing around is Ezra Klein’s hectoring piece “Five reasons Obama should name Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve”. Klein basically lectures to the President. He examines the ostensible “reasons” for Summers.

There are two reasons Yellen might not be named to the Federal Reserve. One is that President Obama or his key advisers think she would do a bad job. The other is that the White House feels that nominating her would be a dangerous capitulation — it would show they could be pushed around by liberal Democrats.

Klein then dismisses them and gives 5 reasons why Obama should appoint someone he doesn’t want to appoint.

1) She’d be the most qualified Federal Reserve chair in memory.
2) She got the big calls right.
3) We still need someone who cares — and cares a lot — about unemployment.
4) She’s a consensus pick — at least outside the White House.
5) It’s time to shatter the glass ceiling.

One can’t help wondering why, if the President were so smart, he never thought of Klein’s points himself. Or to what extent Klein wrote those talking points personally and to what degree they were generated by, as he so delicately puts it, “a consensus”?  I have never had a high opinion of Obama’s competence, but I have never been able to do what MSM effortlessly accomplishes: simultaneously extol his brilliance while vilifying him an imbecile at one and the same time. Yet the Democratic Left Wing by its behavior is essentially manifesting what they actually believe: demonstrating how weak Obama has become even while they shout about how ‘strong’ he is.

The Business Insider predicted this would happen before it happened. “The Larry Summers Nomination Could Be In Trouble Thanks To Syria”. And so it proved. Weakness begets weakness. Larry Summers got into trouble because of Syria. Similarly Syria may now be in trouble because of Larry Summers. It’s a shrinking position. President Obama is husbanding his dwindling strength to hold the one perimeter he cares about most — no not the one with Red Lines — but the money perimeter, of course. Obama wants the power to keep on borrowing, debt limit or no and is setting up his final protective fires.

President Barack Obama said in an interview which aired on Sunday that he “will not negotiate” on the debt ceiling with the GOP.

“What I haven’t been willing to negotiate, and I will not negotiate, is on the debt ceiling,” Obama told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on “This Week.” …

“If we continue to set a precedent in which a president … is in a situation in which each time the United States is called upon to pay its bills, the other party can simply sit there and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to put – pay the bills unless you give us … what we want,’ that changes the constitutional structure of this government entirely,” Obama said.

Ready the fougasse. Set the Claymores. Check the machine guns at each end of the squad. In this one fight the whole of the liberal establishment will likely back him. They are therefore burnishing his accomplishments and beating his political chest even as they make off with whatever isn’t nailed down before Obama loses his grip entirely.  It’s fascinating to watch. The Left Wing of the Democratic Party is making hay while the daylight remains But that is a sure indicator their eye is fixed on the setting sun.

Obama is the now become the Black Knight and Tokyo Rose of politics. His injuries however severe are dismissed with the “’tis only a flesh wound” remark.  And as for his foreign setbacks, the media is reprising that hoary Imperial Japanese Navy bulletin about sinking the entire Third Fleet — totalling 31 aircraft carriers, 57 battleships, 133 cruisers and 516 destroyers — then announcing that the pitiful USN remainder was withdrawing in the direction of Japan.

But that tall tale unlikely to work. At least not with Putin and the “small team” that is savaging him.  Already Obama has asked to see the Iranian President to talk about a nuclear settlement. Obama says the Iranian reached out to him. The Iranian says Obama reached out to him. Which do you suppose is true?


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
****Monkey2111**** 3 hours ago

While I am not a heavy drinker, I am not teetotal. And I do enjoy FIREFLY and SERENITY; despite the fact that Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion by their own public statements would be far more supportive towards the Alliance [and today's Obama administration] than the series would indicate. I lean more Browncoat.

But my theme, such as I have one as I scribble here and elsewhere, is not in favor of intoxication and adding to the two gentlemen's residuals income. More and more I am seeing that the institutions that stabilized and protected our society and the liberty therein are no longer functioning. The words are there, the forms are there; but the content is gone. And breaching those words and forms is far more common than their observance.

Those who rule us [and the word is carefully chosen in lieu of "govern" which implies a level of consent not evident] regardless of which section of Codavilla's Governing Class they hail from do not believe in the words, forms, and content. Which means they all push them beyond their breaking strain. The result inevitably is going to be a societal collapse, or a dictatorship, or maybe both.

Unless the Governing Class can be replaced by those who believe in the ethos that is summed up in the Constitution and Declaration, and who will act on it; the result is inevitable. So we have a choice of replacing that Governing Class with Constitutionalists, or preparing for a longer game somewhat akin to Hari Seldon's FOUNDATION that tried to create the conditions for a better future to arise.

Looking at the level of corruption at all levels, including in the voting process; redeeming the Constitutional dream by electoral means does not seem possible. When Leftist areas routinely have more registered voters than people, and the number of voters routinely exceeds the number of registered voters, all on one side; voting is somewhat ineffective. When the Left can at will create boxes of ballots after the election and get them counted until they win, voting is somewhat ineffective. When the purported alternative to the Democrats has signed a Federal Court consent decree promising not to oppose vote fraud anywhere in the country at any time [US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, Case No. 09-4615], voting is somewhat ineffective.

All of the mechanisms for the imposition of a police state, especially domestic spying, but including routine use of the coercive organs of the state against political opponents are already in place. Will they be able to successfully impose it? Well, the issue is in doubt. Americans have surprised tyrants before, but we may not be the American of old.

So why do I stay involved in politics, given that the game is rigged? Not because I believe that electoral means will be our salvation [or rather the salvation of my descendents as I don't have that many more years to live]. I admit to a level of cynicism about our politics that is breathtaking. What I would like to see is the birth of a real political opposition; because we have no real opposition now. We have no SECOND party in this country. If that movement is born I can then go to my grave with the hope that someday, someone will remember the Constitution; and sparks will be fanned back to life.

Prepare for hard times, because they are coming whether we want it or not. That does not mean give up. That means try to live and pass your values to the future for a better day.

YMMV

Subotai Bahadur
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
The progressive lefties actually do believe their own schtick. They DO believe that the economy is improving, peace is about to break out like never before, that equality will soon reign supreme, that guns will be eventually removed from America's streets much less their homes, and that finally, the international problem of global warming will be solved. They REALLY, really believe like Obama, that the GOP devised "scandals" are actually "GOP obstructionism of Obama’s agenda [that is] in many ways ... unprecedented", to turn a phrase.

And why should they not? They have no kids at war, nor will they EVER have kids at such risk (well, most of them don't even bother to have kids ..). They have not suffered unemployment, nor lost their home to foreclosure (that's just for the losers, the "little people" who can't manage their own affairs), and the last 5 years have been the rosiest in their memories. Think California, where anything and everything can be voted as law and rubber stamped by their Governor - ANYTHING. The constitutions (US and Californian) matter not, any whim of theirs becomes law. How cool is that for a progressive out to change man's destiny? "Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool", as Paul Begala once observed.

All of these little "crises" around the world are largely abstract to Obama's progressives in any case. Syria is merely an academic discussion; who lives or dies there doesn't really matter in their "real world". Who "wins" politically in the USA is their only relevant focus.

As for the Fed, the main criteria they care about in regards to new leadership is that "social justice" concept. As long as the person nominated fights for social justice using the power of the US Treasury and unbounded power of the Fed to regulate money, how could poverty not finally be solved. After all, the money problem will be finally solved, i.e. they'll just print enough so that the needy, both the poor and the progressive special interests, all get enough of that good green $tuff!

That is the scary thing about the Obama progressives. They are true believers. They will sacrifice anyone else's son, daughter, house, home, freedom, or last US dollar, to fulfill the progressive destiny of that land called America.

/end rant

O.S.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
So the Russians thought Obama is a fruitcake, got worried and capitulated by asking for negotiatons? Is that right?

Anyone who has played defence in a contact sport knows that the only productive kind of nuttiness is to spend the first ten minutes of the game convincing the opposing forwards that you are a psycho. That deeply intellectual strategy backfires in an embarrassing heartbeat if the other team has a genuine psycho on the field.

Obama can't do psycho. All he can do is fruitcake. Iran can do psycho.

Leftism will never go away but it's going to have an awful time explaining itself in the next few years and may even collapse temporarily. Meanwhile the worthless Republican Party needs to collapse too. Maybe the Leftists and the Republican Party will collapse sobbing into each others arms while somebody else starts to fix the broken political system.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (76)
All Comments   (76)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Benghazi hearing Panel 2, the parents of the fallen.

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/315067-2

Listen for the Ring of TRUTH.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Note that all but 2 of the Democrats left the hearing, refusing to listen. Kind of tell you all you need to know.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tells... I sure miss editing.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Benghazi hearing

Jason Chaffetz noted we never asked NATO partners for help. Apparently the Italians had 50 Tornados within 30 minutes.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now Assad wants $1B for his chemical weapons.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/19/us-syria-usa-fox-weapons-idUSBRE98H1AU20130919

Yo, Assad, ask Putin for the money. Oil prices are high, he should be rolling in the dough. And Russia armed you with them in the first place. Tell Putin to recycle his own products.

Assad is such a piker though! Obama's cronies already got $1B in tax credits from Solyndra.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/obama-donor-gained-nearly-1-billion-in-tax-credits-in-solyndra-bankruptcy/article/2536031?utm_campaign=Fox News&utm_source=foxnews.com&utm_medium=feed

"The DOE could have canceled the Solyndra loan then and cut the taxpayers’ losses at the $440 million previously disbursed to the company. Instead, DOE told Solyndra the government would “forbear” its right to cancel the contract as long as Solyndra complied with certain federal regulations on compensation for its employees.

At this point, the largest private backer of Solyndra, Argonaut Private Equity (owned by Obama donor George Kaiser of Tulsa, Okla.), demanded that DOE restructure the original loan agreement or they would take the company into bankruptcy.

Kaiser’s demand got the attention of Frances Nwachuku, DOE’s director of portfolio management for the loan programs office. Nwachuku offered to modify the original loan agreement to ensure Argonaut would be the first creditor in line – ahead of U.S. taxpayers – should Solyndra file for bankruptcy.

This type of agreement happens all the time in the private sector. But private-sector financing is not controlled by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The DOE’s loan guarantee program is.

Section 1702(d)(3) of that law clearly states, "The obligation shall be subject to the condition that the obligation is not subordinate to other financing."

In other words, the taxpayers must come before any other creditors, which made Nwachuku’s offer illegal. The day after Nwachuku’s offer, DOE Chief Counsel Susan Richardson told DOE General Counsel Scott Blake Harris they needed to talk “as soon as possible.”
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
MachiasPrivateer said:

"Assad is such a piker though! Obama's cronies already got $1B in tax credits from Solyndra."

This morning I was wondering to myself: "Who is worst? The Islamic fascists or Wall Street criminals?"

The Islamic fascists want to murder me because I do not believe in their version of the Easter bunny. Wall Street criminals want to strip me of all assets and leave me naked in the snow. To add to the confusion: Wall Street criminals would like to have me distracted by Islamic fascists while they steal everything I own. Truth to tell, I am much more likely to be ripped off by Wall Street criminals than murdered by Islamic fascists.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh Nooooo..... Our Dear Leader has been embarrassed again.

seems that Lurch negotiated that Assad needs to come up with a list of his CW by Saturday (some say Friday). Oops, turns out that ain't gonna happen. Who would have thunk that?

So our state dept now has backtracked to 'wanting to see forward movement' or some such enabling. I 'm shocked! Who could have seen that coming? Pretty soon we will be enabled down to pissing in the wind. But the story is off the headlines - so "mission accomplished".

Meanwhile, some important peeps - former SecDefs Gates and Panetta under Dear Leader, have each taken a big dump on the miracle , landmark agreement. Talk about wandering off the reservation! Is there no loyalty anymore? Can't link - from my stupid iPhone.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin and Assad are treating Kerry and Obama the same way Holder and Obama are treating the U. S. House. Both ways of doing business lead to chaos.

"Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!"
General George S. Patton
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lickspittles, all.

Meanwhile, there's this: Local TV station broke story that the DC Capitol SWAT team were ordered by their watch commander to stand down WHILE the Navy Yard massacre was in progress, and despite pleas from the Metro PD for help:

http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/275371/498/EXCLUSIVE-SWAT-Team-left-Navy-Yard

Despicable.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Duh!1 is an idiot. At best.
Read 'The marching moroons...."
....and his Clown Shoes are showing
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment


Subotai Bahadur,
If I may, your 599 words of elegant prose may be summed up in exactly three.

Senator Al Franken.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Minnesota has elected some real winners:

Governor James George Janos -- AKA Jesse Ventura.
Governor Mark Dayton -- AKA Mumbles
Congressman Keith Ellison

And it looks like a real winner running for Mayor of Minneapolis:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420320/Jeffrey-Alan-Wagner-Minneapolis-mayoral-candidate-promises-strip-clubs-anymore.html

Minneapolis has a candidate for Mayor that
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
****Monkey2111**** 3 hours ago

While I am not a heavy drinker, I am not teetotal. And I do enjoy FIREFLY and SERENITY; despite the fact that Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion by their own public statements would be far more supportive towards the Alliance [and today's Obama administration] than the series would indicate. I lean more Browncoat.

But my theme, such as I have one as I scribble here and elsewhere, is not in favor of intoxication and adding to the two gentlemen's residuals income. More and more I am seeing that the institutions that stabilized and protected our society and the liberty therein are no longer functioning. The words are there, the forms are there; but the content is gone. And breaching those words and forms is far more common than their observance.

Those who rule us [and the word is carefully chosen in lieu of "govern" which implies a level of consent not evident] regardless of which section of Codavilla's Governing Class they hail from do not believe in the words, forms, and content. Which means they all push them beyond their breaking strain. The result inevitably is going to be a societal collapse, or a dictatorship, or maybe both.

Unless the Governing Class can be replaced by those who believe in the ethos that is summed up in the Constitution and Declaration, and who will act on it; the result is inevitable. So we have a choice of replacing that Governing Class with Constitutionalists, or preparing for a longer game somewhat akin to Hari Seldon's FOUNDATION that tried to create the conditions for a better future to arise.

Looking at the level of corruption at all levels, including in the voting process; redeeming the Constitutional dream by electoral means does not seem possible. When Leftist areas routinely have more registered voters than people, and the number of voters routinely exceeds the number of registered voters, all on one side; voting is somewhat ineffective. When the Left can at will create boxes of ballots after the election and get them counted until they win, voting is somewhat ineffective. When the purported alternative to the Democrats has signed a Federal Court consent decree promising not to oppose vote fraud anywhere in the country at any time [US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, Case No. 09-4615], voting is somewhat ineffective.

All of the mechanisms for the imposition of a police state, especially domestic spying, but including routine use of the coercive organs of the state against political opponents are already in place. Will they be able to successfully impose it? Well, the issue is in doubt. Americans have surprised tyrants before, but we may not be the American of old.

So why do I stay involved in politics, given that the game is rigged? Not because I believe that electoral means will be our salvation [or rather the salvation of my descendents as I don't have that many more years to live]. I admit to a level of cynicism about our politics that is breathtaking. What I would like to see is the birth of a real political opposition; because we have no real opposition now. We have no SECOND party in this country. If that movement is born I can then go to my grave with the hope that someday, someone will remember the Constitution; and sparks will be fanned back to life.

Prepare for hard times, because they are coming whether we want it or not. That does not mean give up. That means try to live and pass your values to the future for a better day.

YMMV

Subotai Bahadur
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for your eloquent reply. I've often enjoyed your posts, I hope you understand my tongue-in-cheek comment was a reaction to your ability to create in the reader, the emotional understanding of the logic you use. It's a rare gift, one I wish I had.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
No problem at all. Just riffing off of the irony of Whedon and Fillion being more politically comfortable as Alliance functionaries. And then my usual meanderings. Thanks for the compliment. Long ago, when the world was new, someone suggested a motto for a putative coat of arms for me: "Pedantic, Verbose, Irascible" I like to think I've gotten a little better than that.

Subotai Bahadur
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you think about it, it took anywhere from several hundred to perhaps 1800 years for 1776 to arrive. Even then, the constitutional republic was not really secure until after 1812 at earliest, or arguably, 1865.

If the current franchise is lost, even with today's quarter-year technology cycles, one should expect it will be DECADES, or 10's OF DECADES before "America" is replaced with something equal to what was lost.

The irony of it is that America has many enemies who frequently imagine a world without "Pax Americana". Americans are the only people on earth with their head in the ground (or some other dark and damp place) believing that the freedom inherited and so cavalierly handed over to the tender care of an undocumented alien, could ever be lost. Most Americans don't appreciate what they have, that "exceptional" democratic republic, nor how fragile it is.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
If this republic is lost, the authority that replaces it will cast it as having all along been nothing more than a playground game for boisterous frontiersfolk. Less likely to return than the Easter Island stone head culture. Let's face it, we are a radical mutation, with nature's usual single shot at proving out.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
the poster previously known as Steve Smith said: Obama can't do psycho. All he can do is fruitcake. Iran can do psycho.

He attempted psycho on Syria without knowing it, he thought he was being highly rational like "responsibility to protect" (omg they have a website!) whassername. Sometimes you can't tell the wackos without a program.

Meanwhile the worthless Republican Party needs to collapse too. Maybe the Leftists and the Republican Party will collapse sobbing into each others arms while somebody else starts to fix the broken political system.

At least the Tea Party is there to continue the Republican Party, if the RINOs, country club white shoes, and Vichy collaborators will just get out of the way. The current psycho leadership of the Dems has no obvious heirs or successors, the few existing Dems who aren't utterly bat**** are invisible on the national scene.

Maybe that's good news. My favorite cliche is "you can't beat something with nothing". The Tea Party, with guys like Ted Cruz, is something. Nobody says it has to be easy, but if they can just construct a good narrative and stick to it and come up with modestly strong candidates to run, maybe the prognosis is positive.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
“The clearer things become, the harder it is to look.”
-Aaron Wherry
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 4 Next View All