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Post 25 Oct 2012, 12:24 pm

I'm reading Woodward's The Price of Politics. It paints a very partisan picture of the President. I'm not that far into it, but the Stimulus negotiations alone were pretty remarkable. He opened well, then told the Republicans to get lost. His attitude alone galvanized the GOP against him--and they weren't well-positioned to do that after his win. His intransigence and derision toward the Republicans were what put steel in their spine, so to speak.
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Post 25 Oct 2012, 12:34 pm

It's a shame. Had Obama worked with the Republicans to truly improve the economy -- and I know there's a lot of disagreement on whether that was even possible, but I think it was and is -- he could have gone down as a great American President. With so much good will and a roaring back economy, he could have coasted into a 2nd term and enacted truly remarkable reform of our health care system.
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Post 25 Oct 2012, 12:45 pm

The Democrats are not always that united. If Obama is to be slated for not keeping all his party on board, doesn't the handful of Republicans who cross the floor also reflect on the leadership there?

As far as I recall, it's held up as an example of American democracy that party discipline is not rigid, as it is in places like the UK (where MPs rarely rebel against the party line and when they do it becomes a remarkable event) and where the President can't force the Legislature to do what he wants, even if it is under control of the same party. The US parties are very much more big tent and independence of Congress members is seen a s quite important.

I can certainly remember before Bush II, back in the says when US politics was not quite so partisan, that it was common to see members of both parties flip over on many votes - even vital ones, and I don't remember much criticism of the Presidents of the day for failing to whip effectively.

When it came to Healthcare, Obama and the Congressional leaders did have a problem. A significant minority of the Democrats wanted single payer at least, while on the other wing they wanted nothing like that. The latter knew that they had more leverage - because if enough sided with the Republicans, the bill would be defeated. However, if the left were not kept on board, they could also cause problems.

Not having read Woodward, I'm not sure if it goes into why Obama may have done that - and what the history was of the negotiations before the election, such as during the chaos of October.
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Post 25 Oct 2012, 12:49 pm

I would encourage anyone who wants to look behind the curtain to read Woodward. He did a lot of interviews and research for the book. It's really quite interesting and I don't believe he has an ax to grind. He may be disappointed, as an American, by Obama's approach, but he certainly was not against him and is not against liberal/progressive thought in general.
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Post 25 Oct 2012, 12:58 pm

danivon wrote:The Democrats are not always that united. If Obama is to be slated for not keeping all his party on board, doesn't the handful of Republicans who cross the floor also reflect on the leadership there?

As far as I recall, it's held up as an example of American democracy that party discipline is not rigid, as it is in places like the UK (where MPs rarely rebel against the party line and when they do it becomes a remarkable event) and where the President can't force the Legislature to do what he wants, even if it is under control of the same party. The US parties are very much more big tent and independence of Congress members is seen a s quite important.

I can certainly remember before Bush II, back in the says when US politics was not quite so partisan, that it was common to see members of both parties flip over on many votes - even vital ones, and I don't remember much criticism of the Presidents of the day for failing to whip effectively.

When it came to Healthcare, Obama and the Congressional leaders did have a problem. A significant minority of the Democrats wanted single payer at least, while on the other wing they wanted nothing like that. The latter knew that they had more leverage - because if enough sided with the Republicans, the bill would be defeated. However, if the left were not kept on board, they could also cause problems.

Not having read Woodward, I'm not sure if it goes into why Obama may have done that - and what the history was of the negotiations before the election, such as during the chaos of October.


I really think it comes down to leadership. There are always obstacles of all sorts for anyone who tries to do anything that involves anyone. But the truly great ones have a sound strategic vision and the people (political) skills to get them where they need to be. Churchill and Lincoln come to mind in wartime. Reagan, Thatcher, and Clinton come to mind in peacetime. FDR in both. They all have their warts. They all had forces working against them, including people, economics, and/or the military situation. There's always luck involved. But great leaders can do it, and I'm sorry to say that Obama had as much potential as any of them given his electoral mandate and the post-Bush state of affairs, but had the wrong vision and perhaps not the right political skills either.
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Post 25 Oct 2012, 1:10 pm

Let's put it this way: when Bush II proposed "the Surge," there was widespread opposition. Not even the public supported it. Yet, he prevailed. How?

Bush II worked with Kennedy for "No Child Left Behind." Wake me when Obama does anything like that (and by the way, I don't like the program).
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Post 28 Oct 2012, 7:55 am

I've been real torn on this election. On the one hand, I like Obama personally and his deliberative style, especially as it relates to foreign affairs. Although I do want him to take a tougher line on Syria and Iran, I also respect that he has avoided engaging our troops in a ground war. He got the Libya intervention just right, and he has used drones quite well.

I do agree with the Republicans as it relates to a smaller government, both in spending and in regulation. I want more trade with China and Mexico and everyone else. I want better regulation and my experience is that the Democrats are not conscious enough of unintended consequences. I also think that the Republicans can be too bending to corporate interests on really important stuff such as clean air, water, and safety.

On economics, I defintely am on the right, but on social policy I am definitely on the left. I favor more immigration, particularly of skilled and well educated people. I think that marijuana should be legalized and that gay marriage is a huge positive force in our society. I also live in a Democratic cultural millieu, here in Massachusetts. My friends and family tend to be left of center. They are good and smart people.

All that being said, my biggest concern is the deficit. I think that our Republic hinges on it. I think it is the most important issue that will impact the lives of my children. The only way out of our deficits is economic growth and a reduction of federal spending, primarily on health care.

I decided to base my decision on whether Obama's new 20 page plan is serious about the deficit, or just window dressing. Does he share my concerns? He is just a little younger than I am. His kids are just a little older than my own. Is his thinking about this the same way I am?

From what I can tell, the 20 page plan is sorely lacking. Here's it's web page on deficit reduction. http://secure.assets.bostatic.com/resou ... nfo_v4.png

It shows $4 trillion of net deficit reduction which is $400 billion per year. How much of that is real? Well, as far as I can tell, very little. When I add up the components, of the $6 trillion in listed savings, over $2 trillion of that is spent on "investments" which may or may not work, but do not have a good track record. The components of that $6 trillion include $1.9 trillion of higher taxes and $2.7 trillion of cuts already made, much of it from ending the Afghani and Iraq wars. There's only $600 billion of new cuts (versus $2 trillion of new spending). In other words, there's no recognition that we have a fiscal crisis and no effort to deal with it. Am i reading this wrong? If not, I don't see how I can vote for Obama.
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Post 28 Oct 2012, 9:52 pm

danivon wrote:As far as I recall, it's held up as an example of American democracy that party discipline is not rigid, as it is in places like the UK (where MPs rarely rebel against the party line and when they do it becomes a remarkable event) and where the President can't force the Legislature to do what he wants, even if it is under control of the same party. The US parties are very much more big tent and independence of Congress members is seen a s quite important.


I just read this article that makes the argument that the lack of party discipline in American politics is a negative. That it is the reason money and special interests have so much influence in out system. Since the Parties are essentially weak and prohibited by law from being too involved in a candidate's campaign, it forces the candidates to looks for money elsewhere. This in turn beholdens them to those who fund their campaigns.

It is a very interesting article.
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Post 29 Oct 2012, 2:14 am

ARJ - well, I do tend to agree that it is a weakness in your system. But I find it odd that something which is usually held up as a feature of US politics is used to bash one side, and one person in particular.

Actually, I should say that I don't find it odd at all. It's boringly predictable, given the past few years.
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Post 29 Oct 2012, 10:06 am

Ray Jay wrote:I've been real torn on this election. On the one hand, I like Obama personally and his deliberative style, especially as it relates to foreign affairs. Although I do want him to take a tougher line on Syria and Iran, I also respect that he has avoided engaging our troops in a ground war. He got the Libya intervention just right, and he has used drones quite well.


I think you're wrong on Libya. It is developing into a failed or Islamist state--and the whole thing has had a deleterious effect on Mali as well.

I'm not suggesting sending troops was the answer. I am suggesting we're not involved enough and that the vacuum is being filled by terror-promoting factions.

It shows $4 trillion of net deficit reduction which is $400 billion per year. How much of that is real? Well, as far as I can tell, very little. When I add up the components, of the $6 trillion in listed savings, over $2 trillion of that is spent on "investments" which may or may not work, but do not have a good track record. The components of that $6 trillion include $1.9 trillion of higher taxes and $2.7 trillion of cuts already made, much of it from ending the Afghani and Iraq wars. There's only $600 billion of new cuts (versus $2 trillion of new spending). In other words, there's no recognition that we have a fiscal crisis and no effort to deal with it. Am i reading this wrong? If not, I don't see how I can vote for Obama.


I'm halfway through Woodward's book. If you read it, you would never vote for Obama even over Biden. Obama comes off as an insulated partisan who surrounds himself with incompetents, Valerie Jarrett being a prime example. She comes off very poorly in the book.

Obama's plan? Hire 100,000 teachers! That will solve everything . . .

Most of his "cuts" are not cuts, but reductions on spending that was never going to happen (like military spending in Iraq). Biden made far more bold proposals behind the scenes.
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Post 29 Oct 2012, 12:38 pm

Ray Jay: trust DF. He's a completely impartial adviser and Bob Woodward has never harbored an outside agenda in his life. :grin:

As for your vote: who cares? You live in Massachusetts. (I think.) The only votes that really count are in a handful of swing states. :razz:

I voted the other day. [I now regret voting early (it was a spur of the moment thing - I found myself suddenly next to the voting place) because something unexpected could come up before election day but I'm locked in.] I voted Obama, a Republican for Senate, a Dem for the House, and Republicans for some state and local offices. Why Obama?

While I could blabber on about comparisons at a multitude of levels, just two things really determined my vote: 1) I know what to expect from Obama on foreign policy, and 2) I don't want the ACA repealed. Presidents have very limited say-so on budgets and spending; they have a lot more freedom of action in foreign affairs. I see Obama as less adventurous in foreign affairs, and less likely to get us into another expensive war. Romney's too much of an unknown. Obama's budget plan, like Romney's, will get shelved the day after election day. These days, all Presidential budgets sent to congress are DOA. But you correctly identified healthcare as a key to debt control. The ACA may not be perfect but it does have important cost-control provisions. Let it go ahead and be tinkered with as needed. With Romney we essentially get zero healthcare reform.
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Post 29 Oct 2012, 3:17 pm

Purple wrote:Ray Jay: trust DF. He's a completely impartial adviser and Bob Woodward has never harbored an outside agenda in his life. :grin:


Yes, Democrats have never liked Woodward. :sigh:

While I could blabber on about comparisons at a multitude of levels, just two things really determined my vote: 1) I know what to expect from Obama on foreign policy,


Incompetence? See Benghazi.

Secret deals? "Tell Vlad I'll have more flexibility after the election."

Obama's budget plan, like Romney's, will get shelved the day after election day. These days, all Presidential budgets sent to congress are DOA.


Who is killing the President's budgets?

Democrats. Zero votes for them. Reid has done squat on a budget.

Let me tell you what four more years of Obama look like:

1. 7 to 8 percent unemployment.
2. Medical costs soaring.
3. Gasoline prices continuing to climb.
4. No substantive improvement in the real estate market.
5. $1T+ deficits for four more years. Actually, when Obamacare kicks in, this will also increase--because Democrats will find ways to lard it up with even more waste.
6. More lies over the attack in Benghazi. More unrest in the Muslim world. More acts of terror against Americans that are called "workplace violence" or blamed on extraneous issues (like obscure videos).
7. More Justices who believe their political opinions are more important than the Constitution.
8. Inflation taking off as all the printing of dollars begins to have an effect.

And, that's just the upside.
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Post 30 Oct 2012, 5:01 am

Purple:
As for your vote: who cares? You live in Massachusetts. (I think.) The only votes that really count are in a handful of swing states.


That's right although both of my Congressional races do matter. We have Robert Kennedy's grandson running for Congressman. He's 31 years old and the heavy favorite. It's been just 3 years but we must all be in Kennedy withdrawl over here.
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Post 30 Oct 2012, 6:31 am

Ray Jay wrote:Purple:
As for your vote: who cares? You live in Massachusetts. (I think.) The only votes that really count are in a handful of swing states.


That's right although both of my Congressional races do matter. We have Robert Kennedy's grandson running for Congressman. He's 31 years old and the heavy favorite. It's been just 3 years but we must all be in Kennedy withdrawl over here.


I would happily vote for the non-Kennedy in that race.

The Senate vote will be close--not because Warren is a good candidate, but because this is MA. I find it surprising they didn't have someone better to run.
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Post 30 Oct 2012, 1:37 pm

I read RJ's post about his concern about the deficit in perhaps not voting for Obaba and Purple's response. There are three questions that I have that have not been addressed in this campaign:

(1) Given that prior to the 2008 collapse our economy was driven by consumer spending and consumer spending was dependent on loans (whether from credit cards or from loans based on equity in a home) and now those loans are much less available, how are we going to get a robust economy?;

(2) What steps are you going to take to maintain US wages in a global marketplace, given that US workers are competing against workers in China, India and elsewhere who willl work for a fraction of US wages;

(3)What steps are you going to reduce a disproportionate amount of wealth going to Wall Street and upper--level management, which has not occurred because they work harder or are more innovative than their predecessors, but due to increased due to accessibility to low-wage labor

I don't know why we would expect Romney to come in and for the economy to magically get the economy going. Government intervention was important during the Financial Crisis and fortunately it did intervene. Now we just need a steward, not radically tinkering with the tax code and increased military spending (Rj has yet to explain how Romney's tax cuts and increased military spending are going to cause lower deficits than Obama would have)

Now Obama has focused a bit on addressing the three questions that I listed above. He talked about increasing manufacturing jobs, important when you cannot rely as much on a consumer economy. He talked about making sure education and training, important when US workers are going to have to get more productive for their wages to rise. He has also talked about more spending on infrastructure, which help Us businesses to compete. His investments in new technologies should help Us companies to gain an edge and hopefully produce high-paying jobs. Rj has also says we should negotiate more trade agreements and allow more skilled immigrants to come in and i agreehese kinds of things will take a long-time, short-term if our economy is weak it is because
Of systemic problems that will not be fixed by more tax breaks. Romney has no ideas about fixing the underlying problems of the economy; his proposal regarding China would likely cause a trade war