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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Ebola - The Political Issue

Category: Barack Obama
Posted: 10/27/14 09:45

by Dave Mindeman

This is probably a good way to define the Age of Obama.

The Minnesota Poll took up the topic of ebola and, surprise, surprise, they found a partisan response....

While 97 percent of Democrats who responded said they had "a lot" or at least "some" confidence in the government's ability to contain an outbreak in the United States, only 60 percent of independent voters and 56 percent of Republicans expressed such faith. And 14 percent of Republicans said they had "no confidence at all" in the government's Ebola response. Zero Democrats made that claim.

In this day and age, diseases are responded to based on your political affiliation. Republicans have become insistent on making sure President Obama gets no credit for anything that might be considered positive. They trash Obamacare even though there is clear evidence on nearly all fronts that it is accomplishing exactly what it set out to do. Even tragic events like the murders of our embassy personnel in Benghazi has taken an epic political tone.

But on ebola? The problems that developed in Dallas could have happened anywhere in the country. It is tempting to make a political point about Texas, but the truth is, no city would have been fully prepared to be confronted with an ebola case right on their doorstep. We can argue indefinitely about what kind of prevention we should have been doing in this regard, but political blame is kind of absurd. Both parties had responsibilities and concerns to deal with here, but the idea that we could handle this perfectly when directly confronted with no warning is a bit much to ask.

What should matter is our reponse after the fact. And frankly, that response has not been good - and a good portion of that problem stems from ridiculous partisan politics.

The administration gets criticized for a lack of action in regards to ebola. They get sued for acting too much in regards to immigration.

It is getting harder and harder to correlate the reactions to President Obama without thinking - would the reaction be different if he was a white President?

If you look at facts alone, President Obama has accomplished a lot during his tenure. Our economy has almost fully recovered from the worst recession since the depression. We finally have a health care fix. Actions have been taken on the environment. Inequality has been brought to the forefront - in both LGBT and Women's issues. We have made progress in the fight with Al Qaeda. Bank regulations have improved the housing market and loan stability. The stock market soars and unemployment has been reduced to pre-recession levels. The car industry was saved from destruction.

But President Obama is unpopular. A relentless campaign to discredit him has gone on since he started his presidency. Republicans in Congress have taken a path of obstruction, rather than participate in dealing with the country's problems. On the economic front, their debt ceiling antics has actually increased the difficulty of Obama's economic policies...almost destroying the economy in one irresponsible action. Death threats and White House breaches of security are up. Blaming the President for everything is the new parlor game.

And yet, despite the political drag of a do nothing Congress and an obstructive Senate minority, Obama continues to move the US into prosperity.

Could we be doing better on responding to ebola? Sure. But to score political points and disseminate misinformation intentionally is not only a disservice to the American people, but creating an unnecessary danger to them.

Is the Age of Obama defined as the time of a black President? or should it be defined as the time of just a good President?

That will be the decision of people who come after us - because what we are doing now is just politics at its worst.
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Bottom Line - The President Has Kept Us Out Of War

Category: Barack Obama
Posted: 06/07/14 20:00

by Dave Mindeman

At the D-Day ceremonies there were a number of World War II veterans on hand. They are a dwindling number....we lose them at the rate of about 400 per day. They have seen war up close and personal and they know why it sometimes needs to be done and what it costs.

After Obama gave his speech, he was confronted by one of those veterans. Nobody could hear what he was saying, but one reporter kept track of him and sought him out.....

....one of them--pale and bent beneath his baseball cap as if it weighed him down--stepped forward and took Obama's hand, and would not let him go until he had said his piece.

Was the infirm old soldier, perhaps, taking Obama to task for the scandals in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs? Was he telling the president that American policy needed more spine? An old survivor has a kind of license to say whatever he wants, even to the president of the United States. Obama smiled warmly. But then, in front of the crowd and the world's television cameras, he would. None of us in the crowd could hear.


Yes, that old soldier had an opportunity to take Obama to task for all of the scandals, the "bad" decisions, the "weakness" he has shown. But what exactly did he say?......

When the ceremony was over, I made my way through the arrays of marble crosses to the stage and to the man in the blue hat who had taken Obama's hand.

His name, it turns out, is Irving Smolens, and he was only 19 when he took part in the Normandy landing. Afterward he spent much of his life as a buyer of women's and children's clothing in Massachusetts, leading a quiet, peaceful life with his family.

"What did you say to Obama?" I asked him.

"I thanked him for keeping us out of war," said Smolens.


Yes....for all the GOP public criticism of Obama's foreign policy....for all of the perceived "weakness" that the GOP continues to fault him for....for all of the stands he has made and the pull backs he has done....for all of that, there really is just one thing to say.

Thank you, President Obama, for keeping us out of war.
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The Ukrainian Dilemma

Category: Barack Obama
Posted: 03/02/14 17:46, Edited: 03/02/14 17:46

by Dave Mindeman

I couldn't help but notice something that Secretary John Kerry said this morning on Meet the Press...

"You just don't invade a sovereign country on trumped up charges to assert your own interests..."

I'm not sure he got the irony, but essentially, the US has lost the high ground compass on the political argument here.

Putin has a Cold War mentality and he longs to reunite much of the Old Soviet Union. In addition, the Crimea is home to a strategic Russian naval base.

None of that makes what he has done acceptable as "national interest", but governments have used less to justify their actions.

The whole Ukraine situation has plenty of complications. The deposed leader WAS democratically elected. Russian will use that as a talking point. He was removed from power in an arguably undemocratic way - almost resembling a coup. Was it justified? You probably won't find much agreement on that. But Russia's use of force to intervene is still an unacceptable international norm and western protests must focus on that.

Obama has some hard decisions to make. But even before he has begun to deliberate, the GOP is, AGAIN, using a foreign policy crisis as a means to score political points. Obama will be wrong (to them) on whatever he chooses to do. And that will also weaken what he does. Republicans desperately want to return to being the party of strong foreign policy. Allowing Obama to make decisions unchallenged is no longer allowed - from their point of view.

John McCain and Lindsay Graham always want to opt for intervention. I shudder to think how many conflicts we would be managing right now if McCain had been elected in 2008. This nation is war weary and while sabre rattling may be good for the ego, it will only lead to more tension we are not prepared to back up.

President Obama doesn't have many good options, but I suspect he will deliberate on all of them very carefully and make the proper decision. He is not quick to war - he doesn't force adversaries into corners.

He will take the best action in our best interest. He will have to ignore the critics with political motives - good Presidents do.
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