The moment he pulled the trigger, there was near-universal agreement that President Obama had done the inevitable thing, the right thing and, best of all, the bold thing. But before we get carried away with relief and elation, let’s not forget what we saw in the tense 36 hours that fell between late Monday night, when word spread of Rolling Stone’s blockbuster article, and high noon Wednesday, when Obama MacArthured his general. That frenzied interlude revealed much about the state of Washington, the Afghanistan war and the Obama presidency — little of it cheering and none of it resolved by the ingenious replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, the only militarily and politically bullet-proof alternative.
Whatever charges Obama's critics throw at him, they can hardly dispute he has lived up to his vow to have triggered massive political change.
But has he driven change further than the current volatile political climate can bear? -- a question crucial to the president's own prospects and one that will help shape the battleground for November's elections.
Obama's biggest previous legislative achievements, like his massive 787 billion dollar economic stimulus plan or the sweeping health care reform, are at worse unpopular, or at best yet to be evaluated.
Yet the White House will hope that the strong wave of political anger roiling US politics will turn the law cracking down on corporate excess into an electoral trump card that Republicans will pay a price for opposing.
Bears repeating: But has he driven change further than the current volatile political climate can bear? Keep that in mind when you're unhappy about what he hasn't done, because there's a ton of unfinished work left to do.
From the very beginning, the far right assailed this president with calumnious attacks. He was both a craven defender of the country and its borders and a crazed tax-and-spend liberal hell-bent on growing the government and destroying our democracy, one death panel at a time. It seems to have stuck.
At the same time, Republican lawmakers latched on to the word "no" like temperamental 2-year-olds. Their strategy: dictate by stalemate. It worked.
Add to that a laundry list of other factors: Obama has been an abysmal salesman; Americans’ patience has the lifespan of a fruit fly; we are still mired in two intractable wars; the economy has yet to turn the corner; anxiety is mounting over ballooning deficits; and oil is still gushing into the gulf.
Taken together, you get a growing sense that things are falling apart on the Democrats’ watch.
That’s the short-term view. Now consider the long view: This is in large part a frightened, angry reflex, fed by a devastating recession. But like the recession, it’s also temporary. When conditions improve, Republicans will still have to face an underlying reality: that this is the twilight of their rigid, empty ideology, particularly as it relates to social issues. They must change or wither.
Charles Blow's column also notes Ruy Teixiera's work. There's an interview with Ruy planned for later this am.
Gail Collins on Nancy Pelosi:
She has been around a long time and must have known that from the start. But she pushed anyway. Pelosi is an idealist working in the practical now. She genuinely sees her party as a vehicle for good and her pragmatism is not the least bit cynical. She is the most powerful woman in the country, the most fearless person on Capitol Hill and on track to be one of the most productive speakers in history.
I don’t know about you, but that kind of knocks me out.
Wow. Dems get good press for a change. But won't that offend conservatives? Oh, sorry, that's the Washington Post.
There's the argument that Weigel is entitled to his beliefs, but he shouldn't be tasked with specifically covering the conservative movement if he despises so much of it (Weigel also voted for Ron Paul, and reportedly "revealed a fondness for Ronald Reagan, a willingness to vote for Bobby Jindal as president, and agreed that Van Jones should have been fired for his 9/11 trutherism"). It's not a totally unreasonable position. But our political discourse would benefit a lot more from people like Weigel covering the GOP, and people like, say, sane conservatives David Frum or Ross Douthat covering the progressive movement, than only allowing writers to cover ideologies and political figures with which they're already in lock-step agreement.
Most illegal immigrants are drug mules, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) alleged this weekend.
"Well, we all know that the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now becoming drug mules. They're coming across our borders in huge numbers. The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration," Brewer said, asquoted by CNN.
Hey, c'mon, chill. Just get that Alabama Ag Commish guy to shoot 'em on sight and be done with it.