Obama Rejects Bad Choices on Afghanistan

When presented with various options for Afghanistan but none were satisfactory, Barack Obama had the guts to do the right thing and demand more choices. This shows a tremendous difference for his predecessor, who was so spineless and lacking in intellectual curiosity that he allowed the neoconservatives to call the shots after 9/11, regardless of how much harm their policies were doing to our country. No matter how badly things were going, Bush would never think of questioning what we were doing. Andrew Sullivan comments:

What we are seeing here, I suspect, is what we see everywhere with Obama: a relentless empiricism in pursuit of a particular objective and a willingness to let the process take its time. The very process itself can reveal – not just to Obama, but to everyone – what exactly the precise options are. Instead of engaging in adolescent tests of whether a president is “tough” or “weak”, we actually have an adult prepared to allow the various choices in front of us be fully explored. He is, moreover, not taking the decision process outside the public arena. He is allowing it to unfold within the public arena…

What strikes me about this is the enormous self-confidence this reveals. Here is a young president, prepared to allow himself to be portrayed as “weak” or “dithering” in the slow and meticulous arrival at public policy. He is trusting the reality to help expose what we need to do. He is allowing the debate – however messy and confusing and emotional – to take its time and reveal the real choices in front of us. This is politically risky, of course. Those who treat politics as a contact-sport, whose insistence is on the “game” of who wins which news cycle, or who can spin each moment in a political storm as a harbinger of whatever, will pounce and shriek and try to bounce the president into a decision. And those who believe that what matters in war is charging ahead regardless at all times will also grandstand against the president’s insistence on prudence.

But he won’t be bounced and his concern seems to be genuinely to do the right and the most sustainable thing. Which is a kind of strength we haven’t seen in a president since Reagan.

Considering the mess Obama inherited both at home and in foreign policy, it is good to have a president who can think outside of the box and not just continue along the same path. This doesn’t guarantee he will always make the right choice, but the chances for actually solving problems and avoiding quagmires is much greater.

Charles Johnson On “Obama Derangement Syndrome” In The Conservative Movement

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has become a controversial figure in the conservative blogosphere for failing to to along with their mass hysteria. The League of Ordinary Gentlemen interviewed Johnson. Here is a portion:

At that point in time you were fairly well aligned with much of the conservative blogosphere which unified behind the war on terror.  Lately that seems to have changed.  More and more LGF seems to be distancing itself from the right.  What’s changed? Has national security become secondary to economic issues, or does it run deeper than that?

National security is still an important issue. But the main reason I can’t march along with the right wing blogosphere any more, not to put too fine a point on it, is that most of them have succumbed to Obama Derangement Syndrome. One “nontroversy” after another, followed by the outrage of the day, followed by conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory, all delivered in breathless, angry prose that’s just wearying and depressing to read.

It’s not just the economic issues either. I’ve never been on board with the anti-science, anti-Enlightenment radical religious right. Once I began making my opinions known on issues like creationism and abortion, I realized that there just wasn’t very much in common with many of the bloggers on the right. And then, when most of them decided to fall in and support a blogger like Robert Stacy McCain, who has neo-Nazi friends, has written articles for the openly white supremacist website American Renaissance, and has made numerous openly racist statements on the record … well, I was extremely disappointed to see it, but unfortunately not surprised.

I’ve always written the truth about my opinions, and I have no intention of changing that policy now, just to fit in with a “movement” that has gone completely off the rails.

Do you think there is any chance the right can reorient itself, or is the right-wing blogosphere’s daily outrage symptomatic of deeper failures from within conservatism?

Also, where do you see yourself politically these days now that the War on Terror is under the purview of the Democrats?

Without making any prediction — that’s above my pay grade — I think the Republican Party has a serious deficiency of real ideas, and the few popular ideas they do have are about pandering to the religious right and regulating private morality: abortion, gay marriage, etc.

I always thought “conservatism” meant the opposite — staying OUT of people’s private lives. In fact, in my opinion this is one of the main problems with the conservative movement today – the dominance of the religious right, which seeks to impose its own narrow belief system on the entire country.

Where I see myself politically — same as I ever was, Independent. George W. Bush in 2004 was the first time I ever cast a vote for a Republican President.

These are surprisingly insightful comments coming from someone who voted for George Bush and isn’t embarrassed to admit it.

Hannity Admits to Screw Up But No Sign Fox Will Abandon Practice of Using Doctored Videos

Yesterday I posted a video clip of Jon Stewart showing that Sean Hannity had used video from an earlier political rally to make it appear attendance at a more recent rally opposing health care reform was greater than it actually was. Last night Hannity admitted that he “screwed up” and claimed it was “an inadvertent mistake.” He also added, “It pains me to say: Jon Stewart was right.”  Media Decoder notes that “Mr. Hannity did not address specifically how the mistake came to be made.”

The observation by Media Decoder might be taken as skepticism that this was really inadvertent. Regardless of this specific episode, the use of altered audio and video has been a common tactic used by Fox and many others in the right wing to make their arguments when the facts are against them. It is especially common for right wingers to attack liberals and Democrats based upon altered statements as opposed to attempting to respond to their actual views.  I noted a recent example of Glenn Beck doing this a few weeks ago. Media Matters has accumulated a longer list of examples of Fox resorting to using doctored video.