Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 9, 2009

Bottom Line

He was sophistic in places, and evasive in others. But Obama was, overall, rather dazzling tonight, and did, I think, exactly what he wanted to do, which is use the bully pulpit and his popularity to change the momentum on the stimulus, which has been running in the other direction. But what do I know? I’m frequently wrong about this.

He was sophistic in places, and evasive in others. But Obama was, overall, rather dazzling tonight, and did, I think, exactly what he wanted to do, which is use the bully pulpit and his popularity to change the momentum on the stimulus, which has been running in the other direction. But what do I know? I’m frequently wrong about this.

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Thin Skinned or Smart Politician?

For the third or fourth time, he’s complaining about people calling his stimulus a spending bill, or a pork-laden bill, or any thing comparable.

For the third or fourth time, he’s complaining about people calling his stimulus a spending bill, or a pork-laden bill, or any thing comparable.

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Entitlement Reform

Only Nixon could go to China. Maybe only a very liberal president can actually do something about entitlements — raising the retirement age, for example.

Only Nixon could go to China. Maybe only a very liberal president can actually do something about entitlements — raising the retirement age, for example.

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“So Called Terrorists”

That is how Helen Thomas just described al Qaeda.

That is how Helen Thomas just described al Qaeda.

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Major Garrett Challenges Jake Tapper!

A great question from Fox News’s Major Garrett, who tried to get Obama to explain what Joe Biden meant when he said he and Obama had agreed that some big thing they were going to do had a 30 percent chance of going wrong. Obama said he couldn’t remember what Biden was talking about, and said it with a smile, and the press corps laughed, because he was lying and they knew he was lying and…

A great question from Fox News’s Major Garrett, who tried to get Obama to explain what Joe Biden meant when he said he and Obama had agreed that some big thing they were going to do had a 30 percent chance of going wrong. Obama said he couldn’t remember what Biden was talking about, and said it with a smile, and the press corps laughed, because he was lying and they knew he was lying and…

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This Guy Is Good

He won for a reason.

He won for a reason.

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‘The Political System Is Now Functioning In a Meaningful Way’

Obama on Iraq. Gee, how did that happen?

Obama on Iraq. Gee, how did that happen?

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The Star of the Press Room

Jake Tapper of ABC News asks the best question: How will the public be able to measure whether the stimulus is working? Watch the briefings every day and you’ll notice that Tapper always asks the best question. He’s also publishing the most interesting White House reporter blog: It’s called Political Punch.

Jake Tapper of ABC News asks the best question: How will the public be able to measure whether the stimulus is working? Watch the briefings every day and you’ll notice that Tapper always asks the best question. He’s also publishing the most interesting White House reporter blog: It’s called Political Punch.

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“We Have to Change Our Bad Habits”…

…of spending rather than saving, the president says, by continuing our bad habits in the short term.

…of spending rather than saving, the president says, by continuing our bad habits in the short term.

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“I Would Love Not To Spend Money Right Now”

Oh, come on.

Oh, come on.

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“Why Should the Federal Government Be Involved in School Construction?”

Why? Because people already pay taxes for school construction. They’re called property taxes.

Why? Because people already pay taxes for school construction. They’re called property taxes.

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On Iran

There isn’t a thing he said he would do that the Bush administration didn’t spend five years doing.

There isn’t a thing he said he would do that the Bush administration didn’t spend five years doing.

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“…Support of Terrorist Groups like Hezbollah and Hamas…”

There it is. First press conference. By stating without qualification that Hamas is a terrorist group, Obama has just made it very difficult for those in the State Department who are going to make a relentless case for direct negotiations with Hamas.

There it is. First press conference. By stating without qualification that Hamas is a terrorist group, Obama has just made it very difficult for those in the State Department who are going to make a relentless case for direct negotiations with Hamas.

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Going After the Libertarians

Obama offers a powerful riposte against the libertarian argument that there should be no government intervention in the economy. The problem is that the number of people in public life actually arguing such a thing is extraordinarily low. The issue is the nature of the package he, the House, and the Senate are pushing through.

Obama offers a powerful riposte against the libertarian argument that there should be no government intervention in the economy. The problem is that the number of people in public life actually arguing such a thing is extraordinarily low. The issue is the nature of the package he, the House, and the Senate are pushing through.

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‘The Worst Economic Crisis Since the Great Depression’

I understand this talking point of Obama’s, but surely we are nowhere near such a calamity — remember that between 1979 and 1982 we had interest rates at 18 percent, inflation over 10 percent, and eventually unemployment that topped 10 percent.

I understand this talking point of Obama’s, but surely we are nowhere near such a calamity — remember that between 1979 and 1982 we had interest rates at 18 percent, inflation over 10 percent, and eventually unemployment that topped 10 percent.

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Quick Performance Review

He is a great pleasure to watch and to listen to.

He is a great pleasure to watch and to listen to.

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‘It Does Not Contain a Single Pet Project’

Obama just said there isn’t a single earmark in the $800 billion stimulus. That’s because most of it is a pet project in itself — the pet project of American liberalism.

Obama just said there isn’t a single earmark in the $800 billion stimulus. That’s because most of it is a pet project in itself — the pet project of American liberalism.

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Well, It’s Good for Community Colleges

Obama just said that we need to stimulate the economy by providing a $2,500 tax credit to help people pay for college. What exactly will such a tax credit stimulate but the balance sheets of universities?

Obama just said that we need to stimulate the economy by providing a $2,500 tax credit to help people pay for college. What exactly will such a tax credit stimulate but the balance sheets of universities?

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Obama’s Save’n'Create

“The single most important part of this…plan is that it will save or create 4 million new jobs.” — Obama just now.

That number is climbing like crazy. First it was 2 million, then 3 million, now 4.

“The single most important part of this…plan is that it will save or create 4 million new jobs.” — Obama just now.

That number is climbing like crazy. First it was 2 million, then 3 million, now 4.

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Didn’t He Win the Election Already?

Barack Obama is back to being candidate Obama instead of President Obama, making a campaign-style trip to Elkhart, Indiana. If you think it wasn’t a campaign redux, just read the New York Times (h/t Mark Hemmingway):

Wrapping himself in the mandate of his election last November, Mr. Obama sounded like a candidate all over again, scolding greedy Wall Street bankers and pointedly rejecting Republican critics for sticking with what he called a failed philosophy. At one point, he spoke about people with as many as five homes, which sounded like a reference to his opponent last fall, Senator John McCain.

I dunno’ — doesn’t he think we should do better than to ”posture and bicker” or resort to such “childish things” at a time like this?

And why did he go there? Well, to highlight the high unemployment. But, as Michael Barone explains, it’s not clear the Obama administration will help matters:

But why does Elkhart have such exceptionally high unemployment? The answer is that it is, as a promotional website tells us, “The RV Capital of the World.” RV sales are down this year, and I don’t suppose they’ll be helped by the cap-and-trade system that Obama and most Democrats want to impose on our economy. Yes, Elkhart County trended hugely to Obama. George W. Bush carried it 70 percent to 29 percent in 2004, and, Obama lost it by only 55 percent to 44 percent in 2008. Obama made those gains because of what people in Elkhart County thought George Bush failed to deliver. Now Obama must deliver himself.

This is the first president we’ve had in a long time (ever?) who sounded more presidential when he was a candidate. Maybe it’s just all wearing a bit thin.

Barack Obama is back to being candidate Obama instead of President Obama, making a campaign-style trip to Elkhart, Indiana. If you think it wasn’t a campaign redux, just read the New York Times (h/t Mark Hemmingway):

Wrapping himself in the mandate of his election last November, Mr. Obama sounded like a candidate all over again, scolding greedy Wall Street bankers and pointedly rejecting Republican critics for sticking with what he called a failed philosophy. At one point, he spoke about people with as many as five homes, which sounded like a reference to his opponent last fall, Senator John McCain.

I dunno’ — doesn’t he think we should do better than to ”posture and bicker” or resort to such “childish things” at a time like this?

And why did he go there? Well, to highlight the high unemployment. But, as Michael Barone explains, it’s not clear the Obama administration will help matters:

But why does Elkhart have such exceptionally high unemployment? The answer is that it is, as a promotional website tells us, “The RV Capital of the World.” RV sales are down this year, and I don’t suppose they’ll be helped by the cap-and-trade system that Obama and most Democrats want to impose on our economy. Yes, Elkhart County trended hugely to Obama. George W. Bush carried it 70 percent to 29 percent in 2004, and, Obama lost it by only 55 percent to 44 percent in 2008. Obama made those gains because of what people in Elkhart County thought George Bush failed to deliver. Now Obama must deliver himself.

This is the first president we’ve had in a long time (ever?) who sounded more presidential when he was a candidate. Maybe it’s just all wearing a bit thin.

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