Tag Archives: President

The Cinch Review

Obama, Osama and Afghanistan: The Positive Campaign Ends Here

We ought to keep in mind that we’re seeing something new—something that no one has ever seen before. Barack Obama has a record to run on. In every election campaign he has ever waged to this date, he essentially was running on his personality, on his perceived identity, and on whatever voters might project upon the canvas he provided. Whatever ideological signals his record as a legislator might have offered in past elections, he went out of his way to blur them with soaringly dull speeches and inspiringly vague rhetoric. Sure: there were those savvy voters out there who knew where he was really coming from and what it meant for how he would govern, but he won election—in particular he won election as president—by winning over those who either lack the time or motivation to comprehend serious ideological agendas. (We sometimes call them “independents.”) They look for pragmatism, and Obama projected it in his soaringly dull manner. In the absence of an easily-quantifiable record of doing anything at all, and in the special circumstances of 2008, it was just enough to win. But now it’s different.

So watch closely, because this is how Barack Obama runs when he actually has a record. His problem is a thorny one. On economic issues—where voters expected pragmatic and sensible progress—his record is one of ever-expanding disaster, as a result of his single-minded pursuit of a pronounced ideological agenda. His central achievement, and the focus of by far his greatest energy, was a “reform” of the entire U.S. health-care system which was opposed by a plurality of U.S. voters before it was enacted and is opposed by an even greater number today. In terms of the general economic health of the nation: Although we are told the U.S. is not technically in recession, most Americans feel that it has been ever since 2008 (for very good reason) and with this crisis as an excuse the Obama administration has added five trillion dollars to the national debt with nothing to show for it save an extraordinarily flourishing subset of the population situated around Washington D.C. You don’t have to be a knuckle-dragging right-wing ideologue any longer to see that this kind of thing might be slightly problematic (and not really so pragmatic, after all).

So, we’ve seen, over the course of the last few days, how Barack Obama has sought to fluff up the one achievement under his watch that seems inarguably a good one: the elimination of Osama bin Laden one year ago. For those who would criticize the president for “spiking the football” and for excessive and unseemly stagecraft in his trip to Afghanistan for a ten-minute speech to the American people, I say: Cut him a break. What else do you expect the poor guy to do? This is the only positive achievement he has on which to run. So, he went to Kabul at great expense and great security-hoopla to sign an agreement that changes nothing from the day before it was signed, merely agreeing to make the real decisions later. It happened to be the day before the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. And he has been publicly crowing about the success of that mission to kill bin Laden, including in a campaign ad. Further, he’s been publicly questioning whether his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, would have made the same call to get OBL. Many are outraged over this pattern of behavior—over this naked politicizing of an issue of national security and of an achievement that, in the end, is thanks to the diligence and bravery of members of the U.S. military and of the intelligence services.


I say: Save the outrage. As far as the Barack Obama re-election campaign goes, this is as good as it gets. This is the height of high-principle and magnanimity. This is the only thing with which he has been involved as president which he can hold up for general approval.

And when it comes to the negative shot at Mitt Romney for allegedly and hypothetically being unwilling to make the same call that Barack Obama made vis-a-vis Osama bin Laden: you ain’t seen nothing yet. Barack Obama is the weakest incumbent president in living memory, and his campaign will be one of unrelenting negativity against his opponent, because the only thing that could possibly get this president re-elected is some kind of crazy blind terror regarding the alternative. He knows it. This whole celebration of the killing of Osama bin Laden has been the nice part of the campaign.

From here on out, it’s murder.

The Cinch Review

Dear Occupy Wall Street protesters: Throw away your iPhones

The new biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, which is not exactly official but with which Jobs cooperated in every way possible, has some revelations which might not sit too well with some of his fans who are manning the barricades at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan (or manning the barricades in their own heads as the case may be). Continue reading Dear Occupy Wall Street protesters: Throw away your iPhones

The Cinch Review

Libya: What kind of damned war is this?

Commander-in-ChiefThe madness continues in Libya, and regarding Libya. It’s no kind of war at all, says President Obama. The American military activity he has authorized in Libya doesn’t come under the purview of the War Powers Resolution, and therefore doesn’t require the approval of the U.S. Congress, because …

U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof.

See: U.S. forces might have bombed and shot at Libyans quite a bit early on, and may potentially do so again if circumstances demand it, but Col. Gaddafi and his forces understand that it’s just not appropriate to shoot back, and actually injuring or killing any Americans engaged in this operation against them would be a completely unacceptable faux pas. Therefore, no war. Continue reading Libya: What kind of damned war is this?

The Cinch Review

President Robert Gates speaks on Middle East

Robert Gates, who just visited Egypt and from there stopped in Israel, has made a number of pointed but quite well thought-out statements regarding the current unprecedented upheavals in the Middle East. With regard to Syria, where dozens of demonstrators have been killed by Bashar Assad’s security forces, Gates said: Continue reading President Robert Gates speaks on Middle East

The Cinch Review

Obama’s calibration on Gaddafi and Libya

Obama's calibration on Gaddafi and LibyaRewinding a few weeks, President Obama had a decision to make in response to the attempted revolution in Libya. He could have said, “We watch events with concern. We will use all the diplomatic and economic means at our disposal to influence the situation, but (let me be clear!) this is not a case where U.S. military power will be used.” There’s a strong argument to be made that that would have been the correct approach. After all, U.S. forces are fighting in Afghanistan, are still in harm’s way in Iraq, and have been in action against al-Qaeda types with varying degrees of secrecy in other locales, including East Africa and Yemen. North Korea continues to represent a potential war that might explode at any minute; and then there are all the humanitarian missions the U.S. military is performing, and so on. In other words, there were very good reasons for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to be extremely reluctant to get U.S. forces engaged in Libya at all. Continue reading Obama’s calibration on Gaddafi and Libya

The Cinch Review

Obama-English dictionary

Just a couple of small entries which are on my mind this morning.

When President Barack Obama speaks tonight in his State of the Union speech of investing in things, what he means is government spending; i.e., the federal government taking money from people who have earned it and spending it on favored projects.

When President Barack Obama speaks tonight in his State of the Union speech of green jobs, what he means is jobs that require government spending.


The Cinch Review

Mr. President (Obama): Have Pity On The Working Man

PrezNow, I know that Randy Newman is some kind of darned liberal, and (based on media reports I’ve seen) was quite recently in possession of a very fine case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. I don’t like him for his politics, but I do genuinely enjoy his artful and ironic way with a song. And all I know is that his song Mr. President (written around 1974, but with something of an aura of 1934) has never been a more relevant and sharply-aimed arrow than it is at this very moment. Today, President Barack Obama, in the face of so much incredulity — on both sides of the aisle, mind you — and in the face of so much frustration on the part of average Americans, continues to pursue his ideological goal of getting the hands of the federal government firmly around the U.S. health-care system. On this particular day he is doing it by means of a televised “summit” with Democrats and Republicans from Congress, as if all of the issues have not had more than their due airing over the past 13 months and more; as if he has just not had sufficient time to make his arguments. He persists in this vein while the U.S economy continues to descend in its death spiral, with real working Americans (and once working Americans) continuing to suffer in ever greater numbers, and with no real recovery even in sight. Continue reading Mr. President (Obama): Have Pity On The Working Man