The American people still support the president’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan even if they do not support the war. My take is that Americans want a “strong” president like Hobbes’ Leviathan.
In a recent CNN poll the results are somewhat contradictory on the surface at least.
“Respondents were asked: “Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?” Here the answer is that only 43% favor the war, and 55% oppose it.”
But another question: “Regardless of how you feel about the war in general, do you favor or oppose President Obama’s plan to send about 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to stabilize the situation there?” Here it becomes 59% in favor, to 39% against.”
Americans whether we like it or not love the appearance of strength especially in their executive. Yes it’s part of being mentally lazy but on questions of national security, at least until proven wrong, most Americans give the executive the benefit of the doubt.
Of course over at Huffy the outrage de jour is the fact that detainees in Gitmo will probably be there most of next year. Again our progressive reactionary friends instead of seeing this coming are reacting like this is another sell out from President Obama. The president definitely underestimated the legal mess that Bush made at Gitmo. Furthermore there were some missteps in the beginnings with WH counsel. However Congress has been the main culprit in slowing the pace of trials and closing of Gitmo. The delay in closing Gitmo has much more to do with the party of NO, because they want to use it’s closing to scare most Americans because they have so little to offer in 2100. While conservdems are grandstanding to get reelected in more conservative districts and states.
On the domestic front this is why I think in the end Americans will give Obama credit or blame on healthcare reform. Healthcare reform does not need to be a monumental success but it cannot be a total failure either. That’s why for the life of me I cannot figure out why Dems are holding back implementation so long.
The president has so many gambits occurring at once that’s why I truly laugh when people say he’s not a strong and a timid leader. The last president in many of our lifetime’s to put so much on the line at the same time was LBJ.
From Talking Points Memo:
KQ — About the long delay in implementing health care reform, there is still a provision in the latest Senate bill for an interim “high risk” pool that the pesky “Pre-existing Condition Class” can get into until the exchanges are implemented. This from a barackobama.com email:
“And while insurance companies will be prevented from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions once the exchanges are open, in the meantime there will be a high-risk pool where people with pre-existing conditions can purchase affordable coverage.”
I am very anxious to find out what the deal will be on this.
You might want to keep checking this URL for updates.
Health Care Wire
Thank you, Sherz. I’ve saved the link.
You’re welcome. 🙂
Hey e-cat! Back earlier in the fall, during the long fights over health care, I believe it was Congressman Clyburn who came out with the idea to put into place “trial” programs to help the neediest while the rest of the system was set up to run this monster. That would give them some time to work out the “bugs” and give some people relief. I hope this will be the case.
KQuark- outstanding summary of the bifurcated American psyche. All along you’ve consistently noted that Obama is doing what he said he would do, and the pseudo-progressives yelp because they did not really listen.
We spent nearly a decade hollering against the Imperial Presidency. It was not just Bush – that legacy goes well back in time to at least LBJ and appeared off and on throughout our history. Political science scholars have analyzed “strong” presidents vs “weak” ones, have rated “presidential congresses” vs those that were not. The approval always seems to come down on the side of a strong president that drags congress along behind him.
The problem with that is precisely what Obama said during the campaign – real democracy comes if and only if the people are engaged. I fear that most of the people I know who worked their socks off to elect Obama then assumed they could sit back and cheer as he did everything FOR us. And that he would include getting revenge for everything Bush had done.
What Obama is giving us is a major gift, but like spoiled kids, we can’t see the value. He is telling us that we need to keep up the same work, momentum, process that we had during the campaign. Democracy is messy and requires constant engagement. He is letting us have our say. He is also a total realist.
Susan Thistlethwaite, former head of Chicago Theology Seminary and now a fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote a powerful item on Obama’s Oslo speech. She noted it departed from decades, perhaps centuries, of “just war” theory. She said Obama has altered for all time our attitudes about war and peace. It is well worth reading.
We have the chance to renew a nation that is vastly more democratic that it may ever have been. We have a chance to be fully engaged – to end the perception that citizen voices do not matter at all – and yet our progressive allies are often as whiny and discontent as the tea bag folks.
You remember that horrid moment when Bush said being a dictator would be so much easier? Well, it would be easier for us as well. Having at least a Leviathan means we would not have to pay attention to anything at all. People are disappointed in Obama because he is not Bush with better values. I, for one, think he’s the most admirable president I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, and I feel engaged with my government as never before. Amazing.
What was missing even during Bush’s first term was the presence of the blogs. There were a few around, but they were just beginning to gain popularity.
Now, it’s a whole other ballgame! Instead of sitting here feeling frustrated and angry, I can get on line with lots of people and have a good, healthy discussion of the issues. This gives one the sense of really being involved, more than ever in the past. I would like to see the “progressives” a little more engaged…all good things come to him who waits. I just hope we have time before some disaster happens. We just have to keep pushing!
And I would have to agree with you about President Obama…what an amazing man! Although I don’t necessarily agree with him on several points, I admire him like no other President in my lifetime.
What is sad is that so many people seem to associate strength with violence. IMHO, that’s what those numbers show.
KQ, I think you’ve hit on one of the main reasons this president gets so much grief from so many directions. People are not used to a calm, thoughtful person behaving in a calm thoughtful way IN PUBLIC. I think Americans are much more comfortable with bluster than brainpower. I guess the first is easy to recognize and the second isn’t. It’s so much easier to have a guy say “Either you’re with us or against us” or “I’m the decider” than:
And another thing… The health care bill has shown us that a lot of people are just now learning how governance works in this country — how complicated it is, how much debate and negotiation are involved, how much nuance is necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of Americans would be happier with a dictator, as long as the dictator was doing what they wanted.
As usual, Nellie, you are spot on. Your last statement about people preferring a dictator reminds me of the Grand Inquisitor parable from the Brothers Karamazov, whose moral is that it’s against human nature to enjoy the turmoil and confusion of freedom and that people are much happier when someone simply tells them what to do.
KQ, you have some email I sent in hopes of cheering you up. 🙂
I just finished reading Andrew Sullivan.
What really gripes my tush and makes my blood boil are those who continue to criticize President Obama. They are conveniently (or ignorantly) ignoring what has been accomplished in the last twelve months.
Of course, the RW Republicans are just pissed off — like a bunch of grumpy old farts — because Mr. Obama is forging ahead with or without them.
Although I don’t agree with everything that’s transpired, I can honestly say I’m comfortable having this man running things and representing us and our nation.
KQuark, so true about Americans craving an appearance of “strength” in their presidents. I have to wonder just how far back in the whole evolutionary story this craving goes. (The sabre-toothed tiger slayer got to tell everyone else what to do?) I think Bush got re-elected partly because Americans are so drawn to leaders who are aggressive, as opposed to wise.
It’d be nice if that little bit of Neanderthal thinking evolved away…
Unlike every other nationality that prefers the Head of Government to be weak.
Yeah. That is real common.
Belligerance is a form of weakness.
Wise restraint is a form of strength.
Intelligent nations recognize this. My perception is that we recognized the potential for this wisdom and restraint in Obama in November. It was a step in the right evolutionary direction.
I see some really sloppy definitions of “strong” going on in this thread.
You say Obama is strong and that Bush was weak. Quark is saying that Bush was strong, using certain definitions.
K7, how would you define “strong?”
You find it in any way remarkable that Americans prefer a strong executive?
You find it somehow strange that a majority of Americans want a strong as opposed to a weak executive.
I have no idea how that strikes anyone as amazing or even noteworthy.
I think it’s the tendency to overlook the gift we have of being enegaged. Obama is not weak at all – he’s measured and thoughtful. What we want is not a strong president but a bombastic one. Strength is not manifest only in that, but we wanted someone who’d make us feel good with instant gratification by solving every problem, and getting revenge on Bush. The Leviathan means we don’t have to do anything, and we can’t see how fantastic it is to have real say once again.
I don’t want a bombastic president.
It’s the way strength seems to be defined that strikes me. Defined in terms of how much violence we’re willing to do, rather than how much good.
No. Every country does not like a unitary executive branch or a belligerent head of state which is my definition of “strong leader” or “leviathan” in this context. Whereas many if not most Americans do want the image of a strong president. That’s what parliamentary systems are all about and how they formed because they went away from the leviathan model of dictatorship or monarchy. If not for the wisdom of George Washington the founding fathers would have made him King for fuckssake. One of the big problems in our Constitution is that it was inevitable that the executive branch would gain too much power.
If we wanted a strong president meaning a president who would ignore other opinions and make gut decisions we have been there and done that with Bush. There’s a big difference from being strong and being a bully. Americans seem to like a bully in charge. Every day it comes through loud and clear that what many purist progressives wanted was a progressive version of W.
KQuark: Do you think – like LBJ – that Obama will only choose to run for one term? I can’t help but wonder. I also wonder what his family would choose.
It depends on how Afghanistan goes and the economy grows. But I don’t see him quitting because he knows what he planned strategically will take a while to come to fruition.
I like Andrew Sullivan because he’s one of the few pundits that understand what Obama is trying to do. His Daily Dish column was interesting reading today.
I cannot even REMOTELY imagine how the idea would enter your mind that the president would not stand for re-election.
What, WHAT in the world could lead you to think that his presidency could even remotely resemble LBJ’s?