Adventures In Pundit Delusion

Eugene Robinson:

This is a radical break from journalistic convention, I realize, but today I'd like to give credit where it's due -- specifically, to President Obama. Quiet as it's kept, he's on a genuine winning streak.

No, he is not joking. But let's examine his argument. What constitutes "Obama's winning streak" to Robinson:

(1) Last U.S. combat troops leave Iraq. Robinson argues that "Obama did as well as anyone could have with the situation he inherited." Note that argument. Cuz it's going to be the key to defending Obama on every issue in 2012. It's sort of true as far as it goes on this issue. But the inverse is also true - not many would have done anything different. The Iraq Debacle happened and we'll be reaping the consequences for some time to come. More . . .

(2) General Motors to launch stock offering. This is obviously not bad news, but that Robinson sees this as a win is part of the myopia of his analysis. The mere fact that a company called General Motors still exists is pretty meaningless. The point of saving General Motors was to save jobs. And to an extent, saving General Motors has saved jobs in America. But not as many as it should have. General Motors has been exporting jobs. Thus,much like saving Wall Street has been good up to a point, it has not been particularly good for the country, because Wall Street is not lending. Would nationalizing General Motors and failed banks have been a better policy? Almost certainly yes. These institutions could have been vehicles for job creation. This was a missed opportunity to stimulate the economy.

(3) Obama persuaded BP to put up $20 billion for the Gulf spill. Ok, I guess this is a win, but it is a fairly puny and insignificant one. BP was not going out of business and would have been paying a lot of money, whether there was a 20 billion dollar escrow account or not. Weak tea.

(4) "President wades into mosque controversy." My view on this has been made clear on this site. But let's examine Robinson's argument in a bit more detail:

Supporting the mosque in Lower Manhattan didn't score any political points. But Obama saw his duty to uphold the values of our Constitution and make clear that our fight is against the terrorists, not against Islam itself. Instead of doing what was popular, he did what was right.

(Emphasis supplied.) Obama did not "uphold the Constitution" here. He said some words. Upholding the Constitution is what Obama could do on illegal surveillance by the government. Obama could prohibit what he has authorized regarding spying on Americans. Upholding the Constitution would be Obama insuring the military commissions he has directed comply with the Geneva Conventions and the UCMJ. Those are ACTIONS that Obama could take to uphold the Constitution.

Reciting the First Amendment is not upholding the Constitution.And the reality is the President has NO ROLE, absolutely none, regarding upholding the Constitution regarding the Cordoba Center. I can admire his impulses in this matter and still criticize him for lack of wisdom in wading in the issue, since his incursion did no good in this matter. Indeed it did a lot of harm.

But what is most striking tome about Robinson's argument is how he simply ignores the economic crisis in the country, where Obama has simply not been up to the job. He is failing on the economy, to the detriment of millions of Americans.

Yes, it's the economy, stupid.

Speaking for me only

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    BP is to put up the $20 Billion (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 09:44:54 AM EST
    in installments,  through 2013. Moreover, in a press release, dated 8/9/10, US Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli said "we have made it clear that the company still needs to ensure that the necessary funds will be available if something happens to the subsidiary (BPEF, a Delaware Corp) that established the trust and we look forward to completion of an appropriate security arrangement."  

    My advise to the Obama administration and its media friends when thinking of including anything about its handling of the BP Gulf oil disaster among  achievements to be shouted from the rooftops, to take its cue from Corexit 9500---make it go away. Out of sight, out of mind.

    As well as anyone could have done (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 08:25:00 AM EST
    That will make quite a bumper sticker.

    I'll add - I wonder if Robinson remembers how well (none / 0) (#2)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 08:27:37 AM EST
    "Stay the Course" worked as a motto for the last one term president during an economic crisis.

    Cut Eugene Robinson some slack (none / 0) (#3)
    by itscookin on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 09:00:27 AM EST
    He's a black man who was overjoyed when this country elected our first AA president. Now a year and a half later, Obama is sinking in the polls, many people who voted for him are suffering from buyer's remorse, and his economic policies are having little or no effect on the things that matter to people most. Robinson isn't ready to admit that Obama isn't a huge success as POTUS. But it's understandable.

    how patronizing (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by The Addams Family on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 01:15:10 PM EST
    So, it's a little like going to someone's (none / 0) (#4)
    by Anne on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 09:21:22 AM EST
    house for dinner, and calling it a rousing success because the tableware was lovely, even though the meal itself was virtually inedible.

    I think politicians ignore the economy and the jobs situation at their - and sadly, our - own peril, and pundits who choose personality over performance, and write columns like Robinson's, have to be relegated to the time-out chair until they can at least be honest about why they are ignoring the obvious.

    Sure, credit should be given where credit is due, but failing to push the president on issues where his performance is less-than-adequate does him - and us - no favors; there simply isn't time to waste propping up the president's feelings while millions wonder when or if they will ever work again.

    But, what does Robinson care: he has a job.

    Robinson has a job (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 09:32:51 AM EST
    African Americans have a substantially higher rate of unemployment than most other groups with the U.S.

    Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men (9.7 per-cent), adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (26.1 percent), whites (8.6 per-cent), blacks (15.6 percent), and Hispanics (12.1 percent) showed little or no change in July. The jobless rate for Asians was 8.2 percent, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.) link

    Maybe Mr. Robinson would be better advocating for jobs for the people who have none.


    I.E. Bob Herbert (none / 0) (#11)
    by Buckeye on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 10:39:40 AM EST
    Yep (none / 0) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 11:44:48 AM EST
    Herbert has written some fine pieces on unemployment.

    My take on his list (none / 0) (#8)
    by CST on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 09:47:57 AM EST
    I think there are two different ways to look at "winning".  Winning politically and winning on policy.  A political win is something that makes good press.  A policy win is something that's good policy.  Pretty straight forward.

    (1) Last U.S. combat troops leave Iraq
       - Political value is low, we are still in Afghanistan, people aren't paying much attention to Iraq, little value when troops are still out there.
       - Policywise it's probably a good thing.  I say probably because nothing associated with this debacle is ever really "good".

    (2) General Motors to launch stock offering
       - Political value high.  It's good optics to have GM bounces back in the news.
       - Policywise it's also a good thing, but I can't really count that as part of a streak, since the policy that caused this was implemented a while ago.  Obama didn't do anything recently to cause this.

    (3) Obama persuaded BP to put up $20 billion for the Gulf spill.
       - Political value low.  Similar to Iraq, having this in the news is just not good for Obama.
       - Policy value also low.  Are you kidding me?  This is the least that should have been done.  No brownie points for showing up.

    (4) "President wades into mosque controversy
       - Political value low.  I think the recent posts have spoken for themselves.
       - Policy value mixed.  I realize this doesn't change anything re. policy.  But for me there is just a right vs. wrong factor that I can't get out of my gut.  Maybe that shouldn't really be under policy, but there it is.

    In any event - I certainly wouldn't call that a "winning streak".

    its recovery summer (none / 0) (#9)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 09:53:58 AM EST
    in an iron lung

    What I do like about (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 10:33:25 AM EST
    the piece is that he didn't try to sell me the profound earth shattering healthcare reform and finance reform.  What a relief!

    I think Obama did about as well as he could on Iraq and GM.  On #3 though I have deep concerns.  It seems to me that the United States Coast Guard has become involved in covering up evidence of the BP spill.  There has been too much smoke on that for there to not be a fire some place.

    And of course #4 should have never happened and only created loss in my opinion, no wins for the people.

    I think they are missing a chance (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 11:43:36 AM EST
    with GM.  I think they should be pushing the heck out of the fact that Government Motors is hiring while others are firing.

    Oh gosh a winning streak... (none / 0) (#15)
    by masslib on Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 10:22:29 PM EST
    I'd hate to see what Robinson would call a losing streak then.  "Quiet" as Obama keeps his winning streak, Robinson is on the latest jobless claims numbers.  LOL