Arguments For Why Who Is President Matters

I used Scott Lemieux as a whipping boy yesterday, and was not totally fair about it. Lemieux is a smart good guy so I think I should try to be fair and link to his reaction:

[W]orking backward from my clearly stated position, he seems to be saying that we shouldn’t care about foreign policy and security policy (where presidential power is dominant or near-dominant), the appointment power, the enforcement of legislation, the ability to veto legislation, the power to set the agenda, and the real (if subordinate) power to influence domestic policy all don’t matter! I disagree — I think this stuff matters a great deal, and personally plan to follow the next presidential election with substantial interest.

That's fair tit for tat. I did misrepresent his position and of course he is paying me back by doing the same to me. I do think we have a fundamental disagreement on the power of the President on domestic policy. And I think he severely underestimates how important domestic policy is in a Presidential election. In short, I do not think his argument on Presidential weakness on domestic policy, particularly the economy, is going to cut it politically. I think it is wrong as a question of fact and I know it will not work as a question of politics.

Speaking for me only

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    Domestic (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 12:24:14 PM EST
    policy is going to probably decide the election in '12. Foreign policy generally is something that matters around the margins.

    If foreign policy was so important, then Bush Sr. should have been reelected in '92. There are many examples of foreign policy not being the dominant issue to ignore it.

    I would argue (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 12:29:38 PM EST
    Foreign policy played a significant role in 2004.  Remember the whole "We're at war - why change leaders in the middle of it?"  Also - Bush was seen as tough and decisive when it came to terrorists - Kerry was seen as a weak and effete latte liberal.

    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 12:32:24 PM EST
    but how many times in the history of this country has an election been like 2004? The foreign policy argument usually fails to make a case for election or reelection alone.

    And even with all that Bush barely eked out a victory.


    We still had the bubble going then (none / 0) (#4)
    by TJBuff on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 12:35:19 PM EST
    The economy wasn't a factor.

    The economy wasn't great (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 01:34:18 PM EST
    Remember how it tanked after 9/11 - the airlines especially?

    Besides, Kerry really didn't connect with lots of people.  Even many of his supporters voted for him only because they "had nowhere else to go"


    If we had another terrorist attack (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 02:06:46 PM EST
    That would probably help Obama since he did actually get Bin Laden after 7 years of Republican FAIL, and he has really been taking the fight to the terrorist networks.  We could end up with a 2004 type election then.  Who wants such a thing or would wish for it though?

    Isolated incident (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 01:09:34 PM EST
    And people weren't suffering economically like they are now.  They did feel threatened by Al Qaeda still though.

    the war played against Bush too (none / 0) (#14)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 03:44:17 PM EST
    The war was already clearly a mistake by that point, even to some who agreed with it at the start.

    Either way, foreign policy of course plays a bigger role than normal when we are in two wars. It will this time too. If people approve Obama's handling of the wars, it will offset a little of the economic dissatisfaction.


    The war, however, was ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by sj on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 11:21:49 PM EST
    ... conflated with 9/11 which is a hybrid of of foreign/domestic.  The whole "feel safer" bit that began the accelerated surveillance state.

    Argument on why .... (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 12:38:35 PM EST
    being a puppet of powerful interests matters:

    You get elected, you get protected by the media, and you get re-elected.

    The president is powerless (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 03:16:01 PM EST
    is, in large measure, for apologies and apologists.   And, it is not one that was used very often by past presidents. Indeed, most would likely to have been reluctant to admit that they were something akin to a facilitator or just calling balls and strikes.  

    A domestic/foreign policy hybrid is the new START treaty--President Obama signed the new treaty with Medvedev in April 2010 thereby demonstrating a personal as well as presidential investment. Ratification of the treaty required 2/3 vote in the senate (one of those impossible votes we are told). A number of  Republicans, led by Senator Kyl, were against ratification based on concerns for missile defenses and stockpile modernization.   All stops were pulled by the White House to overcome opposition and the treaty was ratified on December 22, 2010.   Power or Powerless seems to depend on how invested and how determined.

    If you have a lick of oratorial skill... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:55:26 PM EST
    ...AND you actually give a sh*t, that presidential bully pulpit is as powerful a position as one can be afforded.  Anywhere in the world.  Period.

    It is THE ace up every president's sleeve, or should be.  

    Obama should be talking right past congress every day, right to the American people.  Phuck 'em, this oughtta be his tack right now.  But he IS 'em, in large measure, so...

    Obama is talking to the American people (none / 0) (#18)
    by The Addams Family on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 09:02:19 PM EST
    it sounds like this:


    as with God & prayer, silence is also an answer


    1972 election: foreign (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 01:51:24 PM EST
    poligy "mattered.". Well, kind of.

    Waiting for andgarden re whether (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 01:59:31 PM EST
    BTD's "apology" falls w/i the "mistakes were made" category

    Is this a good reason? (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 02:39:16 PM EST
    Anxiety over US plan to stay in Afghanistan till year 2024

    ISLAMABAD: President Barack Obama's new policy turnabout to possibly allow US troops to stay inside Afghanistan till 2024, comes immediately in the aftermath of taking out Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, and will certainly hit Pakistan the hardest, with even Iran and Russia furious with the upcoming development. The new date for a complete withdrawal is ten years beyond the previously announced date of 2014. Europe already sees a "troop fatigue" and it is unlikely that their governments, many heading into elections, will allow their troops to stay for the next thirteen years or so. Imagining over a decade more of drone strikes, hot pursuits at the Pak-Afghan border, violation of Pakistan's airspace and sermons of `do more' is indescribable.

    It is probably only India, which is greatly apprehensive about the return of the Taliban in any form that will breathe a sigh of relief if such a deal does go through. The US by prolonging its stay will be able to keep a number of bases in one of the most strategic areas of the region, something which will be seen as a threat by Iran and China. "It is for the Afghan government and people to take decisions on such matters," the spokesperson at the Foreign Office told The News when asked about the upcoming US-Afghan deal.

    I don't anticipate us leaving for a (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 03:27:07 PM EST
    very long time.  Maybe no even in my lifetime.  I think they used getting Bin Laden to break it to the country that we would be going longer term in Afghanistan in some form.

    When they moved Petraeus to CIA that cinched it too, we will be addressing extremist terrorism and all supporting networking in that region for a very long time using whatever resources that are available to our leaders.  I don't think it will matter who is President either.  The danger is real, it is a global danger.  Now that we have a much better more documented with actual intel knowledge of what went on and continued to go on, it really makes Dubya look like a buffoon.

    Of course they probably would have used another successful attack in some way that would have increased the power of an Insane Unregulated Xe and Halliburton...actually successfully protecting anyone was never a serious goal with any of that bunch.

    I see that National Geographic is going to do an in depth interview with Dubya about 9/11.  I hope the little idiot keeps in mind that many of us still have functioning memory.  I would hate to witness him making himself look as foolish as Rumsfeld did with his book attempting to rewrite facts and history.  Dubya looks bad enough, don't make it worse man.


    Judging by the clips (none / 0) (#15)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 04:11:29 PM EST
    they've been airing in promos, he's absolutely going to make it worse.  Heck, just hearing that voice talking about it makes it worse!

    Pennies To Dollars Cost Benefit Risk - (none / 0) (#16)
    by seabos84 on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 04:36:46 PM EST
    of course when Bach-Perry-Palin is elected the rate of dollars getting ripped outta my wallet will increase, AND

    the rate of pennies being thrown on the floor for me to scamper after will decrease to zero,


    why is the market of fighting for us bottom 85%-ers unserved? In large part, cuz the DLC Thrid Way New Dem Blue Dog Sell Outs are in charge, and they're ONLY gonna throw pennies on the ground while dollars are stolen from my pocket.

    So, unless I have a Greyson to vote for, a "I welcome their hatred" FDR type, the Sell Outs are on their own. The sooner the Sell Outs are gone, the better.

    And all of you happily scampering after pennies, or whatever the justification is for scampering and whatever your feelings are about scampering - keep scampering!


    Meh (none / 0) (#20)
    by lilburro on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 01:08:42 AM EST
    for better or worse, people are not as emotionally stirred to vote for members of Congress.  I seem to recall my excitement over 2008 was not because Kay Hagan would finally reach a Senatorial office.

    Dems have a hard slough convincing voters that the President doesn't matter.  And that he's not "above" Congress.

    I think Obama likes this argument because he wants to project that he does not have the responsibility of party leadership.  But party leadership will be attributed to him whether he likes it or not.