24
   

Benghazi, Putin. How's Obama doing?

 
 
Lash
 
Reply Wed 5 Mar, 2014 05:57 pm
I know a lot of Obama loyalists hear the word Benghazi and feel that they must go to war. Many Democrats also feel that they must put the best possible face on Obama's treatment of this skirmish with Putin out of party loyalty.

How about this: Can we ignore the pull to protect a politician and analyze facts and events dispassionately. No need to bring up Bush or what McCain might have done...and use your mammoth brains to discuss reality?

I don't even have a finished opinion. Not seeking an Obama beat-down. I don't "dislike" the current president, but I'd LOVE to hear unbiased opinions about the current geopolitical issue - AND honest opinions about Benghazi.

If you have to, imagine a Republican in Obama's position during these events.

Political scientists... Obama has nothing to lose. He's presided over almost eight years. No election to lose. What did he do right? What did he do wrong?
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Type: Question • Score: 24 • Views: 10,367 • Replies: 300

 
parados
 
  5  
Reply Wed 5 Mar, 2014 06:13 pm
@Lash,
Reality. The world is a complicated place and Presidents often have to make nuanced decisions. It's easy for anyone to second guess from the outside without all the facts.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  4  
Reply Wed 5 Mar, 2014 09:44 pm
When this type of criticism of Obama comes up in conversation, I will usually ask "What do you think [insert name of potential president] would have done in the same situation?" All too often the actions which anti-Obama persons criticise so severely turn out to have been the only reasonable options available, the same thing any responsible president would do.

Take the current crisis in Ukraine. What would any other president do that Obama is failing to do? Seriously.
Lustig Andrei
 
  3  
Reply Wed 5 Mar, 2014 09:52 pm
http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/LoweC/2014/LoweC20140305_low.jpg

I shamelessly plagiarized this from Bobsal's thread on GOP continued opposition to Obamacare.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 Mar, 2014 10:01 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Lustig Andrei wrote:

When this type of criticism of Obama comes up in conversation, I will usually ask "What do you think [insert name of potential president] would have done in the same situation?" All too often the actions which anti-Obama persons criticise so severely turn out to have been the only reasonable options available, the same thing any responsible president would do.

Take the current crisis in Ukraine. What would any other president do that Obama is failing to do? Seriously.


Do you ask that so as not to discuss what Obama is doing/not doing?

It's difficult to discuss what someone else would have done because we do not have 5 years of knowing what they have/have not done previous to this to set the stage.

So, What do you think Obama should be doing?
coldjoint
 
  0  
Reply Wed 5 Mar, 2014 10:10 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Quote:
"What do you think [insert name of potential president] would have done in the same situation?


You should ask why Obama has done nothing that has to do with leadership of the free world. If he had, this would not have happened. As you can see his apology tour went nowhere.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 12:30 am
@Lustig Andrei,
There was no criticism. I said the same thing you did - imagine a different president.

As the thread opener asks, "How's he doing?"
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 12:30 am
@McGentrix,
Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Region Philbis
 
  3  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 06:42 am

0 Replies
 
revelette2
 
  5  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 08:46 am
@McGentrix,
As for dealing with Putin, Congress and Obama are on a rare agreement in putting out tougher sanctions against Russia. As for Benghazi, perhaps they could have put more security personnel on the Benghazi compound.

How many diplomacy post were attacked under Bush again? Perhaps they could have put more security personnel in those posts as well.

Mistakes are made, they are tragic but hopefully going forward more money will be spent on guarding diplomats in other countries.

0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  15  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 01:49 pm
@Lash,
I think it is too early to discuss Obama's performance. He's been in office a little over five years, not eight. That said, here's how I would score it today.

Economy: B
Inherited what could have been a complete collapse of the financial system. Drove and expanded upon emergency actions started by his predecessor to stabilize the system. Saved the US auto industry. Some economists say he should have done more in terms of public spending but I'm not in complete agreement there. Made some clever moves to put money into the bottom of the food chain like cutting the employee contribution to Social Security to 4% for a while that are completely underappreciated in terms of their stimulus value. The economy is growing slowly and he is taking heat for that but I'd rather that than a bubble. If I didn't have a job I might feel otherwise.

Taxes/Deficit: C
The reality is that our overall tax rate is too low. We've been cutting spending hard and still have a pretty big deficit. I know that some will trot out a list of programs they want to cut, but the reality is we need good infrastructure, we want a strong military, it is to all of our benefit to maintain a basic social safety net and we need to pony up and pay for it. Obama repealed one Bush tax cut (kind of). I would have been happy if he'd just let it expire full out. I understand that tax increases at the low end of the spectrum would have hurt the economy but he gave up too much at the high end of the spectrum to make up for what he preserved. To get an A here (in my book), we'd have to go back to the 2000 tax rate and that was never going to happen, but he still gets a C.

Healthcare: B-
We need a national healthcare solution. The idea that those who can't pay just die or get so ill that they go to the emergency room, get very expensive treatments for what could have been prevented with decent preventive care, get charged 5x what they would have to pay if they had insurance, refuse to pay, are hounded by the hospital and then hounded by collection agencies that the hospitals sell the debt to is just absurd, but that was the system Obama inherited. Every US citizen who has healthcare insurance should want everyone else to have it as well to prevent this ridiculous and expensive cycle. The solution selected is not the best but it is a start. The rollout should have been a lot better. Obama gets some credit here for fighting off the horde in Congress that is doing everything possible to trip him up. If a Republican proposed this solution, they would all be behind it. After all, it was created by a Republican think tank.

Foreign Policy
Category 1: Iraq: B
Gets points for getting us out, loses points for it taking so long, but I'd rather a considered withdrawal than a knee jerk response. Plus there is some merit to the "you broke it you own it" system. I'm sure some will disagree because the government there seems to be losing ground, but that was going to happen no matter when we left. The idea that we could impose a style of government on a population that wasn't ready for or didn't want is was always a pipe dream.

Category 2: Afganistan: D+
We're still there? There is a difference between a considered response and dragging your feet.

Category 3: Gitmo: D-
Not an F because Congress actively tried to block him here but I didn't see a lot of effort to change the status quo either.

Category 4: Arab Spring: B
I think Obama realized a lot more than the talking heads that the Arab Spring was not about the US or the West or Democracy, it was about the self determination of the citizens of various countries. Some people were critical that the US didn't swoop in and "help" but I fail to see where the US would do anything constructive and saw lots of places where it could have made things much worse. As it was unfolding I was strongly of the opinion that less is more and I'm happy that Obama was restrained in his response. Those who want to claim that the US is arranging uprisings throughout the Middle East really don't have much to stand on.

4A1: Libya revolution: B
The rebels did fine without us putting boots or arms on the ground. I thought the argument that we lost influence with the new government by not taking a more active role in supporting them to be intentionally deceptive. The reality is that Libya and the US are not all that close economically or strategically and letting Europe take the lead makes a lot of sense.

4A2: Bengazi: N/A
I say N/A because this is the biggest non-scandal of the decade. To listen to those pushing this, you would think the Bengazi was the most important place in Libya and the US military has troops on standby all over the world to rush in when civilians call if only the State Department would let them help. When Congress approves funds to keep platoons of Marines stationed at every secondary embassy around the world and the State Department refuses their help, let me know. Until then, this is a tragic event that doesn't reflect on the President in any way I can see.

4B: Syria: C
This is still ongoing so history may revise this and I'm sure others will have a different opinion. My take is the US should have minimal involvement in an open civil war in Syria. The old government was not particularly to our liking, the new government will likely not be to our liking, we don't have as big a stake in what happens in Syria as the talking heads would have us believe and I'm pretty sure whatever action we take there will be unintended consequences. I'm happy sending humanitarian support and working with Europe on sanctions. I guess I give Obama lower marks here for waffling instead of making a clear statement of what the US is going to do. Don't tell people you are going to help if you aren't.

4C: Iran: A+
Delicate situation managed perfectly while others around you are losing their minds. Obama worked with allies, took effective actions (sanctions), kept the door open for negotiations, fended off lunatics in the US and in Iran and kept a low enough profile that nationalistic fervor in Iran did not rise up and squash moderate voices. Add to that a crushing defeat for AIPAC trying to drive us to war and you have a virtuoso performance.

Category 5: Ukraine: A so far.
If Syria is a work in progress, Ukraine is just getting started. Some Congressman said Russia is playing chess while we play marbles. I think Obama is a more knowledgable player or perhaps this crisis just plays to his conservative nature. Just to keep up the chess analogy, the Russian Gambit has not been met with the Kneejerk Defense where the players are drawn into a free for all where the attacker has all the advantages, but with the International Defense where after extending his forces the attacker faces pressure all across the board for the remainder of the game. The truth is that the US has no strategic interests in the Ukraine. None. Europe is another story. Working closely with the Europeans and helping rather than leading is an absolute perfect response at this point. The situation is volatile and that could change but I'm with Obama on this one so far.

NSA Scandal: F
Obama just doesn't get this one and that doesn't make sense given his background. The fix for this one could be as simple as saying "I will personally review every single request that goes to the FISA court and ensure that it is appropriately focused and does not over-reach." At this point I still don't know that I would trust him to do so or to make the right calls, but it would be a start. Just saying "9-11 blah blah blah, National Security blah blah blah" is just ridiculous.

IRS Scandal: N/A
I'm glad to know the Preisdent of the US does not micromanage an IRS field office in Ohio.

Interaction with Congress: C+
This could be lower except the Republicans are so clearly insane it's hard to see where he could do better. Poor marks for sequester, spending cuts, nominations. A very strong mark for gutting government shutdown and default as tools to extort concessions.

Interaction with the Press: F
I was expecting more open government, not more secretive government.

Civil Rights (excluding NSA): B+
I had this scored lower but after putting down the details I raised it. The big story of Obama's terms will by gay rights. Obama started off pretty far behind me where he did not support gay marriage and was luke warm supporting gay rights in general. I think his evolution in supporting gay rights closely matches that of the country in general. When Obama finally flipped over to supporting gay rights, he brought along a lot of the Black community which was long a strong bastion of homophobia and for that I think he deserves credit. Also under his term, the military ditched don't ask, don't tell. As an ex-military person I think that removes a large black mark on our military that I am glad is gone. I also thought his statements both during his first campaign and in the aftermath of the Trevon Martin verdict were some of the best conversations on race that we've had as a country in a long time. Heck, I even thought his considered, restrained remarks about the Washington Redskins was right on the money. On the down side, voting rights are facing attacks all across the South and without the Voting Act, the Justice Department is going to have to be on their game. I'm not sure they are.

Immigration: C
Some people complain about the rate at which the Obama administration deports people. I personally don't have an issue with Obama enforcing the law since that is his job. I think his efforts to actually address the source of the problem have been lackluster. His grade would have been a lot lower but since Congress isn't going to make any effort at all, I can't really fault him for not spending his time hitting his head against a wall. Still he could have done more.
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 07:05 pm
http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/FellP/2014/FellP20140306_low.jpg

Again, thnx to Bobsal's thread.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  3  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 07:14 pm
@engineer,
That was awesome in scope and concise, engineer - thanks for your time. I agree with most of your opinions, actually. I'll try to explain why some especially more conservative, defense-minded people felt like Benghazi was a canary in the coal mine.

Khrushchev had fun chewing JFK down during their historic meeting. Reagan's inauguration wasn't even over before the hostages in Iran were released.... Many times, world leaders assess the "strength" or will of another world leader based on not only their rhetoric, but how they choose to act in certain situations. Trust me, as a former "strong on defense" person, I've begun to appreciate a greater focus on diplomacy - holding more forceful measures for when push has come to shove.

So, I definitely don't want my president, no matter who he or she is, coming out with guns blazing or provocatively moving effing ships around starting some never-ending escalation...

Benghazi mattered. Had we handled it correctly and responsibly, Mr Putin would likely not be where he is right now.
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 07:37 pm
Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Ever get caught masturbating in your closet as a child?

For shame.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 08:18 pm
@Lash,
Lash wrote:
Benghazi, Putin. How's Obama doing?

I know this hard for many Americans to wrap their heads around, but there are many places on this planet --- most, actually --- that America is simply not in charge of. And when you're not in charge of something, your opportunities to either excel or fail at doing things about it is severely limited.

Ukraine is one of those things America is not in charge of. Russia is invading it for geopolitical reasons of its own. Ukraine is too weak to defend itself against the invasion for reasons of its own. And with America having no military alliance with Ukraine, limited credibility as a defender or even follower of international law, and other projects it needs Russia's cooperation on (like Syria and Iran), there isn't all that much it can do. To repeat, not everything that happens in the world is about America or within America's power and interest to change. This Russian invasion of Ukraine is one of those things.

PS: Oh, wait, I forgot to address Benghazi.

Lash wrote:
I know a lot of Obama loyalists hear the word Benghazi and feel that they must go to war.

Really? When I hear the word Benghazi, I feel I must yawn. But then, I'm not an Obama loyalist.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 09:00 pm
@engineer,
yup yup and yup though I'd go with a slightly higher rating on the economy and lower on healthcare

engineer wrote:

4A2: Bengazi: N/A


yup - pretty much irrelevant to anyone outside of the U.S.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 09:02 pm
@Thomas,
to say it one more time

Thomas wrote:
To repeat, not everything that happens in the world is about America or within America's power and interest to change. This Russian invasion of Ukraine is one of those things.



(a non-Obama fan waiting for Petty Officer Apisa to slap me around again)
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 09:04 pm
@Lash,
Lash wrote:
I don't "dislike" the current president


I do.

<edit>

I don't dislike him as a person. I don't know him.

I dislike what I see of him as a politician in re rendition/NSA/Guantanimo/Afghanistan/drones etc etc. He's too far to the right for me. I didn't expect more of him. Hoped for more, but didn't expect it.
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Thu 6 Mar, 2014 09:08 pm
@engineer,
Gadzooks, engineer what a post. Well written from any point of view. For me, it was a little like reading Pauline Kael again......... she agreed with me? Down the line I agreed with you and your reasons why.

I have one quibble, in the health paragraph. I would change "refused to pay" to having it nigh impossible to pay, except meted out very slowly.


Edit, re talk of drones - I despise drones with my gut and heart and brain. Re using them for nabbing malefactors, I think winning is losing. More hate is created.
I understand they have many uses. Re amazon delivering stuff with them, stuff Amazon.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  3  
Reply Fri 7 Mar, 2014 12:34 am
@Thomas,
Whether you or I like it or not, the world does look to the US as a major arbiter in most of the **** that happens. I have grown to hate it. It's costly, young men and women die, and even when the involvement benefits others more than us, we're never appreciated. I wish people could handle their own shite.

So, you don't like it and I damn sure don't like it - but, no matter what our opinions are about it, the fact exists. We are asked to step in. We are expected to step in. When we do, we're criticized; when we don't, we're criticized.

You said oddly that the US isn't in charge of the Ukraine - as if everyone isn't completely aware of that. We are in a position of influence over most geopolitical events in the world, including this one. Lucky us. If China were more of a part of the global community, eyes would turn toward them too. If the USSR hadn't fallen apart, we'd be waiting to hear their comments on global events.

So, it's not in American interests to hop up in everything that happens. The less, the better, in my opinion. But after our experience with some of these same players under the auspices of the USSR, you can bet your ass we're watching closely how far this former KGB asshole extends himself into the Ukraine; it is in our interest; and it is well within our power...unless Obama delivers the deathblow he promised to our military.

Don't bet on that happening now either.

Remember when the Eastern European countries broke free? How exciting that was - and we stood with them literally and figuratively as they set out to find their own brand of freedom? We made promises to them. There are some treaties floating around. I hope we carefully and judiciously honor those promises.

I don't think you're naive enough to pretend there aren't halls of scientists all around the world who study the personalities and philosophies of world leaders and advise presidents... There's a reason for that. You don't think the governments of the world didn't note our pathetic handling of Benghazi? Do you not think that astounding weakness didn't embolden some?

I think if you try to get your American burr out of your butt for a minute and think about it logically, you wouldn't have much to argue about.

 

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