Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Tuesday Night Links

with 7 comments

* Closing Pandora’s Box: Obama should use Osama Bin Laden’s death to declare victory and end the legal war on terror.

* The right is already embracing deatherism.

* The snap polls are mixed in the immediate aftermath of bin Laden’s killing, but Steve Benen and Josh Marshall seem right (and Ezra Klein needlessly paranoid). Here’s Josh:

The Republican critique of the president has been that he’s a hesitant and vacillating figure, one who fundamentally misunderstands the nature of power politics and the threats the country faces. In the days just before bin Laden’s death, commentators on the right were having fun with a line from one of Obama’s advisors that on Libya Obama was “leading from behind.” Indeed, that looked to be the one-liner the Republicans planned to use to capture or bumper-stickerize their broader critique of the president’s foreign policy.

But that critique, regardless of its merits, simply doesn’t fit with what we know about how this operation unfolded. Whatever gilding of the lily may have happened on the margins, we know with some confidence that the president was presented with three choices: bomb the compound from the air, send in a commando team or wait for more evidence that bin Laden was there.

His advisors were split, with some supporting each option. But Obama himself opted for the most aggressive and riskiest option. And it worked. That simply doesn’t sound like the caricature Republicans have been trying to paint. It simply doesn’t. And presidents, inevitably, are judged both by results and results that are intuitively graspable and simple to understand. Here both measures apply.

* Meanwhile, William J. Dobson declares final escape from the Carter gravity well.

* If all that’s not full-throatedly partisan enough for you, have this:

President Obama revealed the entire Bush team to be the incompetents and dolts we always knew they were, and in doing so single-handedly destroyed the myth that Democrats are soft on national security. What will Republicans do with that?

Already, the Republican Party, with miserable choad Andrew Breitbart in the lead, is showing signs that it doesn’t believe Bin Laden is dead. These “deathers”—most of whom were probably birthers just over a week ago—are symptoms of a deep-seated rot in the Republican Party. They are people committed to gut feelings and scare tactics over facts. The real reason George W. Bush was so uninterested in catching Osama bin Laden was because the Qaeda leader was a useful concept for conservatives, a fright mask to slip on when the American people needed to be put back in their place. Dick Cheney wore the Bin Laden mask at every opportunity, hinting at secret disasters that were always right around the corner if Democrats ever took a leading role in government again. Bush would tell spooky Bin Laden stories to get what he wanted from the American people. So now Republicans are trying to dig Bin Laden out of the grave and wheel his corpse around, Weekend at Bernie’s–style. It’s the only trick they have left.

* Canadian election news: the conservatives win a majority, but an apparent structural shift to the NDP seems promising in the long-term. How a couple of college kids got elected to Parliament. More from TPM.

* And in education news: Kevin Drum reports on the education reform backlash, with a bit more in the New York Times from David Eggers and Ninive Clements Calegari.

7 Responses

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  1. “Obama should use Osama bin Laden’s death to declare victory and end the legal war on terror” – but why would he? it’s still the basis of much of his foreign policy and almost all his position on executive power.

    maybe it’s hypocritical, but even though i was indifferent to the displays of patriotism after bin laden’s demise, the attempts of democrats to capitalize on the assassination of a symbolic target for political gain actually do disgust me. i mean do people really think using this to make obama look like a badass is going to discredit the war on terror?

    especially given the shady context of the whole operation and general lack of information (its legality but also the role played by pakistani intelligence are the two biggest black holes).

    “The right is already embracing deatherism”

    you know this is just another groupthink move to ensure you have to either blindly accept everything they say or everything obama says if you want to be ‘politically relevant.’


    May 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    • but why would he

      Saying “should” isn’t a prediction. Is/ought distinction.

      you know this is just another groupthink move to ensure you have to either blindly accept everything they say or everything obama says if you want to be ‘politically relevant.’

      I don’t follow. Where are you seeing “blind acceptance” of “everything Obama says” in the proposition that Osama bin Laden is, in fact, dead?


      May 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm

  2. “Is/ought distinction.”

    yeeaaah. but some ‘oughts’ look pretty silly if they don’t even mention the ‘is.’ that said, i just read a thing by the stratfor guy suggesting, contra greenwald, that putting petraeus in charge of the cia actually isolates him, and combined with the osama assination is a sign that obama will be speeding up withdrawal from afghanistan. so i guess who knows.

    “Where are you seeing “blind acceptance””

    no, i’m convinced he’s dead. but now wondering about anything related (how pakistan could have not known he was there for so long, and by extension how could the cia not have known, did the raymond davis thing have anything to do with this, the weird treatment of the body) is going to give the impression that you don’t, because they’re the same questions the ‘deathers’ start with. the basic identity of conspiracy theories, and all that.


    May 4, 2011 at 12:23 am

  3. A comment not about bin Laden (though I agree w Traxus).

    Race to Nowhere is a great idea for a doc. It’s the point I tried to make every day when I TA’d for a certain education reformist. Yeah, we can get excellent students. Yeah, we can get smart people who excel at everything. But why? How does it benefit the world?


    May 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm

  4. “I agree w Traxus”: that is, on the disgustingness of the Democrat’s new “Obama is badass” narrative and the idea that Obama has no intention of leaving the war on terror. Not on the deatherism thing.


    May 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    • Well, I don’t disagree with him that Obama has no intention of leaving the war on terror. I just don’t see it as a good criticism of the piece, because it wasn’t about predicting his intentions.

      I don’t find the Obama-is-badass narrative especially offensive, because I prefer for Democrats to win elections over Republicans and this will facilitate that.


      May 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      • “because it wasn’t about predicting his intentions.”

        come on — after obama’s continued reliance upon and extension of dubya’s executive powers and privileges, extraordinary rendition, military tribunals, preemptive quasi-legal military operations, all justified by the war on terror, writing a whole piece arguing he should end the war on terror with no mention of any of these things is almost like writing an op-ed in favor of world peace. it’s another ‘clean slate’ type of article, pretending the last 2 years didn’t happen and blaming everything on bush, with obama once again the agent of hope/change.

        and the obama-is-a-badass thing increases his already excellent chances of electoral victory at the cost of validating every right-wing narrative we’ve been criticizing since 9/11. like the absurd right-wing/crazy conspiracy theories, it makes it harder to question anything about what happened until after it doesn’t matter anymore.


        May 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm

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