President Obama accused Republicans on Tuesday of launching an “ideological crusade” to hold the “economy hostage” over “ideological” and “reckless” demands to dismantle his health care law. “In other words,” he said, “they demanded ransom just for doing their jobs.”
Several readers who support Obama said they were disappointed by the tone of his remarks. One from Ohio wrote, “He needs to chill. He looks defensive and has no reason to be.” An independent voter in Michigan wrote, “He seems like an angry kid.” A Maryland Democrat complained, “I love the man, but why is he yelling at me?”
I had a similar reaction listening to the remarks shortly after writing a column in defense of Obama’s position.
Is the president lecturing, belittling Americans right now? Or the GOP House? Comms issue: Voters watching might not know difference— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) October 1, 2013
An otherwise solid argument can be undercut by the words a president chooses and the tone that greases them. It’s not enough to be right as a leader if you insult voters with your righteousness. It’s not just Obama. Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer recently said the White House is opposed to “negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chests,” an irresponsible and overheated image.
The Republican Party engineered this stalemate and is likely to shoulder most of the blame. That is, unless the Democratic Party matches the GOP on pettiness, stubbornness, and demagoguery. Presidents Reagan and Clinton had a way of attacking their rivals with a smile, making their point without making themselves look smaller. Can Obama?
Twenty-six hundred words into a long-winded address, Obama took a breath and said, “Let me repeat, I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up. I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands.” Ten sentences later, he added, “We’re better than this. Certainly, the American people are a lot better than this.”
Yes, they are. And they might expect a better tone from their president.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”