Refusing to shake hands with Hugo Chavez doesn’t help anyone or improve anything. Talking with the UK government in advance about our objections to releasing a Lockerbie bomber might achieve something. But loudly denouncing them ex post facto isn’t going to help anyone or improve anything. By contrast, getting mad at Israel about settlements really might accomplish something—the US-Israeli relationship is completely different from the US-Iranian relationship and “this thing we’re doing is pissing off the president” could realistically be a factor in Israeli decision-making.In other words, it's a good thing that the President isn't a blogger. And it's a doubly good thing that the neocons have no power. Every time I hear a conservative blasting the "politics of meaning," I just think about the neocons and smile.
The Skip Gates episode is an interesting example. I think the way to think about this is that it pushed Obama’s personal buttons in a way that made him forget his sound approach to these things. On Gates, he acted the way Frum and other neocons want him to act all the time—embracing an ethic of ultimate ends in which the most important thing is to align his expression of his sentiments with transcendent moral values. The fact that wading into the controversy wouldn’t accomplish anything was set aside. But, in fact, the intervention only made things worse and Obama wisely moved to try to reverse himself and smooth things out.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Yglesias again, tackling the inane contention that Obama doesn't get angry enough about terrorism:
The Man, The Myth, The Bio
- East Bay, California, United States
- Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.