Maureen Dowd | Joe Biden: Old Pol, New Tricks – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

“WASHINGTON — Joe Biden never had a seat at the cool kids’ table at the Obama White House.

Heading into 2016 and 2020, if you told the hotshots from Obamaworld that you thought Biden would be a good candidate, they would uniformly offer a look of infinite patience, tolerance and condescension and say something like, “Well, I could understand how someone would think that.”

The message was unmistakable: Biden was not part of the Obama entourage. He was sort of a goofball and windbag. He was a member of an older, outmoded generation. In other words, uncool.

The West Wing attitude was that Biden should simply be grateful that the Great Obama had handed him a ticket to ride. Biden was viewed as a past-his-sell-by-date pol who needed the president’s guiding hand to keep Uncle Joe from making a fool of himself as vice president.

In 2012, Biden faced “friendly fire” from the West Wing, as one outraged Biden family member put it to me back then. Obama aides were furious when Biden went on “Meet the Press” and made a glorious gaffe, blurting out support for gay marriage while his boss was still dragging his feet. They trashed him anonymously to reporters, froze him out of meetings and barred him from doing some national media.”

David Lindsay:  While this column by Maureen Dowd has some flaws, it made me smile, since I too think Obama was an pretty bad president. Obama was and is a great guy, but he was an inexperienced and cautious politician. One could even hold Obama accountable for the rise of Trump.  Obama wasted a lot of his political capital waiting for Godot, for the GOP to compromise and help him help the country. His emergency bailout and stimulus package was half of what was needed in hindsight, and he followed the wrong advisors at the time. He failed to put bankers and fraudsters from Wall Street in jail, taking the advice of Wall Street chiefs, and enraged many less fortunate Americans, hundreds of thousands of whom lost their houses as the sub prime mortgage market collapsed. He unwisely took Pelosi’s advice, and in his first two years when he had a Democratic congress, he put heath care reform ahead of infrastructure and jobs, and then with the obstruction of the GOP led by Mitch McConnell, his presidency was doomed. Nothing else of consequence happened, since he lost the house in the mid terms. We made or continued the big international trade agreements, but didn’t do the job of finding or making work for the Americans displaced by the competition of world trade and the move towards automation is US manufacturing. The anger in white working class America was volcanic, and unaddressed, since the GOP wouldn’t let any of Obama’s responses go through.

The last  item on my short list is perhaps the most controversial. Obama was shy in foreign policy in Syria. He failed to follow the advice of his Joint Chiefs Staff and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and make war on Bashar Al Assad, after he crossed an expressed US red line, and used chemical weapons on the farmers, protestors and rebels from the north, who protested the lack of government aid while they combatted a severe drought attributed to climate change. The rebels of Syria begged for at least a  no fly zone to protect their schools and hospitals. Syria had about 21 million people. It is now an ugly state with perhaps 5 million refugees, 6 million displace persons, and a half million casualties, and there is a group of analysts who think we missed an important opportunity to remove or handcuff  or limit Assad to his southern enclave. Trump removed almost all of just 500 US troops from northern Syria, where they kept the peace, and we then witnessed the slaughter of  our close allies the Kurds and the northern rebels,  both of whom were betrayed by Trump. It was mainly the Kurds who did the fighting to defeat ISIS, with our backing and air support. They lost over 10,000 soldiers in that war with ISIS in Iraq.

Biden Plans to Tap Lloyd Austin, Former Iraq Commander, as Defense Secretary – The New York Times

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“. . . General Austin became the top commander of American forces in Iraq in 2010, when the United States still had roughly 50,000 service members there. Much of the attention had moved on to other hot spots in the Middle East, but major questions still existed about the direction of Iraq, including whether any American forces would remain in the country beyond 2011. General Austin and his commanders were convinced that a sizable force of over 5,000 troops needed to remain to help the fledgling Iraqi military. But the commanders on the ground were ultimately overruled by the Obama administration, which pulled out all American forces by the end of 2011.

Years later that decision would be blamed for the Islamic State’s ability to seize wide swaths of the country.

General Austin’s style was far more reserved than some of the officers with marquee names who spent considerable time cultivating their public image and using the news media to maneuver policy fights with the administration.” . . .

‘Accelerate the Endgame’: Obama’s Role in Wrapping Up the Primary – By Glenn Thrush – The New York Times

“Over the past year, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former President Barack Obama practiced a political distancing of sorts, with Mr. Obama maintaining a posture of public neutrality in the Democratic primaries, offering counsel to any candidate who called (most did), and Mr. Biden saying he wanted to win on his own.

But with calibrated stealth, Mr. Obama has been considerably more engaged in the campaign’s denouement than has been previously revealed.

For months, he had kept in close contact with senior party officials, in hopes of preventing a repeat of the protracted and nasty 2016 primary race.

Then, in the weeks after it became clear that Mr. Biden was the party’s near-certain nominee, Mr. Obama — telling a friend he needed to “accelerate the endgame” — had at least four long conversations with his former vice president’s remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Obama’s efforts to ease the senator out of the race played a significant role in his decision to end his bid and, on Monday, endorse Mr. Biden, according to people close to the Vermont independent.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Glenn Thrush for this excellent reporting. You wrote, ““Biden has obviously achieved something huge here on his own, but the president is a surrogate unlike anyone else anyone can bring to bear — I mean, who has Trump got?” said Joel Benenson, Mr. Obama’s longtime pollster and a top adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2016. “Getting to the point where he can get Obama involved, you know, that’s a big deal.”
Mr. Obama is open to whatever the campaign suggests, according to several people familiar with his thinking. But he continues to counsel caution, the better to preserve his political capital and to avoid the perception that he is somehow coming in to rescue Mr. Biden.”
It is clear from such deep and sensitive observations, that the Biden team and the Obama team are thoughtful, and united, against the menace of another four years of Donald Trump, and it appears, that Bernie Sanders, is sincere in his declarations that he will aid and support who ever is the nominee.

How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’ – by Peter Baker – NYT

“And yet despite criticism even from former advisers to Mr. Obama, Mr. Rhodes offers little sense that the former president thought he could have done more to counter Russian involvement in the election. Mr. Obama had authorized a statement to be issued by intelligence agency leaders a month before the election warning of Russian interference, but was thwarted from doing more because Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, refused to go along with a bipartisan statement.

Mr. Rhodes called Mr. McConnell’s refusal “staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic.” But Mr. Obama, whose Supreme Court nomination had been blocked by Mr. McConnell for months, seemed less surprised.

“What else did you expect from McConnell?” he asked. “He won’t even give us a hearing on Merrick Garland.”

Still, in preparatory sessions before meetings with the news media before the election, aides pressed Mr. Obama to respond to criticism that he should speak out more about Russian meddling. “I talk about it every time I’m asked,” he responded. “What else are we going to do? We’ve warned folks.”

He noted that Mr. Trump was already claiming that the election would be manipulated if Hillary Clinton won. “If I speak out more, he’ll just say it’s rigged,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Rhodes writes that neither he nor Mr. Obama knew at that time that there was an F.B.I. investigation into contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia, despite Mr. Trump’s recent unsubstantiated claims that the departing president placed a “spy” or multiple spies in his campaign.”

The Most Successful Democrat Since F.D.R. – by David Leonhardt -The New York Times

“When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he understood, without quite saying it, that there had been no highly successful Democratic president in decades.

Bill Clinton made the country a better place, but his biggest legislative plans failed and he was beset by scandal. John F. Kennedy, though popular in retrospect, had his agenda stalled in Congress when he was killed. Harry Truman left office deeply unpopular. Jimmy Carter lost re-election.And Lyndon Johnson, despite grand domestic achievements, was driven from office. The chant “Hey, hey, L.B.J., how many kids did you kill today?” doesn’t exactly suggest progressive heroism.”

Obama on Climate Change: The Trends Are ‘Terrifying’ – The New York Times

“MIDWAY ATOLL — Seventy-four years ago, a naval battle off this remote spit of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean changed the course of World War II. Last week, President Obama flew here to swim with Hawaiian monk seals and draw attention to a quieter war — one he has waged against rising seas, freakish storms, deadly droughts and other symptoms of a planet choking on its own fumes.

Bombs may not be falling. The sound of gunfire does not concentrate the mind. What Mr. Obama has seen instead are the charts and graphs of a warming planet. “And they’re terrifying,” he said in a recent interview in Honolulu.”

Warning. I think I already posted this piece back in September, 2016, when it first came out. Now, it is part of a 6 section extended review of Obama’s presidency, and Part 1 i worth reading. Haven’t read the rest yet.

Obama Bans Drilling in Parts of the Atlantic and the Arctic – The New York Times

“President Obama announced on Tuesday what he called a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard as he tried to nail down an environmental legacy that cannot quickly be reversed by Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Obama invoked an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which he said gives him the authority to act unilaterally. While some presidents have used that law to temporarily protect smaller portions of federal waters, Mr. Obama’s declaration of a permanent drilling ban on portions of the ocean floor from Virginia to Maine and along much of Alaska’s coast is breaking new ground. The declaration’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the federal courts.”


Here is one of many supporting comments: Edna Boston 10 hours ago

“Please, please, please, President Obama, sit Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court during the interval between congresses. His nomination should have proceeded normally, and that it didn’t is a travesty.
Garland probably won’t remain on the court for long, but it’s the principle of the thing that counts.”

Obama takes off the gloves, by David Leonhart, NYT

David Leonhardt: “Time and again as president, Barack Obama has chosen to use cautious language, at times frustrating both his allies and critics. His descriptions of corporate America’s misbehavior during the financial crisis sounded like cocktail-party chatter compared with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s jeremiads. Obama’s sporadic refusal to utter “terrorism” or “radical Islam” has become a Republican meme.

All of which highlights the bluntness and harshness of his attacks on Donald Trump on Wednesday night.

“Anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or,” Obama said, pausing slightly, “homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.” Look at that list: A president notorious for his cool demeanor compared the opposing party’s presidential nominee to America’s two great 20th-century enemies and its bloodthirsty 21st-century enemy.”

Arguments, provocations and observations from Times Opinion writers.

President Obama and the Long March, NYT

God Bless America.

He took a long view in his convention speech, stressing Americans’ common bonds, consistent with the spirit that drove his historic presidency.|By The Editorial Board
David Lindsay

David Lindsay

Great Comments  after an excellent accolade to our president.

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Lakshmi Sunder Palo Alto, California 10 hours ago

“I am an immigrant from India and I love this country. My president’s speech today made me cry and feel joyous about why I love this country and what it means to be an American. After listening to months of hate filled speeches, feeling alienated, and wondering if I belong here, this president explained what makes America great. MY president described a country and its people that I fell in love with when I was sixteen. The kindness, the generosity, the ingenuity, the optimism, and the diversity is what makes America great. Watching the video describing the accomplishments of this president in the last eight years made me proud to be an AMERICAN. This speech will forever remind me why America is a beacon of light to the rest of the world.”