“Vision” and “leadership” with neither clarity or courage.

By the quaint standards of the “reality based” community, Barack Obama “won” last night’s debate handily. He offered a serious, nuanced view of how foreign policy works with ideological zealots like Iran — (News flash: It’s a wee bit more complicated than “projecting strength” or buying more boats for the Navy). But command of nuanced reality isn’t what matters in politics.

Mitt Romney’s people are sounding quite pleased that their guy once again avoided damage. And he did it as he always has, by maintaining a nearly completely opaque wall around what he would actually do about any of the serious problems of our times. … other than “keeping America strong and confident and creating 12 million new jobs” … details to follow … maybe … talk to my scheduling secretary.

Thanks to the heavily negotiated/litigated rules for these debates (and for the moderators), the mano a mano phase of the campaign has ended with no discussion at all of social issues, like abortion, the Republican machine’s anti-gay marriage and Voter ID initiatives and … oh, yeah … climate change. The latter of which might have some very serious impacts on “foreign policy” in the not at all distant future.

I’m certain that if Romney had been asked what he would do about carbon emissions he would have assured us that he has a “vision” to act with clarity, authority and strong leadership … without ever actually being clear, or demonstrating any kind of authoritative grasp of the subject matter and therefore betraying a profound lack of personal courage, a principal asset of leadership.

The fact there is a debate designated solely to foreign policy is because earnest thinkers believe presidents are never more presidential than when managing international conflicts and crises. This plays in the face of the fact that your average persuadable voter is far more interested in which guy will put more money in his pocket, and probably knows so little about international geography he thinks Iran and Syria share a common border. With that in mind the Romney strategy of avoiding mistakes — by again saying nothing and revealing nothing while suggesting something strong and leader-ly — pretty well satisfied their campaign needs for another night.

Since Obama clearly demonstrated both a willingness to debate the interlocking mechanics of foreign policy and remind voters of how he’s already pulled that off, I won’t bore you with a lot of moderator-bashing. Except to say … veteran journalist Bob Schieffer seemed content to play clock keeper and wallpaper. Schieffer knows enough about the nitty-gritty of foreign policy to have interjected a much deserved “and how, exactly … ” a couple dozen times last night. But as I say, his role has been negotiated down to an edge-less nub by strategists for the two campaigns.

My newest brain storm:  A channel that runs the debates on a five-minute delay with “real-time” fact-checking for your average “apology tour” and “private credit was available to GM” moments. That gimmick would have spared the crowd at our debate party last night a lot of spontaneous profanity. (I hope the friend of our friend from St. Paul wasn’t horrified when a scene from “Casino” broke out … three or four times.)

Barring an October surprise from one of the GOP’s leading intellectual lights — like Donald Trump — my prediction is Obama will win by something around 1.5% and a bit less than 300 electoral votes.

But as a kind of horror movie thought experiment consider the psycho-dynamics of a Romney presidency.

In George W.Bush liberals like myself saw a guy manifestly unequipped to be President of the United States. Intellectually lazy, glib to a fault, dismissive of any countering logic, content to be steered by authority figures out of a past generation and incapable of serious reflection and self-criticism. … but affable. A guy you probably would have a beer with. (Dick Cheney … well, only if I could slip sodium pentothal into his mug.) And all our original fears were born out in a genuinely disastrous administration. It was an eight year-run of reckless foreign adventurism and profligate spending that will require another 10 years of repair to set right … assuming we don’t reignite it.

But Bush had friends when he arrived in the White House. Not those who egged his limo on the way to the inauguration, but within his party. People who liked him, personally. Does Mitt Romney?

Based on the primary season I think we can conclude that Romney is despised nearly as much by his own party as a Democrats and liberals. His insular, highly deceptive “leadership style” has quite thoroughly infuriated his own party, and liberals, again judging from my contacts and the venom thrown at his image last night, deeply, genuinely and with multiple valid reasons hold him in utter contempt. I have to go back to Richard Nixon for a candidate whose personal ethic I find as loathsome as Mitt Romney’s.

And that would be his situation at the start … widespread contempt and deep mistrust, with abundant good reason —  before the first shell is lobbed in the political wars. And well before he could commence his vision to “bring America together” … through strength and clarity and leadership … details to follow.

94 thoughts on ““Vision” and “leadership” with neither clarity or courage.

  1. Jeremy Powers says:

    Not that I need to be convinced to vote for Obama, but to me all anyone has to do is to look at Romney’s brief forays into foreign diplomacy, which were such unmitigated failures as to scare even the conservatives in Europe and the Middle East.

    I can only imagine that unless there are countries that he can buy and then trash, like he has done with so many of the companies at Bain Capital, I can’t foresee him doing anything but making things worse.

    And this whole concept that we need more weapons is just beyond me when almost all of the weapons we have are for fighting traditional country-on-country wars and we haven’t had one since Gulf War I and that wasn’t a war – it was a shooting gallery.

  2. Newt says:

    Romney laid low, which confused Obama and liberals. I think he succeded in winning over undecided moderates who were fearful he was a war hawk; he spoon-fed them nuance soup (wishy-washies lap up that stuff.).

    Oh, and “The 1980s called, and they want their foreign policy back.” Who says childish things like that, except for sorority sisters? What a tool.

    Romney by 5 to 7 points, 285 electoral votes.

    1. “Confused” you say, Newt. As in looking sweaty, agitated and speaking in rambling, circuitous monologues? Romney would have been better simply saying, “You know. I really don’t care. But I will cut your taxes.”

  3. PM says:

    I also loved the idea of Mittens using the World Court (weren’t they the ones talking about arresting W as a war criminal?) to arrest Ahmadinejad…..

    how stupid is this guy?

    1. I got vino in the nose on that one. I mean, boy oh boy, the Iranians would know we mean business when we threaten to take ’em to The Hague. Junk-thinking like that is a sign that you’re not really trying.

  4. Mike Kennedy says:

    Newt: Now now. A tool? That is an insult to tools….even they have a purpose.

    Seriously, I can’t think of a liberal candidate I have disliked more….than Mr. Obama. He is a snarky, smart ass, who is not nearly as bright as he thinks he is. He is virtually incapable of admitting that he has done anything wrong….just ask him. Every policy has been correct, despite an economy that is the slowest recovery in the post Depression era.Christ I even liked Carter (when he was in office long before he became a cranky apologist for the Palestinians), and I liked Clinton, having voted for both of them (big mistake on Carter).

    Remember how the Middle East was supposed to have a new found respect for the U.S. under Mr. Obama, yet we have the first ambassador murdered in about 30 years. Under many measures, we are less respected and more villified than we were under George Bush.

    What happened? Talk about hubris and swag……and a lack of being able to back it up. Mr. Romney refrained from taking jabs at Mr. Obama on Libya, Israel and Syria. He tried to be presidential, but I think it was possible to be presidential and respectfully attack Mr. Obama’s failed policies. We will see if it pays off on election day.

    Then there is Mr. Obama’s juvenile little quips about the 1980s called and they want their foreign policy back and the bayonets and horses.

    Not to be nitpicky, Mr. President, but subs are boats not ships, and numbers of vessels and arms do matter when it comes to the U.S. Navy.

    Control of the seas for nearly a century not only have made us secure from being invaded but also have allowed us to control trade by keeping trade routes open around the world. Yes, technology has changed things somewhat.

    Indeed, there isn’t a ship that moves on an ocean anywhere in the world that isn’t under our watch from satellites, but we can’t control the seas with satellites and drones. We need ships…..and boats and planes.

    China is trying to build the world’s largest navy, but that doesn’t happen overnight, and we still have a commanding lead in ocean power, but one that will diminish unless we continue to upgrade our ships…and boats.

    The fact is Mr. Obama is feeling the heat….and has offered nothing new from what we have seen the past four years. He could use a little humbling…..a defeat in a few weeks would be a good start.


    1. You are of course right about one thing, Mike. … “technology has changed things somewhat”. As in A LOT of “somewhat”.

      But on your complaint about Obama’s snarky attitude toward visionaries like Mitt Romney. What else could he say? Is he really supposed to take any of that stump speech stuff seriously? By the sound of it, even Romney doesn’t know what he’s really talking about.

      In fairness, it really is a classic dilemma in almost all liberal-latter day conservative dialogues.The hoary Cold War stuff about “standing tall”, “staying strong”, “showing leadership” , yadda yadda is bumper sticker inanity to everyone outside of talk radio and conservative blogs. It’s simply too silly to take seriously, and for the most part a waste of time rebutting.

      Bottom line: Put up better candidates with actual positions and better arguments if you want a respectful tone.

      Finally … why would Obama need to “offer anything new” after pulling the country out of a depression-like dive, at long, long last setting a first world national health care system on its tracks, getting the hell out of George Bush’s Iraq fiasco, whacking most of Al Qaeda’s top thugs and … biggest miracle of all — avoid getting drawn into one of your team’s cocked up (Whitewater) scandals?

      If he can deliver four more of the same, they should rename National Airport for him.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        Whatever weed you’re smoking Brian, I want some. Obamas has pulled the country out of nothing. The middle class has lost ground, Obama has added a trillion dollars a year to debt, food stamps are at an all time high, poverty levels are high, unemployment is high and the recovery is the weakest recovery in 70 years. This signifies pulling the country out of what…….?

        I was all for Romney taking Obama apart of Libya. It is lies at worst or massive incompetence at best. Is it lead from behind or lead with your behind?

        If I want a respectful tone? Surely you jest. I never said I want a respectful tone. I don’t mind wit and clever lines, but Obama’s seventh grade taunting was anything but.

        Oh, yeah, the stay strong and tough against enemies is so…..Cold War, and we all know we didn’t win that. The reason Mr. Obama couldn’t rebut it is that he has no record to stand on. After all, his bowing and apologizing for the U.S. has been so wildly successful.

        Whacking most of Al Qaeda’s top thugs? Hate to break it to you, but Al Quada doesn’t have a few top thugs. There is plenty of Al Quada influence and planning as we speak.

        Sounds like George Bush and “mission accomplished” to me. Hardly.

        Anyone believing that we can retire ships and boats from the Navy because of “technology” is completely naive about navel power and what patrols the seas. It ain’t a few drones, and we aren’t talking about retiring dingy’s and skip jacks, as Krauhammer says. What does Obama think is going to keep the seas safe?

        PM: I flatly stated I was disappointed with Romney’s approach to last night’s debate. You’re right. He did what he did for his own reasons. Like I said, we will see if it works.

        On your second point, yes, I want to see him defeated; first, because I disagree with many of his policies and second because I think he is supremely arrogant and devoid of any self examination.

        His re-election is in deep trouble, and he is desparate. It shows.

    2. PM says:


      Two points:

      1. If you are so upset about Obama’s foreign policy weakness, you must have been tremendously disappointed with mittens, who seemed to spend the entire debate agreeing with Obama positions, even though he used to disagree with most of those same policy positions. That kind of ….flexibility doesn’t really seem like a projection of strength to me.

      2. Your point seems to almost amount to wanting to see an uppity person get his comeuppance. Is that really what you want to say? That just seems a bit…insensitive?

  5. Mike Kennedy says:

    BTW: I see Mr. Obama finally put out a plan for his second term….it’s a brochure that he actually held up at a campaign stop…. a brochure…. really. And you talk about Romney being stupid?

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        PM: I think you miss the point. Romney was critcizing the fact that the Navy’s fleet is smaller under Obama and getting smaller. It’s a valid critcism no matter how much his critics want to divert attention to “geography.”

        The larger point is that we need floating vessels and subs to monitor the seas. That is the only way to ensure that trade routes are kept open and that we are secure. It isn’t just about Iran. It’s about China and any other country getting a naval advantage.

        I think that’s the point…and his point.

        What about Mr. Obama calling a medal of honor corpsman a “corpse man.”

        Does he know the difference? Is he an idiot? No. I don’t think he’s an idiot, but the left’s attempt to portray Romeny as an idiot and someone not capable of being the president is just…..well, idiotic.

        The guy graduated with what amounts to a dual law degree and MBA. He’s obviously not stupid. It makes the left all the smaller for attempting to convince voters that he is, and fortunately, they aren’t buying it.

        For my choice, an undistinguished senator who was a community organizer vs. a man who actually ran a business…..many of them….. and hired and employed people. Let’s see, as a business guy, the choice is pretty easy for me.

      2. PM says:

        1. We have plenty of ships. The Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not feel the need to build more than are already planned for. Romney (who supposedly wants to balance the budget) will spend far more on the military and ship building that the professionals believe necessary–more government waste, gold plated toilet seats and hammers. That isn’t leadership, nor is it making America safe. Further, Obama’s point about apples and oranges is right on–we have far more capability in our current ships so we can do far more with the same number. focussing on the number of ships is silly, and a signal that Romney doesn’t know what he is talking about and not prepared to be the Commander in Chief (as he has already amply demonstrated with his disasterous overseas trips where he has alienated allies, etc.)

        2. Businessmen do not make good presidents. Jimmy Carter was a very successful peanut farmer. for more on this, read:

        3. Mitts dual degrees are not really that impressive–he got into Harvard as the son of the Governor of Michigan and the President of American Motors. Those where the days when that sort of legacy was sufficient for an automatic admission (Like W. and Yale)

        4. Mitt made a lot of money, but he was never a small businessman. His start was pretty much eased by $$ from his dad. His story shows how risk adverse he has been–his unwillingness to leave Bain for Bain Capital unless he was guaranteed the chance to come back at the same position and salary, etc. Really, with all of the support and guarantees he got, i imagine many people could have done what he did–probably including you!

        5. As a businessman, and as someone who is directly concerned with the health of the markets, Obama has been great for you. And it is almost always better under a Dempcrat. Maybe you should consider voting based on who is buttering your bread!

    1. PM says:

      Oh, come on, Mike: this is a BS charge, and you should know it by now. Do not let your partisanship overwhelm your intelligence. There was conflicting intelligence coming from everywhere at the time, and the best intelligence estimates were the story that the Administration gave to the people. See:


      You can’t turn the fact of conflicting information into a story of lies without exhibiting stupidity (the best interpretation) or lying (the interpretation that applies to the GOP in general) on your part. I have generally thought that you are neither stupid nor intentionally deceptive (a willing and knowing repeater of false “talking points”).

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        PM: My intelligence? I’m not the one following the “talking points.” I have said I don’t know the truth….apparently David Ingatius does….I highly doubt it or that you do, either. What most people of reasonable intelligence DO find hard to believe is that a months old video happens to cause a riot and four murders on…of all days, the anniversary of Sept. 11. Really? I recall writing on these pages the day after that the video explanation seemed mighty thin….and suspicious. Two things are clear. One, there was a lack of security. Who should answer for it? Two, the Administration stuck to its CIA talking points for quite a long time. Was there evidence to the contrary?

        I know this whole thing upsets you and that you want it to be cut and dried and done with, but I seriously don’t think this is going away.

        Sometimes things take awhile to sort out. Mr. Obama himself has said the administration wants to get to the bottom of this and punish those responsible. So this is, admittedly, not over.

        Am I the only one exhibiting partisanship here? Don’t think so.

      2. PM says:


        remember that on the same day there were riots in Egypt cause by that same month old video, and no one is disputing the nature of those disturbances, If the video caused riots in Cairo, why not Benghazi? They are very similar places, with similar politics.

        as to your two points:
        1. Yes, there was a failure of security. Yet, the GOP had just drastically reduced the budget for state department security–so the State Dept had to make tough choices. Hindsight is 20/20, and to criticize President Obama for this is petty, and stupid.

        2. Yes, the Administration stuck to that explanation for a long time. Apparently, they told the American people what they were told by the American intelligence services. Of course there was conflicting information. There always is in a situation like this one. Usually, there are conflicting claims of responsibility for a terrorist attack–lots of cranks want to take credit/blame. Just because someone someplace says that they did it is not a reason to believe them. you have to be deliberate and measured–give out the best information that you have, when you think that it is reliable. and you have to rely on the experts–the intelligence community. Which is exactly what the Administration did.

        Your criticisms are unfair and baseless. Seriously, any reasonable and responsible Administration would have done exactly the same thing. The only reason to criticize Obama for this is partisanship.

        There are plenty of valid things to criticize Obama for–this is not one of them.

  6. Mike Kennedy says:

    My health premiums have gone UP not down, nor have they remained the same. Talk to any other business owner. And it’s likely to get worse. Who is “buttering” my bread? Certainly not Mr. Obama. If he is, please explain how to me, other than the false claim that heatlh care has been better and/or cheaper.

    The markets? They certainly have been good for the past several years, but that’s because company earnings have been strong and robust. How did Mr. Obama have anything to do with that?

    Corporate America will do fine whether it’s Bush, Obama or Romney. People want high tech computing and music and will buy Apple products. Babies will crap their diapers so parents will buy Pampers. Oil and natural gas are needed to power our cars and homes. Energy companies will profit. Do we credit Obama with this? Hardly.

    Now, on the subject of the Navy. Who said anything about building more? The fact is, Mr. Obama wants to shrink and decommission a number of the ships we now have.

    Again, China is building . We are retiring them. Didn’t the bipartisan Hadley-Perry Commission find in 2010 that we should have 346 ships? Yet we have, what, 282? And falling?

    Are our carriers capable of covering the Persian Gulf and South China Sea at the same time or the Mediterranean and Korean Peninsula at the same time?

    I respectfully disagree with you on overseas “trips.” I’d rather have Romney than Obama representing this country. Sorry, but you can’t convince me that relations with other countries in the Middle East are better under Obama and they certainly aren’t better with Israel.

    Obama goes off during the debate reciting the trips he has taken overseas as if it’s a travelogue dual to see who has visited the most places. That, indeed, is not the point. What have these “trips” accomplished?

    Please reread my statements. Did I say business people make good presidents? No. What I did say was that given the choice over who did what in their past life, I personally choose Romney over Obama. I happen to think he understands business in a way Obama does not.

    I also happen to think that an effective president needs to be organized, needs to be open to compromise and needs to be able to change his thinking.

    Slick Willie sure changed his thinking….much for the better, and it helped make him a successful president. Mr. Obama is who he is and is incapable of change or compromise.

    Oh yeah, and the old saw of it wasn’t he was bright, it was who he know to get into college. Yep. The old answer liberals have to anyone they don’t like. They didn’t make it on their own. You didn’t build that. You don’t own that. What a bunch of bullshit. Only liberals like Clinton and Obama deserved to get in to schools and made it on their own. No preference there. Yep. Right.

    Come on, PM. Romney graduated college with honors and graduated with the dual degree in the top third of his class. Or was that fixed, too? Again. He is no idiot.

    I get it. You despise Romney personally. I feel the same about Obama. You spin your set of justifications. I spin mine. We can both find ample ammunition.

    1. PM says:

      1. Health care costs have continued to rise at a rate greater than inflation, although the extent to which that rate is exceeding inflation has been decreasing recently. Obamacare is designed to bring those costs further down. It is not s surprise that your health care costs have gone up–so have everybody elses. In fact, one of the bright spots in health care costs has been the state of MA, where they have moderated significnatly, due to the bold leadership of former Governor Mitt Romney, and his universal health care plan, which is an example of President Obama changing his thinking and adopting a bipartisan approach to solve a problem that this country is facing–he adopted a GOP proposal to solve the need for universal health care with a market based approach that did NOT use a universal payer approach–a more traditional democratic way to solve the health care crisis. And what happened? All of the GOP, including the author of that MA plan, have turned on it and decided to oppose it, despite its apparent success. Obama has been bipartisan in his most important accomplishment, the single greatest priority that he set for his presidency, and he has been pilloried for it, by the same people who used to laud that approach. Clearly Obama is capable of change and compromise–you are simply unable to see it or to admit to it.

      2. Obama gets credit for getting us out of the great recession, turning our economy around, saving the automobile and housing industry, as well as Wall Street. And he would have been able to do more if he had had the support from the GOP in congress in terms of supporting his jobs proposals. As it is, unemployment is now lower than when he came into office, corporate profits have been great, and the markets have been great. He deserves credit for all of that. only partisans will deny it to him. Remember the huge crisis that was taking place as Obama took office. That is behind us now, thanks to Obama. (that is buttering your bread–you certainly would not have been able to solve the crisis all by yourself, you know)

      3. Navy:
      ship are built and decommissioned all the time (they wear out and become obsolete, too expensive to operate, too expensive to upgrade). There are currently 11 carrier strike groups, more than enough to cover the areas you point to. In addition, there are currently plans for another 3 carriers to be built (2 of the new Ford class carriers are already under construction). US Naval power is at its highest point in history. The Chinese haven’t even built one carrier yet (they bought one a couple of years ago, have been refitting it, and still have not allowed their pilots to land on it yet).

      4. I stated that businessmen do not make good presidents, and supported that with a citation of a historical study. That is a reason to not support Romney–if he were elected president it is unlikely (based on historical precedents) that he would be successful. His main claim to the position is his supposed expertise as a businessman–yet that expertise would be largely irrelevant to the job of President–and maybe even detrimental. understanding business is pretty irrelevant to the job of president. Understanding government is very relevant, and President Obama has had 4 years of expert experience–he is far better prepared for the job than Romney is, because he has been doing it for 4 years.

      I do not trust Romney, because he simply does not do what he says–instead, he says whatever he needs to say in order to win. He has a postmodern relationship to the truth–the truth is whatever will get him elected. He has a similar relationship to public policy.
      As i have stated before, if I thought that Romney as President would be like Romney as Governor of MA (supporting marriage equality, a womens right to choose, universal health care coverage, etc.) I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. instead, his evolution on the issues shows him to be an opportunistic liar who will do anything and say anything in order to gain power. I simply do not see how anyone can trust a person like that.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:


        Sorry but there is plenty of disagreement about the size and current state of our naval power.


        Now, take health care. Yes, I know this was a GOP idea…but I’m not sure either they or Obama got it right with the current Obamacare plan. There are plenty of estimates that the cost is going to far exceed projections. You seriously can’t think that he has tried to work with Republicans. Yes, they agreed to stonewall and fight his agenda, but comment from his advisors like Fuck em we have the votes and the famous I won comment from Obama himself doesn’t engage the other side, and you know it. This was far from obstruction on one side of the aisle, and only partisans think so.

        Credit to the stock market and corporate earnings does not go to Obama. What in the world has he done to help Apple, Coca Cola, Yum Brands and others rack up growing revenues and earnings from overseas markets. Look at earnings reports, much of the growth of the top companies in the U.S. are coming from foreign sources, not only products and services being sold over there, but also being stationed over there, McDonalds, Starbucks etc.

        Are you crediting Obama with low interst rates….either set by the Fed in short term rates or the bond market in long term rates? Are you crediting him with low inflation…..numbers cooked by the government by excluding energy and food?

        What precisely, how Mr. Obama done to encourage the stock market and earnings growth?

        Truth is….Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton do very little to affect the stock market, good or bad. Solid goods and services and demand for them….here and increasingly overseas, power the market.

        Business people may or may not make good presidents, but good business people who are good communicators, organizers and delegators, could make fantastic presidents….especially if they know how to put the right people in the right positions. Those are not traits unique to any certain profession. Just because Obama has served for four years doesn’t make him qualified to serve another four. Indeed, I think his current record is a reason why he shouldn’t.

      2. PM says:

        OK, so there is disagreement about the size of the Navy–and you are concerned because you think that the US (having 50% of total naval power in the world, not even looking at our Nato allies, etc.) is not enough, even though the next biggest is only 11% (Russia). How much more do you want to spend on the military? And do you think that spending on the military is a really good return on investment? (looking at this like a businessman should…). And are you willing to pay for increased spending on the military with increased taxes? Or would you prefer to borrow the money–we can get it at negative real interest rates at the moment, you know–but it might come from china or japan, of course (apparently, Japan is now back to being the # one supplier of US debt).

        Does it make you feel any better that a Republican former Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State (Colin Powell) has endorsed Obama over Romney, at least in part because he feels Romney has no clue when it comes to defense and foreign policy?

        As for bipartisan efforts, yes, I believe that Obama tried. And that it was only after the GOP made it clear that they viewed any bipartisan policy wins as a victory for Obama (because they wanted to paint him as spurning bipartisan efforts), and that was their ticket to victory in 2010 and 2012. Again, this is pretty well documented, Mike. See:
        for another example.
        Once this was clear as the unified GOP strategy and policy, is it surprising that Obama and/or his staff might say things that expressed some of there frustration?
        Remember when the GOP in the Senate refused to endorse a debt reduction scheme that offered $10 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases–and you do not think that that was an effort by Obama to be bipartisan? How can an absolute refusal to consider any kind of a tax increase at all under any circumstance (the GOP position) be seen as anything other than a complete repudiation of bipartisanship?
        Obama has been incredibly flexible–angering moderate and liberal democrats, and never able to get a single GOP vote. And you blame him. Seriously, Mike.

        As for all of the economic stuff–you (well, the GOP) want to blame him for this stuff when it is bad, and yet not give him credit for it when it is good. Unemployment rates, gas prices, stock markets, domestic petroleum production/energy independence, the list goes on and on.

        If Presidents do not have any significant effect on stock markets, then why are the markets so much better under democrats than Republicans? Shouldn’t they be about the same? Of course, they are not. So, why?

        And, again, generally, good business people do not make good presidents. that is because the jobs are very different. As a business person, if I am the CEO, I tell people to do things and they do them…or try (or get fired) Being a President doesn’t work that way. You can’t tell the Senate or the House what to do. Donald Trump style simply doesn’t work in politics. If you want to be a politician, you have to be adept at herding cats. You have to convince the cats that they want to do the same things you want them to do. And even that doesn’t work if you have a cat like Mitch McConnell.

        I do agree with you that Obama’s current record is not stellar–but I have no faith at all in Romney. As I pointed out before, I think that he is a lying conniving ambitious cheat who has demonstrated a contempt for the truth and for the American people.

    2. PM says:

      BTW, mike, I do enjoy these conversations with you. i might get heated from time to time, but I respect you and your views. i don’t always understand them, but I enjoy engaging with you. i hope you feel the same.

      1. PM: Let me buy you a couple beverages some night in the not too distant future — for all your heavy lifting here. While it strikes me as a bit like using a shotgun to kill flies, you’re a better man than me for taking the time to do it.

        One of my pet fascinations for years, since the rise of the ‘low information/high opinion” voter is the woozifying sense that having embraced the notion that all information is partisan spin, whether from The New York Times or Gretchen Carlson, their undercooked opinions are just as valid as someone who … actually knows what they’re talking about.

        Pig ‘n Fiddle? Tilia?

      2. PM says:

        Pig n’ Fiddle is one of my favorites. Great selection of beers! Haven’t made it to Tilia yet–does it have much of a bar? Been wanting to go for the food, but I hate to wait in lines…..

        Also want to get to the Harriet Brasserie–heard good things about it (ran into the bartender there at a beer tasting at Blackbird a while ago–sounded like a place worth trying…)

        So throw out a couple of dates…

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        Please reassure me you are not keeping Columbia in business with all the pot you’re smoking. I refuse to believe you are flat out delusional but I’m starting to wonder.

        BTW, you might want to try something different than “low information voter” or any of the other half dozen throw away descriptions of people with whom you disagree. Typical liberal. When you get frustrated, call them stupid…yep. That always wins the day.

        You’re showing a lot of brain power there, Lambo.

      2. Erik says:

        Mike, you really oughta know by now. To put it allegorically, if you pet a porcupine, you get stuck. If you stroke a douchebag, you get douched. There are no earnest conversations with douchebags.

        You’re other mistake is taking his opinion seriously. He’s got a misanthropic internal dialogue that with a crate of commas and a crate of irony quotes he can turn into a 1000 word column. But that’s his one trick. Of all the SRCers, he’s the least educated, least accomplished, and least socially adjusted. But that works if your job is as side show geek, and that’s basically what he does here at SRC and Minnpost.

        Weed is a reasonable explanation ya figure. The Hunter Thompson worship and belief in weirdo conspiracy theories is a big tell.

      3. Mike: As I said before, it’s classic dilemma — how to describe people who are running on emotional fumes, standing facts and logic on their head and still demanding to be taken seriously. I’m happy you like to hang out here — although I think you might be better fit at Andy Aplikowski’s blog — but when I see a small feathered thing with web feet, and I hear it quack … I call it a duck.

      4. Erik says:

        He’s calling you dumb Mike. You run a respectable and consequential professional services business. He’s the side show geek who earns $100 a day entertaining the 15 shut-ins who comment at the Glean. But you’re the dumb one Mike.

  7. Mike Kennedy says:

    PM: Of course I do. It’s the reason I keep coming back. You are informed, fun and challenging. I hope we can share some Furious….even if it isn’t good for my gut….inside or outside. As Frank the Tank in Old School says….”it tastes so good when it hits your lips.”

  8. Mike Kennedy says:

    Yeah, Brian, you wouldn’t want anyone here who doesn’t…..quack, like you. You are looking for birds of a feather, and I’m delighted not to fit in. I’ve come to the conclusion that all your blustering is more emotional than logical, and it’s why I like to jerk your chain….it’s easy to do. Thanks for the invite to another blog, but I think I’ll stay.

    1. Mike: I’m glad you’re hear. Glad you’ll stay. But until you learn to process information with more respect for veracity, I urge you grow a thicker skin. We are after all “The Same ROWDY Crowd”.

      1. Erik says:


        BWA HA HA HA HA. Typically not a casual mistake that a pro-writer would make. Oh wait, that’s right…

        But remember Mike, you’re the dumb one….

      2. PM says:

        Oh, Erik, stop being childish. If you want to disagree with Lambert, try to do so over meaningful issues, rather than typos.

        And, your criticisms of Lambert for engaging in ad hominem attacks might be more convincing if you didn’t immediately turn around and do the same thing, only worse.

        Seriously, your behavior here (the last few posts you’ve made) show you trying to incite a spat between Mike and Lambert, like you are egging them on. Seriously, they are both big boys, capable of speaking for themselves. Butt out of it.

      3. Erik says:

        Mind you, I don’t believe he doesn’t know proper use of “here” and “hear”. More likely it’s just years of doing weed or years of doing the Glean.

        I disagree. You’ve stepped up to do the intellectual and rhetorical work Lambo doesn’t have the chops for. This is similar. Mike’s too nice. That’s not an enormous moral failing, but he’s apparently not brash or vulgar enough to call out a douchebag when he’s being dissed by one.

        I’m not trying to create a wedge. My observation is that Mike’s an earnest fellow who dialogs in good faith here, and he’s being dissed repeatedly by a douchebag. You disagree?

      4. PM says:

        I disagree. Mike is perfectly capable of handling situations himself, and he doesn’t need you or your “assistance”. As much as I might like Mike, I doubt that he is too nice to take care of himself. And if Lambert is as much of a putz as you continually assert, then Mike certainly doesn’t need your help

        Further, i disagree with you about Lambert. He is perfectly capable of defending himself, and has the intellectual chops to do so. i will pick my own battles and offer my comments in my way. When I agree with him, I will say so (given the time and inclination).

        What sets me off are things that I think are unfair, below the belt, or simply below the general level of debate here. Personally, I do not waste my time in spots where people yell at each other and there isn’t debate–which in my world involves people actually listening to one another. Generally, that happens here–but not always.

        And one of the places where it least often happens are in your interactions with Lambert. You clearly find it hard to resist hitting below the belt, relying on silly insults, juvenile put downs, etc. Erik, i do not know what your beef with Lambert is (and I don’t care to know), but it is really hard to take you seriously when you go off like you regularly do.

        Pull yourself together and act like an adult. Stop picking fights, and stop stirring the pot. I know that you are more than just a troll, but sometimes you sure act like one. Do yourself (and your credibility) a favor and rise above your anger.

      5. Mike Kennedy says:


        Thicker skin? I couldn’t really care less what you think of me. I’m comfortable with with my research, my intelligence and my own life. I certainly don’t need any affirmation from…..you. Insult me all you want. I have my own opinion of your intelligence. And I’ll keep it to myself.

      6. Erik says:

        PM, some or all of that about me I would grant. But you being of sober mind and even temperament really are too comfortable indulging in Lambo’s misanthropic vomit side show geek act that I described.

        I’m not insulting. Douchebag is a term of art. Means smug obnoxious self absorbed prick. Whatever. You get the idea. None of the rest of my hyperbole is terribly inaccurate either, and I don’t think it’s going too far to highlight / question whether a douchebag actually has the vocational / academic stature and credibility to call other people dumb.

        And that’s what he’s doing to earnest Mike. He’s calling him dumb, rather than engage in conversation. I’m not assisting Mike. He’s fine, comports himself well. I just see some absurdity he might not, and don’t feel much restraint to not comment. We all have thick skins, right?

      7. PM says:


        Yes, i think that we all do have (for the most part) thick skins (and, sometimes, skulls to match). But, clearly, not always.

        But I don’t write here just to display my incredible awesomeness and erudition. I am trying to bring a little light of truth to the benighted (ok, sorry for the hyperbole). Maybe, somehow, I’ll be able to get someone to re-think a point. I don’t think that i am going to convince you to vote for Obama, but I might be able to get you to think better of him (or, from my perspective, more honestly). Frankly, if I didn’t think that my comments might make a difference, i wouldn’t bother.

        I presume that you feel somewhat the same–that you spend time here because what you say might make a difference in some fashion (as opposed to writing just to see your name in print….). If you want to do that, you might want to think about how you sometimes respond, about the image of yourself that you are projecting here. Maybe you would be more convincing if you were seen as more considerate–and your comments more considered. And your comments appear to be the least considered WRT Lambert.

        You can think whatever you want to think about him–but if you want to convince others that what you think is correct, you might consider another approach. You current one is not convincing.

        Lambert makes mistakes–we all do. Go ahead and point them out–they are fair game. But when you start to talk about his jobs, careers, schoolwork, penis size, etc., it hurts your credibility, not his. Stick to what he says, and tear him a new one when he deserves it–but stick to what he says.

        That is the point I am trying to make.

        For what it is worth.

  9. Mike Kennedy says:

    Erik: It is rather humorous when people have to resort to condenscending, “youre stupid…nah, nah, nah, nah” refrains. I do appreciate debating people with whom I disagree but who argue with somewhat of an open mind. I think it’s called honest debate, and most people here, including Joe, Bruce, Jon, Ellen, PM and others do it. Can’t put Lambo in that category.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      If I may, I’d say unknot your panties, Mike. I don’t think Brian was referring to you at all with the classic “walking, quacking duck” analogy; but, rather, the “low-info” voters who enjoy vastly too much currency in the public square.

      And while you’re at it, you might want to give “typical liberal” some rest.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        Great now you guys woke up Leinflder to explain to all us morons what everyone really means. Soon he will post a YouTube link or a link to a fringe blog.

  10. Mike Kennedy says:

    Jim: I can unknot my own panties. Thanks for the offer, though. You’re not my type. Thanks also for the interpretation of Lambo’s comments. But you really don’t need to bother. Go back to your “typcial liberal” navel gazing. Oh I should give that a rest, like your use of the word “meme.” Ok, now I get it.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      I’m guessing your back on the beer, huh, Mike? Yes, as I wrote, “unknot your panties.” And who used “meme”? Not me.

      1. Oh, really. I recall you using it many times, ad nauseam. In fact, I remember, Erik calling you on it. Is denial a sickness?

        I think the only male on this site that might wear panties is….you. In case you didn’t read earlier, I don’t drink beer. It doesn’t do well by me. Save your breath. I consider your opinion in the same category as Lambo’s.

      2. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Yes, Mike, I do remember you sharing that beer doesn’t agree with you, hence my assumption you must be slamming it, given your bellyaching tone.

      3. Why is it, Jim, that whenever you write something, all I can read is blah, blah, blah. Oh yeah, now I remember, because it is totally pointless. Bellyaching? What exactly have a bellyached about? I seem to recall that I told Lambert I loved jerking his chain and that I consider his comments to be inane and without merit. Let’s try this, Jim. Focus on one word…..then move onto the next. They will become sentences. Try seeing them as such instead of fixating. Work with me here.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        Hilarious, didn’t even finish the comment thread and Leinfelder hold true and posted some inane link.

  11. Mike Kennedy says:

    Brian: BTW: Please respond in clear cold facts to anything that I’ve said that is flat out factually wrong. Point out what I said and where there is clear facts that it is wrong….not your liberal take on it…clear cold fact. Go ahead. Do some heavy lifting, big guy. I’m ready for a “factual debate.”

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      How about we bet something on who’s used “meme” more here on TSRC, me or your man, Erik.

      1. Erik says:

        What’s wrong with the word “meme”? It’s a fine word. What are ya, some kind of communist or something?

  12. This one up on you thing by linking is really kind of silly, I think. Keep googling your links and I’ll keep googling mine and this will last all day.

    Do I think politicians lie and distort, yes. Does Romeny? Yes. Does Obama. Yes. The only fundamentally flawed thinking you and other liberals of your ilk exhibit is that you think it only happens on one side.

    But then what do they say about bliss?

    Oh, I just identified the Leinfelder special “moral equivalence.” That was you…..over and over. My apologies. The “meme” broken record was played by someone else.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Actually, Mike, that’d also be your chum, Erik beating the phrase “moral equivalence” like a Bible, not me. But when it comes to you, the phrase “false equivalence” inevitably comes to any functioning mind.

      The Buzzfee item just struck me as funny against the backdrop of your capillary-bursting fulminations.

      1. Erik says:

        Liberal’s – you guys – will invariably dispute the moral equivalence when conservatives call them on their hypocrisies or inconsistencies. I mock this.

        Just trying to keep the record straight…..

  13. I’m not a betting man. But if I were, I’d bet Romney beats Obama. Oops, I already did that….PM. I hope your are thirsty. Because if I win, I’m donating it…..to you. So you will drink the Furious either way.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Heh, and you’re quite the coiner of new language: “Wordly.” Catchy. Not much of a memory, though.

    2. PM says:

      Wow, that’s quite a deal…for me. Not that i don’t expect to be drinking that Surly ( 😉 ), but just on the off chance, I’d be willing to substitute a bottle of wine instead…anything in particular you like? (this is an area I actually know something about, so if you are willing to trust me, i won’t let you down!).

  14. I’ll even buy you something, Jim, if Obama wins, as a gesture of good will since I was….and this is difficult to say…..wrong on you using meme. A nice, sweet Riesling probably would be right in your wheel house. No?

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Well, I’m no P90Xer like you, Mike. I’m more in for hurling. It’d be a treat to see you on the pitch. But I did learn to appreciate a well-chosen Riesling from an epicurean sat truck operator I know. Sure, I’ll get back to you with the specifics.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Well, see, I’ve been playing on our traveling panel for eight years, so I’m ready every day. Does this mean you know how to play? Is that in a Paul Ryan way, or, have you actually held a hurley and struck a sliotar? Either way, you are always welcome to come out next spring, Mike. I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Both of those sports are good preparation. We start up again in April and new players are welcome to attend five training sessions to see if they like it before they need to pony up for membership. So drop by and have a lash.

    1. Oh, good lord … . I’m just catching up with the twisted-panty drama in here.

      And the other Rowdies wonder why so few adults bother entering The Comments Room.

      Mike: Look, I’m sorry you got your feelings hurt. You pre-date me on this site so maybe I owe you a kind of primer on my thinking about blogging and “debate”.

      1: After about 30 years of being called all sorts of foul names by readers who disagreed with my point of view, I’m kind of immune to hostility. It comes with the turf, certainly if your intent, as mine is, to provoke reactions, both favorable and adverse.

      2: There are distinct patterns to political dialogues today.The most pertinent to me is that, as studies have shown, hardened partisans will never concede a flaw in their argument. In fact, their resolve to stand their ground only hardens in the face of evidence to contradicting their original position. So … what’s the point of “engagement”? I’ve said what I want to say. If you think differently, rip away. Get it out of your system.

      3: It’s an particular facet of the right-wing comentariat trolling liberal sites that they persist in demanding their opponents prove what they say is not true. In your case on this posting, PM went to heroic lengths rebutting your thinking and citing his sources. (He obviously had some free time.) But to what end? Your response is essentially to assert that you could each throw links at each other all day. From a “silly liberal” perspective this is an example of the sort of conservative nihilism that has a strange hold over a certain demographic — namely, that there is is no truth, everything is pretty much bullshit, so nothing you say is any more credible than anything I choose to believe. I hope PM enjoyed the interaction, but as I say, I don’t see the point. Think what you want. If ignoring what we regard as strong empirical evidence works for you … well, terrific.

      4: When I suggested engaging with conservative blogs — several of which I read every day (your pity accepted here) — I was half serious. Dial up Mitch Berg’s blog, or Power Line and you’re in a chamber of kindred souls, all affirming each other, all convinced the BLS is cooking employment statistics for Obama, that the US Navy is in a weakened state on the high seas, that big banks have been crippled by Dodd-Frank, yadda yadda. It’s a different shtick here. Standard talk radio thinking and “debate” is viewed with suspicion by virtually every Rowdy. You know that coming in. So why the surprise when you’re called on it?

      5: For the sake of your own good name be mindful that we, and I suspect many of our readers, are hip to something I learned long ago, namely that people who demonstrate an obsessional interest in someone else — whether irrationally flattering or irrationally hostile — are on some level seeking validation/respect from that person. You really don’t want to be one of those people. It’s a personal dignity thing.

      6: I’m happy for anyone who reads, for whatever reason. But I long ago lost patience and interest in the low EQ side of political “debate”.

      7: It is unequivocally true that everyone else here is a much nicer person than I am. They obviously had better parents and generally better breeding. I’m the outlier to “Rowdy nice”.

  15. Brian:

    Strong empirical evidence? By what source? You and those who agree with you?

    The good and predictable thing about you is that you dismiss every source on everything that is conservative, whether it is a retired general commenting on the Navy or a prize winning economist or a former corporate CEO as all partisan hacks polluted by right wing forces.

    But everyone who agrees with your point of view is gloriously portrayed as the second coming of reason, logic and common sense. Your schtick, here, is so obvious. You are about as closed minded as any liberal I’ve run across, and I’ve run across many.

    Let me assure you of one thing. I seek no validation from you watsoever, nor am I obsessed with anything you say, do or think…on any level. I don’t follow any writing of yours anywhere else, don’t know where you live, your interests or your background, other than I think you used to write about movies.

    I sure hope to God we don’t agree on anything. As far as respect…..I’d just venture to say we have about the same level for each other….take it for what it’s worth.

    BTW, I spent 10 years in journalism; so I’m aware of thick skin…as if you have a corner on the market….I also am responsible for tens of millions of client money and am used to being second guessed and Monday morning quarterbacked and criticized. You’re a walk in the park.

    If I let every person who has second guessed me as a parent, a journalist or a financial advisor “hurt my feelings” I’d be on some type of medication by now.

    You don’t like people who disagree with you. I get it. Sorry. I ask you for facts, no recycled Moveon.org and Paul Krugman interpretations of facts, and you defer to PM.

    PM is a smart man or woman but we all have tendency to find sources that confirm our view and then try to defend them as substantial and credible.

    It’s called confirmation bias and it exists in all human beings, though you think you are too high minded to be affected. I hate to break it to you, but you seek out people who confirm and validate your beliefs. It’s why you are on this blog.

    Thanks for pointing out other places where I might be more at home. You obviously don’t know shit about me. If I just wanted to reside in a place where people blew smoke up my ass and validated me in a verbal circle jerk……I wouldn’t be…… here.

    Thanks for the pointers and dime store psychology. I’m sure you earned a degree in some sort of behavioral science…….right? I’m here because I personally know some of the people on here, and I like them, though we disagree on a number of things…maybe even great numbers of things.

    But I respect them, even when I think they are wrong. Finally, I’ve been on this blog for several years now.

    I know exactly what the drill is and what to expect. Indeed, it’s the fun part of trying to predict who will be the first to post to disagree with something I say or link.

    You just keep impressing yourself with your belief in your own IQ, EQ, PQ and any other quotient bullshitting you want to spin. Bully for you.

    1. PM says:

      looking forward to it…i think

      (usually when I have drunk enough to write what I really think the keys tend not to cooperate)

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