Who’s the man?

I realize that many of you don’t agree with me about this, but I really hate the media emphasis on whether or not Obama is a true, 11-dimensional Commander-in-Chief. As often as not, this type of coverage is ostensibly positive (“there are three dead Somali pirates who attest to this President’s ability to make tough decisions“). Obama’s handling of BudLightLimeGate is no exception. Steve Benen has a good run-down of the silliness:

Slate‘s John Dickerson said the McChrystal affair was “a test — more of a pop quiz, really — of Obama’s leadership skills” and the president “aced it.” Obama, Dickerson added, “was resolute and commanding.”

Time‘s Michael Crowley added, “The change of generals was the firm action of a hands-on executive. And a self-confident one, too.”

Even Josh Marshall, who’d said earlier in the day that he was surprised Obama “had it in him,” wrote last night, “When I woke up this morning I still couldn’t quite see how President Obama could not fire McChrystal. But I also couldn’t quite imagine him doing it. But he did. Showed me a different side of him. And what I really couldn’t have imagined was that he found a way not just to acquit himself honorably and protect the office but actually enhance his prestige and standing.”

If Obama were, I don’t know, being fed pro-war prayer cards by his domineering Secretary of Defense or letting his VP maintain man-sized safes of secret documents, then maybe it would be worth speculating if he was “man enough” to be president. But there’s been no evidence that Obama gets pushed around and it simply didn’t take that much cojones to fire McChrystal.






131 replies
  1. 1
    Svensker says:

    Grammar nerd — is it “much cajones” or “many cajones”?

    And, yes, what you said.

  2. 2
    Steeplejack says:

    @Svensker:

    Grammar nerd, meet spelling nerd: it’s cojones.

    ETA: And since cojones means balls, I think you would go with “much balls” (in the colloquial sense) rather than “many balls.”

  3. 3
    licensed to kill time says:

    @Svensker:

    Technically, it would be “it simply didn’t take muchos cojones to fire McChrystal.”

  4. 4
    thomas says:

    only if he puts on a fighter pilot suit to show his junk

  5. 5
    Pangloss says:

    This recent flap with the military wouldn’t bother me so much if the emerging “stars” of the GOP weren’t starting to sound increasingly like Col. Jack D. Ripper.

  6. 6
    El Cid says:

    In other serious, well-thought out news, the America-hating GAO surrenders to their ACORN mob bosses.

    A new government report may help restore ACORN’s tarnished reputation but its release comes as the group is preparing to shutter its doors.
    __
    The preliminary findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation indicate the controversial grass-roots organization did not misuse the more than $40 million in taxpayer funds it received between 2005-2009.

    Maybe those pimp video kids could fake a movie about the GAO running drugs or sacrificing infants on a stone altar and then Democrats could rush to accompany Republicans in voting to defund and decapitate the GAO.

    After all, there are plenty nation-wide organizations with a developed history of defending the interests of lower-income communities and communities of color in housing and financial affair. The list goes on, pages and pages worth, I’m sure.

  7. 7
    flukebucket says:

    he found a way not just to acquit himself honorably and protect the office but actually enhance his prestige and standing

    The nigga never ceases to amaze.

  8. 8

    Considering what the Senate is doing, Obama is going to have to lay some serious smackdown on them. Ben Nelson wants to help the Republicans drive this country into the ditch.

  9. 9
    El Cid says:

    @Svensker: In simple translation I would think tan cojones, or gran cojones / cojones grandes, as in “such” or “big”. However, used literally, in many places this starts to mean “lazy”, as too large a set of cojones makes one a huevon, or lazy person.

  10. 10
    ricky says:

    @Svensker: @Steeplejack: @licensed to kill time:

    General McCauliffe needed no qualifiers.

  11. 11
    El Cid says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle:

    Ben Nelson wants to help the Republicans drive this country into the ditch.

    Someone do a quick check on how much money Nelson’s getting from the ditch lobby.

  12. 12
    Max says:

    I found it interesting on the PUMA blogs that they determined that Hillary is the one that gave Obama the idea and pushed him to fire MC Bud(Lime) Light and replace with Petraeus.

    I really loathe those people.

  13. 13
    Wordsmith says:

    Many cojones…not much. or maybe a combination of the two mach cojones.

  14. 14
    Mrs. Peel says:

    Sorry, but 11 dimensional chess is still a game. Obama in his zeal to appear centrist and always defer to the right in the name of some sort of ‘bipartisanship’ has only given the both sides the impression that he’s insecure and easily intimidated.

    Like it or not, that’s how it is. The press was scared shitless of BushCo. They do everything but tape “kick me” signs on Obama’s back without any sort of consequences.

  15. 15
    Midnight Marauder says:

    Even Josh Marshall, who’d said earlier in the day that he was surprised Obama “had it in him,” wrote last night, “When I woke up this morning I still couldn’t quite see how President Obama could not fire McChrystal. But I also couldn’t quite imagine him doing it. But he did. Showed me a different side of him. And what I really couldn’t have imagined was that he found a way not just to acquit himself honorably and protect the office but actually enhance his prestige and standing.”

    I am reminded of the discussion we had here a while back about the relative decline in the quality of TPM, and particularly, Josh Marshall’s performance during the White House Correspondents Dinner. You remember what I’m talking about:

    When news first broke yesterday evening I was at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and in eyeshot of several top administration officials. So when my iPhone pinged me about the situation I was started monitoring it closely, not simply as a news story, but far more because my kids were at home only about 20 blocks from where it was all happening.
    __
    I watched the administration folks to get a sense of how seriously I should be taking it.

    The guy is becoming more and more Village with each passing day.

  16. 16
    Violet says:

    The press is full of types that seem to want a Daddy figure. That’s what this nonsense is about. However, in general it seems to me that most of America wants a Daddy figure as the head of state. What does that say about us?

    For me, what made Obama’s actions here interesting were what Josh Marshall got at in his explanation:

    Having watched Obama as president for going on two years, I’ve found remarkable his ability to ignore the chatter, the pundits and the polls and stick to whatever his plan is. But I’ve also gotten used to seeing that when crises come or key gut-check moments arise his tendency is to try to conciliate the situation. Not duck it; that’s not what I mean. I mean find some new vantage point to come at the situation from which you look at it again and see that it’s not really just a plain yes or no, that there’s some more complexity and give in the situation. And you can find some creative way to address all the relevant concerns. I just haven’t seen President Obama throw down a lot of gauntlets or, to put it harshly, cut the baby in half.

    Obama is a conciliator. He tries to find common ground. And while that’s great for most situations, it doesn’t work for every situation. People know that instinctively, even if they can’t articulate it. So when the punditocracy and Villagers are whining about whether Obama can be a “leader” and take decisive action, I think this is the issue that some of them really mean to be talking about. If the situation calls for swift, decisive action, can Obama do it? Or will he resort to conciliation?

    It turns out he can do it. He did. The lazy media shorthand for it is “leadership.” All those other things he’s done are also “leadership,” but they’re not as dramatic as firing a high ranking general. And yeah, they don’t indulge the need for a strong authority figure that most of these pundits seem to need.

  17. 17
    Zifnab says:

    It’s sort of a self-serving backhanded compliment.
    “I always thought Obama was a giant pussy. Now I guess he’s less of a giant pussy. Oh the fickleness of my all-important personal opinion, one can never expect how it will turn.”

    But it’s better than spending a month discussing the merits of arugala and spicy Dijon mustard. So in the age of low media expectations, I’ll take it.

  18. 18
    Svensker says:

    @El Cid:

    In simple translation I would think tan cojones

    I don’t wanna think about tan cojones. No bathing suit and the pose necessary? Nah.

  19. 19
    JGabriel says:

    @El Cid:

    Someone do a quick check on how much money Nelson’s getting from the ditch lobby.

    None. The Ditch-Diggers lobby is pro-stimulus, been so since The Great Depression.

    .

  20. 20
    licensed to kill time says:

    @El Cid:

    Maybe cojones tan grandes “balls so big/huge” would be better, but English only readers might get lost which is why I said muchos cojones. Also, “cajones” are boxes, which is a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax, haha.

    edit: the cajones part was for Svensker, I know you know the meaning…

  21. 21
    Svensker says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Grammar nerd, meet spelling nerd: it’s cojones.

    Oh durn.

  22. 22
    stuckinred says:

    I thought it was huevos!

  23. 23
    Bill H says:

    “Commander in Chief” is a very small part of his job. How much time and energy, really, should he be devoting to being the head of the fucking military? How much of his attention should be directed to military function? Perhaps if he spent less time directing wars, being “Commander in Chief,” and more time being the “Chief Executive” of this nation, we would be a lot better off. Maybe the “health care reform” would have actually reformed health care delivery and would have contained a public option. Maybe we would have some real financial regulation. Maybe the MMS would have been reformed in time and sufficiently to have prevented Deepwater Horizon. Maybe a lot of things.

    This nation is far to much about its fucking wars and its “Commander in Chief” and far too little about its people.

  24. 24
    stuckinred says:

    Via Huff Post

    Even more about McChrystal: now it can be told. The story about him voting for Obama is not contrived. He is a political liberal. He is a social liberal. He banned Fox News from the television sets in his headquarters. Yes, really. This puts to rest another false rumor: that McChrystal deliberately precipitated his firing because he wants to run for President.

  25. 25
    twiffer says:

    this:

    Time’s Michael Crowley added, “The change of generals was the firm action of a hands-on executive. And a self-confident one, too.”

    is completely meaningless. being “hands-on” and “self-confident” does not translate to being “good at your job”.

    personally, i think obama is doing a good job. but not because he is hands-on and self-confident. those are annoying, idiotic buzzwords that serve only to make a company’s stock price rise (short-term, only, of course). sort of like “decisive”.

  26. 26
    Frank Chow says:

    Perhaps Obama needs to purchase a ranch and then take pictures of himself on a horse. He can then appear manly, resolute, but also as “one of them.” As we all know real presidents are faux cowboys.

  27. 27
    stuckinred says:

    @Bill H:

    How much time and energy, really, should he be devoting to being the head of the fucking military?

    When we have people in the shit, as much time as it takes. You know that.

  28. 28
    Svensker says:

    @Frank Chow:

    Perhaps Obama needs to purchase a ranch and then take pictures of himself on a horse. He can then appear manly, resolute, but also as “one of them.” As we all know real presidents are faux cowboys.

    Yes, and so many Americans ride horses and live on ranches. In the Eastern Corridor where I and another eleventy billion Americans live, there must be at least 5 folks like that, so giddyup!

  29. 29
    EconWatcher says:

    Midnight Marauder:

    Josh Marshal has shown the talents of both a perceptive commentator and an entrepreneur. With TPM, he helped invent a new business model for how investigative journalism and opinion could be funded and disseminated, and I think others will follow his path.

    Problem is, he just isn’t very interesting or original any more. Hate to say it, but I think settling down and having a family has taken his edge off.

  30. 30
    Bob says:

    @Midnight Marauder: in

    I missed that discussion but, for certain, TMP is in a ditch. Very sad. I thought it was just me, falling out of love.

  31. 31
    Svensker says:

    I really have to go do some work. But the in-laws are over sun-bathing in the backyard (“no, don’t bother about me at all, seriously just ignore me, get your work done…do you have any orange juice? What about lemons? Well, how about limes? No, seriously, just do your work. Do you have another beach towel…”) and it’s hard to concentrate. Everybody Loves Raymond is like a documentary on my life.

  32. 32
    cleek says:

    But there’s been no evidence that Obama gets pushed around and it simply didn’t take that much cojones to fire McChrystal.

    i get the feeling a few people here don’t know this, but a large percentage of Americans really don’t think Obama is tough, or smart, or competent. so, seeing that Obama can act decisively, even in the face of a big tough general is, literally, news to them.

  33. 33
    licensed to kill time says:

    @Svensker:

    But the in-laws are over sun-bathing in the backyard

    I hope they’re not trying to tan their cojones.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    mr. whipple says:

    @Bob:

    I missed that discussion but, for certain, TMP is in a ditch.

    My main beef is with the framing of the headlines, which can veer into Huffington-style hysteria/hype.

  36. 36
    Bob says:

    @Midnight Marauder: in

    Jeez, John has a growing family. Ya don’t think…I don’t want to think about JC loosing his edge.

  37. 37
    Allison W. says:

    @Mrs. Peel:

    Like it or not, that’s how it is. The press was scared shitless of BushCo. They do everything but tape “kick me” signs on Obama’s back without any sort of consequences.

    Exactly what consequences should the free press face from the president? And are you advocating that Obama punish the press? Should that include the left wing media? How many times was W slammed for his treatment of the press?

    Obama in his zeal to appear centrist and always defer to the right in the name of some sort of ‘bipartisanship’ has only given the both sides the impression that he’s insecure and easily intimidated.

    And this crap is getting really tired. There are other people living in this country who don’t see everything as Left and Right. Any attempt to work with the GOP is an to appeal to moderates and independents and to people who actually want to see bipartisanship. Sometimes its because he can’t get the votes from members of his own party. Obama is not trying to get right wingers to like him – the left really needs to stop acting like a jealous girlfriend.

  38. 38

    Anyone see Ambinder today? He says that McChrystal hated Faux Noise and is actually a liberal. Who woulda thunk it?

  39. 39
    catclub says:

    BJ must be getting lots of Beltway type visitors.
    That would explain the Fighter Aircraft engine wars being brought here.
    I thought that kind of ad was limited to the Washington Post.

    Who knew the BJ readership was so influential?

  40. 40
    stuckinred says:

    @cleek: A large percentage of Americans have their heads so far up their asses that they don’t know if it’s day or night. What’s your point?

  41. 41
    stuckinred says:

    @catclub: It’s the state flag of Arizona. sheesh

  42. 42
    catclub says:

    @Svensker:
    Bush didn’t ride no horses. There was some event with the president of Mexico which indicated he was scared of them.

  43. 43
  44. 44
    Mrs. Peel says:

    How many times was W slammed for his treatment of the press?

    So? It didn’t change his treatment of them one damned bit. And they still toed what ever line they had forced on them. The press isn’t practicing any sort of noble profession. They’re just another group of over-paid corporate shills getting away with what they can. Just like everybody else. And like any out-of-control lapdog, they need to have their snout rapped when they’ve gone too far.

  45. 45
    catclub says:

    @stuckinred:
    Now I know that posts available for editing can be seen by all.
    I checked and deleted my comments vis-a-vis the flag.

  46. 46
    Face says:

    Someone do a quick check on how much money Nelson’s getting from the ditch lobby.

    Also check his connections to the tow-truck industry.

  47. 47
    slag says:

    Hmmm…I’m with both Wordsmith and stuckinred on the cajones/huevos issue. This indecision me molesta.

    And I both agree and disagree with DougJ on this:

    I really hate the media emphasis on whether or not Obama is a true, 11-dimensional Commander-in-Chief.

    Specifically, I agree that this narrative is silly, wrongheaded, and even detrimental.

    But when I compare it to the alternative General-worshiping narratives they could just as easily be running with, I am pleased. At least the current story puts the President in command of the military rather than the other way around. An alloyed win, in my view.

  48. 48
    Culture of Truth says:

    Slate’s John Dickerson said the McChrystal affair was “a test—more of a pop quiz, really—of Obama’s leadership skills” and the president “aced it.” Obama, Dickerson added, “was resolute and commanding.”

    And people say America is doomed.

  49. 49
    cleek says:

    @stuckinred:
    positive portrayals have the potential to sway the opinions of poorly-informed people.

    furthermore, why the fuck would people here complain about good press for Obama ?

  50. 50
    stuckinred says:

    @cleek: are you familiar with Roseanne Roseanna Danna?

  51. 51
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Bob: Here’s what I find even more interesting from the link:

    Maybe McChrystal is unique in the special forces (SOF) community, but I tend to think not. In fact, having spent quite a bit of time recently with current and former special forces soldiers, I find that McChrystal’s views on gays seem to be the rule rather than the exception. Given the traditional outline of the gays-in-the-military debate, one might think that the special forces soldiers, guys from traditional military families who spend unusual amounts of time in close quarters, would be the most opposed to having gays serve openly. My admittedly limited experience suggests that this is not the case. As one former member of a special missions unit put it to me recently, “It’s really about competence. If you’re competent, it doesn’t matter who you are.” And then, switching instantly from an analytical posture to a machismo mode, he said, “If a guy saves my ass, he sure as hell can look at it.”
    __
    This brings me to a conversation I overheard between two elite soldiers recently.
    __
    One soldier — call him Ben — checks his e-mail. “Fuck,” he says. He opens his cell phone and makes a call. … A beat. … “Heeeey cock breath, how are you?” … “Yeah, that sucks.” “Yeah, why is he doing this to us again?” “No, he told me his partner was in town for the weekend and he really needed to see him.” … “Dude, why can’t he break way for one weekend!”
    __
    The conversation continues.
    __
    “Yeah, well, you know I’m just going to come over and [perform an obscene act involving testicles — this IS The Atlantic, after all, and I already typed ‘cock breath’].”
    __
    He hangs up.
    __
    What was that about, I asked?
    __
    “Oh, this guy we haven’t seen for a while is in town, a really good buddy, but his partner is also in town and he wants to see him. So we were just complaining that he wanted to see his partner rather than hang with us.”
    __
    So here’s my take on the conversation:
    __
    You had two straight soldiers, bantering as they would in the barracks, the homo-social-machismo overtone, the negging involving gay sex acts … in a conversation that validated the gay partnership of their friend. They wanted to see their friend.
    __
    A lot of the outside discussion of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell assumes that the integration of gays in the military will require the imposition of a new code of political correctness, one that dissolves the rough, often profane, often exaggeratedly anti-gay banter that serves as a gateway into conversation between buddies.
    __
    But the two cultures can co-exist. It seems as if they already do, informally. People who are gay, and who are competent, and who have been tabbed, are accepted. And no one is toning down their language; discipline and morale aren’t suffering. …

  52. 52
    Corner Stone says:

    @Svensker:

    Yes, and so many Americans ride horses and live on ranches.

    Everybody here in Texas does. That’s how we’uns gets to school on them days what we ain’t in the field farmin’ nor ranchin’.

  53. 53
    stuckinred says:

    @catclub: Good work!

  54. 54
    Corner Stone says:

    @twiffer:

    is completely meaningless. being “hands-on” and “self-confident” does not translate to being “good at your job”.

    No, but they do speak to a really great handjob.

  55. 55
    slag says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle: Also, I don’t think it. At least not to the extent that Ambinder claims. I think it’s a set up for when the General does find himself on Faux News as the “token liberal General” who happens to hate every decision the Democratic President makes from here on out. But maybe I’m wrong, and the General does have some integrity after all. Only time will tell.

  56. 56
    Bob L says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle: Calivin; there is a huge difference between Congress and the US Army. The Army is subordinate to the President. Congress is a separate branch of government. Complaining about Senator Nelson not doing as Obama says is like complaining about the SCOTUS not doing the same thing Obama says.

  57. 57
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill H: Firebagger!…FIREBAGGER!!

    Damn…that felt good. I need a ciggy.

  58. 58
    Face says:

    The guy is becoming more and more Village with each passing day.

    I strongly encourage the continued use of “Village” as an adjective. Perfect.

  59. 59
    The Moar You Know says:

    Did anyone else get the Arizona vs Obama ad from Townhall?

    @catclub: It’s all based on what you’ve been browsing. I’ve been shopping engagement rings, so all my ads are from jewelry places.

  60. 60
    Peter J says:

    http://www.uta.fi/~tommi.karra/demo/ranch.jpg in reference to this nonsense.

    Do I have to show you a photo of Obama riding a bicyle? And isn’t this the more manly way to ride a bicycle?

    Obviously how a person rides a bicycle is very important when you pick who you are going to vote for.

    BTW, according to the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, Bush was scared of horses.

  61. 61
    gwangung says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    As one former member of a special missions unit put it to me recently, “It’s really about competence. If you’re competent, it doesn’t matter who you are.” And then, switching instantly from an analytical posture to a machismo mode, he said, “If a guy saves my ass, he sure as hell can look at it.”

    Pretty much as I thought. The folks on the pointy end of the stick have their shit together, far more than the asshat leaders.

  62. 62
    Corner Stone says:

    @Allison W.:

    Exactly what consequences should the free press face from the president? And are you advocating that Obama punish the press? Should that include the left wing media? How many times was W slammed for his treatment of the press?

    I think this was more along the lines she was referring to:

    ELISABETH BUMILLER: I think we were very deferential, because in the East Room press conference, it’s live. It’s very intense. It’s frightening to stand up there… You are standing up on prime time live television, asking the president of the United States a question when the country is about to go to war.

  63. 63
    Comrade Mary says:

    Noooo!

    HIS SADDLE IS TOO LOW! IT IS GIVING ME PAIN IN THE KNEES JUST TO WATCH HIM!

    /sad former O-bot.

  64. 64
    Patriot 3 says:

    @Svensker: That’s what Agent Orange said too before he lost his co-jones in the hcr battle of waterloo.

    @catclub: Not only did W. not ride horses, W. was scared of horses. But to his credit, he could ride a bike. If Obama was scared of horses it would just be another element in Dan Issa’s upcoming impeachment effort.

  65. 65
    geg6 says:

    @Allison W.:

    Thank you. I had a righteous rant about the idiots on my own fucking team who have no more grasp of reality than a Teabagger convention all prepared in my head to type and you said it better, more concisely, and with less heat.

  66. 66
    Steeplejack says:

    @Svensker:

    I hated that show because I hate the whole idea that anybody, even a family member, has the expectation, let alone the ability, to come into my home unannounced at any time. Ugh. I know it is a traditional sitcom device, but still . . .

  67. 67
    cleek says:

    @Comrade Mary:
    his frame looks a little short, too. for me, anyway – i like to stretch out, long and low.

  68. 68
    Frank Chow says:

    @Peter J: LOL, love it. Bush rides a bike more manly! Obama wears mom jeans and throws left-handed! BTW our sarcasm level has just reach a terror threat of orange.

  69. 69
    TuiMel says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle:

    Ben Nelson wants to help Republicans keep this country in the ditch into which they and glorious Dubya drove it.

  70. 70
    Patriot 3 says:

    @Comrade Mary: http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-.....a_bike.jpg OMG. What’s next an electric chainsaw on a play ranch?

  71. 71
    flukebucket says:

    @Frank Chow:

    Oh yeah. And cutting wood with a dull chain saw is always a winner with the small people.

  72. 72
    stuckinred says:

    @flukebucket: What motor?

  73. 73
    Frank Chow says:

    @flukebucket: Why don’t you chop wood in Wranglers on your day off?

  74. 74
    slag says:

    @Comrade Mary: I’m not sure raising the saddle would help much here. If it did go up to where it needs to be for his legs, he’d definitely want to raise his handlebars up too. But then he could easily end up with awkward steering leverage problems. I’m no expert, but I think cleek may be right in this being a frame dimensions problem.

  75. 75
    Kerry Reid says:

    @Mrs. Peel:

    How, exactly, do you propose “rapping their snout?” Some kind of legal penalties that would be totally unconstitutional?

    Obama has already taken heat from them for making his contempt of their 24-hour-news-cycle framing crystal clear.

    I think he’s operating on the “you guys are gonna do what you’re gonna do regardless, and I’ve got important shit to do” theory.

    More and more, what frustrates me with people who yammer about how Obama is losing the media game or whatever is that so many of them are the SAME ones who say “But he promised us change!” For me, someone who is trying to be a competent manager seriously interested in government, as opposed to cheap disgusting photo ops (“Mission Accomplished!”) IS a big change. He didn’t promise a leftie revolution — just a refocusing on the fact that government has a salutary role to play in its citizens’ lives. We can certainly argue over the details and merits of how he and this recalcitrant Congress have or have not played that role, but having a president who actually cares more about the job than getting fluffed by the press (and let’s not kid ourselves, Dubya hated them, too) is perzackly the kind of change I want to see.

  76. 76
    kay says:

    @Mrs. Peel:

    Like it or not, that’s how it is. The press was scared shitless of BushCo. They do everything but tape “kick me” signs on Obama’s back without any sort of consequences.

    I don’t see it like that. I think you give Bush (as an individual) far too much credit.
    I always thought he was a member of the club in good standing. He’s a third generation politician. He comes from a powerful family, a family media are familiar with, and believe are natural heirs to any throne.
    They liked him, and they were comfortable with him. They “knew” him.
    I thought Carter, Clinton and Obama were outsiders. Clinton isn’t anymore: I don’t really know when he gained official entry, it wasn’t during his Presidency, but he did.
    If you read Bill Clinton’s book that’s the whole subtext. He’s aware of, and alternately amused and offended by the fact that he wasn’t accepted, really, ever, when he tried to gain acceptance through achievement, in any elite club or group.
    They liked Bush because they think he belonged in that chair, right from the start. There was never any question that he was a “leader”. It was assumed he would be, and they created the narrative despite him, not because of him.
    They’re most comfortable with people they “know”.
    That’s how I see it, anyway.

  77. 77
    PeakVT says:

    @Comrade Mary: He does look a tad awkward there, doesn’t he?

    Which reminds me: the Tour de France starts in nine days. I wish I could look forward to it with more enthusiasm.

  78. 78
    Comrade Mary says:

    @slag and cleek: Yeah, I thought it might be the frame, too, but however it happens, the result is that he’s BENDING HIS LEGS LIKE FUCK even when the crank and pedal are at their lowest point.

    I can forgive the jeans, the shoes, and the dorky excuse for a rear fender, but I cannot forgive the trashing of that lovely, athletic body. Gah!

  79. 79
    slag says:

    @kay:

    I thought Carter, Clinton and Obama were outsiders. Clinton isn’t anymore: I don’t really know when he gained official entry, it wasn’t during his Presidency, but he did.

    I agree and think Clinton gained official entry when Hillary ran for Pres. Again, it was that sense of inevitability. She became the natural heir, and he gained entry by being part of that process.

  80. 80
    Mrs. Peel says:

    Some kind of legal penalties that would be totally unconstitutional?

    Getting a little overwrought aren’t we? Who’s claiming there should be legal penalties? Clearly you’re forgetting how fast Helen Thomas was relegated to the back row under Chimpie. Or how important access and saving face is to the inner circle mandarins when it’s threatened. That’s where your power lies. Legalities have nothing to do with it.

  81. 81
    Svensker says:

    @Steeplejack:

    I hated that show because I hate the whole idea that anybody, even a family member, has the expectation, let alone the ability, to come into my home unannounced at any time. Ugh. I know it is a traditional sitcom device, but still . .

    Waddya mean, “sitcom device”? You don’t have a family from the Mediterranean, do you?

  82. 82
    MikeJ says:

    @kay:

    I thought Carter, Clinton and Obama were outsiders. Clinton isn’t anymore: I don’t really know when he gained official entry, it wasn’t during his Presidency, but he did.

    Once Clinton stopped all that silly “policy” and “good government” crap and started making money he became an ok guy. Sure, yeah, he still does some charity, but what rich guy doesn’t? He’s not doing policy, which is for dorks.

    Carter is still an outsider, and it’s mainly because he went and set up The Carter Center, watching elections, doing policy. He wrote a few books, but as far as I know he’s not on any boards, he just hasn’t cashed in. So the media know he’s not one of them.

  83. 83
    cleek says:

    @Comrade Mary:
    agreed.

    and if only for style points, one must not ride a bike that does not fit.

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kay:

    I always thought [Bush] was a member of the club in good standing. He’s a third generation politician. He comes from a powerful family, a family media are familiar with, and believe are natural heirs to any throne.
    They liked him, and they were comfortable with him. They “knew” him.

    Exactly. Somehow the rest of the country may have been fooled into thinking of Bush as some kind of “outsider,” but he was a Village insider from birth. He’s one of them.

    That’s why the media constantly covered for him: not because they were afraid of him, but because he was their idiot nephew that everyone knows is a little “slow” and needs some help. David Broder has been covering politics in Washington for 50 years, including while Prescott Bush was in office. How long do you think he has personally known George W. Bush?

  85. 85
    kay says:

    @slag:

    Right, and then the real affection for their daughter, Chelsea. Media actually circled the wagons around her. It’s downright ridiculous for a nearly 30 year old woman who is out campaigning every day to say “I refuse all interviews”, like she’s an 11 year old heading off to middle school, but Chelsea Clinton did that, and she got away with it.
    I always wondered if some of that was guilt. They freaking savaged Hillary Clinton in the press, when she was First Lady. It was a feeding frenzy. I didn’t buy that she was treated unfairly as a candidate, but as a First Lady, it was ridiculously skewed against her.
    They have this club,, it has rules, and we’re not in it :)
    Obama isn’t either.

  86. 86
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    I don’t think it’s a rear fender, I think it’s one of those kid trailers that helps your kid learn to ride a bike. I’m guessing it was probably Sasha’s at the time.

  87. 87
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Mnemosyne: Hmm. It might be that kind of attachment, but it also looks like those cheap mountain bike rear fenders that float 3 miles above your rear wheel. I obviously need to study more pictures of Obama on a bike to make sure.

  88. 88
    Kerry Reid says:

    @Mrs. Peel:

    But I still maintain that being obsessed with the press is exactly the wrong game for Obama to play — it’s playing THEIR game, not his.

    So again I ask — give me your specifics for how the press should be “rapped on the snout” — and why that is even a good place for Obama and his team to focus their energies in the first place. You brought it up, so one assumes you’ve thought this through.

  89. 89
    flukebucket says:

    If BoB was still around I am sure he would post this one again.

    Good ‘ol “Flat Tire” Obama.

  90. 90
    kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    How long do you think he has personally known George W. Bush?

    A long time. Or known of him. I think, further, that media are uncomfortable with that, it goes against their romantic idea of “America”, meritocracy, so they completely ignored that he was the son of a President.

    But, come on. Give me a break. Of course that mattered. It matters in their own profession, where nepotism is fucking rampant.

    When they’re presented with real claw up from the bottom ambitious-types, like Clinton or Obama, they’re like “who the hell let him in here?” “He’s AMBITIOUS and GRASPING”. Well, no shit. He better be, or he wouldn’t be sitting there, with you-all guarding the gate.

    Clinton had a sort of hazing. It was bizarre to watch. Now of course he’s this big international presence, but remember how they treated him? Like he parked the trailer out behind the White House.

  91. 91
    Randy P says:

    @Svensker: To get even more nerdy, as we use the word cojones in English it’s like “nerve”, as in “a lot of nerve”. I believe that class of word is called “uncountable” and so “many” would be wrong.

    Re the McChrystal/Petraeus thing: I’ve been peeking into the CENTCOM website off and on the last couple of days. Their coverage is interesting, as in so far almost silent. And yesterday when all the civilian media was reporting that Obama had “fired” McChrystal and “replaced him with Petraeus”, the Centcom press release said that Obama had “accepted McChrystal’s resignation” and “suggested Petraeus as a replacement”.

    Today, I can’t even find that article. There is not one thing I can find that mentions the change in command structure.

    I’m not sure what to make of that.

  92. 92
    slag says:

    @kay: I agree for the most part. But I do think Hillary was treated to a nontrivial amount of sexism by the press. I don’t think it hurt her chances by any means. But it got pretty appalling at times. I was honestly surprised by some of it.

    However, since Obama’s been President for over a year now, I’m surprised by absolutely nothing. These people may have gone to good schools and have gotten decent white collar jobs, but they still seem ignorant as fuck in so many ways. It almost defies reason. Unless you completely discount the myth of the meritocracy, of course. Which any rational person should by now.

  93. 93
    Randy P says:

    @Peter J: I was always amazed at how his handlers successfully conveyed the cowboy image despite the fact that his “ranch” was purchased as a prop for the presidential campaign and had no animals on it. His cowboy-ness consisted of driving a pickup truck while wearing a hat. And holding up a chainsaw for those brush-clearing photo-ops of course. I don’t know if he ever actually fired up that chainsaw.

  94. 94
    geg6 says:

    @Kerry Reid:

    I like your style and would love to subscribe to your newsletter.

  95. 95
  96. 96
    FlipYrWhig says:

    What annoys me about the coverage of this story is that it indicates, to spectacular effect, what the conventional wisdom would have been if Obama decided to keep McChrystal on. Weakness, indecision, dithering, etc. So the media is basically praising Obama for doing the thing he had to do to win their praise (while professing surprise, a particularly snippy touch). And it goes round and round and round.

  97. 97
    slag says:

    @Kerry Reid:

    But I still maintain that being obsessed with the press is exactly the wrong game for Obama to play—it’s playing THEIR game, not his.

    Interesting in that I was just discussing this issue last night with someone who was having his own problems changing the game at his own job. Obama’s obvious desire to change the game came up. It’s a learning opportunity in both the intent behind it and the failure of it. Because I do see this attempt by Obama to be a failure. At least in the short term. Whether it has long term positive impacts is another question.

    Either there have been no changes to business as usual or they are so minute that I am unable to detect them. Every time I think there’s been something of a “gamechanger”, the next day I’m proven wrong. Inertia is a bitch.

  98. 98
    kay says:

    @slag:

    I saw some of that, but it seemed more like general idiocy than sexism. I remember the comments on her dress, which were dumb and offensive, but that started to meld with what I thought were actual deficiencies in her management skills, so I was wary of ascribing all of it to sexism. I think that boomerangs and hurts women in general.
    I guess my attitude was “first is always hardest”, just a fact of life, and Obama caught such shit for his “first” (and as we know, you can’t mention that when you’re the black candidate) that I felt as if it were “even”, in a way.
    I would have been better able to parse sexism had I not been amazed and distracted at how rigidly conventional they are in general, to anyone even slightly outside the mold. I don’t know what they’d do with a genuinely unconventional person. They’d drop dead of outrage.

  99. 99
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @kay: My take on the media’s long-lasting Bush love is that they really did find him ridiculous but didn’t want to let on: because they’re always so afraid that Real America sees things differently than they do.

    So they acted like Bush was wonderful because they figured The American People thought Bush was wonderful. They saw both Bush and The American People alike as dimwitted rubes — and have conditioned themselves to check the “dimwitted rubes” reaction the way a previous generation struggles to check its racism and other prejudices. So they hypercorrect. That way they can signal that they are in touch with The American People. David Brooks is the quintessence of that attitude, but I think it’s rampant: elitists holding public figures to faux populist standards lest they betray their own elitism.

  100. 100
    Mike G says:

    If Obama were, I don’t know, being fed pro-war prayer cards by his domineering Secretary of Defense or letting his VP maintain man-sized safes of secret documents, then maybe it would be worth speculating if he was “man enough” to be president.

    Obama refuses to make comic-book-stupid photo ops to demonstrate his ‘manliness’ because he’s not a stupid fratboy, so the lazy retards of the press don’t have a spoon-fed narrative to regurgitate.

    If Obama would just strut around on a carrier deck wearing a flight suit like one of the Village People, the ‘manliness storyline crisis’ in the corporate media would be solved, and America would feel safe again.

  101. 101
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Or, to put it another way, most media figures seem to approach politics by seeing what happens, thinking, “How would a cartoon version of an American react to this?”, then evaluating how the politician could curry favor with the cartoonish Real American. That’s why the answer is always something like “Get tough” or “Show ’em who’s boss” or “Stop talking, start doing.” “Git ‘er dun,” I tellyawhut.

  102. 102
    slag says:

    @kay:

    I saw some of that, but it seemed more like general idiocy than sexism.

    It’s so hard to tell any more. The topic of this very post seems inherently bound in sexism.

    In some ways, I thought Hillary’s power plays were sexist in themselves. Her quien es mas macho foreign policy stance was an overt challenge to Obama’s masculinity. Which I don’t think hurt him. But rather, as you say, boomeranged back on women, in general. I enjoyed very few things about Hillary’s Presidential campaign, all in all. The sexism coming from the press was (and still is) just icing on the crap cake.

  103. 103
    kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    They saw both Bush and The American People alike as dimwitted rubes—and have conditioned themselves to check the “dimwitted rubes” reaction the way a previous generation struggles to check its racism and other prejudices. So they hypercorrect.

    That’s great, and would explain the constant “Americans won’t like this, Obama!” and then two weeks later looking at polls to gauge reaction.

    It happened again and again during Obama’s campaign (“can’t bowl: he’s screwed!”) but I thought it would end with the Presidency. It didn’t.

    The debates were a great example of that in action. Obama “lost” those a lot. They so wanted America to like John McCain! They like him! What’s not to like?

  104. 104
    maus says:

    @thomas:

    only if he puts on a fighter pilot suit to show his junk

    The media’d be talking about his “Dukakis moment”.

    @Mike G: I love this shit, they don’t really know how to set a narrative because he’s not a legacy, he’s not a dumb fratboy, he doesn’t play the “cowboy maverick”, and he’s not the media’s depiction of a black male, neither Cosby nor gangsta nor Urkel. They talk a lot about *that* people love him, never really figuring out *why* people do.

  105. 105
    kay says:

    @slag:

    I would have moments of real sympathy and connection with her. When she would sort of slump, exhausted, and underneath the campaign face she perfected she just didn’t give a shit anymore, because, really these are stupid people with stupid questions, and she knows a lot of stuff. I recognized that. I liked her best when her face would relax, and you sort of saw her.
    I still watch for that, and she still does it. She’ll be on some panel or another, and she’ll just come out with some blunt, true statement. That’s her, as far as I’m concerned. It’s too bad she isn’t confident enough to be that person, but maybe that isn’t “allowed” within our screwed up political arena.

  106. 106
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @slag: And a Clash reference. Well played, sir.

  107. 107
    gwangung says:

    @slag:

    Interesting in that I was just discussing this issue last night with someone who was having his own problems changing the game at his own job. Obama’s obvious desire to change the game came up. It’s a learning opportunity in both the intent behind it and the failure of it. Because I do see this attempt by Obama to be a failure. At least in the short term. Whether it has long term positive impacts is another question.

    Well, that’s that point. Obama doesn’t play short term games, so it’s kinda irrelevant that anybody sees it as a failure in the short term.

    Heh. That tends to make me think it’s a goddam success.

  108. 108
    slag says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    My take on the media’s long-lasting Bush love is that they really did find him ridiculous but didn’t want to let on: because they’re always so afraid that Real America sees things differently than they do.

    A lot of the behavior I see from them seems so unconscious that I really don’t think they did find Bush ridiculous. I really think they are the dimwitted rubes they take the rest of us for.

    It’s almost bound to happen. You are exposed to so many different attitudes and people, and you have to try and see things from their perspectives that you are almost bound to lose your own in the process. Especially when you probably didn’t have that much of a perspective in the first place. Things that are bizarre or unseemly when looked at from a critical distance become the norm–the expected.

    I’ve seen this happen to actors. It makes sense it would happen to journalists too. Their standards for normalcy aren’t just overcompensated for. They’re practically nonexistent.

  109. 109
    El Cid says:

    @maus: That’s another thing that pissed the fuck out of me. I thought Bush Jr. looked like a pathetic god-damn idiot in his flight suit Top Gun landing show but Chris Matthews is humping the table-leg over W’s package, and Captain Pretzel falls down on his bike-bike a lot, and, no, Dukakis looks ridiculous because he wore a helmet, and John Kerry’s a French long-faced fag because he went wind-surfing.

  110. 110
    slag says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko: That somebody got that makes me feel kind of weird. Almost as if I’ve accomplished something today. Disturbing.

  111. 111
    El Cid says:

    @slag: I’ve had jobs in which one of the bosses was an absolute dangerous jackass, but because that boss was all loudmouth and self-assured and macho and acted all commander-guy, coworkers admired and feared the shit out of him, until that boss was finally shown to just be fucking shit up. By that point, of course, no, nobody had ever admired him, they always thought he was a jerk, etc. and so forth.

  112. 112
    El Cid says:

    The ad at the bottom of the page tells me that Hillary is about to help the United Nations take all our gunz.

  113. 113
    Svensker says:

    @Mike G:

    If Obama would just strut around on a carrier deck wearing a flight suit like one of the Village People, the ‘manliness storyline crisis’ in the corporate media would be solved, and America would feel safe again.

    I dunno, O’d prolly come off looking like Mikey Dukakis. Personally, I think O is teh hawt but I’m not a Marlboro Man kinda girl.

  114. 114
    Svensker says:

    @maus:

    The media’d be talking about his “Dukakis moment”.

    OK OK sniped AGAIN!

  115. 115
    slag says:

    @gwangung:

    Well, that’s that point. Obama doesn’t play short term games, so it’s kinda irrelevant that anybody sees it as a failure in the short term.

    And if we just wait long enough, the Iraq War will be considered a success.

  116. 116
    slag says:

    @El Cid: Precisely. But you need external measures. Some standards to tell you when “fucking shit up” is actually going on or has gone on. I think that, in business and in government, those standards can be very hard to come by.

  117. 117

    @slag:

    Obama doesn’t play short term games

    This assertion never ceases to amaze me with its undemonstrated accuracy. That is not to say Obama doesn’t play long term as well, but it would demonstrate mind numbing stupidity to ignore the short term and Obama seems to pretty much miss stupid. There have certainly been plenty of examples of reactions to current events by the Administration that have reflected concern to immediacy. I’d be horrified by a Presidency that always had its eyes on the horizon and dealing with Congress would seem to me to dictate that the short game is important.

  118. 118
    Corner Stone says:

    @slag:

    In some ways, I thought Hillary’s power plays were sexist in themselves. Her quien es mas macho foreign policy stance was an overt challenge to Obama’s masculinity. Which I don’t think hurt him.

    There was no halfway available for her in that category.
    And they talked incessantly about her cleavage and her cankles and her pantsuits in ways that probably made “Earthtone Gore” blush.
    There was no masking what they were doing.

  119. 119
    El Cid says:

    @slag: Okay, you “need external measures” to determine success or lack of success, but that goes both for people praising and for those being skeptical of macho loudmouths. And it isn’t always so difficult either in government or business when you’re close enough to see the evidence of fuckups major and minor right in front of view, problems unresolved, issues unaddressed, analyses fudged.

    I’m suggesting that a lot of people, especially our billion dollar media, are power-worshiping shit-heads who wouldn’t know how to use an “external measure” to determine who deserved their leg-humping if a safe full of such measures fell on their heads.

    I’m suggesting that they’re weak-minded pin-heads who use loudmouth bellicose macho behavior as their “external measure” of performance.

  120. 120
    Sheila says:

    I find it amusing that the media, who pretty much sit behind a desk or at a keyboard all day, are perpetually wondering about our President’s manhood. My question is: who is woman enough to be President of the United States? A pair of nurturing breasts would be a great asset for the most powerful leader in the world. Truth is, I think Obama outranked Hillary Clinton in this regard also.

  121. 121
    twiffer says:

    @Steeplejack: i hated that show because it wasn’t funny and all the characters were horrible, horrible people.

  122. 122
    maus says:

    @twiffer: At least Sunny in Philadelphia is funny.

    Raymond is “that bitch the Mother In Law”, only the wacky twist is the horrible MIL is the man’s, not the wife’s. How progressive!

  123. 123
    Svensker says:

    @maus:

    Raymond is “that bitch the Mother In Law”, only the wacky twist is the horrible MIL is the man’s, not the wife’s. How progressive!

    Again, you obviously don’t live in an Italian or Greek family. The MIL is not “horrible” or a “bitch” — that’s just how they are. You love them anyway. Or not…. :) And you either have to laugh or you’ll spend your life screaming and crying. Or getting a divorce.

  124. 124
    Church Lady says:

    @Corner Stone: Calling Al Gore, calling Al Gore…..

  125. 125
    Sheila says:

    @Mike G: Machismo is not a proof, but rather a perversion, of strength.

  126. 126
    Elie says:

    @cleek:

    An unfortunate number of Americans think that a man is someone who yells at you until something is done.

    Ever wonder why we have so many incidents of bullying in the schools? Because so many people make the false association with authoritarian coercion with somehow being the same as an adult in charge of themselves and the situation. They actually do not know the model of an actualized human being, having seen it so rarely in their lives…THAT is what is coming out here… Part of the sub story of the McChrystal story for me is that he was attempting to bully the President of the fucking U-nited States —

    Obama represents at once an old time model of mature maleness (back in the days of civility and competence) and a new model (since its been so long since we have seen the old model in operation). I think he is making a lot of headway and is slowly bleeding some of the most extrement emotionality out of our public discourse. We are miles and miles away from having it all gone, but he is shifting it…

  127. 127
    tomvox1 says:

    The most significant aspect of this story for me is the Rose Garden speech itself. I suggest that everyone here read it, even if you think the Afghanistan mission is completely FUBAR (which I sort of do). While so many on the Left are busy wishing Obama was LBJ (god forbid–did we forget Vietnam, people?) or FDR (that’d be swell but he ain’t), I think we should take him seriously when he says his role model is Lincoln.

    Excerpts:

    The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.

    I believe that this mission demands unity of effort across our alliance and across my national security team. And I don’t think that we can sustain that unity of effort and achieve our objectives in Afghanistan without making this change. That too has guided my decision.

    I’ve just told my national security team that now is the time for all of us to come together. Doing so is not an option but an obligation. I welcome debate among my team but I won’t tolerate division.

    All of us have personal interests. All of us have opinions. Our politics often fuels conflict. But we have to renew our sense of common purpose and meet our responsibilities, to one another and to our troops who are in harm’s way and to our country.

  128. 128
    maus says:

    @Svensker:

    Again, you obviously don’t live in an Italian or Greek family. The MIL is not “horrible” or a “bitch”—that’s just how they are.

    I was referring more to the bland, genericized fifties-style mother in law hate than any actual relatives.

  129. 129
    Bill H says:

    @stuckinred:
    Well, my point is we should not have people “in the shit.” The wars we fight are entirely voluntary. We are not “defending ourselves against weapons of mass destruction” and we are not “denying them space in which to plan their attacks.”

    My point that “This nation is too much about its fucking wars and not enough about its people” might have suggested that point.

  130. 130
    Kerry Reid says:

    I think the problem with trying to play the media’s game is that the goalposts are always shifting in that Three Little Bears way (too angry, too cool, too indecisive, too thuggish — whatever will gin up the outrage du jour and get some eyeballs on the screen). And of course, the main charge the media buffoons love to lob at Dems is “flip flopper,” so if Obama seems to be overtly changing his tune to please them, he’s doubly screwed. It’s like trying to date somebody who says “Well, I don’t love you YET, but if you’d only lose 20 pounds/quit smoking/stop talking to your family/whatever-the-hell, MAYBE I’ll reward you with my undying affection.”

    No one wins by giving into that kind of crap. Which is why I maintain a certain kind of distant professional cordiality, measured with thoughtful doses of contempt when earned from time to time, is probably the correct way to handle the press until they collectively grow up (i.e., stop pining for the days when they could dance with their BFF Karl Rove at the Correspondents’ Dinner).

    (I recall an early press conference where Obama was scolded for not responding to something-or-other in the prescribed 24-hour cycle and he replied that “I like to know what I’m talking about before issuing a statement” — a moment that Jon Stewart memorialized by looking at his watch and saying “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an appointment to f-ck your mother.”)

    I totally agree that most media folks in DC are obsessed with trying to channel “real America” — even though most of them couldn’t tell you what that means without stumbling over their own feet. Linda Ellerbee said the variant on the “little old lady from Dubuque” referenced by a New Yorker editor (William Shawn?) when she worked in network TV was “the plumber from Albuquerque.” Which, excepting Not-Joe Not-a-Plumber, is pretty insulting. As Ellerbee pointed out, at least the plumber from Albuquerque, unlike most network producers, keeps a job year in and year out and knows how to run a small business to boot.

    And the main thing the media love to do is pretend that they have their finger on the pulse of the American public. Which is why they just knew we all wanted wall-to-wall coverage for a week in the middle of a historic election season about the tragic untimely death of the Most Important American Ever — Tim Russert.

  131. 131

    I re-read the Rolling Stone article on McChrystal and again I’m struck by the fact that he comes off like a whining, petulant little bitch and his staff isn’t any better.

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