But we've been through so much.


I didn’t know better when I was a kid. We just salute and said “with liberty and justice for all” and then as a teenager, I mocked you because you weren’t nearly as good as you thought you were. Later, you had a dangerous affair with a man who was bent on ruining you and I thought you were lost. But we’re both still here.

But now it’s not about being perfect or being imperfect. It’s about time invested and having gone through so much with an imperfect friend, warts and all. We think you can contain your id, you can let your good side show enough to keep the lights on.

But today is the day 12 years ago when you let your addictions and your fears and your dangerous affair run rampant in a kind of hateful bender. We staged an intervention in 2006 and again in 2008 but you’re an addict now and you shouldn’t even take one drink.

Your behavior since has made it hard for us to trust you to do the right thing the right way at the right time. Some of your other friends are done with you, but I’m still here.


Deep Thought

You know, old Adenauer was also German, just like his predecessor, and continued to build roads. We could call the autobahns the Hitler-Adenauer doctrine.


And you know when we get our enthusiasm gap Republican president in 2016, everyone’s going to say it’s time to stop opposing the President on everything just because he’s for it. Heads the Republicans win, tails the Democrats lose.

January 2017

It’s a bitter snowy day in Washington, D.C. A now fully gray-haired President Obama sits in the first row with a stern, emotionless face. Next to him, Michelle looks off in the distance. Chief Justice Roberts is seated across from them, with a smile on his face as usual, but this time with a little bit of a genuine glow. Obama thinks, I bet he won’t fuck up the oath this time.

Bill Clinton is seated nearby doing his ex-presidential duty, but his wife isn’t with him. She’s nowhere to be seen. Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell joke with each other. Clinton and Obama have not greeted each other. They haven’t been speaking since December when Bill gave a quote a reporter where he said “Obama is the only one who ever defeated us, both times, the Republicans could never do it. And they tried.” Clinton admitted later it was a bit unfair, but the thirty days between that quote and election day had been the most stressful in his post-presidential life.

Thirty days it lasted. That was when the final recount had ended. It hurt him he couldn’t deliver Arkansas for Hillary. Ohio, lost. Virginia, lost. Colorado, lost. Iowa, lost. Even losing New Jersey didn’t end it. You held Florida. You had a 70% approval rating with women there and it paid. But those last days in Oregon. It was solid blue, it was humiliating.

How did that happen? You look at Obama. Not a damn emotion on his face. In there somewhere there has to be some realization. The drones. The NSA. Syria. It was just too damned soon, too much like Bush. No, you think, in his Vulcan mind the comparisons were inapt. Bush lied. Obama told the truth. But that didn’t matter.

First they had tried to recruit Liz Warren to run a third party campaign, but she knew better. She took her job seriously and wanted to legislate. The Draft Warren movement turned into the Draft America movement. There was even a TV show looking for a “truly different” candidate. They made pictures of a three headed beast with Obama and Bush and Hillary on it.

How many votes did that sway? Did it sway more than 35 in Oregon? Probably.

And so now they had it. They had the Congress and they had the White House and they had Obama’s legacy ready to light on fire. It wasn’t just Obamacare. They had a bill that was going to “repeal not just Obamacare but Obama.” Health care reform, gone. Consumer financial protection bureau, gone. 39% tax bracket, gone. They were even repealing the immigration reform law. The new President would sign it today. As if he won in a landslide.

35 fucking trustifarians in Oregon who were mad that someone could read their banal e-mails. 1,000 stoners in Colorado who thought they could nullify federal law but neo-confederates in the South couldn’t. And probably tens of thousands who stayed home because they didn’t believe anyone represented them, they let the cynicism wear them down.

Obama squinted in the snow and he could feel Clinton’s dagger-eyes in his back. Arrogant bastard. Al Gore probably said the same thing about him. Your dick, my White House. A mob of Amy Goodman listeners saying “both the same” and then Bush, Iraq, and America fucked up. But everyone knows I saved it. I saved our self-respect, first black President, saved us from a depression. Got Bin Laden and ended those stupid wars, put it back the way it should have been before Bush fucked it up. I did what he couldn’t do—I got health care fixed, I got a deal on Jerusalem. He didn’t even try to save Rwanda, argued against it. But Yugoslavia, he did everything for them. For Europeans. But I try to stop a holocaust in Syria and they turn on me. Hillary has to be her own woman, that was the first term when I was secretary of state, she said.

But how can I blame her? The equated me with the worst president in our history who stole his presidency because they wouldn’t believe that I would do what I said I was going to do not what they dreamed I was going to do, because I used drones to keep our military out of the way and because of FISA, a Constitutional program. Didn’t matter. Bush had poisoned everyone. Competent government wasn’t enough for them. Had to be a revolution, always a revolution, and a revolution after the revolution because that’s what their college professors who never made a decision with someone’s life on the line told them.

Now it’s Chris Christie’s plaque filled fucking arteries that stands between us and Rand Paul. There’s their revolution.

The Bush Doctrine. Again.

Look at this:

[It’s] fair to say that while the United States continues to use the language of law, its position is more a self-made doctrine of American exceptionalism, which lays out U.S. claims and expectations and does not make them reciprocal for other states (as “law” necessarily does). Something like the Monroe doctrine, but applied to both hemispheres. The Bush-Obama doctrine, as one might call it (though there are some variations between the presidents), extends throughout the world. It declares that dictatorships that stay in power through violence and threaten their neighbors must fear America’s might, whatever the rest of the world might say.

This is a terrible meme.

The “Bush Doctrine” was not humanitarian intervention or preventing threats against neighbors to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. It was fraud. This kind of thinking does not get you an A in undergrad political science, but it’s permanently embedded in our journalism. Even smart folks like Rachel Maddow are doing this.

To call something the “Bush-Obama” Doctrine is defamatory.

The enduring amnesia about the Bush years and their effect on the country have always been damaging coming from Republicans, but liberals are starting to catch up. They are starting to flippantly equate Bush and Obama on all sorts of things. This is scary.

The Senate is going to be lost in 2014 because the enthusiasm gap over Bush being just like Obama. Just like he was just like Al Gore.

Call Their Bluff

Putting Syria’s weapons under international supervision is a perfectly acceptable solution to all of this. The Russians offered it, make them do it in the UN. If they don’t, well, they look stupid.

Somehow, though, I’m sure it’s Obama’s fault.

Regressive Progressives

Honestly, one of the things I’ve always been proud of liberals for is their general acceptance of science and awareness of history. Yet all I see on the liberal blogs is more “heh indeedy” it’s just like Iraq. Is Yugoslavia that long ago?

In any event, it’s not that I don’t see the parallels. Arabs. Chemical weapons. Bad guy dictator. UN inspectors. Threats to disarm. Allies begging off. Skeptical public.

Americans like to say we’re “not the world’s policeman.” That’s true because we have hardly ever enforced the law, not because of the fact that since 1991 we’ve been the only nation or entity really capable of doing so in the first place. Should we be? Who knows what the world order would be like if our military weren’t on par with the rest of the world combined. More peaceful? Who knows.

What we can only know is how it is now.  As current UN Ambassador Samantha Power wrote:

Since the Holocaust, the United States has intervened militarily for a panoply of purposes — securing foreign ports, removing unpalatable dictators, combating evil ideology, protecting American oil interests, etc. — all of which provoke extreme moral and legal controversy. Yet, despite an impressive postwar surge in moral resolve, the United States has never intervened to stop the one overseas occurrence that all agree is wrong, and that most agree demands forceful measures. Irrespective of the political affiliation of the President at the time, the major genocides of the post-war era — Cambodia (Carter), northern Iraq (Reagan, Bush), Bosnia (Bush, Clinton) and Rwanda (Clinton) — have yielded virtually no American action and few stern words. American leaders have not merely refrained from sending GIs to combat genocide; when it came to atrocities in Cambodia, Iraq and Rwanda, the United States also refrained from condemning the crimes or imposing economic sanctions; and, again in Rwanda, the United States refused to authorize the deployment of a multinational U.N. force, and also squabbled over who would foot the bill for American transport vehicles.