Friday, May 24, 2013

Signs of success for President Obama's long game

I can't help but notice that scandal mania just might be dying as news of success on several fronts of President Obama's long game emerge. A few examples will follow.

Perhaps you've heard that both Oregon and now California are seeing great news when it comes to health insurance costs as they finalize the exchanges established by Obamacare. You'll not want to miss what Matt Yglesias wrote about this. It will come in handy when Republicans try to ramp up their campaign against the law's implementation.
...the aspirations of the law are quite high, and the status quo quite bad. That means any time the situation improves but doesn't improve as much as the Obama administration wanted things to improve, that will tend to be covered as "bad news for ObamaCare". That tendency will be reenforced because Republicans will be eager to trumpet ObamaCare's shortcomings (to make Obama look bad) and advocates for the poor will also be eager to trumpet ObamaCare's shortcomings (to build pressure for improvement).
That last statement strikes me as an important point to keep in mind on how liberals tend to shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to our messaging about the policies of good government.

And then there is this tweet by Brian Beutler that is 100% on point.
Secondly, remember a few weeks ago when everyone was predicting the sure doom of President Obama's "charm offensive?" My preference for talking about what he was up to was to use the President's own words and call it an effort to develop a "common sense caucus." Well, it looks like with an assist from the Senate's lunatic caucus, his efforts are paying off.
A tea party rebellion by several U.S. senators blocking progress on the federal budget may be working for them, but not for their fellow Republican lawmakers -- even ones who mostly agree with them...

The debate intensified Wednesday, when McCain charged that the tea party members' opposition amounted to distrust of the House GOP leadership. And Cruz admitted it did. "Let me be clear. I don't trust the Republicans," he said, lumping them in with Democrats...

But McCain has held his ground, suggesting on Thursday that senators who object to conference negotiations don't understand "how business has been done" in Congress. Moreover, McCain asserted that most GOP senators agree with him that it's time to stop stalling and go to conference.

Most senators asked by The Huffington Post said they do agree with McCain.
Finally, when it comes to ending the indefinite war, President Obama is actually walking his talk. I've mentioned before that there has been a steep decline in the number of drone strikes recently. But sometimes it helps to have a visual. Here's one showing the number in Pakistan from BBC News.

Michael Cohen at The Guardian has more - not just on the reduction in the number of strikes, but on the fact that the number of civilian casualties has been dramatically reduced.
Not only have drone strikes decreased, but so too have the number of civilians killed – and dramatically so.

This conclusion comes not from Obama administration apologists but rather, Chris Woods, whose research has served as the empirical basis for the harshest attacks on the Obama Administration's drone policy...

When I spoke with Woods last month, he said that a fairly clear pattern has emerged over the past year – far fewer civilians are dying from drones. "For those who are opposed to drone strikes," says Woods there is historical merit to the charge of significant civilian deaths, "but from a contemporary standpoint the numbers just aren't there."...

So how does one explain this rather important shift in the US drone war?

The reasons appear to be three-fold. First, as technology has improved so too have the capabilities of drone operators to be more precise. Second, there appears to be shift in targeting, particularly away from so-called "signature strikes" that rely more on behavior than specific intelligence to justify kills...

But there's a third reason: as the war in Afghanistan has begun to wind down the use of drones against militants across the border from Pakistan has declined as well.
The "signature strikes" are the one's that have been carried out by the CIA. Eliminating them has been part of John Brennan's policy to end their involvement in the use of drones. And here's what President Obama said yesterday about the third point.
In the Afghan war theater, we must -- and will -- continue to support our troops until the transition is complete at the end of 2014. And that means we will continue to take strikes against high value al Qaeda targets, but also against forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces. But by the end of 2014, we will no longer have the same need for force protection, and the progress we’ve made against core al Qaeda will reduce the need for unmanned strikes.
All that amounts to a whole lot of "win" for President Obama's long game. It explains pretty well why I'm proud to call myself an Obamabot!

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