Obama’s Rhetoric On The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Needlessly Confrontational

President Obama's confrontational approach to opponents of the Iran Nuclear Deal ignores legitimate questions.

Barack Obama

In this speech yesterday, President Obama took what can fairly be described a confrontation approach toward opponents in his efforts to sell the Iran nuclear deal:

President Obama lashed out at critics of the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, saying many of those who backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq now want to reject the Iran accord and put the Middle East on the path toward another war.

Obama also said that if Congress rejects the deal, it will undermine America’s standing in global diplomacy, leaving the United States isolated and putting Israel in even greater peril.

While calling the nuclear accord with Iran “the strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated,” Obama also seemed to turn the vote on the deal into a referendum on the U.S. invasion of Iraq a dozen years ago, a decision he portrayed as the product of a “mind-set characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy.”

Obama said that when he first ran for president, he believed “that America didn’t just have to end that war. We had to end the mind-set that got us there in the first place.” He added that “now, more than ever, we need clear thinking in our foreign policy.”

It was the president’s sharpest attack yet on opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, which he sees as a defining achievement amid an often rocky foreign policy record.

n a two-hour White House meeting Tuesday night with Jewish American groups, Obama seemed particularly bothered by a multimillion-dollar ad campaign aimed at stopping the deal. On Wednesday afternoon, the president used his Twitter account to say: “There’s no such thing as a ‘better deal.’ Walking away risks war.”

As he nears the end of his tenure, Obama has been arguing forcefully that diplomacy can yield benefits, even as his administration continues to use targeted strikes by drones and struggles to deal with civil war in Syria, the rise of the Islamic State and confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.

“I have not shied away from using force when necessary,” Obama said, noting he had authorized military actions in seven countries. “. . . I’ve had to make a lot of tough calls as president, but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls. It’s not even close.”

Instead, Obama said, Kennedy sought “a practical and attainable peace, a peace based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions, on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements.”

But many observers felt that Obama’s speech was more caustic and partisan than Kennedy’s. “Walk away from this agreement and you will get a better deal — for Iran,” he said to critics.

At one point, Obama brushed aside comments by Iranian hard-liners who he said do not reflect what all Iranians believe and are the “most comfortable with the status quo.” The president added: “It’s those hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.”

Later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on Obama “to retract his bizarre and preposterous comments” and said that Democrats who have already stated their opposition would be “insulted” by them.

Obama did not shy away from engaging foes of the Iran deal and linking them to the decision to invade Iraq.

“The single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein,” Obama added. He also noted that when President George W. Bush took office, Iran did not possess any centrifuges, the machines needed to produce nuclear bomb material, while when Obama took office Iran already had installed several thousand.

Even some supporters of the nuclear deal were put off by Obama’s argument. Many critics of the agreement were proponents of war in Iraq, but that does not make them warmongers, said Robert Einhorn, an arms-control and nonproliferation analyst with the Brookings Institution.

“I think it will offend more than convert,” said Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Wilson Center and a former Middle East negotiator at the State Department. Miller supports the agreement but said Obama’s speech “paints those who are not reckless critics of this agreement with a large brush.”

Obama’s remarks obviously have not sit well with Republicans strongly opposed to the deal and that is to be expected given the fact that many of these people had rejected the deal even before it was formally announced. That isn’t the only corner from what criticism came after yesterday’s speech, though. The editors at Bloomberg, for example. say that the President put fear before facts:

Obama may hope that denigrating those who disagree with him will rally Democrats in Congress to support a veto of any measure of disapproval. Tactics aside, it would be far better to win this fight fairly. The pact is not a treaty: A future president and Congress might overturn it, arguing that it was sealed without proper consideration. And history often looks with disgust at causes built on fear, especially if they go awry. Obama wouldn’t want to face the kind of scorn he heaped on George W. Bush today.

The strategy that the Administration has adopted in trying to sell this deal has drawn criticism even from many of its allies. Rather than acknowledging the legitimacy of the questions that many people who are on the fence about the deal might have, they have chosen to argue that supporting the agreement is the only rational choice one can make and that the deal’s opponents are proposing to send the nation down the road to war. Perhaps the most extreme example of that came yesterday when the President essentially equated opponents of the deal to hardliners in Iran who have also spoken out against the deal and those in Tehran who shout “Death to America!” on a regular basis. On some level, I suppose, the strategy is a reaction to the often overheated rhetoric of many of the Republican opponents of the deal and the concern that acknowledging any weaknesses in the deal would be conceding ground that could potentially lead to its ultimate defeat. At the same time, though, it occurs to me that the Administration is hurting its cause here by taking such a hard line position.

Even taking all of the arguments in favor of the deal into account, it seems rather obvious that there is plenty about the agreement that should raise concerns in people’s minds. The fact that certain sites will only be open to inspection after the Iranians have been given 24 days notice raises rather obvious concerns that they will be able to cover up evidence of non-compliance with the agreement. The fact that the deal includes both the lifting of economic sanctions and the lifting of an embargo that was originally tied to Iran’s practice of selling advanced missile technology to other nations raises the legitimate concern that Tehran will simply use the additional cash that the lifting of sanctions will give them to sow mischief in other parts of the Middle East. The Administration has answers to these and other questions that have been raised about the deal, of course, but framing those answers in a dismissive tone that suggests that opponents are not just incorrect but stupid and perhaps evil doesn’t strike me as very constructive, and doesn’t seem like a very good way for the Administration to win over wavering votes that they will need to prevent an override of the President’s inevitable veto. Senator Angus King, for example, called the decision on how he would vote on this deal one of the hardest he’s ever had to make, and while he ultimately announced that he will support the deal the fact that he was so obviously conflicted should be a good demonstration to the Obama White House that the doubts that many people have should be answered rather than blithely dismissed as the President did yesterday.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Congress, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    Oh god, please Barack Obama tell Doug and the unsigned editors at Bloomberg lies about the people they’re happy to relate to. I can see Doug in two years’ time: “Sure I voted for Scott Walker and now as promised we’re bombing the hell out of Iran. I blame Obama’s speech on 8/5/15!”

  2. Castanea says:

    Hahahahaha go lay an egg. Rhetoric finery doesn’t work on people who take their orders from Netanyahu.

  3. David M says:

    I can’t fault Obama for choosing this approach, as the opposition has already announced they aren’t considering this deal in good faith. They made their bed, now they get to sleep in it.

  4. Slugger says:

    Obama has been quiet in the face of been accused of being a Kenyan, secret Muslim, who has touched the Queen, removed a bust of Churchill, spread mustard on a hamburger, and has a wife that calls out “whitey” on a secret videotape and even worse wants children to eat their vegetables. His signature piece of legislation has been upheld by the SCOTUS but has faced 52 or so overturn votes.
    Obama, like other humans, is a mix of many qualities some good, some not-so good, some sterling, and some downright evil. However, needlessly confrontational is not a descriptor I would choose.
    BTW, Dr. Mataconis, do you support this agreement? I acknowledge that there are problems with it, but do you know of a better solution to the problem attainable on this planet?

  5. Gustopher says:

    I thought Obama’s remarks were actually pretty reserved, given the circumstances.

    The Republicans are putting the needs of Likud over the needs of the US. The Republicans announced their opposition before seeing the details of the deal, and would be opposed to any deal negotiated by a Democratic administration.

    Also, too, “marching Israelis into the gas chambers”

  6. EddieInCA says:

    Jesus Doug!

    Obama went, point by point, and obliterated the points that critics of the deal have made against it. Point by point. Factually.

    Can you, or anyone else on the GOP side, come up with an alternative plan, short of war, that would make this deal better?

    Anyone?

    Bueller?

  7. michael reynolds says:

    What utter drivel, Doug.

    I have yet to see a single credible, non-partisan nuclear expert say they have a problem with the 24 day waiting period. The retired intelligence and military chiefs in Israel support the deal. Our allies support the deal. Three groups oppose the deal: Likud, the Saudis and Republicans. Likud because Bibi needs fear to govern, the KSA because they lack the ability to produce a bomb of their own and hate Shiites.

    There are no rational arguments against the deal. Mr. Obama’s speech was perfectly appropriate and correct. And you, Doug, are clueless on this subject.

    edit: automatically went from 24 to hour.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    One thing Obama has been is a pretty good vote counter and whip. He’s also very pragmatic, perhaps to a fault. I don’t know who the target for this speech was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t McConnell or Mataconis. Or Joe Scarborough who was off on this same Obama’s being mean kick. His line was that Obama’s playing small ball, settling for 34 votes in the Senate, when he could be making Joe happy by swinging for the fences. Scarborough, who I may have mentioned in the past is dumber than dirt, can’t understand that pragmatic Obama wants the deal, not short term glory. He figures glory will come in the fullness of time. Same way he worked the ACA.

  9. Orange says:

    It’s always funny to see people clutch their pearls whenever a Democrat fights back.

    Obama tried non-confrontational his entire first term. For his efforts, he got demonized by Republicans on every issue. But it’s just awful for him to be “confrontational” in response to people saying he is actively aiding Iran and is leading Israel to the ovens. Please.

  10. Tyrell says:

    This is interesting: last week- “Meterorites hit Iran” This week -” Iran heat wave: 164 degrees !”

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: And Republicans hate the deal because Obama, Israel, and Sheldon Adelson’s money. You’re right. If they had a rational argument, they’d have brought it out.

  12. Moosebreath says:

    Response outsourced to Daniel Larison. Read the whole thing, but as to Doug’s criticism:

    “His responses to hawkish criticisms of the deal were pointed and sometimes mocking, which is understandable given how shoddy the arguments against the deal typically are.”

  13. PJ says:

    Someone is sad because Obama refuses to be a lame duck.

  14. stonetools says:

    Doug deems Obama needlessly confrontational because he told the truth, and his enemies thought that was confrontational.
    Sounds like Harry Truman : “I don’t give ’em hell. I tell the truth, and they think it’s hell.” Note that this truth-telling approach worked for Truman in 1948. I’m betting it will work for Obama in 2015.

    The Administration has answers to these and other questions that have been raised about the deal, of course, but framing those answers in a dismissive tone that suggests that opponents are not just incorrect but stupid and perhaps evil doesn’t strike me as very constructive

    But isn’t it true that these opponents are in fact stupid, if not evil? These are for the most part the guys who brought us the Iraq War. They’ve demonstrated their stupidity and/or their evil. We shouldn’t give a d$%n whether their feelings are hurt or not, because Obama isn’t going to win them over anyway. As to the fence sitters , they should look at the facts, not whether Obama is making nice with his enemies.

  15. David M says:

    This response from Obama also comes after the Iran hearings, where the opponents lack of serious questions was quite obvious:

    In challenging Kerry and Moniz, Republican senators and representatives offered no serious alternative. They misrepresented testimony, dismissed contrary evidence, and substituted vitriol for analysis. They seemed baffled by the idea of having to work and negotiate with other countries. I came away from the hearings dismayed by what the GOP has become in the Obama era. It seems utterly unprepared to govern.

    The opponents aren’t making credible arguments against the deal, and no one should pretend they are, no matter how little respect Obama shows for their nonsense.

  16. Facebones says:

    What part was untrue? We’ve had Very Serious Republican John McCain demanding we “Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran” for years now. Pretty obvious to me we’re going to start another pointless war in the middle east if Republicans get their way.

  17. Franklin says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Response outsourced to Daniel Larison.

    Thanks for the link. It was perfect.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Obama’s Rhetoric On The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Needlessly Confrontational

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…. GASP….. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….. WHEEZE…. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….

    Doug? You say some of the silliest things but you sure are awful cute doing it. Let me pinch your cheek you little rascal you….

  19. LaMont says:

    The editors at Bloomberg, for example. say that the President put fear before facts:

    Well that’s rich! Why don’t the editors at Bloomberg write about all the constant “fear before facts” coming out of the GOP and Netanyahu camp about this deal?

  20. reid says:

    Yes, critics of the deal have argued in nothing but calm, rational terms; how dare Obama get confrontational? What a joke. You’re choosing your battles poorly, Doug.

  21. LC says:

    This is, without a doubt, the dumbest post Doug has ever written.
    And that is REALLY saying something.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Moosebreath: Larrison is always worth the read.

  23. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    the legitimacy of the questions that many people who are on the fence about the deal might have,

    I can’t even believe that you said this! The people who are on the fence are there specifically because they are open to the drivel that if we only negotiated harder, we could have a nuclear-free Iran. That unicorn jumped the fence long ago, and you are performing a disservice to yourself if you promote–even by inference–such nonsense. Are you really that stupid, Doug? Really?

  24. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Three groups oppose the deal: Likud, the Saudis and Republicans

    Only two now:

    JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter gave a surprisingly upbeat assessment on Wednesday of American relations with Saudi Arabia, asserting that the kingdom welcomed the international nuclear deal reached with its regional rival, Iran.
    Mr. Carter, who visited Jidda and held his first meeting with King Salman, also said the Saudi monarch would visit the United States this fall and was committed to fighting the Islamic State, the Sunni militant extremist group.
    The defense secretary’s description of ties with the Saudis, which he made to reporters after the meeting while en route to Amman, Jordan, was unexpectedly upbeat, considering Saudi Arabia’s strong reservations about the nuclear negotiations between the big world powers and Iran that yielded an agreement last week.

  25. FredW says:

    Can somebody find me a person who opposes the Iran deal and also publicly opposed the Iraq war? If so, then I will give their concerns a fair hearing.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    If I were POTUS and having to deal with a bunch of dimwitted BOMB BOMB BOMB Buck Turgidson types over a potential war with Iran, I wouldn’t be just “needlessly confrontational”. I’d be screaming my head off.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:

    Wow, I had not seen that. I suspect the Saudis will be getting fun new military toys for their military mercenaries to play with, but small price to pay.

    So now it’s Likud-GOP all alone against the world, two dimwitted groups of warmongers with not a rational argument between them.

  28. Scott says:

    I’m sorry but those opposed to this deal are completely wrong. And do not know or understand history. Just happened to be in an obsessive study of WWI (which, BTW, is more important to study than WWII). Just happened to be reading about the recruitment, arming and training of Gavrilo Princip by the Serbian Black Hand, the hard liners of Serbia. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a moderate as was the Serbian President. Once Ferdinand was assasinated the Austrian hardliners and warmongers were no longer held in check. Diplomacy throughout Europe was moderate and polite and it failed because the diplomats lost control. And so WWI began, with millions killed and maimed.

    It is not too immoderate to state that if the Iranian hardliners and the American hardliners have the same goal, i.e., to sink this agreement, then they are partners. It is not too immoderate to speak up loudly and often to say to the right wing hardliners in this country, “Enough!” “No unnecessay wars!”

    Confrontation and recriminations after the fact is, indeed, too late.

    Being in San Antonio, I see everyday, the lost limbs, the burnt faces and bodies of those who fought in our unnecessary wars and I don’t want top forget how that happened.

  29. Scott F. says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I’m glad you linked to Daniel Larison’s commentary. I was going to do the same.

    I know Doug reads Larison and I think Doug respects his views, because he has linked (favorably) to him in the past. Larison has thoroughly smacked down every anti-deal argument that been raised over the last couple of weeks, including all the issues Doug has raised here yet again. Perhaps Larison’s tone was dismissive, too.

  30. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. For those who think the US could easily take out Iran, I suggest you read up on the war games carried out several years ago by a certain think tank within the military. Given their proximity to the Straits of Hormuz, any attack on Iran isn’t going to be all that good for the price of oil. Care for $200/bbl, anyone?

    The US could potentially get around an oil price shock if we immediately kept US oil companies from selling their product on the open market and insisted that it be sold only to US customers at the previous price, but do you think that would really happen? Ha!

  31. steve says:

    “Rather than acknowledging the legitimacy of the questions that many people who are on the fence about the deal might have”

    But they don’t offer real questions. You just don’t see any conservative, ever, go down the agreement in a line by line manner and say what they think is wrong. I think that is because they would have to admit that 98% of the deal is awfully good. What you are left with is the “trust” issue, and we don’t need to make nuclear deals with countries we trust. Show me the one we have with Israel. That, and the 24 day issue. I don’t see, and most of the technical people I read and know, don’t think that is an issue. Would 14 days be better? Sure, but you just don’t get perfect deals.

    Steve

  32. Tyrell says:

    The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has refused to give the United States any of the agreements (side deals) made between the United Nations and Iran concerning nuclear development. Those documents will be kept secret ! (Yahoo news)

  33. Scott F. says:

    The fact that certain sites will only be open to inspection after the Iranians have been given 24 days notice raises rather obvious concerns that they will be able to cover up evidence of non-compliance with the agreement. The fact that the deal includes both the lifting of economic sanctions and the lifting of an embargo that was originally tied to Iran’s practice of selling advanced missile technology to other nations raises the legitimate concern that Tehran will simply use the additional cash that the lifting of sanctions will give them to sow mischief in other parts of the Middle East. The Administration has answers to these and other questions that have been raised about the deal

    Not to pile on, but YES, Obama had an answer to each of these facts in his speech at American yesterday. He spoke to each point, specifically, taking an honest expression of the counter-argument and refuting it using history, science and reason. His responses were as cogent as you will ever hear. And Doug wants to fault Obama because his framing wasn’t deferential enough to the deal’s opponents with their spittle-flecked ranting?

    That’s some breathtaking gall on display right there, Doug.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has refused to give the United States any of the agreements (side deals) made between the United Nations and Iran concerning….

    Huh? If the agreements are between the US and Iran, I’m pretty certain the US already has those agreements…. Wouldn’t they?

  35. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Before Tyrell launches, I think you maybe misread that. Deals between the United Nations i.e. the IAEA, and Iran. My understanding is the IAEA has similar deals with other nations and it’s routine that they aren’t shared. But they deal with details of the inspection protocols, not modifications to the underlying agreement.

  36. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Scott:

    I, too, have been eyeballs deep into WWI for about a year now. Any non-standard text you recommend? I’ve read most of the popular texts regarding the start of the war–from Guns of August through Sleepwalkers, and even The Pity of War (not as bad as I thought it would be, considering the author). Right now I’m on some memoirs–currently Junger’s Storm of Steel. I’m not yet to texts on the denouement and aftermath.

    Would love to hear any recommendations you have.

  37. grumpy realist says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Have you read A.J.P. Taylor’s Illustrated history of WWI? (I suggest trying to get hold of his illustrated history–the photos themselves are worth the price.)

    He also has a few essays about facets of WWI in his collection of writings “Europe–Grandeur and Decline.”

  38. DrDaveT says:

    Tomorrow’s headline: “Hit-and-Run Victim’s Moans for Help Needlessly Confrontational”

  39. Barry says:

    Doug, this is bad, really bad.

    Have you actually listened to what the right is saying?

  40. stonetools says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I too, have been reading a lot of WWI.
    Recommend

    David Fromkins “A Peace to End All Peace”

    Margaret McMillan, “Paris 1919.”

    Wonder how the world would have been if Austria-Hungary had taken yes for an answer when Serbia agreed to almost all of Austria-Hungary’s demands following the Sarajevo assasination.

    Meanwhile, in Belgrade on the afternoon of July 25, convinced that Austria-Hungary was preparing for a fight, Serbian Prime Minister Nicola Pasic ordered the Serbian army to mobilize. Pasic himself delivered the Serbian answer to the ultimatum to Gieslingen at the Austrian embassy, just before the 6 p.m. deadline. Serbia’s response effectively accepted all terms of the ultimatum but one: it would not accept Austria-Hungary’s participation in any internal inquiry, stating that this would be a violation of the Constitution and of the law of criminal procedure. This response did much to appeal Pasic and his country to international observers of the conflict; to Vienna, however, it made little difference. Gieslingen, bags packed and car waiting to drive him to the railroad station, broke the Dual Monarchy’s diplomatic relations with Serbia and left to catch his train. Three days later, on July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, beginning the First World War.

    I’m hoping that USA takes yes for an answer in this -much different-case.

  41. Neil Hudelson says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Thanks for the recommendations. Amazon has these for a decent price, but I think for the Illustrated one it will make a nice hunt through my favorite used book stores.

    @stonetools:

    I have Paris, 1919 sitting on my bookshelf, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m trying to do a semi-linear study, start with a year of study on the underlying causes, followed by the battles and war itself, then the aftermath. I’ve just about finished what I want to read on the Eastern and Western front, and am about to turn towards the Middle East and start on the Seven Plllars of Wisdom. Fromkin’s text will fit right in.

  42. Scott says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Just finished “Thunder at Twilight – Vienna 1913/1914” by Federick Morton (1989). Focuses on political and cultural life in Vienna and the Austro-Hungarian Empire before WWI. The last chapter was a surprisingly bitter capstone of the events of July/August of 1914 which to him were entirely preventable.

  43. Ron Beasley says:

    He is confrontational with the people who oppose this deal and were calling all of the people who opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq traitors, cowards and wimps. I’m glad Obama called them out. The line that they are not ashamed of always wrong was great.

  44. LC says:

    no but really — is Doug going to come back and defend this nonsense in the comments at all?

  45. Modulo Myself says:

    Anyone see this?

    Makes me wish for an Iranian nuke strike in order to put that family out of its misery.

  46. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson: @stonetools: @grumpy realist:

    For those interested in WW1 may I suggest something entertaining as well as informative? OUR WORLD WAR, a BBC miniseries? It’s written by Joe Barton who is currently at work adapting one of my book series for TV. Barton tells three distinct stories over three episodes and as a writer I found it brilliant. Technically very hard to pull off from the writing perspective, but he nailed it. It’s an impressionistic and powerful job of showing the war from the Tommy’s perspective.

  47. C. Clavin says:

    Jesus-gawd, Doug…you’ve typed some drivel in your day but I think this takes the friggin’ cake. Frankly it’s about damn time Obama got confrontational.
    First – I would say Obama’s tone perfectly matches the tenor of the attacks on him over this deal.
    Second – I think we learned during the year long fight over Obamacare that nuance doesn’t work on this crowd. Obama got fleeced is a great bumper sticker. Explaining why this is a good deal isn’t. Saying that those against this deal are for war is…and it has the added benefit of being true.
    Third – you don’t even have the balls to respond to the beating you are taking here?

  48. Modulo Myself says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Parade’s End is a tough novel but extremely rewarding.

  49. Tyrell says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I always liked the WWI tv documentary series, narrated by Robert Ryan that came out in the 1960’s. There are some interesting biographies of Von Richtofen and other aces.

  50. Davebo says:

    The President put fear before facts:

    The total lack of self awareness required to type those six words would make an average human literally evaporate into weightless gas and drift away in a slight breeze.

    Your a special man Doug!

  51. stonetools says:

    What’s amazing about WW1 is that the problems of the modern Middle East are mostly attributable to decisions made in WW1. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Israel-Maybe time is a flat circle.

    Thank goodness the Balkans are quiet-although there is Greece and the whole immigration problem, and something is brewing in Ukraine.Fortunately, Britain, France, and Germany are all in the same alliance.
    Most of all, no one has any illusions about war-with the exception of the American right wing. So there has been progress.

  52. Hal_10000 says:

    A lot of you guys seem to be missing the point: this isn’t about the crazy Republicans. This is about the fence-sitters — most of them Democrats like Schumer — who aren’t sure whether to support the President or not. “Eviscerating the Republicans” might feel good. It’s the sort of West Wing nonsense that gets partisans all excited. But it’s likely to be as effective as when I hear some conservative brag about how Ted Cruz “destroyed” the President on some issue.

    A big reason Obama has gotten as much done as he has is because he *hasn’t* risen to the Republican bait.

  53. David M says:

    @Hal_10000:

    There’s another side to that dynamic, where Obama needs the Democratic supporters to step up forcefully, and one way to do that is make it as partisan of an issue as possible. He needs a solid firewall of support, past that doesn’t matter much. It can’t drop below that under any circumstances though, so it’s worth it to trade some fence sitters for a slightly smaller, but more solid base level of support.

  54. grumpy realist says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Another book you might like is called “The Last of Old Europe” (again with commentary by A.J.P. Taylor) which is a wonderful collection of photos showing what life was like in Europe before WWI–the lifestyles that were totally swept away and demolished by the Great War. Now that Amazon is linked with all the used book sellers, it’s really easy to track down–I found copies for 1 cent plus shipping.

  55. Lit3Bolt says:

    Jeez, Doug, next time just headline mild sarcasm from Obama with “Black Man Gets Angry”.

  56. DrDaveT says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Jeez, Doug, next time just headline mild sarcasm from Obama with “Black Man Gets AngryUppity”.

    FTFY

  57. dazedandconfused says:

    Methinks Doug forgot to use the sarcasm font.