With A Reaganesque Tone, Barack Obama Passes The Torch To Hillary Clinton

Eight years after beating her for the Democratic Nomination, Barack Obama passed the torch to Hillary Clinton with a speech that sounded more like Ronald Reagan than anything we've heard from the Republican nominee.

Obama Clinton

Eight years after beating her in a hard-fought, often bitter, fight for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, President Barack  Obama spoke before a Democratic National Convention for only the fourth time in his political career and anointed his former rival as the person to carry on his legacy:

PHILADELPHIA — President Obama delivered a stirring valedictory address at the Democratic convention Wednesday night, hailing Hillary Clinton as his rightful political heir and the party’s best hope to protect democracy from “homegrown demagogues” like the Republican Donald J. Trump.

Taking the stage to rapturous roars of “We love you” and “Yes we can,” Mr. Obama acknowledged that Democrats were still divided after a bruising nomination fight and that Mrs. Clinton had made “mistakes.”

But he vouched passionately for Mrs. Clinton as a trusted and reliable ally not just for him but for all Americans who need a fighter to improve their lives and keep them safe.

“She’s been there for us — even if we haven’t always noticed — and if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue,” Mr. Obama said, an explicit appeal to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who continue to resist Mrs. Clinton.

“She’s been there for us — even if we haven’t always noticed — and if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue,” Mr. Obama said, an explicit appeal to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who continue to resist Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Obama also used his own remarks to try to drive a wedge between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Republican voters. “It wasn’t particularly Republican and it sure wasn’t conservative,” he said of last week’s Republican convention. “There were no serious solutions to pressing problems. Just the fanning of resentments and blame and hate and anger.”

The president’s contempt for Mr. Trump took on a personal dimension as well when he recalled his grandparents from Kansas and said, “I don’t know if they had their birth certificates” — a reference to Mr. Trump’s leadership of the so-called birther movement that raised questions about Mr. Obama’s citizenship.

(…)

Mr. Obama’s resounding endorsement of his one-time rival was the final consummation of a political alliance over a decade in the making, since Mrs. Clinton flew to Chicago in 2004 to raise money for a 42-year-old state senator and discovered a phenom.

Back then he was the one who benefited from the imprimatur of a well-established political star, and her support continued to prove critical over the years. After he won the presidential nomination that she expected to be hers in 2008, Mrs. Clinton put aside her resentment and helped him unify a dividedDemocratic Party. And later that year, she again came to his aid by agreeing to become his first secretary of state.

Mr. Obama is the one riding high now, his approval rating over 50 percent. And his image is only enhanced as voters view him, in his final months as president, through the prism of a race to replace him that features two deeply unpopular candidates.

While acknowledging that Mrs. Clinton has “her share of critics” on the right and the left, the president sought to transfer his prestige and political appeal to his long ago rival.

“Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me,” he said. “I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.”

“And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about ‘Yes he will.’ It’s about ‘Yes we can.'”

The President’s speech last night, along with his appearance alongside Clinton in North Carolina earlier this month, stand as a preview of what we’re likely to see from him in the coming months between now and the election, and it’s something we haven’t seen in quite some time. Specifically, I’m referring to the political and electoral spectacle of an incumbent President actively and aggressively campaigning for their successor. Before the end of World War II, there were few opportunities for incumbent Presidents to campaign for their party’s nominee, often because of matters outside of the incumbents control. President Eisenhower did not aggressively campaign for his Vice-President in 1960, in part due to the fact that Eisenhower’s health at that time likely ruled out an extensive travel schedule and in part due to the fact that Ike was not exactly an enthusiastic Nixon fan to begin with. After Eisenhower, it wasn’t until Ronald Reagan in 1988 that we had a President at the end of his second term in office in a position to campaign for his successor and, while he did do so it wasn’t exactly an aggressive schedule of campaigning, in part due to the President’s age at that point and in part because the Bush campaign decided they wanted to establish Bush as his own man apart out of the shadow of a popular incumbent. Twelve years later, Al Gore’s campaign barely made use of Bill Clinton despite his high approval ratings for reasons that seem inexplicable in retrospect given how close that election ended up being. And, of course, in 2008 there was no question of President Bush campaigning alongside John McCain given that his job approval numbers were at lows unseen since the depths that Harry Truman reached during the worst of his time in office. This time around, though, the stage seems set for an what should be an interesting case study. We’ve got a relatively popular incumbent President, a candidate who is seeking to position themselves as the incumbent’s successor, and an incumbent who is obviously quite eager to get out on the campaign trail, most especially so he can take on the Republican nominee. If last night’s speech is any indication, then it’s going to be a very interesting thing to watch between now and Election Day.

The other notable thing about President Obama’s speech last night is the extent to which it was far more optimistic than anything we saw last week at the Republican National Convention. To a large degree, much of what we heard last week was dark and foreboding, emphasizing what is allegedly wrong with not just Trump’s Democratic opponent, but also America in general, and it was capped off by Trump’s acceptance speech, in which he returned to many of the dark, dystopian themes that had marked his campaign for the Republican nomination. By contrast, President Obama’s presented the kind of optimistic vision for America that we used to hear from Republicans all the time. As John Podhorotz put it, you could take about five paragraphs of policy out of Obama’s speech and it would read like a speech that Ronald Reagan would deliver. Matt K. Lewis makes much the same point in his column this morning in which he argues, correctly I think, that Obama was more Reaganesque than Trump, and I’d add that he was more Reaganesque than any of the other featured speakers at the Republican Convention. As a general rule, positive messages succeed more in politics than negative ones, so one can assume that we’ll see this continue through tonight into Clinton’s acceptance speech, and then during the campaign itself. Republicans, meanwhile, led by a man who began his campaign by telling us that ‘The American dream is dead,’ will try to win an election on a platform of gloom, doom, and resentment, It’s certainly possible that this could prove to be a winning strategy, of course, but once you do win an election that’s been framed this way it’s hard to see how you can effectively govern.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, 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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Wow. A little surprised to hear that Obama was speaking so favorably of State’s Rights. (end snark)

  2. Scott says:

    I wrote last week that I didn’t recognize the country the Trump was describing. Watching the DNC did not make me dyspeptic but feeling good about the future. Anger is so exhausting. I wonder how the right keeps it up.

  3. MBunge says:

    Al Gore’s non-use of Bill Clinton is only inexplicable if you ignore the obvious, that Gore was so disgusted by Clinton that he wanted nothing to do with him…which is pretty much the same reaction most of us would have if someone in our lives did what Bill Clinton did. And I suppose you can criticize Gore for putting his own feelings above “the good of the country” but I think willful befuddlement is chosen because if you really bring ethics and morality into focus, none of us covered ourselves in glory back then.

    And while it will feel great to offer optimism to counter Trump, it would be better if there were some substantive attempts to grapple with the issues underlying his rise.

    Mike

  4. Slugger says:

    Of course it was something that Reagan could have delivered. The best deliverers of ostensibly Republican virtues have been Democratic Presidents. Bill Clinton cut the number of federal employees, reformed welfare, kept war making to a few (ugly) exercises in imperialism, and delivered a balanced budget. Obama provided a bare minimum economic stimulus in the face of a deep recession and passed a medical bill based on a conservative think tank blueprint that had been beta tested by a Republican governor. Reagan ran a larger deficit than any predecessor as a stimulus. Bush engaged in an intemperate war.
    Bill Clinton once said that if you want to live like Republican you should vote for the Democrat. This true today and implicitly understood by all three Bushes, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Mike Bloomberg, and other nonTrump Republicans.

  5. LaMont says:

    @Scott:

    Although I agree in general that it takes more energy to be angry – in the minds of the angry, It doesn’t take much energy at all if it is an actual part of their character. To many of these, being kind, forgiving, optimistic, etc. is incredibly hard to do. The word “stubborn” usually fits them very well!

  6. Pch101 says:

    @MBunge:

    And while it will feel great to offer optimism to counter Trump, it would be better if there were some substantive attempts to grapple with the issues underlying his rise.

    I suppose that it might be a bit too late for Obama to stop being black.

    And the Dems really should make more of an effort to hate foreigners, since some of us get a kick out of it and are pretty damned good at it.

  7. Hal_10000 says:

    @Scott:

    This is why I left the GOP in 2004. Even when things were bad, the GOP attitude had been, “Well, let’s roll up our sleeves and solve it.” In 2004, the attitude was, “This place sucks. Democrats suck. Everything sucks.” All this while they were in charge! It was the kind of thing that drove me mad about the 80’s Democrats.

    I feel like this election is going to be close. That’s unfortunate, in a way. Because maybe if Trump lost in a massive landslide, it would give the GOP the smack they need. I feel like they were on their way and maybe I could have voted GOP this year. But then they nominated a lab experiment gerbil gone wrong.

  8. LaMont says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I feel like they were on their way and maybe I could have voted GOP this year.

    I’m curious – what about the GOP in the last 7-1/2 years made you feel like they were on their way?

  9. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    What would make anyone (okay, anyone who is sane) believe that Trump would effectively govern irrespective of the content of his acceptance speech. I don’t expect Hillary to govern effectively either, but at least in her case it will be because we will have at least 4 more years of the clown show that hindered Obama, with a more Neocon foreign policy as the cherry on top.

  10. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    Racism is one of the reasons. perhaps the main reason, some people support Trump. But, his appeal to racists should not be used to immediately discount other reasons why people support him. The blinders some conservatives wear do not look any better on liberals.

    If you are wondering what those other reasons may be, there’s an interesting interview with J.D. Vance that describes how Trump appeals to cultural factors besides racism (if you’re reluctant to go to a Dreher piece, don’t worry, he doesn’t do most of the talking):

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/trump-us-politics-poor-whites/

  11. Jenos Idanian says:

    Funny, I don’t recall Reagan ever referring to himself 119 times in the same speech…

    It’s been an interesting week so far:

    Night 1: Revenge of the Sandernistas

    Night 2: Let Us Now Praise Famous Wanna-Be Cop-Killers

    Night 3: We Shall All Join President Obama In Praising Himself

    Meanwhile, the Democrats are wetting themselves of Donald Trump saying Putin should release Hillary’s emails about Chelsea’s wedding and yoga routines.

  12. Pch101 says:

    @Ratufa:

    Honestly, that piece is not that insightful. We’ve had unhappy populists from the very beginning.

    If you want to give them reasons to be less resentful, then you need to offer them more cool stuff, i.e. transfer payments. Ironically, Trump’s political party vehemently opposes such things because it associates welfare, community investment, etc. with minorities. So we’re back to race again.

    I understand that they are unhappy, but their demands are contradictory. If you gave them the protections of a social democracy, they would just resent the hell out of it because the nig-grows and wetbacks were getting it, too. There is an element of this society that isn’t happy unless their tribe is outperforming the other tribes, and we can’t and shouldn’t go back to that.

    And some people just like to whine. There’s an entire industry that profits from complainers who want to be unhappy for the sake of it, including a decent chunk of the internet and talk radio. They actually enjoy being unhappy; if Obama or whatever didn’t exist, then they would have to invent him.

  13. steve s says:

    Charles Krauthammer has told Fox News that President Obama is a narcissist. And he should know, because once he was a psychologist.
    His evidence? Obama apparently says “I” too much. He’s all into himself instead of the country he’s supposed to be running. “Count the number of times he uses ‘I’ in any speech, and compare that to any other president,” limns Doctor Krauthammer. “Remember when he announced the killing of Bin Laden? That speech I believe had 29 references to ‘I’—on my command, I ordered, as Commander-in-Chief I was then told, I this.”
    But as linguist Mark Liberman notes at Language Log, the president used the word “I” exactly 10 times in that speech. Meanwhile, when Ronald Reagan made a speech in an analogous situation about Lebanon and Grenada, he used “I” exactly, um, 29 times. Yet to Krauthammer, who coined the term “Reagan Doctrine,” the Gipper was what a president is supposed to be. Why can’t Obama refer to himself as much as Reagan?
    Kruathammer isn’t alone in bridling at our president’s referring to himself in public addresses. George Will has complained about this too, and yet the whole notion is complete BS. A useful example: Conservative writer Howard Portnoy claimed Obama was “I”-ing up the place ungraciously during his debates with Mitt Romney. In fact, in the first debate, Romney said “I” 227 times to Obama’s 122; in the second, 260 to Obama’s 176; and in the third, 198 times to Obama’s 108.
    Clearly, it isn’t that Obama refers to himself to any notable degree. It’s that these pundits rankle inwardly when they hear the man saying “I”—because they deeply dislike him.

  14. steve s says:

    Put it this way: the data are in and have been for years now, courtesy especially of my pals at Language Log. Scientific analysis demonstrates not a whit of linguistic narcissism in Barack Obama. Anybody who listens to our president and thinks he’s saying “I” too much is, quite simply, deeply biased against the man.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    My favorite was the claim Obama talked about himself in his remarks at Nelson Mandella’s memorial. He used “I” or “me” X times, which was true. But when you read the transcript half the uses were in quotes of statements by other people. The rest were mostly boilerplate like ‘thank you for inviting me’.

  16. wr says:

    @MBunge: “which is pretty much the same reaction most of us would have if someone in our lives did what Bill Clinton did”

    Gosh,you are such a morally pure and true person. Imagine going through an adult life and simply cutting out of your existence anyone who has sex outside of marriage. It must take a lot of panty sniffing to make sure that everyone around you lives up to your exquisite moral sense, but I’m sure you’re up to it. Thanks for keeping us all pure!

  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101:

    There is an element of this society that isn’t happy unless their tribe is outperforming the other tribes, and we can’t and shouldn’t go back to that.

    And so, going back to @MBunge‘s idea that maybe we should be doing something about the real roots of the problem, we find that Republicans will fight to the death to prevent any interference in the things that might reduce tribalism and bigotry. Don’t touch education, local majority tyranny, or religion-condoned discrimination. Make English mandatory. Build a wall to keep the brown people out.

    The only people accomplishing anything today to reduce future bigotry are those “activist judges” who want us all to have to pretend that gays are people too, that brown Americans are just as much real Americans as gringo-Americans are, and that Christianity isn’t both the only true religion and the ur-law of our democracy, even when our legislators disagree.

  18. JohnMcC says:

    @Hal_10000: Even when things were bad, the GOP attitude has been, “Well, lets roll up our sleeve and solve it.”

    You and I have obviously been observing different Republican parties (and learned how to use commas from different schools, BTW).

    In ’72 the R-party rolled up their sleeves and solved the problem of not having enough intel concerning the probability that Sen McGovern would win that year’s election. In ’85 they rolled up their sleeves and solved the problems of Iranian Mullahs having inadequate anti-aircraft missiles and central American death squads being inadequately funded. In ’03 they solved the problem of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear arsenal.

    I could go on and on. I could even be fair-minded enough to acknowledge that Bush 41 did well with the end of the cold war, that founding the EPA, opening normal relations with the PRC and a few similar things were well conceived and well done. But very few. And none in the past 20 or 30 years.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: My example is Scott Walker’s WI. Instead of saying, ‘Maybe we outta get a union and maybe we could get better pay and conditions”, too many people said, ‘We gotta take the unions away from those uppity teachers.” How do you help people like that?

  20. Joe says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Meanwhile, the Democrats are wetting themselves of Donald Trump saying Putin should release Hillary’s emails about Chelsea’s wedding and yoga routines.

    So if a cop searches your house without a warrant and finds nothing, is it no longer an illegal search?

  21. Pete S says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Funny, I don’t recall Reagan ever referring to himself 119 times in the same speech…

    I assume that author was counting words because they are completely incapable of following the ideas being discussed? Judging by the comments on that site once the number got over 10 they all had to take their shoes off anyway and then just started making numbers up…

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Night 3: We Shall All Join President Obama In Praising Himself

    Well, try joining a party that doesn’t have to be completely ashamed of its President at the end of 8 years. I wouldn’t have wanted to praise GW Bush either.

    Funny, I don’t recall Reagan ever referring to himself 119 times in the same speech…

    This is a surprisingly numerate comment from someone who has to take off their shoes and pants to count to 21.

  23. J-Dub says:

    I’d add that he was more Reaganesque than any of the other featured speakers at the Republican Convention

    You obviously didn’t catch Chachi’s speech. Pure Reagan.

  24. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    If you want to give them reasons to be less resentful, then you need to offer them more cool stuff, i.e. transfer payments.

    Many people do not want to be government charity cases. Reducing their problems to, “the government just needs to give them more cool stuff”, is absurd, given what that article actually says.

    Ironically, Trump’s political party vehemently opposes such things because it associates welfare, community investment, etc. with minorities.

    Yes, the GOP also has little to offer. You perhaps have noticed that that Trump was not the first choice of the Republican establishment.

    So we’re back to race again.

    Yes. Of course we are (that was a clever segue, by the way). But, thinking that Trump’s support is all about race is a convenient excuse to automatically dismiss by association any other issues that may be motivating his supporters, such as the consequences of so-called “free trade”.

  25. Pch101 says:

    @Ratufa:

    I understand that they want jobs. But how are you going to provide all of those wonderful jobs without subsidies?

    The reality is that many of these people don’t have skills that make them more valuable than a guy in the developing world who will work harder for a fraction of the money. In the modern era, it is now easy to offshore labor and move capital to an extent that would have been next to impossible some decades ago.

    And you can’t just give most of them valuable skills because they aren’t cut out for having them. You aren’t going to turn everyone into an attorney or social media brand manager or computer programmer.

    That leaves them with McJobs and a lot of other low paying service work. To bring them more lucrative work, we would have to subsidize their incomes in order to induce companies to build a plant here instead of in a foreign land. Of course they’re not happy, but they won’t be getting that respectable pay without the help of the taxpayer.

    And guess what? They also weren’t happy decades ago when they were either lynching the colored folks or else moving them to the back of the bus. Long before there was a US, they would build up nice fires for the witches because the world was a scary place and they needed scapegoats. There was never an ideal time for this segment, they just had other ways of venting — they used to burn crosses, now they shout on the internet.

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @Ratufa:

    Many people do not want to be government charity cases.

    Piffle. Everyone wants to be a government charity case. How do I know? Because everyone who can avails themselves of free K-12 public school, Social Security, Medicare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the mortgage interest deduction, etc. etc. etc. Taking free money from the government is the American way.

    What people don’t want is to think of themselves as a government charity case. That is, they want the free money, they just don’t want to be thankful they’re getting it.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ratufa:

    Racism is one of the reasons. perhaps the main reason, some people support Trump. But, his appeal to racists should not be used to immediately discount other reasons why people support him.

    I’m sorry. “Yes he’s a racist, shallow, narcissistic, arrogant, ignorant, morally bankrupt, serially bankrupt business man in hock up to his eyeballs to Putin, but he’ll lower my taxes.” does not absolve any Republican for the sin of nominating Trump.

    The blinders some conservatives wear do not look any better on liberals.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….. gasp, wheeze…. Read what I wrote again and remove thine own blinders before speaking of another’s. The man is beyond contempt and so is anyone who would vote for him.

  28. Steve V says:

    @Ratufa: What do these people who are so worked up over free trade agreements actually know about these agreements? I have to think that claimed dissatisfaction over free trade agreements must be a proxy for something else (and no, I don’t think that’s necessarily race, but I’d sure like to know what it is).

    Also, it seems that enthusiasm about GOP candidates spikes whenever they lash out against “PC.” What’s that all about? I always viewed the backlash against PC as a run of the mill culture war dispute, like the “War on Christmas.” But the War on Christmas isn’t something that would motivate huge numbers of disaffected voters to vote for Donald Trump. A vague resentment toward the amorphous notion of PC will, however. Again, what’s up with that?

    Just from looking at the issues driving enthusiasm for Trump I think the core of it is probably tribal and cultural. And it’s strong enough that it overrides the obvious *lack* of actual cultural/tribal ties with Trump himself.

    Do you agree? Where do you think the enthusiasm comes from? Do you think substantial numbers of voters really know anything about trade deals? (And if they do know about the deals and they also claim to support free markets and capitalism, why are they against them?)

  29. gVOR08 says:

    Globalization, free trade, and free trade agreements are different things. Once we had modern communications, modern transportation, and an international financial system, you had globalization. If you want free trade, cut tariffs to little or nothing and you have it. And we largely had cut tariffs. Free trade agreements have little to do with free trade. They clean up remaining non-tariff barriers and a lot of administrative and legal details. Some necessary, some pork.

    Free trade agreements have little to do with loss of jobs.

    I haven’t been able to find it again, but twenty years ago I read an economist who said that: The whole world economy was fueled by developed nation consumption. As globalization spread jobs would move to the second and third world. That at some point job losses would make it impossible to sustain consumption and we’d have a big demand deficiency recession. But that’s OK because if there’s one thing economists know it’s how to stimulate demand to get out of a recession. But maybe not because he wasn’t sure the world had the political will to do what was necessary. He hit it pretty good, except that it turned out to be excess capital causing a balance sheet recession.

    The political question of the last few decades has really been whether governments would take steps to protect their workers and maintain demand. Given the lack of lobbyists representing blue collar workers, I guess the answer should have been obvious.

  30. steve s says:

    @Pch101:

    And you can’t just give most of them valuable skills because they aren’t cut out for having them. You aren’t going to turn everyone into an attorney or social media brand manager or computer programmer.

    that’s why i think a minimum basic income is inevitable. Well, that, and the fact that I’ve got a physics degree and I work at a Big Box store because there simply aren’t remotely enough STEM jobs for the # of grads.

  31. Pch101 says:

    @steve s:

    I would actually be all in favor of a Jobs With Dignity program, which essentially bribed paid companies to create jobs here that they would bother to create otherwise.

    However:

    1. The GOP would attack my plan as communism/socialism/pinkoism, while a few do-gooders on the left would dismiss it as corporate welfare, so there would be plenty of opponents, and

    2. Those jobs won’t prevent anyone who wants to think that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim atheist socialist terrorist from believing that he is a Kenyan Muslim atheist socialist terrorist. They aren’t believing that garbage simply because they want to earn more money or buy nicer stuff at Walmart.

  32. steve s says:

    I’m expecting the GOP to do what it did in california. Long story short, the GOP in california was doing what they usually do, ruining everything and then running on the fact that government sucks. At some point they went too far with the anti-immigrant stuff, and completely lost power. Once they were out of the way, Dems fixed most of the problems in short order, and now California is much healthier.

    If we can reach that point nationally, it would be great, and I think some of the optimism and happiness at the dem convention, and anger and hostility at the GOP convention, is because each side knows what’s coming.

  33. Monala says:

    @Ratufa: You know, when I read that interview, the author sounded a lot to me like the talk Obama gave about how to reach out to people in rural communities that had been left behind by globalization and the modern economy – the one he has been so slammed for because of his remarks about people clinging to guns and religion. I know that comments from someone inside a community can be taken better than similar comments from someone outside that community – the latter will almost always come across as condescending. But the point is, Obama was talking about these very issues back in 2008.

  34. Tyrell says:

    It will be a big problem for Hillary if the party platform looks like something written by Leon Trotsky. She needs to stick to mainstream, middle class American working people values.

  35. Jenos Idanian says:

    @steve s: You didn’t offer a source for that lengthy quote, which is rather improper. So I’ll do your work for you: it’s from The Daily Beast. And the article they cite is behind a firewall, so you can’t readily verify what they wrote.

    So I said “screw it” and Googled up the speech they were probably talking about — Reagan speaking on Lebanon and Grenada. This looks like the one.

    If it is, and I’m pretty certain it is, then this statement is complete BS:

    But as linguist Mark Liberman notes at Language Log, the president used the word “I” exactly 10 times in that speech. Meanwhile, when Ronald Reagan made a speech in an analogous situation about Lebanon and Grenada, he used “I” exactly, um, 29 times.

    Obama on the killing of Bin Laden was spiking the football after a touchdown. Reagan was speaking after an unmitigated disaster — the killing of over 200 US Marines in Beirut. He also spoke about the (much-mocked) invasion of Grenada, and touched on the Soviet Union downing a Korean airliner that was carrying, among others, 50 Americans — including a member of Congress.

    In brief, it was a bad time.

    Ask your psychologist friend about the differences between saying “I” a lot when delivering good news, and saying “I” a lot when delivering bad news. Here’s a hint: they’re generally considered kinda opposite of each other.

  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    Oh, and Chelsea Clinton is talking tonight. Will she be asked to comment on her father’s relationships with women?

    Or is that only fair to ask of Trump’s daughter?

  37. Matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: There are thousands of web pages covering her being asked over and over in variously insulting manners. She’s been asked far more times than Trump’s daughter by miles. It’s stupid and a distraction either way.

    Clinton never commented on his attraction to his daughter though so maybe you should ask that to make it fair…

  38. Matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Yeah he was speaking how he was going to cut and run after Americans were killed on foreign soil. Since it was Reagan that’s perfectly fine for you where as Benghazi was the most scandalous thing to ever happen in the history of this country…

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Matt: Clinton passing on taking Bin Laden is “ancient history,” but Reagan is relevant. Got it.

    If only YouTube had been around in 1984. Reagan could have blamed some rogue video for Muslims killing Americans instead of a deliberate and highly successful plot by Muslim fundamentalists…

  40. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Joe: 1) Trump sarcastically asked Russia to release Hillary’s deleted emails, if they happen to have them.

    2) Hillary said that all the emails she deleted were personal, mainly yoga routines and planning for Chelsea’s wedding.

    3) Ergo, Trump asked Russia to release Hillary’s emails concerning yoga routines and Chelsea’s wedding.

    No national security issues there… unless Hillary was lying. Which we know she was, but you don’t want to admit that.

    And it still boils down to the question: do you prefer Hillary’s emails made public to the American people, or only held on to by Russia?

  41. Tyrell says:

    Most of the media coverage has been far from impartial and unbiased. They have been in a state of unbridled, hysteric euphoria. This is not the kind of reporting news events that the people need. Down the road, sooner or later the people will want and need clarity and impartial reporting: they will look for truth. I wonder if today’s “journalists” are going to be capable of meeting that challenge. What we have seen looks more like coverage of a biker rally or a middle school beauty contest.
    And most news networks are ignoring some of the shocking, and shameful actions being carried on by protesters. The leaders of the party needed to condemn and disown the antics. Most Americans would not want to see people out in the streets burning US flags !

  42. An Interested Party says:

    Night 2: Let Us Now Praise Famous Wanna-Be Cop-Killers

    If one can’t argue truthfully, the argument isn’t worth very much…

    Night 3: We Shall All Join President Obama In Praising Himself

    That’s hilarious coming from someone who supports a narcissistic megalomaniac who is too over the top to even be a James Bond villain…

    Meanwhile, the Democrats are wetting themselves of Donald Trump saying Putin should release Hillary’s emails about Chelsea’s wedding and yoga routines.

    What a pathetic piece of hypocrisy…if any Democrat had suggested what Trump did, conservatives and Republicans would immediately be howling for treason charges to be brought against that Democrat…

    If we can reach that point nationally, it would be great, and I think some of the optimism and happiness at the dem convention, and anger and hostility at the GOP convention, is because each side knows what’s coming.

    It would be very nice if that could happen, but it will probably be more difficult on the national level, with the stubborn rump based mainly in the South fighting that tooth and nail…

    If only YouTube had been around in 1984. Reagan could have blamed some rogue video for Muslims killing Americans instead of a deliberate and highly successful plot by Muslim fundamentalists…

    Perhaps, but could he have done the same to explain Iran-Contra…

  43. Anjin-san says:

    @<a href@Tyrell:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Have you ever seen Bill Clinton with his hand on his daughters ass? Hint – the answer is no.

  44. Matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Clinton attacked some of Bin laden’s bases of operation. You don’t remember the whole GOP freakout over Clinton wagging the dog? Don’t remember how every major GOP party member was on TV yelling about how Clinton was trying to distract us from his scandals with this Al queda / bin laden stuff?

    I sure do because it was a big part of what drove me from the GOP.

  45. Ratufa says:

    Responding to some of the comments:

    @Pch101:

    The reality is that many of these people don’t have skills that make them more valuable than a guy in the developing world who will work harder for a fraction of the money. In the modern era, it is now easy to offshore labor and move capital to an extent that would have been next to impossible some decades ago.

    I agree with that — high-paying blue collar factory jobs are an endangered species, and that’s not going to change. There is still a class of relatively desirable blue-collar jobs (home repair, plumbing,construction, etc) that exists between “social media brand manager” and “would you like fries with that?” But, in the long-run, it’s probably true that government will need to subsidize employment in some manner.

    @Rafer Janders:

    Piffle. Everyone wants to be a government charity case. How do I know? Because everyone who can avails themselves of free K-12 public school, Social Security, Medicare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the mortgage interest deduction, etc. etc. etc.

    I don’t think most taxpayers see themselves as charity cases because they use services that their tax dollars help pay for, even if some part of the cost is subsidized by other taxpayers. And, while it is true that people like “free” stuff, it is also the case that having a job that lets you support yourself plays a large role in self-esteem and quality of life. For evidence of that, unemployment is a known risk factor for suicide.

    @Steve V:

    What do these people who are so worked up over free trade agreements actually know about these agreements?

    In terms of details, probably not much at all. But. even though there may be large overall economic benefits to free trade (though, TPP seems mostly about protecting intellectual property rent-seeking), it also produces some net losers. What this demographic sees and remembers are reports of decent jobs moving out of the country, and some of them have first-hand experience of the effects. The latest poster child for this is Carrier moving a plant to Mexico. Mark Kleiman has a decent take on how Republicans in particular have dealt with the benefits of free trade in ways that have helped fuel the rise of Trump:

    http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/03/04/trade-trump-and-downward-class-warfare/

  46. Jenos Idanian says:

    Yes, Trump is a narcissist. Just ask him. He’ll tell you he’s the greatest narcissist the world has ever seen. He owns it. Obama… not so much.

    But if we’re going to demand honesty here, let’s be honest with what Trump asked. There is no way Hillary’s server can be hacked now. It’s been wiped (“with a cloth!”), confiscated by the FBI, and is now totally isolated from the internet. The only way Russia can release those emails (about “yoga routines and Chelsea’s wedding”) is if they got them before Hillary broke out her supermagnet cleaning cloths.

    And Trump is asking Russia to give up their potential blackmail material on the Democratic nominee for president. Which is no security risk — unless Hillary was lying about what was in those emails she deleted.

    Which we all know she was lying, but you really, really don’t want to admit that, do you?

    If Hillary was telling the truth, then Russia possessing her deleted emails poses no security threat whatsoever.

    If she was lying, then Russia has wonderful blackmail material on the Democratic nominee.

    And she was lying. The FBI proved that.

  47. al-Alameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    Most of the media coverage has been far from impartial and unbiased. They have been in a state of unbridled, hysteric euphoria.

    It never ends – it’s all a conspiracy, right?

  48. Jenos Idanian says:

    Let’s look at Trump’s exact words:

    “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras during a news conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

    And Wretchard of The Belmont Club summarized it far better than I can:

    …the absurdity of the situation is patent. One contradiction was pithily summarized by Jim Geraghty on Twitter. “1) There was nothing secret in HRC’s 30K deleted e-mails. 2) It’s a “national security issue” if Russia gets them. Pick one, Hillary camp.” Another wag observed that nothing could be amiss with Trump’s call to release Hillary’s emails since after all, Hillary had called for their release immediately after the investigation into her homebrew email began.

    Bring back, bring back, O bring back my emails to me.

  49. An Interested Party says:

    And she was lying. The FBI proved that.

    Why were no charges brought? Perhaps Comey is in the bag for the Democrats…

    …the absurdity of the situation is patent.

    Uh huh…well than it must suck even more for Trump and his supporters how this is being used to illustrate him as being unfit to be president…

  50. Pch101 says:

    I would expect a presidential candidate to say that it’s not a good thing for a foreign government to attack us and that we take such things seriously.

    I certainly wouldn’t expect that candidate to blow off the whole thing and to suck up to that foreign government, saying that we ought to be buddies.

  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    What people don’t want is to think of themselves as a government charity case. That is, they want the free money, they just don’t want to be thankful they’re getting it.

    So very much this.

    My mother’s family lived on fatback and potatoes because they were damned if they were going to take charity, even if dad was now completely blind and mom had to work 3 jobs. I know something about stiff-necked pride. And yet, did they ever blink at free education, or paved roads, or sewer and water service? Hardly.

    The problem is that Americans have been trained to think of some things that government provides equally to everyone — roads, schools, broadcast media, national defense — as infrastructure that all Americans are entitled to as a right, while other equally important things where everyone benefits if they are universal — health care, heat, light, a living wage, transportation — immediately invoke cries of “socialism!” if anyone should bring them up. The distinction is an accident of history, not a fact of economics, but our myth of rugged individualism prevents us from seeing that.

  52. MBunge says:

    @Rafer Janders: Because everyone who can avails themselves of free K-12 public school, Social Security, Medicare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the mortgage interest deduction, etc. etc. etc. Taking free money from the government is the American way.

    Public education. Paid for by tax dollars. Social Security and Medicare. Paid for by tax dollars. How is that “taking free money from the government?” The earned income tax credit, I believe, only goes to those who are actually working. Not exactly free. And the mortgage deduction lets people keep more of THEIR OWN MONEY. If it’s a giveaway, it’s a giveaway to the housing industry.

    Other than being wrong about that…

    Mike

  53. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:
  54. Kylopod says:

    Earlier this year, David Brooks wrote, “Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.”

    To me that characterization of the President is so blindingly obvious that I have to pause in wonder at how rarely conservatives acknowledge it. They seem to twist themselves into pretzels to sustain their absurd depictions of him, and they tell it to themselves incessantly so that they begin believing it, like Orwell’s Winston Smith on the number of fingers his interrogator is holding up.

    I’ve been following linguist Mark Liberman’s crusade against the “I-counting” meme among conservatives for years. As Liberman has pointed out again and again, Obama does not, in fact, use “I” more often than previous presidents–though, more to the point, counting the frequency of I’s is not a very good way of measuring narcissism.

    The meme was popularized largely by George Will, who has repeated it in one column after the next over the past eight years. He has never, to my knowledge, addressed Liberman’s thorough refutation of it. I doubt he’s even aware of it.

    Keep in mind that George Will is not the sort of conservative who has gone around ranting about Obama’s birth certificate or Kenyan anti-colonial rage. He is supposedly one of the “respectable” conservatives. What’s most striking isn’t that he repeats flagrant bullsh!t that was debunked ages ago, it’s that he feels the need to caricature Obama in this way. It’s not enough for him to disagree with Obama; he has to belittle him personally by probing for hidden motivations that are pretty much invisible, probably because they don’t actually exist.

    At bottom, the “I-counting” meme is a pseudoscientific exercise that purports to reveal hidden truths about the President so that people don’t have to actually listen to the content of his words. Once you focus on the number of I’s in his speeches, you’ve stopped paying attention to what his uses of this common pronoun might mean in context. For example, try to spot the narcissism in the following phrases from Obama’s convention speech the other night:

    “I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before…”

    “I think it’s fair to say…”

    “The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity…”

    “I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together…”

    “I hope you don’t mind, Bill, but…”

    “She knows that sometimes during those 40 years she’s made mistakes — just like I have — just like we all do…”

    Do I need to go on? George Will doesn’t talk much about Obama’s alleged overuse of “I” anymore, maybe because he’s finally gotten a good look at what a real narcissist sounds like.

  55. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @steve s: You missed the point of pushing STEM. It wasn’t to create opportunities for good jobs, it was to create a supply glut that would depress wages–and even at that, high tech companies felt they needed to ask for more visas for high tech workers to depress wages even more. Marx was right about some things.

  56. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Ratufa:

    I don’t think most taxpayers see themselves as charity cases because they use services that their tax dollars help pay for, even if some part of the cost is subsidized by other taxpayers.

    I agree. They may be wrong not to think that way while criticizing others a sponges and leeches, but such is life.

    Still, they also shouldn’t portray themselves a “pulling myself up by my own bootstraps,” either. And particularly not as a reason to deny others the same help.

  57. Monala says:

    @Jenos Idanian: snort! Trump, who said he’s the most humble person in the world?

    @MBunge: provided they don’t die within a few years of retirement, most people receive far more in SS benefits and Medicare than they put. The earned income credit, by design, gives people back far more than they paid in withholdings. Just because people don’t think of those things as free money from the government doesn’t mean they’re not.

    I think there is pride and dignity that comes from working, and for that reason a guaranteed income should be accompanied by work opportunities.

  58. Jen says:

    @Jenos Idanian: The security issue is not what is in the emails. It’s the manner in which Trump asked the Russian government to get them.

    It doesn’t matter if someone breaks into your house and steals diamonds or your Tupperware containers, it is the breaking in that is a crime.

  59. Kylopod says:

    @Monala:

    LESLEY STAHL: You’re not known to be a humble man. But I wonder —

    DONALD TRUMP: I think I am, actually humble. I think I’m much more humble than you would understand.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/18/donald-trump-is-way-more-humble-than-you-could-possibly-understand/

  60. MarkedMan says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    This is a surprisingly numerate comment from someone who has to take off their shoes and pants to count to 21.

    Correction: 20 1/2 (Sorry, had to take the shot I saw)

  61. MarkedMan says:

    A bit of a sidebar, but manufacturing in the US has been bought up several times on this thread. And I see people discussing it like it was still 1985. Manufacturing is changing. Yes, you can buy cheap labor intensive junk on Amazon from Vietnam or some of the old Chinese factories, but it you want a quality product that usually means highly automatec, extremely precise machinery. That’s very expensive to build and difficult to maintain, but in the end it leads to cheaper cost of goods. And it doesn’t need many people. It is no longer a slam dunk to move things to a low wage country. When I was in another field I had a disposable razor manufacturer whose plant was off I95 in eastern CT (still there as far as I know), not in any way a location with cheap real estate or labor pool. But the plant was so automated it employs a tiny fraction of what a Vietnamese plant would. They crunched the numbers and it was simply cheaper to produce here and avoid the cost of shipping the long lead times with its accompanying inventory control problems.

    There are two things that will extend this reduced need for labor into many more industries: 1) The ability to do fast automatic changeovers so these types of economies of scale are realized in batches of 100’s or 1000’s rather than millions, 2) the increase of intelligent automation to handle difficult tasks like sewing clothing or picking asparagus. These things are coming. How many people will lose their jobs when taxis, uber, and long and medium haul trucking are run by driverless vehicles?

    We will have an economy where hundreds of thousands of people (with machines) can supply everything that hundreds of millions need. The economy will have a worth of trillions but if only those hundreds of thousands have money, the economy will fall apart. We are going to have to deal with that.

  62. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: This is an excellent point, and one that I’ve been making to some of my friends. The fast food industry has been moving to automation in small ways in higher-cost economies for years. They are employing ordering kiosks in Europe, and are increasingly moving to automation in food prep as well.

    This could possibly be one of the greatest challenges our country faces in coming years. The possibility of complete collapse of low- and moderate-wage jobs due to automation presents a significant challenge and a stark future.

  63. Kari Q says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I agree completely. There are simply going to be fewer jobs. We will need to deal with that.

  64. KM says:

    @Jenos:

    Obama on the killing of Bin Laden was spiking the football after a touchdown.

    I’m sorry but WTF Jenos? Bin Linden killed 3,000+ Americans in one day (more if you count previous attacks), evaded our best efforts to bring him down for over a decade, taunted the world repeatedly in his threatening videos, led a terrorist organization dedicated to destroying Western civilization and was generally a piss-poor example of humanity.

    You’re goddamn right it was spiking the football. There’s isn’t a single politician out there that wouldn’t have down a victory lap or ten on getting closure on the definitive tragedy of the new millennium, the one that’s been shaping and driving our world since. That Republicans have a massive case of the bitters that it was Obama and not Bush does not make it wrong to be proud we got the son of a bitch. A huge, deeply-desired national achievement we spent time, lives and treasure for…. but somehow it’s unseemly arrogance from Obama. What utter horsesh^t.

  65. Andrew says:

    @KM:

    Figuratively spiking the football over killing Bin Laden is obviously worse than literally landing on an aircraft carrier with a huge banner saying Mission Accomplished. After you just killed a plethora of people, even some of your fellow Americans.

    Everyone knows this. Jeesh.

  66. al-Alameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Reagan was speaking after an unmitigated disaster — the killing of over 200 US Marines in Beirut.

    By the way, did Congress conduct 9 investigations concerning the bombing and killing of 240 Marines in Beirut, as they did concerning the death of 4 Americans in Benghazi?

  67. Paul L. says:

    I thought Reaganesque meant to progressive senile, rambling, stupid and full of lies and smears.
    @al-Alameda:
    Did Reagan claim that Beirut was the fault of 1st Amendment that we need to pass laws to rein it in or that it was done by a enemy that Reagan has almost completely defeated?

  68. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Paul L.:

    e fault of 1st Amendment that we need to pass laws to rein it in

    I would like to see where a Democrat called for reigning in the 1st amendment because of the video. Please cite specifics.

    I’ll wait.

  69. Andrew says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Maybe I can be of assistance. We are talking about people on record talking about 1st Amendment protections and reining them in, right?

    During a rally in Kansas City, Mo., that protesters kept interrupting, He said, “I hope these guys get thrown into a jail. They’ll never do it again. It’ll destroy their record. They’ll have to explain to Mom and Dad why they have a police record and why they can’t get a job. And you know what? I’m going to start pressing charges against all of these people. And then we won’t have a problem.”

    Oh, wait, sorry. That was Donald in March of this year.

  70. al-Alameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Did Reagan claim that Beirut was the fault of 1st Amendment that we need to pass laws to rein it in or that it was done by a enemy that Reagan has almost completely defeated?

    Two things:
    (1) To borrow Republican thinking: Reagan knew that those Marines were in harms way, yet he did nothing.
    (2) An enemy Reagan almost completely defeated? Well that explains why he very sensibly cut-and-run from Beirut soon thereafter.

  71. DrDaveT says:

    @MBunge:

    Paid for by tax dollars. How is that “taking free money from the government?

    Seriously?

    I had to think hard about whether this was irony or not. Because, you know, irony is invisible on the internet, and “paid for by tax dollars” is the definition of “from the government”.

    I have no idea where people get this weird idea that the government hoards money. It doesn’t work that way. Everything that is taken in as taxes gets paid out essentially that same year. If we’re running a surplus, it might be next year. If we’re running a deficit (as usual), more gets paid out than gets taken in. Either way, the government lives paycheck to paycheck — it doesn’t have any money, for commonsense values of ‘have’.

    Anything the government subsidizes is welfare — that is, stuff that the government has decided is sufficiently important for the nation’s well-being that we’re going to pay for it out of taxes collected from the relatively well-off, so that everyone can get the benefit. That includes highways, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Navy, among many many other things.

    If you aren’t paying more in taxes than the value of the things the government does, you’re accepting welfare. This stupid meme that “it’s YOUR MONEY” is one of those libertarian brain farts that takes hold and breaks our society. It would be YOUR MONEY if you would have earned it even if you lived in Somalia. If earning required things like enforceable contracts, a stock exchange, a relative absence of corruption, safe streets, transportation infrastructure, sanitary infrastructure, etc. then YOUR MONEY is what’s left after you’ve paid for all that.

  72. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Kari Q: No problem, we’ll just refer to the people who don’t have jobs as “disgruntled losers,” as some on this site do now.

  73. Obama is da best of best

  74. Paul L. says:

    @al-Alameda:
    It was a reference to Obama running on al Qaeda is “on the run” or “has been decimated” or “is on the path to defeat”.

  75. Paul L. says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Here you go.
    The World Doesn’t Love the First Amendment
    The vile anti-Muslim video shows that the U.S. overvalues free speech.
    You can always find a nut to tar the other side.

  76. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    @al-Alameda:
    It was a reference to Obama running on al Qaeda is “on the run” or “has been decimated” or “is on the path to defeat”.

    Oh, so THAT was why Republicans, over a 4 year period, ran 8 to 9 investigations of Hillary and Benghazi?

    Also, you do realize that Bush’s 2003 decision to invade Iraq for no reason related to the security of the United States of America, resulted in destabilizing the region, shifting power in the region to Iran, and creating the conditions in which ISIS flourishes.