Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama: "I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately?"

As Andrew Sullivan notes, Obama seems "liberated" by his belated realization that the Republicans "will never compromise on anything in the next fourteen months" (and, I would add, that trying to win over independent voters by looking 'reasonable' just makes him look like a wimp). One result is that he is more willing to talk turkey about the Republican far right, which increasingly dominates and defines the whole party. For example:
At a fundraiser in San Jose, Calif., Obama said that some in the audience might be former Republicans "but are puzzled by what's happening to that party," and voters should back him if they believe in a "fact-based" America.

"I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately?" Obama said. "You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.

"It's true. You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have healthcare. And booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay." [*]
And what may turn out to have killed Rick Perry with the Republican primary electorate was not his collection of irresponsible and extremist positions on subjects ranging from basic constitutional principles to Social Security and the Federal Reserve, but the fact that he had the temerity to say something "compassionate" (in the mode of Bush II "compassionate conservatism") about educating children of illegal immigrants. Following the Republican debates is indeed enlightening in certain respects, alarming as that experience may be. (Even for Bill Kristol, whose reaction to the latest debate was "Yikes".)

—Jeff Weintraub

(* With respect to that last incident, Greg Sargent gets it right: The whole audience didn't boo the gay soldier who asked a question—that would be "an overstatement by any measure"—but "the simple fact is that when Hill, who is serving in Iraq, was pelted with scattered boos, none of the GOP candidates rose to his defense." That's significant. Also, Rick Santorum's response to the question was both incoherent and disgraceful.)