If you have "no place to go," come here!

"I've never had a helicopter before, so you know, maybe ..."

Sarah's picture


I like a lot of the things I read in the transcript of the fiscal responsibility meeting -- for example, despite the misreporting on the subject, President Obama accurately identified the biggest problem we face: it isn't Social Security. It's the rising cost of health care.

That affects the states' budgets in terms of Medicaid / S-CHIP. It affects the federal budget in terms of Medicare. (Yeah, THAT program needs a money infusion in a major way and will need so very soon if it's to continue serving the needs of its customers. Fold it and the VA into single-payer and you get about a quarter of the way there ... fold EVERYBODY in the country into single-payer and BINGO! -- but that's another post.)

But with all due respect to Senator John McCain, lately the Republican candidate for President and a genuine US Navy veteran whose experience as a POW has earned him some respect, if not affection or veneration, he may not have meant to give the President the opening he did when invited to comment.

"I'm going to start with John McCain, because, know, he and I had some good debates about these issues," President Obama said in the final session of the Fiscal Responsibility Summit. "But -- and I mean what I say here -- I think John has also been extraordinarily consistent and sincere about these issues. And I want to see if you've -- John, you've got some thoughts about where we need to go and some priority areas. I know you were in procurement, for example, which is an area I know we would like to work on together with you."

So up steps Senator McCain.

Now give the man his due, he's always had a streak of something un-goose-step-Republican-like in his public statements. So, with that in mind, maybe what he said wasn't such a huge surprise -- even if the reaction he got surprised him.
After all, he's looking for something he can use to get an advantage for his party over the President. We've all heard that there's a new Marine One on order (or is it a whole bunch of 'em, so that bad guys won't be able to tell which one is real by looking when they're working?) and that, as happens with defense contracts, it's going to cost more than it was supposed to back when President George W. Bush (well, actually, I suspect it was VP Cheney, but what can I prove?) ordered it.

Said the president's former Republican rival, "Well, thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for doing this...Just one area that I wanted to mention that I think consumed a lot of our conversation on procurement, it was the issue of cost overruns in the Defense Department. We all know how large the defense budget is."
And, McCain noted, "your helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One. I don't think that there's any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas have -- have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money."

Nothing new there. Same-old same-old, spar between the representatives of the parties. But then President Obama said this:

"I've already talked to [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates about a thorough review of the helicopter situation. The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me. Of course, I've never had a helicopter before. So, you know, maybe -- maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it. But I think it is an example of the procurement process gone amuck, and we're going to have to fix it."

Broke up the room; and, I admit, me.

EDIT: add video:

I actually liked this for several reasons. First, it plays well -- it's a sort of collegial approach to the automatic-adversary stance a President gets from members of the opposition party.
Second, it showed something about Obama as a person. I don't think it was disingenuity on his part to invite Senator McCain to ask the questions, but I can't help feeling a certain ... appreciation ... for the outcome.
It struck me that this is what bipartisanship should be. Maybe I'm naive.
But I like it.

On a sobering note, Steve Benen at Political Animal pointed out a way the President could, with a little savvy, use McCain's opening on this issue to help trim back the Defense budget and the 'customary' overruns in contracting, using Sam Stein's advice for doing so without appearing either weak on defense or to be undermining defense-related jobs and economic benefits. So, yeah, that could be a good thing too.

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bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

If the aim is to screw us, well, at least we'll get sweet-talked by this guy first instead of mocked.

If, on the other hand, his aim is as I suspect to put an end to the self-destructive pattern of the last 40 years and establish an economic order that while not exactly equaliarian will be self-sustaining, then he's doing everything pretty much right so far. The Republicans are looking more and more foolish and increasingly marginalized, and that is a very good thing.

Submitted by lambert on


I especially liked the accountability and transparency provisions built into the original TARP, which were a key factor in preventing a debacle in.... Oh, wait!

Is this the fresh, clean scent of flame bait? Sorry. Let me, with James Brown, take it to the bridge; and well over it.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Think of me as your personal trainer.

Get the heart rate up, make the pulse pound, set those neural networks to crackling. Good for ya. No need to thank me, happy to do it.

Not offering flame bait, especially, but an invitation to spirited dialogue. If you're up for it. Unlike James Brown, who isn't taking anything anywhere these days.

I think we can all agree that everything that got anywhere near George Bush got used to line the pockets of the Corporatists and screw the people. That is regardless of who in Congress played what role; Teddy Kennedy gave us NCLB.

What I'm going to judge Obama by as president is on what he does as president. So far, I like nearly all of what I see. With regards to how he handles himself, I'm pleased to hear coherent thoughts expressed in complete sentences with reasonable grammar, free of unwitting malapropism. That Obama is a breath of fresh air, in that regard, seems irrefutable.

So far, as president, what is it that you don't like about Obama?

Dykester's picture
Submitted by Dykester on

1. He's sending more troops to Afghanistan, a place which has historically sunk every invading army back in time. Remember when Russia (actually, the USSR) was stuck there? Gee, I remember how he marketed himself as the anti-war candidate (wasn't that the great difference between him and Clinton?), but not so much, it turns out.

2. His economic team is dancing as fast as it can around financial thieves, still bailing them out with our money, like under Bush. Why is bankruptcy okay for me and my family but not the financiers who "securitized" our mortgages, turning value into loss? Why haven't we at least taken an interest in those institutions, for those of you who fear the spectre of nationalization (me, I want to own them outright, but apparently that gives Obama supporters vapors)? Our banks are failing. And Obama's economic team is simply giving them more money to steal.

3. Conditions at Guantanamo are getting worse, purportedly because the torturers want to get in their last licks. It's gotten worse even since Obama was inaugurated and he can't stop that? Can't send in some MPs and arrest every last torturer? How about sending some folks from ICE; I hear they're still enjoying tormenting undocumented immigrants with raids and chains. Just like under Bush.

So, from what I see, Obama is still continuing many of the policies of the Bush administration. Now where's that fresh air of which you speak? Yeah, he can speak an entire sentence without mangling every other word, but I'm a DFH who sets the bar a little higher than just good grammar. If that works for you, well, enjoy! But for me, I want change, real change, not just better elocution.


Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

originally pass with Bush in the White House and the GOP in the majority in Congress????
Wasn't that part of the urgency of the banksters' NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW hammering?

Or are you, like Jackson Browne, running on ... used to bes?

Yes, Lambert. I am tired of the hammering on how bad all things Obama inevitably are.

Submitted by lambert on

Sarah comments:

Good god almighty, didn't TARP originally pass with Bush in the White House and the GOP in the majority in Congress????

God aside, no, it didn't.

In November 2008, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. They wrote and passed the bill, and Obama whipped the CBC caucus in its favor. The lack of accountability and transparency are entirely down to them, and -- since he was the party leader, by that point -- him.

So, if your argument is that I shouldn't hold a Democratic President accountable for a bill that Democrats wrote and passed, and for which the current President advocated, then I'm afraid I can't accept it!!!!

And if "running on empty" means getting the facts right while trying to hold an elected President accountable for his votes, then I plead guilty.

NOTE Updated for clarity.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

is their responsibility. Compare and contrast the behavior of BushCo with their TARP tranch and Obama’s approach with his. Do you really not see any difference?

BushCo carries responsibility for mismanaging the economy for eight years, creating the economic collapse.

BushCo carries the responsibility for delaying action on the economic collapse until it was in danger of veering wildly out of control, creating the environment for NOW NOW NOW.

BushCo carries the responsibility for requesting the TARP program and demanding it NOW NOW NOW with the threat of imminent collapse if it was not funded.

Congress, including Obama, carries responsibility for passing TARP, which did withhold half the funds until it was clear what BushCo would do, did include restrictions, and did include requirements for tracking expenditure.

BushCo carries responsibility for mismanaging TARP, failing to provide tracking on the funds, ignoring restrictions and basically doing whatever the hell they wanted to - SOS for them.

Obama and Congress are not responsible for what BushCo did.

BushCo is responsible for what BushCo did.

Submitted by lambert on

On point:

In November 2008, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. They wrote and passed the bill, and Obama whipped the CBC caucus in its favor. The lack of accountability and transparency are entirely down to them, and -- since he was the party leader, by that point -- him.


Obama and Congress are not responsible for what BushCo did.

Sure. And so what?

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Should he? Would that be the sort of response you're looking for?

The money from TARP tranch 1 went out in 2008, didn't it?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

One that can assign responsibility for acts committed where it belongs.

The litany of responsibility assignment is above, and it is clear who is responsible for what. My response is exactly on-point, refuting your claim that Obama and the Democrats in Congress are responsible for BushCo's actions, to wit -

The lack of accountability and transparency are entirely down to them [Democrats], and -- since he [Obama] was the party leader, by that point -- him.

That you are unwilling or unable to appreciate the distinction does not make my comment off-point.

You are able to make this differentiation cleanly when discussing the AUMF and the relative responsibility for Hillary and others who voted in favor of granting Bush great power, versus BushCo's perversion of the power granted. Why are you unwilling/unable to make the same distinction when Obama is involved?

Submitted by lambert on

Finally, something on point.

I don't claim that the Democrats are responsible for BushCo's actions; I claim that the Democrats are responsible for their own actions. And if those actions allow BushCo to be BushCo, then they are responsible for that, too, if they were able to prevent it.

To equate AUMF with TARP the following would have to be true:

1. The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress;

2. The Democrats drafted the legislation;

3. A Democratic presidential candidate took a prominent position in favor of the bill by whipping it.

None of these propositions are true.

Now, if your argument is that, while the Democrats are responsible for crafting legislation that allowed TARP to take place without transparency or accountability, and BushCo is responsible for taking advantage of that, then, basically, I rest my case.

After all, with the experience of AUMF behind them, shouldn't the Democrats have known what BushCo were like, and what they would do?

NOTE I don't know what Hillary has to do with anything; last I checked, the primaries were over, and I've moved on. For the record, here's my endorsement, which includes a section on Iraq.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Point to you.