Friday, September 21, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to David Gregory, 60. Oh, you know which David Gregory I'm talking about.

Lots of good stuff today:

1. An excellent piece by Dan Drezner about presidents and foreign policy, but I do have one caveat: I wish he had mentioned something about how executive branch resistance (including Pentagon resistance) does constrain the president in foreign affairs and national security, even if Congress often does not.

2. Matt Yglesias clears up a couple of QE 3 myths.

3. Greg Marx rewards the Denver Post for it's excellent coverage of "47%."

4. Amazing this took as long as it did. I've seen stories about it for some time, but I'd love to see a real investigation into exactly why, with names named. Ernesto Londono has the news.

5. More people should be reading Abby Rapoport's great reporting on state and local issues, including this one on Pennsylvania and voter ID.

6. I actually disagree with Jamelle Bouie about the Founders and virtue...but his position is probably the mainstream one, and certainly has evidence on its side (although not, in my view, as much as a different interpretation of virtue that is more compatible with our views of democracy). Anyway, I suppose that means that I disagree with the lines he's drawing between now and then, but it's a reasonable argument and could well be correct.

7. I somehow missed this one, but it's still very much worth reading: excellent point by Seth Masket about how Team Romney deals with gaffes. It's party, not personal.

8. And if I had read this early enough I would have tossed Alex Pareene a CotD for...well, for catching Politico's brutal takedown of Politico.


  1. The best part of the Drezner piece is this:

    "Of course, all of this presumes that presidents can control the international environment. This is an utter fantasy. . . . Most of the time presidents don’t pick the foreign policy issues they want to tackle — the issues choose them."

    Up to that point, the argument is the same that one often hears from people who focus on U.S. politics, which is to say virtually all American politicians and the great majority of American political scientists. Presidents shift their focus to the international arena because Congress and domestic political interests are less likely to interfere and frustrate their efforts. It's only after they get sucked into this trap that they discover that there are 192 other countries out there--plus countless international organizations and transnational movements and so on and so on--all with their own interests, their own perspectives, their own commitments, their own strengths and vulnerabilities, their own unanticipated actions or reactions to events, and they don't do as they're told either. Foreign policy is an essential function, but the notion that it's going to be easy because there are fewer domestic political constraints is an Americanist myth.

  2. I'm a little disappointed not to see any comment on Pawlenty's decision to resign from the Romney campaign. It will have no practical impact - Tim Pawlenty was not likely to be the charismatic, visionary guru who led the Romney camp to victory - but it says an awful lot about the current state of the Republicans:

    1. Pawlenty clearly thinks that Romney has no shot at winning.

    2. Pawlenty, recently seen as a leading light of the GOP, has the instincts of a quitter - remember, he dropped out of the Republican primaries before a single primary had been held.

    3. Pawlenty and Romney appear to have no personal connection with each other.

    4. No one in the Romney campaign has the stones or the juice to tell Pawlenty that this makes the campaign look bad, and he really needs to wait another two months to go lobby for Wall Street.

    5. And near as I can tell, no one in the Romney campaign is dealing with this story at all, either through an official announcement that they're happy for Tim or through leaks about what a rat Pawlenty is. Maybe they're too busy putting out other fires, or maybe they just don't care how the campaign appears to the general public. Either way, it's yet another sign that the Romney campaign appears to be incapable of finding its own ass with both hands.

    1. Pawlenty is also not dumb. He knows how badly his run for president went, he got passed over for VP again, he's probably not going to get elected governor again -- he never cracked, I think, 47% statewide -- and MN has two Democratic senators, one of whom will be easily re-elected this fall and the other of whom has surprisingly high approval ratings, given the narrowness of his election in 2008. Why not make a lot of money by not having to work terribly hard?

  3. What's fascinating is that Bouie seemingly understands the position opposed to him - voting is a civic duty, not a personal right. However, he cannot find a single argument against this notion, besides calling it "outmoded." And I suppose it is old-fashioned, like all virtues, but that doesn't make it false, nor does it support his outrageous insinuation that taking this point of view is racist or sexist.

  4. @Scott: Speaking as an Americanist, I resemble that remark. That said, there are those (like myself) who often preach that just because something won't ACTUALLY have the desired effect, it doesn't mean people don't operate AS IF it will. A president could still try to wag the dog, despite it not working. (and some reporting, including over the timing of the Iraq war, suggest that dog-wagging is on the minds of at least some presidents). But, the larger point (that many foreign policy "moments" are thrust upon nations) is taken.

    @TN: I tried to poke our dear host into talking about this yesterday. In any event, as to #5, I think there's also another possibility. This one doesn't paint Team Romney as total boobs, which I've done more than once. Anyway, that interpretation is: Pawlenty jumped ship, and Team Romney would have been ready to say something....but as near as I can tell Pawlenty's choice made just about as many waves as Pawlenty's run for Prez. The story seems buried, particularly since they can run another day of 47% stuff, and those that don't want to talk 47% (ie, Fox, WSJ) have chosen to just move back to "economy sucks and Obama needs to declare war on individual people rioting in dozens of countries." So, this interpretation has the folks at Romney HQ ready to answer follow-ups that never came, and they're breathing a sigh of relief.

    Not sure I believe that, but it's a possibility.

  5. Matt: I suppose that's the best interpretation of the situation for Team Romney. "No one else cares if our highest-profile campaign official jumps ship seven weeks before the election, so why should we?"

  6. Maybe Pawlenty and Romney were both afraid that if they waited another two months, Wall Street would be looking for a Democrat to head their lobby.

  7. P.S., Some of my best friends are Americanists.

    1. Then you need to get out more!

  8. ...Tim WHO ?!?

    Speaking of epistemic closure... I think you hard lefties in here pretty much define it. ;-)


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