Who Cares What the Pols Think?

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Zach
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    Exactly. The most annoying thing about this week has been the heat Obama took for not “taking a stand” beyond his support for religious freedom. There’s no place for any elected official to take a stand on what is and is not appropriate for religious organizations to do. The only way I’d prefer Obama to elaborate his remarks would be to not limit this restriction to himself, but instead more or less take Cristie’s line and castigate everyone “taking a stand” on this with zero force behind their statements. I’d prefer he not inject Cristie’s false equivalence, though.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Zach
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      @Zach, FWIW, I agree with you about the false equivalence, but I’m not sure how you make Christie’s point without also referencing Obama in at least some fashion. Focusing too much on the false equivalence winds up being more like nit-picking giving the importance of his overall point.

      One thing that is bugging me about this, FWIW, is that much (though by no means the majority) of the demand to “take a position” is coming from the Left. This demand is self-defeating in many, many ways. First it increases the pressure on Dem pols in tight races to take a stand on an issue over which they have no control and which is extremely controversial and on which red and purple states are overwhelmingly opposed to the Cordoba Center. IOW – it pushes those Dems into a position where they have no incentive to do anything but pander to the anti-mosque forces.

      Second – and most frustratingly – it validates the notion that this is a legitimate national political issue in the first place. The simple act of legitimizing the issue grants a huge win to Republicans and conservatives and at least temporarily gives them control of the narrative building up to election day (while also guaranteeing that actual policy issues of importance to liberals stay out of the national debate).Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson
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        @Mark Thompson, I very much agree that, I wouldn’t call it “the Left,” but let’s say the forces of tolerance erred tactically, strategically even, in choosing to engage. This noxious stuff feeds on conflict. It’s always a tough call whether cultural baiting needs to be highlighted and confronted or ignored as beneath contempt in articular instances, but my sixth sense tells me the better outcome would have come from the former route on this one. I also understand that the matteris probably just too sensitive on all sides for that ot be realistic.

        I also understand Christie’s overall point, but he really does make it via some quite overt political jujitsu of his own. Calling the president’s remarks playing political football, as far as I can tell from the remarks, is simply flat-out wrong on the record, and is itself a political statement. So I think Christie fails his own test set forth in his statement — with the self-same statement. He went on at a bit too much length for someone calling on pols (he is one, btw) to be shutting up.

        I also think that in matters like this, what goes for lesser pols doesn’t necessarily go for POTUS. We have a head of state for a reason, one being in some instances to speak up in a nonpolitical way for values that are supposedly non-political. Only a completely partisan-reductive view of the office that can’t see any act or statement by the president, even if it contains no political posturing on a supposedly non-political issue like the free exercise clause, as non-political. That is not to say that perhaps Obama should not have seen this as a moment for such a statement-as-head-of-state, but he did execute it without political posturing — including in the clarification (unless, again, you can’t see anything he says as non-political) and entirely on substance. Christie is simply wrong, and committing just what he is accusing the president of, by saying the president was using this as a political football. It is simply obviously not in the record that he did: rather the opposite, unless you just can’t see any words of his as not political pigskin.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Michael Drew
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          says:

          @Michael Drew, Well, you have to keep in mind that Christie was responding to a question specifically about Obama’s speech in connection with a completely unrelated bill signing ceremony. Did he go on a bit too long? I don’t know, but it looks like he just gave about two sentences specifically on Obama (which again was the subject of the question). At that point, we’re parsing words a bit too much, I think.

          One thing that kind of bugs me with this type of response to Christie’s remarks is that it misses the forest for the trees: those two references to Obama were not Christie’s point, but were his specific response to a specific question. The fact is that there are a significant number of people who view Obama’s actions as politicizing this issue even more. This is true whether or not Obama intended that response. And, given the nature of politics, because a number of people perceived Obama’s actions that way, Obama’s actions had the effect of further politicizing the issue. Given that fact, if Christie answers the question about Obama any other way (ie, I fully endorse Obama’s remarks), this very sizeable group will view Christie as further politicizing the issue.Report

          • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
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            says:

            @Mark Thompson, Forgot to add: if Christie doesn’t reference Obama at all, then he doesn’t answer the question that was put to him, leaving the criticism quite one-sided and thus a further politicization of the issue. I don’t see how he could much answer the question better while still making his underlying point.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson
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            says:

            @Mark Thompson,

            The transcript I read made no reference to it being in answer to a particular question. But I don’t see what difference that makes.

            He could have said, “Obama’s remarks had the effect of further politicizing the issue even though he made no overt political references, and he should have refrained from stepping in.” He didn’t. He explicitly said the president was using this as a political football, which In so many words. And that is a clear accusation about the president’s intentions, and a political attack in its own right. You’re not working with the remarks Christie actually made.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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              says:

              @Michael Drew, None of which is to impugn the quality of Christie’s remarks on the substance, which were excellent.Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Michael Drew
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              says:

              @Michael Drew, But like I said: at that point we’re parsing words. It may be that he could have said things better, but when you’re dealing with extemporaneous remarks, you have to be careful about taking particular sentences too far out of context, particularly when those sentences are not issued as the focus of the remarks. Those two sentences should not be treated as if they were the point of the remarks, which was quite clearly that this is not an issue on which politicians (outside of perhaps Mayor Bloomberg) should be weighing in on.

              In any event, the article I reference above makes explicit that the remarks were in response to a question about Obama’s handling of the issue.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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              says:

              @Michael Drew, I don’t mean to say that they are the main point of what he said — I said he said good things, but unfortunately did it by way of a political attack of his own. That’s just a fact. The fact that you might say a lot of other things in a given sequence of comments doesn’t un-say anything that you did say. He very much played political football in these comments. He’s a baller; I get the impression he can’t help himself. Is the playing-politics-by-calling-on-others-not-to-play-politics move really such a new one on you, Mark?Report

  2. Avatar historystudent
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    says:

    “…but there’s absolutely no reason in the world that the Cordoba Center should be an issue in the Florida gubernatorial election.”

    I disagree. Ground Zero is of importance to Americans at large, and therefore it can be an issues in political campaigns outside of NYC. If a politician has a view on it that doesn’t coincide with that of his constituents, then it could become a matter voters will consider in the voting booth. That’s perfectly legitimate.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to historystudent
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      says:

      @historystudent, What power could the Florida governor possibly have that is relevant to that issue?

      Answer: Absolutely none.

      Also, too: while Ground Zero may be important on some level to Americans at large, the notion that it is somehow equally important to all Americans without regard to geography is one that I’ve long tired of. To put this quite bluntly: unless you were in Manhattan that day, or lost someone in Manhattan that day, or had some other deep longstanding connection to Manhattan, you have absolutely no idea what Ground Zero actually means.

      The notion that the sensitivities of someone who has lived their entire life in Kansas about Ground Zero are entitled to override the sensitivities and decisionmaking process and internal debate of people who actually experienced that day and its aftermath directly borders on the offensive and is at the very least unbelievably tone deaf.

      And FWIW, I was not in NY that day, though I certainly had my ties to it. But I was in an apartment overlooking the Pentagon.

      I will believe that politicians are using this as something other than an election year wedge issue the second that one of them decides that we need to make all of Lower Manhattan into a National Park. Until then, they’re just pandering to the masses on an issue where they get to avoid making any kind of actual political commitments.Report

  3. Avatar JFM
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    says:

    More and more, I wish Crist were staying on as Governor. Sink, bless her heart, has run a pretty terrible campaign, and this is just another disappointment. We’re now likely to end up with a governor who is both a crook and generally nuts.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Bunk put it better: “There you go givin’ a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.”Report

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