Obama Should Follow Reagan’s Lead: Oh Wait, Maybe Not

Michelle Togut

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, contributor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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29 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Certainly true. But even sillier is the over weaning focus on making speeches and especially speeches that make people feel good. Talk is nice but its just talk. We can argue about how much Reagan did to end the cold war versus US policy for the previous 40 years but people lurve to yak about how he was brave enough to call the USSR “evil” or command them to tear down the wall. Words are nothing compared to actions. Speeches are pretty much empty on their own except in how they specify actions that are taken. Dogs make people feel good, well some people. But looking for speeches to quell anxiety over all sorts of unfortunate incidents is childish.

    Re; the Russians and the Ukraine, we have been pushing for more sanctions then the Europeans who are far more dependent on Russian gas. Its the Europeans who are dragging their feet, not O, and for some not illogical reasons.Report

  2. James Hanley says:

    Next time something happens similar to a Reagan-era incudent, some clever person should leak Reagan’s response to Fox as an Obama response. They’ll tear Reagan’s response to shreds before they figure it out.Report

  3. ScarletNumbers says:

    As the joke goes, if Obama walked on water, FOXNews would blare: President Can’t SwimReport

  4. ScarletNumbers says:

    BTW, good for Chris Wallace.

    What makes Reagan look even worse is that KAL 007 had 62 Americans as passengers, including a sitting Congressman.

    Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 had no Americans on board.Report

    • Road Scholar in reply to ScarletNumbers says:

      My understanding is that there was an “American researcher” onboard but this individual wasn’t an American citizen. If so, still arguably under our protection.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to ScarletNumbers says:

      Also, KAL 007 was shot down in full knowledge that it was a civil passenger jet. MH17 was a horrific tragedy, but from all indications it was criminal negligence, not murder.Report

    • Dand in reply to ScarletNumbers says:

      What makes Reagan look even worse is that KAL 007 had 62 Americans as passengers, including a sitting Congressman.

      That congressman was also the president of the John Birch Society.Report

  5. Mike Schilling says:

    “Short of going to war, what would they have us do? I know that some of our critics have sounded off that somehow we haven’t exacted enough vengeance. Well, vengeance isn’t the name of the game in this.”

    Yet another data point showing that Reagan wasn’t right-wing enough for today’s GOP.Report

  6. LeeEsq says:

    24/7 cable news networks were a really bad idea for discourse. God damn you Ted Turner.Report

  7. notme says:

    One of Obama’s first statements was, ” It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.” So maybe it wasn’t a tragedy, come on. That is quite scary when the president can’t determine what this incident was. He could give the Ukrainians arms and training instead of food and blankets but he content to lead from behind.Report

    • Michelle in reply to notme says:

      It looks like it could be a tragedy, as opposed to a deliberate attempt to shoot down a passenger plane. You’re kind of proving my point–it really doesn’t matter what Obama says. Republicans will find a way to make it sound bad. One of my Republican acquaintances on Facebook took exception to Obama’s using the phrase “committed this outrage” because she thought outrage was an emotion (as opposed to one of the other definitions of the word) and therefore you couldn’t commit one.

      And seriously, WTF does it mean to lead from behind? The US has taken a lead in enacting sanctions against Russia for its behavior in the Ukraine. Why the heck should we provide arms to the Ukrainians and involve ourselves in a centuries-old conflict? We should have learned our lesson from our previous involvement in other multi-ethnic, multi-religious powder-keg regions.

      BTW–I think Reagan’s response to the neocon wing of the GOP was the proper one. While the downing of KAL 007 was a terrible act on the part of the Soviets, it wasn’t something we needed to start a war over.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Michelle says:

        Man, I had completely forgotten about that, dand.

        As I pointed out below, if Obama *had* said it was a tragedy, the right-wing media would suddenly decide ‘tragedy’ meant ‘accidental'(1), and be condemning him because ‘by calling it accidental, Obama is trying to ignore the fact Russia committed international crimes so he doesn’t have to respond, because he’s weak’.

        1) Like, uh, it normally does. We generally don’t call the death of murdered people ‘tragic’, even if, technically, it is. Tragic is how we talk about *random* deaths that have no blamable cause.Report

  8. notme says:

    How am I proving your point by reference to Obama’s stupid statement that this “maybe” a tragedy? How could the deaths of almost 300 folks not be tragedy?Report

    • veronica d in reply to notme says:

      @notme — Evidently some people don’t know how language works.

      I suggest some reading in general semantics, perhaps with a focus on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_dynamics.Report

    • greginak in reply to notme says:

      MAYBE A TRAGEDY GAZI !!!!!Report

    • Don Zeko in reply to notme says:

      Tragedy often, although not always, implies a lack of culpability.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Don Zeko says:

        Talking about death as ‘tragedy’ is basically the equivalent of speaking in the passive voice. There obviously was a cause (Pretty much all events leading to death have some sort of identifiable cause) but you’re choosing not to talk about it, usually because the cause isn’t important.

        Which is why you could cause a plane getting stuck by lightning as a ‘tragedy’, but generally not call a plane shot out of the sky a ‘tragedy’.

        I can only imagine what would have happened had Obama deliberately chosen not to talk about the cause of those deaths: OBAMA THINKS RUSSIAN MURDER OF CIVILIANS A ‘TRAGEDY’ INSTEAD OF A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAWReport

      • morat20 in reply to Don Zeko says:

        We call it a ‘tragedy’ when someone shoots his wife, thinking it was a burglar. We don’t say “IT’S NOT A TRAGEDY HE MEANT TO SHOOT. HE PULLED THE TRIGGER ON PURPOSE”.

        We call it a ‘tragedy’ because the mistake — the accident — was not the firing of the gun, but the identification of target.

        We use the same terms when we bomb civilians — we, the US that is — and people do not scream about weakness and lies because ‘YOU DROPPED THE BOMB ON PURPOSE. AN TRAGEDY WOULD BE IF SOMETHING BROKE AND IT FELL OFF” because the mistake, the ‘tragedy’ is, again, the identification of the target.

        So it seems entirely appropriate for Obama to use the word ‘tragedy’, as it has been used by American Presidents and politicians for decades, to describe an event wherein a missile was fired and hit a target that was mus-identified.

        Now, if the people firing the missile knew it was a civilian aircraft — and we had evidence of this — ‘tragedy’ would not longer be the proper word.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Don Zeko says:

        So it seems entirely appropriate for Obama to use the word ‘tragedy’, as it has been used by American Presidents and politicians for decades, to describe an event wherein a missile was fired and hit a target that was mus-identified.

        Yup. And it seems entirely appropriate for Obama to say it ‘may’ have been a tragedy when the facts weren’t entirely in.Report

      • notme in reply to Don Zeko says:

        Either one, accident or intentional would be a tragedy in my book. I just don’t understand how Obama can look at this and think it “maybe” was a tragedy. Maybe if more folks had died he could tell one way or the other.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to notme says:

      Well, instead of a tragedy, it could be a *deliberate attack*.

      You know, just as an offhand alternative.

      I suddenly have the desire to wander around talking about the ‘9/11 tragedy’ and see what sort of unhinged response I get.Report

      • morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

        I think, in this case, the parsing is between ‘shot it down knowing it was civilian’ versus ‘shot it down thinking it was military’.

        To be blunt about it, America has always gone for that sort of parsing for our own…issues. ‘Accidents’ and ‘mistakes’ for bombing the wrong targets, so at least we’re being consistent with it.

        “Deliberate attack”, in this context, implies deliberate targeting of a civilian aircraft — something I don’t think anyone is claiming, but I haven’t been following that closely.Report

  9. veronica d says:

    Fox News is laughably inept. Too bad people watch.Report