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07 December 2008


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I'm not sad. And if I moved any more to the left I'd fall into the ocean. I drink green tea and drive a Prius, and to my ears, Obama sounds exactly like he did two years ago when he started running for President. He's basically a centrist with a few forward-looking ideas. Many of those ideas are initiatives whose time as come (e.g., healthcare and energy).

Just because Obama's campaign opponents ran around screaming that he's the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate, it didn't make it true. He is an astute, gifted politician who remains pragmatic to the core (see prodigal Lieberman). He is also someone who will always seek consensus and compromise as a first resort.


Col. Lang,

There must be some dissapointment among the right and far right in regards to incoming President Obama.

I mean he hasn't appointed William Ayers, Louis Farrakhan or Michael Moore to any prominent positions on his cabinet.

He hasn't talked of making abortion mandatory or demanding that all gun owners turn in their weapons at noon on 1/20/09.

The far right is left to sputter about inane theories on Obama's birthplace and resurrecting lunatic fantasies about black helicopters.

The far right is being robbed of the oogedy boogey man they have been railing about for decades.

As a pretty liberal Obama voter, he's turning out to be the very sensible centrist that I figured him to be.

No dissapointments here, the adults will be back in charge.

In the words of Dick Cheney, it's our turn.



Maybe if he had not been sold to us as the Messiah the expectations would be more realistic. There are those of us who could see from the beginning he was Hillary Clinton in drag.


Obama is not and did not run as a leftist. He ran as a center-right establishmentarian, just like his party has been for years. Any leftist who thought otherwise (and I see Corn as a US progressive, a center-left grouping at its most radical) is an idiot who doesn't read the newspaper.

I don't think African-Americans will be disappointed one bit. Why would they? They're not leftists, either. Black folks don't vote 90% Democrat because they are leftists, but because Republicans decided forty years ago to be the party of racism.


Amen, Colonel!

I'm just astonished how many pundits are already unhappy with Obama's performance, even though he won't take the oath of office for another month and a half.

Magical thinking, anyone?


If Obama's plan is simply a return to the status quo and maintenance of the Bush's Wilsonian takings, I'm not surprised, but I can't wish him well.

Keeping 50K troops in Iraq and/or Afghanistan is as good an idea as keeping 15K troops in Saudi Arabia. Blowback is all but guaranteed.

As Bacevich said, Carter was right, and we're just forestalling the inevitable. A very cowardly thing, but that pretty much defines us now.

But the latest recruiting commercials like this one can make us all feel better about it:

Charles I

I think the saddest people, Rush Limbaugh aside, as he seems a right jolly fat man with a lot of lolly, must be the chattering classes, particularly those of the frothing rightist ilk. Their constituency is still there, per the division of the popular vote, but out of power they lose a lot of megaphones and amplifiers.

Obama while not the Messiah has sufficient intelligence, judgment, gravitas, charisma and cojones to turn the national conversation away from the vicious vacuous diatribes of the right that passed for politics to a more civil and sober discourse, within the bounds of decency and the Constitution. Much as my heart bleeds the center of reality is really the only way to go. A return to it from the shrill bait and switch perpetrated upon your willing nation by the outgoing administration is hardly a sad occasion.


"50 or 60 years" in Afganistan????

As I recall two or three years ago you pondered on the vulnerability of the LOC in Iraq. It would seem if the below story is true that our log trains to Afghanistan are much more at risk.



Honestly? I think there are maybe two or three issues that Obama's presidency is going to live or die on. The first is healthcare. The second is a withdrawal from Iraq.

If he can deliver these two things, at least enough to satisfy the majority of Americans, he'll probably hang onto the bulk of his support.

He'll loose the Naderite left, but the Naderite left are all idiots and he was going to loose them anyway, as soon as the Republicans were far enough away from the white house that they could pretend 'both parties are the same' again.

If Obama backs down on healthcare and Iraq, look for that huge base of volunteer and donor support to evaporate very fast.

As for Israel/Palestine et al, has there ever been an American president who payed a political price for failing to deliver peace in the middle east?


I'm happy to have wrote in Ron Paul. Futile, but satisfying nevertheless.

Obama did not disappoint me. I had minimal expectations.

On Iran and the broader middle east, though, I do believe U.S. policy will change. Not because Obama is a pro Palestinian 'leftist' but because regional balance of power will change and a collapsing economy worldwide and especially here will preclude even discussion of a military option against Iran. Meanwhile, they will continue to enrich.


When Obama first made noise in the primaries, I was swinging my 3 year old daughter on a swing and a nanny--a very correct elderly Hanseatic German woman from Hamburg--said the country was going to hell. I agreed with her but I had no idea what I was agreeing with. She sighed and said, "Yes, that this country would elect a black man president!" Unwilling to let this stand, I replied that Obama was special, a historical figure, someone I'd been waiting my entire lifetime to see. She retorted, "But he will make Oprah his VP!"

Man, this woman was alive when the concentration camps ran and Berlin fell. Isn't there some ironclad immutable law of the universe that Germans of her generation can't be racist monsters? Well, there should be.

Generations make the difference here. Talking to my 42 year old friend on the phone yesterday he said he was disappointed in Obama as a leftist. I said I never thought Obama was a leftist, but rather that he was working toward leaving behind all of the dogma of the twentieth century, and it was this struggle that made him so attractive to young and alienated voters.

Many of the issues you describe in your article, Colonel, are received truths, and I can't dispute your expertise on foreign policy. But I ask you and your older readers to consider the possibilities of a new century. Perhaps this belongs in your previous "Scenarios" article. But what looks so intractable now may just need to be re-framed.

We don't have enough evidence to see whether Obama governs as he campaigns, but I am VERY MUCH looking forward to him using the same rhetorical and tactical skills on some of the people who stand in the way of change, both inside this government and abroad. So far, whether his opponent is Bill Clinton or John McCain, Obama has enlarged the frame and transcended ideology and made his foe seem picky, out of touch, and old. Kashmir and Gaza etc. may very well be intractable for all time, but what Obama did for us is give us a break, an opening to begin a new narrative about all kinds of issues. And not just here at home but also many young people abroad who are tired of the way their countries have been run are using him as their lodestar.

Or, to reduce my argument to two words: Robert Mugabe.



Colonel, could you please tell us your reaction to what has been so far my favorite Cabinet appt.

Shinseki at the VA.




one of the things about obama is that he is dificult to categorize

we know he is not a republican and he is not right-wing

he has a lot of moves, left, center and center right,

makes you think of a basketball player who can't drive or shoot from the right

otherwise i think hilary clinton as secretary of state signals strong ties to the american jewish community and to israel

and a good-will relationship with the palestinians as well

adult, pragmatic, friendly relationships completely unlike the religous fantasies and political ideologies of the last eight years

this was the first thing i thought when i read she was nominated for sec of state

Patrick Lang

Shinseki's appointment is beyond praise. Not only will he do a good job but the example for serving officers is important. pl


Lina, et. al., are correct in that Obama is no leftist lap dog. The right wingnuts smear anyone, Kerry, Obama, with the "most liberal" label in an after-the-fact manner. They take the candidates voting record, then reverese engineer a "questionare" or "standard" that yields the result they are looking for - abracadabra - the "most liberal" nonsense.

Yes, major kudos are due on the Shinsecki appointment. He should also be on the short list to replace Gates at DOD.

Nancy K

I'm not dissapointed in Obama's cabinet choices at all, and as an ex hippy from California, I think I'm fairly left leaning. I want him to choose intelligent people, be they left right or center. I want him to choose people with real opinions not just yes men or women.
I feel he has made good choices. Our country is facing perilous times and bickering over not left enough or too centerist is ludicrous. I don't care too much about someone's political leaning as long as they are honest, intelligent, and will put the country not their agenda first.


Dear Sir, while I cannot offer advise to Obama, I do have a bit for you. Hold on to that Caddy. Suffer if you must but preserve that automobile. Your great, great grandchildren will sing your praise as they sell it off to pay for a room addition. Hold on Sir, hold on.


Col. Lang:

re Ormolov's comment:

His description of the opportunity Obama's affords us is priceless. I saw it today in action in the way he dealt with Brokaw's black and white thinking.

It bears repeating. (I hope Ormolov forgives my editing.)

"We don't have enough evidence to see whether Obama governs as he campaigns, but I am looking forward to him using the same rhetorical and tactical skills on the people who stand in the way of change, both inside this government and abroad.

So far, Obama has enlarged the frame and transcended ideology and made his foe seem picky, out of touch, and old. Kashmir and Gaza etc. may very well be intractable for all time, but what Obama did for us is give us a break, an opening to begin a new narrative about all kinds of issues. And not just here at home but also many young people abroad who are tired of the way their countries have been run are using him as their lodestar."

Also re Shinseki. I couldn't agree more.

Cold War Zoomie

A review of my list of "Leftie" blogs really doesn't show Corn's article making a splash. I think most folks are in a wait and see mode.

Also, most everyone who was expecting change recognizes it even after just a few weeks. We now have someone in the White House who appears to really care about getting things done rather than just popping up in public and blathering a bit when the pressure gets too great not to. With the bar set so low, it makes me happy to even see that much.

So far, it definitely looks like we hired the right guy for the head management slot.



there are many on the domestic and international stage who are hoping that obama steps all over his shoelaces, while there are many who will be rooting for him.

russia is one example, who are taking a wary approach especially since ms. clinton will be the sec-o-state, and because of hillary's selection, feel that there won't be any 'improvements' in u.s.-russian relations. the russians took u.s. at our word with the 'gentlemen's agreement' in the 90s only to see it spoken with a forked-tongue approach on d.c.'s part. moscow will not make the same mistake twice. will obama get rid of the dummer-n-dirt bush-cheney missile shield nonsense, sadly i don't think so as their are 'too many' BIG $$$'s at play on that boonedoggle.

Mad Dogs

Just as on the Right, there is a segment of the Left that is undeterred by reason, logic, and pragmatic rational thought.

Both of these segments will continue to weep, wail and gnash their teeth because the "reality-based community" is back in the driver's seat.

This alone makes all of those problems we face seem less. Less daunting, less intractable, less foreboding.

I'm not saying that we will prevail over all, nor even over most.

I am saying that we have a chance where before there was none.

FB Ali

“He will seek to relegate foreign affairs to second priority for his government”.

Foreign affairs are a two-sided game; will the other sides grant him the luxury of doing that? There is Russia, with serious economic problems and plenty of unstable issues around its borders. There is Israel, with the Zionists blindly pursuing their mirage of final victory, with no thought of the risks involved.

Most serious of all is the potential for blowing up of the Pakistan-Afghanistan situation. There appears to be no realization among policy makers in the US (old or new) of what is really happening there. Both countries are now in the hands of mafia dons (Zardari and Karzai) with whom the US has made dirty deals (they have promised to mobilize their countries to support the US “war on terror” in return for being helped to stay in power, plus a blind eye to their domestic activity). Under the cover of these deals they (and their cohorts) are both plundering their countries, even as they sink beneath the weight of their many problems. Their peoples are getting more and more desperate, and turning to the only element that is fighting these rapacious dons and their henchmen, and promising a changed order – the Taliban. This process is quite visible in Afghanistan, but is now becoming apparent in Pakistan, too.

Afghanistan can be kept simmering on the back-burner, but when Pakistan starts to boil over there won’t be any scope for second priorities.


Like many of your other readers, I was under no illusion that Obama was anything but a centrist. But he seems to be a very competent one. He's a good motivator and confronts problems realistically, which is what we need, given the economic crisis we're in. Also, he will energize regional diplomatic approaches in the mid-east and south asia. You may get that concert you've been wanting. We're in a hole, we've stopped digging and soon we'll be climbing out. I'm a pessimist, esp. about international conflict, but I'll count the blessings where I can find them.


To begin with I voted for Obama after being on the fence for a long time and I'm glad I did.

I think most commenters are wrong about Obama. He's not a centrist. At heart he's a liberal, but that ideology is subsumed by his ambition and pragmatism. In other words, he's not an ideologically-driven politician, which is rare for politicians these days and a refreshing change from the hyper partisanship of recent years. Together ambition and pragmatism let him throw away his liberalism when necessary. This is a very good thing and in my estimation it is this pragmatism that is driving the early "centrist" decisions he's making. He understands the electorate did not give him a progressive/liberal mandate. He probably believes (correctly, I think), that the left will come around if he succeeds in fixing the economy and implementing some of his agenda. I mean, who else is the left going to vote for in 2012?

Col. Lang, I will disagree with you a bit on Iran. I think there will be an opportunity for a rapprochement in 2009 because of a two main factors:

1. Oil. The Economist Intelligence Unit predicts that oil prices next year will average $65 a barrel. That is not enough for Iran's economy, which is already severely hurting. Lower oil revenue is going to bring the chickens home to roost.

2. Ahmadinejad will probably loose the election this June for a variety of reasons, mainly the economy. New leadership, especially a reformer, will provide the political cover (for both sides) necessary to open dialog.


First off, let me say, I always enjoy reading your opinion Colonel Lang. I have been reading your blog for quite some time now.

As to this post, while I agree with you whole heartedly that some on "the left" are going to be dissappointed, count me in with Lina and Nancy above. Those on the left who are dissappointed in Obama are fools.

I'm pretty damn sure I'm far to the left of David Corn, but I am very happy to see a man like Barack Obama as president of the United States. I never expected him to force some far left program on the country. Nor did I wish it. I consider myself to hold some pretty far left and outside the mainstream views such as legalized drugs, legalized prostitution,gay marriage, radical changes in transportation systems, socialized healthcare, finacial systems controlled by government not private banks, etc, etc. However, my hope is not, has never been and never will be for some politician or faction to force these ideas on an unwilling population. Rather, my hope is in a social and spiritual transformation of attitudes which leads the people to demand such changes. Personally, I see a man like Barack Obama, while centrist in ideals, as a stepping stone to such a reality, however distant that may be.

Thanks again, Colonel Lang for your blog. I appreciate the different perspective your life experience provides on the events of the day.

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