September 16, 2013

* A new Pew poll finds Americans approve of Obama’s decision to delay military strikes to pursue diplomacy by an overwhelming margin, 67-23. And this is key:

Overall, more Americans (49%) say that in handling the situation in Syria, Obama has shown leadership and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Fewer (35%) say he’s shown weakness and inconsistency.

As I suspected, Americans oppose war, and if it’s averted, the public will applaud, not see it through the Beltway punditry’s consistency-equals-strength prism.

* Andrew Sullivan, on why commentators criticize Obama’s handling of Syria on process without taking a stand on his actual policy choices:

That would require them leaving Politico-style bullshit and actually looking at the situation and trying to figure out the best way forward for US interests. And that’s hard. It’s sooo much easier to talk in crude and spectacularly dumb terms like “strong” or “weak” without any reference to the goals at hand. The dirty truth: pundits are so much more comfortable examining style because they’re actually too lazy or terrified of actually tackling the substance, let alone taking a stand on it.

* Also don’t miss Sullivan’s take on this quote from Obama:

“Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear, they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy…We know that, because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq war.”

* House Republicans release a new Web video celebrating Latinos in keeping with Hispanic Heritage Month, but as Lisa Mascaro notes, it has no mention of comprehensive immigration reform. There’s no ducking this debate.

* Interesting post from Steve Benen: Conservatives have been spectacularly wrong on the economy three times now — during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama eras — yet there is no sign whatsoever they’ve begun to question their arguments.

* Matthew Zeitlin on how the defeat of Larry Summers shows a Senate Democratic caucus eager to confront Wall Street. I’d add we may be only beginning to see how the new influx of liberals into the Senate may be felt on multiple issues.

* Jonathan Chait explains how the extension of Obamacare to the uninsured will create a major constituency that will function as another obstacle blocking repeal, which is why Republicans are absolutely right to fear implementation.

* Relatedly, Ed Kilgore has a useful take on how the polling shows that ignorance of the law among those who stand to benefit from it could ultimately play in its favor in the long run.

* Conservatives continue to insist a “weakened” Obama will cave in a government shutdown fight and agree to undermine his signature domestic achievement. Wanted: A way to persuade these folks Obamacare is non-negotiable for Dems.

* And National Review has some good reporting on the tensions among Republican Hill staffers over the conservative push to defund Obamacare, with one bluntly telling a Ted Cruz aide: “you’re not dealing in reality.”

That’s true, but again, after years of lies and distortions about Obamacare, it may be too late for Republicans to inject reality into the debate.

What else?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.