I'll take "Impasse" for 200, please, Alex.

Let me say, right off the bat, that I think it's a wonderful, laudable goal to want to reconcile with one's opponents. That we should all strive to find common ground, to understand each other's perspectives, and to work toward a future in which we All Get Along. (Seriously, ironic capital letters notwithstanding.)

However, there comes a time when all it becomes obvious that all the talk in the world is going to make not one whit of difference. I think President Obama is rapidly approaching that point with the Religious Right. Via Washington Monthly:
Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council will meet with Joshua DuBois, the man who leads the administration's office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Wendy Wright, the president of CWA reached out to the Obama administration and they responded by inviting CWA and some of these other conservative Evangelical groups to The White House. The meeting plans to focus on the need to reduce abortions in the country and on responsible fatherhood programs. Also present at the meeting will be Tom McClusky, Senior Vice-President of the Family Research Council as well as representatives from the Christian Medical Association and Care Net, a pro-life Evangelical pregnancy crisis group.
At the risk of sounding repetitious, these people are not your friends, Mr. President! No amount of dialogue is going to change their positions on the issues that matter to them, and that grant them whatever waning relevance they have.

Talk is cheap, so I don't care who Obama invites to the White House. Hell, I don't even mind forgettable symbolic gestures. But if you start giving ground on policy issues in the vain hope that the other side will give a little too (which they will probably agree to around about when the sun explodes), then you're going to piss off the people who really support you.


  1. "At the risk of sounding repetitious, these people are not your friends, Mr. President!"

    Hummm, I seem to recall something similar... aha! Now I remember: US officials holding talks in Syria.

    Apparently, it is a fine thing to nuzzle up to brutal thugocracies that kill gays and women, but the Random Forces of Nature forbid that the Administration budge a millimeter to Americans Who Aren't Friends Of Obama.

    Seriously, I don't get it. Why criticize Mr. Obama for attempting to placate *Americans* with whom you disagree when his Administration has no apparent problem placating foreign regimes that are brutal, vicious, and vile? No amount of talk is going to change Syria's policies, or Hamas' policies, or the LoCo NoKo policies, or the Mad Mullahs' policies, so by your logic, why are we even considering granting concessions to these groups "in the vain hope the other side will give a little too"?

  2. John, foreign and domestic policy are apples and oranges. There is a big difference between foreign diplomacy, which is a multi-factorial discussion, and meeting with groups whose sole purpose is antithetical to one's agenda.

    Please, I know it may be taxing for you, but can you please try to keep your comments germane?

  3. How silly of me to suggest an analogy between concessions in national policy and concessions in foreign policy. How could their be any relationship at all between the two arenas? I now see the error of my ways. Here, make sure I've learned the proper lesson...

    For people who murder gays, women, and Jews but are NOT American, we hold talks, offer concessions, and send a Billion $$ USD in the hope of reciprocal concessions.

    For Americans who have religious objections to abortion, well, we [obscene verb] them. Who gives a damn about them? They aren't Friends of Barack.

    This would explain why the current Administration sent $1 effing Billion to Hamas, while pushing for American veterans to pony up for treatment of their service related injuries in the hope of recouping about *half* of what was sent to the gay-and-Jew-killing, child-abusing, woman-beating Hamas government.

    But how to explain the Democratic controlled Congress' actions after Mr. Obama overturned the wicked Bush's denial of Federal dollars to embryonic stem cell research[1]? Two days later, the Democratic controlled Congress again passed the Clinton era amendment that prohibited Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research[1]. Clearly Democrats in Congress haven't gotten your message to [obscene verb] the yokels. Maybe they aren't Friends of Barack either.

    [1] except for existing stem cell lines

  4. John, please don't make me go through the tedious exercise of explaining how foreign diplomacy is different from domestic culture war politics. You are either being disingenuous or obtuse in your objections.

  5. Dan, I'm not making you do anything at all. I'm asking you to think; why do you (rightly) justify realpolitik for international affairs, but then reject it for intranational affairs? If significant moral disagreements shouldn't stop conciliatory offers to foreigners, why is it such a mistake for domestic opponents? I'm just askin'.

  6. Fine. I justify realpolitik for international affairs because it exists. The whole of human history is festooned with examples of nations negotiating with other nations in the pursuit of mutually beneficial goals of one sort or another. There are numerous pressures that can be brought to bear, and various factors that can be considered when sitting at the negotiating table across from one's enemies. Besides, pretending that we can ignore rogue regimes (like, say, North Korea) into submission doesn't seem to have had a particularly effective inhibitory effect on their nuclear ambitions.

    With regard to entities such as the FRC or CWM, on the other hand, I reject the existence of realpolitik, period. Their entire raison d'etre is to oppose the policy goals of a significant portion of the current president's political supporters. They have no interest in playing along, because if they compromise on any of their issues of concern, their entire justification for raising their supporters to action vanishes. Spending time talking with them is all very well, but compromising on a progressive agenda (which was what got Obama elected in the first place) in order to appeal to a group of people who didn't support him and never will is a fool's errand.

    There. Happy?

  7. That should be CWA, of course.

  8. One more flog of the dead horse... The LoKo NoKos didn't get ignored. They got reactors. Modern reactors, and fuel, and help. Then they reneged, opened their sealed fuel stores and extracted the Pu. Taming NoKo is the responsibility of the Chinese, like it or not, and we should lean on the Chinese to Solve That Problem. Nothing else will ever work.

    Hamas will never compromise. Never. Ever. Ain't agonna happen. Compromise on Israel and they cease to exist.

    If we can play realpolitik with the NoKos, Chinese, and Hamas, we have no excuse for walking away from Americans who oppose a progressive agenda. YMMV.