There was a crisis of sorts for U.S. policy towards Syria in the summer of 2013, but I'm convinced much of the political world remembers the events poorly. The Beltway version is that President Obama drew a "red line" but blinked when it came time to follow through.
That's not quite what happened. Obama was convinced that Syria had used chemical weapons, and had decided to use force against the Assad government. But before launching strikes, the president turned to Congress to authorize the mission, just as many Republican lawmakers had recommended.
Congress balked. Lawmakers said the public, wary after disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, simply had no appetite for yet another combat mission in the Middle East, and many of the same Republicans who demanded the White House get permission for airstrikes soon announced their opposition to the airstrikes. Some even used this as the basis for fundraising. (Obama considered strikes anyway, but instead scored a diplomatic coup by ridding Syria of its chemical weapons.)
A year and a half later, Americans' attitudes appear to have shifted. Consider a CBS News poll released this week.
Amid more executions by the militant group ISIS, Americans increasingly see the group as a threat to the U.S. Now, 65 percent of Americans view ISIS as a major threat -- up from 58 percent in October....
With concern about ISIS growing, support for the use of U.S. ground troops in the fight against ISIS has risen. For the first time, a majority of Americans (57 percent) favor the U.S. sending ground troops into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS. In October, Americans were divided (47 percent favored and 46 percent opposed), and in September these numbers were reversed (39 percent favored and 55 percent opposed).
There is, of course, a political angle to all of this -- the White House recently sent lawmakers proposed language for an Authorization to Use Military Force against ISIS, effectively trying to get Congress' buy-in for a military offensive that began last August.
If lawmakers are sensitive to the prevailing political winds, polls like these probably make it more likely that Congress will at least consider doing their duty when it comes to authorizing force. Indeed, the scope of the AUMF may very well reflect these changing public attitudes, too.
But I'm also interesting in what, specifically, led to the public-opinion shift. In 2013, most Americans told Washington, "Don't you dare start another war in the Middle East." And yet, as 2015 gets underway, most Americans are evidently on board, not only with airstrikes, but with boots on the ground.
Rudy Giuliani is apparently under an odd impression: the problems he creates by saying dumb things will go away if he just keeps talking. Someone probably ought to tell him he has this backwards.
The New York Republican declared Tuesday night that President Obama doesn't love America or Americans. By Wednesday morning, Giuliani insisted this was not necessarily an attack on the president's patriotism. By mid-day, the clownish former mayor seemed eager to embarrass himself further, insisting, "President Obama didn't live through September 11, I did"
Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York on Thursday defended his assertion that President Obama did not love America, and said that his criticism of Mr. Obama's upbringing should not be considered racist because the president was raised by "a white mother."
He added, "This isn't racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism."
I see. So, by this reasoning, it seems as if Rudy Giuliani as positioned himself as pro-colonialism.
In the same interview with the New York Times, the failed GOP presidential candidate "challenged a reporter to find examples of Mr. Obama expressing love for his country." In other words, by Wednesday night, Giuliani, who tried and failed to hedge on his own ridiculous condemnations, was right back to where he was on Tuesday night.
Rachel Maddow points out the blame-avoiding passive voice that seems to be a common trait among Bush politicians, including 2016 hopeful Jeb Bush, and emphasizes the importance of substantive political debates for the nation's health. watch
Mark Schauer, director of the DLCC SuperPAC, Advantage 2020, explains to Rachel Maddow how Democrats plan to take back state legislatures in time to have influence over redistricting following the 2020 census, to cut back the outsized GOP advantage. watch
Rachel Maddow quickly reviews the replies she has received in asking Democratic politicians whether they might consider a run for president in 2016, which would mean testing Hillary Clinton with a Democratic primary. watch
Senator Sherrod Brown talks with Rachel Maddow about the what role the 2016 election wil play in whether Congress will be able to get anything done, and outlines a Democratic strategy for both a legislative agenda and campaign politics for economic growth watch
* He's right: "Obama blasted the so-called 'war with Islam' on Thursday, his strongest confrontation against critics on his anti-terror rhetoric yet. 'The notion the west is at war with Islam is an ugly lie,' Obama said on the second day of the White House's global summit on countering terrorism. 'All of us have a responsibility to reject it.'"
* A mild rebuke: "White House spokesman Eric Schultz on Thursday dismissed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's (R) comment that President Obama doesn't love America. During the president's flight to Chicago, Schultz told reporters that Giuliani used the same attack during his 'fleeting 2007 run for the presidency.'"
* Eurozone: "Germany on Thursday dismissed Greece's latest effort to resolve the impasse in debt negotiations between Athens and its creditors."
* Superbug? "Nearly 180 patients at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to potentially deadly bacteria from contaminated medical scopes, and two deaths have already been linked to the outbreak."
* Sounds like an idea Leslie Knope would come up with: "President Obama will announce Thursday that the National Park Service will give all fourth graders and their families free admission to national parks and other federal lands for a full year."
* Related news: "President Barack Obama this week plans to name Browns Canyon, in central Colorado, a national monument, a designation that adds a new layer of federal protection to the popular spot for whitewater rafting."
* Texas: "Two women were married in Texas on Thursday under a one-time court order -- the first same-sex marriage in that state. Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant exchanged vows in Austin. The county clerk said that the right to marry applied only to the couple, and was ordered by a state judge, because one of the women has 'severe and immediate health concerns.'"
* Alabama: "The governor of Alabama offered a written apology to the people of India on Tuesday for the severe injuries suffered by an Indian visitor hurled to the ground by a police officer this month."
Rudy Giuliani is "not questioning" President Obama's patriotism. He simply said to a Republican audience last night, "I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me." The clownish former mayor made the comments at an NYC event for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) -- who was right there near Giuliani while he spouted this garbage.
And at that moment, Walker was presented with a test of sorts. Would the governor do the decent thing and distance himself from Giuliani's little tantrum, or would he do the partisan thing and stay silent?
Walker said nothing during the event or after it, but he had another chance this morning. The Wisconsin Republican chose not to take it.
"The mayor can speak for himself," Walker said on [CNBC's] "Squawk Box." "I'm not going to comment on what the President thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well."
"I'll tell you, I love America," he continued.
Co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin pressed further, asking, "But did you agree with those comments? Were you offended? What was your reaction when you heard them?"
Walker replied, "I'm in New York. I'm used to people saying things that are aggressive out there." He would go no further.
The truth is, had Walker shown just a little more guts, this could have been an opportunity to demonstrate the kind of leadership he should be capable of. It's not like Rudy Giuliani is a party boss with a massive constituency; the former mayor hasn't even won an election in 18 years. Walker could have said something like, "I disagree with the president on nearly everything, but I'm sure he loves his country." He would have looked like a mature, responsible contender for the most powerful office in the world.
But Walker just couldn't muster the courage to take this simple step. A week after "punting" on whether he believes in evolutionary biology, the Wisconsin Republican is left to punt once again.
What kind of leader would Scott Walker be? The kind that talks about leadership without actually demonstrating any.
It's hardly a secret that some on the far-right have concerns about Jeb Bush's presidential campaign. The former Florida governor is obviously very conservative, but he also supports Common Core standards, which the right tends to hate, and has expressed some closer-to-the-mainstream views about immigration reform.
But Ed O'Keefe reports today on a conservative group that's labeled Jeb Bush "unelectable" for an entirely unexpected reason.
ForAmerica, a group founded by longtime conservative commentator L. Brent Bozell, is releasing a short online video on Thursday designed to raise questions about Bush's conservatism. The premise of the film is built around an appearance Bush made in 2013 alongside former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Bush, as chairman of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, awarded the group's Liberty Medal to Clinton during an elaborate ceremony on Independence Mall on Sept. 10, 2013, a day shy of the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead.
Even for the right, this is an odd one. ForAmerica put together a 69-second video showing Jeb Bush presenting Hillary Clinton with an award a year-and-a-half ago. The clip shows the Republican thanking Bill and Hillary Clinton "for your service to our country. We're united by love of country and public service." Simple, generic, non-committal language from a high-profile figure from one high-profile family to another.
The video, however, concludes with the word "unelectable," red and in all caps. And why, pray tell does this rather innocuous exchange disqualify Bush?
Ah HA! The benefit of being off for a few days is that I have a half-week's worth of graphics pitches to work from for the rest of the week's clues.
So today we'll do a regular one for last night's show and a bonus for a story from earlier in the week.
In his interview with Rachel last night, Tom Colicchio, renowned chef and new food correspondent for MSNBC, pointed out that environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are also food disasters because of the negative impact they have on the food we eat and the food chain of things we eat. We might say that activists who see the effects of environmental catastrophes on food production as a warning about how we protect our food supply are recognizing a...
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