Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Irony of it All?

David Brooks is a little disappointed that President Obama doesn't make him feel giddy like a schoolboy on Christmas Eve: His policies are often a balance as he tries to accommodate different points of view. He doesn’t generally issue edicts. In matters foreign and domestic, he seems to spend a lot of time coaxing people along. His governing style, in short, is biased toward complexity. This style has never been more evident than in his decision to expand the war in Afghanistan. America traditionally fights its wars in a spirit of moral fervor. Most war presidents cast themselves as heroes on a white charger, believing that no one heeds an uncertain trumpet. Although Brooks goes on to describe Obama as someone "cloaked in a Niebuhrian modesty" and concludes the column with an endorsement of Obama's cool empiricism, it's pretty obvious that Brooks is ambivalent about the fact that we have -- to use a different set of science fiction metaphors -- traded Anakin Skywalker for Qui-Gon Jinn...

This is the Sound of Settling.

The reaction to my last post was a lot stronger than I expected, and as such, I think it's worth clarifying my thoughts a bit. Contra a few of the commenters, I am not asking progressives to uncritically accept whatever decision President Obama makes. But I am asking progressives to look at Obama's decision in the context of everything he's said and done, and then ask themselves whether it is fair to accuse him of betraying them. It's not, as I pointed out, because he didn't. Moreover, I think progressives are fooling themselves if they think that Obama could both withdraw from Afghanistan and pursue his domestic agenda in full. Fifty percent of Americans support keeping troops in Afghanistan, with a solid majority of independents supporting this position. There also seems to be a solid consensus in favor of escalation among the professional commentariat. And among Democratic policy-makers, there aren't many who are opposed to committing further resources to Afghanistan. The simple...

Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New.

There is a right way and a wrong way to express anger at President Obama for committing more troops to Afghanistan. This is the wrong way (from Tristero at Hullabaloo): If the Democratic party today doesn't have viable candidates who are prepared to oppose this crazy policy, it sure as hell will have them two elections hence. I realize that opposing the election of Democrats at a time when the opposition party has literally gone off the deep end puts this country at serious risk of another extreme rightwing takeover. But I don't think liberals have much choice but to take that risk. We are talking about potentially thousands upon thousands of human deaths for an utterly pointless war. This liberal - and I'm hardly the only one - can neither support nor excuse what is now officially the Obama/Afghan War. Similarly, Garry Wills writes at the New York Review of Books blog that "I cannot vote for any Republican. But Obama will not get another penny from me, or another word of praise,...

"Liberals Hate the Military?" Not This Again.

As Chris Matthews revealed last night after President Obama 's speech, some pieces of Beltway conventional wisdom just won't die: "It seems like in this case, there isn't a lot of excitement," Matthews said. "I watched the cadets, they were young kids - men and women who were committed to serving their country professionally it must be said, as officers. And, I didn't see much excitement. But among the older people there, I saw, if not resentment, skepticism. I didn't see a lot of warmth in that crowd out there. The president chose to address tonight and I thought it was interesting. He went to maybe the enemy camp tonight to make his case. I mean, that's where Paul Wolfowitz used to write speeches for, back in the old Bush days. That's where he went to rabble rouse the "we're going to democratize the world" campaign back in '02. So, I thought it was a strange venue." Oddly enough, Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review had the best response to this bit of idiocy from Matthews...

It's Not About Hate for Domestic Spending, Just Love for Foreign Wars.

Stephen Walt (by way of Paul Campos ): Americans have come to believe that spending government revenues on U.S. citizens here at home is usually a bad thing and should be viewed wth suspicion, but spending billions on vast social engineering projects overseas is the hallmark of patriotism and should never be questioned. This position makes no sense, but it is hard to think of a prominent U.S. leader who is making an explicit case for doing somewhat less abroad so that we can afford to build a better future here at home. This sounds really good, but I'm not entirely sure that it's true. Personally, I've heard more than my share of people complain that the United States spends more on "those people over there" than it does on Americans (indeed, some variation on this was a pretty big applause line for John Kerry, if I remember correctly). What's more, when asked about national spending priorities, defense almost always comes up as a second-tier spending priority. In a Pew Research poll...

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