shutterstock_216268729I’m late in coming to it — although Paul Rahe has yet to persuade me to give up the New York Times entirely, I’ve quit reading it first thing every morning — but here’s the very first paragraph of a column, entitled “Obama in Winter,” that David Brooks published on Monday:

They say failure can be a good teacher, but, so far, the Obama administration is opting out of the course. The post-midterm period has been one of the most bizarre of the Obama presidency. President Obama has racked up some impressive foreign-policy accomplishments, but, domestically and politically, things are off the rails.

As you will already have guessed, what caught my eye was the first clause of the third sentence. David apparently considers it so widely understood that the President has “racked up some impressive foreign-policy accomplishments” that he needn’t name them. My own response? What foreign policy accomplishments?

Which brings me to the point at which I throw myself — and David Brooks — upon the tender mercies of the Ricochetti. Am I wrong?  If so, please name, oh, let us say three foreign policy accomplishments of this administration. And if I’m right, what about suggesting a few choice words that you’d like to see appear one day in the letters-to-the-editor column?

Image Credit: Mykhaylo Palinchak /

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  1. Klaatu Inactive

    That line caught my eye as well. If possible, I see his foreign policy as a greater failure that his domestic.

    • #1
  2. user_1050 Member

    Probably means the China climate change thing.

    • #2
  3. Redneck Desi Inactive
    Redneck Desi

    Brooks has Stockholm syndrome and should be politely ignored.

    • #3
  4. Concretevol Thatcher

    It’s a pretty big accomplishment to strengthen and empower all of America’s enemies across the board I suppose…….They must be looking at this in terms of climate change???   Nope, I’m stumped as well.

    • #4
  5. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart

    He got the crease in his pants sharpened up while he was in China?

    • #5
  6. Blue State Curmudgeon Inactive
    Blue State Curmudgeon

    He showed up at a meeting with foreign leaders with perfectly creased pants.

    • #6
  7. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away

    Throwing him a bone soundly gnawed.

    • #7
  8. TeamAmerica Member

    Brooks likely means helping remove Khadaffi and ending our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. He of course ignores Boko Haram and ISIS’ successes, Russia’s invasion and annexation of eastern Ukraine, China’s increasing tendency to aggressively challenge its neighbors maritime rights, and Iran’s nuclear program.

    • #8
  9. Yeah...ok. Inactive

    Arab Spring

    Peace Prize

    He got us out of Iraq

    Killed Osama

    Cured ebola

    • #9
  10. user_10225 Member

    “President Obama has racked up some impressive foreign-policy accomplishments”

    Only if rolling on your back and peeing on yourself counts as an impressive accomplishment. I can’t find another to list.

    • #10
  11. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards

    Peter Robinson: What foreign policy accomplishments?

    Hey! They don’t give out Nobel Peace Prizes for nothing, do they?

    Oh wait, it turns out they do. Never mind.

    • #11
  12. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist

    Depends on what the meaning of “accomplishments” is. I’m with the others who said Brooks is giving him credit for killing bin Laden and for “ending” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s three, such as they are.

    • #12
  13. Penfold Member

     “Only Nixon could go to China” – Spock

    “If only Obama would move to China” – Penfold

    • #13
  14. Member

    Soon Brooks will need to give the credit for those great foreign policy achievements to the entity that truly deserves it: Mrs. Clinton’s finely pleated pants suit.

    • #14
  15. genferei Member

    He’s clearly on Team Hillary. It’s only a matter of time before Peggy Noonan signs on, too. (I have resisted the perfectly creased face line. Oh.)

    • #15
  16. Casey Inactive

    Putting one’s finger in the dike is an accomplishment only if there is one leak.  Using one’s finger to stop one of many leaks accomplishes nothing and may actually make things worse.  As far as I can tell, Brooks is giving Obama credit for having a finger.

    • #16
  17. Dick from Brooklyn Thatcher
    Dick from Brooklyn

    A favorite liberal do-gooder aunt of mine who toiled for a decade as a public school teacher in the Bronx in the late seventies (when a good deal of it was on fire) had a similar way of euphemising poor performance.

    Since so few of her students came from functional and in-tact families, she tried to find something…anything positive to say when a mother bothered to show up for a parent-teacher conference about a student with less-than-stellar marks. This backfired on her occasionally.  She opened a meeting by praising the middling student’s penmanship, to which the exasperated mother replied, “I’m not sure the boy can even read, much less write, lady.”

    I suppose one could accuse Aunt Mimi of contributing to the tyranny of low expectations, but I will always respect her for having the courage of her convictions. She was a smart and striking looking middle class New York Jew who married into a conservative lower middle class Irish/Polish family and made the trek up to the Bronx every day in the spirit of Tikkun olam to try to make a difference. She didn’t need the paycheck, and it can’t have been easy.

    Brooks has less noble aims. He and the rest of the President’s apologists at the Times are desperately reaching for any good news – even manufactured or imagined – to distract their faithful liberal readers from the impending overreach on immigration, the Gruberisms about Obamacare funding and the inevitably underwhelming second wave of enrollments.

    Aunt Miriam had higher motives. She taught me how to survive in New York. A track star and marathoner, she inspired me to take up running (a critical life-skill for a bantam weight kid with an Irish temper in New York in 1977) and tutored me in yiddish-as-a-second language which made it easier to get a nice lean sandwich at Katz’s and to read between the lines at an Ed Koch press conference.

    • #17
  18. Dick from Brooklyn Thatcher
    Dick from Brooklyn

    Casey: Putting one’s finger in the dike

    Um…I think that the CoC prohibits this kind of language, and anyway Andrew Rosenthal is actually a man, but I can see how you could make this mistake. :)

    • #18
  19. gts109 Member

    I suppose he’s giving Obama the benefit of the doubt that the China trip was successful. If the rest of the world were calm, you might give Obama that. But the Middle East is ablaze and Russian tanks are rolling in Eastern Europe. So yeah, Brooks is off his rocker. But, if he doesn’t say stuff like that, most of the NY Times readership would immediately throw his column in the dog crate.

    • #19
  20. cdor Member

    Wait, didn’t Obama single handedly lower the oceans? That’s at least three things right there.

    • #20
  21. Casey Inactive

    Has Obama accomplished anything at all?

    From their point of view, Obama came out gangbusters.  But surely it isn’t coincidence that everything came to a halt in October 2010 – the moment Rahm Emanuel said “A-B-C-ya”.

    It seems to me that he was the one pushing through the Obama agenda, had the good sense to see it was a dud, and got out.

    Am I giving Rahm too much credit? (Blame)

    • #21
  22. EJHill Podcaster

    Evidently Brooksy has gotten into the stash Maureen Dowd brought home from Colorado. Expand the Choom Gang enough and no one will care about anything. Take a deep breath, hold it and welcome your new overlords.

    • #22
  23. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans

    Come on, Obama’s foreign policy accomplishments are obvious:

    – He told Assad to step down and Assad immediately stepped down.

    – He tried to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Problem solved!

    – He pressed the reset button with Russia. And relationships with Russia have never been better.

    – He told Putin to get out of the Ukraine. No Russian troops or weapons in Ukraine today.

    Do I have a future as a fiction writer?

    • #23
  24. Casey Inactive

    Marion Evans:Come on, Obama’s foreign policy accomplishments are obvious:

    – He told Assad to step down and Assad immediately stepped down.

    – He tried to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Problem solved!

    – He pressed the reset button with Russia. And relationships with Russia have never been better.

    – He told Putin to get out of the Ukraine. No Russian troops or weapons in Ukraine today.

    Do I have a future as a fiction writer?

    The red line he drew was very straight.

    • #24
  25. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT

    It amazes me that anyone still reads David Brooks. In my opinion he moved to the other side years ago.

    • #25
  26. user_216080 Thatcher

    “Brooksie – what a crack-up!  He’s obviously being ironic, right?  I mean, Obamacare, that’s domestic, and that’s like his Social Security; (I helped a little with that.).  Then there’s the “Dreamers” thing.   And don’t forget “Cash for Clunkers!”  The man’s a domestic policy god.  But  foreign policy, not so much.  People are chopping off real heads on TV, he’s leading from behind and declaring red lines in invisible ink.  Yeah, he got us out of Iraq and he’s getting us out of Afghanistan, but Guantanamo is still open and Israel is still oppressing the Palestinians.  So on foreign policy, I’d give his a B-.”   John Gruber 

    • #26
  27. user_82762 Thatcher


    A friend of mine sent this to me yesterday.


    Iran’s Letter to Obama: Thanks for the Nukes!

    Monday November 17, 2014 4:17 AM

    By Noah Beck

    Dear President Obama,

    You’ve been a great friend for the last six years and, to express our appreciation, we’d like to acknowledge some of your many helpful actions:

    1) In 2009, our presidential election results were so dubious that millions of brave, pro-democracy protesters risked their lives to demonstrate throughout our country. When our Basij paramilitary force brutalized them, you kept your response irrelevantly mild for the sake of “engaging” us. That surely helped Iranians understand the risks of protesting our “free” election of 2012 (involving our eight handpicked candidates). It was indeed a very orderly rubberstamp.

    2) After eight years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we KNEW you’d fall for the smiles of his successor, President Hassan Rouhani! Human rights abuses have actually worsened under his rule and his polished charm only makes him better at duping the world into acquiescing to our nukes, so we LOVE how you’ve overlooked these facts.

    3) You’ve been unilaterally weakening the sanctions against us by simply not enforcing them (which reassures us that you’re desperate to avoid any real confrontation).

    4) You’ve threatened to thwart any Congressional attempt to limit your nuclear generosity by simply lifting sanctions without Congressional approval. Good stuff!

    5) You isolated Israel on the issue of how close we are to a nuclear capability – we love how your estimates are so much laxer than theirs are!

    6) The diplomatic snubs and betrayals of Israel by your Administration have been EPIC. We couldn’t have asked for more – from your humiliation of Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2010, to Secretary of State John Kerry’s betrayal of Israel during Operation Protective Edge, to calling Netanyahu a “chicken…..” a few weeks ago, without even apologizing later. We found it hilariously ironic that your Administration’s accusation of Israeli cowardice was made anonymously! And, FYI, Netanyahu is actually the only leader in the world with the guts to defy us, respond to Syrian border violations, enforce his own declared lines, etc., so we thought that this was particularly priceless.

    7) Speaking of enforcing red lines, we LOVE how you backed off yours, after our Syrian buddy, Bashar Assad, used chemical weapons on his own people. That was a very helpful signal to everyone that we need not take your threats too seriously (contrary to those scary words you issued in 2012 about how stopping our nukes militarily was still an option, unlike containment, and how you don’t bluff). But we understood back then that you were trying to get re-elected, so we didn’t take it personally.

    8 ) It was adorably naive of you (in 2011) to request so politely that we give back your drone that went down on Iranian soil. In fact, your request was so quaint that we couldn’t resist recently showcasing our knock-off based on that drone.

    9) Fortunately, you don’t take our Supreme Leader Khamenei seriously when he tweets out his plan for destroying Israel (why let our true motives get in the way of a fantastic nuclear deal, right)?

    10) We LOVE how you obsess over Israel building apartments in Jerusalem because it’s the perfect distraction from our deal.

    11) You’ve been pressuring Israel to retreat from more disputed territory, effectively rewarding Palestinians for launching the third missile war against Israel from Gaza in five years last summer and, more recently, the third Intifidah inside Israel in 17 years. You’re almost as awesome as the European appeasers who think Palestinian bellicosity merits statehood!

    12) It’s so cute of you to write us these letters asking for help against ISIS and showing us how desperately you want a nuclear deal. All we had to do was hint at an ISIS-for-nukes exchange and you got so excited!

    13) You’re smart to go behind everyone’s backs when dealing with us. That’s a bummer that your top aide, Ben Rhodes, was caught saying how a nuclear accord with us is as important to you as “healthcare.” But we’ve got the perfect slogan to sell our deal to Americans: “If you like your nukes, you can keep them.”

    14) What’s really awesome about the deal that we’re “negotiating” is that it allows us to continue nuclear enrichment but makes it even harder for Israel to take any military action against our nuclear program. And our agreement will give the press even more ammunition against such an attack. We already know about the world media’s anti-Israel bias – they can’t even get a simple story about vehicular terrorism against Israelis correct. Even we were surprised at how The Guardian writes accurate headlines when Canada suffers an Islamist car attack but not when Israel does. So if you accept our nukes and Israel then attacks them, the media will be even harsher on Israel (even though the world will be silently relieved, if Israeli courage succeeds at neutralizing what scared everyone else).

    But we kind of feel sorry for you, because nobody takes you seriously and you’re a lame duck now. Putin is unabashedly conquering neighboring countries while going all Cold War on you with 40 provocative security incidents involving Western nations and Russian flights into the Gulf of Mexico (despite your promise of greater flexibility after your 2012 reelection). The North Koreans are closer than ever to building nuclear missiles. China is dangerously testing disputed borders with India, growing increasingly assertive in the contested Spratly archipelago, and stealing your sensitive defense and corporate data. Oh, and ISIS has grown into a veritable jihadi lovefest thanks to your excellent strategy against them.

    Indeed, your foreign policy seems like a massive FAIL, but we’re super ready to help! Your trusted Russian friends have suggested continuing our nuclear talks past the November 24th deadline, and we’re totally down with more enrichment time (that’s another reason we’ve stonewalled the IAEA’s investigations into our nukes), so count us in on this extension like the one from last July (and any future ones). Hey, it’s good for you too: an extension (or agreement) looks so much better than calling out our manipulations and issuing more empty threats to stop us, right?

    And after everyone sees the killer deal that you’re giving us, the world’s bad actors will line up to talk to you, with demands of their own that you can try to satisfy in the hope that they’ll stop opposing your national interests so much.

    Overall, we appreciate you even more than we did President Carter, because getting nukes is WAY COOLER than holding 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days.

    With our deepest gratitude,

    Your Friends in the Iranian Regime

    p.s. We’re glad you didn’t take any personal offense when one of our officials used the N-word to describe you back in 2010. He actually has nothing but respect for you, as do we.


    The Algemeiner Journal




    • #27
  28. Casey Inactive

    Kay of MT:It amazes me that anyone still reads David Brooks. In my opinion he moved to the other side years ago.

    I like him.  I think he’s really, really smart.

    Unfortunately, he is the sort of smart person who thinks his way clearly from problem to solution and then refuses to stop.

    • #28
  29. Mark Thatcher

    Why are you still reading the Times?  I grew up reading it and did so for many years but finally stopped in 2004 because I couldn’t take it any longer.  You cannot trust the factually accuracy of any article and the paper is written to deliberately insult anyone who is not a progressive and to provide a lovely insulated cocoon of reassurance for the faithful.

    I suppose some may want to read it for the same reason some used to read Pravda – to find out what the opposition is thinking and to analyze what is being covered and in what way and what is not being covered at all in order to speculate on the behind the scenes power struggles and possibly to divine in advance new Progressive orthodoxies.  For instance, I understand the Times has just run a feature on Al Sharpton’s IRS troubles.  That’s not new news to anyone who is knowledgeable about Sharpton so the question is why now?  On whose behalf has the Times decided to take down Sharpton?

    • #29
  30. Scott Reusser Member
    Scott Reusser

    Brooks is likely referring to the feckless climate-change agreement with China, the feckless anti-ISIS coalition, and the feckless (or worse) Western engagement with Iran.

    No amount of logic and perfectly crafted retorts would convince the NYT gang that “feckless” is appropriate for each of the above. Canceling one’s subscription is the only practical and mildly satisfying course of action.

    • #30

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