Archive for January, 2015

Comment: President Obama’s State of the Union Address of 1//20/15

January 21, 2015

Comment from Mark Shields after the State of the Union Address:

“This is a president who is very much in the game and wants the ball.”

Barack Obama plays basketball for recreation and has played it for years.  There were many comments after the speech, both pro and con, depending on the political  persuasion of the commentator, but many added how competitive the president seemed, to paraphrase one: The president is in the field, again.

“Free Syrian Army on the Ropes”

January 21, 2015

New York Times, Tuesday, January 20, 2015

U.S. Signals Shift on Ending Syrian War: Assad’s Ouster Isn’t Priority

BACKING NEW MEDIATION: Gradual Change Takes Priority, With Less Focus on Assad, by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta:

Beirut, Lebanon: American support for a pair of initiatives in Syria underscores the shifting views of how to end the civil war there and the West’s quiet retreat from its demand that the country’s president, Bashar-al-Assad, step down immediately.

The Obama administration maintains that a lasting political solution requires Mr. Assad’s exit. But facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria…

But the diplomatic proposals face serious challenges, relying on the leader of a rump state who is propped by foreign powers and hemmed in by a growing and effective extremist force that wants to build a caliphate.  Many of American allies in the Syrian opposition reject the plan, and there is little indication that Mr. Assad or his main allies, Russia and Iran, feel any need to compromise.  The American-backed Free Syrian Army is on the ropes in northern Syria, once it’s stronghold, and insurgents disagree among themselves over military and political strategy…

 On the ropes is a sports metaphor/idiom from boxing.  If a boxer has been pushed into or onto the ropes surrounding the boxing space, he or she has been pummeled by the opponent. 


Mario Cuomo, Governor of New York, and Presidential Might-Have-Been

January 13, 2015

The Economist, January 10th 2015

Obituary: Mario Cuomo, governor of New York State died on January 1st, aged 82.

He was governor for three terms and in 1987-88 and 1991-92 “was the man many Democrats wanted as president. On both occasions, he disappointed them. In 1998 he let his name float about, was plainly tempted, but would not (as a keen ex-baseball player) step up to the plate” when the candidate, Gary Hart’s campaign died. He announced later, minutes before the New Hampshire filing deadline, that he really had to stay to help get the New York state budget passed.

Step up to the plate is a baseball idiom. The batter has to get to home plate to hit the ball.