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January 5, 2014

What did we get wrong in 2013?

Every pundit gets something wrong: Your RedBlueAmerica columnists are no exception. We’ve written about health care, gay rights, religious freedom, and every other imaginable topic this year. And since there are two of us, opposing each other most weeks, that doubles the chances of making a bad prediction or offering faulty analysis during the year.

What did we get wrong in 2013?

Joel Mathis

The biggest mistake I made as a pundit in 2013? I didn’t give Barack Obama enough credit.

Yes, I’m liberal. But I’m never automatically in the president’s corner. Which is why I made two mistakes in appraising the his actions in recent months: First, I said in September there were “no good options in Syria” for the president to choose from. Turns out my own imagination was far too limited: All I could see then was a choice to commit to war against the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons-thus drawing the U.S. into another Middle East quagmire — or to stand down and let the use of such weapons go unpunished.

Turns out there was a third way, which Secretary of State John Kerry stumbled into with an inadvertent press conference suggestion: That Syrian turn over its chemical weapons to a third-party, but that otherwise the regime would be left unmolested. The solution drove conservatives crazy; they felt Obama squandered U.S. credibility by not attacking. Me? I think he achieved U.S. goals without squandering lives. It was an act of imagination inconceivable under our previous GOP president. I was wrong; the president did well.

Second, I think I conceded too early that “Obamacare” might be failing, and suggested the president might have been wiser to pursue “small ball” solutions for liberal priorities.

Yes, the initial launch of the Obamacare website was a disaster. No getting around that. But that disaster has largely been fixed. Lots of people are signing up for health insurance. And yes, some folks have had their policies canceled; in the long term, they’ll be a tiny minority, and this moment of painful transition most likely forgotten.

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Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson is asking residents to make an effort to clean up their yards this spring. The city’s Dial-A-Truck program is available to haul trash away. Do you think there are more unsightly properties in Goshen this year than five years ago?

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