February 2008 Archives

Hillary's already had her red phone moment

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Via Ben Smith at Politico,

Obama responded to Clinton's ad in a speech to veterans in Houston today, according to prepared remarks. He accused her of playing on fear, and echoed his staff's retort that she's had, and blown, her red phone moment:  
Now before we open this up for conversation, I just want to take a moment to respond to an ad that Sen. Clinton is apparently running today that asks, "Who do you want answering the phone in the White House when it's 3 a.m. and something has happened in the world?"

We've seen these ads before. They're the kind that play on peoples' fears to scare up votes.

Well it won't work this time. Because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is -- what kind of judgment will you make when you answer? We've had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. And Sen. Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer.

And we need go no further than this bit of advice from Bill Clinton in 2004:

One of Clinton's laws of politics is this:  If one candidate's trying to scare you, and the other one's trying to get you to think; if one candidate's appealing to your fears, and the other one's appealing to your hopes; you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope," he said.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

UPDATE: kubla000 found the video clip of Bill's advice so you can watch him for yourself.

A Question for Sen. McCain

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From an Iraq vet via Votevets.org

H/T to Marc Ambinder

Brandon Friedman identifies her as "U.S. Army Captain and VoteVets Senior Advisor Rose Forrest" in his dkos diary along with some more info about McCain's response to the ad.

Obama's Edge in Foreign Affairs

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Fareed Zakaria acknowledges what an edge Sen. Obama's upbringing gives him in foreign affairs. It's something that I know is true from my own upbringing overseas in Liberia.

I never thought I'd be in this position. There's a debate taking place about what matters most when making judgments about foreign policy--experience and expertise on the one hand, or personal identity on the other. And I find myself coming down on the side of identity.

Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been squabbling over who has the better qualifications to lead the world's only superpower. [...]

Obama's argument is about more than identity. He was intelligent and prescient about the costs of the Iraq War. But he says that his judgment was formed by his experience as a boy with a Kenyan father--and later an Indonesian stepfather--who spent four years growing up in Indonesia, and who lived in the multicultural swirl of Hawaii.

I never thought I'd agree with Obama. I've spent my life acquiring formal expertise on foreign policy. I've got fancy degrees, have run research projects, taught in colleges and graduate schools, edited a foreign-affairs journal, advised politicians and businessmen, written columns and cover stories, and traveled hundreds of thousands of miles all over the world. I've never thought of my identity as any kind of qualification. I've never written an article that contains the phrase "As an Indian-American ..." or "As a person of color ..."

But when I think about what is truly distinctive about the way I look at the world, about the advantage that I may have over others in understanding foreign affairs, it is that I know what it means not to be an American. I know intimately the attraction, the repulsion, the hopes, the disappointments that the other 95 percent of humanity feels when thinking about this country. I know it because for a good part of my life, I wasn't an American. I was the outsider, growing up 8,000 miles away from the centers of power, being shaped by forces over which my country had no control.

When I hear confident claims about liberty and democracy in the Third World, I always think about rural India, where I spent a great deal of time when I was young, and wonder what those peasants struggling to survive would make of the abstractions of the American Enterprise Institute. When I read commentators fulminating about women wearing the burqa--which I don't much like either--I think about one of my aunts, who has always worn one, and of the many complex reasons she keeps it on, none of which involves approval of misogyny or support for suicide bombers. When I talk to people in a foreign country, no matter how strange, they are always, at some level, familiar to me. [...]

We're moving into a very new world, one in which countries from Brazil to South Africa to India and China are getting richer, stronger and prouder. For America to thrive, we will have to develop a much deeper, richer, more intuitive understanding of them and their peoples. There are many ways to attain this, but certainly being able to feel it in your bones is one powerful way. Trust me on this. As a Ph.D. in international relations, I know what I'm talking about.

H/T to Andrew Sullivan and Brad Delong

Netroots and the 2004 and 2008 campaigns

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Just before the Super-Tuesday primary, National Journal's Blogometer had an interesting round-up of leading lefty bloggers and what they had to say about Obama. The whole section titled, 'OBAMA: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' is interesting but Chris Bowers' comments from OpenLeft particularly caught my eye.

Chris Bowers, who has harshly criticized Obama in the past, considers Obama a "people-powered" candidate in spite of the fact that his rhetoric differs from that of the netroots: "Let's see here: a campaign that uses extensive internet organizing, huge campaign rallies, heavy youth and creative class support, a record breaking number of small donors, a fulfilled promise of record turnout, and combination of [Howard] Dean and [Wesley] Clark voters to force the best possible candidate the Democratic establishment could offer down to the wire?

Correct me if I am wrong, but in terms of structure, that seems to be exactly what the emergence of the progressive blogosphere suggested could happen in a Democratic Presidential primary in 2004. Just because the campaign in question was not, seemingly, single-handedly plucked from relative obscurity by a few prominent bloggers does not mean the Obama campaign is not using the exact same energy and exact same new, political trajectory that the blogosphere was riding back in 2003-2004."

Bowers concludes: "The political zeitgeist that the progressive blogosphere first seized upon five or six years ago was released into the population at large and came back, unexpectedly, as the Barack Obama campaign. That energy certainly didn't turn out with the same rhetorical approach it started with, but otherwise it is nearly structurally identical. In other words, the whole people-powered thing turned out exactly the way we planned it would, only that it sounds a little different."

The only part on which I will quibble with him is that he did not credit the Kerry-Edwards blog and what it did to energize people in the 2004 general election run-up. The Kerry supporter groups that formed during that period are still active today and have transferred much of their energy to the Obama campaign.

BalloonJuice supplies the proper perspective

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John Cole does it again in his inimitable way. Commenting on the winger blogosphere and their predictable reaction to the anecdote of the Army captain in Afghanistan that Sen. Obama mentioned last night, John said:

As a wise man once said, "Ruh Roh." We know what happens when the wingnut narrative is in danger.

You must click on the 'in danger' link. 101st Chairborne... I have to remember that.

American Diplomacy and the 2008 Presidential Race

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There's an interesting article in salon.com about Barack's stature and impact in foreign affairs.

A crucial question about who should be the next president is whether Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain is most likely to be able to heal the rift between the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, a rift not created but dangerously widened by the administration of George W. Bush. What is abundantly clear now -- at least to many foreigners and particularly to Muslims in the Third World -- is that Barack Obama is the candidate by far the best suited to begin healing that rift and restoring America's global reputation, and perhaps even to begin reversing decades of anti-Americanism. Obama would begin a presidency with a huge advantage in terms of world perception.

David Brooks: A waste of my time and NYT's money

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I found myself having to define once again why David Brooks is a waste of time after his screed on Obama. So I hunted up the review Sasha Issenberg did of Brooks' article, "One Nation, Slightly Divisible", which he later turned into a book, "On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now". The review itself, "Boo-Boos in Paradise", ran in Philly Magazine. It contains fact-checking that puts the lie to the underlying premise of Brooks' writing.

mcjoan on dailykos did a nice round-up of reviews of Brooks and his inaccuracies. Ezra's comment was particularly interesting. There's more that could be dug up but I think it sufficiently illustrates the point. He's a waste of my time and NYT's good money. Or as Sasha Issenberg put it:

Brooks satisfies the features desk's appetite for scholarly authority in much the same way that Jayson Blair fed the newsroom's compulsion for scoops.

One final link -- I'm in good company with Brad Delong and Matt Yglesias weighing in with much the same opinion.

I lied. Here's one more link and it is a delightful if lengthy takedown of Brooks by Michael Kinsley in the NYT Book Review.

Yes. We. Can.

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So amazing...

Some of the most telling evidence of the power of Obama's speech is in these comments which were excerpted from redstate.com by kaelamantis and glic over at dkos.

I don't care if you are the biggest Obama hater out there -- you WILL think this video is cool. Obama's "Yes we can" speech in New Hampshire was historically memorable. This video cements the inspiration found in his words. He may be full of hopeful air but if you take the speech in a more personal way, it can certainly rustle something good in your heart.
Masterful, political poetry.

Read some of the other comments here. I've never heard so many people (from across the political spectrum) respond to a speaker the way they do to Obama. Friends, relatives, and strangers mostly say "WOW!" That includes people who would never vote for him.

Give credit where due with Obama. I dont agree with him on much of anything, but I must admit I like the guy. I dont feel the gut-wrenching, sickness and dread at the words "President Obama" that the words "President Clinton" invoke.
You can disagree with almost every word Barack Obama says. I certainly do. But I think you have to have your head buried in the sand to deny that his speech(es) and this video are going to be powerful to some people.

I think their comments speak to the power of Obama's vision. If the self-identified right-wing bloggers are speaking like this about Obama, just imagine what the left wing bloggers are saying.

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