Someone At The New York Times Is A Monty Python Fan…

The NYT published an oped from Obama on his policies on Iraq.

Then they rejected a parallel one from McCain.

I had this image of the editorial conference room at the Times, and it was eerily like this…

Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.

Sir Lancelot: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.

Bridgekeeper: What… is your name?

Sir Lancelot: My name is Sir Lancelot of Camelot.

Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?

Sir Lancelot: To seek the Holy Grail.

Bridgekeeper: What… is your favourite colour?

Sir Lancelot: Blue.

Bridgekeeper: Go on. Off you go.

Sir Lancelot: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.

That’s how I imagine things went for Obama’s piece. For McCain’s – not so much…

Sir Robin: That’s easy.

Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.

Sir Robin: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I’m not afraid.

Bridgekeeper: What… is your name?

Sir Robin: Sir Robin of Camelot.

Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?

Sir Robin: To seek the Holy Grail.

Bridgekeeper: What… is the capital of Assyria?

[pause]

Sir Robin: I don’t know that.

[he is thrown over the edge into the volcano]

The email rejecting McCain’s piece is here, and actually – it really does read like this joke. Here’s the email:

It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory … with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the Senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan.

As well as the command roster down to the platoon level, vehicle counts, and ammo loads for each vehicle. No notes – this will be a closed-book test.

It’s the Times’ credibility that gets slammed here a bit, I think…

126 thoughts on “Someone At The New York Times Is A Monty Python Fan…”

  1. “It’s the Times’ credibility that gets slammed here a bit, I think…”

    Why? McCain’s Op-Ed is a rebuttal, and it is obvious when reading it – it doesn’t stand on it’s own. There is nothing in there that constitutes more than wait-and-see, which everyone has heard before.
    I don’t care for the email at all – he’s undoubtedly owed equal time, but we could hope on equal content. Is the problem because it comes down to “exactly what we are doing now”?

    I do love his line of “No one favors a permanent U.S. presence” though.

    Since we’re on this topic – can anyone name one hard topic that McCain has been pushed on in the past 3-6 months? Just one?

  2. Well, I’ll start with the obvious note of the ridiculous requirements that the Times set out in their email. And the fact that it’s their reputation that is more damaged by the appearance of being in the tank for Obama.

    A.L.

  3. Given that Bill Kristol’s most recent column contained pretty much the same inchoate criticisms of Obama as the rejected piece, it’s a funny way that the NY Times is in the tank for Obama. Maybe it’s the difference between the OpEd editor, a journalist, and the Sulzberger who hired Kristol, as one New York intellectuals’ lesser son to another.

    When the McCain campaign manages to define victory, it will be a first step. When they explain why their program is more likely to attain it than the Obama/Maliki plan, that will be even better. Unless, of course, the world’s largest embassy, the huge permanent bases, the Status of Forces Agreement reading like something from the Warsaw Pact (or the Chinese Concessions) weren’t all being arranged for the benefit of Iraqis—who knew!?

  4. _”When the McCain campaign manages to define victory, it will be a first step.”_

    Obama didnt define victory. More- Obama didnt define why his version of victory looks _exactly_ like his version of surrender. Down to the arbitrary withdrawal date.

    To an extent I agree- Bush (and now McCain) should define what victory looks like and on a _metric_ based system how many troops are required at what point, down to zero.

    But Obama was never asked to do that- Obama wasnt even asked to explain the ginormous elephant in the room that seemingly no matter how radically the facts on the ground change (or he is forced to admit they have changed) his plan never changes. Unless he is supposing that his plan is so perfect it is impervious to circumstances, something must be very wrong here, far more wrong than what lacks in McCains version.

  5. Well, at this stage of the game, I expect nothing less from the NYT.

    (Ditto for many of its advertisers.)

  6. It’s the Times’ credibility that gets slammed here a bit, I think…

    It’s Obama that’s going to pay the bill for this one.

    This story is everywhere right now, and it looks like a huge pants-down embarrassment for the NYT. But obviously it doesn’t hurt their credibility with the Democratic left, for whom credibility is a function of partisanship. Dan Rather was never more popular with the left than when he was destroying himself with Rathergate. MSNBC has been accused of playing to the left as a survival strategy, and the NYT could really use a survival strategy.

    Such blatant stuff does not help Obama, and all of his people are now repeating the NYT’s lame rationalizations on every station and channel, having no other choice.

  7. Of course, the Obama people aren’t helping themselves by kicking a New Yorker reporter off their press plane, Jonestown One. Petty retaliation is very uncool, and makes them look like a less smart version of the Clintons.

    And it reminds people that the left hates free speech, and would love to shut down any publication or website that dares to criticize the Messiah.

  8. I don’t think its accurate to call the rejected McCain Op-Ed “parallel”.

    And I’m also not sure what the basis for this criticism is. The Times has it’s standards and policies and as a business has the right to exercise them as it sees fit. They cannot and certainly should not be in the business of trying to please any particular political constituency, although in my view they have and continue to bend over backwards to treat Republicans with more deference than they deserve, and certainly more than Democrats.

    But either way, they’re under no obligation to re-print rehashed campaign propaganda just for the sake of appearing balanced. And furthermore, they’ve already acknowledged some biases, including the one in favor of McCain! So there’s nothing new here.


    New York Times To McCain: Cut The Crap
    By Greg Sargent – July 21, 2008, 4:03PM

    The New York Times has just responded to the accusation lobbed today by the McCain campaign that the paper was displaying bias against the Republican candidate by asking him to rewrite an Op-ed about Iraq because it didn’t meet the paper’s standards for publication.

    Times spokesperson Catherine Mathis sends over this…

    It is standard procedure on our Op-Ed page, and that of other newspapers, to go back and forth with an author on his or her submission. We look forward to publishing Senator McCain’s views in our paper just as we have in the past. We have published at least seven Op-Ed pieces by Senator McCain since 1996. The New York Times endorsed Senator McCain as the Republican candidate in the presidential primaries. We take his views very seriously.

    The McCain camp had charged that the rejection proved that the paper was unreceptive to his views on the war. But the paper’s Opinion Page Editor, David Shipley, had emailed the campaign with a specific objection: He wanted not just an attack on Obama, but a detailed explanation of McCain’s plan, including (gasp!) a definition of what constitutes “victory.”

    If you take a look at McCain’s original Op ed submission, you can see that it’s little more than a broadside aimed at Obama’s Iraq plan combined with the de rigeur hailing of McCain’s own prescience on the surge.

  9. I dont think anyone is arguing the NYT should be forced to print the McCain piece. But none of us are forced to buy their paper, or consider them anything close to a neutral or honest.

    As far as every point you made regarding content, the problem i have from a hypocrisy point of view is that Obama’s piece wasnt held to that standard. He didnt define victory, you can argue his piece was a broadside against Bush and McCain, and he doesnt fail to get in his de rigeur reminder that he opposed the war.

    Regardless, i find it an odd new journalistic standard to demand presidential candidates craft their policy inititives in a vacuum instead of in contrast to their opponent. I’m not sure i’ve ever heard of this requirement before.

  10. Are you serious, Shoilee??!!

    McCain has no responsibility to do/write exactly what the NYT wants. He does not work for them and this was a piece for their Op-Ed page, not a column.

    Also, since McCain doesn’t favor a specific timeline for withdrawal, it is absurd for the NYT to insist that he include a timeline in his submission, as they stated: “It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory…with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate.”

    Whether you believe his piece is or is not a direct rebuttal to Obama’s earlier article, McCain has the right to submit his views and have them receive equal time/space in the NYT. Let the readers decide if McCain’s views properly rebut Obama or have something useful to say.

    Combined with all the other crap the NYT has done, as well as the media circus on Obama’s trip (the talking head anchors NEVER went with McCain or anyone in the administration to Iraq or Afghanistan), the left lean of the media bias is even more obvious and pathetic.

  11. _”It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory…with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate.”_

    I’m glad Mike brought this back up. THAT is an agenda. Essentially the editor is demanding that McCain agree with Obama in order to get his op-ed published. McCain’s entire position is that timetables, troop levels, and “compelling” the Iraqis is unnacceptable.

    This is worse than simply being hypocritical, this is flat out saying that McCain’s position is unnacceptable. McCain can’t change his writing or argument style to meet these demands, he would have to change his position on the issue.

    That is ridiculous.

  12. My view is that the NYT should never have accepted Sen. Obama’s op-ed in the first place but, having done so, they were ethically obligated to accept Sen. McCain’s rebuttal op-ed as well.

  13. Gimme a break, it was obvious by the context he meant Afghani-Pakistan border. Are you going to criticize his grammar as well? Talk about unserious, it was a genuine slip of the tongue.

    Media Matters? Are they still around? I thought they were Clinton hacks.

  14. And these are the same people pushing for the return of the “Fairness Doctrine” (aka, free speech for leftist and not conservatives)

  15. What are the long-term ramifications of this?

    bq. _The idea that reporters are trying to help Obama win in November has grown by five percentage points over the past month. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, *taken just before the new controversy involving the Times erupted,* found that 49% of voters believe most reporters will try to help the Democrat with their coverage, up from 44% a month ago._

    “Link”:http://rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/belief_growing_that_reporters_are_trying_to_help_obama_win

    I assume that people will begin screening pro-Obama information. Perhaps the media will compensate with more intensity to combat such skepticism.

    But mostly it might reinforce concerns over lack of experience in challenging circumstances.

  16. The “demands of revisions” are more along the lines of the “Knights who say nih!”

    Channeling Python comedian Terry Jones in his high-pitched English cleaning lady voice, “Um, I want you . . . to bring my a shrubery!” And make sure it is a nice one . . . and put it over there!”

  17. “And not too expensive.”

    Oh, and after you do that Mr McCain, we’re going to need you to cut down the mightiest tree in the forest… using only a hering.

  18. _It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory…with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate._

    God Forbid! If we had to do all that, we might as well have a formal declaration of war! Phht, Who has the time. We’ll figure it out whenever we conveniently get there.

    Seriously though, the McCain has argued that timetables are a bad thing, and that’s fair. But gives us a fracking metric, any metric, for gawdsakes. When pigs fly would at least be a good starting point…

  19. Mark, McCain seems to have a lot of trouble differentiating Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda, and no, I’m not sure what sort of slip this is. This is the guy whose ready on Day One?

  20. Wow! The New York Times is in the tank for Obama? As the Aussies would say, “Who would’a thunk, mate?” Now let’s spend some time railing against them and the rest of the Liberal Media.

    McCain and the Republicans are going to lose this election because they have not put up a coherent policy on anything. Had they done that, the Times would have thought twice before rejecting anything from McCain.

    The problem for McCain is that his campaign is in a shambles and directionless. His repeated gaffes when trying to go on the offense against Obama make him look like George Foreman in the grips of Ali’s “Rope-a-Dope”. After what we have seen so far from Obama’s trip to the War Zones, either McCain comes up with a focused strategy or he will lose the foreign policy debate to Obama which will further deepen the catastrophe his campaign is becoming.

    I am so disgusted with his campaign’s ineptitude, that if he really cares about the party, he should withdraw from the race on medical grounds. Unfortunately, it is probably too late for that.

    The problem is not with the Times it is with the McCain campaign. It is time for we Republicans to stop being in a state of denial about that.

  21. Andrew, he does not, unless you decide to cherry pick a couple of slips out of literally thousands of speeches on the regions.

    Do you really want to play this game? Does Obama know there are 50 states? Does he know the president can have two 4 year terms, and not 10 years? I suspect he does, and i know some people revel in holding every slip of the tongue and brain fart a candidate makes after hour after hour and day after day of campaigning and speech making. Its a trivial pursuit.

    And I find it hard to believe your _really_ don’t believe John McCain can’t identify Iraq and Pakistan on a map. Its just silly.

  22. PD: I didn’t say that McCain had to give specifics, Obama was certainly vague, and that makes a certain sense…Obama certainly didn’t venture exact specifics… and if both men are waiting for specifics to discuss with the military that’s fine.

    McCain could even say “When all 18 benchmarks are completed, we will start preparing to leave”, and I would find that acceptable. But note carefully that’s not what’s said. In fact, I would be hard pressed to find any metric that has been used to illustrate our leaving point in Iraq.

    McCain has said that he will not leave until we’re victorious, so we’re asking what that phrase means. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. For example: McCain could say “When the Iraqi people are ready to stand for themselves” and I would say “Ok, how would you judge that?” And then we could look at metrics like violent crime, police functionality, military functionality, government security and so forth. Again, if McCain said this much ( without specifics), I would be fine.

    Obama has said when he’s pulling troops out, and that he’ll moderate the pace based upon how things on the ground change. That’s fairly clear, if not actually specific.

  23. And I find it hard to believe your really don’t believe John McCain can’t identify Iraq and Pakistan on a map.

    Back at Gulf War One, when he was a leftist, Christopher Hitchens challenged Charlton Heston in a TV debate to name the countries bordering Iraq. Heston couldn’t. He couldn’t even find Iraq on a map.

    I expect McCain to do better than Heston, but after his repeated mistakes, no, I wouldn’t bet much on it.

  24. alchemist: The point I was trying to make was that the NYTimes imposed a standard on McCain it did not require of Obama.

  25. Then you are unserious Andrew. Charleton Heston has nothing to do with this, he didnt go to the Naval Academy (history and geography tend to be studied), he didnt serve in the congress and senate for the last 25 years, he didnt sit on the _Armed Services Committee_ for the last decade. Heston hadnt been to Iraq and Afghanistan a bunch of times, or run for president where these things _tend to come up._

    Give me a break. This is far beneath you.

    With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I ask how Barak Obama manages to serve in the Senate of the United States and still think there are 57 states. Thats a failure of both basic math and basic civics, as well as just being oblibious to your surroundings. /snark

  26. Media Matters? Are they still around? I thought they were Clinton hacks.

    The Clinton hacks are on loan to the Obama hacks, for the nonce. They have a healthy mercenary attitude.

    When Obama is finished and powerless, and it’s time for the Clintons to take their cold serving of revenge, their Sardaukar will reassemble.

  27. PD shaw: And the point I’VE been to point out is that we have stubbornly refused to discuss what victory means for 5 years.

    Remember… victory is not no violence.

    So, in order to get MY vote (or apparently the vote of the NY times) he needs to describe what victory means. I think we’d all be better off if he gave it to us.

  28. Alchemist, there are more policy stements and metrics on succeeding in Iraq than in Afghanistan. But both candidates say we need more troops there to win. What does victory in Afghanistan look like?

  29. #30 from Glen Wishard at 6:37 pm on Jul 22, 2008

    “When Obama is finished and powerless”

    Glen, the worst thing you can possibley do is underestimate your enemy. From where I stand:

    1. I agree with Newt Gingrich that Newt Gingrich. He may disagree with Obama but nonetheless called him “one of the smartest people we’ve ever seen run for president.” Obama may have “huge structural challenges on cultural and other issues,” he added, “but I think he’s very smart … very formidable.” I would go further and say he is the smartest person I have ever seen run for President.

    2. As far as his qualifications as apolitician, he came out of nowhere and took apart the Clinton Democratic machine methodically piece by piece. No mean feat.

    3. He has, very cleverly, I might add, appropriated the mantle of Reagan!! along with Kennedy as an inspriational leader.

    I think we have not even begun to see the power base that Obama intends to build. Something that you ignore at your own peril.

  30. _there are more policy stements and metrics on succeeding in Iraq than in Afghanistan_

    And you know what? Chickens also have more feathers than I do.

    _What does victory in Afghanistan look like?_

    That’s a great question. If the candidates would also like to answer that one, I’d be delighted.

  31. The difference between Iraq and Afghanistan is that in Iraq both candidates anticipate drawing down forces and in Afghanistan both candidates anticipate the opposite.

  32. TOC:

    I think we have not even begun to see the power base that Obama intends to build.

    We may have to wait a while to see that, because what you don’t get about Obama is that he doesn’t build anything. He just takes whatever is currently being served up du jour on the silver platter. “Pancakes again? Okay, just leave me alone while I eat my pancakes.”

    I’m not saying Obama is finished in November, necessarily. He might take the Jimmy Carter road to infamy. When the day comes, you will not believe the way some of these sycophants will turn on him.

  33. #36 from Glen Wishard at 8:09 pm on Jul 22, 2008

    “We may have to wait a while to see that, _because what you don’t get about Obama is that he doesn’t build anything._ He just takes whatever is currently being served up du jour on the silver platter. “Pancakes again? Okay, just leave me alone while I eat my pancakes.”

    What you don’t get Glen is that they have been saying the same thing about Bill Gates and microsoft for a decade and a half. do you want to start counting the companies that Gates has ruthlessly left in his wake?

    Underestimating a guy like this is suicide.

  34. I’m with Alchemist- i’d like to hear specifics about defining victories and force levels. I agree Bush (and certainly McCain and Obama) havent done enough, and it’s been a serious mistake.

    Aside from the domestic side of things, its important for our counter insurgency strategy. If people here are skeptical of our intentions in iraq, imagine how the marginalized Sunni in Fallujah or Shiite in Sadr City feel. This would go some way in convincing them we aren occupiers and the government is not our puppet (following through will do more). We should have done this years ago.

  35. Sorry, if I wasn’t clear earlier. I am definitely *not* interested in candidate force strength plans six months out or more. The NYTimes demand was bogus. The candidate’s preferences are pretty clear on Iraq(minimizing U.S. forces versus maximizing U.S. objectives).

    I have yet to make any sense on the candidates and Afghanistan. Obama wants to redeploy troops from the bad war to the good war. McCain wants to repeat the surge. Both sound like thin strategic reasoning intended for perceived domestic consumption.

  36. TOC:

    What you don’t get Glen is that they have been saying the same thing about Bill Gates and microsoft for a decade and a half. do you want to start counting the companies that Gates has ruthlessly left in his wake?

    You’re right, I don’t get it. It never would have occurred to me to compare Obama to Microsoft. If I were still using Netscape, I would be worried.

  37. Well, Mark, the MSM has been pretty good at not mentioning that McCain’s colleague from New Mexico, Pete Domenici (aged 75), has gone senile. We faithful readers of Daily Kos knew about it at least a year earlier. (Yes, Democrats got a pass on that, too; I remember hearing about Carl Hayden, 94, urinating in a public phone booth in the Capitol that he mistook for a water closet.)

    I don’t think McCain shows signs of actual dementia, but given that my dad (older than McCain) and my aunt (older than my dad) and my uncle (older than my aunt) have all figured out how to use the Internet and Google, I’d say McCain is showing signs of mental ossification. In that context, his confusion between Ira[q|n], etc. is pretty worrisome.

  38. Andrew, to be polite – bullshit. Have you ever been on a campaign? Imagine talking substantively eight to ten hours a day six or seven days a week. Of course you’ll get stupid and make slips of the tongue – both Obama and McCain have done so, and it’s ridiculous to pretend that that’s some kind of qualifying issue. Neither of them is an idiot, each of them has a reasonably good grasp of the issues – what’s at issue is what they believe about the issues, and on that front, feel free to weigh in and make your case.

    A.L.

  39. What does it mean to you, that McCain can’t use a computer? (Other than the fact his Op-Ed was submitted to the Times by an aide or ghostwriter, as they now request electronic submissions.)

  40. We faithful readers of Daily Kos knew about it at least a year earlier.

    Given that the average Kossack is 14 years old and already showing signs of advanced dementia, I understand your concern.

  41. Well, since I work with C-level executives on a pretty frequent (like weekly) basis, and I’d estimate the % of them that have their secretaries print out their emails has gone down in the last five years from – say – 40% to maybe 15% – doesn’t mean much. I’d rather have a wildly ‘Net-savvy President running, but I’d also rather have a presidential candidate who exactly reflected my policy choices, had impeccable character credentials, showed leadership and experience in the corporate, non-profit, and political spheres and could guarantee me a weekend with Uma Thurman. I’m not holding my breath nor withholding my vote.

    A.L.

  42. #41 from Glen Wishard at 10:36 pm on Jul 22, 2008

    Glenn,

    Maybe you should put together Obamam and Microsoft or you will wind up like Lotus 123, Word Perfect,your above mentioned Netscape and a host of other companies that though somehow they were immune to being co/opted by Microsoft.

    They too thought along your lines, “because *what you don’t get about Obama is that he doesn’t build anything.”*

    Your knowledge of Microsoft’s rise may be lacking if your do not see the parallel. And as far as my original point, as it stands now your *”When Obama is finished and powerless”* sounds like little more than wistling in the dark.

  43. Just to keep a running count- McCain is a stupid, ludite, senile Manchurian candidate running to keep his wife supplied in meds.

    Thank god nasty ol Karl Rove is retired, i’d hate to see this campaign get ugly.

  44. What does it mean to you, that McCain can’t use a computer?

    Probably about as much as the fact that Obama probably doesn’t know how to change the oil on his own car. Or clean his own fish. Or sew a loose button on his shirt. Or build a new porch on his home without calling a professional. Or anyone of about a hundred other life skills that most people have to perform at some point but not everyone knows how to do and many people can get by manage to lead fulfilling and productive lives without ever learning how to do.

    And oh yeah, none of which have a damn thing to do with what kind of a president they’d be.

  45. bq. a weekend with Uma Thurman.

    I never knew you were so cheap, Marc. I’d ask for at least a whole week.

    Oh, that’s right, errands for the wife and all. {D’oh!}

  46. TOC:

    Maybe you should put together Obamam and Microsoft or you will wind up like Lotus 123, Word Perfect,your above mentioned Netscape and a host of other companies …

    Nonsense. It’s only a coincidence that all of my comments now come bundled with Obama.

    OBAMA: I agree with everything Glen said.

  47. McCain does surf the Net and use email. But he is very modest about his claims about himself, more or less at the opposite pole in that regard from Oblabla. He HAS been ‘through the wars’, unlike Oblabla who just rode the froth over the surface.

    Alchemist;
    I have a shock for you. There is no definition of victory in this long war; there are stages and theaters where you fight and work until you get situations stably moving in a direction you like (or hate, if you’re failing) and carry on. There are a dozen or more additional fronts out there, from Iran to Sudan to Somalia to Syria, that can and will heat up. You don’t get to choose ‘not to play’ with ANY of them.

    The GWOT may be a misnomer, but it’s real nonetheless.

  48. I disagree Brian. The definition of victory in Iraq seems like a no-brainer to me: a stable, relatively pro-American (or at least not actively anti-American) government that can prevent Iraq from becoming either an Iranian satellite or an Al-Quaeda base. Of course, we’ll have to look the other way when we leave and the Iraqi government quits pretending to be a democracy and reverts to the vicious autocracy necessary to keep order in the middle east, but that’s ok with me. Order in Iraq is victory for us.

  49. So, Brian, the basis for your claim, “McCain does surf the Net and use email. But he is very modest about his claims about himself…”, is what exactly??

  50. Ok, we’ve all seen transcript from the Couric interview with Obama?

    I am really growing concerned with the man. He is even more concerned with being right than with political expediency, much less proving that he ‘gets it’.

    Its ok to be wrong, we’ve all been wrong on the Iraq roller coaster. But part of being wrong is to admit you were wrong and why. Obama could have put a dagger in this arguments heart by simply saying he was wrong about the surge, but for specific reasons, and that he has learned in the process.

    From Obama’s “interview”:http://bourbonroom.blogs.foxnews.com/2008/07/21/obama-reed-hagel-note-iraq-progress-credit-more-than-surge/ with Terry Moran

    _“And so, when pressed, Barack Obama says that he still would have opposed the surge but said he didn’t anticipate what people here call the Iraqi surge uprising against Al Qaeda and Shi’ite extremists. He said he didn’t anticipate that, but he is insisting that he is focusing forward on what needs to be done — setting that timetable for withdrawal.”_

    Now this is worst of all! Even _knowing what we know now_ Obama would have opposed the surge. What does that tell us about Obama? His understanding of the critical geopolitical importance of Iraq? AQs potential to have taken over the country?

    He didnt anticipate the Awakenings. Does he ask himself WHY he didnt consider it? Perhaps because he never spoke to the generals, only visited (briefly) once? This betrays terrible lack of introspective. Being wrong is one thing, REFUSING to examine why is quite another. Worse, clinging to a plan hopelessly overtaken by events and somehow claiming it fits any set of circumstances is the most maddening of all.

    Even Obama’s newfound concern for Afghanistan reeks of political oportunism. This is the same man that missed 2 out of 3 Afghanistan briefings in his committee. Who hadnt been to Afghanistan until a few days ago. Who while running for Senate claimed he was against funding troops in Afghanistan. The man who “voted against”:http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/05/25/vote.effect/index.html funding ongoing operations in Afghanistan in order to force the presidents hand in Iraq.

    What I want to know is why we should trust the mans judgement in Afganistan, Iraq, or anywhere else. He seems to know all the answers with no insight, no data, no advice. That raises huge red flags with me. Why should we trust Obama’s strategic judgement?

  51. _Even knowing what we know now Obama would have opposed the surge. What does that tell us about Obama?_

    That he’s been taking lessons from Hillary Clinton.

  52. Or, let me put it this way: has Obama ever taken a position on the wars that wasnt politically expedient? Has he ever shown political courage?

    Isnt that of concern?

  53. Jesus is this what its come down to? Which candidate can use the internet? This line of non-serious crap is what gets shitty candidates elected, the focus on the most trivial and inane items instead of any form of analysis of the candidates positions, policies, and plans.

    I’d say its far more important to note that Obama rarely ever speaks off the cuff without prepared statements, has refused all forms of open town-hall style debate where the questions are not known prior to asking, and has refused to even talk to anyone at Fox news because they are Evil or some crap.

    Really, I don’t want to see this place drop into the lowest common denominator style of discussion that is the hallmark of DU and FR. Lets just all agree that candidates make mistakes when speaking as much as they do. Now if a candidate says something repeatedly and its part of the policy they are presenting that is totally insane, or contradictory to everything they have said before (Obama’s stance on the Surge for instance) then yes, that should be fair game. But slipping up on geography, or Sunni/Shia (something I’d hazard a guess that 90% of Congress can’t distinguish) isn’t what is going to make a good President.

  54. Brian: I was speaking strictly about Iraq, not GWOT, but same thing goes. Anytime we have a long military/foreign policy objective, that objective should be clearly understood throughout the government.

    When the objective is NOT clearly understood (Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iraq circa 2004) goals aren’t reached or conflict each other. We play the game of not losing a conflict, instead of actively completing objectives to win it.

    The GWOT is not something that’s going to end under the next president, or be solved by the current conflict in Iraq or Iran. It’s going to be 30-40 year struggle, if we choose to be involved for the entire time. So, we better damn well have a plan that goes beyond the current shenanigans in Iraq, Iran etc; and then react to events based on that objective/plan. We don’t have time to just make stuff up as we go along.

    I would love to see this kind of discussion in a political debate, but I don’t think either candidate is willing to admit to ME involvement for another 30 years.

  55. Mark B.,

    Taking a politically expedient position on war is probably not such a bad thing in a democracy. That said, it seems to me that Obama took a position against the Iraq invasion at a time when that invasion was extremely popular. That’s gotta count for something in the judgement and courage ledgers. Most people would now agree that he was right, even though some will continue to refuse to admit it.

  56. _That said, it seems to me that Obama took a position against the Iraq invasion at a time when that invasion was extremely popular._

    That’s backwards. At the time Obama took a public position, Senator Dick Durbin, who was up for re-election had come out against the war (and frankly had been telegraphing his position for months). AFAIK all the Illinois Democrats with any ambition followed Durbin’s lead on this.

    It would have taken courage for Obama to disagree with Durbin (who after all was on the Senate Intelligence Committee). Obama was looking at a crowded Senate race in two years against better funded and supported candidates. He would have distinguished himself in a way that would not have been appealing to Democrats.

  57. _”Taking a politically expedient position on war is probably not such a bad thing in a democracy.”_

    Could be, but fortunately we live in a Republic. The distinction isnt trivial. We elect leaders to represent us with _their_ best judgement, precisely because the electorate changes with the blowing of the wind. I think we can agree that that isnt likely the most effective way to prosecute foriegn policy, much less a war.

    _”That said, it seems to me that Obama took a position against the Iraq invasion at a time when that invasion was extremely popular.”_

    Lets remember he did so as an Illinois State Senator from the ultra liberal 13th district. Standing up next to Bobby Rush et al is hardly a profile in courage in Chicago. _Supporting_ the war would have been riskier, even with his aspirations for the illinois senate seat. Republican opposition was laughable and he ran left of the other four “candidates”:http://cache.search.yahoo-ht2.akadns.net/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=Dan+Hynes+iraq&fr=yfp-t-501&u=www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0401230014jan23%2C1%2C3629478.story%3Fcoll%3Dchi-news-hed&w=dan+hynes+iraq&d=WOMGfS72RJrQ&icp=1&.intl=us in the primary. Note he even claimed he would have voted against reconsruction funds for Iraq AND Afghanistan. There was no political risk in his decision at the time, and great political benefit when he ran for senate.

  58. If McCain could use Google, it would have saved him the latest “gaffe“, where he credited The Magnificent Surge with causing the Anbar Awakening that anteceded the surge. McCain even went so far as to claim Obama’s version, which was historically correct, was wrong. Can we afford another Executive who operates in the No-Fact Zone?

    The Rove GOP has gotten so used to getting equal time for their lies, they just can’t stop, even with Mr Straight Talk Express.

  59. Andrew, youre the one operating in the no fact zone. The _seeds_ of the Awakening may have been present, but that doesnt mean the Awakening would have succeeded with the Surge. People like Michael Yon were over there screaming that a huge opportunity existed if we committed ourselves, which we did.

    And why are you blaming McCain for being a liar, i thought he was either dumb or senile? Not very charitable of you. Oh, its Wednesday, i should have realized. Tomorrow we blame North Vietnamese deep hypnosis for McCains flaws.

  60. Mark B.,

    A republic _is_ a form of democracy. Leaders who don’t listen get ousted in a vote. This is to encourage them to listen to the people. This is why Obama will probably win.

    You’re forcing Obama–or anyone–into an odd corner. If you happen agree with the electorate then you can’t have political courage and are thus unsuitable to be elected. You are trying to question Obama’s judgement and his courage but you’ve constructed the game in such a way that he can’t possibly satisfy your demands unless he happens to agree with your personal views on Iraq. He has to support the war and do it when it is unpopular. Maybe you just disagree with him and there’s really no need to attack his character. Obama has opposed US involvement in Iraq from the beginning and continues to advocate extrication from Iraq. It’s pretty straightforward, really. If you don’t think that’s a good idea, don’t vote for him.

  61. Nice try, Mark, but you have to deal with the McCain you got, not the one you want. And he said (previous link, emphasis added), “Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening,” Except, the Anbar Awakening was largely a result of the local Sunnis deciding that the Al Qaeda in Iraq fanatics were even less desirable than the United States (AQI’s blunder), and that started even before the surge was announced, much less effectuated.

    In November 2005, American commanders held a breakthrough meeting with top Sunni chiefs in Ramadi, hoping to lure them away from the insurgents’ fold. The sheiks responded positively, promising cooperation and men for a police force that was then virtually nonexistent.
     
    [Second article on Anbar from Sept 2006, before surge even approved!]

    McCain’s purpose here is quite clear: the surge, which Obama opposed, is the only component of Bush’s declared policy that wasn’t contradicted on the ground, although the political progress that it was intended to promote is still mostly vaporware. In the past, either when he was less confused or less politically desperate, McCain understood this history. Now it’s in his interest wildly to exaggerate the surge’s benefits. Including lies.

  62. Mark B – I do think McCain is way vulnerable on his missatatement of the history. Having said that, the reality is that the Awakenings most likely would not have happened and could not have succeeded if they didn’t believe that the US was committed and capable of standing up alongside them.

    I think the Surge was brilliantly timed to take advantage of the change in attitudes…but read this post and comments over “at Blackfive”:http://www.blackfive.net/main/2007/12/blackfive-tv–2.html .

    A.L.

  63. PD,

    _It would have taken courage for Obama to disagree with Durbin_

    That’s only assuming that Obama really believed that invading Iraq was a good idea. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume Obama was simply being honest and courage/cowardice wasn’t a factor in his decision. Sometimes people–politicians, too–take a “liberal” or “conservative” opinion because they _are_ liberals or conservatives, not because they think that’s what voters want.

    Remember, I am not arguing that Obama was politically courageous, only that a) he was right; and b) you can’t legitimately use opposition to the Iraq invasion as evidence of political expediency since his position has been steadfast regardless of the war’s popularity and whether he was running district-wide, state-wide, or nationally. Argue that he’s stubborn, inflexible…anything; does it really hurt that much to give the guy a little credit?

  64. _”A republic is a form of democracy. Leaders who don’t listen get ousted in a vote. This is to encourage them to listen to the people. This is why Obama will probably win.”_

    Funny how after all this time in Iraq… we’re still in Iraq. Despite the dismal approval numbers and wholesale Congressional turnover. Care to revise your analysis further?

    As far as Obama goes, i’m simply noting that he has never taken an unpopular political view on the wars the way McCain has. _Perhaps_ that just the way the cookie crumbled. But then again Obama seems to keep revising what his positions means, and have meant.

    Which is fine, the people will decide. I’m just extremely curious how Obama can reconcile the (necessary) concessions 1)that the Surge has worked 2)Iraq is a vital US intererest and 3)We still need to get out on the exact same timeline he has held to all along. That seems incoherent to me, a desperate bid to hold onto popular positions without accepting the possibility of having been wrong.

  65. Andrew- you’re splitting hairs. That doesnt come close to the wopper Obama is trying to pass off that his plan to not only nix the surge, but have been pulling out a brigade a month was still the right thing to do.

  66. Obama (on opposing the surge):

    I think what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate, because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with …

    I love that phrase “I think what I am absolutely convinced of is”.

    Anybody want to explain what “we had to change the political debate” means?

  67. Mark B.,

    _Care to revise your analysis further?_

    No. I’ll repeat it. It’s why Obama will win. Bush defeated Kerry, you will recall. The winner advocating an extended stay in Iraq. While the Democrats increased their presence in the legislature on a withdrawal platform, they didn’t win enough votes to override a veto. I think Obama defeated Clinton largely because of the Iraq issue and I think he will defeat McCain largely over the Iraq issue. I think that all this talk about whether or not the surge was/is successful is a non-issue for most voters. I’m not saying popularity of an idea or opinion makes it right; I’m saying it’s not a bad thing that taking a popular view gets you elected. I think that’s what we want. I think that’s the general goal.

    A quick side thought: Iraq being a vital interest doesn’t mean 150,000 troops should be stationed there. That would limit us to having only one vital interest at time. If the stability of Iraq _requires_ 150,000 US troops, then maybe invading in the first place wasn’t such a bright idea. Maybe Obama was onto something way back when. Maybe he’d make a wise president. Stranger things have happened.

  68. _”Anybody want to explain what “we had to change the political debate” means?”_

    I took it as a half-hearted grab to take credit for the surge… because they forced the president to do something different. IE, by proposing something _really_ wreckless they shamed the president into doing something effective.

  69. _”No. I’ll repeat it. It’s why Obama will win. Bush defeated Kerry, you will recall. The winner advocating an extended stay in Iraq.”_

    Was that particularly popular at the time?

    _”While the Democrats increased their presence in the legislature on a withdrawal platform, they didn’t win enough votes to override a veto.”_

    And hence my argument that this isnt a democracy. The surge was as wildly unpopular as it was eventually effective. Thats my point- the moment to moment barometer of the peoples will is NOT a good guide to strategy.

    _”A quick side thought: Iraq being a vital interest doesn’t mean 150,000 troops should be stationed there. That would limit us to having only one vital interest at time.”_

    No, it would limit us to having only 1 vital interest that required 150,000 troops at a time, assuming our current troop levels. Which is significantly less than we considered vital in the cold war when we had hundreds of thousands of troops in several parts of the world.

    _”If the stability of Iraq requires 150,000 US troops, then maybe invading in the first place wasn’t such a bright idea. Maybe Obama was onto something way back when. Maybe he’d make a wise president. Stranger things have happened.”_

    Is this the stopped clock is right twice a day argument? Because Obama was right about the invasion (in your opinion), he may have been wrong about every decision since but that doesnt affect his credibility because he was right once? Odd.

  70. Mark B.

    _Is this the stopped clock is right twice a day argument?_

    No. I don’t think that Obama was right about the invasion (in my opinion, as you put it) accidently.
    And it isn’t that he was right once but never again. It’s that he was right about one the foremost issues of the time while so many others were wrong. You know, the pro-war crowd just loves to dust off the old Churchill analogies. But let an anti-war sentiment appear justified after the fact and we get the old broken clock analogy. Kind of knee-jerk at this point, isn’t it?

    Let’s see how accidental Obama was. If we can believe Wikipedia, this is what he said in October of 2002:

    “But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
    I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.”

    Broken clock? Again, does it hurt so much to give a little credit where it’s due?

  71. It might be true that we would have lost the already-existing benefits of the Anbar Awakening without the surge. I doubt it; the surge seems to have concentrated on Baghdad, and AQI showed no signs of coming to new wisdom about alienating its closest potential allies, the local Sunni population. (Mind you, we’re talking about Saddam’s cousins here, not the most enlightened stratum of Iraq society.)

    Either way, that’s not McCain’s argument. This isn’t splitting hairs, and the MSM is catching on. McCain tried to push all of our success into the post-surge timeline as part of his argument against Obama’s judgment. While it might be possible for McCain to argue that our limited gains of 2006 would have been lost had we followed the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, that was, I guess, too nuanced. He chose a simpler, bolder argument—premised on an incorrect timeline and therefore bogus. You continue to support your version for what McCain very clearly said. Why?

  72. _”It’s that he was right about one the foremost issues of the time while so many others were wrong.”_

    Ok, so we can, what, count on Obama to never invade Iraq again? Great. But unfortunately that still doesnt tell us much about perhaps the most important single attribute of a president, how they will conduct a war. Keeping us out of them is important, certainly, but simply being the guy that will never ever go to war isn’t a shining example either.

    Regardless we _are_ in 2 wars (or one big one). Keeping us out of wars already started may be Obama’s intent, even specialty, but the relevant question is is that a good thing or not? As president you dont always get to choose. At times like, well, now.

    _”Again, does it hurt so much to give a little credit where it’s due?”_

    If i thought invading Iraq was a mistake, i would agree. However I dont and history is going to have a lot to say on the matter. Harry Truman took a bigger pounding than Bush ever did over Korea, but you dont hear many people lamenting that war these days. From that point of view I see Obama as having been wrong all the way around.

  73. mark, I think you are dead wrong about the mythologizing of the Obama stand in 2002. Durbin came out against the Iraq War in September of 2002. A lot of other Illinois Democrats came out against it in September as well, such as Jesse Jackson Sr. and Jr., Bobby Rush and the entire Congressional Black Caucus. Just about every day in September there is a story in an Illinois paper about Iraq in which Durbin is critical of the President. There are several Jesse Jackson stories as well, topped off with a question in the September 26th Sun Times: “How can Jesse Jackson be so right about Iraq and so wrong about “Barbershop”?”

    Checking the Chicago Trib and Chicago Sun Times, I find no mention of “Obama” in the same story with “Iraq” in September. On September 19th, the Chicago Sun Times reported “Two of the ’04 Dem Senate contenders hit D.C. to network and prospect for campaign cash. State Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago) worked his way through Congressional Black Caucus Foundation parties and events.”

    On October 2, 2002, Jesse Jackson, Sr. held an anti-war rally where several politicians and community activities attended, including Obama. A letter from Durbin was read. Obama spoke, “but nobody noticed it.”:http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/03/obamas_big_2002_antiwar_speech.html Articles at the time quote Durbin as saying he was receiving 80% support for his position from his constituents. In November, Durbin won re-election — his Republican pro-war opponent received 38% of the vote.

    In short, Obama was not out front on the Iraq issue. He spent most of his time in the run up to the war promoting mosquito abatement, healthcare and his 2004 Senate race.

    Obama did not have any original thoughts on the Iraq issue. He cribbed Durbin, which makes sense since Durin is on the Intelligence Committee and he was the state party’s standard bearer for 2002.

    Obama was not taking any political risks. He took a safe position for Illinois, and one which would help him heal the breach with the Black Caucus.

  74. _Ok, so we can, what, count on Obama to never invade Iraq again?_

    It’s a bit more than that, I’d say, Mark. If his pre-invasion views about the need for and consequences of the invasion are any guide then think we can count on him to make sound judgments about important foreign policy matters.

    You may disagree with him about whether the costs of the Iraq war are worth the benefits, but he was pretty much alone in foreseeing what those costs were going to be. Personally, I am with him in the belief that the costs far outweigh any benefits and that, consequently, it was an enormous blunder. One reason that I will vote for him–happily, rather than reluctantly–is that I think he will avoid such blunders in the future. I don’t think that holds true for McCain. It isn’t a question of simply not invading Iraq again, but of a world view that makes such an invasion possible or not.

  75. _”You continue to support your version for what McCain very clearly said. Why?”_

    Because you are splitting hairs. I guess you could argue the awakening truly began under Hammurabi if you want to parse things that way- McCains point is valid, we would never have heard of the Awakening without the surge, hence they are intrinsicly tied together.

    Its just ludicrious to look at the situation in late 2006 and think that some Sunni Shieks rebelling against AQ was a turning point in itself. That type of thing happened before and was snubbed out with a few well placed bombs. Moreover, remeber that little term “civil war”? Without the US surge forces keeping the Shiia and Sunni apart, the Awakening would likely have been nothing more than another anti-Shiia militia. Without the US, the Awakening not only doesnt succeed, it never even exists as we know it. That is the simplest reading of McCains point, and it is also the truth.

    And lets not forget the surge wasnt a purely ‘numbers’ game. The numbers allowed the US to break with the Casey ‘strategy’ of sitting in our bases allowing the countryside to go to hell, and to impliment Patraeus’s plan by engaging friends and enemies on the streets and in the countryside. That is where the Awakening took hold. If our forces are taking back Fallujah and Ramadi the Awakening never happens.

  76. _”You may disagree with him about whether the costs of the Iraq war are worth the benefits, but he was pretty much alone in foreseeing what those costs were going to be.”_

    Now hold the phone! Source please! Do you have any Obama quote claiming some forsight about what the far would entail? THAT would be valuable! The limited criticism i’ve seen regarded the casus belli _only,_ ie Obama didnt think Iraq was a significant enough threat. Not that he forsaw what we have seen.

  77. PD,

    I don’t see how quoting from a speech is mythologizing. I never said he was out in front, or that he was taking a political risk. Yes, many people were opposed to the war prior to the invasion. They were a minority. He was among them. They were right. So was he. The reason we are talking about him is that he is running for president and, if polls are any judge, has a reasonably good chance of winning. Durbin, Jackson and others, who shared his views (or, if you prefer: whose views he shared) are not running.

    I don’t think anyone is trying to advance the claim that Obama was the only person in America who stood up against the war and that his views were singular or unique. On the other hand, I don’t think he was blindfolded and asked to randomly select a position from a tray of possible positions either. He put some thought in it and selected the one he believed was correct. I give him credit for that. As president, he will face similar choices from similar menus put together by advisors.

    Isn’t it kind of silly to talk about whether he made the politically difficult choice instead of whether it was the correct choice? Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that John McCain makes politically difficult choices. Is that a good thing if those are bad choices? or is it just important to be a contrarian? And let’s not forget that however popular an anti-war opinion may have been in Illinois, nationally it was an unpopular stance. And if you don’t think that Obama had national political ambitions back in 2002 then I would submit you are being naive…perhaps conveniently so.

  78. Mark B.

    See #76 above for foreseen consequences including occupation, resurgent AQ, inflamed ME. Compare with Adminstration predictions regarding costs, unneeded occupation, spread of freedom, etc.

  79. Mark, we were hearing of the Awakening, even before the surge. You can check the timeline here a WoC.

    In October of last year [2006] the tribal leaders in the province, including some who previously were against the Americans, formed a movement to reject the savagery Al Qaeda had brought to their region. Some of them were supremely unhappy with the American presence since fighting exploded in the province’s second largest city of Fallujah, but Al Qaeda proved to be even more sinister from their point of view. Al Qaeda did not come as advertised. They were militarily incapable of expelling the American Army and Marines. And they were worse oppressors than even Saddam Hussein. The leaders of Anbar Province saw little choice but to openly declare them enemies and do whatever it took to expunge them. They called their new movement Sahawa al Anbar, or the Anbar Awakening.

    Sheikh Sattar is its leader. Al Qaeda murdered his father and three of his brothers and he was not going to put up with them any longer. None of the sheikhs were willing to put up with them any longer. By April of 2007, every single tribal leader in all of Anbar was cooperating with the Americans.

    We were hearing of this in early 2007, before there was any significant “surge” on the ground.

    Did the surge help? Possibly. The geography is against it, the timing makes it plausible. I don’t think there is any disagreement, though, that the Number One reason the Awakening took place was the counterproductive, nihilistic fanaticism of AQI.

  80. I think an Illinois State senator with limited experience even _at that_ would be quite a bit more concerned with Illinois politics than you are crediting, particularly with a senate run in the offing. Presidential politics was pretty far off his radar screen one would think.

    Look- if Obama had some coherant worldview for just _why_ Saddam wasnt as dangerous as nearly the entire nation thought, or some vision for how costly the war would be, that would be one thing. The myth making is taking his knee-jerk Chicago liberal anti-war stance and crafting that into some kind of coherant world view.

    I just dont see that. I need to know Obama is capable of something a bit more taxing than deciding war is a bad thing. Like, when are wars worth fighting? Did he have some preternatural insight into the intelligence that Clinton and the rest didnt have that led him to that conclusion? And if not, why did he think an Iraq with the WMDs we _all_ assumed he had was an ok thing?

    To me thats more damning than praise worthy. WHY he held his position is far more interesting than what it was, but i dont expect we will ever get a straight answer on that… considering we cant get a straight answer on why we should be doing what he wants us to do NOW.

  81. _”We were hearing of this in early 2007, before there was any significant “surge” on the ground. “_

    September 07 is early 07? Per your link?

  82. mark: This is mythologizing:

    bq. _it seems to me that Obama took a position against the Iraq invasion at a time when that invasion was extremely popular. That’s gotta count for something in the judgement and courage ledgers._

    Obama took a common position that was popular at the time and place. It counts for nothing in the ledgers of courage.

    _And if you don’t think that Obama had national political ambitions back in 2002 then I would submit you are being naive…perhaps conveniently so._

    Well, luckily for Obama, his stature in Illinois in 2002 was so low that the Chicago Tribune failed to mention he gave that anti-war speech at the Jackson rally. But no, I don’t think he gave one moment’s thought about running for President in 2002. I actually think better of him than that.

  83. _I need to know Obama is capable of something a bit more taxing than deciding war is a bad thing. Like, when are wars worth fighting?_ I don’t recall many past presidential candidates outlining their philosophical views about when wars are worth fighting. Aren’t you holding him to a separate (but equal?) standard here? Why not just say you disagree with the guy about Iraq and wouldn’t consider voting for him? Why the need to belittle him in some manner? I would never vote for John McCain. I just disagree with his positions and policies. There’s no need to make up some fairytale about him and his character to justify my not supporting him.

    _if Obama had some coherant worldview for just why Saddam wasnt as dangerous as nearly the entire nation thought, or some vision for how costly the war would be, that would be one thing. _ Mark, think about turning that around. What kind of worldview supported the opposite views? How coherent are they? How accurate were they? Also, in the above you are claiming that Obama took a position contrary to that of “nearly the entire nation” whereas elsewhere you claim he has no political courage because he always takes the popular view. Can’t really have it both ways, now, can you?

    One other thing, that frequently gets lost in this conversation. Clinton may have believed Saddam dangerous, but he didn’t decide to invade a foreign country. There are more than two alternatives: a) Saddam is not dangerous or b) we must invade Iraq. Wanting to be rid of Saddam is one thing. It’s quite another to say the desire warrants an armed invasion of a foreign country. I wish that cooler heads (such as Obama’s) had prevailed. It was a bad choice and I wouldn’t vote for someone like McCain who continues to justify it when there’s an alternative candidate. These are clear enough choices. Is it necessary to embark on these made-up character issues? Really. I’m sure that if you spent a very small amount of time listening to Obama speak, or read any of his writings, you would quickly realize that he is quite capable of something a bit more taxing than deciding war is a bad thing. Let’s drop the caricatures for a minute, how about?

  84. _”I don’t recall many past presidential candidates outlining their philosophical views about when wars are worth fighting. Aren’t you holding him to a separate (but equal?) standard here?”_

    No- in fact one of the reasons i supported McCain over Bush was that Bush was so isolationist. Bush v Kerry was very much about when to go to war. I think it will be a long time before a president gets away without answering that question… unless the media is in love anyway.

    “_Why not just say you disagree with the guy about Iraq and wouldn’t consider voting for him? Why the need to belittle him in some manner?_”

    Because McCain is being treated very unfairly and Obama is a ripe target. This isnt flag football. This is deadly serious for our nation and the more Obama obfusticates and flip flops the more fastballs he’s gonna get up high.

    _”Mark, think about turning that around. What kind of worldview supported the opposite views? How coherent are they? How accurate were they?”_

    Thats a case Obama ought to be making. If he wants to argue that our intelligence services are so f’d to hell that we can’t trust them, thats a fine argument. I’d like to know how he had the forsight. But if its just that he didnt feel a WMD packing Saddam was enough of a problem, i want to hear that too. I know that answer with McCain.

    _”Also, in the above you are claiming that Obama took a position contrary to that of “nearly the entire nation” whereas elsewhere you claim he has no political courage because he always takes the popular view. Can’t really have it both ways, now, can you?”_

    Certainly. Its laid out quite nicely above- when Obama took that stance he was right in the wheelhouse of his constituency and had NO national audience to even consider. That decision cost him nothing, even in theory.

    _” Clinton may have believed Saddam dangerous, but he didn’t decide to invade a foreign country.”_

    Both Clintons supported the invasion. One voted for it.

  85. McCain has responded to his surge comment criticism:

    _”McCain asserted he knew that and didn’t commit a gaffe. “A surge is really a counterinsurgency made up of a number of components. … I’m not sure people understand that `surge’ is part of a counterinsurgency.”_

    _Speaking on CBS Tuesday of a Sunni sheik who approached Col. MacFarland, McCain said, “Because of the surge, we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening.”_

    Which is exactly what I said lest anyone think either of us was pulling it out of our rears.

    “link”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080723/ap_on_el_pr/mccain

  86. September 2007 was the best Awakening story I could find by a WoC writer, but if I cast my net wider: Bill Roggio, May 07, Justin Harding, April 07, Kimberly Kagan at the Weekly Standard, April 07, the NY Times, March 07, and the AP, which reported on the first meeting of the Awakening in September 2006. (I’ve omitted, of course, many other citations.)

    Anbar was coming around pre-surge, while Baghdad was a mess. The surge concentrated on Baghdad, although some new forces were deployed elsewhere.

    I’m sympathetic to the idea the dominant media narrative is clouding the American public’s view of Iraq. I had to put up with that in the run up to war and its early Mission Accomplished days. But the media narrative around McCain is merely the implosion of his own claims to great knowledge and expertise in “winning” wars. (Vietnam? You win by getting shot down??) If McCain wants to argue that the Anbar Awakening would have been reversed without the surge, let him try. But his claims that we wouldn’t have been able to “protect” [McCain’s own word] its leading sheikh, Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, without the surge are inaccurate and contemptible twice over; first, because the sheikh stuck his neck out before the surge was even formulated, and, second, even after the surge was implemented, he was assassinated.

  87. Oh, I see. It depends on what the meaning of “surge” is.

    C’mon, Mark. In the history of the Bush Administration, it refers to the strategy concocted by Fred Kagan to send in more troops (a surge in numbers) and approved by Bush in January 2007, over against the recommendations of his daddy’s pals on the Iraq Study Group. A “surge” is not a synonym for a generalized improved counterinsurgency operation, even one that is improved. I realize the words have the same root, but…

    And, yes, a monica is a sex act. Clinton was lying.

  88. PD,

    You have a singular idea of mythology. You seem to confuse it with opinion.

    This is opinion: _it seems to me that Obama took a position against the Iraq invasion at a time when that invasion was extremely popular. That’s gotta count for something in the judgement and courage ledgers._

    So is this: _It counts for nothing in the ledgers of courage._

    All you are really saying is that Obama’s views on the war fit within the local context that produced him and of which he was a part. Whereas, I was saying that those views were at odds with majority national opinion. I believe it was politically risky. I believe that if conventional wisdom had been correct, i.e., if the Iraq war had gone more smoothly and more quickly, Hilary Clinton would be the Democratic candidate for president today. Whether or not a local paper covered a particular speech of his is wholly irrelevant to the issue of whether or not he harbored national ambitions.

    Yes, Obama was part of a larger–though distinctly minority– anti-war movement. I believe he chose to be a part of that minority out of conviction that the views held were correct. I’m not arguing he has great reserves of political courage. I am arguing _against_ the statement that he never took a politically inexpedient position on the war and I am using his opposition to a popularly-supported war as evidence. It is somewhat misleading–to be polite about it–of you to attempt to twist that into grandiose claims on my part of Obama’s courage. There are plenty of attempts to construct a larger-than life caricature of Obama out there. This isn’t one of them.

  89. _”(I’ve omitted, of course, many other citations.)”_

    What you’ve ommitted is any media source concurrent with the emergence you are claiming. They may be back dating, but if you stand on the idea that the media reporting it means its significant, you havent produced a media report that predates the surge. A couple of Shieks meeting in a tent in 03 could claim to have gestated the awakening. Thats not the point. You cant point to a date and say ‘Ah, the awakening has begun’. It evolved, and McCains point is that the surge, materially and tactically, allowed it to evolve without being blown to peices like many other attempts to reject AQ.

    _”Anbar was coming around pre-surge, while Baghdad was a mess.”_

    Coming around? Umm, no. Average deaths of US forces in Anbar per month:

    2005: 26.9
    2006: 29.6
    2007: 11.4

    January of 2007 the surge was announce, 24 US killed. February 36 killed. etc
    “icasualties.org”:http://icasualties.org/oif/Province.aspx

  90. Those were non-iraqi coalition KIA, sorry.

    For the record, for 08 its down to 3.2 deaths per month.

  91. The lengths that people will go to in order to explain away, forgive or otherwise bury McCains daily remarks (I will not call them “gaffes” because they happen so frequently and all have a similar common explanation…his ignorance of both foreign and domestic affairs) is unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it, not even for Jr., who is similarly afflicted.

    McCain’s “explanation” of his latest idiotic remark about Anbar seems to be suggesting that there was some kind of “super secret surge” going on before the actual surge. Seems like Mark in #92 and likely others here are willing to buy into this.

    McCain’s defining feature, interpreted generously as “Straight Talk” by his media friends, is his seemingly endless capacity to generate off-the-cuff BS. Now that he’s running for president and is receiving a much higher level of scrutiny (and rightly so) than ever before, it’s becoming pretty clear that this alleged endearing trait is nothing more than an effort to mask a profound ignorance and antipathy for policy or government….unless it involves some kind of military aggression, that is.

    What a joke. I’ll be laughing all the way to November….keep ‘em comin’, Mr. Panama!

  92. Mark, don’t you think that we should measure the Anbar Awakening by its existence and numbers, and not by the number of casualties? I mean, if sheikhs representing, what, 60K Iraqi Sunni militia-in-waiting have repudiated AQI, that’s what’s important. Even if AQI is able to assassinate the very sheikh McCain said we protected. (Isn’t it time to admit McCain really doesn’t know the details of his policies, George Bush III style?) And by the time the troops of the real surge arrived in Iraq, not McCain’s ridiculous attempt to backdate it to Fall 2006, the success of our strategy in turning most Sunnis against AQI (combined with AQI’s methods of alienating them) was reported everywhere.

  93. As far as presidential politics are concerned,

    1. In comparison with the body politic’s eagerness to end the war, McCain’s argument that the surge is working may score some points intellectually, but it is not going to get him any votes. The surge was debated a long time ago and, like it or not, the debate has moved on.

    2. McCain’s seems to continue to beat that dead and losing horse by saying,

    _”Sen. Obama has indicated that by his failure to acknowledge the success of the surge (in Iraq), that he would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.”_

    Why would anyone rational make that statement. If it were me (I am an Irishman) I would immediately ask John to repeat that to my face. Does he really believe that? Does he really think that people will see him in a better light for remarks like that.

    3. Then there are the remarks in reaction to Obama’s visit to the Holocoaust Museum in Israel. I mean, is the McCain campaign trying to lose this election?

    Get rid of this guy and the excuse he calls a campaign, he is fast turning this from what is a difficult election cycle into a bloodbath.

  94. AJL #86ff on the Anbar Awakening and the Surge:

    Here’s a “discussion”:http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2008/07/the-anbar-awake.html at Just One Minute on the different starts of the two events. Fred KAgan is quoted from September 2007:

    bq. David Kilcullen describes the relationship between the surge and the movement very well in his Small Wars Journal posting, and I have also addressed the issue in detail in “a recent Weekly Standard article.”:http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/043delki.asp The fact is that neither the surge nor the turn of the tribal leaders would in itself have been enough to turn Anbar around — both were necessary, and will remain so for some time.

    From Kilcullen’s long and detail-filled September 2007 “SWJ article”:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/08/anatomy-of-a-tribal-revolt/ (“David Kilcullen has just [9/07] completed a tour in Iraq as senior counterinsurgency adviser to the Multi-National Force”) —

    bq. …the pattern we are seeing runs somewhat counter to what we expected in the “surge”, and therefore lies well outside the “benchmarks”. The original concept was that we (the Coalition and the Iraqi government) would create security, which would in turn create space for a “grand bargain” at the national level. Instead, we are seeing the exact opposite: a series of local political deals has displaced extremists, resulting in a major improvement in security at the local level, and the national government is jumping on board with the program. Instead of coalition-led top-down reconciliation, this is Iraqi-led, bottom-up, based on civil society rather than national politics. And oddly enough, it seems to be working so far. This does not necessarily invalidate the “surge” strategy: we are indeed seeing improved security and political progress, but at the local not national level. This was not what we expected, and probably will cut little ice with domestic opponents of the strategy, but the improvement in daily lives of Iraqis and willingness to talk rather than fight is a substantial real-world improvement nonetheless.

    Kilcullen does not dismiss the surge, but presents its benefits as secondary to the changes in Iraqi tribal society that he discusses. He also emphasizes whether Coalition troops are taking plays from a COIN playbook as being more important than what their absolute numbers are. Though if the Surge had the effect of allowing or encouraging commanders and troops to move to COIN–which it seems to have done–then it could be credited with providing a large push in the right direction.

    Altogether, I think these sources provide a partial endorsement of AJL’s position as stated above.

  95. Ralson, actually I don’t think the comparison between McCain and Bush goes very far here. You see, Bush was at least smart enough to realize that his total lack of foreign policy knowledge would be easily revealed if he pretended to act like he knew what he was talking about, so he only spoke, and still does, in the most vague and meaningless manner. He obviously understands the old saw which says its better to have people think you’re stupid than open your mouth to prove it.

    McCain, OTOH, actually believes that he is some kind of a foreign policy expert (based primarily, it seems, on his POW experiences) and so seems to be entirely oblivious to the fact that his humorous mixture of hubris and ignorance makes him a living and breathing joke.

    I can just imagine some of the headlines from a McCain presidency now:

    “McCain clarifies his “Nuke Iran” remarks at the UN as “colorful language”.

    “McCain dismisses criticism of his recent confusion of Medicare and Social Security as politically motivated”

    “Al Qaeda is not a Rock Group, despite the President’s comments on Tuesday”.

    “Is it OK to beat and rape a woman? Only if you’re a gorilla, according to our irascible President McCain”

    “President McCain still receiving Social Security checks despite the First Lady’s vast wealth; does not feel remorse over his comments that retired citizens are a “lazy pack of whiners”.”

    Feel free to pipe in with your own…

  96. Here’s more of what the McCain campaign had to say about Teh Surge: “If Barack Obama had had his way, the Sheiks who started the Awakening would have been murdered at the hands of al Qaeda,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds.

    Except, the sheikh who started the Awakening was murdered by Al Qaeda.

    And yet, in the teeth of the evidence that McCain has no clue what happened in the Awakening and the Surge, who died, when it happened, Armed Liberal ridicules my suggestion that despite his time-in-office, McCain doesn’t understand the situation… just like the outgoing gang of idiots, the top leadership will operate from truthiness instead of reality. Attention to detail is so Al Gore. Wouldn’t you rather have a beer with McCain? (No, actually.)

    Let’s tie in the latest McCain with the NY Times. OK, the ghostwriters who drafted the McCain op-ed were probably better informed than the candidate, but the market for fantasy policy based on fictitious nonsense (WMD, anyone?) has tanked.

    In a more sophisticated vein, one reason that the pro-war forces aren’t defining victory for us is that while separately some aspects of the Surge and of the Awakening are successful, there ultimate goals conflict somewhat. Having to write down what victory means instead of finessing the issue might alienate one faction or another. (That’s why the inability of the national government to divvy up revenues from resource extraction is such an important index of unreconciled conflict.) Both the Awakening and the Surge contributed to a reduction in the death rate, high as it remains. Our original definition of victory was a little more ambitious.

  97. Ah, the ability to parse with spin:

    Here’s more of what the McCain campaign had to say about Teh Surge: “If Barack Obama had had his way, the Sheiks who started the Awakening would have been murdered at the hands of al Qaeda,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds.

    Except, the sheikh who started the Awakening was murdered by Al Qaeda.

    Why yes. A heroic Sheik (note the singular) who stood up to al Qaeda was murdered.

    But at this point it time, standing up to al Qaeda is no longer an immediate death sentence.

    Whereas if Senator Obama’s preferred course had been taken, it would be.

    (Yes, I’m aware more than one Sheik has died defying the terror. And if there is any way the United States can honor them with medals posthumously, each should be so honored. It would be purely symbolic, but as Obama’s campaign clearly demonstrates, pure symbolism ain’t nuthin’.)

    There’s a lesson here in approaches. No hero should be honored, no pedantic parsing unexploited, if doing either would be detrimental to the holy narrative of the Progressive Movement, whatever it might be standing for at the moment. Good luck with that.

  98. bq. There’s a lesson here in approaches. No hero should be honored, no pedantic parsing unexploited, if doing either would be detrimental to the holy narrative of the Progressive Movement, whatever it might be standing for at the moment. Good luck with that.

    I really don’t know what you’re talking about, Mark, except to say it has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of McCains deep ignorance of Iraq. I should think he (and his supporters) will be the ones needing the luck (and continued help from their media friends, like CBS who re-cut his interviews for him to avoid having his ignorance broadcast to their audience) to convince voters that on the key attribute McCain is running on, his foreign policy experience, he is both woefully uninformed and significanlty inferior to Obama in judgment, temperament and knowledge.

  99. Mark Poling, I don’t get your point. We should pretend that the surge did protect the sheikh who founded the Awakening? Because the clued-up candidate (note the singular) doesn’t agree with you? Once we strip away your digs at the Progressive Movement, what’s left is the old peasant’s argument: I didn’t borrow the pot. It was broken when I borrowed it. I returned it in perfect condition.

  100. _”Mark, don’t you think that we should measure the Anbar Awakening by its existence and numbers, and not by the number of casualties?”_

    Fine. Give me the numbers. How many Awakening members were there, in which cities, on which dates.

  101. _”Mark Poling, I don’t get your point. We should pretend that the surge did protect the sheikh who founded the Awakening? “_

    Andrew, he was just pointing out how idiotic it was to equate a _single shiek_ with the entire movement. And I might reinforce how disengenous it is when McCain specifically used the plural, SHIEKS. But you know that.

  102. _”McCain is running on, his foreign policy experience, he is both woefully uninformed and significanlty inferior to Obama in judgment, temperament and knowledge.”_

    Man, what universe are you living in? Is this the same Obama who finally just met with Petraeus for the first time this week? A couple questions for the class:

    1.Isnt it odd that Obama developed his plan _before_ consulting the generals or visiting the battlefield?

    2.Isnt it odd that Obama’s plan is apparently independent of the facts on the ground? Is it likely or even possible that a strategy can be ideal no matter the circumstances?

    3.As far as the plan goes, don’t we deserve an explanation for why 16 months is so magical a number? Where did it come from? Why is it so ideal that it works no matter what the circumstances are? Is this some sort of numerology?

  103. Kabbala is not numerology. It says so right on the label.

    Seriously, the remarkable thing is that BO is sticking to anything in particular. It’s not much, but hey, he’s by-God not dilly dallying around with changing that “16”. That’s…something.

  104. #109, I don’t see how the points you are raising have anything to do with disproving the idea that McCain is probably more mis-informed about the situation in Iraq (and it’s bordering country Pakistan!) than most people on this site, and certainly Obama.

    But to answer your silly straw-men questions:

    1) No, it’s not odd, because firstly it is not a plan but a goal, even if is sometimes referred to as a plan (words can have multiple meanings). There are differences. In this case, the goal is one that is shared by the majority of Americans and Iraqis, providing what I think is all the necessary motivation for seeking to implement it.

    Secondly, he has repeatedly stated publicly that he will consult commanders “on the ground” in planning the withdrawal of US troops.

    2) This is simply not true, but then again I’m sure that your “facts” are going to be different than his, or mine, and that there is likely nothing that he can or will do that can satisfy your interpretation of them.

    3) Ridiculous question, infused with false presumptions and snark. Not worth a reply.

  105. _”I don’t see how the points you are raising have anything to do with disproving the idea that McCain is probably more mis-informed about the situation in Iraq (and it’s bordering country Pakistan!) than most people on this site, and certainly Obama”_

    Err, perhaps you should be the one to establish this ridiculous premise. Im sorry, how many readers of this site sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee?

    _”But to answer your silly straw-men questions:_”

    Far be it for me to ask the obvious questions about Obama’s plan.

    _”No, it’s not odd, because firstly it is not a plan but a goal, “_

    No, its a promise. I would assume there is a plan behind it. I would hate to think a presidential contender is making promises first and figuring out how to meet them last.

    “_Secondly, he has repeatedly stated publicly that he will consult commanders “on the ground” in planning the withdrawal of US troops._”

    Wonderful. Still doesnt explain how he came to the conclusion in the first place. Asking commanders how to execute that conclusion is beside the point.

    _”2) This is simply not true,”_

    Im sorry, has Obama revised his ‘goal’ for his Iraq policy that i’m not aware?

    _”3) Ridiculous question,”_

    Its ridiculous to ask why 16 months is the number Obama picked? Again, the gall at asking the Obama to explain his decision making. Is this really how you feel about how to elect a president?

  106. bq. “3) Ridiculous question,”

    Ridiculous would be asking if Obama meant 16 in base10 or in hexadecimal. Asking _why 16_ seems entirely reasonable to ask a man who is running on some vague notion of superior foresight and discernment, especially when he’s running against a fellow Senator who has been involved in and dealing with military issues _longer than Obama has been an adult_.

  107. Would it be fair to restate Mark B’s argument as, “Under the Obama plan, all the sheikhs who inaugurated the Anbar Awakening [somewhere around two dozen, I believe] would have been killed, but with the McCain Plan only the leader has been assassinated.” Even if this claim were provable, and I don’t think it’s even all that plausible, it isn’t very impressive. You know a plan is a failure when the best defense is an ipse dixit assertion that the alternatives would be even worse.

    The Unbeliever repeats the fallacy that I pointed out above: assuming that McCain’s years in office translate into knowledge and judgment. The Unbeliever wrote “he’s running against a fellow Senator who has been involved in and dealing with military issues longer than Obama has been an adult.” B.F.D. The evidence in front of us right now says that McCain does not understand the roles the Awakening and the Surge have played in the (extremely relative) pacification of Iraq. Given that, he is unlikely to deal with the issues effectively.

    BTW, Mark B, numbers for the Awakening are all over the net; it was in full bloom by March 2007 and started in about September 2006. Is this a challenge you are issuing, and if so, what point exactly are we arguing about? If you aren’t interested in my sources, look at AMac’s upthread.

  108. AJL: “Mark Poling, I don’t get your point. We should pretend that the surge did protect the sheikh who founded the Awakening? Because the clued-up candidate (note the singular) doesn’t agree with you?”

    The “clued-up” candidate recently said that even if he had known the surge would be so successful, he would have opposed it anyway. Which is as good a way to say “screw the good guys in Iraq, Obamanation would be better off if they had gotten their asses kicked” as I can imagine.

    Sorry, I think the sense of that attitude is seeping around the media firewall, and I don’t think it’s going to go over well with the electorate. So yeah, good luck with it.

  109. 1. We are withdrawing from Iraq. The American people are not on board for a long stay, whether one likes it or not.

    2. The 16 months time line is no longer a point of contention. It has become a starting point for negotiation as to a time table for our withdrawal, whether on likes it or not.

    The Iraqis like it. the administration has agreed to a “time horizon” and the question seems to be that we have not heard from McCain on his time horizon. He will be asked eventually and I don’t think “depending on security conditions on the ground” will cut it with the electorate.

    3. I cannot really see how anyone could not doubt McCain’s mental capacity considering his repeated gaffes, his general confusion and his increasingly shrill attacks on his opponent. The one that comes to mind was his last one, essentially accusing his opponent of treason for the sake of winning an election.

    4. The more John McCain talks about Foreign Policy, the worse he looks. Has anyone even heard of McCain having any criteria for what the right criteria for “depending on security conditions on the ground” would be or how long it might take to reach those goals?

    These are questions that should be answered, so they can be compared to Obama’s 16 months. The party is in trouble. It has strayed from its traditional values, nominated a candidate whose ability to do the job must be questioned even by his staunchest backers and has run a campaign totally devoid of any productive focus.

    I don’t agree with Obama. But, why hasn’t the party come up with a clear detailled rebuttal and plan of its own including the conditions that they would be willing to withdraw.

    The McCain campaign seems to be doing its best to lose this election.

  110. bq. The evidence in front of us right now says that McCain does not understand the roles the Awakening and the Surge have played in the (extremely relative) pacification of Iraq. Given that, he is unlikely to deal with the issues effectively.

    He also seems to think that “Iraq was the first major conflict after 9/11!”:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur/another-john-mccain-gaffe_b_114797.html

    I can’t see why anyone even bothers to defend this anymore…I guess that explains the all-out effort to attack, attack attack Obama. Except for the fact that this kind of politics could undermine an Obama presidency from the get-go and in the process end up endangering American lives. But hey, a terrorist attack would be good for Republicans, right?

  111. Poor McCain, he was so eager to slam Obama’s Berlin rally with 200K in attendance he said,

    I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States. But that’s a judgment that Sen. Obama and the American people will make.

    and plum forgot about his own appearances in Canada and Colombia earlier this month. Did they not count because the crowds were smaller and less enthusiastic or because McCain is desperately behind in the polls? Or because he’s confused?

    TOC is right on here. He writes about McCain’s confusion and about the vagueness of victory criteria. The United States needs a strong conservative party; in a two-party system, a viable opposition is important. Today’s GOP is not fiscally conservative and its foreign policy is degenerating into the incoherent aggressiveness of a barroom brawler. Too bad.

  112. OMG, they keep coming!

    In his interview with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, which will air on NBC’s Nightly News tonight, McCain questions whether Obama should have given a speech in Berlin before becoming president.

    “I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States,” McCain told O’Donnell. “But that’s a judgment that Sen. Obama and the American people will make.”

    However, on June 20, McCain himself gave a speech in Canada — to the Economic Club of Canada — in which he applauded NAFTA’s successes. An implicit message behind that speech was that Obama had been critical of the trade accord. Also, McCain’s trip to Canada was paid for by the campaign.

    “Link”:http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/07/24/1220326.aspx

    Unlike TOC and Lazarus, I am not rooting for a strong Republican nominee as a counterbalance to Obama this year. In my view, the pendulum has swung too far to the Right; a little over-correction, while not always desirable, is in order I think. Count me in among the legions of “radical liberals” helping to make sure that happens.

  113. #118 from Andrew J. Lazarus at 12:03 am on Jul 25, 2008

    _The United States needs a strong conservative party; in a two-party system, a viable opposition is important. Today’s GOP is not fiscally conservative and its foreign policy is degenerating into the incoherent aggressiveness of a barroom brawler. Too bad_

    I used to tell the Democratic friends of mine that their wild eyed whining and accusations about Republicans was a waste of time and only kept them from fulfilling their role as determined and loyal opposition.

    It appears to me that the McCain campaign has caught the same disease.

    I can not tell you how offended I was by McCain’s accusation about Senator Obama’s willingness to lose a war to win an election. Today, when asked he defended his remarks in the ever more apparent confused way that reflects his obviously declining mental abilities.

    I can only take this as being evidence that this is not the same John McCain I had come to know. I did not vote for McCain in the primaries because I thought his time had past. Now I feel that maybe age has already taken a greater toll on McCain than I had thought.

    I doubt the John McCain of 2000 would ever be caught uttering the charge that he spoke against Senator Obama, no less defend it. But this McCain cannot even see it for what it is: No less, no more than pure, unadulterated filth. Nor does he seem to have any understanding of how much something like this lessens him as a human being.

    Very, very sad.

  114. Shollee, I assure you, I’m not hoping for any sort of GOP counterbalance to Obama. But a two-party system is much better than a one-party system (we might be wrong every once in a long while), and a two-party system works best when despite different philosophies both parties bring a modicum of coherence, decency, honesty and talent, and the current Republican Party has none of the above.

  115. #119 from Shoilee at 12:56 am on Jul 25, 2008

    *In my view, the pendulum has swung too far to the Right;*

    This is not the Right we are seeing. This is a distorted, even twisted parody of the Right. What we have seen under the Neo-Cons has been a party that has been seduced by an extremely arrogant, ignorant clique of posers, seemingly devoid of both morality and direction.

    I think the last 8 years will go down as the most shameful in the History of the Party. It distresses me greatly that McCain would be a part of it.

  116. TOC, cut him some slack. It’s not McCain anymore, it’s a hollow shell of the man he used to be, right? /sarcasm

    I’m gonna ask if just maybe, maybe, the wheels have totally come off this thread now. Armed? Anyone?

    Bueller?

  117. bq. TOC, cut him some slack. It’s not McCain anymore, it’s a hollow shell of the man he used to be, right? /sarcasm

    bq. I’m gonna ask if just maybe, maybe, the wheels have totally come off this thread now. Armed? Anyone?

    NM, I don’t see what’s wrong with it – after all, I can’t count how many times we saw this exact same discussion from the other direction prior to the 2006 mid-terms. “Democrats have lost their way, Kerry is unhinged with BDS, the country needs a strong two-party system so those Democrats should get their act together (by endorsing a foreign policy that’s more palatable to conservatives…” etc.

    How is this any different than the oh-so-serious theorizing we saw back then?

  118. bq. NM, I don’t see what’s wrong with it

    Believe me, I am unsurprised that you don’t.

    The entry, the topic was, approximately, the New York Times having, or not having, a double standard about posting opeds from the two candidates.

    Stepping back from the TOC-directed snark I did engage in briefly, when I speak of wheels coming off, what I am remarking on’s not the content, nor the views expressed — hard as it might be for you to grasp that.

    What I am commenting on is thread drift, and I only remarked on it after seeing about 100 posts off topic.

    Do you think I was biased in remarking on it at all? If so, that won’t surprise me either.

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