Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 7, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

FOREIGN POLICY....Ari Berman emails this morning to recommend his Nation article about the foreign policy teams assembled by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and what it says about their likely future policies. It's a good piece, though the reality it captures doesn't provide the firm distinctions most of us would like. Here's what I think is the key passage:

Today, [Obama] advisers like Tony Lake point to a number of "significant differences" between Obama and Clinton. On Iraq, Obama not only opposed the war but has said he would withdraw all combat troops within sixteen months of taking office. On Iran, Obama rejected the Kyl-Lieberman resolution (though he missed the vote while campaigning) and has proposed a broader engagement strategy to lure Iran into the community of nations. On nuclear weapons, he has not only promised to reduce US nuclear stockpiles, as has Clinton, but advocates a world free of nuclear weapons. On Cuba, Obama went to Miami and said the ban on family travel and remittances to the island nation should be lifted, a policy Clinton opposes.

Yet on many issues the differences between Obama and Clinton are more stylistic than substantive....Indeed, in discussions with Hillary's advisers these days, the message seems to be, We're more like Obama than you think! Both candidates favor negotiating directly with Iran, leaving behind a residual force in Iraq (though Obama has said his missions would be more limited); enlarging the military by 92,000 troops; aggressively curbing global warming; and recommitting to working with multilateral institutions like the United Nations. It's not hard to imagine Clark, Feinstein or even Holbrooke serving in an Obama administration. And many Obamaites would probably work in a Hillary Clinton administration.

Really, this isn't very different from what we see on domestic policy: the differences between the two candidates simply aren't that big. There are differences, but the heat of the campaign and the desire of the press corps and the blogosphere to have something to write about magnifies them well beyond what they deserve on the merits. I'm a little closer to Obama's take on foreign affairs than I am to Hillary's, but honestly, based on their statements to date, I doubt very much that their actual foreign policies would differ all that much.

(Conversely, I'm a little closer to Hillary's take on domestic policy than I am to Obama's, but again, the differences are fairly slight. They'd likely pursue very similar courses, and the big question is which one of them would be more likely to emerge from the congressional meatgrinder with their policies intact.)

Of course, there's another difference as well: rhetoric. In domestic policy, public opinion is king, and one of the things Obama has going for him is the possibility that he could genuinely shift public opinion in a more liberal direction — something that Hillary would probably have a harder time doing. In foreign policy, though, a great speech doesn't buy you nearly as much, and it's not clear to me that his team would be as effective at the nuts and bolts of hardnosed diplomacy as Hillary's.

That said, Ari's article is worth a read. It doesn't provide a firm conclusion, but it does a pretty good job of airing out all the differences, big and small, between the two. (There's also a paragraph about John Edwards, but that's about it. It's mostly Hillary vs. Obama.)

Kevin Drum 1:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (92)

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Comments

Really? An article about the Democrats that barely mentions John Edwards, as if he weren't even there?

I'm shocked! SHOCKED!!!!!

Posted by: zmulls on January 7, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"In domestic policy, public opinion is king"

Republican obstructionism is king, fyi.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 7, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

"In domestic policy, public opinion is king...In foreign policy, though, a great speech doesn't buy you nearly as much, and it's not clear to me that his team would be as effective at the nuts and bolts of hardnosed diplomacy as Hillary's.

Disagree.

The entire appeal of Obama is based on taking what you just said was basically the same platform as Hillary's/Edwards' and actually being able to sell it.

Check out the French press even now:
"(Obama is)...capable of bringing together men and women (one third of women voted for him and not her), Blacks and Whites, Blue (Democrats) and Red (Republicans). A man who pardons the original sin of the slave and who holds up a mirror to America in which she is beautiful, multi-racial and pragmatic. A man who will heal the gaping wound of the Iraq War and restore America's image in the world."

http://worldmeets.us/liberation000102.shtml

A little much, I know, but I really believe foreign leaders are going to want to be the first ones on the Obama Bus when it leaves the station.

A resurgent America is a really great bet.

Posted by: cazart on January 7, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

As previously noted, Holbrooke was pushing for the Iraq invasion harder than Bush was. In february 2003, he wrote an artcle in which he criticized Bush for moving too cautiously, and for wasting time and taking a risk by going to the UN -- because, if the UN did not approve, the whole invasion plan would be endangered. I am not sure what evidence there is of any change of heart by Holbrooke.

Posted by: JS on January 7, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

This, to me, is the key passage: "Clinton supporters who backed Bush's recent "surge" of troops in Iraq, like Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, are now kept at arm's length, although Clinton does consult with Gen. Jack Keane, an architect of the troop increase."

Posted by: rbk on January 7, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

(There's also a paragraph about John Edwards, but that's about it. It's mostly Hillary vs. Obama.)

Since Berman hawked his piece to you, he's no doubt reading these comments. Perhaps he'll tell us: why the glaring omission?

Posted by: shortstop on January 7, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ari Berman emails this morning to recommend his Nation article about the foreign policy teams assembled by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and what it says about their likely future policies.

Kevin, I think this is a superficial analysis of their foreign policy. A more important analysis is the to look at Obama as a inspiration of billions of others as they see a black man with a Muslim father who because President of the United States. They will see the audaciousness that hope can be fulfilled even one which seems as farfetched as a man like Obama becoming President. They will see his change as a promise of the future to come. This in itself can brings billions of people together in a ways not seen before. Nothing Hillary can say or do can beat that which means Obama's foreign policy would certainly be better than Hillary's.

Posted by: Al on January 7, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know is Obama's programs both domestic and foreign will emerge from the congressional meat grinder in tact, but I know Clinton's will, with Clinton's blessing, emerge as hamburger and we will be expected to like it.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 7, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I think planning for a world without nuclear weaponry versus not is a very big difference. The former view seems foolish and dangerous to me. Likewise, agreeing to a time table for Iraq or not.

So-called small differences in foreign policy can make a large difference over the years. Had Bill Clinton started focusing on the Mideast a little sooner, he might have had vastly more success and won the big prize.

The vast divide between them and our current president shouldn't minimize the differences between them.

Posted by: dws on January 7, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't know is Obama's programs both domestic and foreign will emerge from the congressional meat grinder intact, but I know Clinton's will, with Clinton's blessing, emerge as hamburger and we will be expected to like it."

Yep.

Posted by: cazart on January 7, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you're really in love with the clintons, aren't you?

Posted by: Jor on January 7, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I am 62; perhaps I am getting intellectually foggy. Would someone please explain to me why Hillary's becoming president would not be an inspiration to half the world's population? Electing the first female president cannot be an endorsement of the status quo.

I am guilty of using the term "sexist pig" more in the last month than in the last 30 years. Obviously I need to grow up, develop a sense of humor, and try to hide my shrillness.

Posted by: Mary Joan Koch on January 7, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Al, to quote Billy Madison:

what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Posted by: Alsux on January 7, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

From the Berman article, regarding Holbrooke's advice to Kerry in the 2004 election:

Holbrooke took a particularly cautious tack on Iraq, telling Kerry to keep his views on the war "deliberately vague."

Great. Just the guy Democrats need as the next Secretary of State.

Posted by: JS on January 7, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"...the big question is which one of them would be more likely to emerge from the congressional meatgrinder with their policies intact.

Well, there it is. What are their respective track records in this regard?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 7, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

**

Posted by: mhr on January 7, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I am guilty of using the term "sexist pig" more in the last month than in the last 30 years. Obviously I need to grow up, develop a sense of humor, and try to hide my shrillness.

My snark-meter isn't broken!

I think we should stop tempering it and let the bastards see just exactly what "shrill" sounds like - cuz darlins, you ain't heard nuthin yet.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 7, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

If "shrill"--an adjective rarely if ever applied to male politicians--bothers you, get a load of cazart's "shrewish" a thread or two down. Doesn't get any more gender-specific than that.

Posted by: shortstop on January 7, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Mary, its generational. I'm 27. A black or female president in itself is boring. I didn't grow up obsessed with gender or race. Obama is inspirational because of what he says.

You really can't get any more status quo than Hillary, anyone who can't see that, has significant blinders on.

Posted by: Jor on January 7, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Mary Joan Koch wrote: "Would someone please explain to me why Hillary's becoming president would not be an inspiration to half the world's population? Electing the first female president cannot be an endorsement of the status quo."

Nor can electing the first black president be an endorsement of the status quo.

Electing either a woman or a black man to the office of US President would be inspiring to the degree that it would indicate that the USA has progressed on the cultural level.

However, both women and African-Americans -- and African-American women -- have been elected to "high office" before, including the House and the Senate and various state governorships, and have been appointed to other high offices, including the Supreme Court and heads of Executive Branch agencies. Attaining the Presidency is really an incremental step from there, although it clearly would break a psycho-social barrier.

If either Obama or Clinton is elected President, I will unreservedly celebrate the cultural breakthrough for blacks or women as the case may be.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that I expect either of them to champion, successfully or not, genuine progressive policies or programs, or to achieve real change other than the cultural change that their presidency would represent simply by its existence.

It is a positive and welcome cultural breakthrough that an African-American woman is Secretary of State, but I wouldn't want Condoleeza Rice to become president, nor would I expect anything good to result if she became president.

I don't think that either Obama or Clinton represent a genuine threat to the status quo -- ie. to the iron grip on the federal government of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc, the corporate aristocracy. If they were, they would be marginalized, ridiculed and excluded from serious consideration, like Dennis Kucinich, or for that matter like the second-place finisher in Iowa John Edwards.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 7, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

You really can't get any more status quo than Hillary, anyone who can't see that, has significant blinders on.

Or a few more years to temper the perspective.

I wish I was as smart in my forties as I was certain I was in my twenties. Just sayin'...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 7, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

No way that Republican focus group started out undecided. At least a handful were there to help Mitt, make no mistake about it. The few who spoke made a point out of addressing Mitt's perceived weaknesses: how he is "sincere" and how he is the best candidate on the pro-life issue, even better than Huckabee (WTH?)Etc. etc. Either they were plants from the campaign or they took it upon themselves to work on Mitt's behalf.

Posted by: LAS on January 7, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody in his or her 20s explained quite convincingly a day or two ago that they don't see Hillary as the last great hope for a female president. They know there will be other chances. And so they, unlike many older voters, are disinclined to overlook in the primaries what they saw as her dealbreaking qualities.

Well, I'm in my 40s now and I find myself a lot closer to that viewpoint than the ones espoused by some of our posters in their 60s and 70s. When I was a little girl, I wouldn't have believed that it would take this long to have a female president. I still can't believe it. But I don't for a minute think that selecting Obama over Clinton is losing our big chance to get a woman into the White House in our lifetimes. It will happen, and I hope it will happen with a woman more in line with my own policy preferences than HRC has been.

The way to make that happen--the way to make sure we have choices, not a choice, for a woman president--is to get as many excellent women into the political pipeline as possible. If we don't elect them to city councils and state legislatures, they don't show up among tomorrow's presidential hopefuls.

Posted by: shortstop on January 7, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's the congressional meat grinder that the next President's policies will have to go thru. Only a rube would think soaring rhetoric will get anything remotely progressive thru congress that has a substantial number of republican members that are, right now, girding their loins against their perceived advancement of liberal agenda.

INKBLOT for PRESIDENT '08

Posted by: optical weenie on January 7, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

The way to make that happen--the way to make sure we have choices, not a choice, for a woman president--is to get as many excellent women into the political pipeline as possible.

Exactly right. And that would be a more important accomplishment, in itself, than having a woman in a single position of power for 4 or 8 years. (Especially one that found her way to national prominence through her marriage).

Posted by: JS on January 7, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Let me echo JS. Shortstop at 3:20 gets it exactly right.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 7, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

In foreign policy, though, a great speech doesn't buy you nearly as much

But damn close. Obama's talent would literally drive millions of voters to support his actions. Get the public behind you and Congress will largely follow.

Posted by: tom.a on January 7, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

how 'bout if obama has a sex change? it's win-win, except for possibly michelle.

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on January 7, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: the differences between the two candidates simply aren't that big.

Clinton for the Iraq War

Obama Against the Iraq War


Posted by: hlah on January 7, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK
I don't think that either Obama or Clinton represent a genuine threat to the status quo -- ie. to the iron grip on the federal government of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc, the corporate aristocracy. If they were, they would be marginalized, ridiculed and excluded from serious consideration, like Dennis Kucinich, or for that matter like the second-place finisher in Iowa John Edwards.

I think you're absolutely right. Consider, then, that anyone who actually would threaten the status quo isn't going to start threatening it in any substantial way before the election. Sad, but we've got to do a lot of reading between the lines when we make our choice between the lesser of evils this Primary season...

Posted by: idlemind on January 7, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

optical weenie: INKBLOT for PRESIDENT '08

Hear, hear. Cries of racism and sexism are so 20th century - what we need now is to deal with speciesism.

Posted by: alex on January 7, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think Mary Joan Koch is right and it's an important point. Too many people seem to think Obama's skin color will have an impact on societies that don't even register or discriminate based on skin color. But many of these societies do register and discriminate harshly against women. Moreover, the Islamist societies with an educated female population do seem to be more stable for whatever reason and the impact of a female world leader would definitely trump the questionable impact of color.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm being unfair or overly harsh in my current judgment of Barack Obama. In the heat of this current campaign, I really don't know.

But does anyone else find it significant that last few nights on TV, a fair number of New Hampshire voters who stated in interviews that they supported John McCain in 2000 are now switching their allegiance to Barack Obama? Or that we see panels of GOP pundits like George Will and David Brooks heaping praise on the man?

Granted, there's probably not that many of those people overall, the media probably magnified the effect of such crossover while trolling for stories, and the praise for Obama from GOP pundits isn't so much due to the man's attributes as to the Beltway punditry's collective scorn for all things Clinton.

But nevertheless, this is the sort of stuff that's always given me, as a progressive liberal Democrat, tremendous pause about Barack Obama.

Therefore, since Sen. Obama is now, for all intents and purposes, the established Democratic frontrunner, I think that what I'm now about to ask of him is both fair and reasonable.

I want to know, as a Democratic voter, what Sen. Obama's thoughts are concerning the ultimate legal disposition of the members of the ongoing criminal enterprise currently running the White House and the executive branch.

Is he going to make an bona fide effort to hold them accountable? Or, in the interest of mostly undeserved bipartisanship, is he going to offer some or all of them a "Get Out of Jail Free" card from the Community Chest pile?

Because, to be perfectly honest, I'm no longer interested in any further pursuit of such so-called "bipartisanship", which GOP operative Grover Norquist once likened to date rape, and in which both our party and American voters in general clearly got played for a bunch of chumps, suckers and rubes.

After all the damage that has been done to our country, I'm currently of the mindset that there most definitely needs to be a public reckoning with these people. What happened to our country was without any doubt whatsoever the result of criminal conduct, regardless of whether that conduct was / is rooted in negligence, malevolence and / or amoral self-interest.

And if Barack Obama is not interested in exacting a very steep legal price for these last few years of the Bush administration's deliberate, calculated and deadly shenanigans, then I'm not interested in him.

And if delivering a sense of justice for those people and families, both here and abroad, who suffered the totally unnecessary loss of loved ones and were robbed of their collective peace of mind for the foreseeable future, is not high on the list of Sen. Obama's so-called "agenda for change", then for all intents and purposes, this is the primary reason why I really don't want any part of Sen. Obama at this particular moment in time.

Now, I'm not interested in hearing Obama supporters like junebug and Disputo spin a rebuttal position for their candidate out of sackcloth and ashes, nor will I respond to such partisan baiting, because it's the front-runner himself who now needs to address this particular issue for us, and to do so in no uncertain terms.

To be fair, I don't want to single out sen. Obama, because we really deserve an honest answer about this issue from the other Democratic candidates as well. Unfortunately, nobody -- and I mean nobody -- is talking about what to do with these guys in the White House, to the point where it's become the proverbial elephant in the room (no pun intended).

I'd really like to know other people's personal thoughts on this matter. Because, quite frankly, this has become an intensely personal matter for all too many of us who both love our country and hate what's been done in its name.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 7, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

The US doesn't have a foreign policy now; but rather a ram-rod,do as we say, dam_ the torpedoes mentality.

HRC or O-not-osama just need to show some sense, lots of it.

So, in that sense, HRC loses because she has not had the sense to say no to war.

Obama has struck a nerve in this country. I can't remember a time when the World was looking at NH's primaries the way it is now.

On Wednesday morning, lots of newspapers will be bought. Of that I am positive.

HRC claims to be about change. Well, why the hell hasn't she led the charge for impeachment of the despicable corporate raiders who are in the whitehouse now?

Because, she's very much a corporate front herself!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 7, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Donald, I am completely in your corner right now. The DoJ is stacked with religious zealots who have a nearly worthless JDs. Habeas Corpus is critically injured. Criminal activity is hidden behind National Security (especially see the ongoing story of Sibel Edmonds). These few examples are but the beginning of a long seven year list of offenses...

The Bush administration participants have much to answer for....now, how will the likely next president handle it?

This too, is what I want to know before I even consider him in my state's primary next month.

Posted by: jcricket on January 7, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair, I don't want to single out sen. Obama, because we really deserve an honest answer about this issue from the other Democratic candidates as well. Unfortunately, nobody -- and I mean nobody -- is talking about what to do with these guys in the White House, to the point where it's become the proverbial elephant in the room (no pun intended).
Posted by: Donald from Hawaii

You are smoking the hugest bowl of crack ever if you think there's going to be some kind of criminal investigation by the incoming of the outgoing, or that wanting to do so would somehow help a dem get elected. That is a lose-lose question to ask a dem candidate, and whoever asks it will merely look like an embittered whiner who is too consumed with looking backwards to look forwards.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 7, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

If only we had a msm that was capable of asking the important questions Donald raises. As a country we descended into downright barbarity under Bush but it will be a cold day in hell before the Tim Russerts and Chris Matthews of the msm will ask what should be done about the torture, the spying on American citizens, who and why and how the candidates will instruct the DOJ and work with congress to try and examine and atone for what happened. They are too busy attacking Hillary and asking questions about trivia like haircuts and spaceships.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM, I think you're wrong. Accountability for the corruption of the Bush admin resonates. Kerry should have had the good sense to use it in '04. People on this blog were saying it in '04. In '06 the number one issue with voters was corruption. People want to believe that government works and people don't get away with murder - literally.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Donald, don't you think that the responsibility for investigating and holding accountable the present administration falls more properly on the current Democratic majority in Congress?

Posted by: JS on January 7, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM: "You are smoking the hugest bowl of crack ..."

I do not, nor have I ever, smoked crack. I will, however, admit to partaking in the occasional puff from the bong of only the finest of cannibis bud.

And if you actually believe that nonsense you wrote about Democrats appearing weak if they forthrightly state their position as to the legal disposition of people who should be prosecuted under the federal RICO statutes, then you're truly a fool, for whom democracy will undoubtedly ensure that you get exactly the sort of government and political leadership that you deserve.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 7, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Et tu, Ari?

Even in The Nation an article about the candidates assumes that Obama and Clinton are the only ones worth talking about, while essentially ignoring the 2nd place candidate in Iowa!

Maybe The Nation is looking to be anointed as an official part of the MSM - heaven forbid that the voters interfere with the king makers.

Posted by: alex on January 7, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ever since I was a child I have hoped for a president who would renounce America's imperial militancy. A woman and African American will be elected long before that ever happens.

Donald from Hawaii's questions for Sen. Obama are good ones. They are also good questions for Sen. Clinton or any other Democratic candidate. Like that humanist president I will eternally wait for, the answers to these questions will not ever be answered adequately by any of the front running Democrats. There is one Democratic candidate who has at least partially answered the questions, however, with his legislative behavior, but most Democrats are not going to vote for Rep. Kucinich.

Posted by: Brojo on January 7, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Donald,

I agree with your sentiments entirely, but also think that NONE of the candidates (including Kucinich) would dare open such a hornet's nest, as SJRSM suggests. My only hope is that whichever Dem gets elected will clean up the mess left by the Bush administration and not 'keep' some of the more offensive trappings of increased executive power spawned by Bush. Same goes for DOJ, etc.

Posted by: nepeta on January 7, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Once again Homer Simpson nails it: "US foreign policy is easy. Just point the army and shoot."

Posted by: Tripp on January 7, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"In domestic policy, public opinion is king, and one of the things Obama has going for him is the possibility that he could genuinely shift public opinion in a more liberal direction — something that Hillary would probably have a harder time doing."

C'mon Kevin, "Hillary would probably (?) have a harder time doing..."? Hillary would have NO CHANCE of shifting public opinion in any meaningful way because many people are too suspicious and spiteful of her. HRC in the WH would be 4 years of trench warfare with little to show for it in the end but more hurt feelings.

Obama is Reagan and he has the chance to shift the playing field to the left for a generation or more. It's not even a close call anymore.

Posted by: Dresden on January 7, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

And if you actually believe that nonsense you wrote about Democrats appearing weak...

Who said anything about appearing weak? I said it was a losing card to play. Unless you believe former Bush voters can still be drawn across the gap between the Repubs and Dems while making that pitch. I'm betting I'm right and you're wrong in that I'm betting NO non-fringe Dem candidate brings it up on their own, and they grimace subliminally if someone else does.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 7, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

JS: "Donald, don't you think that the responsibility for investigating and holding accountable the present administration falls more properly on the current Democratic majority in Congress?"

Under most normal circumstances, I would agree with you. But clearly, these are not ordinary times.

We have a substantive Republican minority in the Senate that for all intents and purposes has blocked any and all efforts by the Democrats to uphold any sense of executive accountability. Had the White house decided to ride out the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto "Sleazy" Gonzales' handling of the the firing of U.S. Attorneys, there was literally no way for the Senate Democratic majority to seek his removal without Republican cooperation. Constitutionally, the House of Representatives simply doesn't have the institutional capacity on its own to pursue such matters to their logical conclusion.

Further, even if either the House or the Senate takes the extraordinary step of holding a past or present member of the administration in contempt, it can't enforce its own ruling because the Sergeants-at-Arms in both chambers have been reduced to mostly ceremonial positionss of political patronage, leaving our representative body almost completely dependent upon the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to enforce such a decree -- and Guess Who?!!? appointed him?

Therefore, the responsibility to see that justice is done will, almost by default, fall to the Justice Department as reconstituted under the incoming Attorney General of next administration.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 7, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin,

STFU.

Posted by: Jack Peterson on January 7, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy: the Islamist societies with an educated female population do seem to be more stable for whatever reason and the impact of a female world leader would definitely trump the questionable impact of color

Predominantly Muslim countries that have had a woman prime minister include Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey, so I doubt that anyone there will see a female American president as some sort of earth shaking precedent for them.

While we're at it, other countries that have had female presidents, prime ministers or chancellors include Sri Lanka, UK, Germany, Israel, Portugal, Norway, Poland and New Zealand.

While having a woman president may have some domestic impact, it would hardly be an international vanguard.

Posted by: alex on January 7, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Clemons has a good piece up on Obama's econ team, fyi.

Posted by: KathyF on January 7, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the link:
http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/002673.php

Posted by: KathyF on January 7, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

As a Kucinich supporter, whose distant second choice for the Democratic nomination would be Edwards, I have to say that in all honesty I don't see that much substantive difference between Obama and Clinton.

I am not saying that there are no differences, but I certainly don't see any differences sufficient to justify the bitterness between their respective supporters.

If you think you would be happy with the policies and actions of a President Hillary Clinton, you probably won't be terribly unhappy with the policies and actions of a President Barack Obama, and vice versa.

Beyond such substantive policy differences as may exist, the rest of the argument seems to be about (1) which one is more "electable" and (2) which one is most likely to be successful at achieving their goals if elected. And those arguments are frankly speculative, and thus are also unworthy of such bitter dispute.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 7, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I understand the current limitations in the Senate, but the House certainly could run investigations, in public, and could impeach.

I'm not sure I would be enthusiastic about a precedent of US Presidents trying to put their predecessors in jail by using their own Justice Department. (Maybe it has happened -- I'm not aware of it -- but it smells of banana republics).

Posted by: JS on January 7, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I want to know, as a Democratic voter, what Sen. Obama's thoughts are concerning the ultimate legal disposition of the members of the ongoing criminal enterprise currently running the White House and the executive branch. ... Unfortunately, nobody -- and I mean nobody -- is talking about what to do with these guys in the White House ... I'd really like to know other people's personal thoughts on this matter.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii

While I share your concern, sad to say, I really don't think that there's anything that can be done except to begin immediately to legislatively reverse the damage that they have done. I don't think a new dem president and Congress can afford to spend time and resources on finding ways to punish them -- as gratifying as that would be.

I think that the powers that have supported and protected the criminality would like nothing better than to sap the energy of a new administration in an endless fight over who was right, who was wrong, who should pay and how.

I know how disappointing this answer must be, but I don't think Obama, Clinton, or Edwards would waste one minute in order to make folks pay for their past transgressions.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 7, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary C. tears up and says if anyone else becomes prez but her, the country will go down the tubes. Obama and his wife insist this he is a once in a lifetime opportunity that he is offering the country. Take him or forever be screwed.

Golly, there's a lot going on. Full disclosure: I'll put my hat in the ring and won't be pissed if I'm not selected.

So what's gonna be:

America votes for looks. In this case Obama got the looks and Clinton, McCain, Huckabee, et. al, don't. Romney could have looks but he prefers to be a peevish asshole.

Looks like we have a JFK vs. Nixon type election--looks won then and, by golly, will win again !

As for any of it making any kind of difference to you and me --I don't think so. They all talk change but excepting for perhaps, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, all the candidates are tried and true, don't rock the boaters, status quo types- on war, oil, mid east, terror, torture they won't vary much from the Bush Cheney team. We're still crazy for oil.

And here's the rub folks: Don't expect the Democrats or the Republicans to keep us from senseless wars and further Middle East turmoil. They all go with the corporate flow: the flow of oil out of the Middle East. (but you knew that)

My readers ask: "Where or when will it all end?" ("In the grave, my boy")

or, perhaps, more sensibly,our imperial madness will end either

a) when the oil is all gone

or

b) when we find something other than oil to fuel our economy. (whale sperm?, hydrogen from Mars?)

Supporting (b) seems the wiser choice.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on January 7, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

It is worth considering the following scenario. Obama is building up support all over the country. Clearly African Americans are beginning to get very excited about this. Several victories later, if Clinton manages to stem this trend and turn it around, she will be the person responsible for STALLING THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN presidential candidate. The right wing machine plays this up ad infinitum.

It's going to be hard to ask for the African American vote after that. African Americans ride it out - The Dems lose in 2008. It's not the GOP coalition that fragments, it's the Democratic coalition. Yes, it is identity politics, but when it comes to the first shot at being President, don't count out the resentment.

Think about it. I'm having a nightmare.

Posted by: Manfred on January 7, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Several victories later, if Clinton manages to stem this trend and turn it around, she will be the person responsible for STALLING THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN presidential candidate.

Ever hear of Shirley Chisolm or Jesse Jackson?

Posted by: DJ on January 7, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

alex, I said world leader. Not leader of bleepin Poland. In societies where women have few rights and walk behind their husband and dare not speak up, a woman world leader certainly has some import.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM: "Who said anything about appearing weak? I said it was a losing card to play."

You know, you sound exactly like a classic Beltway political spin-meister, for whom playing the polls and the odds are more important than seeking the truth accordingly and meting out justice as appropriate.

Had John Kerry in '04 simply and forthrightly called out George Bush for the liar his is, instead of playing his cards too close to his chest while offering up the American people as his chips on the table, he wouldn't have been bluffed so easily out of victory the way he was, and this ongoing tragedy that's become our national fate could well have been over by now. People were waiting to hear Kerry say the magic words that would have define his leadership: "Mr. President, you are a liar." Not unlike the way they were waiting 53 years ago for someone like government attorney Joseph Welch to finally call out Sen. Joe McCarthy for the political thug and bully he was.

Sen. Obama has thus far offered us litle more that pablum and bromides, glittering generalities masquerading as "The Truth", but without any real meat on the bones, and without any substantive commitment by the candidate himself to a resolute course of action that underscores the stirring oratory.

Please excuse me for feeling like I'm being manipulated by the man's campaign, rather than being led by the man himself, but I'm going to say what I think.

I challenge people to watch again Obama's speech after his victory in Iowa, the one everyone has been lauding, and note that he was clearly reading it off a teleprompter. God forbid that he should speak off the cuff, and bare his soul before the world as to his true feelings at that historic political juncture of man and moment. For that matter, does anyone else notice the inverse proportion between the man's clearly unrivaled oratorical skills and his ability to deliver simple spontaneous prose, especially when engaged in debate?

If you're right and I'm wrong about people's ability to handle political truth, SJRSM, then collectively as a nation, we are truly fucked.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 7, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

BLACK MAN BEATS WHITE WOMAN, ATTEMPTS TO BREAK INTO WHITE HOUSE
(in a good way)

Posted by: lampwick on January 7, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Well, here's something (suspiciously Tonkinesque) to get everyone fired up about "Foreign Policy":

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0739039120080107?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=22&sp=true

Iranians threatened U.S. ships in Hormuz: Pentagon
Mon Jan 7, 2008 5:10pm EST

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By Andrew Gray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iranian boats aggressively approached three U.S. Naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz, a main shipping route for Gulf oil, at the weekend and threatened that the ships would "explode," U.S. officials said on Monday.

The Pentagon termed the action, involving five Iranian boats, "careless, reckless and potentially hostile" and said Tehran should provide an explanation, but Tehran dismissed U.S. concerns, saying it was a routine contact.

Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for operations in the Gulf, said the Iranian boats moved aggressively toward the U.S. ships and their actions were "unduly provocative."

"The ships received a radio call that was threatening in nature, to the effect that they were closing on our ships and ... the U.S. ships would explode," Cosgriff told reporters at the Pentagon via videolink from his Bahrain headquarters.

The incident was the latest sign of tension between Washington and Tehran, at odds over a range of issues from Iran's nuclear program to U.S. allegations of Iranian support for terrorism and interference in Iraq.

U.S. President George W. Bush is due to ...

You fill in the blank!

Posted by: Neil B. on January 7, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy: Not leader of bleepin Poland.

No bagels for you!

In societies where women have few rights and walk behind their husband and dare not speak up

You mean like Pakistan or Bangladesh?

a woman world leader certainly has some import

Does only the US count? Or do also-rans like India, the UK and Germany have some impact?

Sorry, but the international community would hardly treat a woman US president like some great precedent, for the very simple reason that it's not.

Posted by: alex on January 7, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

alex, probably the leader of the US would make more of an impact than the leader of UK, Germany or India.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

btw, alex I don't think gender or race has very much influence at all. But in the grand scheme of things, the impact of a women leader outweighs race.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

The key difference: Hillary's claimed position(positions?) most closely matches (vindicates?) Kevin Drum's. Banged the drum. On the very eve of war, a twinge of regret, maybe. But today, no real remorse.

Posted by: bob5540 on January 7, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Donald in Hawaii says:

God forbid that he should speak off the cuff, and bare his soul before the world as to his true feelings at that historic political juncture of man and moment.

Live interview on NBC today. Of course he must be reading off a teleprompter. Of course. Surely he can't be capable of writing his own speeches either could he? And you must be the ghostwriter for Baracks book.

And DJ,

How off-base does one have to be to compare Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama..come on. National polls where Obama leads every Rethuglican by double digits...... Oh yeah, that happened all the time with Jesse Jacksuhn. My bad for forgetting.

Posted by: Manfred on January 7, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

There is only one Democratic elected politician who had the courage to attempt any official revelation, punishiment and prevention of crimes by the W. Bush regime leadership. He has been rebuffed by party appartchiks, liberals and the rank and file. Democrats cannot even handle the political truth about their own party, and Americans cannot handle it about themselves.

The foreign policy of the front running Democratic nominees should convince most anti-war advocates to vote for a third party candidate. Their inability to face the truth is why they will vote for whichever Democratic candidate wins the nomination. When one cannot face the truth, one votes for the lesser evil.

Posted by: Brojo on January 7, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

"I am 62; perhaps I am getting intellectually foggy. Would someone please explain to me why Hillary's becoming president would not be an inspiration to half the world's population? Electing the first female president cannot be an endorsement of the status quo."

It would be, certainly, but not to the degree, IMHO, that electing a person of color would for two reasons.

In my job, I have the privilege of working for and with a variety of high-ranking women public officials -- governors, senators, representatives, mayors. Lots of women have and do serve in those capacities with great distinction and popularity. At this point in history, Hillary becoming president would seem to me evolutionary, not revolutionary. Further, in the world, many nations -- Great Britain, Germany, most of Scandanavia, crikey, even Turkey and Pakistan -- have had women presidents and prime ministers. But no predominantly white nation has ever been led by a person of color, and given the centrality of of race in this country's history, the election of Obama just seems like a much bigger deal to me.

Secondly, while I find much to admire in Senator Clinton, it does seem odd to me that she, of all women, would be the one to break the barrier and enter the White House as president because, whatever her own skills, I believe she would be far from a frontrunner for the nomination were she not married to a former president. Her candidacy almost seems, rather than a giant step forward, a throwback to the days when, from Nellie Tayloe Ross and "Ma" Ferguson to Lurleen Wallace, the way women became governors was to succeed husbands who had died or were termed out.

Posted by: Scott on January 7, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Econobuzz: "I know how disappointing this answer must be, but I don't think Obama, Clinton, or Edwards would waste one minute in order to make folks pay for their past transgressions."

Then truly, if that is indeed the case, none of them are worth a damn. I adamantly refuse to think so little of them.

Until we commence to formally reconcile ourselves with the truth about events of the recent (and perhaps not-so-recent) past, we will as a nation collectively hamstring our ability to move forward with any degree of certitude or clarity of purpose.

Look, we're not talking about -- and I'm not interested in -- settling old political scores over a third-degree burglary of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, or more recently the incarceration of a former Democratic governor of Alabama over a manufactured criminal charge as a means to remove him from the political scene.

Rather, a monstrous crime has been committed in our country's name, a war against a defenseless and impoverished country waged under patently false pretenses, and untold thousands of people on both sides have either lost their lives or been grievously hurt as a result of that criminal activity. The people who committed this travesty against humanity to be brought to heel, and account for their acts.

Perhaps we should look to the example offered by former South African President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu for guidance and a possible solution to this dilemma.

But much as avoiding any mention for several generations of the genocide committed against native Americans did not solve our country's current so-called "Indian problems", wilfully ignoring this crime altogether in the interest of political expediency can only allow it to fester further in the bosom of our national soul, as a cancer rotting away on America's body politic.

I must sign off now. Aloha, everyone.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 7, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

shorter chrissy: i was just kidding about being for edwards. really i'm just totally against obama.

Posted by: as it unfolds on January 7, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Manfred: "Live interview on NBC today. Of course he must be reading off a teleprompter. Of course. Surely he can't be capable of writing his own speeches either could he? And you must be the ghostwriter for Baracks book."

You, of course, completely miss the point of my discussion about political spontaneity, of being up on stage and speaking from the heart at the moment of victory, rather than in a TV studio some 80 hours after the fact.

Rather, you prefer instead to engage in vitriolic personal attacks against those who you perceive to disagree with you and / or your candidate, whom you somehow mistakenly believe you're helping by directing your spew toward fellow Democrats.

That renders you, for purposes of this general discussion, pretty much irrelevant as a particiapant, and for the purposes of Sen. Obama's campaign, completely worthless as a human asset.

Aloha -- which, in your particular case, most definitely means "goodbye."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 7, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

The members of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations never had to pay for their transgressions commited during the Vietnam Occupation, where a lot more innocent people were killed by Americans than even W. Bush hopes to kill. Americans are unable to face the truth about themselves. That is probably true of most nations. Had the Germans and Japanese not been unconditionally defeated, they too would not have faced the truth about who they were and changed. That is what is so alarming about the end of the Vietnamese Occupation and the end of the W. Bush regime: Americans will do these things again and again without a superior force ripping off our eyelids to expose ourselves to our inhumanity.

Posted by: Brojo on January 7, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin can check off a lot of similarities between Obama and Clinton, but Obama is clearly outside the box in terms of race, temperment and the normal political categories. This is why he has so much charisma. He is combination of Tiger Woods and another constitutionl law professor/politician, Pierre Trudeau. Moreover unlike Tudeau who was satisfied with a 'just society,' Obama wants an open transparent, ethical government, something that Hillary by deeed and word has ignored since she is only focused on results, and not the process.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on January 7, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

I sincerely hope that our next president and legislature will deal with the past openly, both in terms of investigating it and forthrightly repairing the damage done. But someone who does more than hint at attacking the entrenched influences that created this problem just won't make it past those self-appointed gatekeepers of the media and their masters in the American aristocracy. It's an awful situation, but I simply can't see any hope of a pre-election environment that would allow such a candidacy to succeed.

Posted by: idlemind on January 7, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone who knows Obama's record point out one vote he has made as US senator that was against the war? I know he said he was against the war in 2003, but at that time he didn't actually have to vote for it since he wasn't in congress...what have been his votes since being elected? Have they really been different than Hillary's? By the way I am not being sarcastic here I would really like to know.

Posted by: applestooranges on January 7, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the powers that have supported and protected the criminality would like nothing better than to sap the energy of a new administration in an endless fight over who was right, who was wrong, who should pay and how.

I don't think so. I think accountability is not in the interests of the Bush gang. They won't be served by a thorough public vetting of their antics.

And maybe Donald is right, we should look to the South African model: full accounting, but no punitive action. That way the truth comes out and the public knows what mayhem occurred and who was responsible for it.

It may also be the wisest, most forward-looking course. Forgiveness is the high road. Fortunately, forgiveness doesn't preclude public humiliation.

Posted by: mattski on January 7, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

The make-or-break issue for me will be health care and, so far, Edwards has it for me!

Posted by: tommy harper on January 7, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

as it unfolds: I call it like I see it. I think Obama is a disaster. (btw has anyone mentioned that Obama cosponsored the Iran Counter Proliferation Act of 2007 - exactly what he tried to criticize Clinton for until he realized people noticed his hypocrisy) I've always felt Hillary faced enormous problems that would make it hard for her to be elected. Edwards remains the best candidate but his treatment of Hillary disgusts me and his obvious pandering to Obama. At this point I'm resigned to the return of the WH to the republicans and the environment, healthcare, the economy and war continuing us along the same path to hell.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

mattski: And maybe Donald is right, we should look to the South African model: full accounting, but no punitive action. That way the truth comes out and the public knows what mayhem occurred and who was responsible for it.

It may also be the wisest, most forward-looking course. Forgiveness is the high road. Fortunately, forgiveness doesn't preclude public humiliation.

Of course, they're immune to humiliation--or to shame--but that doesn't mean there wouldn't be great value in apprising the voters who are still morally operative of what their government has been up to.

Posted by: shortstop on January 7, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Donald, A good question might be what kind of legislation should be pushed through the congress to prevent what happened. Severe monetary penalties for the companies that participated in all illegalities is one that occurs to me. I also don't understand if it's illegal to yell fire in a crowded theater how can it not be illegal to yell WMD! and start a war. Not just the presidential candidates but the congressional candidates should have to take a stand on laws to prevent these crimes in the future.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 7, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

"enlarging the military by 92,000 troops"

This really is a nation of the right and the far right.

Posted by: jefff on January 7, 2008 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, they're immune to humiliation--or to shame--but that doesn't mean there wouldn't be great value in apprising the voters who are still morally operative of what their government has been up to.

But it would be interesting, shortstop, to see how much public flagellation their veneer of arrogance could withstand. It's difficult to maintain fantasies of dignity as your public approval ratings approach the single digits. ;^)

Posted by: mattski on January 7, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

To back up idlemind: We must be very careful in picking our fights. The average American has been so brainwashed by the MSM, that they will take any sign of the actions you recommend as pure mean spirited vindictiveness. That is why in 04 the Democrats were in such a hurry to dump Dean, he/you are/were way out in front of the people on the evils of Bush43. The penalty for being too far ahead of ones time, is to me made irrelevant.
I wish it wasn't so, but I see no choice in this matter other than the slow drip-drip-drip of revelations.

Posted by: bigTom on January 7, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not hard to imagine Clark, Feinstein or even Holbrooke serving in an Obama administration. And many Obamaites would probably work in a Hillary Clinton administration."

Since when has Diane Feinstein's name been floating around in conversations about possible cabinet positions in an Obama administration?! I think Barack is smart enough to purge the current regime of anyone who had anything to do with the normalization of torture -- including Senators who capitulated, out of a spirit of "bipartisanship," at the very last possible moment during the Mukasey confirmation. That includes the Chukster.

Posted by: Jaideep on January 7, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

SC> [Obama] is combination of Tiger Woods and another constitutional law professor/politician, Pierre Trudeau...

Ummm. No. Obama's life has been conventional so far compared to Trudeau at the same point. Obama's experiences are narrower, his thinking less radical or deep, his youthful traveling far less adventurous. Compare the "Early life and career" sections in wikipedia:

Wikipedia on Obama
Wikipedia on Trudeau

(warning to righties: the full Trudeau entry will be upsetting)

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on January 7, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm all for it, mattski. Start the engines of public shaming. Rrrrrrrrr!

Posted by: shortstop on January 7, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

This may have been mentioned above.

The strengths of the foreign policy teams aren't comparable. Anthony Lake was deep-sixed by Bill Clinton for a reason. He's certainly no Richard Holbrooke.

So I'll vote happily for either Obama or Clinton. But Clinton's foreign policy team is stronger and I hope whoever is the Dem nominee picks those folks up.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 7, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

DEMOCRATS, WE NEED TO DO A REALITY CHECK before it’s too late!
We need to use our brains, not our hearts, when choosing our candidate for President. No matter how effectively Obama may have roused our emotions and make us yearn for the “change” he envisions, no matter how clever and overpowering the current OBAMA-LOVE tsunami may be, we must resist the CRUSH and choose and nominate our candidate with eyes open to the realities that exist and our minds coolly and rationally focused on the strategy calculations that need to me made to outsmart the Republican election machine.
As one commentator above has observed “[WHY] are New Hampshire voters who stated in interviews that they supported John McCain before now switching their allegiance to Barack Obama? . . . [OR WHY] do we see panels of GOP pundits like George Will and David Brooks heaping praise on the man?”
Obama may best embody the Democrats “wish” candidate, but he will not win the presidency for Democrats. Just think about it rationally – with your eyes open. If the Democrats nominate Obama, the candidate of CHANGE and YEARNING ; the Republicans will nominate Romney, the embodiment of American WISH-FULFILLMENT – Hollywood-handsome, successful, untroubled, hard-working super achiever with a picture perfect family; a devoted and happy “homemaker” wife and five handsome, untroubled, successful and admiring sons. The Republican election machine will convince Americans that Obama represents TOO MUCH CHANGE, TOO FAST, that his election will mean instability, trouble and turmoil for America – that he threatens to blow up the long ago perfected, reassuring American Dream (the OZZIE AND HARRIET kind). They will “swift-boat” Obama with TV Ads taunting him with quotes from his book “Dreams of my Father” and assail him for dreaming of Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. -- a staunch Moslem from Kenya who had many wives and many children and abandoned his American Family when Obama, Jr. was two. In defining Obama for the American general election voter, the Republican dirt machine will show pictures of the unrest and mob behavior in Kenya and thereby deviously, unfairly, but effectively associate Obama with that tumultuous behavior. By way of pointed contrast, the Republican TV Ads (maybe even a movie) will then show the picture-perfect, serenely untroubled Romney family in idyllic American Dream settings. And, they will say to of the American voter, which is your dream? The choice is yours.
Given the strong likelihood that Obama will be defined and contrasted by the Republicans similar to a fashion I have described, I WILL BET ANYONE THAT NOT TOO MANY OF THE INDEPENDENT VOTERS NOW FLOCKING TO OBAMA WILL SHOW UP AT THE VOTING BOOTH IN NOVEMBER TO CAST THEIR VOTE FOR THE OBAMA DREAM.
Hillary may not be the candidate of our dreams, but she will survive the Republican dirt machine – no matter what they toss at her – and she will go on to win the White House for Democrats.

Posted by: Erika S on January 7, 2008 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

And maybe Donald is right, we should look to the South African model: full accounting, but no punitive action.

But the way to arrive at full accounting is not via the Justice Department, which is what Donald is advocating. Look at what happened with Fitzgerald: he looked at all the juicy substantive stuff and then kept it all to himself and only came up with an indictment of Libby on the details. Because he thought, as a prosecutor, that it would be an easier indictment. And the Republican Noise Machine quickly turned that to their advantage, saying that it proved that "no crime was committed".

Much better to do it via open congressional investigations. That way everything is out in the open. And the Dems already have the power to do that, but choose to keep it "off the table". You want accounting -- ring up Nancy. Presidents have other work to do.

Posted by: JS on January 7, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, there's another difference as well: rhetoric. In domestic policy, public opinion is king"

So, Kevin, I guess George W. Bush gets his tremendous power and resists all attempts to be impeached or restrained in any way from his tremendous speech-giving ability?

Voted to continue funding Iraq war
Obama: Yes
Edwards: No

If Obama thinks his oratory skills have made the political landscape what it is (in favor of Dems), then he's a moron or liar. In either case we would be in for a disastrous administration if he's elected.

Posted by: MarkH on January 8, 2008 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton's election would be a significant jolt to the Islamic world if not for two things: 1) the three countries with the largest Muslim populations in the world have already elected family members of previous male presidents (Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) and 2) her Middle East policies. She simply has the most hawkish foreign policy advisers. They all carry the AIPAC seal of approval. They are all afraid of saying anything to Israel to ever get it to change its behavior. While our support of Israel's occupation of the Palestinians wasn't the biggest cause of 9/11, it was there and among the umma in general, the Palestinian issue combined with Iraq are the two core sources of grievance. A Clinton presidency would probably mean another 4-8 years of a Bush presidency in terms of Middle East policy. If she was her own woman and had a better foreign policy team that could actually reach out to the Muslim world and get Israel to make the necessary concessions for peace, then that would make a difference.

Posted by: Reality Man on January 8, 2008 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

You know, Erika S, when you make your point USING ALL CAPS LIKE YOURE A CRAZY PERSON YELLING ON THE STREET with no paragraph breaks, it's hard to take you seriously. Also, Romney has the highest negatives of all of the nominees from either party. Americans don't see him as a movie star, but more like an overly marketed used car salesman. All of the Democrats poll better against him than just about any of the Republicans.

Posted by: Reality Man on January 8, 2008 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK
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