Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 17, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

WITHDRAWAL....Over at TPM, William Hartung reviews the bidding and concludes that "this week's Democratic presidential debate underscored the fact that none of the party's frontrunners supports a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq any time soon." He recommends reading the timeline put together by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs to get a good sense of just where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stand on the subject.

Bottom line: although Obama has been consistent in opposing the invasion, he and Hillary have taken pretty similar positions on withdrawal since then. I'd say that's about right, and over the past few months what few disagreements they had have been sanded down even more. I have a very hard time really seeing any daylight between them at this point.

Kevin Drum 3:04 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (111)

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Comments

So original positions count for nothing?

Don't look at the past? Just focus on the present and the future?

Posted by: Quinn on January 17, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Look, if any of these candidates intended to withdraw from Iraq, they would say so in very clear, unambiguous terms. They would also be pressed on how they mean to do that, and would have answers.

I believe they are all part of a general Washington Consensus that believes in a permanent occupation.

This is enormously at variance with Americans, and particularly Democrats.

They need to pressed on this issue at candidate events.

Posted by: Jay Ackroyd on January 17, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Who knows what C/O/E feel in their hearts, but I am sure they know what would happen to their press coverage if they supported immediate withdrawl.

Posted by: F. Frederson on January 17, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Mind you, there are reasons for this. There is no national defense capability: no air, no armor, no logistical capability, no functional chain of command. There are no plans to provide them that capability, and there are no plans to have an actual, representative sovereign government in place, because such a government, shi-ite dominated would ally with Iran, and certainly would not tolerate a US military presence in support of Israeli interests.

What disturbs me about this is that the fact that the US continue to occupy, indefinitely, a country that will not be permitted to have a government with a monopoly on the use of force, a government that doesn't even have the power to arrest and convict civilian foreigners who murder people.

It would seem to me that this is a policy that is worthy of discussion. But this is not discussed, not by the democratic presidential candidates and not by the media.

Posted by: Jay Ackroyd on January 17, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Is it a bad thing to have opposed the war initially but also to oppose a precipitous withdrawal? It seems to me that it is actually the responsible thing to do. Bush made a mess in Iraq, but America has lasting responsibility to help fix the damage.

Posted by: Badger on January 17, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Barak Obama has said on a number of occasions that we need to be more thoughtful in the manner in which we leave Iraq than the way in which we entered. And neither candidate wants Iraq to melt down into a full-blown civil war on their watch. So, they'll redeploy or do whatever makes the least amount of damage as our troops are slowly withdrawn. Why is this a bad thing? Would you prefer the Republican Plan of Endless War?

Posted by: CT on January 17, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Edwards was pretty clear on getting US
troops off Iraqi soil (albeit keeping some in the
region) ? Oops, sorry, I broke the pundit rules
by mentioning Edwards. But, dammit, he's got
absolutely the best policy positions on everything,
even if he is a white middle-aged guy with a pricy
haircut and a big house.

Posted by: Richard Cownie on January 17, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

[I checked your IP, you have never commented here before, and frankly, I have no intention of allowing your single-issue trolling to take root. All such future comments will be deleted. --Mod]

Posted by: blakmira on January 17, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The question I'd like to hear asked of the candidates is "Do you support having permanent US bases in Iraq?" I'm pretty sure Edwards would say 'no' because he doesn't even want residual troops based in Iraq, as Richard Crownie states. That would be the tell-tale question which would answer how 'Washington-based,' 'neocon-based' and/or 'imperialism-based', Obama and Clinton really are.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

blackmira, there are only Jews in my Synagogue. What's yer point, dipshit?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 17, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but I just can't currently support a candidate like Barack Obama, whose campaign platform consists of pablum and bromides, laced with glittering generalities and lightly bathed in perfumed soap bubbles.

I'll try to keep an open mind about the man, but I'd really like to be told more about what he wants to do, other than that we can transform this country if we but dare to dream the dream that dares to be dreamt.

Sen. Obama could conceivably close the deal with people like me, if only he'd step down off the Ivory Soap box for a moment and get his hands dirty, by providing some specific ideas and detailed plans that both underscore the progressive agenda and demonstrate that he indeed has a firm, solid grasp of both policy and the realities of government processes.

But if he continues to speak in ethereal terms, sounding like the vague mission statements of those mysterious nonprofit organizations that always tug at our heartstrings and ask us for money without ever offering a clue as to how those funds would be spent, Sen. Obama runs the serious risk of being defined by Republicans in the general election as the very sort of stereotypical liberal that conservatives just love to hate.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that both are proposing the responsible thing and not pandering on this most serious matter?

Posted by: bob h on January 17, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if you don't think this past judgement matters -- you have swallowed too much Clinton Kool-aid to be saved. Anyway, you're undying support of Clinton, reminds me of another bloggers foolish almost-to-the-end support for Bush in '04. Daniel Drezner, continued to waver between Bush and Kerry, until almost the end. Finally he came around, and realized the gross incompetence of Bush couldn't be glossed over. The last 4 years probably vindicated that judgement. However, I don't see you changing your mind on Clinton vs. Obama. You're going to go down on the Clinton boat. However, I think you should go back in time and read some of Drezner's posts, you guys have similar mentalities.

Posted by: Jor on January 17, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

The day light is in Iran, not Iraq. Iraq is so f@#ked up their just aren't great option. But we still have plenty of opportunity to get Iran correct.

Posted by: Mark on January 17, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly! Perfectly put, Donald!

I have been looking for a reason to fall in love with the guy since he spoke at the 2004 convention. But I just...can't...muster...it.

Sorry, that's reality as I see it from the nexus of the Kaw and the Muddy Mo.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 17, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Donald, just go to Obama's web site. All the details you could ever want is there.

If that isn't good enough, then realize your complaint is on style, not substance. You like more substance in the speeches. Fine, but it isn't really complaint about the actual substance.

Posted by: Mark on January 17, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, here is Bill Clinton, supporting voter suppression on you tube . True Democrat their Kevin.

Posted by: Jor on January 17, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Jor makes a good point. There is some rationalization going on here. But Kevin seems to be slowly moving in the right direction.

We don't really know what the candidates will do in part because that depends on what happens over the next few years. But Clinton has a consistant record of making more hawkish comments and has taken more hawkish positions in the past. And she has more hawkish / pro-Iraq war advisors. It is all a guessing game, of course, but whatever the candidates find it politically expedient to say at the moment probably isn't the best guide to their behavior as President - this is really sort of cheap talk.

Posted by: ikl on January 17, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is not running as a technocrat or middle manager of a company, Hillary is. If you want someone who is going to be hands on, then Obama is not your guy. He is my guy because the U.S. gov't is too complicated for the Prez to be involved in the minutia of all of the departments under his/her command. I know Bush has stained the perception of President as C.E.O., but I think that C.E.O. is the proper model. One of Bill's problems as President was that he had a hard time making decisions because his policy wonkishness got him caught up in the details.

Posted by: Blue Moon on January 17, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Using "withdrawal from Iraq" as an indicator of how the candidates approach an issue over time, it seems to me that ideally a person would like to hesitate and not commit to anything before circumstances and information make it clear what's best. Unfortunately, there are times when that just doesn't work well. We would need some really visionary people to predict future events and put us on the right path very early. So, we have some experts and some free thinkers and some pols in a room and they sort it out. But, the candidates have to do it on the fly and it really tests their judgment and luck.

Clinton has been very very hesitant to leave her earlier position of complete support for the war. She has gradually eased off that and is pretty much in line with the others now.

Edwards was freer to take a new position since he's not in the senate now and he did that aggressively by saying we should get everybody out except what's needed to protect the embassy and aid workers. He hesitated a while about training Iraqi soldiers, but now he's dropped that too.

Obama...I really don't know. He speaks in such vague generalities it's hard to say what he would do aside from nuking Pakistan. But, even he has said recently that we need to leave Iraq in more or less the same way Clinton proposes.

So, of these which is the more responsible, more effective, best example of leadership, etc.?

I generally like Edwards, but I admit there's a pre-existing bias. I also like Clinton's general direction. My only problem with her was the obstinancy in supporting her original AUMF vote instead of giving the public something, some kind of apology or something. And, her Kyl-Lieberman vote & explanation sucked. I guess I don't really get Obama at all. I haven't followed his position over time -- maybe he's just shadowing Clinton.

So, I take Edwards or Clinton as clear and reasoned and in the right direction with Edwards a little more to the point.

Posted by: MarkH on January 17, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I can show you the daylight.
Hillary still makes many conservatives gag, have convulsions, see the end of days, etc. If she wins the nomination, every bubbah in FL, OH, CO, MO, OR will come out of the wood work to stop her.
Obama, while policy wise is very similar to HRC, has tactic support of some very conservative thinkers, like David Brooks. They like him. They might even vote for him over the likes of Huckabee.
So if a porgressive person really wants good odds on sealing a left leaning agenda, their money should be down on Obama. The policy results will be similar, but you won't have eight more years of GOP kamikaze attacks on the House of Clinton. (true he will get his own attacks)and his odds of winning in the general election are very good do to the independent sect.
how's that for daylight? pretty bright to me.

Posted by: cboss on January 17, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards has a better position on the war than Clinton or Obama.

And let's try for the best candidate that the one the Republicans won't rally against.

Posted by: Lilybelle on January 17, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Donald - I really liked your post, you put into words something I have been trying to.

As for cboss - today's Washington Post has all of it's lovely hard core pundit rethuglicans coming out for Obama. Do you think they are doing this because Obama is such a lefty? No they are doing it because they know he will be a weaker candidate in the general election than Hillary.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 17, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

[I'm assuming BlueGirl took a pass on my offer]

choss makes a good point - I've mentioned before that Frank Luntz strongly implied he supports Obama, and read George Will's column today - George Will! - he may not support Obama but shows he wouldn't think it's the end of the world to lose to him. My side is already demoralized, and it would be extremely hard for the Malkins or the Limbaughs to generate a fraction of the opposition to Obama that they would to the Goldwater Girl.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 17, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

From Obama's website:

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

From Clinton's:

The most important part of Hillary's plan is the first: to end our military engagement in Iraq's civil war and immediately start bringing our troops home. As president, one of Hillary's first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration.

Both Clinton and Obama commit to beginning the troop withdrawal from Iraq quickly.

Obama commits to finishing it in fairly quick order, aside from a couple of minor caveats.

Clinton does not.

That's a pretty big chunk of daylight, from my POV.

Kevin: did you overlook this difference, or do you just not consider it substantial?

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on January 17, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I have a very hard time really seeing any daylight between them at this point.

The difference is whether you want to stay the course based on hope and a desire for change, or to stay the course based on strength and experience. If you don't want to stay the course, you might consider Edwards, who at least appears to have different ideas about Iraq.

Posted by: AJ on January 17, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

So Blue Moon, are you suggesting that the Prez be a CEO like, say Ken Lay, who purportedly knew nothing of what was going on below him?

Kinda like Obama saying Ronald Reagan was a great president.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 17, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Moon, I think you discount entirely too much the need for a president to be intimately involved in both the development and implimentation of his or her own policy directives and initiatives.

This isn't an "either / or" proposition here, whereas you can reduce a candidate like Hillary Clinton -- or for that matter, a president like her husband -- to political caricature, as someone who eschews the proverbial "big picture" approach to governance and thus can't see the forest for the trees.

But by the same token, I really don't believe this country can afford to have another person occupying the White House who believes that his job is simply to inspire the rest of us to greater heights of accomplishment, while simultaneously tasking to his subordinates the mundane tasks of daily governance. It's the president's job to both lead and manage.

Americans of late have had entirely too much "hands-on" experience of their own, dealing with the subsequent fallout that most assuredly occurs whenever our presidents take a "hands-off" approach to their fiduciary duties, and delegate their own responsibilities to the point of abrogation.

We need a president who will have and maintain a firm grasp of the tiller, while keeping his or her eyes on both the compass and the horizon.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Vote Green.

Quinn: NO. Obama ain't doing anything more for me TODAY than Clinton. And, the Slickster is half-right, at least, on Obama's fairy tale.

Richard Cownie: Edwards has never defined the number of troops in "residual," nor what the "tripwires" might be to get them engaged in action again. No real diff between him and Obama/Clinton, either.

Low-Tech, et al, why doesn't Obama say that, in actual words, then?

Donald from Hawaii, that's kind of what Ted Rall said about Obama in his most recent column.

If you would like real change, sometimes, you have to be an idealist, even if idealism gets its ass kicked at the polls.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 17, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

To complete the comparison, from Edwards' website:

We must show the Iraqis that we are serious about leaving by actually starting to leave, with an immediate withdrawal of 40,000-50,000 troops and a complete withdrawal within nine to ten months. We should leave behind in Iraq only a brigade of 3,500 to 5,000 troops to protect the embassy and possibly a few hundred troops to guard humanitarian workers.

He's for a faster withdrawal than Obama, and more specific about leaving behind a very small number of troops for particular purposes.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on January 17, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

What a joke "[no]daylight between them". How about the daylight in their judgement in the first place Kevin? I'm glad that HRC has decided to adopt Obama's position after 5 years of her cowardly leadership on this issue but if she had used had better judgement maybe our kids wouldn't be dying over there in the first place. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Dresden on January 17, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

[I'm assuming BlueGirl took a pass on my offer]

Now settle down, Airman.

I stated my position and stood my ground. That is certainly not "giving a pass" - no matter how you want to play it.

You made a second hand assertion and I called you on it. Like, I presume, you knew I would.

Good job on solving the pie caper. It was the cat, wasn't it?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 17, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

To parse, the Obama website quote fro low-tech cyclist says "and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months". I don't think "all combat brigades" means "all troops".

Here is a youtube excerpt from an early Dem dabate where Obama, Clinton, and Edwards all refuse to make a blanket commitment to remove all troops by a date certain. (Hillary actually says, "I agree with Barak").

Only Dodd said he would make that commitment -- and it didn't help him much, evidently.

Only political junkies (like all of us here) want specifics from candidates. Most other people vote the personality, not the positions on the issues -- and certainly not the specific plans.

Posted by: JS on January 17, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

"It's the president's job to both lead and manage."

Donald,

Obama's statement about his 'mishandling' papers in no way should imply that he would not be a hands-on president. Remember, Bush doesn't like to 'read.' I doubt the same could be said of Obama, or for that matter any other Dem candidate. Every president needs advisors and experts on board because no one single human being can be an expert on the myriad number of issues facing the president of the US. In fact, the whole idea of having a cabinet is a confirmation of this 'division of labor.' To accuse Obama of being another Bush is, in my opinion, a gross exaggeration.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

PS: Actually, I'm sure Bush was a CEO-type prez with little hands-on direction mainly because he couldn't understand a damn thing about ANY of the issues. I mean, c'mon, we've had a president for 7+ years now that is totally devoid of knowledge, wisdom, experience, etc., etc. A complete and total goof, susceptible to the designs of any and every Machiavelli in government.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

JMHO but the next prez will really have to be knowledgable about how to move legislation through and how to get the current status quo changed.

Just look at all the damage Cheney has wrecked.
It's going to take years to reverse all of his dastardly deeds.

I don't think Obama has even a clue as to where he will have to start. Hillary, on the other hand, has a good idea where to start digging up the dead bodies.

And I think promises that you are going to get X number of troups out of Iraq in Y number of months are idiotic. The situation in Iraq is constantly changing. You need the advice of your chiefs of staff - providing of course that you have chosen the ones that will give you an accurate picture of what is going on and not simply echo your opinions.

None of the candidates have a clear picture of all that is going on in Iraq. Most of that stuff is classified and they don't have access to the information. And they won't get that info until they are sworn in. At that point I think Obama and Edwards will poop their pants.
I think Hillary has a better understanding of what sort of shit underlies all the glowing reports coming from Petreaus

Posted by: optical weenie on January 17, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

The common anti-Obama argument coming from the left is that the GOP is rooting for him as a weak opponent. I always ask "weak against who?" McCain, maybe. Everyone else? Morons, come'on a squirrel eatin creationist hill-billy is top tier.

The truth is, he is such an ispiring orator (policies aside) that it is difficult for poeple not to lke him. He has high "like-abilty" ratings, as did GWB. This has always been a election winner in the General. Think "who do you want to drink a beer with?"

Hillary on the other hand is one of the most deviled characters of the Democratic party. She is a galvanizing character on the left and the right. That's why she plays so strong in the primaries, but 40% of democrats is 20% of the entire country when the other side "HATES" you.

GOP indifference to Obama is his greatest strength nationally. Bubbah doesn't care that much to leave the house on chilly November monring.

Posted by: cboss on January 17, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta: "Obama's statement about his 'mishandling' papers in no way should imply that he would not be a hands-on president."

With all due respect, nepeta, whenever a particular statement made by either a candidate or an elected official requires further clarification, then it's that candidate or elected official who should provide it personally.

I know what I heard, and I really don't need an interpreter to tell me what he or she thinks was meant by it. It's incumbent upon the candidate himself, and not his supporters, to alleviate my residual concerns from such misunderstanding or miscommunication, as the case may be.

If that candidate chooses not to do so, that's both his right and his discretion, and he should be at peace with whatever personal decision I make accordingly regarding his candidacy.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Cboss - sorry, but I like my candidates deviled.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 17, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Donald,

What I heard was: "I have a really messy desk." and "I tend to lose things unless they're stapled to my coat." What did you hear?

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Mark: "Donald, just go to Obama's web site. All the details you could ever want is there."

I already have, on numerous occasions, and obviously it isn't, or else I wouldn't have said what I said upthread.

Don't ever presume that you know, based upon your own experiences and / or respective personal levels of satisfaction and need, what other people might require or want. You make and be responsible for your own decisions, and I'll do the same.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta, I'm simply not going to argue with you today. I'll stand by what I said upthread. You can believe whatever you want. That's the inherent beauty of free will.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Much of the damage done by Cheney, Addington, Gonzales et al has to do with legal intepretation, misinterpretation, and legalese. Obama, a constitutional law scholar, would certainly be in a better position than the other candidates to understand these issues without help from the AG and make up his own mind.

Also, who is and who is not ready to take action on day one is just a claim. Is Obama not as ready because he was not married to a president?

Posted by: JS on January 17, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Paul believes in automatic withdrawl.

At least with Ron there's no equivocation about it.

But you all seem to enjoy equivocation.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on January 17, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

I have a nephew serving in Iraq, with the Virginia National Guard. I want him out out of there ASAP.

No difference that I can discern between Obama and Clinton on that score.

When he does get back, however, he needs to have health insurance that actually works. I need that too, come to think of it.

Clinton takes Obama down on that one.

I also have a husband and a brother who depend on the VA for medical care, and the "Clinton era" VA reforms WORKED, people!

Look it up, for Chrissake!

What Bush and Cheney have done to the system is criminal. Hillary is my Senator and she "reached across party lines" to keep my local VA hospital open.

Nevertheless, I was sufficiently incensed at "her vote for war" to vote AGAINST her in the 2006 Democratic primary. Perfect opportunity for the massive peace movement to punish her for her terrible mistake/crime of "voting for war".

Jeez, I thought I'd be standing in line behind the Ragin'Grannies, Rochester Against War, Metro Justice, all the locals I have been marching WITH over the years...

I think I was, like, the fourth person who even showed up? And if I was the fourth, the three before me, and the five after me voted for Hillary.

And I cannot blame them.

She has been a good Senator. She knows her stuff, she gets it done, and in Upstate New York, where I live, she has visited numerous times.

And everybody who actually meets Hillary...

Likes her.


Posted by: wobbly on January 17, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's obfuscation of the issue(s) in favor of Hillary, while understandable given his ideological predisposition and demographic, really is unfortunate in this campaign. How on earth can you possibly discount where these people stood when it actually mattered? How do you give nonsensical election rhetoric such weight? I'll never, ever understand this.

Posted by: Bill on January 17, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but I just can't currently support a candidate like Barack Obama, whose campaign platform consists of pablum and bromides, laced with glittering generalities and lightly bathed in perfumed soap bubbles.

It doesn't. And if you bothered to check his website for specific positions that make up his platform, you'd see that it doesn't. You'd then have the opportunity to articulate your disagreements with the positions he's laid out, rather than posting a criticism that consists of pablum & bromides, laced with glittering generalities and lightly bathed in the pretense that you have an open mind about things.

Posted by: enough already on January 17, 2008 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

SocraticGadfly: "If you would like real change, sometimes, you have to be an idealist, even if idealism gets its ass kicked at the polls."

Again, I say this with all due respect, but our country is currently in very dire straits after eight years of criminal neglect, mismanagement and conduct under Republican rule.

Therefore, the state of the union is now such that we simply cannot afford the luxury of engaging the whimsical self-indulgences of our inner dreamer, nor have we that option of seeing our idealism "[get] its ass kicked at the polls."

Bluntly put, we have to win. so, let's first work hard to pry the Republicans out of the White House and marginalize them in Congress, before we hold hands, close our eyes and sway to a recording of John Lennon's Imagine.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I second Donald.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 17, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Donald is right. There is too much at stake. Pardon me for shouting, but...

It's about the next Supreme Court Justice, Stupid!!!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 17, 2008 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

None of the candidates have a clear picture of all that is going on in Iraq. Most of that stuff is classified and they don't have access to the information. And they won't get that info until they are sworn in. At that point I think Obama and Edwards will poop their pants.
I think Hillary has a better understanding of what sort of shit underlies all the glowing reports coming from Petreaus.

I am not sure what leads you to this conclusion. I think if the unknown was to cause any pooping it would cause it in all three – if it were to. But I don't even think that would happen. The general reaction to what is going on from the Left seems to be massive distrust if not outright disbelief in the reports of Petreaus. I can't believe that Obama and Edwards aren't similarly prepared to encounter a shit hole of epic proportions if they assumed office as Hillary. That's not to say they would be the most effective.

I find myself wobbling on the fence so much I'm getting nauseous. I also think there is lot of projection from people toward candidates, and I have found myself guilty of doing the same -- wanting to prefer one over another. We are human and we react, positively and negatively, to cues that sometimes confound logic. I am trying to keep a very open mind about all three – as I find myself liking all of them, more, not less, as I approach the primary. When has that ever happened in my voting life?

And to Donald from Hawaii: I encourage you to keep trying to have an open mind, as you say. I agree that Obama has the speechifying down, and that seems less substantive. But I also suspect that this is a strategy to get elected. It doesn’t in and by itself mean he would be ineffective.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on January 17, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Which Dem candidate would make the best president?
Which Dem candidate is more likely to beat the Republican nominee?

These are very different questions, and I think they sometimes get mixed up. If the second question is the more important, then the argument should be about electoral arithmetic, positives/negatives polling, and one-on-one match-ups.

Posted by: JS on January 17, 2008 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK
…. My side is already demoralized, and it would be extremely hard for the Malkins or the Limbaughs to generate a fraction of the opposition to Obama….mr insensitiveat 5:13 PM
You speak with disingenuous intent: Check out this profoundly racist editorial from Investor's Business Daily, not heretofore known as a WSJ clone. Vile as this is, it is just a hint of things to come.
….Kinda like Obama saying Ronald Reagan was a great president optical weenie at 5:17 PM

The quote

…."he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

This is accepting the RepubliConTarian Spin on Reagan

"Matt Stoller criticizes Obama thus:
if you think, as Obama does, that Reagan's rise to power was premised on a sunny optimism in contrast to an out of control government and a society rife with liberal excess, then you don't understand the conservative movement. Reagan tapped into greed and fear and tribalism, and those are powerful forces. Ignoring that isn't going to make them go away."

"He's right. He's also right that accepting the right's successful fantasy-frame about what Reagan was all about surrenders to one of their most successful strategies: affecting innocence about the terrible consequences of their own ideology in the here and now—helping conservatism, as an ideology, survive to fight another day..."

Is Obama so unaware of the Reagan record that he accepts this at face value or is he endorsing the record that the spin tries to conceal?
I, for one, find Obama's record to be thin, and have an inherent distrust of pols offering grand idealistic rhetoric.

Posted by: Mike on January 17, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

I remember in 2004 the Bush camp saying that Kerry's Iraq plans really weren't different than Bush's. And in some sense, that was true. Both were committed to staying in Iraq at that point. But does that mean that Kerry would have handled the last four years in the same way that Bush has?

We're in a bad position in Iraq, and that means there's aren't a lot of good options for us. Neither leaving now, leaving in the next few years, nor staying forever will undo the mess that we have caused. But it's worth remembering who got us in this mess.

Posted by: Royko on January 17, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

enough already: "It doesn't. And if you bothered to check his website for specific positions that make up his platform, you'd see that it doesn't. Etc., etc. ..."

Please see my replies to Mark and nepeta at 6:33pm and 6:38pm respectively.

If what's on that website is totally cool with you, then that's cool with me. But that's also your own perception. It's most certainly not mine.

Our standards of judgment are clearly not the same, with regards to what we each respectively find to be acceptable. Again, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to personal perception.

And further, if you believe that you're doing your candidate any favors during the primaries by taking it upon yourself to taunt and insult fellow Democrats, simply because they happen to disagree with your candidate and / or you own personal opinion, then you best think again.

Our state's Democratic caucuses are on February 24. And right now, speaking for myself -- there's that damn perception again! -- the public face of Barack Obama's campaign has begun to morph into those of his most abusive vocal supporters.

Now, I can't speak for others here, but I'm really not inclined to heed the intemperate political clarion calls of people who sound so juvenile and petulant, that they might just as well be angry at Mom and Dad for not letting them watch Hannah Montana because they haven't finished their chores or done their homework.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Other than the detail of displaying right judgment vs. wrong judgment on the the big question, they are virtually indistinguishable.

Wasn't Kevin Drum open to invading Iraq, if not cheering for the invasion?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 17, 2008 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

I know what I heard, and I really don't need an interpreter to tell me what he or she thinks was meant by it. It's incumbent upon the candidate himself, and not his supporters, to alleviate my residual concerns from such misunderstanding or miscommunication, as the case may be.

With all due respect, Donald, there are lots of people (e.g., Bush) who "know what they know," but really would benefit if they would listen to an interpreter.

Your interpretation is not the only interpretation, and it is a perfectly reasonably part of discussion for people to point out where their interpretations differ from yours, and why they think your interpretation my be flawed.

Bluntly put, we have to win.

Clearly, no one will debate this. Where has running technocrats gotten us? Kerry, lost; Gore, lost; Dukakis, lost; Mondale, lost; Carter, lost. LBJ got in on the coattails of dreamer JFK, Truman on the coattails of visionary (and technocrat) FDR. Bill is the only technocrat we've won with recently, but in addition to being a technocrat, he also "felt your pain."

What have we lost to? "Morning in America." "Shining City on a Hill." "I'm a uniter, not a divider." Sure, they also used dirty, racist tactics, but there success at least partly rested on being "dreamers." Regan's political legacy (versus his policy legacy) is still potent because of the dreamer parts. ("Tear down this wall!")

... by providing some specific ideas and detailed plans that both underscore the progressive agenda and demonstrate that he indeed has a firm, solid grasp of both policy and the realities of government processes.

I also like to have this feeling, and it is part of why I have trouble supporting Edwards, because his government experience is so paper thin.

But in the end, I'm not sure how I am qualified to make the judgment. When a candidate dumps a lot of specifics on me, how am I supposed to know that they're right? I have seen how easy it is for academics to snow a lay audience. Am I to trust the establishment judgment? Their track record is horrible.

Why are you confident that you're qualified to make the judgment? In the end, won't you just be going on "gut feeling" as well? In a different way, this seems like indulging an inner dreamer, too.

At some point, the more specifics that are offered, the more likely they're wrong. Even technocrats don't have crystal balls about how circumstances will change, and what political compromises they'll be forced to make.

In the end, looking at past results may be the best bet. On that score, Hillary's actual accomplishments seem as weak as any of the candidates.

Posted by: Dagome on January 17, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well Donald, and all of the others who think Obama is full of pablum, or this or that or some other put-down, two questions:

(1) Why are all the red-purple state Democrats endorsing Obama? That is of course in addition to the very liberal Dems who also endorse him?

(2) Which candidate is most likely to give us the greatest possible majority in Congress?

Noting that the actual policy differences are quite marginal you might then think about which candidate has the best chance of delivering them.

The answer to that last practical question is certainly not the guy with the $400 haircut or the lady with the highest negatives of any candidate running for President.

So on very practical grounds, maybe you should support a candidate who can deliver. Or you could support your current choice and moan and bitch about the impossibility of changing anything substantively for the next four years.

Regarding the so-called Reagan comment, whoever it was who mentioned this earlier in this thread, educate yourself and watch the entire one hour interview which is now online to see what he actually said, instead of misquoting him to score some petty point.

Mahalo.

Posted by: manfred on January 17, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Mike,

"Is Obama so unaware of the Reagan record that he accepts this at face value or is he endorsing the record that the spin tries to conceal?"

I wish Obama wouldn't have mentioned Reagan at all. It displeases me immensely. However, the talking heads on Olbermann tonight suggest that it's a political ploy to capture independents, maybe not so wise in the primaries but a plus in the general. Seems to me he could have chosen another issue to appeal to independents. It's not going to win him any votes with Dems. I understand what Obama is saying (post-Carter, remember) but still wish he hadn't said it.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the heads-up, Manfred. I just saw a short clip on Olbermann. I'll be interested in seeing the longer interview.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dagome: "Why are you confident that you're qualified to make the judgment?"

Show me someone who's not confident in the quality of their own decision-making, and I'll show you someone who either hasn't done his or her homework, or hasn't any backbone.

We all make such decisions on my own behalf all the time, political or otherwise, based upon our own personal perceptions.

Again, speaking for myself, my political perceptions are based in large part upon my fourteen years of experience working in a state legislature (seven of those in senior leadership staff), and another three in Congress. And to be perfectly honest, I've seen the ideologues and fancy talkers come and go in the business.

Barack Obama is indeed different, a dynamic and inspriational orator, and he has great potential to evolve into something really special. Hell, I was so impressed with him that when the Hawaii House Speaker asked me to organize a fundraiser for him in December 2004, to coincide with then-Sen.-elect Obama's visit to his old hometown of Honolulu to visit his maternal grandmother, I jumped at the chance to do so.

But since then, my disappointment has only increased as his ambitions became all-too-thinly veiled, and his subsequent political posturing all too calculating for my liking. I've said before, and I'll say it again, Obama's young enough to bide his time. Patience in politics is indeed a virtue.

Now, it may well be that this current campaign of his might well succeed, and he'll be elected president and prove me wrong. But my own experience and perception leads me to believe that the opposite will occur. But the nice thing about this is this: If I'm wrong, it's most certainly a mistake I can live with.

And if the latter's the case, and his campaign starts to recede slowly but surely, then I hope that the Obama campaign will have been successful enough, in that the senator will be well-positioned to be the heir-apparent to our party's eventual nominee, or perhaps even chosen as the running mate of Mrs. Clinton, should she prevail in the primaries.

It's just my personal opinion that he's just not seasoned enough to be our presidential nominee, making his current moves premature at best.

Therefore, I'm now inclined to look to Hillary Clinton, since John Edwards' chances are going to be pretty much nil by the time of our Feb. 24 caucuses. I know that Clinton can roll with the GOP's punches, and effectively counterpunch, and that's what I think we really need right now in a nominee.

Great discussion, everyone. I've got to go watch my daughter play basketball tonight, so I'm out of here.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 17, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

"We all make decisions on my own behalf all the time..." - Donald from Hawaii

Haha, a Freudian slip?

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

The "daylight" between them is in the original decision to go to war or not. One made the wrong choice. The other the right choice. Once the damage is done, however, the responsible thing to do is to act like an adult and control the fallout.

Posted by: sunsetdawg on January 17, 2008 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

...if we but dare to dream the dream that dares to be dreamt...

Donald, there you go again. Wish I'd said it. Have you published any books or papers? If so, I'd sure like to read them. You are so insightful and thoughtful, plus you have an uncommon knack for stringing words together.

Posted by: Sharon on January 17, 2008 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Manfred,

If you're still around, can you give me a URL for the Obama interview? I've been googling and can't find a video. Also been to Obama's site.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Found the Obama interview! For anyone else interested in watching, here it is:

Obama Interview with Reno Gazette Journal, 1/17/2008

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Therefore, the state of the union is now such that we simply cannot afford the luxury of engaging the whimsical self-indulgences of our inner dreamer, nor have we that option of seeing our idealism "[get] its ass kicked at the polls."

Abso-tively-posi-lutely right, Donald!

Posted by: Sharon on January 17, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

SocraticGadfly -

So if George W. Bush were to have a change of heart tomorrow and promise to being bringing troops home immediately, then all's well in your book, bygones are bygones? Sorry, but how and why a politican gets to a particular position matters quite a bit to me. There may not be much daylight NOW, but I do remember someone who couldn't even bring themselves to admit that they made a mistake about their Iraq vote. That's not the person I want making the decision to bring our troops home.

Posted by: Quinn on January 17, 2008 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

I would strongly urge anyone who is on the fence or 'wobbly' about their Dem candidate preference to watch the video I linked to at 9:59 PM. You'll get information about Obama's specific policy plans, his top 3 priorities after gaining office, what Obama seeks in a running mate, how he interprets bipartisanship, why he thinks he's the right person for this moment, on and on and on. All of my questions have been answered. Thanks so much, Manfred. I would have missed this had you not mentioned it.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

We must remember that Obama was right only in hindsight. At the time of the invasion most of us had been duped by the neocons into thinking Saddam was "addicted to WMD" and might give nukes to terrorists.

Posted by: Luther on January 17, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Luther,

Your statement that Obama was right only in hindsight is false. (My mouse is almost dead and copying is difficult so I'll give you a URL instead of a passage.)

Obama gave a speech at an anti-war rally in Chicago on Oct 2, 2002 that a conflict with Iraq would be 'dumb,' just ten days before Hillary Clinton and John Edwards voted for the Authorization of Military Force.

Obama Touts Initial Opposition to Iraq War

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Sean: Ron Paul's a racist. What part of that don't you understand?

Donald: And, that Democratic Congress has gotten us what??? And, on Iraq, Clinton or Obama will get us what? No, thanks, I'll continue to stand by idealism.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 17, 2008 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of idealism, Kevin could actually, at least, write about the Green Party at least as often as about Ron Paul.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 17, 2008 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Again - it's about the next Supreme Court Justice.

I have two daughters in their early 20's - and I know Donald has two teenage daughters. I have already seen issues that affect women struck down and rolled back. I don't want the clock turning backward for them, so if I have to, I will suck it up and work my ass off and vote for Obama if he is the nominee. That is where the scales balance for me.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 17, 2008 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Donald,

How in the world can you support Clinton when she has a record like this? (taken from an earlier thread)


The many "great" accomplishments of Hillary Clinton:

Hillary did nothing to prevent the Senate confirmation of John Ashcroft.
Hillary did nothing to prevent the Senate confirmation of Alberto Gonzales.
Hillary did nothing regarding the failed Senate confirmation of John Bolton.
Hillary voted FOR cloture on the nomination of corrupt corporatist Priscilla Owen, clearing the way for her confirmation to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hillary voted FOR cloture on the nomination of unqualified fascist Janice Rogers Brown, clearing the way for her confirmation to the DC Court of Appeals.
Hillary voted FOR cloture on the nomination of religious zealot and homophobe William H. Pryor, clearing the way for his confirmation to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hillary voted FOR cloture on the nomination of John Roberts, clearing the way for his confirmation as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Hillary said little or nothing during the Senate confirmation of Samuel Alito.
Hillary did nothing to prevent the Senate confirmation of Michael Mukasey.
Hillary said nothing during this summer's vote on the Iraq War Supplemental.
Hillary said little or nothing during the vote to extend FISA.
Hillary said little or nothing on the Walter Reid scandal, even though she sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Hillary has said nothing during the current debate on Telecom Immunity.
Hillary has said nothing on the possible impeachment of Dick Cheney.
Hillary has said nothing on the possible impeachment of George Bush.
Hillary has said nothing on the myriad scandals surrounding the current administration.
Hillary campaigned for Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont.
Hillary did nothing to stop Medicare Part D.
Hillary did nothing to stop the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill.
Hillary voted FOR the 2001 Bankruptcy Bill.
Hillary proposed legislation to ban flag burning.
Hillary voted FOR the USAPATRIOT act.
Hillary voted FOR the reauthorization of the USAPATRIOT act.
Hillary voted AGAINST an amendment that would prohibit the use of cluster bombs against civilian targets.
Hillary voted FOR the Iraq War Resolution.
Hillary voted FOR the Kyl/Lieberman amendment.
Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on January 14, 2008 at 9:33 AM


I'm not exactly an Obama fan either, but actions speak louder than words and frankly I see Hillary's actions proving that she is NOT a liberal Democrat.

Donald, and other Hillaryphiles can you justify any of these actions listed? Do they sound like someone who would make a great liberal president?

If so, then I'd like to hear your justifications, if not, then why the hell are you supporting her?

And as far as Supreme Court nominations, I'd like to point out the fact that she voted for cloture on the nomination of John Roberts. Does that sound like somebody who's going to nominate liberal Supreme Court Justices? It doesn't to me.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 17, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta,

I can't get the Obama video in your link to work.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 17, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Let's examine the numbers of that barely-Democratic congress - 50%+1 isn't a recipe for success. It can't even stop the drooling fucktard usurper - but if you look at the math it's understandable. The House is far from able to override a veto - and the Senate was essentially even with Johnson out most of the session.

Pretty much the only thing either majority was good for was committee chairmanships - and we all know that. Yes, it's frustrating. But also understandable when examined with a cool head and a reasonable eye.

I'm not picking up my skirts and flouncing out of the party in a huff - I intend to bust my ass to strengthen majorities and elect a Democratic president before I get all indignant and turn my back on what I see as the best shot we have at setting things back on the right path.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 17, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Morpheus,

Strange, I checked to see whether the link worked and it did. Now my mouse is in such bad shape I can't copy the URL. Yeah! Thanks, mouse... Tell me if this works.

http://news.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080115/VIDEO/80115026&oaso=news.rgj.com/breakingnews

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

I can get to the page, it's just when I click on the video it doesn't play, it just reloads the page.

I don't have problems playing any other videos.

Posted by: Dr, Morpheus on January 17, 2008 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, Dr. M. When I go there the video starts playing automatically. I don't even have to click a start button. Try cutting and pasting the URL I gave you.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Strange thing about this video, though, is that I have to turn the volume all the way up on the video, plus the volume all the way up on my speakers, in order to hear it. I just checked. Both the HTML link and pasting the URL in my browser work for me.

Posted by: nepeta on January 17, 2008 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

... if you believe that you're doing your candidate any favors during the primaries by taking it upon yourself to taunt and insult fellow Democrats, simply because they happen to disagree with your candidate and / or you own personal opinion, then you best think again.

A quick trip in the time machine suggests you're a hypocrite:

I'm tired of the same old battles, and the same old guard. It's time to take this country ahead, and I'm sorry, but Hillary Clinton is not the answer. From what I know of him so far, it's Barack Obama.

Posted by: Boorring on January 14, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Then your level of political education is clearly stunted at an elementary school-level, through your own willful naivete.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 14, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: enough already on January 18, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Nepeta, since my mouse is behaving I paste below the excerpt from Obama's 2002 speech from an earlier comment of mine on a Jan 12 thread. It seems to me that seeing "no daylight" between this speech and Hillary's vote for the AUMF (at the same time) is hard to explain. (Still I would gladly vote for the Dem candidate most likely to win in November -- if I only know who that is).

I don't oppose all wars... What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics...

I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein... 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.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

Posted by: JS on January 18, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

BG, you know that, in part, I'm contrarian... and the political world needs more contrarians.

I also don't like the two-party monopoly.... if I had my druthers, we'd have a Euro-style parliamentary government; short of that, we'd have govt financing of Congressional campaigns, including partial funding, on a sliding scale, for established third parties.

Let's face it, getting beyond the Bill of Rights to the body of the Constitution, our government has changed so little in 220 years that it's almost archaic, anyway.

On politics, besides Iraq, I've come to generally distrust Dems more and more as part of Kevin's "bipartisan foreign policy establishment," too. That runs the gamut from Israel issues to "American exceptionalism," which I can't stand coming out of the mouth of either party's politicians. Bill Clinton had way, way too much of it, for example.

To me, it's almost a secular religion; it's at least too metaphysical.

As for voting, I voted Green (NOT Nader, official Green candidate) in 2004, and voted not at all in 2000. (If there had been an official Green candidate in 2000, I might well have voted that way then, too.)

Not voting, if done as an informed choice, is a legitimate political option, in my book.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 18, 2008 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, JS. An eloquent speech indeed.

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2008 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Eloquent, but also incredibly prescient. The penultimate paragraph in the quote above was so spot on that one could well believe that the whole thing was written "in hindsight". But it wasn't.

Posted by: JS on January 18, 2008 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

"(Still I would gladly vote for the Dem candidate most likely to win in November -- if I only know who that is)." - JS

'Not voting, if done as an informed choice, is a legitimate political option, in my book.' - Socratic Gadfly

JS & Socratic Gadfly,

I support both of your positions. Since I live in NY and assume NY will go for Clinton in the general (if she's the nominee), I'm in the enviable position of being able to write-in a candidate of my choice or sit at home without being complicit in a Republican victory. If I were in a state with a close race, I think I would have to go vote for Clinton, although I certainly understand your desire to not vote, Socratic Gadfly. I've, in fact, said it myself.
Please, both of you, go watch that hour-long video of the Obama interview. I think you'll both find idealism balanced with a rational understanding of how our government works (or doesn't work, as the case may be).

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2008 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

JS: You're right! Sheesh, sometimes my mouse works and some times it doesn't. I wanted to copy your remark about the penultimate paragraph but couldn't. Guess I'm going mouse shopping tomorrow.

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2008 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Vote for me.

I too gave a good anti-Iraq war speech before the AUMF vote. I have also been as successful as Senators Clinton and Obama in defunding the war and implementing a troop withdrawal plan.

Posted by: war protester on January 18, 2008 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

Donald,

We all make such decisions on my own behalf all the time, political or otherwise, based upon our own personal perceptions.

Absolutely, agree.

Show me someone who's not confident in the quality of their own decision-making, and I'll show you someone who either hasn't done his or her homework, or hasn't any backbone.

This, I feel more nuanced about. To "do his or her homework," in judging national policies could require becoming an expert in the areas of political science, foreign policy, economics, healthcare, social services, etc., etc. Of course, we can listen to experts in these areas, but then you have to pick which ones to trust. There's a problem even knowing which type of experts to even listen to. On healthcare policy, is the opinion of a doctor, or an economist more valuable?

Having a bit of humility (i.e., not confident) about your decisions is not lacking backbone, it's wisdom. (The lack of this quality in Bush drives me nuts.)

I like details, too, but I recognize them as a lullaby that soothes my judgment --- and something far short of proof.

Your legislative experience definitely gives you some expertise that I definitely don't have. Now, do I trust your judgment, or John Kerry's, or one of the senators endorsing Hillary?

my disappointment has only increased as his ambitions became all-too-thinly veiled, and his subsequent political posturing all too calculating for my liking.

Vis-a-vis the comments on humility, I saw a quote where Obama admitted that you have to be "a little bit egomaniacal" to run for president. I agree with that, and that kind of self-awareness on his part is one of the things I like about him.

"Ambition" and "calculating" are words often associated with Clintons, with some justification. This type of criticism of Obama from a Hillary supporter sounds very weird, to me. Like, "I don't like Obama. He's too much like Bill Clinton."

I know that Clinton can roll with the GOP's punches, and effectively counterpunch, and that's what I think we really need right now in a nominee.

I am much less confident of this. She comes with a lot of baggage that she's not been able to shake. If either of them wins, the GOP will get very, very ugly. Having more of a clean slate seems helpful, here.

Great discussion, everyone. I've got to go watch my daughter play basketball tonight, so I'm out of here.

Hope it was a fun game!

Posted by: Dagome on January 18, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

I keep hearing Hillary knows where the bodies are, Hillary can counterpunch the republicans, blah blah blah. Please anybody, show me when she has done any of these and don't even refer her family issues in the white house. Like HRC herself said, where is the beef?

Her record shows that she has not stood for progressive issues as a senator. She's not found as single military confrontation she doesn't like. As for supreme court justices, well she rolls over and plays dead like the rest of them. So enough talk about how she's going to stand up against the GOP.

What I feel is that if we get a working majority in the congress, any one of the dems will do a good job, if not, we are screwed. What matters now is electing somebody who can win in November and also generate enough interest to get us a working majority in congress. I'm sorry to say that Hillary is not that person.

Posted by: GOD on January 18, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with GOD, not least of all because I made the same point earlier.

Supporting Hillary is tantamount to betting on the person most likely to give us the smallest possible majority in Congress. Why would we do this to ourselves?

In addition to which the manner in which she is running against Obama is so petty and obfuscationary. Obama was the only one in the recent debate who actually mentioned a personal weakness, a sign of his honesty. And really my desk looks like crap too and I'm (tooting my horn here) a decently successful person. So what does Clinton do with this?: twist his words and claim he is disorganized. Just as Edwards is misquoting the Reagan mention in the Reno interview mentioned above. Obama has, as far as I know, never played this silly game. More power to him.

The people aren't all fools. We notice this stuff. And you know, non-Democrats look at this stuff too, and when this stage is done, they get a chance to vote. I can't see how Clinton or Edwards is suddenly going to attract any part of this contingent.

Here's another observation. Given that Clinton has botched the whole race thing now, what is the likelihood that a substantial fraction of African Americans will sit out the election? I think it is not something to overlook. Hillary may have just created a whole new contingent of voters who view her negatively. Quite a problem for the dear lady and a rather odd shock for Bill who clearly wants to have a third term, albeit in unique fashion. Obama or for that matter Edwards isn't going to have that problem.

And I hope to GOD Obama doesn't agree if she asks him to be on the ticket with her. We would all be better served by patience.

Posted by: manfred on January 18, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK
…..the talking heads on Olbermann tonight suggest that it's a political ploy to capture independents….nepeta at 9:16 PM
That would be interesting if there were any evidence of it. I noted before his other statements from the Bush playbook. It's one thing to appeal to independents in the general, it's quite another to dis the party base in the primaries because it is the committed base that provide the votes one needs in the general election.

From the Olberman program you mentioned, (paraphrasing Rachel Maddow):
"Change to Clinton means Republicans Out, Democrats In. Change to Edwards means Special Interests Out, The People In. Change to Obama means Obama In, because he can transcend all the divisions."

Change according to this poll:

….First and foremost, it is clear from these results that when Americans look ahead to the "change" the next president could bring about, they think very topically and specifically about problems and concerns, not about more general changes in the structure or systems of government.
In fact, these results to a significant degree mirror those found when Gallup asks Americans each month to name the most important problem facing the nation. The top four problems Americans mention in our January "most important problem" update are Iraq, the economy, healthcare, and immigration -- matching the top four specific areas in which Americans want to see "change" take place from the Jan. 10-13 poll. This finding is significant. It suggests that when Americans say they want the next president to bring about change, they mainly are thinking about solving what they perceive to be the nation's significant problems. There is very little discussion in these open-ends of a desire to bring about more fundamental changes in the way Washington operates, in the process of governing, and so forth.
.

An usual in election cycles, there is no perfect candidate, except perhaps me and thee; and to tell the truth, I wonder about thee.

Posted by: Mike on January 18, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, once again, before you jump to conclusions, I suggest you watch the full interview with Obama, so you understand the context.

I can't see how you could be making the last comment if you had actually watched the full interview.

I'm tired of Obama being quoted out of context. You can take a sound bite from anyone and do pretty much anything you want with it. We can do better.

On to to your next observation. A poll might tell you what the electorate wants in terms of change. Someone else might be able to tell you the kind of changes that have to occur so that the first set of changes is feasible. There is no contradiction between what Obama says can and needs to happen and the piece you quoted.

Meanwhile, I see that Sen. Feingold has rightly indicated that the most problematic candidate is John Edwards. I agree. Clinton has the worst negatives; Edwards, with his inconsistency over time is the most problematic.

Posted by: manfred on January 18, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

manfred,

Were you impressed with the interview? If anyone wants specific detail about what Obama would do that's the place to go. I'm glad you got the video to 'work.' I don't know whether he'll be able to do what he envisions, but I'm sure willing to give him a shot at it.

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, manfred. You were the one who brought the interview up. Thanks again.

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm more in Donald's camp - I'm not that easily swayed by a speech. I am more interested in what one does than in ones delivery of a nice speech - which is why I was a Richardson supporter until recently.

But I am also aware that you have no use for me and my practical, realistic approach to politics, and as I have no desire to fight a futile rhetorical battle with you, I will shut up now.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 18, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS: No need to shut up. I can see why you would support Richardson and that's fine. One can actually make a real arguement for experience wrt Richardson. What I think some of us have a problem with is the notion that only Hillary is prepared and experienced to deal with the presidency and the GOP. The question that I simply ask is based on what?

Her record on standing up to the GOP on politically relevant issues is non existent outside of the right wing attack machine. The idea that she has the experience to deal with GOP legislatively then is just words, just like the other two (BO and JRE).

What I believe is important like I and others have stated, is nominating someone that can get us a victory large enough to fundamentally change the congress.

The other releva

Posted by: GOD on January 18, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Well BG -- if you are interested in "what one does" then don't Hillary's actual votes weigh negatively?

Also, "a speech" can be of little value at the time it is made, but if it turns out to be about important things, and years later it turns out to have been correct, then it seems to me it's harder to discount.

These three are all legislators -- they haven't had much executive experience (unlike Richardson). Careful here, because if you expect executive experience in the next president then you would have to vote for Romney or Giuliani. (Unless being married to a president counts as relevant experience).

Posted by: JS on January 18, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Let's set the record straight - I have, at this point, not officially endorsed a candidate. If you visit my site and look at the left sidebar, since I took the Bill Richardson endorsement down, there is no endorsed presidential candidate. I will bust my ass for the eventual nominee, but frankly I have equal concerns with all three. In the wake of the (no) tears brouhaha, I at one point said something along the lines of "Hillary, it's starting to look like you might be my girl." But let me make this perfectly clear: I didn't go ahead and commit officially. Actually, I'm still deciding who I will cast my ballot for on Feb. 5t, and frankly I could live with any of them.

I chose my words very carefully above. The word experience does not appear anywhere in that comment.

What is pissing me off is the petulance of some Democrats, hell-bent on burning the candidates they aren't pulling for to the ground. Save it for the Republicans in the general. That seems simple enough to me.

And it's just silly to lecture me on "executive experience" - especially when I didn't mention it - and the only Republican I've ever voted for is retired from politics. (Nancy Kassebaum, in case you were wondering.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 18, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I (and apparently GOD as well) interpreted "I am more interested in what one does than in ones delivery of a nice speech" as referring to experience. Anyway, in my book anti-war speeches are something someone actually "does" -- as are pro-war votes.

But I agree, as I said further above, that the main question should be who can win the general. The funny thing about that is that one has to see the candidates not from his/her own perspective, but from that of the electorate as a whole. (It's like investing in stocks -- stock prices depend not on what you think about a company, but on what everybody else does).

Posted by: JS on January 18, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I support Hillary, but there's a lot to like about Obama. What I have little tolerance for is the Obama supporters who say they will vote Republican or sit out the election if Hillary is nominated. Great, let's have another four years of Republican rule, and even lose the Supreme Court for our lifetimes, because your guy didn't win (see Nader, Ralph). That attitude disgusts me. This notion that you have to absolutely hate the opponent is indicative of people who haven't been around the political process for very long. I see a lot of people parroting Republican talking points about Hillary, usually with no examples to back them up. I came around to supporting her in part because I realized that many of the negative images I had of her were a product of relentless drumbeat from Republicans and the media, and not from anything I had actually witnessed. All of the ice queen, arrogant, conniving shrew stuff is repeated on this and other sites, with very little to back it up. For people who claim to like Obama because he's a "uniter,' a lot of you folks seem hell-bent on tearing apart the Democratic Party.

And I give credit to Obama for opposing the war from the start, as did I. But I reject the notion that they both had an opportunity, and he made the right choice and she made the wrong one. I think being in the position of casting a vote in the Senate is much different than making a speech at a rally. And as I have said before, if every Democrat had voted against the resolution, we would likely have had 60 Republican Senators after the next election. People can wrap themselves in glory for opposing the war, but the fact remains that most of the country was in favor of it. It's silly to require that Senators never think about the impact on their re-election when they cast a vote. I wish Hillary hadn't voted for the resolution, but it hardly makes her a bloddthirsty warmongering neo-con with blood on her hands, as so many Obama supporters like to portray her.

I also find repugnant the number of Obama supporters who oppose Hillary because the Republicans hate her, and will crank up the slime machine. The right wing attack dogs who have devoted their lives to ruining the Clintons must be pleased to see so many Democrats surrender to them.

Posted by: ChrisO on January 18, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK
Mike, once again, before you jump to conclusions….manfred at 1:09 PM
Reagan was an agent of retrenchment, of pulling back on socially liberal programs and of racial divisiveness. There is no way I can accommodate Obama's not mentioning Reagan in that context but instead using the positive connotation by saying he was an agent of change. The interview didn't impress me. Obama's legislative record doesn't particularly impress me either.

I think that Obama would the easiest candidate for the Republican slime machine and with Romney being their probable candidate at this time, the stakes are too high to see another authoritarian assume office after Bush.

…Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe submitted to the leading presidential candidates a questionnaire asking their views on 12 key questions regarding executive power…..
The most extraordinary answers come from Mitt Romney. Romney's responses -- not to some of the questions but to every single one of them -- are beyond disturbing. The powers he claims the President possesses are definitively -- literally -- tyrannical, unrecognizable in the pre-2001 American system of government and, in some meaningful ways, even beyond what the Bush/Cheney cadre of authoritarian legal theorists have claimed.
After reviewing those responses, Marty Lederman concluded: "Romney? Let's put it this way: If you've liked Dick Cheney and David Addington, you're gonna love Mitt Romney." Anonymous Liberal similarly observed that his responses reveal that "Romney doesn't believe the president's power to be subject to any serious constraints." To say that the President's powers are not "subject to any serious constraints" -- which is exactly what Romney says -- is, of course, to posit the President as tyrant, not metaphorically or with hyperbole, but by definition….

Posted by: Mike on January 18, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

JS,

I see I wasn't paying close enough attention to your comment. You're saying it is important to you to vote for the candidate in the primaries who has the best chance of winning in the general. That makes sense in the large view, but as you say, it's difficult to know all the variables on primary day and beyond. I tend to work from the smaller view, i.e., voting for the Dem whose political views most match my own. I want my vote registered in the historical record, so to speak, since I don't see my one little vote as having much impact on the election in any case. I'm always curious to see how many votes Kucinich gets as a gauge of how many real libs we have in the country. I wonder what percentage of people vote using your reasoning? Do you think it's a major factor in election results? I know a liberal woman in FL who actually registers as a Repub so that she can vote for the Repub candidate least likely to win in the general. (gr) That's going yet a step further than you, or at least coming at it from another direction. If I liked two Dem candidates equally, then electability would enter the picture. That moment has yet to arrive, so I guess I'll just carry on with my less-than-sophisticated, sort of high school civics, vote-casting reasoning.

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2008 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta, my comment above (Jan 17, 7:25PM) was intended to distinguish the different types of thinking needed for each of the two possible approaches you mention. (In one case, you have to reach into your own soul and see which candidate you really like; in the other, you have to read other people's souls, and try to predict how they would vote in the general).

Both Donald and BG had said, as I understood it, that we should be voting for the more electable candidate (even though earlier they had both talked about whom they themselves liked more). And I said that I would pick the more electable one too -- but I don't know who that is. If you read all the punditry around, there is no consensus as to which Dem candidate would do better against a Republican. And the polls don't tell a clear story either.

So my position is that, if someone can make a clear case why Hillary or Obama has a better chance in November, I will vote for that candidate in the primary. Otherwise, I will vote for Obama because I like him better.

Posted by: JS on January 19, 2008 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, JS, I understand what you're saying. After many weeks of sort of wandering around in the desert, not happily btw, looking at the top three or four candidates one by one, I'm finally relieved to have chosen my candidate, Obama. The debates haven't been a good platform for him to express his larger vision so I stayed uncertain about what he meant by 'change.' I thought the last debate was a bit more clarifying, and finally the Reno Gazette video really sold me. Now that I have some emotional investment in a candidate the primary race is going to be difficult for me. I sort of agree with manfred that things in the long run don't look so good for him.

Posted by: nepeta on January 19, 2008 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

PS: Darn, now I can't find where Manfred posted his gloomy prediction. Probably on another thread.

Posted by: nepeta on January 19, 2008 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK
....the Reno Gazette video really sold me.....nepeta at 1:12 AM

Obama has spoken well of the horrible Reagan, used phrases echoing Bush like 'change the tone' and 'new era of bi-partisanship'. While I find his record in the Illinois legislature thin, I would have to ask what effect he's had in the Senate. Republicans have conducted a record number of filibusters and indulged in some of their nastiest politics this term. Has Obama changed the tone in the Senate? Is he conducting bi-partisan efforts to pass legislation? Is he bringing Republicans to his side? Do Senators rush to the floor to hear his stirring words and be inspired thereby? Has he been an effective senator ?
We hear the glorious talk but where are the results? Woody Allan may believe that just showing up is sufficient, but merely being 'present' instead of taking a stand doesn't cut it in the real world.

Posted by: Mike on January 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Mike,

I'm not an Obama expert so therefore can't give you a point by point argument on Obama's short Senate performance. I think it would be impossible for any single senator to change the partisan gridlock in this Senate. Taking a stand, a la Robert Byrd on the war, doesn't seem to cut it in the real world either, alas. If you had watched the video you would see that Obama doesn't praise Reagan but instead points to the sea change in policy during his administration, which according to Obama was possible because the public was ready for change, not on the merits of the policies themselves. I remember how angry people in general were with the Iranian hostage situation and the long gas lines, the boycott on Olympic participation, etc. So, yes, I tend to agree with Obama that the time 'might' be right again for 'change,' with a majority of America tired of the war, the economic disaster, etc. As I said in my last e-mail, I was uncomfortable with Obama's change rhetoric until I heard him label it 'progressive change.' That took away my fear that it might only be 'appeasement' or 'compromise' with Republicans. But beyond all this, my first and last reason for supporting Obama remains what seems to me to be totally obvious and noncontrovertible, that Obama has a clear record of protest against the Iraq War from 2002. That's the 'one-issue' argument that from the beginning of the primaries has had the most influence on me personally.

Posted by: nepeta on January 19, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

My test message no. 1 http://rolingasss.com

Posted by: Bill Selevan on May 16, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

2 test message

Posted by: Bill Selevan on May 21, 2008 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK
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