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Tilting at Windmills

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January 29, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

SOTU-OLOGY....Tea leaf reading at the SOTU last night:

When Bush proclaimed, "Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among terrorists there is no doubt," Clinton sprang to her feet in applause but Obama remained firmly seated.

Obama supporter Mark Kleiman claims vindication:

Tell me again that Obama and Clinton now have the same position on the war in Iraq. I didn't hear you clearly the first time.

Close analysis of who claps when is a venerable tradition at State of the Union addresses, so this is fair enough. But since I'm obviously totally in the tank for Hillary anyway, let me take a crack at explaining why a sometime Obama skeptic doesn't find this especially convincing. (And yes, I know it was just a small jest. But it's an opportunity to make a point anyway.)

To me, it all comes down to this: Yes, Obama opposed the war, and he opposed it for good reasons. He deserves a lot of credit for that. At the same time, taking a position when you're watching from the sidelines is a lot different from taking a position when you're in office and have to pay attention to the political winds more closely. So how has Obama done on that score? Let's be honest: since he entered the Senate, Obama has hardly been a leader of the antiwar caucus. In fact, his opposition to the war has been pretty muted and his voting record has been nearly identical to Hillary Clinton's. This strikes me as a more telling indication of what Obama would do as president than a speech he gave five years ago when he was in the Illinois legislature.

I don't mean this as a huge criticism of Obama. Electoral realities are electoral realities. But it does lead me to be generally unimpressed with cost-free symbolism like declining to clap for the surge. The real question is, what will he do once he's in office and he has to make good on his symbolism? Based on his track record over the past couple of years, my guess is that his real-world policy on Iraq would be about the same as Hillary's. Maybe a little bit better if he surrounds himself with better advisors, but that's about it.

I expect that Team Obama will have a different opinion. Have at it in comments.

Kevin Drum 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

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Comments

OT, but it seems that all is not harmonius in Camelot.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-kennedy29jan29,0,1618955.story

Posted by: optical weenie on January 29, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The difference is that Obama's overall record on Iraq, while mixed, at least holds out the possibility that he'll end US involvment fairly quickly. With HRC you're looking at Nixon in 1969 all over again. She doesn't really think the war was a mistake. She just thinks it was handled badly. Just like McCain.

Posted by: Paul Campos on January 29, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

But it does lead me to be generally unimpressed with cost-free symbolism like declining to clap for the surge.

If declining to clap is cost-free, why didn't Hillary?

Posted by: Royko on January 29, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton is hand-in-glove with Bush/Lieberman/McCain. The Iran resolution is good evidence. Yeah.. I was there when Nixon talked about having the secret plan to end the war, "Peace with Honor".

Posted by: Bill R. on January 29, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

So Kleiman admits to not watching the SOTU. Then forms an opinion based on a The Hill reporter's reporting of whether someone clapped or not, or jumped up or not in a crowded room.

Yup, that's a powerful way to decide about the future of the nation. What a maroon!

Posted by: optical weenie on January 29, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is, what will he do once he's in office and he has to make good on his symbolism? Based on his track record over the past couple of years, my guess is that his real-world policy on Iraq would be about the same as Hillary's.-Kevin

My guess is that it would be based on what constituency he is going to appeal to for re-election. I think Obama would have the edge on pressing for withdrawal and being less of a hawk than Hillary because of the generally younger demographic that supports him. The younger ones are less hawkish generally IMO.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 29, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

To Paul,
Where on Earth do you get your facts ? Have you spoken with HRC on this ? I've been following what she's said and so far I don't get the impression that she thinks the invasion was a great idea, or even a good one. In fact she has on a number of occasions made it clear that as soon as the conditions on the ground permit (including possibly a UN, NATO, or another presence for stabilization), she would get the troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. I for one do not see how this position differs in any significant way from that publicly uttered by Obama. And to state that she shares McCain's point of view on this really baffles me. McCain wants to go bomb Iran. I think you're getting Hillary mixed up with Joe Liebermann, though I think she has more cajones than ol Joe.

Posted by: rbe1 on January 29, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

royko is exactly right. it's not so much that obama declined to clap the surge so much as hillary did. does she think the surge is working? either the answer is "yes," in which case she's wrong, or the answer is "no," in which case she's doing the dishonest fauxhawk routine that scared dems have been doing for years now. either way it the moment doesn't reflect well on her.

Posted by: Max B. on January 29, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

But it does lead me to be generally unimpressed with cost-free symbolism like declining to clap for the surge.

I'm with Royko -- what's unimpressive is Hillary, and the rest of those morons, applauding Bush's failed surge policy.

Actually, the more so for Hillary than the GOP -- the Republicans may well applaud, for the surge was successful for them in dumping the Iraq mess in the lap of the next, Democratic president. (Dolchstoss, here we come!) Why on Earth would Hillary celebrate that?

Posted by: Gregory on January 29, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

"At the same time, taking a position when you're watching from the sidelines is a lot different from taking a position when you're in office and have to watch the political winds more closely."

Kevin, really, I'm disappointed in you. Look at what the cost has been in human lives, both American and Iraqi, for 'watching political winds.' I don't particularly mind senators playing politics on little issues that don't have a large effect in reality, but issues of war and peace have huge effects. Even though Obama was not a sitting senator at the time, I'm sure the thought of running for prez had crossed his mind and, if your reasoning holds in the case of Clinton and Edwards, then it would also apply to Obama. And, yes, symbolism matters a great deal. I'm delighted to hear Obama stayed seated. I know that I would not have risen once during the whole SOTU, despite what Bush had to say. It would be the only reason for actually showing up...staying seated.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

The plan to establish and maintain indefinitely a large US military presence in an Iraq governed by a compliant, US-supported puppet government, in order to ensure that US-based multinational oil corporations have control over, and reap the vast majority of the profits from, Iraq's oil, is not "Bush's plan", or "Cheney's plan", or "Obama's plan" or "Hillary's plan".

It's the plan of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc.

When Bush, Cheney, Clinton or Obama, McCain or Romney, talk about protecting "vital US interests in the region", they are talking about controlling the oil and ensuring that US corporations profit from its extraction and sale. That is the ONLY "vital US interest" in the region.

Controlling Middle Eastern oil has been a "vital US interest" at least since FDR's administration began the "special relationship" with the Saudi royal family, it was reaffirmed as a "vital US interest" in the 1970s as the "Carter Doctrine", and neither Obama nor Clinton is going to fundamentally challenge this.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 29, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

"The surge is working" is a meaningless phrase. You hear it said, but nobody bothers to define what metric applies to the word "working". (Working *how*? By lessening the impact of al Qaeda in Iraq, who weren't there in the first place before we invaded?)

Given that ambiguity, the listener can read into it whatever he/she wants.

It doesn't surprise me, therefore, that some may rise and applaud that line, while others will sit on their hands.

I suspect Hillary stood and applauded because it is "the thing you're supposed to do" -- like wearing a flag lapel pin.

Obama (I'm guessing) probably remained seated because he knew it was a meaningless jingoistic phrase.

Frankly Kevin, we've been inundated with supposed "cost-free symbolism" for 7 years, and there *has* been a cost. It's muddied the waters of political debate (since it's more important to APPEAR patriotic than to actually have sound policies), thereby prolonging an unnecessary war.

Posted by: Kman on January 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

does she think the surge is working?

Yes.

August 21, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton told a veterans group yesterday that President Bush's troop surge is working

She went on to say that we should bring the troops home anyway, but she's been very vocal about praising the surge, and not just in the speech quoted above.

Posted by: bobb on January 29, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

So, he's slightly to the left of Hillary on Iraq. "Huge criticism" apart -- is this a criticism at all? Or a reason to support Hillary?

He's not a huge anti-Iraq person, and Hillary's not a huge pro-Iraq person -- but moderately anti-Iraq vs moderately pro-Iraq is a real difference.

Posted by: JD on January 29, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Cost free? Kevin, I believe that it was on Political Animal that I read an analysis about why all the pundits were so pro-war before it started. It had to do with the perceived risks (i.e., costs) about being wrong one way or the other: if Saddam had had nukes, war opponents would have a lot of egg on their face right now. It was "safer" for them to err on the side of supporting the war.

I agree that the view is different "from the sidelines," but we do know that Hillary definitely made the wrong call "on the field." I also believe that "starting" and "stopping" the war are two very different decisions.

But, I don't quite see how the pundits all faced a perceived cost, but for Obama, it was "cost-free." (For that matter, the pundits also increased the cost for opponents by consistently deriding them.)

Even now, if the Iraqis suddenly make a political breakthrough, Obama will be in a tough spot.

Posted by: Dagome on January 29, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The distinction is that once this war began -- and the American people reelected George W. Bush in 2004 -- there really wasn't much that could have been done to stop it. Yes, Dems could have tried to stop funding, but that a) wouldn't have worked and b) likely would have proven disastrous in the general election, especially if McCain emerges.

But if we rewind to 2002, there was something that could have been done. And while Obama wasn't in the US Senate, he did step up and articulate exactly why it was a "dumb" and "rash" decision. Meanwhile, Hillary got in line and spoke like a hawkish Republican. Now, I don't think their policies for ending THIS WAR will be all that different; they both favor getting the hell out of Dodge as quickly as they can without wreaking havoc. But I do worry about HRC's hawkish instincts, and her desire to seem "strong" to the rest of the world and believe Obama's empirical thinking and rational worldview would prevent unnecessary wars in the future.

Posted by: Ryan on January 29, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

If you remember the environment back in 2002/early 2003, you know that for any politician with statewide or national ambitions to take a stand against invading Iraq was an act of courage. You had TNR excommunicating all the "nonserious" anti war types. Lots of responsible left-leaning commentators were on board with the invasion, too (like Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Josh Marhsall). Op-ed pages literally pronounced Gore insane for opposing the war. It was a risk for Obama to take a contrary stand, especially when doing so was tantmount to declaring yourself some kind of dirty hippie, and yet he did it.

But there's no comparison between HRC and Obama on this score anyway. She surrounds herself with Democratic hawks. She is personally a hawk herself, if John Judis's carefully-researched profile in TNR is to be believed. She will not apologize for her grotesque error in judgment in authorizing the war, mainly because she doesn't really believe it WAS a mistake. And now she applauds the surge. I don't want that woman making foreign policy decisions if I can get another Democrat to do it. She is not to be trusted.

Posted by: Fran on January 29, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Doc at the Radar Station,

Take a look at Pepe Escobar's analysis today in the Asia Times of the situation in Iraq right now. Talk about dismal! I'm beginning to fear that no one, despite their good intentions, are going to be able to get us out of Iraq anytime soon.

www.atimes.com


Secular Animist,

Agreed with your emphasis on the importance of oil in all of this. Not just Iraq, but also Iran and the central Asian area around the Caspian Sea.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

New York Poll...

http://www.gallup.com/poll/103987/New-York-Poll-Clinton-McCain-Wide-Leads.as

THE NUMBERS - DEMOCRATS

Hillary Rodham Clinton, 56 percent

Barack Obama, 28 percent

John Edwards, 11 percent

___

THE NUMBERS - REPUBLICANS

John McCain, 40 percent

Rudy Giuliani, 21 percent

Mitt Romney, 17 percent

Mike Huckabee, 11 percent

Posted by: elmo on January 29, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect Hillary stood and applauded because it is "the thing you're supposed to do" -- like wearing a flag lapel pin.

And is that why she voted to approve the war? (Hillary supporters, feel free to step in here and claim that she was bamboozled by Bush and didn't realize that her vote was actually a vote to support the war, but thought that Bush was honestly going to try to make diplomacy, inspections and international pressure work.)

And is that why she praised the surge?

And is that why she supported Bush's bellicose threats against Iran?


Obama (I'm guessing) probably remained seated because he knew it was a meaningless jingoistic phrase.

If so, then good for him.

Who wants a candidate who is tossed around by the winds of Republican declarations of "the things you're supposed to do"? But with Hillary that's the interpretation that gives her the benefit of the doubt, because the other interpretation, that she's as comfortable with neo-con foreign policy ideas as her votes and pre-campaign rhetoric make it sound, is far worse.

Posted by: bobb on January 29, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

"At the same time, taking a position when you're watching from the sidelines is a lot different from taking a position when you're in office and have to watch the political winds more closely."

You are right. But isn't this a contradiction? If what you do in the trenches is so important, why support someone who, when in trenches, sold you out?

I don't know what Obama would have done in the same situation -- but I know what Clinton did, and that eliminates her from consideration.

Edwards did the same thing -- but at least he has publicly reputiated his own action.

I get my chance to vote on Super Tuesday, and I have not made up my mind yet who to support.

But thanks to that vote on the Iraq War, AND her actions since, including not apologizing for the vote, I will not consider Clinton.

The only way she will ever get my vote is if she somehow makes it to the general.

Posted by: Dicksknee on January 29, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has shown no inclination to demonstrate how militarist he is at every opportunity. Clinton has. Moreover, Obama has never bombed Iraq to get Monica Lewinsky off the front page. I will judge him innocent until proved guilty. Clinton already is guilty.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 29, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Man, I just can't get Hillary out of mind, leaping eagerly from her chair, her hands cavorting in applause. Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!

She is such a tool.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on January 29, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

You don't have to read tea leaves, Clinton has surrounded herself with FP advisers (the Holbrooke team) who supported the war. She is getting support from Pollack, O'Hanlon, Berman. She supports Kyle/Lieberman, etc.

Posted by: blindjoedeath on January 29, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama wasn't just "in the Illinois legislature" when he opposed the war, he was running for Senate. Maybe opposing the war was the politically convenient thing to do while running in Illinois that year, but that's different than claiming he was "watching from the sidelines."

It's similar to Howard Dean, who never had to vote on the Iraq war but nonetheless took a strong stand against it while preparing his White House bid. That was politically risky at the time, but turned out to be the fuel for his entire candidacy.

As for the clapping, you're right. That's absolutely pointless.

Posted by: AMP on January 29, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Last time I checked, VERY FEW of our elected folks in DC are against the war.

Perpetuawar is too profitable to really BE AGAINST.

To say the surge is working is like saying the toilet plunger works; yes the stuff goes down, but the bowl will still fill up with stuff again.

How on earth can we applaud the surge when it represents 100s of billions of dollars?

This election has to be about this war, nothing less will change America.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 29, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The trick for Obama is to be right on the policy without giving the media pundits a reason to brand him as a radical.

Howard Dean was right on the policy. And he made the media pundits uncomfortable b/c he was right.

Obama is performing a balancing act.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 29, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK
.... yes, symbolism matters a great deal.....nepeta at 3:08 PM
Indeed it does: Obama, acting like a petulant child snubs Clinton.

...Clinton leaned towards Kennedy over a row of seats and Kennedy leaned in towards her. They shook hands.Obama stood icily staring at Clinton during this, then turned his back and stepped a few feet away. Kennedy may’ve wanted to make peace with Clinton but Obama clearly wanted no part of that.
As president, Obama has said he would meet with the U.S.’s enemies without precondition. But making nice with Clinton apparently is another mattter after the increasingly angry fight the two have waged, with charges and countercharges, for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The sense in the press gallery was that Obama didn’t cover himself in glory. Someone even used the word “childish.”...

Plus a few Kennedy's for Clinton

Posted by: Mike on January 29, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Also, while we're on the topic of risks, how big, really, was the risk for Hillary of voting against the AUMF? She's a senator from a very blue state, and 2002 was four years from her next election. Her seat wasn't really in jeopardy at all.

Posted by: Royko on January 29, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, BTW, what was your position on invading Iraq at the time?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 29, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Staying seated is sort of like voting "present," as he did so many times (just four years ago, BTW) during his short and undistinguished career in the Illinois house. But that's ok, if anyone is offended he can simply say he hit the wrong button ... or whatever the sitting equivalent it. He sure is handsome though! Dreamy! And what a public speaker!!

Posted by: Pat on January 29, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin-- Hillary Clinton wasn't even voting with the majority of Democrats when she voted to approve the war. The idea that Obama would have been pro-war if he were in the Senate is far-fetched, to say the least-- plenty of other Democrats were voting against the war, or at least for the Levin alternative that would have required another vote if the UN did not approve. Hillary voted both to approve the war and against Levin. I can't read Obama's mind, but I think it's safe to say that regardless of pressures he would have been to Hillary's left.

And this brings us to: why does 2002 matter? Why not care only about their plans going forward? Because this might not be the only foreign policy crisis we face. There's Iran, DPRK, China, etc. Hillary Clinton, through her statements during the debates, has indicated that she thinks a more-hawkish line is a winner politically, or at least an inoculation against defeat. It's fairly clear that if, as in 2002, Americans are clamoring for war, she'll give it to them. Maybe Obama or Edwards would be no better, as you suggest. But I'd rather take the chance on one of them disappointing me than going with the candidate I know will.

Posted by: David Krych on January 29, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

From Pepe Escobar's article in Asia Times:

"What the "surge" has facilitated instead is the total balkanization of Baghdad – as well as the whole of Iraq. There are now at least 5 million Iraqis among refugees and the internally displaced - apart from competing statistics numbering what certainly amounts to hundreds of thousands of dead civilians. So of course there is less violence; there's hardly any people left to be ethnically cleansed."

The State of the (Iraqi) Union

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Kevin, then you are obviously playing the race card.

And you should be ashamed of it.

-

Posted by: Hank Essay on January 29, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

AMP is correct, and to put a slightly finer point on it, Obama was in a contested primary race for U.S. Senate with a half-dozen other candidates.

To contend that he is identical to HRC because he has voted for funding is a bit facile. There's a war on, and that reality changes things.

Finally, HRC's war resolution vote is a blot on her record, not just because the Iraq war was a bad idea and unjustified at the time, but also because that vote and her vote on Kyl-Lieberman reveal her to be consistently hawkish with respect to Middle-East policy. This serves her political goals -- it soothes AIPAC and helps bolster her military cred as a female candidate -- but it's bad for America. I'd prefer to have a nominee who makes that calculation differently.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 29, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I find it hard to believe that she "sprang to her feet". Anybody have the video?

I would feel much better voting for Obama if his supporters would agree that he isn't any more progressive than Clinton, and we have to push him to be.

The problem I see now is that he ISN'T more progressive then her, yet everybody on the net assumes he is. Not only assumes, but swears he is. There is no evidence he is, and without anybody pushing him to be more progressive he will end up being another Bill Clinton. Well, without Monica.

Posted by: DR on January 29, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist, you get the cigar on this thread.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 29, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: listening to what passes for logic from the apparent Obama supporters makes it a lot easier for me to understand how we voted Bush in, twice. If any of these folks are thinking about taking up a career in history or political analysis, my advise is to hang on to your day job.

Posted by: rbe1 on January 29, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you think Obama was not considering a US Sentate run during the run up to the War?

Posted by: RollaMo on January 29, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Controlling Middle Eastern oil has been a "vital US interest" at least since FDR's administration began the "special relationship" with the Saudi royal family, it was reaffirmed as a "vital US interest" in the 1970s as the "Carter Doctrine", and neither Obama nor Clinton is going to fundamentally challenge this.

You got that right. I recall it even being called "strategic," meaning you mess with that and the US is willing to go Nuclear over it.

While it is true that the companies who extract and sell the stuff make Billions, unfortunately it is also true that the entire US economy rests on the shoulders of cheap oil.

I wish it were not so but here we are, and it will be extremely painful for the middle and lower classes when we switch. The ultra-rich will, of course, have no real problems.

Posted by: Tripp on January 29, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

So you've got two calculating politicians. One calculated that voting against the war would hurt their presidential aspirations. One calculated the opposite. One was wrong, one was right.

Now the one who is wrong wont admit it was a mistake and doesn't want to be penalized for it. I don't know if that makes two wrongs or three, but I think I'll go with the one that was right from the beginning.

Posted by: enozinho on January 29, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

So, let's look at our choice here:

A) someone who definitely thinks "the surge" is great, someone who definitely supported the idea of the war - just not the way that it was done

or

B) someone who JUST MIGHT end up being mostly kinda the same as A when he gets in office

since i think "the surge" and the entire war is a crock and always has been, my choice seems pretty clear. maybe i am not thrilled with the options, but someone i KNOW has a different and wrong approach versus someone who at least potentially doesn't? where is the difficulty?

Posted by: tatere on January 29, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

This might actually come back to bite Obama later. Not clapping for the "success" of the surge is certainly going to be interpreted by the right wing MSM and republican party in general as not supporting the troops.

Agree or disagree on whether the surge is working, there are folks over there who have been there a long time and certainly do deserve some recognition for the shit they've been through.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 29, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Nicholson,

Perpetuawar is too profitable to really BE AGAINST.

Of course, plus it also gives the peasants a good scapegoat for their woes.

"We've always been at war with Eastasia."

Posted by: Tripp on January 29, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

It tells you that we can trust Obama not to go starting wars in the name of triangulation or whatever Dick Morris' advice is for the day.

For everyone who was in the Senate in 2002, their Senate careers are measured by one vote. Did you go with the rush to war (and remember: you had no excuse at the time, it was palpable and obvious what was going on) or did you have a spine?

Posted by: Steve C on January 29, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp,

It's perhaps a good thing that global warming has reared its ugly head at this particular moment in time. I'm not sure, but perhaps the growing realization that global warming must be ameliorated at the very least, will make the 'great game' a little less intense. At the same time, peak oil could have the opposite effect.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: But it does lead me to be generally unimpressed with cost-free symbolism like declining to clap for the surge.

Cost free? With the cameras on him? With nearly everyone else standing? With the whole world watching, including the troops? With McCain and Romney watching? With the Clinton campaign watching?

Cost free? Are you crazy?

You need to apologize to Obama and your readers. That is the most disingenuous, cynical, unproductive comment I have ever read on this blog.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 29, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I just finished reading my afternoon tea leaves...

I saw a country patting itself on the back for spending close to 2 trillion dollars on various forays into Eastasia.

I saw a country that is desperately trying to find meaning in such endeavors.

I see a country somehow conned into thinking that a 146 billion dollar "stimulus" will sooth our economic pains, ignoring the fact that spending 100s of billions of dollars in Eastasia has hurt our economy.

The tea leaves were not kind.

Obama sat. Hillary clapped.

Say no more.

A vote for HRC is to support perpetuawar, a vote for Obama is something else.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 29, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Let me amend what I wrote. Thinking back, I was, like most democrats, opposed to the war, irrespective of the WMD argument. I don't blame people for buying the argument and supporting the war. But once the argument for invading faded, any decent person who voted for the war should have come out and done something to acknowledge the error. Actually doing something about it would have been icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned.

Clinton can't even do that, because in her eyes it would make her look weak (sound like someone we know?).

So, making bad decisions is bad. Holding onto bad decisions because of a fear of how changing positions would effect you personally, professionally... That is unacceptable for a 6-year-old, and certainly unacceptable for anyone wanting to be President.

Posted by: enozinho on January 29, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Clarity request: Did Obama decline to *clap* or did he decline to stand for Bush's surge remarks.

I could imagine the former becoming grist for the right-wing media mill, but I think (or hope) that the latter is too small and insignificant a distinction for anyone to get worked up about.

For the record, I couldn't care less whether you stand, sit, jump, do cartwheels or stand on your head when someone brings up the surge.

If I'm not mistaken, the official line from most of the Democratic presidential candidates is that the surge has achieved military successes, but the lack of political progress renders them meaningless.

In that context, it really makes no difference whatsoever if you praise the military successes or not. My only caveat is that if you don't at least make some effort to acknowledge some of the surge's gains, you're opening yourself up to distracting right-wing attacks.

Posted by: AMP on January 29, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the answer is on a different level:
Hillary Clinton payed tribute to tradition and conventional style, and Obama did not. This is an important level, too. I remember when the Green party in Germany first was elected for parliament, and the Green MP's walked in wearing jeans and gym shoes with everybody else in suits and ties. The style in parliament and in politics as a whole has changed a lot after that.

Posted by: joergen in Germany on January 29, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

What I read was that she stood when he hit the line about 'al Qaeda on the run'. Is that so bad?

From the Washington Times:
One of the few policy lines on which the two senators differed came when Mr. Bush said that Al Qaeda is "on the run" in Iraq. Mrs. Clinton stood and clapped, while Mr. Obama did not.

Click if you are interested:

http://video1.washingtontimes.com/fishwrap/2008/01/obama_and_hillary_at_sotu_and_1.html

Posted by: Dawn on January 29, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/stimulus-plan-clears-house-faces/story.aspx?guid=%7BAE61AE2F-631D-4E60-82B5-46FAB241E370%7D

Wow! My tea leaves were right! (see post above).

The surge works.

Therefore the war was worth it!

Huh?

Then why the need for a stimulus package?

Now we will see folks bickering about who was for or against the stimulus package.

My tea leaves were right, this country has gone absolutely knucking futs.

Thank goodness someone sat last night while others clapped.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 29, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Your commentators seem downright odd on the subject of Hillary. I think is quite contemptuous of Bush, disinterested in his little world at war projects and is trying to be a good and proper Senator. That is called toiling in the vineyard.

My take on Obama's rudeness is another matter; how can we respect a man so churlish? Is this a macho thing? Or is he just a jackass?

Posted by: Lee on January 29, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

"My only caveat is that if you don't at least make some effort to acknowledge some of the surge's gains"

AMP, I hate to be repetitious but check out Pepe Escobar's analysis of the surge in the Asia Times. The final result of the surge will possibly be more damaging than no surge at all.
Link at 3:30 PM.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

I read a comment in another post that said Sen. Obama stood and applauded W. Bush's swipe at Iran and the need to defend our 'vital interests' in the Persian Gulf.

Both Obama and Clinton want to become president and solve the Middle East riddle so they can become modern day heroes. Obama and the Sphinx may make a good tragic play, but it will be a tragedy if the US remains in occupied Iraq after the inauguration.

Posted by: Brojo on January 29, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

David Kyrch: "Hillary Clinton wasn't even voting with the majority of Democrats when she voted to approve the war."

You're wrong. 28 Senate Democrats voted for the Iraq AUMF in 2002, and 22 against. 49 Republicans voted in favor of the resolution, and only one against.

Now, if you are including Democratic House members in your total, you'd have a point -- but you failed to make that clear in your post. She very clearly voted with the majority of her Democratic Senate colleagues, and that's what most people would look at.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 29, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton's vote in the fall of 2002 was only but one aspect of her 'naivete and inexperience' when deferring to the efficacy of Bush neocon foreign policy in Iraq. It continued well into 2005, in spite of making two trips to Iraq to see for herself. 'Hillary's War' May 29, 2007, New York Times

In November 2003, six months after Bush announced that major combat operations? in Iraq had ended, Clinton traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq for the first time. Soon after her trip, and coincidentally two days after Saddam Hussein's capture, she delivered a major foreign-policy speech about the two countries at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. There, she sounded a lot like President Bush, even as she offered up some criticism of postwar reconstruction. She called for a tough-minded, muscular foreign and defense policy. She urged patience? and worried about the political will to stay the course. Failure is not an option in Iraq and Afghanistan, she declared. We have no option but to stay involved and committed in Iraq, she said, calling her decision to authorize the President to invade Iraq the right vote, one I stand by. (and then in 2005 after the Kerry-Bush election)....

In February 2005, Clinton took a second trip to Iraq and delivered a somewhat upbeat assessment about the progress being made and the chances for peace, despite mounting evidence that the insurgency was gaining momentum. She told reporters in Baghdad that the insurgents had failed to disrupt the recently held Iraqi interim elections. She noted that their horrific suicide attacks were a sign of desperation and that much of Iraq was functioning quite well. Her remarks echoed many of President Bush's statements at the time about the supposed progress being made in Iraq. While she was there, a wave of attacks in Baghdad shattered the celebrations of one of Shiite Islam's holiest days, killing dozens, including an American solider.

Finally, as 2005 wore on, persuaded by her husband, she started changing her tune, but lagging behind public opinion on the disaster of the war, certainly not leading it, that's not her style of leadership.

Compare this to Obama who was way ahead on the learning curve, from day one...There is no comparison.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on January 29, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"What I read was that she stood when he hit the line about 'al Qaeda on the run'. Is that so bad?"

Dawn,

I think it's another time for us to be quite suspicious about US media accounts of the success of the surge, mostly fed by military men like Petraeus. Had everyone read Escobar in 2002, then everyone would have been aware of the propaganda campaign being waged against the US population. Here's what Escobar has to say about the al Qaeda:

"As for the Sadrists, they are convinced the 80,000-strong Sunni Arab "Awakening Councils" - al-Sahwah, in Arabic - gathered in Anbar province are de facto militias biding their time and practicing for the big push. It's fair to assume thousands still keep tight connections with the Salafi-jihadis (including most of all al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers) they are now supposedly fighting."

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

This conversation about who sat and who clapped is about as meaningless as the "snub".

Posted by: Boorring on January 29, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"What I read was that she stood when he hit the line about 'al Qaeda on the run'. Is that so bad?"

Dawn,

I think it's another time for us to be quite suspicious about US media accounts of the success of the surge, mostly fed by military men like Petraeus. Had everyone read Escobar in 2002, then everyone would have been aware of the propaganda campaign being waged against the US population. Here's what Escobar has to say about the al Qaeda:

"As for the Sadrists, they are convinced the 80,000-strong Sunni Arab "Awakening Councils" - al-Sahwah, in Arabic - gathered in Anbar province are de facto militias biding their time and practicing for the big push. It's fair to assume thousands still keep tight connections with the Salafi-jihadis (including most of all al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers) they are now supposedly fighting."

Sorry if I've posted this twice...

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

"28 Senate Democrats voted for the Iraq AUMF in 2002, and 22 against"

Donald,

Not quite accurate. 19 Dems, 1 Repub and 1 Ind voted against the AUMF. So it's not important to you who was right and who was wrong? 28 vs. 19 isn't an extremely unbalanced vote, as say, 9 to 38 would have been.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, Fran is totally on the money at 3:16.

But OK, I get it. Obama by opposing the war when it was unfashionable for exactly the reasons it turned out to be such a disaster is the "sideliner" who participates in "symbolic" actions.

Hillary Clinton, who voted for the AUMF (and please spare me the legalities, the die was then cast) that paved the way for terrible carnage, destruction, and disrepute, is...um, a person who listens closely to the political winds.

I don't blame Hillary for being in denial about her vote; it may be the only way she can get up in the morning to campaign another day.

Posted by: Lucy on January 29, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

"This conversation about who sat and who clapped is about as meaningless as the "snub"."

Boorring,

For once I think I have to disagree with you. I find sitting and not clapping at the SOTU to be extremely important, particularly in regard to the issues in which this occured. Bush has been an abomination, as almost everyone here knows. He deserves neither clapping nor standing and it's important to state that symbolically. As to the 'snub,' I've read other descriptions of the moment in which it was not described as an Obama snub, but just a tense and awkward moment.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta wrote: "... but perhaps the growing realization that global warming must be ameliorated at the very least, will make the 'great game' a little less intense. At the same time, peak oil could have the opposite effect."

That's exactly why the giant fossil fuel corporations, Exxon-Mobil in particular, have spent tens of millions of dollars funding disinformation campaigns to manufacture a fake, phony "scientific controversy" about the reality of global warming: to keep the public ignorant and confused about it, so there will not be public support and demand for policies to phase out fossil fuels through efficiency improvements and a shift to clean, renewable energy sources.

The fossil fuel corporations don't want to see the ever-growing consumption of fossil fuels to be reversed, because it would cut into their billions of dollars of profit (around $35 billion per year in profit for Exxon-Mobil alone).

On the other hand, "peak oil" will increase their profits, when demand continues to grow while supplies level off and then decline. That's why the "great game" is increasingly intense, as exemplified by the Bush administration's unprovoked war of aggression, invasion and occupation of an oil-rich Middle Eastern country.

Whoever controls the world's last, biggest reserves of oil during the post-peak oil era of rapidly declining extraction, will be in a position to get richer than god, and indeed to control the entire world's economy -- unless, of course, the world moves quickly to phase out fossil fuels and shift to other energy technologies.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 29, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton endorsed preemptive war - the insanely dangerous and destabilizing "Bush Doctrine." She has done nothing - ever - to indicate that she has changed her mind on that score. She is not just "hawkish" - she is a neocon in sheep's clothing.

Damn, Kevin, for such a smart guy, you are unbelievably obtuse at times.

Posted by: Brautigan on January 29, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama wasn't just "in the Illinois legislature" when he opposed the war, he was running for Senate. Maybe opposing the war was the politically convenient thing to do while running in Illinois that year, but that's different than claiming he was "watching from the sidelines."

Look, at the time of his Oct 2002 speech, he was nothing more than a State legislator from one of the most liberal districts in the US. If he wanted to play it safe, and at minimum keep his own constituents happy, he was pretty obviously going to be obliged to come out against the war.

While he may have been running for the Senate, his first order of business would be to adopt policies that would endear him to Democratic constituencies so that he could win the Democratic nomination, right? Given how liberal much of the Democratic Party is in Illinois, it would hardly do him any harm to come out against the war, right? And given that Illinois is the bluest state in the midwest, it was likely that his position would also not hurt him in the general -- if, of course, he ever reached that stage.

This whole issue of the supposed wisdom and courage of Obama's position I just find absurd. I never explain by wisdom and courage in a politician what can every bit as well be explained by political convenience.

Fundamentally, Obama did the safest possible thing he could do given his circumstances at the time. Everything else is just spin.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

I simply have to say that it is utterly beyond me why any self-described progressives would support Hillary Clinton for president at this point. Her vote to authorize the Iraq invasion is one reason, but her deep embedding in a very cautious wing of the Democratic that has defined itself explicitly against progressive "naifs" is another.

It should be obvious that the decisions that have been made by the country's leadership in the last seven years are so bad as to require a thorough overhaul and a lot of new blood at the top of government. Hillary will not give us this.

Edwards was the best shot, but he is going nowhere. Obama certainly has more likelihood than Hillary does of bringing a new generation of decision-makers into his administration.

Posted by: Matthew Lenoe on January 29, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK
.... it may be the only way she can get up in the morning to campaign another day..... Lucy at 4:33 PM
Your concern, while touching, is risible. How can Obama get out of bed knowing he voted for supplemental war funding bills?
.... Bush....deserves neither clapping nor standing .... not described as an Obama snub, but just a tense and awkward moment.....nepeta at 4:38 PM
That would be reasonable if Obama did not stand or applaud at other times. I ask you: Did he? It was a tense and awkward moment because Obama was too childish to act like an adult which means smiling, saying hello to colleagues and shaking hands no matter their feelings. Posted by: Mike on January 29, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Not earthshatteringly important, but here's Obama's (and Caskill's) description of 'the snub,' from The Politico:

“I was surprised by the reports this morning,” Obama said. “I was turning away because Claire asked me a question as Sen. Kennedy was reaching for her. Sen. Clinton and I have had very cordial relations on the floor and off the floor.”

“Claire” is Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who just happened to be traveling with him today as his campaign headed to Kansas and Missouri. She stood to his left Monday night – and behind him today, vouching for his version of the story.

“It was not a snub,” she said. “It was one of those accidents.”

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

In general, at every stage of his career, Obama has come out with positions that are exactly consonant with what is politically expedient for his own ambitions.

He was against the war when it was politically expedient to be so. When he got to the Senate, he immediately started adopting positions essentially identical to those of all other Democratic politicians who intended to run for national office. His current set of policies is mostly the same as that of the other Democrats running for office, except tamer and more skewed toward the right (see his health care policy in particular).

Where's the courage? Where's the wisdom?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Is Obama anything more than a Condoleeza Rice or Carole Mosely Braun? An empty shell blown up by the lib media like a vinyl ethnic great black hope sex doll ?

Seems unreal he was an Illinois state senator nobody heard of even in Illinois and is suddenly a contender for president. It's inspirational...like...like Rocky Balboa!

Posted by: Luther on January 29, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among terrorists there is no doubt

Another Bushism. Seems to say that the terrorists have no doubt that the surge isn't working . . .

Posted by: rea on January 29, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK
Yet Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Democratic candidate for Congress, said Obama's stance in 2002 was still courageous. "It was not the safest political stand to take. Most of the people running for office ducked it, and there were no other major figures at the rally where he spoke," Simpson said. The war did not become a major election issue because other candidates were plagued by scandal, but Simpson said, "Barack did distinguish himself, and he had no way of knowing there wouldn't be considerable backlash"

This is why Hillary ducks most controversial issues or and tries to have it both ways because she doesn't want to lead public opinion..Her top strategist Mark Penn is a pollster. That's her strategy find the leading public opinion and follow it.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on January 29, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Crickmore,

I repeat, Obama came from one of the most liberal districts in the country.

Whatever you may say, taking a position against the war was not going to punish him in any way with his actual constituents, but would only boost his popularity.

And it could very well have been meant precisely as an issue that might bring enough of the Democratic party in Illinois to support him in the Democratic primary, and an easy way to distinguish himself from the crowd.

No courage necessary, whatever some Professor might say.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"He was against the war when it was politically expedient to be so."

FranklyO, Can you tell me why it was politically expedient for Obama to be against the war but not Clinton?

PS: I don't see Obama's healthcare position as being 'skewed' to the right. I'm sure that once the subsidy amounts for those unable to afford even the 'universal' healthcare premium are debated and prove sufficient then Obama will have no problem with a 'mandate.'

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

KD - I think you're clearly drunk on Clinton Cool-Aid. You're totally right that opposing the war while not sitting in Congress is easier. Who knows how he would have voted. But who cares. We know he opposes the war and his opposition is substantively different than HRC's. She thinks that Georgie's surge has worked, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Obama doesn't. That's enough for me RIGHT NOW.

As to the voting record claim, it was a no-win situation for any politician. Vote against funding the war and you're painted as not supporting the troops. Vote for it and now they say that means your "pro-war". Voting for war funding was a political reality that even Obama had to obey, no matter his platform.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 29, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

FranklyO, Can you tell me why it was politically expedient for Obama to be against the war but not Clinton?

I think that Hillary did what was politically expedient for her to do given where she was, and I think that Obama did what was politically expedient for him to do given where he was.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

FranklyO, even if what you said about Obama's political calculation were true, I fail to see how that makes Clinton any better. However, I don't see that it's true anyway. Voting to continue funding is a vote constrained by the reality that there are troops in the field. Same is true about withdrawal -- realistic options are limited. And Obama opposed Kyl-Leiberman, while Clinton voted for it. I could wish he had voted against it, but there's still daylight between them.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 29, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Who showed genuine courage on the Iraq War?

Bob Graham of Florida. He did NOT do what was politically expedient for him to do.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

OK, FranklyO, your post at 5:19 makes me think this is just an axiom for you, not an observation that could ever be refuted with evidence.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 29, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Because frankly0 is cynical about politicians, Obama could not have expressed genuine convictions about the war in his 2002 speech.

QED.

Posted by: Lucy on January 29, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Jinx!

Posted by: Lucy on January 29, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Toad,

Look at my 5:20 post.

Falsifiability established.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

By FranklyO's reasoning, we don't have an antiwar candidate in Kucinich, either, because his Iraq position is politically advantageous.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 29, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think the easiest response from the Hillary people is, "Hey, he's talking about the success of the surge. Less Americans have been getting killed. You don't want her to be seen clapping for that?"

I don't know if I'd go along with Hillary on this one, but she's playing it safe. She's using her judgment as she goes along. We all know where she really stands, and I don't throw her out just because she's acting in a politcal climate where any small step she takes that her political enemies can latch onto and turn into a career-ender, they will latch onto and turn into a career-ender. If you want a more detailed response from Hillary on what she thinks about the success of the surge beyond clapping for at least the limited progress it has made, you'd just have to ask her. When you're stuck having to clap or not clap for something, well, you're stuck having to clap or not clap for something.

Posted by: Swan on January 29, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter me: a great way to ruin Hillary is just to keep a camera pointed at her throughout the SOTU for Tim Russert and Chris Matthews' writers to pore through the tape from to find one little thing to blow out of proportion. And Hillary is totally aware of it.

Posted by: Swan on January 29, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

FranklyO, I don't think your statement about Bob Graham makes your statement about Obama falsifiable. My point is that the fact that a politician's constituents support his position doesn't mean that the position is politically motivated, which is what I take you to be saying about Obama. I agree with you, though, that when a politician takes an unpopular position, that tends to show (ceteris paribus) that the position is sincerely held for whatever reason.

Posted by: Toad on January 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Swan--

We all know where she really stands,

And we all know what she'll really do: in order not to appear weak, she'll keep us in Iraq for her full Presidency.

Posted by: calling all toasters on January 29, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Toad,

Look, here's the point I went on to make: EVERY ONE of Obama's political positions has been politically expedient given his situation and ambitions at the time.

As I pointed out, he was against the war when it was politically expedient to do so. He moves to the US Senate, and suddenly the anti-war rhetoric is ratcheted way, way, down, as are his positions, which are identical to all other Democratic politicians with national aspirations.

He has never taken a position contrary to his political expediency.

As I said, Bob Graham would be a pretty good example of someone who didn't do the politically expedient thing. He basically became so unpopular in Florida after opposing Bush that he found it the wisest thing to do to resign from the Senate.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

"My point is that the fact that a politician's constituents support his position doesn't mean that the position is politically motivated"

Toad, And I'm not so sure his constituents would have supported his anti-war position in the first place. My impression is that in general most Americans, including many liberals, had swallowed Bush's propaganda bait - hook, line and sinker. And since Obama was considering a Senate run in 2004, he would have not been limited to trying to please his constituency but Illinois Democrats in general. So yes, he took a principled stand, probably convinced that his position would be shown to be the correct one in the near future, e.g., no WMD, and above all, a stand against preemptive war.

That's the last I have to say about this, since the whole issue is ridiculous, i.e., comparing Obama and Clinton on their Iraq positions, don't you agree?

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Another Bushism." (5:08 PM)

rea, You're right!!!

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Calling All Toasters wrote:

And we all know what she'll really do: in order not to appear weak, she'll keep us in Iraq for her full Presidency.

Republicans would probably want the president, whoever it is, to keep the troops in Iraq, but if Hillary Clinton gets elected and she does keep the troops there because they become obviously more helpful than harmful, the Republicans will find a way, either by reversing their stated position on the occupation or by working through ostenibly Democratic proxies who pose as being more liberal than Hillary, to make her look bad for it.

Posted by: Swan on January 29, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

You could, although it has gotten tedious, argue about it whether Obama was courageous or not when he came out against the war in 2002.

You would have a much harder time arguing against the wisdom of it as frankly0 suggested above.

On to Super Tuesday. Although today has been very super as well.

Posted by: Craig Johnson's Brother's Son on January 29, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Once again the thread has derailed into the frankly0 Show. Look at frankly0! He thinks Obama is a very, very bad man! frankly0 said Obama has never taken a position contrary to his political expediency!

frankly0 is intractable. He doesn't argue to gain insight, since his premise is always a foregone conclusion. He imputes to Obama supporters the most simplistic and absurd ideology. He does this all over the internet.

Meanwhile, I thought what Econobuzz posted was noteworthy, especially relative to Swan's reasonable response about Hillary's clapping:

Kevin Drum: But it does lead me to be generally unimpressed with cost-free symbolism like declining to clap for the surge.

Cost free? With the cameras on him? With nearly everyone else standing? With the whole world watching, including the troops? With McCain and Romney watching? With the Clinton campaign watching?

Obama thinks the Bush line on the Surge is bullshit, so he did not applaud, one week before do-or-die Super Tuesday.

Interesting.

Posted by: Lucy on January 29, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

OK, Kevin. Hell if I know what either Hillary or Obama will do about Iraq. And I'll concede that it's easier to take a stand from the sidelines, where Obama was in 2002, than from the Senate floor, where Hillary was. But what we want to know about these two is whether they have the smarts to see when they're being lied to. Obama did. Hillary didn't. After 35 yeeaaaars! of experience! the best she can come up with to explain the Iraw vote is that she was too dumb to doubt George Bush. Asked to do it again on the Iran resolution, she did it again. I really, really can't vote for someone who's that slow to catch on.

Posted by: lindsay on January 29, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you are right that Hillary and Obama have the same record on Iraq post-invasion. But that's not what this is about. Its about keeping us out of NEW foreign policy disasters. Its about having the guts to make the right call when the hawks are breathing down your neck. On that score, I don't trust Hillary at all. Its less clear about what Obama would do, but regardless, he did make a brave stand with his anti-war speech. If Iraq had turned out fine, his political career would have been still born.

Posted by: nathan on January 29, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta, yes, I do agree. I also think that the issue isn't so much what each candidate would do in Iraq (because that's constrained by facts on the ground), but how hawkish their instincts are with respect to Middle East policy generally. The records and rhetoric of both candidates give you plenty to go on there.

I agree with you as well about the potential political downside of being against the war in 2003. Something like 70% of Americans supported the decision to go to war, and I believe that remained true even as late as the spring of 2004. It may be fair to say, though, that Obama was free to take this position without worrying too much about consequences in the general election. I'd have to know more about the timing of the statements in relation to Jack Ryan's meltdown.

Posted by: The Toadulous Mr. Fab on January 29, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Make that 2004.

Posted by: Fabtoadulous Mr. The on January 29, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

FranklyO, Can you tell me why it was politically expedient for Obama to be against the war but not Clinton?

f0 responds: I think that Hillary did what was politically expedient for her to do given where she was, and I think that Obama did what was politically expedient for him to do given where he was.

In other words, "I will answer your reasonable request for me to explain myself by simply repeating the remark that needs explaining." Mmmm, not very compelling.

EVERY ONE of Obama's political positions has been politically expedient given his situation and ambitions at the time.

Yes, you keep saying that, doggedly ignoring that Obama was clearly planning a Senate run at the time. Is it going to be your ludicrous assertion that his position was a completely safe one to take in a state which is not composed merely of "liberal districts"; which is overall less blue than New York (where HRC, by your argument, would have been even safer coming out against the war); and which at that time and even in 2004 contained plenty of Republicans, independents and some Dems who still supported the war?

If it is, you're going to have to hold Clinton to the same standard. Clearly, Clinton was not being politically expedient for her then-situation: representing her own constituents at the time.

She was, however, voting as she apparently thought would be expedient for her presidential ambitions. It's quite possible Obama was doing the same, calculating that his anti-war stance would get him through an iffy Senate race followed by a presidential campaign.

One of them seems to have been better than the other one at determining how political expediency matches personal ambition.

Posted by: shortstop on January 29, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy is calling Frankly0 recalcitrant?

I recall the saying "like pots calling kettles black", but then all the Obama supporters would immediately assume I'm racist.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 29, 2008 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy: I don't blame Hillary for being in denial about her vote; it may be the only way she can get up in the morning to campaign another day.

Hah! HRC supporters are within their rights to dwell on the 2002 war vote, but why they would want to mystifies me. Obama could easily have made a less stridently anti-war speech in '02 and made his point. Or he could have made a spitting-mad speech about the war-mongering fascists in the White House and maybe gotten more votes.

Instead, he made a statesmanlike speech. It illustrated both his good moral and good political judgement. He probably owes his current success in the primaries in a large part thanks to that speech, and the critical time at which he delivered it. But even if he didn't believe a word of it (doubtful), it shows his good political judgement. Hillary might not have to be dealing with him at all if she had had the same skills of calculation in 2002.

Instead Hillary clumsily tried to triangulate herself to safe ground, As she has done in the primary. As she may do in the general election. But as she will not get a chance to do in the White House.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 29, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0's starting premise may be very far from accurate.

In the fall of 2002 the vaste majority of US citizens were in favor of the war, and this proportion only fell in degree as the invasion came closer in the spring of '03. Even then it was more to wait and gather sufficient evidence to justify it.

frankly0 conflates a blue voting state with being "liberal". However, at that time, here in MN, among all those I talked with, my experience reflected the polls. The general blue-collar, Democratic-voting workers were mostly pretty gung-ho for war and damn the (how bad could they be?) consequences, as were my Republican-voting (our soldiers are great, we own the world) sub- and exurbanite friends. I would imagine Illinois might have been similar.

So, perhaps, Obama might have been going out more on a limb than frankly0 presumes.

Since frankly0 made the original point, perhaps he/she might like to back their premise with some facts.

And I'll second nepeta's reference to Pepe Escobar's article in the Asia Times which echoes other recent articles by informed Middle East reporters.

Posted by: notthere on January 29, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

It may be politically expedient for Obama but not for Hillary (though the last I heard New York wasn't a red state either ) but there are quite a number of human rights issues that Obama mkes a clear unambiguous stand on- the ban on landmines, a ban which Obama is definitely in favor while..

Senator Hillary Clinton has refused to support the international treaty to ban land mines, which are responsible for killing and maiming thousands of civilians worldwide, a disproportionate percentage of whom have been children. Then she voted down a Democratic-sponsored resolution restricting U.S. exports of cluster bombs to countries using them against civilian-populated areas.

Other human rights issues where Hillary dithers are transgender discrimination and torture( she will look into the the Bush administration first) while Obama has zero percent uniequivocal tolerance.

Hillary seems to be most forthright on those issues when she presses her conservative buttons while on the liberal issues, with the exception of a few womens' issues in which she trusts her instincts, Senator Clinton has a tendency to wait see which way the wind is blowing before taking a stand particularly if the issue is in any way related to the Pentagon or Israel.


Posted by: Steve Crickmore on January 29, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: Is it going to be your ludicrous assertion that his position was a completely safe one to take in a state which is not composed merely of "liberal districts"; which is overall less blue than New York (where HRC, by your argument, would have been even safer coming out against the war); and which at that time and even in 2004 contained plenty of Republicans, independents and some Dems who still supported the war?

Exactly. And Obama also had no way of knowing his substantial Republican competition, Ryan, would have to drop out of the senate race over a sex scandal two years later. The anti-war position was a very risky one for him to take if he was seriously considering a senate run in 2004.

Either that or he could see what a fiasco this was going to be all along when HRC could not.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 29, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 conflates a blue voting state with being "liberal".

Which, as has been explained to him more than once, is overwhelmingly not the case in Illinois, even among most Chicago Democrats.

Posted by: shortstop on January 29, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

From 2004:

In a recent interview, he declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.

''But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports,'' Mr. Obama said. ''What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.''

---------

I've been paying a little bit of attention and as far as I can tell Hillary's line has been 1) she wasn't for the surge, 2) she thinks the surge can temporarily quell violence, 3) she thinks it's unsustainable, 4) she thinks any progress is largely related to Iraqis knowing US troops will likely be withdrawn by a new Democratic administration, 5) she wants to start drawing down troop levels immediately in a safe and orderly manner. The Obama/Hillary Iraq talking points are actually pretty hard to separate.

Neither sound anything like McCain.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Franklyo:
He was against the war when it was politically expedient to be so.

A truly bizarre statement that, at the very least, must be based on assuming that he was not thinking ahead to running for the US Senate or President.

I think that Hillary did what was politically expedient for her to do given where she was,

And so then how do you explain that she's refused to admit that it was a mistake, pretended that she really thought Bush was to be taken seriously when he said war would be a last resort (it would be even worse if she were so easily bamboozled by Bush that she actually believed what she said she believed), praised the "success" of the surge, etc., etc.?

If all of this is being done for political expedience, in spite of the fact that the polls now are saying something very, very different from the polls that made her vote for Bush's war politically expedient, then is that because she's dug herself into a hole so deep she has no choice but to keep digging?

I hope that's all it is, but another interpretation makes more sense, namely that she actually believes these things.

What's your take on it? Was she saying something she didn't believe for political expediency, and is now having to dig the hole deeper? Or was she truly bamboozled by Bush, and still genuinely thinks she did the right thing? Or is simply she a genuine supporter of neo-con foreign policy ideas?

Posted by: bobb on January 29, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

B, that interview was conducted a couple of weeks before the Democratic convention at which John Kerry and John Edwards, two senators who had voted for the war resolution, were about to be nominated. Obama was trying to minimize the difference between pro- and anti-war Democrats. A lot of anti-war dems, Howard Dean included, were trying to bridge the gap the war had caused. Had Hillary run then, she probably would have got the same treatment.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 29, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

I have always been against this war in Iraq; having said that, I do not blame the Democrats who voted for it. No one knew that Bush was lying at the time. No one had any inkling that he would carry it out to this current surge. Should they have known?

Yes, they should have known. But I have to believe that most of the country was caught up in the post 9-1-1 fervor. They exercised bad judgment. That is common with humans. Even Senators. Who knew that the Bush administration would turn into the Mayberry Machiavellis? I may be remembering incorrectly, but I think that she has said that had she known then what she knows now, she would have voted differently. Why is an apology necessary?

Anyhow, I think that correcting the errors of the Bush WH will take a true wonk. I'd just rather not have a newbie try to untangle the mess left behind by GWB.

Posted by: Susan on January 29, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sweaty guy,

I know. And any comments from the Obama campaign now have a political context too.

I was pissed at Dodd, Edwards, Kerry, Clinton, Daschle, Schumer, Feinstein, Biden, Bayh, Reid, Harkin, etc. back in the day. I just don't think you can make a completely fair comparison between a state representative and a senator. And I don't think Obama was being dishonest when he said being a senator might have changed his calculations.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

In the "China Card" thread, frankly0 criticizes Obama's 2002 speech not just as politically convenient, but on its content -- because it didn't specifically mention the inspectors and didn't say that the war should proceed if the inspectors were not allowed in.

And he said that, since Obama's speech expressed the views of the left, omitting the inspectors, Bill Clinton was justified to say, in 2004, "I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq".

And when asked why, then, do the Clintons now say that the 2002 Obama speech was "great" (in Hillary's words) he said it could be out of politeness.

Posted by: JS on January 29, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

''But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports,'' Mr. Obama said. ''What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.''

That's hardly a change in his position. Citizens and politicians without access to intelligence reports do not have to refrain from having a position on whether their country should invade another. He points out that it is possible that the intelligence reports contained stuff that could change his mind, but re-iterates from my vantage point the case was not made. Not a contradiction, and not a flip-flop. Mostly graciousness towards fellow Democratic senators who made a mistake.

Posted by: JS on January 29, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

While recognizing that national politics have been reduced to entertainment, I really don't care whether someone applauded GWB's reference to failed military policies. I DO care what Senators and Representatives actually do and how they actually vote. And, unfortunately, both major Democratic candidates aren't showing up too well in that category, especially the latter.
Both candidates have had opportunities to establish themselves, in the Senate, as anti-war, fiscally-responsible, supporters of the Constitution. Neither really has and it looks as if I'll have to resort to my lucky penny when the primary takes place.

Posted by: Doug on January 29, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's an illusion that Hillary would be doing better politically if she opposed the Iraq war earlier or if she was more staunchly anti-war or anti-occupation. Liberal liberals may feel like they'd like her better if she did one of these things, but they may not be able to see that her attitude was actually what was responsible for her building a broader coalition. The idea that Hillary is some kind of a conservative should be considered the most notorious Internet myth there ever was, but it seems the right people haven't seen through the fog enough to start debunking it yet.

Posted by: Swan on January 29, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

"The real question is, what will he do once he's in office and he has to make good on his symbolism?"

Like duh Kevin, he's running for president to bring his good judgement into play for all of us, putting his nads on the line, that's what, and that's more than any other senator or governor has done.

This is just weird. You're playing the devil's advocate with the Obama-Clinton thing, to what end? I say it's because your masters use the # of comments as a rating for your blog, and you get a lot of comments on this issue. I can't believe a good left coast lib like yourself can't see the huge benefit that Obama would bring to this country as preznit. I guess we'll just play along, in lieu of contributing to your periodic fund raising.

Posted by: Dilbert on January 29, 2008 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot to add: I am tired of "symbolic" gestures; we've had seven years of symbolism controlling politics and it hasn't worked. Politicians are paid well enough to compensate them for any stress that making decisions and explaining them to their constituents may cause.

Posted by: Doug on January 29, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

A media reporter asked the candidate if it was true that the candidate liked ham hocks in his beans. he answered "Yes, that"s the way my wife makes them". The following weekend the talking heads on TV asked each other-"Wonder what he meant by that?". "Is he trying to drive a wedge between the party and the jewish vote, or drop the race card or is it intended to be a gender thing"?. "We don't really know until the public reacts to this news at 11, Stay tuned to the best political team on TV.

Posted by: fillphil on January 29, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, they should have known. But I have to believe that most of the country was caught up in the post 9-1-1 fervor. They exercised bad judgment. That is common with humans.

This strikes me as a particularly weak argument. Being a "newbie" is also common with humans. Really, if we are not to evaluate judgment, what else is there?

Who knew that the Bush administration would turn into the Mayberry Machiavellis?

I'm taken aback by the juxtaposition of "Machiavellian = bad" and "Clinton = good." If I were a robot, I'd have steam coming out of my head.

I may be remembering incorrectly, but I think that she has said that had she known then what she knows now, she would have voted differently. Why is an apology necessary?

Is this a joke? She owes an apology because it was possible to know then most of what she knows now --- at least enough to avoid the tragic decisions she made. Her negligence or at least lack of due diligence accounts for a huge portion of the mess we're in right now. It's not just the dead, or the intractable situation in Iraq, it's the tanking economy, the sinking dollar, the plummet in international stature that creates more terrorists, and on and on.

I mean, how many excuses do you have to make for her judgment on the AUMF? She couldn't see that the entire Bush administration suffered from serious confirmation bias? She couldn't see that Condi "smoking-gun-mushroom-could" Rice was fear mongering, not building a case? She didn't see that there were other competent voices with different opinions, like say Scott Ritter, or France, or the IAEA, or Hans Blix to balance the Bush bias? She didn't know that Bush was incompetent? She didn't know that sending the Bush administration --- distrusted at home for the influence of big oil on his energy policy --- into Iraq would be met by skepticism in the Arab world?

And she's still making bad judgments like not being unequivocally against torture. (Please show me this is wrong! Please!) For Pete's sake, you really expect us to get out of this hole without repairing our international image (first step: renew our commitment to the Geneva conventions)?

Posted by: Dagome on January 29, 2008 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Hillary's judgment: I think I first started to turn against her when she made the, "you cannot take preemptively nuking Pakistan off the table --- a president leaves his options open," attack on Obama's "inexperience."

For more than 60 years, we've managed not to "first strike" anyone, but Hillary might need it in Pakistan.

One of the most important problems we face is stopping the proliferation of nukes. But the non-proliferation treaty was already hard for us to push, because we're unwilling to give up our own. But, with Hillary's position would be amended from "nukes for me, but not thee," to "unless we decide to 'give' the nuke to thee." That's sure to help all of our diplomatic efforts.

All to score a debate point about "experience" over "judgment." I'll take judgment, thank you very much.

Posted by: Dagome on January 29, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

I cannot accept the understanding you give Democrats who voted for the authorization. Their knowledge, responsibility, and power were greater than those of us not in Congress. Their authorization took us into this war. I think almost half the Democrats in the Senate voted against the authorization--and Hillary had no immediate political need to vote for it. As a fellow New Yorker I cannot forgive her vote, nor her refusal to regret it. Once the war began did not Obama as a new senator vote the same as those senators who voted against the authorization, e.g. Kennedy, Durban, Levin, etc. re whatever votes were taken about the war? If I am correct, why do you demand more from him than the other senators who opposed the authorization?

Posted by: MM on January 29, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Dagome and MM,

I agree with both of you entirely. It was possible, as I've said before, to know to 99% certainty that Iraq did not have WMD by reading the European press, journals like the Asia Times and some liberal sites in the US, all of which provided 'evidence,' not just opinion, on Iraq's WMD status. And even if Iraq did have nuclear weapons why in the world would Iraq want to use them on the US? Saddam would have had to be totally suicidal, and I for one did not think he was. And did Iraq have an intercontinental missile to carry the bomb? Condi talked about a 'mushroom cloud' so they couldn't have meant a dirty bomb. I'm also from NY and like you, MM, was absolutely furious at Clinton's vote. Maybe we feel the anger more keenly because she's our senator, I don't know. I also was naive enough to send her e-mails by the dozen AND hard-copy letters AND telephone calls with evidence I'd dug up concerning the absence Iraqi WMD. A really crazy time. Btw, Iraq had finalized agreements with the UN to allow inspectors to return for unconditional inspections before the AUMF vote, around October 1, 2002.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose it would never occur to any of you people that she was applauding the young American service men and women who have had some success in quelling violence in the parts of Iraq where they are most numerous. That's as much success as we're going to get from the surge, but those young men and women have done their duty as best they can and deserve respect.

Senator Clinton has said several times that the military has done it's part as well as possible but the surge itself is a political failure. For what it's worth, I've fought in an unpopular war and I believe she was showing respect for and applauding the troops who put their lives on the line.

Posted by: RalphB on January 29, 2008 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Damn liberals.

Damn liberals


I am so madd tonite i am so mad

mcKain and all of his buillcrap and i want to tel yu a story about the time i lived in nyc and this was the time when mcKain and all that were caught helping charles keating. Keating I never met.

mcKain on the other hand, a bastard he was. A bastard. mean and spiteful, stand on your foot and shout at you. No wa
\
no way for a gentlemn to act

Damn liberals. I am so mad. Mad at all of you.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 29, 2008 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what the framers would have said if they knew that, with television, the SOTU has become an instrument of intimidation for the members of congress, a dangerous game where a split-second decision to applaud or not -- or to stand up or not -- could cost them the next election.

No doubt there are spreadsheets in many computers across the land showing the members of congress as columns, the SOTU paragraphs as rows, and a number in each cell which stands for: 0=did not applaud, 1=applauded, 2=applauded and stood up. Possibly with youtube hyperlinks as well.

Posted by: JS on January 29, 2008 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ralph, I didn't watch the SOTU but I assume Bush made a specific remark concerning the success of the surge and didn't thank or otherwise express appreciation for the troops in his remark. If he had, I'm sure 100% of the audience would have stood and applauded. As I noted above, we hear constantly from MSM that the surge was successful at least to the extent that it reduced casualties. For another take on the surge and what is possibly in store as a result, see my link at 3:30 PM.

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2008 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm getting really sick and tired of these "can't win" arguments.

If Obama had raced to every microphone he could find in order to proclaim his opposition to the war, we'd all be defending him from charged of showboating.

On the other hand, since he didn't, we're defending him from charges that his opposition to the war just wasn't strong enough.

Can't win, can he?

Posted by: KathyF on January 30, 2008 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

The speech against the war in 2002 is a plus for Obama but he hasn't always lived up to his rhetoric. In 2003, he gave another speech where he said the following: "Just this week, when I was asked, would I have voted for the $87 billion dollars, I said 'No. I said no unequivocally because, at a certain point, we have to say 'No' to George Bush. If we keep on getting steamrolled, we are not going to stand a chance." When in the Senate, he voted for all the funding bills except the last one just like Senator Clinton.

Obama's inconsistency on Iraq is troubling and amply documented. He's been alternately for and against withholding funding for the troops, for and against setting timelines for withdrawal, and for and against a quick withdrawal from Iraq. Perhaps his foreign policy judgment is superior than Clinton's but he has shown no leadership on the Iraq War.

Posted by: skeptic on January 30, 2008 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

Obama's inconsistency on Iraq is troubling and amply documented.

Not nearly as troubling as Hillary's consistency on Iraq. She has never, by words, actions nor implications, rejected the "Bush Doctrine" of preemption.

Dagome's comments are particularly illuminative in this context. How is the rest of the world to act if the world's largest nuclear power reserves the option of first-strike? Even during the height of the cold-war madness of "MAD" our foreign policy and rhetoric never devolved to such insanity.

Posted by: Brautigan on January 30, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK
“It was not a snub,” she said. “It was one of those accidents.” nepeta at 4:57 PM
Spare me the 'bamashit. It's clear from the photos and all the campaign surrogates in all the world can't spin his boorish behavior.
....I'll take judgment.... Dagome at 8:51 PM
Is Rezko an example of 'judgment,' because that is an attribute that is notoriously subjective and spotty.
....She has never, by words, actions nor implications, rejected the "Bush Doctrine" of preemption....Brautiganat 9:08 AM
That seems to be a conclusion not in accord with prior statements

...her explanation of the vote show, Clinton did voice several assumptions regarding how the Bush administration would proceed, including that full inspections would occur and that the United States would not engage in "any new doctrine of pre-emption." At the beginning of the Meet the Press interview, Clinton made clear that she believed that it was important that inspectors be sent to Iraq and that "it's important to continue down the United Nations' track, to do everything possible to get as much international support and buy-in as we can."...

.... "I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq".....JS at 6:56 PM
As quoted: here

...Pressed on whether the Iraq war was worth the cost to the United States, Clinton said he would not have undertaken the war until after U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix "finished his job."
Weapons inspectors led by Blix scoured Iraq for three and a half months before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 but left after President Bush issued an ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to leave the country.
"I want it to have been worth it, even though I didn't agree with the timing of the attack," Clinton said.....

Posted by: Mike on January 30, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Obama faced the EXACT same political pressures that Hillary did! It was clear that he would face in his race for the U.S. Senate a self-financed Dem (Blair Hull) in the primary and should he win that, a self-financed, young and attractive Republican candidate (Patrick Ryan). They ended up self-destructing, but no one knew that would happen at the time.

So he faced the exact same political considerations as a sitting Senator in what was at the time a pretty purple state (the retiring U.S. Senator was a Republican, as was the governor). Hillary faced no Senate political considerations b/c she is never going to lose her Senate seat no matter what she does or how she votes.

She showed a massive lack of political courage in order to vote according to what her terrible (and still with her) advisors said was a chance to demonstrate her "toughness" and improve her chances of winning the presidency.

Posted by: bob on January 30, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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