Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 1, 2008
By: Neil Sinhababu

FORESIGHT....In response to all sorts of different questions about Barack Obama -- Why should we support him? How is a first-term Senator suddenly winning the nomination? How can he beat John McCain? What kind of President will he be? -- I like to point to these three paragraphs from his 2002 speech against the Iraq War:

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.

What's special about this speech isn't just that Obama opposes the war. It's that he clearly and concisely predicts several major problems with it, and his predictions have been borne out by history. We had superior ways of dealing with whatever threats Saddam presented, reconstructing the country would be a mess, and the war would strengthen al-Qaeda. Obama made these points at a time when Democrats with political ambitions were falling over themselves to look tough on foreign policy by supporting a war they'd later regret.

Perhaps the most under-remarked fact about the Democratic primary is that if Hillary Clinton had Obama's foresight on the Iraq War, she'd be our nominee today and he probably wouldn't have bothered to run. She had the profile to become the leader of the doves in the Senate, a position that would've gained value dramatically as the war turned out to be a disaster. There might've been a challenge from the right, but she would've consolidated left-wing support and won easily. Instead, she became one of the more hawkish Democrats in the Senate, and was probably the most hawkish figure onstage during the Democratic debates. Without even seriously repenting her mistaken vote on the biggest foreign policy question of our time, it's a surprise that she got as far as she did.

Obama's foresight is also going to be a tremendous advantage in the general election. John McCain blew the biggest foreign policy question of our time, and he's still proud to have voted as he did. (Fortunately, two thirds of Americans are aware that the war was a mistake, though it's unclear if they know how extreme McCain's views are.) McCain claims his experience as an advantage, but the point of experience is supposed to be that you don't make wrong decisions and get thousands of our soldiers killed for no reason. Obama, by contrast, figured out that the war was a bad idea from the beginning. I look forward to seeing this contrast emphasized in the general election.

I want a president whose foreign policy is guided more by rational evaluation of the situations we face than a desire to look tough. And with Barack Obama, that's what I'm getting. Even if your major progressive interests lie elsewhere, making foreign policy a perceived Democratic strength will help you achieve your goals. With Obama's foresight -- both as he exercised it in 2002, and as he'll exercise it in office -- we can do that.

Neil Sinhababu 2:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (133)

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Neil S.: I want a president whose foreign policy is guided more by rational evaluation of the situations we face than a desire to look tough.

You and me both. Sad reality: we are a minority. Most Americans would be thrilled with the enterprise if we could march in victory parades, like we did in '91. Look how popular Commander Codpiece was on "Mission Accomplished" day.

I know your point is that Obama foresaw that the war would be difficult, and I give him credit for that. He's a very intelligent man. He might even have ben brave enough to vote against the war, given the chance. But nowhere that I've seen did he say it would be wrong, even if it was going to be easy.

I probably hold Obama to an impossibly high standard. I hold my fellow Americans to the same standard and am frequently disappointed.

Having said that, of course I'll vote for him if he's the nominee. Tremendously preferable to McSham.

Posted by: thersites on June 1, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

There's still the possibility that Obama turned out to be right for the wrong reasons: Saddam was a direct threat to the US, Iraqi agents had aided and abetted the 1993 WTC bombers, he was developing poisons for terrorists, every day his regime existed Americans would have to walk on eggshells through every city and airport in this country. More egregious is Obama's baldfaced lie about sanctions containing him; for 12 years the US and Britain had banged our heads against the wall trying to get sanctions, smart sanctions, etc. through the UN only to be blocked by Saddam's bribery... I defy you to produce one "expert" that says sanctions were not collapsing in 2002. I agree the war has been managed so badly that it probably has caused more harm than good, at least for the intermediate term, but I still think Hillary cast the right vote, and Obama would have too if he'd been in the Senate instead of Hyde Park.

Posted by: au contraire on June 1, 2008 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Astute observations rarely get the credit they deserve, until there is nothing left to do but shrug and say, "I told you so."

If Senator Clinton had even said, "I was wrong. I got suckered, just like you," she would have locked up the nomination instantly. She did not.

We now see the true colors of SOME of her "supporters" by the obviously bigoted idea that if she is not the nominee, they will vote for McSame.

THESE PEOPLE WERE NEVER TRUE SUPPORTERS OF A SINGLE ISSUE FOR WHICH SENATOR CLINTON STANDS!!!! If they were, they would NEVER be so quick to turn their backs on everything she stands for.

I would beg, here and now, that Senator Clinton denounce these sour-grapes turncoats as false supporters before their hate-filled rhetoric begins to further divide the Party. Failure to do so will ensure a victory for McSame as surely as if she endorsed him.

Anyone with her ear, PLEASE, have her make a statement that any TRUE supporter supports not HER, but her stance on the issues (which are almost mirror images of Senator Obama). Stamping our feet and crying "No fair" will not help this country out of the doldrums we have found ourselves in.

PLEASE SENATOR. PLEASE!! TELL THESE PEOPLE NOT TO ABANDON THEIR PRINCIPLES OVER THIS!!!!

ONLY YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

UNITED, WE ALL WIN. DIVIDED, WE ALL FAIL!!!

Posted by: DonkeyOdie on June 1, 2008 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Its 3am and the phone rings. Do you want a president with a near pathological desire to be seen as tough? Thats the way I interpret Hillaries I'm tough talk. It may be just a show, but I don't want to take the chance. Similarly for McCain, wanting to be seen a tough, should be a last resort, not a first one.

Posted by: bigTom on June 1, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

He had real foresight in the primary campaign too.

Mapping out -- beforehand -- the lay of the electora land is was what put him over the top against a very high name recognition candidate with a very popular ex-President campaigning full bore for her.

Foresight in more than just foreign policy, I'd say.

Posted by: riffle on June 1, 2008 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

What's special about this speech isn't just that Obama opposes the war. It's that he clearly and concisely predicts several major problems with it, and his predictions have been borne out by history.

Word and word. And this is a key reason why Hillary cannon win Teh Veepstakes. It's muy importante to get another person who got The Iraq War right on the ticket, then club the bejeezus out of McCain with The Truth. So let it be done.

Posted by: ed on June 1, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

't

Posted by: ed on June 1, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is precisely why Clinton was my last choice for the Democratic candidate, and why I ping-ponged between Obama and Edwards. Obama is stronger on foreign policy than anyone else running because of this speech; Edwards, I think, was better on the domestic/economic front, and admitted that his war vote was a mistake, but wasn't right from the get-go. Clinton, with her apparent desire to "look tough", instead merely looks very wrong (and haven't he what enough of pointless cowboy posturing in the last eight years?)

And yes, if Clinton had been willing to be smart, instead of "tough", she would be the Democratic nominee by now.

Posted by: dr2chase on June 1, 2008 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, Neil. I look at these last several posts you've put up and think, "How embarassing for you." Can you post a more gushing handjob of Obama based on some vague platitudes in a speech six years ago? How did you get the job posting here? Do you have incriminating pictures of Kevin, or something?

Posted by: Pat on June 1, 2008 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

The speech is to his credit, but it would mean a lot more to me if he had actually been in the Senate. It's much easier to be right when it doesn't cost you votes.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on June 1, 2008 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Without even seriously repenting her mistaken vote on the biggest foreign policy question of our time, it's a surprise that she got as far as she did.

Surprise? Not in any sense of the word. She was/is a unique candidate and she is the spouse of a popular(used to be, anyway) ex-president.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on June 1, 2008 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

What exactly was Obama risking by opposing the war? If it went well, he could always say he didn't have all the intelligence that a member of Congress had. If it went poorly, as wars sometimes do, he could say "I told you so" and win the Democratic nomination.

It was an easy -- some might say too easy -- way to impress Democrats.

Posted by: Everett on June 1, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

PS:

http://dr2chase.wordpress.com/2007/07/24/being-right-ought-to-count-for-something/

This is not news, and Clinton's "toughness" is part of a pattern.

Posted by: dr2chase on June 1, 2008 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

I defy you to produce one "expert" that says sanctions were not collapsing in 2002.

Well, it's not 2002, but here's Colin Powell in 2001: "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours." And Condi 2 months later: "Saddam does not control the northern part of the country," she said. "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

Of course that was before they jumped on the neocon bandwagon that didn't get revved and moving until 2002.

Posted by: on June 1, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, that crafty Obama -- he cynically calculated that he could get away with actually thinking things through and telling the truth.

Some of us aren't stupid, and saw that this war was a fuckup from the get-go, and wondered what the hell had happened to people like Clinton, that they would roll over and support it. She had a major opportunity to be tough and show some spine, and she blew it, stuck her finger in the wind, and decided instead to be merely "tough". And sometimes, you make a big enough mistake, it closes off opportunities. This probably cost her the chance to be president.

Posted by: dr2chase on June 1, 2008 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm more curious about some of the other enigmas of the Obama candidacy.

I think he has a lot right on foreign policy (as do most democrats). What I'm curious about is who he's going to have around for guidance and how much he's going to listen to them. I'm curious which Republican(s) he's going to put on his post-partisan cabinet. I'm curious about science, education, conservation, and public lands. I'm curious where the political capital will be spent and where the compromises will be made. I'm wondering how well he's going to combat conservatives in congress in the PR war.

Posted by: B on June 1, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

No matter what short-term success the U.S. may or may not be having in Iraq now, they cannot erase the fact that this war has been a predicable and unnecessary failure from the start.

Saddam Hussein was not a direct threat to the U.S. His support for terrorism in general was peripheral at most (payments to families of suicide bombers after the fact, etc.) and his links to Al-Qaeda and 9/11 never existed outside the fevered imaginations of Bush and his supporters. His nuclear weapons program was non-existent and his chemical and bioligical programs were suspended with no immediate prospects of restarting.

Aside from all that, attacking Iran when we did diverted resources and attention from Afghanistan and the U.S. and Afghanistan continue to pay a price for that blunder now.

Don't allow the debate about Iraq to be diverted into questions about whether we are 'winning' now. This was the wrong war, fought for the wrong reasons, with poor planning and worse execution for every aspect of the occupation and reconstruction thanks to repeated interference by political appointees in the efforts of military and state department professionals.

John McCain supported this war from the beginning and despite attempts to pretend otherwise, supported the administration's conduct of it long after their failures were obvious.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 1, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Everett, suggesting that Barrack Obama had nothing to lose by opposing the war is BS.

He made that speech when the public relations blitz leading up to the AUMF vote was at its peak. He announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate three months later -- after the AUMF passed and before the actual invasion. He carried out his Senate campaign, and won, while the war was still in its early stages and was still wildly popular with the public.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 1, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Everything you say is so profound.
One can suspect that sickening, recurrent element of racism will play a part, however.
Blogger Matt Stoller said it best: "As a progressive partisan, it's disappointing that so many older white people are willing to abandon the Democratic Party to send young people into wars just because they don't want a younger African-American male to run the country."
I hope not.
He seems so composed--and wise.

Posted by: no bias on June 1, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

It is true, that we don't have any quotes of Obama opposing the war on moral grounds. We would clearly respect him more if it were there. That said, I have been known to make a pragmatic only argument for policies for which the moral dimension was personally key. I've been known to make the judgment, that my target audience may not be responsive to the moral argument, and make a case based only on pragmatic grounds. That is a wellknown technique in debate circles, if a subset of issues is sufficient to make a case, go with it. Unfortunately what is unsaid is important also.

Posted by: bigTom on June 1, 2008 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

How dare you darkie-loving elitist liberals suggest Hillary recant her support for the awesome Iraq war!

Hillary was proved f*cking right, just like Judith Miller!

Posted by: Clinton Supporter on June 1, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

This kind of counterfactual doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The whole problem with the Hillary mentality was its reliance on 1990's Democratic orthodoxy: triangulate and tack to the right on foreign and military affairs. Basically what people are saying when they proffer this argument is that the problem with Hillary is that she was being Hillary. It doesn't even make sense to consider the counterfactual.

On the other hand the same counterfactual makes no sense with Senator Obama - he has now demonstrated numerous times an impressive judgement that is the raison d'etre of his candidacy: to try and game out the primary process without taking that into account is pointless. It's why people like me were *for* him, not against anyone (I only turned against Clinton starting with the MLK/LBJ comments and strongly so after the Wisconsin primary which marked the true end of the campaign). Incidentally this is the first time that has ever happened to me - I've never agreed with a political candidate as much as I do with Barack Obama. It stuns me sometimes.

Posted by: reader on June 1, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Donkey is an idiot. Would he be screaming at the AA community so easily if Hillary was the nominee and blacks stayed home? NO.

Posted by: Pat on June 1, 2008 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

I am sick of the observation that Obama risked comparatively little in opposing the invasion of Iraq, as if Hillary's failure to oppose the war was acceptable because her presidential hopes were at stake.

Posted by: chance on June 1, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not the same Pat that posted earlier....just theone who posted this:

"Donkey is an idiot. Would he be screaming at the AA community so easily if Hillary was the nominee and blacks stayed home? NO.
Posted by: Pat"

Now I have this to say about Matt S's comment:

Blogger Matt Stoller said it best: "As a progressive partisan, it's disappointing that so many older white people are willing to abandon the Democratic Party to send young people into wars just because they don't want a younger African-American male to run the country."


You are a complete putz, Matt. Everything is about race? How about experience and honesty? You honestly buy that crock about Obama's "poor single mom"??? PUH-LEEZE>

Posted by: Pat (or Patty) on June 1, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

The bar for Obama being right is set pretty high.

Obama was right about Iraq before it happened.

Even though he was right, he was right for the wrong reasons, or he didn't have anything important, other than his political career, at stake, or whatever can be said to discredit the fact that Obama nailed it and he did in public and on the record and he did it before the facts bore him out.

Neither of the other two candidates was right about the most important issue of our time. We are only choosing among these three. How hard can this be?

Posted by: Repack Rider on June 1, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Goosh Neil, Did you happen to read the article in the Times a few weeks back.. about BO frantic search for advice before appearing at the anti-war rally??.. Would it hurt his prospects, he wanted to know... Quit the champion of peace old BO.

Then there is his voting record on Iraq since then.. Quit the champion of peace that old BO

Posted by: MyComment on June 1, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

One thing we say to ourselves constantly is how the pundits that got it wrong shouldn't be listened to.

Pundits like Matthew Yglesias: pro-war, Josh Marshall: pro-war, and of course, Kevin Drum: pro-war.

Of course, there was one pundit who was against the war, Paul Krugman. He's backing Hillary.

We could ask what psychological reason do all these wrong pundits have for backing Obama. But it's easier to just smear people that dislike him as racists and war mongers.

Posted by: Bad Moon Rising on June 1, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Obama wasn't the only one who had that exact opinion. Does anybody who had that opinion automatically get to be president?

Posted by: DR on June 1, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Donkey is an idiot. Would he be screaming at the AA community so easily if Hillary was the nominee and blacks stayed home? NO.
Posted by: Pat

She isn't and so it's an untestable theory. But if she were, and if the AA community displayed the sort of childishness that Hillary's supporters are showing now, then Donkey probably should scream at them.

You are a complete putz, Matt. Everything is about race? How about experience and honesty?
Posted by: Pat (or Patty)

Experience only has value if it informs your decisions correctly. The data demonstrating that Iraq was not imminent was available; e.g., Powell's testimony was shown to be based on 15 year old plagiarized data within 2 days of his presentation to the UN. I knew Bush was full of shit, and so did the thinking 40% of the country. She had access to all the same data, she wanted to look tough, held her finger to the wind, and voted accordingly. 4000 American lives, >100,000 Iraqi lives and 5 years later, she seems unapologetic. I can live without that kind of experience.

Posted by: Gonads on June 1, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

To Pat (or Patty):

Every assumption you seem to be making is incorrect. YES, I would be just as furious at Obama supporters who jump ship. The point is not which Democrat to vote for, but to vote for the Democrat. AND I'VE ONLY BEEN ONE FOR A YEAR!!!

My feet were planted in the starting blocks, ready to bolt to the "Republicans for Hillary" cause in 2004 (Alas, she chose not to run against an incumbent, proving herself wise).

And FYI: I'm white, over forty, working class, and (as I said) a former Republican (still recovering from the soul-implant surgery).

If you automatically assume I'm a black man, it is YOU that are the idiot (and probably a bigot, too)

Posted by: DonkeyOdie on June 1, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Obama wasn't the only one who had that exact opinion. Does anybody who had that opinion automatically get to be president?
Posted by: DR

No. They campaign and try and win more delegates than Hillary. They use her voting record against her. Maybe you're used to something different in ... say, Zimbabwe ... but that's how we do it here.

Posted by: Gonads on June 1, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

"AND I'VE ONLY BEEN ONE FOR A YEAR!!!"

Thanks for Bush, shit for brains. Any other qualifications you want to bring to the table?

Posted by: Bad Moon Rising on June 1, 2008 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

WHY would Hillary be opposed to something her husband was FOR?

It WASN'T Bush that started campaigning for "Pre-emptive war in Iraq" or told American citizens that Saddam had "WMD", hell no - the war in Iraq is VERY MUCH Clinton's War.

The Project for the New American Century FRIST spoke to the Clintons - not Bush and Dick Cheney.

There is some people in the Dem Party that are EVERY bit as much a part of the neo-con corruption - and it's the Clintons. Why did Bill Clinton pardon Marc Rich, an OIL financier?

Why did Bill Clinton say, "those 16 word were just a mistake" about the yellow cake purchase in African because it CLEARLY was not a mistake? Why were the first words OUT of Bill Clinton's mouth to John Kerry upon winning the nomination for 04 was "you need to support the war in Iraq"? Why did Bill Clinton play golf with Bush 41? Why was Clinton in LOCKSTEP with Bush and this war in IRAQ?

Bush is very much a criminal and SO is Bill Clinton.

HOW many people didn't seem to notice that Murdock HELPED the Clintons LIE and try to fan Hillary's lies and allow her to embroidery EVERY bit as much as Bush does it?

This war in Iraq has EVERYTHING to do with the West Texas Mafia that Bush belongs too - as well as it is to Bill Clinton's membership. AND the BLOGGERS KNOW IT, THEY KNOW IT amd it is why the bloggers DON'T SUPPORT THE CLINTONS. They KNOW what is going on, they know it. We've all watched it.

Posted by: Me-again on June 1, 2008 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

au contraire: Maybe the creaky sanctions game would have to come to a head in due course, and we'd have to upset some kind of apple cart there. Still, we should have at least let Blix continue his inspections and stuck with our actions in Afghanistan to follow through better. We may have caught Osama back then. Even with competent execution, there'd be no excuse to start anything before fall of '03.

Posted by: Neil B on June 1, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

As Me-again points out, ZOMG!!! Vince Foster!!!!

Posted by: Bad Moon Rising on June 1, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

I've often wondered why as a progressive Canadian (though with a libertarian bent) who votes NDP more often than not that so many of my American friends were Republican and not Democrats (though almost all are tending towards Obama this year and like DonkeyOdie, drifting away from the Republican party). Reading threads like this, I start to understand why. Too many people for whom politics is all about their identity. Too many shits who just want to feel righteous about themselves.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 1, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yes, and let me just add that Obama has money for a REASON, and Hillary has NO money for a reason?

Because the netroots DO NOT support Hillary. AND it isn't just those NASTY MoveOn.org people - it's the whole damn netroots.

Posted by: Me-again on June 1, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I've been referring to this speech, especially the part you highlight for many months. It is the original reason why I took interest in Barack Obama. Excellent blog. Excellent!

Posted by: glutz78 on June 1, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Good enough to get my vote.

Posted by: Matt on June 1, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

The hillarrhoids are making with the funny. Not funny 'ha ha' but funny 'ridiculous'.

Although Me-again will not be denied.

Posted by: fortran trousers on June 1, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Obama deserves credit for predicting many of the problems that later ensued. OTOH McCain was more prescient than Obama regarding the effectiveness of the surge strategy. As the Washington Post said in a editorial today, "Still, the likely Democratic nominee needs a plan for Iraq based on sustaining an improving situation, rather than abandoning a failed enterprise....When Mr. Obama floated his strategy for Iraq last year, the United States appeared doomed to defeat. Now he needs a plan for success."

Posted by: David on June 1, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Good point about Obama's prediction of the outcome of the war.

On the other hand had George competently raged this war, kept costs under control and not had huge amounts of curruption issues back home the Repugnant majority for the ages would be in place right now.

My point is he took a risk with that speech and got lucky in the outcome. Hillary took a risk that the war would end up a positive in the end and she was wrong.

Lets face it the only reason us Dems are going to win this one is that George's approval ratings are in the dump not that we did any great things to deserve it. And if it was not the the blogs like this one, TPM and TP pointing out that the Repugs were stepping on their dick all the time they may gave still gotton away with it.

So giving BO credit for great insight is a reach here.

Posted by: chomot on June 1, 2008 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Another wrong assumption. I was REGISTERED Republican. I voted for John Kerry, thank you very much.

Don't assume. It's what gets us into messes like the ones we face.

Posted by: DonkeyOdie on June 1, 2008 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Back then Obama was telling the truth as he saw it while shrewed Hillary was busy "triangulating." That's why Obama is the candidate of change and she isn't. You can't campaign against your own record without making yourself look naive or stupid.

Early on Mark Penn mis-calculated how much America wants change. Biggest mistake of his (and Hillary's) career.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 1, 2008 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

sustaining an improving situation

By which you mean pushing several large boulders up difficult terrain indefinitely because giving up the effort gets us crushed by boulders responding to gravity. At least you didn't call it a strategy.

Now he needs a plan for success

I'm clapping too!

Posted by: on June 1, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Now he needs a plan for success.

Just what will that success be? Still no signing of that oil law you guys were so insistent on...

Is it being able to go home with your tails between your legs without an immediate explosion of violence?

Or is it leaving with a puppet regime in place that can stay there for a face-saving year or two?

Or is it just getting out and letting the Iraqis take control of their own destiny (and likely seeing the Sadrists take charge)?

What? What strategic aim can the U.S. achieve that would have David claiming Iraq as a success?

Just curious.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 1, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Change from Bush?

Naah...

Posted by: fortran trousers on June 1, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Whooptedoo. When he made this speech, nobody had whispered dreams of presidential glory into his ears yet. He was thinking along the lines of, maybe I can be a Congressman someday. Meanwhile, he was a state senator from the most liberal district in Chicago.

Posted by: Markus on June 1, 2008 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

So giving BO credit for great insight is a reach here.

I agree with you in that I don't see it as great insight. I disagree with your assertion that he was just lucky and Ms. Clinton unlucky. Mr. Obama's strength was that he was able to see the obvious (at least something that was obvious to me and to practically everyone else in the world outside the U.S.). That Hillary could not or chose not to see the obvious... well, please draw your own conclusions.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 1, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

"There is a strange interdependence between thoughtlessness and evil."
--Hannah Arendt

Posted by: Quotation Man on June 1, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Still, the likely Democratic nominee needs a plan for Iraq based on sustaining an improving situation, rather than abandoning a failed enterprise....When Mr. Obama floated his strategy for Iraq last year, the United States appeared doomed to defeat. Now he needs a plan for success."

Talk about the audacity of hope!

Posted by: Lucy on June 1, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

That Hillary could not or chose not to see the obvious.

I knew they were lying about Saddam but I had even money on the bush team framing him to make the dems look like idiots.

Can we shift the argument to McCain already?

Posted by: B on June 1, 2008 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Want to echo a bit of what snicker-snack was saying - Obama was definitely not alone in correctly diagnosing exactly why the war in Iraq would be a failure (chomot is still inhabiting a fantasy world where the war could've been won only if Bush had prosecuted it better; I bet we could've won in Vietnam too, if only we dropped a few more bombs, eh?). But we do grade on the curve in selecting the president - and Obama clearly outclassed Hillary and McCain in terms of judgement. People can project whatever insecurities they have about their own judgements in trying to impugn Obama, but at the end of the day let's remember that those people were wrong and Obama was right empirically.

Posted by: reader on June 1, 2008 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack, it was the Washington Post who used the term "success". You can read the entire editorial here.

Incidentally, Afghan insurgents are on the brink of defeat, according to the British military commander there.

Posted by: David on June 1, 2008 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

It was bad enough to see McCain advertising on this site, but this is the last straw -- underneath the "Advertise liberally" logo is its antithesisL "Free Ann Coulter e-mail," with a come-hither stare from everyone's least favorite six-foot right-wing blonde punk. Aaaagh!

Posted by: Vincent on June 1, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, David, I read it at the time. Just more of the pompous and fatuous nitwittery that seems to mark WaPo editorials these days - I used to enjoy Billmon's references to the "Pravda on the Potomac." See the problem is, David, that in their fashion commentary on the Emperor's clothes, the oh-so-serious editorio-blurbers of the exalted WaPo don't refer to what 'success' is either. If I'm reading them correctly they seem to insinuate that a "drop in violence" is their current metric for success. This, if I follow this through, is to argue that a drop in the violence that occurred as a result of the U.S. invasion is the metric of success that justifies/exculpates the U.S. invasion and current occupation. And just look at that fabulous suit! Is this your position too? Since you seem to echo the WaPo's wail that Mr. Obama needs a plan for success surely you have some sense of what this would entail, yes? I remain curious to hear it and don't really think pointing at a non answer does it.

Incindentally, "Incidentally" is quite the correct word to choose to introduce a comment on Afghanistan when we're talking Iraq. They're quite different situations. Which is, btw, why my government for one chose to support one action and not the other.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 1, 2008 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Can we shift the argument to McCain already?

No shit. In the first place, it's obnoxious to gloat when you beat someone in your own party. These are people with whom we share fundamental ideals.

In the second place, that much excitement makes it look like you've never won before.

We're supposed to be moving past amateur hour. Get a grip, people.

Posted by: junebug on June 2, 2008 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

What's special about this speech isn't just that Obama opposes the war. It's that he clearly and concisely predicts several major problems with it, and his predictions have been borne out by history.

Well, there you have it. Obama is psychic. No wonder he has such a following...

Seriously, he will shortly be the Democratic candidate. Maybe we could stop trying to piss off the HR supporters and recognize that we need them to win? Or, is this the "first time" for most of you and you don't know there is another election before we can claim the White House? If we discourage HR supporters, we could lose House or Senate seats as well.

How about we all play on the same team now?

Posted by: MLuther on June 2, 2008 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there you have it. Obama is psychic.

Ah... reductio ad amluther.

ability to see that driving a car at high speeds towards a cliff might not be the most desirable of actions... wow, that's pyschic, dude... or perhaps there's a difference in there somewhere...

Okay, so Mr. Obama should holster one of his more effective arguments against Mr. McCain because it might offend followers of Ms. Clinton because she wasn't as prescient on this one issue - at least in public. From MLuther who I'd always taken to be a Republican ahem, visitor but who now seems to profess to being a follower of Ms. Clinton... think I'll stick with my first impression.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 2, 2008 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the whole argument for Obama is that someone wrote him a real good speech in 2002, and he was so brave! At a time when liberals would have excoriated anyone for supporting the war, there was Obama, four square against it. (Of course, when he got into the Senate, he backed right off again. Until it was safe.)

The man's an empty suit with a bunch of liberal-tested lines, he's immune from negatives from two bases: liberals and blacks. Beyond that, he's got nothing. He lies, he cheats, he takes, and he wins elections. Beyond that, he doesn't do a damn thing. He's got nothing.

It's irresponsible to support an incompetent for President, so if you haven't drunk too much Koolaid, step on over to the bad side.

Don't Be A Good Democrat.

Posted by: Cal on June 2, 2008 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the most under-remarked fact about the Democratic primary is that if Hillary Clinton had Obama's foresight on the Iraq War, she'd be our nominee today and he probably wouldn't have bothered to run.

That's under-remarked? I've made that remark about 200 fucking times when discussing Hillary's assholery with her supporters.

What's under-remarked is what a bunch of self-absorbed, arrogant fuckwads Hillary and Bill are. For now, we can table the discussion about whether that's a new thing or an old thing.

Posted by: duh on June 2, 2008 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the whole argument for Obama is that someone wrote him a real good speech in 2002

As opposed to Hillary, who didn't give a good speech in 2002 or 2003, and who was in the Senate and in this race only because she was willing to lie to America so her philandering husband could become President. Good stuff.

Posted by: duh on June 2, 2008 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there you have it. Obama is psychic.

Nice strawman, dipshit.

Does everyone see the dipshit's "logic" here? The dipshit says that if a politician stands up and speaks reasonably at a time when other politicians are pissing their diapers and sucking George Bush's cock, people are pleased because that politician is "psychic."

The sickest aspect of the Clintonites is that they are never going to shut up. Even after their "unelectable" nemesis becomes President, we can count on them to point fingers and say that they "told us" when Obama inevitably makes some mistake in office.

Wait and see.

In the meantime, Clinton supporters, please focus on oiling up your dusty gashes for the clusterfuck with your conjoined at the brain twins, the Naderites.

Posted by: duh on June 2, 2008 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Once Hillary realizes this and acts accordingly ...

Seriously, he will shortly be the Democratic candidate.

THEN you earn the right to say this:

Maybe we could stop trying to piss off the HR supporters and recognize that we need them to win? How about we all play on the same team now?
Posted by: MLuther

While she remains in the race and continues attacks against him instead of targeting McCain, she's a liability that Obama needs to fend off.

Posted by: Gonads on June 2, 2008 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

One thing we say to ourselves constantly is how the pundits that got it wrong shouldn't be listened to. Of course, there was one pundit who was against the war, Paul Krugman. He's backing Hillary.

Good lording fuck is that what passes for logic around here?!?

Krugman would vote for Hillary even if he was 100% certain she would start another war because he believes that universal health care is the most important thing ever.

As for me, I could care less which candidate Krugman or any other pundit prefers. I certainly don't give a shit if a genuinely dumbass pundit is for Obama. What the fuck difference would that make?

Posted by: duh on June 2, 2008 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe we could stop trying to piss off the HR supporters and recognize that we need them to win? How about we all play on the same team now?

We're on the same team, you fucking crybaby. The difference is that you are a whiner.

Posted by: duh on June 2, 2008 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

From MLuther who I'd always taken to be a Republican ahem, visitor but who now seems to profess to being a follower of Ms. Clinton... think I'll stick with my first impression.

You are definitely not as psychic as Obama.

I have been a Democrat for every one of the TEN presidential elections I voted in. That's probably longer than you have been alive, DUDE.

I voted for Obama in the Florida primary. And, I have been posting on this blog since the Cal Pundit days. If you bother to check the archives, you would see that I was supporting him when he gave the speech at the '04 convention. I remember writing that I would be proud of my home state Illinois) if he ever became POTUS. Look it up if you like...

I do, however, try to see both sides of any issue. That hardly makes me a Republican.

Hell no, he should not holster the argument against McLame. But, what is the point of pulling out the six gun on Hillary supporters?

Try and think a little strategically. Let them have their say (or their cry) and get it out of their system. Then have the God given intelligence to welcome them back to fold. Or lose, it's really up to you.

Oh BTW, FOAD.


Posted by: MLuther on June 2, 2008 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Neil...

...Had Clinton given the same speech, she'd not only not be our nominee, she wouldn't be a senator.

Ugh.

Posted by: Crissa on June 2, 2008 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Try and think a little strategically. Let them have their say (or their cry) and get it out of their system.

I've been doing that for the last three fucking months. The bizarre thing is that while more and more people come out and admit they're through with the Clintons, the residual fanatics just double, triple and quadruple their incessant howling.

Then have the God given intelligence to welcome them back to fold.

I don't even know what the fuck that is supposed to mean. There are probably tarditos out there reading these comments who voted for Nader in Florida in 2000. Am I "welcoming them back to the fold"? You tell me. I thought I was just a person commenting on a fucking blog about how deeply and thoroughly Clinton sucks my tiny pink asshole.

Posted by: duh on June 2, 2008 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

"I do, however, try to see both sides of any issue. That hardly makes me a Republican."

It doesn't make you a Republican, but it pretty much excludes you from being a modern progressive liberal either. Seeing both sides promotes thought. Thought promotes dissent. We are not allowed to dissent. So come clean, you are no modern progressive liberal, (that would be Neal the Ethical Werewolf) are you?

Sigh.

Posted by: Bad Moon Rising on June 2, 2008 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

Neil...

...Had Clinton given the same speech, she'd not only not be our nominee, she wouldn't be a senator.

Ugh.

Wow, how much dogshit does one need to smoke to believe crap like this? Neverthless, I'll welcome this clueless and/or lying sack back "into the fold" as soon as it shuts up.

Posted by: duh on June 2, 2008 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

"my tiny pink asshole."

I think you're doing yourself a real injustice.

Posted by: Bad Moon Rising on June 2, 2008 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

You are definitely not as psychic as Obama.

Well, to nitpick, I don't think going or not going through old postings is much of an exercise in either the psychic or the prescient. It's that past tense / future tense thing. But apologies for pegging you wrong.

But, what is the point of pulling out the six gun on Hillary supporters?

I said in paraphrasing your argument, "Okay, so Mr. Obama should holster one of his more effective arguments against Mr. McCain because it might offend followers of Ms. Clinton because she wasn't as prescient on this one issue - at least in public" This is pulling out the six gun? And on her supporters? (okay well I did eliptically referred to some of her supporters further upthread). Anyway, it's always interesting to see how different folks perceive things.

Oh BTW, FOAD.

Fuck off and die?? Peace and love and harmony to you too.

cheers,

BmoonR: it pretty much excludes you from being a modern progressive liberal either. Seeing both sides promotes thought. Thought promotes dissent. We are not allowed to dissent

Glad to see another exemplar of the reductio ad absurdum technique on this thread.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 2, 2008 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Ironically, what Barack Obama said in his speech against the war in 2002 is virtually identical to what Dick Cheney said in an April 15th, 1994 C-SPAN interview about having such a war--eight years BEFORE Obama's speech. Here's the YouTube video of his interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BEsZMvrq-I

Cheney said doing such a thing would be a "quagmire." If only he had listened--to himself.

Posted by: clem on June 2, 2008 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

If snicker-snack, duh, and Gonads were to post on a blog and nobody would read it, would it still be stupid?

Posted by: TiredOfTexas on June 2, 2008 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

Only if you were there with us, Tex.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 2, 2008 at 4:50 AM | PERMALINK

I don't belong to an organized party. I'm a Democrat.

We're agreeing with each other at the top of our voices, yelling and screaming. As usual.

Posted by: bad Jim on June 2, 2008 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

btw, I hope these suggestions by Juan Cole re. a possible Obama trip to Iraq are listened to by someone on Mr. Obama's staff. Trying to arrange a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Sistani is a brilliant idea.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 2, 2008 at 6:49 AM | PERMALINK

tanstaafl wrote: "...attacking Iran when we did diverted resources and attention from Afghanistan and the U.S. and Afghanistan continue to pay a price for that blunder now."
_____________________

That's not exactly true, since Afghanistan didn't (and still doesn't) have the infrastructure to logistically support a truly massive American deployment.

Foresight about the difficulties in Iraq notwithstanding, President-elect Obama will quickly back off from setting any kind of deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. He'll have to, given the political and strategic realities.

We cannot simply abandon the Iraqi people and government and we will not. We won't be able to attempt a much larger fight in Afghanistan with a still-turbulent Iraq in the mix. For that matter, still in Iraq or not, any increase in the Afghanistan campaign will be limited to a relatively minor reinforcement, probably no more than 20,000 or so. That's certainly not enough to conquer the Hindu Kush or seal the border with Pakistan, though it might help stabilize some of the areas currently being served by our politically hamstrung NATO allies, the Germans in particular.

Any talk about quagmire should be in reference to Afghanistan, not Iraq.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 2, 2008 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

Wow!

You nailed it! What foresight! What an uncanny ability to grasp at rational decisions! and all by a junior senator who never really had to run a race or reveal his uncanny knack of knowing everything at all times. I'm glad people like you have thrown Hillary out. This must be wht it feels like to be a Democrat today. All powerful. All knowing.

Posted by: LuigiDaMan on June 2, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Even if your major progressive interests lie elsewhere, making foreign policy a perceived Democratic strength will help you achieve your goals. With Obama's foresight -- both as he exercised it in 2002, and as he'll exercise it in office -- we can do that."

Disagree pretty strongly with this conclusion.

You ought to review your history of the 1976 Presidential election and the subsequent fallout, Neil. The foreign policy similarities are pretty overwhelming.

Carter part deux is not going to help us achieve any progressive goals whatsoever, and will likely enable explicitly anti-progressive goals.

If you are actually interested in "making foreign policy a perceived Democratic strength", you ought to be trying to help McCain, not Obama. A McCain victory would also help us in the '10 elections, and would help us protect Social Security and enact universal healthcare down the road.

Sometimes you win by losing, and given how Obama has positioned himself, this looks like one of those rare times. Let McCain clean up the mess for four years, and we can try again with a nominee who'll actually stand with the Democratic Party rather than running against it.

Posted by: Petey on June 2, 2008 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack - i don't know whether going to war in Iraq was right. However, I do have an opinion regarding the definition of "success" there.

It seems to me we had three key goals for Iraq

1. Overthrow Saddam's regime
2. Implement a pro-western, democratic government that would oppose al Qaeda
3. Have that government truly control the country (rather than warlords or Iranian puppets).

We achieved #1 several years ago. We have more-or-less achieved #2 (although I'll feel more secure when we see a few more elections and some better legislating.) If and when #3 is achieved, I'd call that victory.

Posted by: David on June 2, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Petey, your concern is noted.

Posted by: fortran trousers on June 2, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Neil,
Thanks for promoting my exact posts from your article here on May 24th, 2008, to a new article. I appreciate it because I think it is a very important point to make as we decide who should be trusted to handle this war moving forward.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_05/013789.php#1274433

Posted by: glutz78 on June 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

i don't know whether going to war in Iraq was right.

Then truly, you cannot learn.

Posted by: ckelly on June 2, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Implement a pro-western, democratic government that would oppose al Qaeda

Because, of course,it is our obligation to impose our idea of a government on sovereign people.

Like our own is a shining example.

This is the sort of thinking that leads us into quagmires. Thanks for exposing it.

Posted by: Repack Rider on June 2, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

At a time when liberals would have excoriated anyone for supporting the war, there was Obama.

Um, I guess you've forgotten the "liberal hawks".

Posted by: Lucy on June 2, 2008 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent mhr. My recommendation? 5 star!

Posted by: thersites on June 2, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

My recommendation? One asterisk. *

Posted by: ckelly on June 2, 2008 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, that was really lame even for mhr.

I'm disappointed in you, man.

Posted by: Lucy on June 2, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

I see my review of mhr is controversial. Maybe I don't get to see enough mhr these days. Mods are too quick.

Posted by: thersites on June 2, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Repack Rider sarcastically wrote:

"Because, of course,it is our obligation to impose our idea of a government on sovereign people.

Like our own is a shining example.

This is the sort of thinking that leads us into quagmires. Thanks for exposing it."
______________________

Thanks for exposing your own lack of faith in your country, your government, and democracy in general.

Your kind of thinking leads to the ultimate quagmire, where we are discouraged from ever acting in our own interest and actively opposed when we do, until eventually we will do nothing, regardless of the provocation or need.

But, sure, you're a patriot and all.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 2, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

trashhauler,
Speaking of quagmires. Explain in 100 words or less, none of which can be smoking, gun, mushroom, or cloud, how invading Iraq was acting in our own interest. If you can do that, we have the basis of a conversation. Otherwise you are, as the kids would say, full of stuff.

Posted by: thersites on June 2, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Your blowjob -- oops, sorry -- your case for Obama would be much more effective if he had mentioned a single thing that others who opposed the war were not saying. He does not offer a single original thought -- just echoes what others said better. And he said it while running for reelection in just about the most liberal district in the state, and one of the most liberal in the country.

Once safely back in office, he made NO follow-ups to oppose the war -- no other speeches, no other form of activism, nothing. In this perfect political storm, his shameless grandstanding and opportunism when running for a local Senate seat served him incredibly well when running for President later on.

You STILL have not answered the relevant question: What is a not-even-one-term Senator with no other national or leadership experience doing even running for President? I felt that way about John Edwards in 2004, and I feel that way about Obama now. And any Democrat who doesn't think that question will loom large in November is just about as delusional an Obamabot as one can be.

And sadly, the fact that most of McCain's experience is totally wrongheaded will be lost on a lot of voters.

Posted by: eparker on June 2, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

You know trashhauler Repack Rider's isolationist position was the norm in America from 1776 until about 1890. It was also pretty popular between 1919 and 1941. Not so sure you can flat out claim that it's an anti american postion when it has dominated so much of the Nations history.

I don't counsel complete withdrawl, but America could probably benifit from a little time out to stick to her knitting and get things right at home in the hope of being a brighter example for all. The City on the Hill is looking a little dirty.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 2, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Patriots recognize when their countries are wrong and fight to right those wrongs. Patriotism is not blind obedience to authority, nor is obedience to authority a democratic ideal.

Adenauer and Sophie Scholl were German patriots. Heydrich and the hundreds of thousands of Germans who served in the Nazi military were not.

The Czechs who assassinated Heydrich were patriotic. Quisling betrayed Norway.

Posted by: Brojo on June 2, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

The bitter Clinton dead-enders and McCain supporters are apparently here in force. She and McCain were dead wrong, Obama was right, and that is a significant positive for him going into the election.
This shouldn't be controversial. The behavior of the Clinton supporters posting here runs the full range from embarrassing to contemptible. Apparently saying anything positive at all about the Democratic nominee is just being a big meanie.
Fortunately, I think that most of them are actually McCain supporters.

Posted by: Marc on June 2, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well eparker, I think he felt it was his business when he saw the Dems reaching for the same old same old, when the country is thristy for the new. New men, new minds, new leaders.

And here is the beauty in what has come to pass. HRC has given Obama the vetting of a lifetime. He is more qualified to romp to victory in November than any other Dem candidate for President since FDR in 32.

So chin up and get over your pessimisim. There are many ways you can help; personally I think you should become an Obama volunteer.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 2, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Norther Observer,
If you think Obama is going to "romp" to victory this fall then you must be one stupid, stupid Canuck.

Posted by: optical weenie on June 2, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Northern Observer: If Hillary had given Obama "the vetting of a lifetime," all of this crap coming out about him now would have been revealed last summer, and then the buyer's remorse a lot of Democrats are feeling could have been prevented. Literally NOTHING that has come out about Obama has come from Clinton; it's come from the long-dormant, worshipful media that finally got off its collective ass and did a little investigating. Or from people getting tired of the media's Obamamania and posting things on YouTube themselves.

And who knows what excrement will hit the fan about him before Election Day?

The only candidate in this race who's been vetted and revetted and then re-revetted is Clinton.

And you're not serious about comparing Obama to FDR, are you?

As for him "romping" in November, see optical weenie, above.

And I'd love to volunteer for Obama, since I'm still a Democrat, even if my party makes a totally wrongheaded choice, but unlike a lot of his supporters (overprivileged college students, semi-retired affluent boomers trying to relive the Woodstock days, etc.), I have to work.

Posted by: eparker on June 2, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

What is a not-even-one-term Senator with no other national or leadership experience doing even running for President?

The Democrats had plenty of experienced candidates to choose from: Dodd, Biden, Richardson. They got no traction whatsoever.

Posted by: Lucy on June 2, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy: And, um, that makes Obama qualified how, exactly? Or have you never heard of an unqualified candidate coming out ahead? If not, where have you been since 2000?

Posted by: eparker on June 2, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

As far as I can tell, American voters prefer inexperienced presidential candidates. Over the last couple decades, it's usually been the less experienced guy who wins.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf on June 2, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why this is so hard ... it shouldn't be a surprise to ayone that a candidate's past statements and voting record can and should be used against them. Clinton was either fooled by Powell's lies, or she voted what was politically expedient. Either way, she was wrong, and Obama was right.

If you need to say this:

He does not offer a single original thought -- just echoes what others said better. And he said it while running for reelection in just about the most liberal district in the state, and one of the most liberal in the country.

then you've conceded the argument that Clinton was wrong and Obama right, and are simply trying whatever post hoc justification you can throw and hope will stick. and the charge of "liberal" is, if anything wrt the clusterfuck that is Iraq, desireable. It was Clinton thinking she'd be seen as weak that led to her moral laxity in supporting this war.

If you defend the political expedience of Clinton's vote, then don't cry about Obama's perceived impurity!

Posted by: Gonads on June 2, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Obama wins, but as has been said, a "romp" is unlikely.

OTOH you'd expect someone who routinely refers to Obama as "Bambi" to be more in tune with the verb "to romp." But it's always a gambol, isn't it?

Posted by: thersites on June 2, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

In Spansih the verb romper means to break or tear and to start. I think Obama will romp McCain a new one. I hope so.

Posted by: Brojo on June 2, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't use Bambi because I am being a polite non-troll today. The Yakima is still high so I am unable to go live under my bridge and collect my tolls. My hair is freshly combed too, but I am getting tired of all this grooming.

Posted by: optical weenie on June 2, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

McCain will make the argument that the U.S. has won the war and that Iraq on the whole is better off in consequence. Obama will make the argument that considerable suffering still exists in Iraq in consequence of our invasion (i.e. we traded some suffering for other suffering) and that even the victory was not worth the cost.

As Neil Sinhababu wrote, most American voters now side with Obama on this issue. Neil is right that this has contributed largely to Obama's success (recall: most African American voters objected to the invasion in the first place, as did most of the Congressional Black Caucus, so they are with Obama and against Clinton on policy, not only race), and that if McCain makes the war his most important issue it could work to Obama's advantage.

Neil has contributed some good posts.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 2, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy: And, um, that makes Obama qualified how, exactly? Or have you never heard of an unqualified candidate coming out ahead? If not, where have you been since 2000?

Huh? Did I suggest that the voters' rejection of more experienced candidates had any bearing on Obama's qualifications? No.

You mean George W. Bush? Never heard of him.

Posted by: Lucy on June 2, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

"...dumb war."

I also knew it'd be a dumb one in 2002 when the drums were beating.

Yes, we kicked ass. But why did I see my Commander in Chief joking about WMD while looking under the desk in the Oval Office?

We went to Iraq for all the wrong reasons. Too bad too many folks now hate us for all the right reasons.

We have lost our moral compass.

Obama at least has made us rethink our lunacy.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on June 2, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"...dumb war."

I still find the characterization of the Iraq fiasco as "dumb" offensively simplemended.

The war wasn't merely "dumb." It was immoral and totally unjustified.

As another commenter here has said, pardon me for shouting.

Posted by: thersites on June 2, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. This blog has become the mirror image of the Rethug sites. No civil discussion and no independent thinking allowed. "Resistance is futile."

Do any of you have real jobs?
How can you devote so much time and produce so much drivel?

Think I can easily skip this site for the six months and not miss anything.


Posted by: Ex - Rebublican Yankee on June 2, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, the majority of voters wanted to invade Iraq due to extreme anger over 9/11. For some reason they bought the line that Sadaam was behind this Bin Laden attack.

There wasn't a clearly defined anti-war movement in 2003 and politicians and news analysts that questioned the decision to rush to war were called terrorist sympathizers and unpatriotic. Clinton was afraid to be tarred with these labels and I sometimes wonder if her constituency might have resented her if she had been the anti-war leader in the senate. History showed she made the wrong decision.

Posted by: leslie on June 2, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Norther Observer,
If you think Obama is going to "romp" to victory this fall then you must be one stupid, stupid Canuck.
Posted by: optical weenie on June 2, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ok let's make a deal. If Obama doesn't romp, ie go over 55% of the pop vote and take 290 electoral votes, I will come back to Kevins blog and write posts all day that say optical weenie is an American genius and I Northern Observer am a stupid Canuck. Ok? Deal? If I win I will just bask in my inborn Canuck Smugness, you won't even have to do anything. Ok?

Having taking OW's taunt I will say this, the degree of Obama's romp is now entirely dependent on Hill and Bill's behavior over the next 30 days especially, but also for the rest of the campaign. Mc Cain is not the issue. It is the politics of resentment Hill has unleashed that can cost Obama. It's the only thing that can defeat him. So OW if you give a rats ass about a Dem victory in Nov I recommend you write Hill an email and ask her to be statesmanlike.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 2, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Correctamundo, Neil.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 2, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Northern Exposure: If I turn out to be wrong, it's all Hillary's faaaaaaaaaaault!! Whined like a true Obamabot!

And to the guy who calls himself Gonads: Show me ANYWHERE that I defended Hillary's vote.

Posted by: eparker on June 2, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

"...the war in Iraq is VERY MUCH Clinton's War."

HahahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 2, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Eparker:

For a guy who supposedly has "to work", unlike those supposed "overprivileged college students, semi-retired affluent boomers trying to relive the Woodstock days" Obama supporters, you spend an awful lot of time posting on here.

Posted by: on June 2, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Um, mhr, if you want to say sh*t like "Obama was born a Muslim" I think you might want to study up a bit.

My understanding is that like Judaism, one is "born a Muslim" only if one's mother was Muslim.

Check it out.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 2, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

To anonymous: For someone too cowardly to use a name, you shouldn't throw stones... and I've spent a total of about five minutes, max, posting to this site today. Maybe it would take YOU half the day to knock of a few hundred words, but most of us aren't that lame.

And BTW, I'm not a guy...

Posted by: eparker on June 2, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wow such a prompt response, eparker (if that's your real name, dude)...it must be nice to kick around, wating for responses as they come while having to work all the time.

Posted by: CowardlyAnonymous on June 2, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Cowardly Anonymous (which absolutely should be your real name):

I'm surfing the web while on a PATH train, where
I've been since 4:30, after having been at work since 6:30. And yes -- I actually do my job efficiently enough to allow me to surf the web, shop online, go out to lunch, make personal phonecalls, and go to the gym!! Sometimes, on nice days like this, I even stare out at the water or go for a walk! Sorry if all that makes you bitter and envious...

And I bill by the hour, so I'm not cheating anyone. And yes, E. (for Edna) Parker is my real name. I don't need to hide behind anonymity or snark.

Thanks for your (slightly creepy) interest!! Maybe someday, you, too, will be able to fathom the concept of getting your work done while doing other things as well!

Posted by: eparker on June 2, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome back, 'duh'?

Look, two things: I didn't support the war. I didn't vote for Clinton.

We don't need 'dogshit' supporters like you to win.

Posted by: Crissa on June 2, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need 'dogshit' supporters like you to win. - Crissa

Then if we lose this fall you can't blame Clinton, unlike Northern Observer who is using her as his potential scapegoat.

Posted by: optical weenie on June 2, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Using a moniker is hiding behind anonymity and snark, eh, "Edna Parker"? I don't believe a word you just said.

Posted by: CowardlyAnonymous on June 2, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I knew dogshit.
I served with dogshit.
Dogshit was a friend of mine.
You, sir or madam, are not dogshit.

Therefore, we need your support no matter what Crissa says. To think we can cavalierly toss away anyone's support is asking for a fall.

Posted by: thersites on June 2, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

CowardlyAnonymous:

Hi, my name is thersites and I'm a coward.

Posted by: thersites on June 2, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but what about Barack's many speeches in which he names JFK, George Bush Sr., and Ronald Reagan as foreign policy models?

Either Barack is incredibly naive, or he really does appreciate the foreign policies that brought us the arming of Al Queda, the October Surprize, Iran/Contra, Panama, Grenada, BCCI, the arming of Saddam Hussein (we secretly armed both Iran and Iraq - let God sort 'em out, I guess).

I guess that fits in with his statement that he would "unilaterally invade Pakistan if there was actionable intelligence against Al Queda". That could have come from the mouth of Dubya himself.

Posted by: blaze on June 2, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

blaze: Yeah, but what about Barack's many speeches in which he names JFK, George Bush Sr., and Ronald Reagan as foreign policy models?

Please. Obama doesn't cite them as "foreign policy models". He cites one aspect of their foreign policy with which he agrees.

Posted by: has407 on June 2, 2008 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Obama might have made this speech but nearly all Democrats were thinking it. At the time Bush was pushing the Democrats into supporting him near the election, and they were afraid of being viewed as unpatriotic and maybe losing their seat. The general view was that no Democrats wanted to vote for the war but they felt they had no choice.
So Obama had no special foresight, he just made a speech every other Democratic wanted to make. No, the messiah didn't make a prophecy, just covered his bets better than most.

Posted by: RC on June 3, 2008 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

"trashhauler,
Speaking of quagmires. Explain in 100 words or less, none of which can be smoking, gun, mushroom, or cloud, how invading Iraq was acting in our own interest. If you can do that, we have the basis of a conversation. Otherwise you are, as the kids would say, full of stuff."
_____________________

Oh, I'm quite often full of it, thersites. I can't claim to know I'm right, now. But let's see...

We've removed a very bad actor who had become our enemy. We no longer have to guard Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Gulf states, meaning the world's supply of Gulf crude is relatively safe. It's a bit more difficult for Iran to supply Hezbollah and Hamas. Lebanon has a better chance at democracy. Ditto the Iraqis. We've killed thousands of al Qaeda foreigners who otherwise might have been building cells in other countries. Khaddafy has seen the light.

That's enough. I'm sure there are dozens of experts ready to argue all these things are either meaningless, illusory, wrong, or, at best, temporary. History will tell. Next year, it might be President Obama deciding how much of a presence we want in the region, and particularly in Iraq. And we'll do what he says. He, we all, will still benefit from those things I listed.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 3, 2008 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Northern Light wrote:

"You know trashhauler Repack Rider's isolationist position was the norm in America from 1776 until about 1890. It was also pretty popular between 1919 and 1941. Not so sure you can flat out claim that it's an anti american postion when it has dominated so much of the Nations history."
____________________

It wasn't isolationism that kept us out of the world for all that time. Up until 1876 or so, we were expanding to build a country, absorbing much of the world's problems through immigration and turning people into Americans. I doubt the Mexicans and Indians thought of us as isolationists. Of course, the slavery question occupied our attention all the while. Arguably, it took the filling up of the continent and the birth of a strong central government out of the Civil War to create the conditions for our emergence on the world scene. The post-WWI isolationism might be called an understandable aberration, one doomed to end.

Beyond all that, one can easily argue that, while the Constitution is silent on the subject, our Declaration of Independence is a statement of worldwide revolutionary import. It doesn't state that all Americans are created equal or that all Americans are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. It says all men are equal and have these rights. Everywhere.

We claim to believe that, which makes it part of our lasting ideology. While we seldom act with ideological purity (no country does), when given the choice, we will do so. No other country has such an ideology. France once did, but gave it up. The Bolsheviks mistakenly believed in the supremacy of the proletariat. The only other place you see a similar ideology expressed is in the UN, but there the ideological impulse is too adulterated by individual interests. Most of the members don't take it seriously.

No, isolationism is not naturally American. With all our faults, we remain the greatest source of true revolutionary ideology in the world.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 3, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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