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Tilting at Windmills

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July 24, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA vs. McCAIN....For some reason, there seems to be endless chatter among liberals right now who are worried about how Obama is doing against McCain. Why is the race tightening? Why hasn't there been a bump from Obama's overseas trip? Etc. etc.

Beats me. But the race sure doesn't seem to be tightening to me. Different polls show different things, and different poll averages show different things, but the one I usually use (from RealClear Politics) showed Obama ahead by 4.8 points last week and ahead by.....4.9 points this week. So he's doing fine.

As for the world tour, it's gotten him a ton of coverage during a month that's usually light on people paying attention to politics, and the coverage has mostly been very positive. That's a good thing. It may not have given him an instantaneous bump, but honestly, we should all calm down over stuff like this. Not everything shows up in tracking polls within 24 hours. The trip is good for Obama, it increases his foreign policy cred, and once it's out of the way he'll be pretty well positioned to stay home and bear down on the campaign later this summer.

Long story short, I'm not really very worried. McCain will make progress here and there depending on where he spends money and what the issue of the hour happens to be, but overall he's not making up any ground. My bet is that three months and $300 million from now, Obama's going to pick up several more points in the polls and be ahead of McCain by eight or nine points. It ain't over til it's over, but right now it doesn't look to me like there's really anything much to fret about.

Kevin Drum 12:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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This is great news for John McCain!

[/knob-slobbing "journalists"]

Looks like Obama has been trading in the same range since late April while McCain has been trending downward for the better part of two months.

Kudlow would tell you to buy McCain! It's the greatest story never told! George Will would advise Democrats that they're putting themselves in difficulty by not acknowledging how well the McCain campaign is doing. Charlie Gibson would tell you that history shows that when you go down in the polls, you get more votes.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 24, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "My bet is that three months and $300 million from now ..."

Kevin and others who seem unable to learn from the 2000 and 2004 campaigns are going to be disappointed when the corporate-owned mass media's shilling for McCain and character assassination of Obama gets McCain close enough to steal the election with voter disenfranchisement and fraud.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 24, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Wondering about convention bounces, and whether the fact that the Gooper convention is the very next week after Obama's might actually preclude the usual momentum Obama would have following his big party from truly developing.

Seems like the Dems have been badly outmaneuvered in terms of convention timing for the second straight cycle.

Posted by: ghost on July 24, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, the national horse race is going fine and Obama's doing well in adding new swing states like VA, ND, IN, MT and is even gaining in FL.

McCain is ahead in only a few small swing states (NV?) although he's closer than I'd like in OH.

New Democratic Registrations are coming in at a record pace.

Posted by: AndyS on July 24, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

McDodo's numbers will continue to trend like Ford truck sales and existing home sales, while Obama's numbers will trend like Wii and auto hybrid sales.

(I recently wanted to purchase a Wii, and found the experience to be helpful for the near future, when supplies for fuel, food and water will be distributed in the same manner.)

Posted by: Brojo on July 24, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

anyone wondering how these polling organizations are putting together their samples?

if republican identity is so low, while democratic identity is so high, do you think it possible that polling organizations, aren't taking that into account when they put together their polling samples?

so in order to put together what they deem to be a valid sample of the greater population they're trying to study, polling orgs are in fact overstating republican identities and their pro-mccain sentiment in relation to democrats and their pro-obama sentiments?

just wondering...

Posted by: tom on July 24, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

It ain't over til it's over?

Heck, it hasn't hardly started yet. Neither one is the official nominee yet.

This summer it is all about jockeying for the pole position. The race hasn't even started yet.

Posted by: Adolphus on July 24, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who believes there is a distinct possibility that McCain's acceptance speech at the convention will actually hurt him?

This isn't someone who thrives under scrutiny.

Posted by: uri on July 24, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Taking both Kevin and Secular into account, I have concerns, but no anxiety.

Obama has bucked my "advice" several times and has come out the better for it. Despite the vicissitudes of the daily press cycle, he seems to have it rather well together. I am beginning to enjoy this. [fingers crossed and rapping on some laminated wood-like product]

Posted by: keith g on July 24, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's a bit worrisome that Quinnipiac now has McCain up in Colorado (after a succession of polls saying Obama was ahead, if not by much) and within the MoE in Michigan and Minnesota. Votemaster still has NH, PA, IN and NV as statistical ties (and McCain ahead in OH), and according to his math Obama needs PA or all three of the others to win. (Admittedly he also has ND, VA, MO and as of today FL as dead even, and if Obama could pick up FL or either VA or MO the math would get a lot easier.)

I'll grant you the day-by-day obsessing probably raises blood pressure without accomplishing anything, but as a lifelong Red Sox fan I can't help it.

Posted by: Lucia on July 24, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

The WaPo has some bizarre swing-state results in their poll this morning: 10-point swings in McCain's favor in Minnesota and Colorado. These are probably statistical fluctuations, since there's nothing at all in the national polls showing major movement to McCain and these two states aren't special in any real way.

If those polls are showing something real, the only thing I can imagine is that the Obama Smears have been pushed hard there in recent weeks without the media picking up on it.

Posted by: ColoZ on July 24, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who believes there is a distinct possibility that McCain's acceptance speech at the convention will actually hurt him?

This isn't someone who thrives under scrutiny

So you make sure there's no (unfiltered) scrutiny.

The speech will be on against the 'Skins-Giants game.

Remember that people who saw the Bush-Gore debates scored them for Gore, but people who only saw the coverage of the Bush-Gore debates scored them for Bush.

McCain’s people are counting on the coverage of the speech to be better than the speech itself. The fewer people who see it in real time, but get told by the Villagers how awesome it was, the better for McCain.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 24, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's July. Nobody besides MSM, bloggers and political activists will pay any attention until September at the very latest. Joe six-pack is busy planning the family vacation and arguing over NFL draft picks with his buddies. Then it's Back-To-School frenzy. Once the dust has settled on the things actually important to him, he'll pay attention to the BS machine of politics.

Posted by: Art Eclectic on July 24, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I hate being told to calm down--it's so condescending.

Posted by: Helena Montana on July 24, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

different poll averages show different things

The Pollster.com average is down to a 2.7 point lead, so maybe that's what people are looking at.

Posted by: Jack on July 24, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's also important to mention what a horrible McCain and his people are running. As bad as we thought previous weeks were, is it possible for McCain to have a worse few days than the ones he's had? Short of McCain pissing himself in public, one of Cindy's boobs popping out, or McCain claiming we use the peso, what else can go wrong for him? It looks as if Obama simply has to show up and not say anything and he's win by five or six points.

Posted by: Brian on July 24, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

"different poll averages show different things, but the one I usually use (from RealClear Politics) showed Obama ahead by 4.8 points last week and ahead by.....4.9 points this week. So he's doing fine."

The one *I* usually consult [pollster.com] shows a distinct narrowing in the past month--hardly what one would expect given the relative fortunes of the campaigns, or at least their coverages. I pointed out earlier to Yglesias that only two Democrats have won a majority of the popular vote in my [sixty years] lifetime, and one of those [Carter in 1976] just nosed over the line at 50.1 percent. That means there are a helluva lot of people who *always* vote Republican, and many more who don't but who who find the standard Republican appeal attractive--many of whom belong to demographics or live in communities [The O.C.?] that reinforce that appeal. That's what McCain is plainly relying on; pushing the patriotic and "American" identity buttons, and playing on the fact that Obama is so "exotic" to enhance the suspicions of those voters that Democrats aren't really their kind of people. If this election shows that strategy to be outdated, it will be great; it will also be historic. It's premature to call it a done deal.

Posted by: on July 24, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm starting to think this election is going to be quite close. I still think Obama is going to win, but you have to give credit to the Republicans for picking the only candidate with a chance this year. His positives butt right up against Obama's negatives.

That being said, this race would be over if a certain segment of the population would just get over themselves and support the candidate they know to be the better choice.

Posted by: enozinho on July 24, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Eh, make that "...he's going to win by fix or six points."

Posted by: Brian on July 24, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Watching polls at this point in an election is a suckers game. Look at the fundamentals instead.

The best way to summarize this election is to note that there's a huge hunger for change, both stylistically and substantively. McCain is the status quo candidate, so he's not going to make it. (And that would be true even if he wasn't a pathetically bad campaigner, which he is.)

After McCain gets flattened in November, the GOP will need to decide what direction to take in the future. They could engage reality (not their strong suit) and realize the entire ideological basis of their party is problematic, and begin the hard work of rebuilding themselves from the ground up as something not pathologically insane. Or, they could decide that McCain was a poor candidate (which he was) and try to keep doing what they've had success doing since 1980 - following extreme right wing ideology while waging campaigns of character assassination.

I'm really hoping they chose the latter - it'll keep them out of power for decades.

Posted by: jimBOB on July 24, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

One of the main benefits of Obama's trip is that it has driven McCain into such a mouth-foaming frenzy that even the MSM has started to question whether his campaign is coming off the rails. A few more weeks like this one, and I suspect the corporate masters will start questioning whether it is really in their interests to try to push him over the finish line, regardless of the effect on their marginal tax rates. Its one thing to install an amiable dunce who you are sure you can manipulate to do your bidding. Its another to install a nasty, egotistical, possibly-early-stage-Alzheimer's case who can't be easily brought to heel. The MSM protective cloak (ie the CBS editing of the 'surge' gaffe) and the race care are about all McCain has going for him at this point. The first of these is starting to fray, and once it does, playing the second is going to be very difficult.

Posted by: dcsusie on July 24, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

His positives butt right up against Obama's negatives.

Hey, that McCain guy is white!

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 24, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is echoing a comment I posted at TPM. it is way too early to fix on polls.

McCain has spent a ton on ads in various battleground states. Obama hasn't. McCain hasn't closed in those states nearly as much as one would expect.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 24, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, that McCain guy is white!

I don't make the rules. For some reason being old and white is useful with an electorate that is, you know, old and white.

Posted by: enozinho on July 24, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Just wait until about, oh, mid-October when the story about Obama banging a white woman comes out. A blonde white woman. Bank on it.

Posted by: southend on July 24, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

There should hopefully be a little bump for Obama post-trip but I doubt we'll see it for a few weeks at least. The people that are undecided aren't going to be swayed immediately especially when so many are focused on domestic economic issues. Unfortunately the Tony Blankley's of the world who for 3 weeks now have been saying that if Obama doesn't receive a large bump after his trip means he's not being seen as Presidential (and the David Gregory's who blindly go "yeah, that's a good point, let me jot that down in my John McCain Friendship Diary") are going to be driving the media talking point on it.

Posted by: tom.a on July 24, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Re: convention timing. The comparison of the Obama acceptance speech and the McCain acceptance speech could be quite stark. Coming off the heels of the Dem convention, the GOP show may be anti-climatic. With different candidates, the convention timing may be a problem. But with a unified Democratic convention followed by a dispirited, dull GOP affair, Obama should take a September lead that sticks.

Posted by: danimal on July 24, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

You'd think, though, with the Maliki bit, McCain's endless gaffes, etc., that Obama would be expanding his lead, not down 10 (for example) in OH, according to Ras.

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on July 24, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not worried about Obama losing the election fair-and-square; I fully expect that he'll beat McCain in the raw numbers, and that polls will indicate this until the election. My concern is that I genuinely suspect it will take a major blowout win- I'm talking a margin of victory of 15% or greater- to put this election out of 'stealable' range for the GOP. It is possible that other liberals share this concern.


Posted by: Zorro on July 24, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Like the primaries, which in the end were really a just a census, this race will be all about demographics. Consequently momentum means nothing here. Maybe some surprise popped out in November may affect things by 2% or so, but nothing's going to change before then.

This election (like the primaries before it) is basically young vs old. Obama will win, but I doubt Obama will win by more than 3%.

Posted by: Adam on July 24, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Obama better hit those last 7 states out of the 57 if he really wants to win.

Maybe he was counting Iraqi provinces.

Posted by: ckelly on July 24, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Obama isn't just our next president. He's our current president.

Posted by: An American in Berlin on July 24, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Obama said: "As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya."

Nameless Obama-basher wrote: "This man is ridiculous."

There is nothing ridiculous about that quote. It is the scientific truth. The rapid melting of polar and glacial ice, the rising sea levels, and increasingly frequent, severe and prolonged droughts that are being observed now are all direct consequences of the anthropogenic global warming caused principally be CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, e.g. by cars in Boston and factories in China.

And the problem it describes is an existential threat to human civilization and by far the single most important issue facing the world.

Nameless Obama-basher wrote: "Arrogance is his best side."

It's hard to know whether ignorance or stupidity is your best side.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 24, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Nameless Obama-basher wrote: "Arrogance is his best side."
It's hard to know whether ignorance or stupidity is your best side.

You forgot cowardice.

Posted by: DJ on July 24, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

The way a candidate runs a campaign will be similar to how his/her admin will operate (fairly standard idea). The campaign's personality also reflects what we might see if they are elected.

That said, as an independent, I am impressed with the BO campaign and distressed with McCain's, especially this week when BO is doing well, and McCain seems defensive. Is this how McCain will respond to a crisis if he is elected?

At this point the OB campaign is showing initiative and leadership. These are almost completely lacking with McCain. Again, is this what we are to expect if McCain becomes president?

Long way from over, but if this week reflects accurately how each admin will be run, BO should win in a landslide.

Posted by: The fake fake al on July 24, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the best we can hope for is that McCain picks somebody like Mitt Romney as his vice president, that way voters can decide between Obama the perceived Muslim vs. McCain who probably is simply showing early onset dementia (being blasted out of the sky & maybe too many punches to the head when he was being tortured equate to brain problems later in life) and having a Morman as president. Add Hilary to the mix and it gets more interesting.

Posted by: Ray Waldren on July 24, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Consider the following.

Except for a few days when the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls showed a tie, Barack Obama has led John McCain in every national poll in the past two months. Obama's average margin has consistently been in the 4-6 point range during this time. By contrast, the polls in 2000 and 2004 showed much more variation over time. State polling results have also consistently given Obama the advantage. According to realclearpolitics.com, Obama is currently leading in 26 states and the District of Columbia with a total of 322 electoral votes; McCain is currently leading in 24 states with a total of 216 electoral votes. Obama is leading in every state carried by John Kerry in 2004 along with six states carried by George Bush: Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada and Colorado. A seventh Bush state, Virginia, is tied.

Obama is leading in 11 of the 12 swing states that were decided by a margin of five points or less in 2004 including five of the six that were carried by George Bush. And while Obama has a comfortable lead in every state that John Kerry won by a margin of more than five points in 2004, McCain is in a difficult battle in a number of states that Bush carried by a margin of more than five points including such solidly red states as Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, and North Carolina.

And remember these June and July polls may well understate Obama's eventual margin. Ronald Reagan did not capitalize on the huge structural advantage Republicans enjoyed in 1980 until after the party conventions and presidential debate. It took a while and a sufficient level of comfort with the challenger for anti-Carter votes to translate into support for Reagan. If Obama's performance over the last eighteen months is any guide, a similar pattern could unfold in 2008.

Aside from the horserace results, there is evidence of a growing Democratic party advantage in the electorate. A recent analysis by Rhodes Cook of voter registration data in 29 states and the District of Columbia that permit registration by party shows that since November of 2004, Democratic registration has increased by almost 700,000 while Republican registration has declined by almost one million.

Democrats now enjoy a substantial lead over Republicans in voter identification. According to the Gallup Poll, the two parties have gone from near parity four years ago to a 12 point Democratic advantage in the first half of 2008. And polling data continue to show that Democrats are more satisfied with their party's nominee than Republicans voters and more highly motivated to vote. While Republicans normally benefit from higher turnout among their supporters, that may not be the case this year.

In order to defeat Barack Obama, John McCain will have to convince a lot of currently disgruntled Republicans to turn out and vote for him. Yet mobilizing the Republican base, a strategy employed successfully by Karl Rove in 2002 and 2004, won't be enough for McCain to win in 2008. He'll also have to convince a majority of independents and a substantial number of Democrats to vote for him. That's a task that proved too difficult even for Rove in the 2006 midterm election and it may be still more difficult in 2008. That's because since 2006 the political environment has gone from bad to worse for Republicans.

It is no exaggeration to say that the political environment this year is one of the worst for a party in the White House in the past sixty years. You have to go all the way back to 1952 to find an election involving the combination of an unpopular president, an unpopular war, and an economy teetering on the brink of recession. 1952 was also the last time the party in power wasn't represented by either the incumbent president or the incumbent vice-president. But the fact that Democrat Harry Truman wasn't on the ballot didn't stop Republican Dwight Eisenhower from inflicting a crushing defeat on Truman's would-be successor, Adlai Stevenson.

Posted by: Garth on July 24, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Can I just say, after watching Obama speak to tens of thousands of people in a clear, intelligent tone, how right the PUMA's were during the primary when they said the junior Senator from Illinois was just like Bush?

Posted by: enozinho on July 24, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

my above post is an excerpt from an article written by;

Abramowitz is a professor of political science at Emory University. Mann is a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. Sabato is a professor of politics at the University of Virginia and director of its Center for Politics.

Posted by: Garrth on July 24, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

If I remember correctly, Reagan and Carter were dead even until a few weeks before the election. Wait until the debates to get a picture of the race. I'm guessing the debates aren't going to show McCain in the best light. Anyone want to bet Obama gets under McCains skin and McCain losses his temper and makes a scene during one of the debates?

Posted by: Gary K on July 24, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently none of you think either Ralph Nader or Bob Barr is going to have any effect in this race? When those two were put into the mix in the WSJ/NBC poll, Obama's lead grew to 10 points I do believe

Posted by: Sean Scallon on July 24, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK
The Pollster.com average is down to a 2.7 point lead, so maybe that's what people are looking at.

Straight averages, which is what Pollster seems to be using, may be interesting but are problematic; unfortunately, the kind of work that it takes to get something more useful is hard within the context of a single campaign (the Pollkatz Bush Index is a good example of this.)

In the absence of the kind of analysis that builds a good index, its probably better to look at the trends in particular polls separately and then talk about the patterns in the trends rather than just averaging polls to try to track the trend of the average.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 24, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK
Apparently none of you think either Ralph Nader or Bob Barr is going to have any effect in this race? When those two were put into the mix in the WSJ/NBC poll, Obama's lead grew to 10 points I do believe

13%, actually.

Obama 47%
McCain 41%

With Barr/Nader:
Obama 48%
McCain 35%
Nader 5%
Barr 2%

Essentially, Obama has established himself as the "default" choice, with the rest of the field splitting the anti-Obama vote. The good side of this for Obama is that it means that he's in a better position than 2-candidate head-to-head matchups show, the bad is that the headlines will always make McCain look stronger than he is, which will help prevent a McCain collapse, help his fundraising, and give him more of an opportunity to find a bounce.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 24, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, the WaPo headline today reads: "McCain Makes Significant Gains In Key Battleground States." According to the article, the economy ranks highest in voters interest in these states and McCain has been picking up considerable support. I have no idea what this all means because McCain should be tied to the Bush economy and the "right track, wrong track" numbers are at historic highs for wrong track. But the trend lines in these states show McCain picking up increasing support. Michigan is a statistical draw. Michigan? Tied? And Bush's job approval rating in the states is 31%. What is going on?

Posted by: EL on July 24, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ill-advised to go gallivanting off mimicking JFK while we have troubles at home. Overconfident and presumptuous. His flip-flops on wiretapping and pandering to Hispanics and AIPAC have shown him to be not the man of character we thought, but just another politician, which combined with his lack of substance and experience makes him suddenly very suspect.

Posted by: Luther on July 24, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Obama is a dangerous man. Moving the war on terror to Pakistan could have disastrous consequences on both the political stability in the region, and in the broader balance of power. Scholars such as Richard Betts accurately point out that beyond Iran or North Korea, Pakistan may harbor the greatest potential danger of all. With the current instability in Pakistan, Betts points to the danger that a pro-Taliban government would pose in a nuclear Pakistan. This is no minor point to be made. While the Shia in Iran are highly unlikely to proliferate WMD to their Sunni enemies, the Pakistanis harbor no such enmity toward Sunni terrorist organizations. Should a pro-Taliban or other similar type of government come to power in Pakistan, Al-Qaedas chances of gaining access to nuclear weapons would dramatically increase overnight.
There are, of course, two sides to every argument; and this argument is no exception. On the one hand, some insist that American forces are needed in order to maintain political stability and to prevent such a government from rising to power. On the other hand, there are those who believe that a deliberate attack against Pakistans state sovereignty will only further enrage its radical population, and serve to radicalize its moderates. I offer the following in support of this latter argument:
Pakistan has approximately 160 million people; better than half of the population of the entire Arab world. Pakistan also has some of the deepest underlying ethnic fissures in the region, which could lead to long-term disintegration of the state if exacerbated. Even with an impressive growth in GDP (second only to China in all of Asia), it could be decades before wide-spread poverty is alleviated and a stable middle class is established in Pakistan.
Furthermore, the absence of a deeply embedded democratic system in Pakistan presents perhaps the greatest danger to stability. In this country, upon which the facade of democracy has been thrust by outside forces and the current regime came to power by coup, the army fulfills the role of referee within the political boxing ring. However, this referee demonstrates a strong personal interest in the outcome of many of the fights and a strong tendency to make up the rules as he goes along. The Pakistani army also has a long record of either joining in the fight on one side or the other, or clubbing both boxers to the ground and taking the prize himself (Lieven, 2006:43).
Pakistans army is also unusually large. Thathiah Ravi (2006:119, 121) observes that the army has outgrown its watchdog role to become the master of this nation state. Ravi attributes Americas less than dependable alliance with Pakistan to the nature of its army. Occasionally, it perceives the Pakistan Army as an inescapable ally and at other times as a threat to regional peace and [a] non-proliferation regime. According to Ravi, India and Afghanistan blame the conflict in Kashmir and the Durand line on the Pakistan Army, accusing it of inciting, abetting and encouraging terrorism from its soil. Ravi also blames the flagrant violations in nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, both as an originator and as a conduit for China and North Korea on the Pakistan Army, because of its support for terrorists.
The point to be made is that the stability of Pakistan depends upon maintaining the delicate balance of power both within the state of Pakistan, and in the broader region. Pakistan is not an island, it has alliances and enemies. Moving American troops into Pakistan will no doubt not only serve to radicalize its population and fuel the popular call for Jihad, it could also spark a proxy war with China that could have long-lasting economic repercussions. Focusing on the more immediate impact American troops would have on the Pakistani population; lets consider a few past encounters:
On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaedas deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid.
On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani military, under pressure from the US, attacked a madrassah in the Northwest Frontier province in Pakistan. Immediately following the attack, local residents, convinced that the US military was behind the attack, burned American flags and effigies of President Bush, and shouted Death to America! Outraged over an attack on school children, the local residents viewed the attack as an assault against Islam.
On November 7, 2006, a suicide bomber retaliated. Further outrage ensued when President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack, and President Musharraf did the same, adding that terrorism will be eliminated with an iron hand. The point to be driven home is that the attack on the madrassah was kept as quiet as possible, while the suicide bombing was publicized as a tragedy, and one more reason to maintain the war on terror.
Last year trouble escalated when the Pakistani government laid siege to the Red Mosque and more than 100 people were killed. Even before his soldiers had overrun the Lal Masjid ... the retaliations began. Suicide attacks originating from both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants targeted military convoys and a police recruiting center. Guerrilla attacks that demonstrated a shocking degree of organization and speed-not to mention strategic cunning revealed that they were orchestrated by none other than al-Qaedas number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri; a fact confirmed by Pakistani and Taliban officials. One such attack occurred on July 15, 2007, when a suicide bomber killed 24 Pakistani troops and injured some 30 others in the village of Daznaray (20 miles to the north of Miran Shah, in North Waziristan). Musharraf ordered thousands of troops into the region to attempt to restore order. But radical groups swore to retaliate against the government for its siege of the mosque and its cooperation with the United States.
A July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concludes that al Qaeda is resurgent in Pakistan- and more centrally organized than it has been at any time since 9/11. The NIE reports that al-Qaeda now enjoys sanctuary in Bajaur and North Waziristan, from which they operate a complex command, control, training and recruitment base with an intact hierarchy of top leadership and operational lieutenants.
In September 2006 Musharraf signed a peace deal with Pashtun tribal elders in North Waziristan. The deal gave pro-Taliban militants full control of security in the area. Al Qaeda provides funding, training and ideological inspiration, while Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Tribal leaders supply the manpower. These forces are so strong that last year Musharraf sent well over 100,000 trained Pakistani soldiers against them, but they were not able to prevail against them.
The question remains, what does America do when Pakistan no longer has a Musharraf to bridge the gap? While Musharraf claims that President Bush has assured him of Pakistans sovereignty, Senator Obama obviously has no intention of honoring such an assurance. As it is, the Pakistanis do just enough to avoid jeopardizing U.S. support. Musharraf, who is caught between Pakistans dependence on American aid and loyalty to the Pakistani people, denies being George Bushs hand-puppet. Musharraf insists that he is 200 percent certain that the United States will not unilaterally decide to attack terrorists on Pakistani soil. What happens when we begin to d

Posted by: John Maszka on July 24, 2008 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

The world loves Obama because he is everything that McCain and Bush are not, which is all about pursuing vested interests. Obama seems to actually care, which is more than that other two do. I'm supporting Obama. Visit WHYOBAMA08.ORG!!!

Posted by: Aiken Blue on July 24, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

On Hardball tonight Tweety and the gang were doing the gloom-and-doom dance over these poll numbers. What's going on? What's going on is it's JULY. And it will take a few days for Obama's trip to have an effect on the polls. The convention is just a few weeks away and then the debates and oh lordy I can't wait to see these elegant, articulate man we have been smart enough to choose as our nominee vs. Grumpy, Liar Gramps.

Posted by: pixie on July 24, 2008 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Kevin whistles past graveyards?

Posted by: on July 24, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

I hope I'm wrong, but I think the average American voter is white, ignorant, and racist-- and will vote for McCain. The average American voter will decide the election. Therefore, McCain will be the next President.

Posted by: PeterE on July 25, 2008 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

I think the average American voter is white, ignorant, and racist

If Obama loses this race, this attitude of his supporters towards the average American voter will be the reason why.

Also, I certainly know that I would prefer voting for the candidate who calls me my friend, instead of the one who calls me a typical, bitter, racist. It is a really easy call for me—and probably for millions of others.

Posted by: emmarose on July 25, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Also, I certainly know that I would prefer voting for the candidate who calls me my friend, instead of the one who calls me a typical, bitter, racist. It is a really easy call for me—and probably for millions of others."


Posted by: AF on July 25, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

emmarose: "I certainly know that I would prefer voting for the candidate who calls me my friend, instead of the one who calls me a typical, bitter, racist."

Obama has never called you typical, bitter or a racist. You may be confusing Barack Obama with a random guy who posted a comment on a blog.

McCain calls you "his friend" because he thinks you are an ignorant, weak-minded, gullible rube who he can easily bamboozle with BS while he robs you for the benefit of his corporate owners. It's up to you to prove that he's right, or wrong.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 25, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how typical or racist you may be, emmarose, but bitterness is all we've ever seen you do.

If, rather than simply letting fury ungrounded in reality drive your decision, you honestly believe John McCain is your friend or the friend of anything worth fighting for...well, then you're still not worth worrying about. And so the prophecy of not being taken seriously fulfills itself.

Posted by: shortstop on July 25, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the map (electoralmap.net) showing the Intrade state by state state of their markets over the past couple of months. One state showed significant progress by McCain, versus 6 or 7 for Obama. Electoral votes projected went from:

Democrat: 289
Republican: 240
Dead Heat: 9


Democrat: 306
Republican: 216
Dead Heat: 16

Not too discouraging.

Posted by: Mayson Lancaster on July 25, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yes the world loves Obama. Especially the Euros. He's just like them, a Socialist who will raise our taxes, especially on those evil "rich" folks. You know, the people who provide most of the jobs in this country? And we'll have national health care, just like in Cuba. I'll chuckle when I'm told I'll have to wait 2 years for a heart operation. Oh man, I just can't wait till Obie becomes the Prez.
Everyone will be "equal". Equally poor.

Posted by: Bob Kaye on July 26, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK



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