Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The gaffemeister 'Brags' About 'Negative Ads That Are Completely Unrelated to the Issues at Hand'

"If we're going to ask questions about, you know, who has been promulgating negative ads that are completely unrelated to the issues at hand, I think I win that contest pretty handily," Obama said.

Just note that if McCain had said that, it would be seen as a sign of age and dementia. If Palin had said that, it would be a sign she's not ready for prime time. If Biden said that... well, that scenario presumes that a reporter would be around to notice, but if he did, it would mean that it's a Monday.



WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence. According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July. "He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops - and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion." "However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open." Zebari says.

Though Obama claims the US presence is "illegal," he suddenly remembered that Americans troops were in Iraq within the legal framework of a UN mandate. His advice was that, rather than reach an accord with the "weakened Bush administration," Iraq should seek an extension of the UN mandate. While in Iraq, Obama also tried to persuade the US commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, to suggest a "realistic withdrawal date." They declined.

Obama has made many contradictory statements with regard to Iraq. His latest position is that US combat troops should be out by 2010. Yet his effort to delay an agreement would make that withdrawal deadline impossible to meet. Supposing he wins, Obama's administration wouldn't be fully operational before February - and naming a new ambassador to Baghdad and forming a new negotiation team might take longer still.

By then, Iraq will be in the throes of its own campaign season. Judging by the past two elections, forming a new coalition government may then take three months. So the Iraqi negotiating team might not be in place until next June. Then, judging by how long the current talks have taken, restarting the process from scratch would leave the two sides needing at least six months to come up with a draft accord. That puts us at May 2010 for when the draft might be submitted to the Iraqi parliament - which might well need another six months to pass it into law.

More here

McCain Camp Demands Answers on Obama's Illegal Interference with US Foreign Policy

As CJ says, the media can't ignore this as they'd like. If McCain makes an issue out of it, it is an issue, whether they like it or not.*
At this point, it is not yet clear what official American negotiations Senator Obama tried to undermine with Iraqi leaders, but the possibility of such actions is unprecedented. It should be concerning to all that he reportedly urged that the democratically-elected Iraqi government listen to him rather than the US administration in power. If news reports are accurate, this is an egregious act of political interference by a presidential candidate seeking political advantage overseas. Senator Obama needs to reveal what he said to Iraq's Foreign Minister during their closed door meeting. The charge that he sought to delay the withdrawal of Americans from Iraq raises serious questions about Senator Obama's judgment and it demands an explanation.

* By the way, this dynamic mitigates McCain's sorta-annoying playing of the victim card of late. The MSM simply will not report on this stuff unless McCain pushes it out there. They will do all of Obama's dirty work without prompting (allowing Obama to sail above it), but they won't do the same for McCain.

Indeed, all the press wants to do now is dig up derogatory rumors about Sarah Palin. It's only by injecting other storylines into the media directly he can even hope to push the MSM off its singleminded focus on getting Palin.

Is McCain pushing some kinda silly stuff about lipstick and pigs of late? Yes. But it's not as if he's "distracting" the media from important issues. If they weren't covering silly shit like the lipstick thing (which was deliberate, but is still silly), the MSM would just be pushing others silly shit, like Sarah Palin taking expense per diems to which she was legally entitled, or somehow "misleading" the public into thinking she visited Iraq by consistently stating she'd visited Kuwait.

For those of you who want a debate on the "real issues" -- it's simply not possible right now. The MSM is on a Palin hunt and no story is too silly to smear her with.

Now this -- Obama directly and deliberately interfering with the foreign policy power entrusted by the Constitution to the sitting president only (with the advice and consent, and not interference and sabotage, of the Senate) -- is a very serious issue indeed.


$126,000 From Fannie and Freddie? In Four Years?

Obama has two new ads up, both highlighting McCain advisers who have been employed as lobbyists.

If having a staffer who has worked as a lobbyist makes you "on the take," I wonder what it means when you take more money from companies like Fannie and Freddie than anybody except Chris Dodd. More than, say, 352 other lawmakers, going back to 1989. Seems like time for a response ad.
"When the highly-paid CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac felt reformers closing in, they needed a defender. They knew where to send their money. The Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd... and Barack Obama. They gave Obama more than $126,000, in less than four years. While Fannie and Freddie was running aground, Dodd, Obama, and Congress looked elsewhere. Ask yourself who can really bring change to Washington, and keep our financial system from running aground."


Obama Needs a Tact Increase

His "computer" error continues a troubling pattern.


"John McCain is mocked as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate in a television commercial out Friday from Barack Obama as the Democrat begins his sharpest barrage yet on McCain's long Washington career," the Associated Pressreports. You can see the ad here. "He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer," the narrator sneers. "Can't send an email."

There's just one problem: As the Boston Globereported in 2000 (hat tip: Jonah Goldberg), "McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes." Obama presumably did not intend to mock McCain for having his arms repeatedly broken by his communist captors in Vietnam. Chalk it up to carelessness--but it isn't the only example of such carelessness.

Consider the "lipstick on a pig" line last week. True, Obama did not explicitly call Sarah Palin porcine, as we noted Wednesday. It is quite possible his use of the idiom was totally innocent, as he claims. But any sensitive adult should have realized that a reference to a pig in connection with a woman might strike others as unchivalrous or sexist (interesting how much those two categories overlap, but that's a topic for another column).

Blogger "Jim Treacher" complies a list of other instances in which Obama has acted like--Treacher's word--a "jerk." He leaves out perhaps the costliest example: the New Hampshire debate in which Obama said to Hillary Clinton: "You're likable enough, Hillary." Karl Rove argued that this show of arrogance helped cost Obama the New Hampshire primary.

Does it matter? Remember when President Bush got pilloried when he referred to the war on terror as a "crusade"? He obviously did not mean to suggest that his goal was to impose Christianity on the Muslim world, but his critics were right to be concerned that he might have conveyed the wrong message internationally.

One of Obama's biggest selling points is if we elect him, the world will like America again. He also promises to meet directly, without preconditions, with adversaries of America such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez. It appears that he has a tendency to make foolish and aggressive statements--a weakness that now endangers only his campaign, but that could, if he were president, have serious consequences for U.S. foreign policy.

It is true, as Obama's defenders contend in rather harsher language than is warranted, that the McCain campaign and Obama's critics have interpreted Obama's various miscues in the harshest possible light. But would America's adversaries be any more charitable in responding to the words of a U.S. president?


Comparing Obama and McCain On Public Service

Obama wants to turn the whole nation into government employees

Both John McCain and Barack Obama exhorted Americans to dedicate themselves to public service in an appearance at Columbia University on Thursday, to mark the seventh anniversary of 9/11. But Americans need no lectures from politicians to participate in their nation's civic life. They need them to stay out of the way. Between the two, Sen. Obama is far less likely to do so.

At first blush, the two candidates appear indistinguishable on the subject. Both have urged Americans to look beyond their individual, material pursuits and commit themselves to causes greater than themselves -- Sen. McCain arguably even more aggressively than Mr. Obama. The difference is that for Mr. McCain this is a moral ideal. For Mr. Obama, it is a governing mission. "Making that call to service will be a central cause of my presidency," he declared in an Independence Day address at the University of Colorado and elsewhere.

Mr. McCain certainly uses his bully pulpit to proselytize Americans about public service. But he more or less stops there, even repeatedly cautioning during the Columbia forum against federalizing public service, although that doesn't mean that he wouldn't throw taxpayer money at some of his pet service projects. However, his Web site offers nothing near what Mr. Obama is proposing.

Mr. Obama has laid out a 10-page vision statement that includes virtually every program proposed by the left and the right in recent memory and then some. President Bush's controversial faith-based initiative? He'll keep it. President Kennedy's Peace Corps? He'll double it. Even Mr. McCain's seven-year-old plan to raise a domestic civilian force to fight terrorism and triple enrollment in AmeriCorps gets a plug.

In addition, Mr. Obama would create several new corps of his own: a Classroom Corps to help teachers and students in underperforming schools; a Health Corps for underserved areas; a Clean Energy Corps to weatherize homes and promote energy independence. The last is separate from his Global Energy Corps, to promote low-carbon energy solutions in developing countries.

Mr. Obama calls all this his "Plan for Universal and Voluntary Citizen Service." It might live up to its "universal" billing, given that it would prod Americans of all age groups -- from preteens to retirees -- to sign up. But as to its voluntariness, the plan will make generous use of Uncle Sam's money -- and muscle.

By Mr. Obama's account, he will make federal education aid conditional on schools requiring that high-school and even middle-school students perform 50 hours of service each year. He will also offer college students $4,000 every year for doing 100 hours of public service. That works out to $40 an hour -- a deal that only the very wealthy could refuse. (The Obama campaign puts the price tag for this alone at $10 billion.) He promises to provide older Americans who perform civic service with "additional income security, including assistance with retirement and family-related costs, and continuation of health-care coverage." But a government that links benefits to service can take away benefits for nonservice.

The real issue is why Mr. Obama thinks it is necessary to take such extraordinary steps to push all Americans into service. Americans every year contribute close to $300 billion out of their own pockets to charities at home and abroad. This is the highest of any nation -- seven times more than Germans and 14 times more than Italians per capita. Americans are equally generous with their time. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service -- a federal agency -- last year Americans volunteered 8.1 billion hours of service valued at $150 billion to community organizations.

Mr. Obama doesn't think this kind of voluntary effort is sufficient, because it can't deliver social justice. In his memoirs and elsewhere, he distinguishes between community service and organization. Community service, he believes, can offer short-term relief to those temporarily down-and-out, through things like church food pantries or homeless shelters. It can also address concrete problems such as vandalism or crime through neighborhood watches.

However, Mr. Obama believes -- as he wrote in a 1990 anthology, "After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois" -- that this kind of service plays into the "individualistic bootstrap myth." It doesn't by itself help the disenfranchised trapped in inner cities.

For that, Mr. Obama wants collective political action, i.e., bottom-up mobilization, to help the disaffected extract resources from the powers-that-be to remake their communities. This is what Mr. Obama attempted to do during his years as a community organizer. And that's what he hopes all his cadres of social workers would also do.

Mr. Obama's moral vision presupposes that the key to individual advancement is securing a larger share of a fixed social pie from those who control it. This posture, relevant in premodern patronage systems, is profoundly at odds with the modern, market economy in which individuals don't have to wrest resources from others to prosper; they have opportunities to create their own. That requires a morality of independence and self-reliance -- precisely what Mr. Obama downplays with his comments about the "individualistic bootstrap myth."

Bolstering this morality is a complex task that will involve addressing social policies that have contributed to the breakdown of families, sapping crucial psychological resources from inner-city communities -- as Mr. Obama himself has acknowledged on occasion. It won't be accomplished by deploying federally funded armies of self-righteousness.

In his first memoir, "Dreams from My Father," Mr. Obama tells how he mobilized residents of a housing project to get the Chicago Housing Authority to clean up asbestos in their walls. The agency did, then ran out of funds for even more pressing problems like repairing leaky roofs, leaving residents even worse off.

Mr. Obama's take-away: more activism for more funds. One fellow activist, a diminutive, married woman, demurred. "Ain't nothing going to change, Mr. Obama," she told him. "We just gonna concentrate on saving our money so we can move outta here as fast as we can." She is the one who learned the right lesson.


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