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Obama not quite ready for prime time?
Posted by: McQ on Friday, July 27, 2007

Some, mostly Obama supporters, claim that his answer on the YouTube debate wasn't that big of a deal. But I, like Charles Krauthammer, disagree:
For Barack Obama, it was strike two. And this one was a right-down-the-middle question from a YouTuber in Monday night's South Carolina debate: "Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?"

"I would," responded Obama.
A snap answer that displays exactly what Hillary Clinton said it displayed - naivety and irresponsibility. It also displays an ignorance of foreign affairs and diplomacy which can't be waived away with the "new ideas and new approaches" mantra. Hillary Clinton recognized it for what it was, a mistake, and pounced on like a duck on a june bug. And rightfully so. As Krauthammer said, it was the "grizzled veteran" pointing out why the "clueless rookie" had it wrong. That's how hard-ball politics is played.

Krauthammer also points out that while Obama attempts to waive it away and change the subject ("what's irresponsible and naive is voting for war in Iraq"), his staff immediately understood the gravity of the mistake:
Obama may not have known he made an error, but his staff sure did. In the post-debate spin room, his closest adviser, David Axelrod, was already backpedaling, pretending that Obama had been talking about diplomacy and not summitry with rogue state leaders.
The spin wasn't very convincing since what he said was, given the question, a straight forward answer. Yes, "he" would. The question wasn't a question about diplomacy. It was a question to a presidential candidate as to whether he or she would do something personally.

As Krauthammer points out this isn't Obama's first whiff which worked to Clinton's advantage:
During the April 26 South Carolina candidates' debate, Brian Williams asked what kind of change in the U.S. military posture abroad Obama would order in response to a hypothetical al-Qaeda strike on two American cities.

Obama's answer: "Well, the first thing we would have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response — something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans."

Asked to be commander in chief, Obama could only play first-responder in chief. Caught off guard, and without his advisers, he simply slipped into two automatic talking points: emergency response and its corollary — the obligatory Katrina Bush-bash.
Again, Clinton recognized the miss and took advantage of the situation to respond as a commander-in-chief should respond:
"I think a president must move as swiftly as is prudent to retaliate."
Like her or not, she's twice recognized debate misses by her chief opponent and used them to her advantage. And in both cases they've shown her to understand the role and job of president much better than Obama. His "foreign policy" credentials or seeming understanding of the job he's pursuing aren't particularly impressive and his answers to questions cited are revealing.

Why is it the more I hear Obama, the more I think of Jimmy Carter with charm and personality (remember Carter's desire to immediately reestablish diplomatic relations with Vietnam and how that turned out?)?

Obama is this election cycle's John Edwards and in the foreign policy arena, Edwards is still just as lacking. That's one of the reasons we see them both trying to focus their campaigns on the domestic. It is also, I think, one of the reasons Clinton is beginning to pull away from them. The job of the presidency is deeply involved in foreign affairs and there is little doubt that the most versed in that area of the three Democratic front runners is Hillary Clinton.
 
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Comments
There are more differences than that between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter had military service. Barack Obama has an Ivy League education.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Richard Nixon met with Mao Tse-Tung and Brezhnev. In the world of foreign affairs it often is helpful to the national interest to meet with leaders whose rule you dislike or even despise. Obama is right. He understands that international affairs is not about moralizing or some good vs. evil campaign. It’s about defending the national interest, reducing tensions which could lead to violence, and setting the stage for gradual change.

The result of Nixon’s policies were that Russia got complacent and opened up many ties to the West, which helped set up a peaceful (rather than violent) collapse of the Soviet Union. Without seeing the US as a mortal enemy, China could embrace reforms which have brought tremendous growth and change to that country, and have created a rising middle class which could create real political reform down the line. Being obstinate because "we don’t like your government" would have not only been self-defeating, but actually bad for both countries. Politics is the art of the possible.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Richard Nixon met with Mao Tse-Tung and Brezhnev. In the world of foreign affairs it often is helpful to the national interest to meet with leaders whose rule you dislike or even despise. Obama is right. He understands that international affairs is not about moralizing or some good vs. evil campaign. It’s about defending the national interest, reducing tensions which could lead to violence, and setting the stage for gradual change.
Did Nixon go to China his first year? I can’t recall.

Erb, again you are missing the point. The question wasn’t about "countries you are locking horns with", it was ROUGE states. States that are little more that gangland teritory, run by the strongest/biggest thugs.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Scott, Mao was far worse than any leader of a rogue state. And I think with Iran especially we need to engage, and it would be very helpful if rather than calling names and making idle threats we sat down and had the leaders talk face to face — and, to be sure, in a manner that made clear we are going to defend our interests.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott Jacobs writes:
Erb, again you are missing the point.
Whenever the ball is hit to centerfield, Boris can be found trying to run it down in left.

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Whether or not Obama is actually too naive to be an effective president, his appearance of naiveté will probably cost him the opportunity. I think that’s the real issue here, Erb. His comments on foreign policy issues put him on a lower rung than Hillary, in the eyes of the average voter. If he can’t get the votes, none of his art will be possible.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Obama is still working off of his "whatever is directly opposite of what Bush is doing" playbook and in both of the cases cited above, he came out looking foolish. Clinton’s answers and her positions are clearly better conceived. Given Obama’s lack of experience in this arena, this is exactly what could be expected of him and he’s proving his detractors right.

Erb, I can’t even believe you see the Nixon visits to China et. al. as parallel situations.
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
BO’s eagerness to "nail it", with often contrary, even woeful results for his cred, is more than vaguely reminiscent of that guy who told the terrorists to "bring it on" and assured the world that OBL would be brought to justice "dead or alive". Shooting from the lip, like shooting from the hip, will be remembered down the road, when the opportunity to urge policy choices on the President arises — like " Why are you still doing diplomacy with (fill in blank with whichever rogue state applies) when you promised to meet F2F with the top guy, in your first year, to let him know we’re serious about settling things?" As we’ve seen with W, "that was then, this is now" doesn’t cut it with the modern opposition.
 
Written By: mike jacobs
URL: http://
I still believe its...

"Hillary & Obama uniting Experience & Energy against the Republican Menace in ’08".

Despite any public ’tiffs’ it would ’heal’ their party and give hillary the nutroots and broader Democratic support she needs. Obama gets national level coverage and the appearance of national credibility from running for Prez, but then a honorable way to pull out. If he does become VP for 1 or 2 terms, his experience problem is solved forever.

Personally I believe this was a done deal months ago.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I forgot to add that Obama running sucks all the O2 out of the room for any truely worthwile Hillary challengers, too.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Erb,

Nixon met with China in part to attempt to drive a wedge between them and the Soviets, to open up another "front." Soviets response was to also meet with Nixon. Sounds like his strategy paid off.

Also, there is a big difference between meeting with the Soviets or Chinese and "Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea."

Iran? No meeting unless preconditions are met, sorry.
Syria? Questionable.
Venezuela? Prior to banning the media? Maybe okay. Now? Questionable.
Cuba? Questionable.
North Korea? ABSOLUTELY NOT as that endangers our negotiating strategy of using 6 power talks to increase the weight of diplomacy.

BTW, I have always thought Hillary Clinton to be a decent "worst" choice for president, especially from a foreign policy perspective. If she is elected, I will definitely be open-minded about her.


 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
’BO’s eagerness to "nail it", with often contrary, even woeful results for his cred, is more than vaguely reminiscent of that guy who told the terrorists to "bring it on" and assured the world that OBL would be brought to justice "dead or alive".’

Except that in one case, the leader is showing his eagerness to show weakness and not be a tough negotiator (c’mon, no preconditions to talk to Iran? North Korea?) while in Bush’s case, he’s saying what you have to say as "coach in chief."

OBL might be dead already BTW.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Who I would meet would depend on the context and conditions. Iran is a regional power in a portion of the world fundamentally important to the US, and who is part of a precarious balance of power. I’d meet with Iranian leaders pretty much right away, combining: a) a show of respect to Islam and the state of Iran, with b) hard nosed negotiations that don’t give Iran anything without getting something significant in return.

North Korea: No reason to meet. Syria: No reason to meet unless the Secretary of State arranges something that could pull Syria away from Iran, or work towards a peace plan with Israel. Venezuela: Meet for a talk at an international conference (less formal than talks). External matters would drive the meeting, not their internal politics. Cuba: As soon as Castro dies and someone other than his brother is in charge. It might have been possible to set Castro on another course if he’d been treated differently in 1959 and 1960, but by now he’s too old and dogmatic to change, and his brother is even worse. I would start trade with Cuba, though, that will set up an easier transition when the inevitable happens.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I cannot believe it, oh well there is a first time for everything, but I find myself in agreement with Scott Erb.

There should be no states rogue or otherwise who we will not talk to. Talking is not the problem, it is what we tell them that counts.

Maybe a summit meeting is not always called for, but some sort of dialog is always better than none, I forget which cold warrior said "jaw jaw, is better than war, war."

of course, Barack is probably the sort of guy who would fall easily to the lies of some smooth talking dictator, in the same way that the hapless and inefectual Madeline Halfbrite gave away the store to Kim Jong Il and got nothing but empty promises in return.
 
Written By: kyleN
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
I only got to the "charles krauthammer" part and said to myself, "Who gives a phuck whether he has fault with what Obama said or not.. he’s a neocon!!
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
I only got to the "charles krauthammer" part and said to myself, "Who gives a phuck whether he has fault with what Obama said or not.. he’s a neocon!!
And, more likely than not, this guy votes.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

 
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