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July 22, 2008

Obama: The Audacity of Branding

obamasealsmall.jpg When it comes to propping up his supersized ego, is any move too audacious for the Obama campaign?

At a discussion with a dozen Democratic governors in Chicago on Friday morning, each of the governors was identified with a small name plate but Senator Barack Obama sat behind a low rostrum to which was attached an official-looking seal no one had seen before.

It is emblazoned with a fierce-looking eagle clutching an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other and is deliberately reminiscent of the official seal of the president of the United States.

...Just above the eagle’s head are the words “Vero Possumus,” roughly translated “Yes we can.” Not exactly E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), the motto on the presidential seal and the dollar bill. Then again, Mr. Obama is not the president.

Ah but we live in hope, do we not? Currently the candidate for Change We Can Believe In has embarked upon a whirlwind tour of the MiddleEast in his very own chartered jet. Obama's exact whereabouts at any given point in time are a closely held secret. Due to security concerns, the candidate declined to release his itinerary to the press. Fortunately for Obama watchers worldwide, he shouldn't be too hard to spot since before leaving on this highly secure trip, Obama had his stealth plane ostentatiously emblazoned with his logo and the moniker, "Obama One". No doubt keeping Bill Keller and Eric Lichtblau in the dark as to his whereabouts will be all the protection Obama needs:

The remodelled Boeing 757 jet, dubbed "Obama One" is painted blue and white and sports the Illinois senator's distinctive rising sun logo on its tail and bears his slogan "Change We Can Believe In" along each side.

The jet includes a secluded first class section for Obama, his family and top aides up front, a cabin reserved for staff with business class seating behind and economy-style press accommodation aft.

capt.cps.nba88.210708045819.photo00.photo.default-450x512.jpgWatching the coverage of his Iraq visit, one does wonder why Obama bothers to bring the press at all:

MITCHELL: Let me just say something about the message management. He didn't have reporters with him, he didn't have a press pool, he didn't do a press conference while he was on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq. What you're seeing is not reporters brought in. You're seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews, because they're not interviews from a journalist. So, there's a real press issue here. Politically it's smart as can be. But we've not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before.

Never, Andrea?

Barack Obama’s campaign is taking heat from news media after herding political reporters onto the Illinois senator’s charter plane to take off Thursday night without the candidate — while he met secretly with Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C.

The Washington bureau chiefs from FOX News, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News and CNN, along with the acting bureau chief from The Associated Press, penned a joint letter of protest Friday to Obama’s campaign manager and chief spokesman.

...The letter details three instances in which the bureau chiefs felt their reporters were misled by the campaign. The letter also suggests that the news organizations — which pay thousands for their reporters to fly on the private jets of candidates — will review whether to decline to reimburse the Obama campaign for the Thursday flight.

Well, he did say he was the candidate of change:

Obama's Revenge: New Yorker Reporter Banned From Press Plane For Overseas Trip

It led with the report that Lara Logan had scored the first overseas sit-down with Barack Obama, but here's the most interesting nugget from yesterday's Mike Allen piece about the trip:

Forty journalists, including such leading correspondents as Dan Balz of The Washington Post, will be aboard his plane for next week's swing through Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England.

The campaign received 200 requests for press seats on the plane.

Among those for whom there was no room was Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent of The New Yorker. The campaign, which was furious about the magazine's satirical cover this week, cited space constraints in turning him away.

It simply won't do, you see, to tarnish the brand.

This trip isn't about listening to the commanders or assessing conditions on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it were, Obama would not have announced his plan for Iraq before traveling to either country. And having gone there, he would not continue to oppose the Surge, even knowing that it has been a success:

"Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that what I am absolutely convinced of is, at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with, and one that I continue to disagree with -- is to look narrowly at Iraq and not focus on these broader issues."

Obama can utter lines like that and go virtually unchallenged because in the end what matters to both Obama and the media is not winning the war but getting Barack Obama elected. That is both the purpose of this trip and the message: the inevitability of an Obama presidency. Because of it, he can say utterly nonsensical things like this and get away with them:

...we need to have some sort of time frame because we have to start planning if we want to get an additional two brigades in Afghanistan," he said. "We've got to start planning now.

"I said a year and a half ago that we needed more troops in Afghanistan -- at least two brigades,"

A year and half ago we were losing in Iraq, but Obama wanted to pull troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan. Yet Obama maintains we cannot afford to lose in Iraq, either. Uninformed folks might see this as a flaw in his "plan" for victory, but since the press helpfully refuse to call attention to this apparent flaw in his reasoning it must not be an issue. Obama can contradict himself in the same interview and go unchallenged because the definition of "winning" is not for America to win the war, but for America to admit that Obama was right all along:

When asked if he is committed to winning the war in Iraq, Obama said, "I don't think we have any choice. We have to win the broader war against terror that threatens America and its interests. I think that Iraq is one front on that war, but I think the central front is in Afghanistan and in the border regions of Pakistan."

Never mind that before the Surge, we weren't winning in Iraq.

Don't mention that we are winning in Iraq now. And by all means, don't bring up the inconvenient truth that the only reason Barack Obama is able to speak of withdrawing troops from Iraq and redeploying them to Afghanistan is because the Surge - a military tactic he opposed and continues to oppose to this day (even as he cynically takes political advantage of its success) - worked. Start talking like that, and some folks might get the cockamamie idea that Brother Obama doesn't have the judgment to lead.

The real irony here is that it is only the success of the Iraqi Surge that makes withdrawing troops from Iraq without defeat, much less an Afghani Surge, plausible. It takes real cynicism to continue to run down the only tactic that makes your "Plan" anything other than a pipe dream.

But then this reality-free "plan" is coming from a man who treats the media who will put him in the Oval Office like hired help and they worship him for it. To the extent that they continue to focus on Obama, The Brand and not upon the gaping holes in his platform, the media play right into his hands:

Since clinching the nomination, Obama has been cautiously executing a Nixonian post-primary pivot toward the center. He weathered the outrage of his "net-roots" bloggers over his vote for the national security wiretapping bill. But hedging on Iraq was vastly more dangerous, particularly when it appeared he was modifying his famous pledge to remove U.S. troops within 16 months of becoming president.

So, in his pre-trip speech last Tuesday, he reaffirmed the 16-month deadline (though in less robust style than on the primary election circuit): "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months." But he added, cryptically, "We'll keep a residual force" for "targeting any remnants of al-Qaeda; protecting remaining U.S. troops and officials; and training Iraq's security forces" provided they "make political progress."

How big would this more or less permanent "residual" force be? Obama did not say, but advisers leaked that it could reach 50,000. That would be far too much for the candidate's net-roots to swallow, but a token force of around 2,000 would be ludicrous.

Regardless of which candidate ends up in the Oval Office next November, the same hard choices will have to be made. The important question is, do we want a president who has not only been consistently wrong about the war, but who (even with the benefit of hindsight) keeps trying to make us believe we can win the War on Terror while ignoring the people on the front lines and opposing the only tactics that have succeeded?

Commanders and troops, including our top commander, Gen. David Petraeus, have long been reporting that the surge is working, that we must protect and expand on our fragile-yet-reversible gains, and that Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror. And yet how many times has the junior Senator from Illinois called Iraq a “failed mission” or a “civil war”? He claims Iraq “is or never was” the central War on Terror front.

... Obama continually speaks about the lack of judgment of those supporting victory in Iraq, yet he’s continually demonstrated his lack of judgment on the most obvious — denouncing the surge not a month after it started, insisting on timelines for withdrawal before meeting with commanders on the ground, announcing a willingness to meet with dictators and despots unconditionally.

As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, America. This may not be the change you were waiting for, but it's change you can believe in.

Posted by Cassandra at July 22, 2008 06:50 AM

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Comments

Senator Obama should sit down one-on-one with our battle-hardened field commanders...and ask them for advice. If he does so, he will be confronted with a stark choice, perhaps the most pivotal of his career: siding with our commanders on the ground, or continuing to side with George Soros and Moveon.org.

A no-brainer.

The field commanders will give him advice but no backing, and if he follows their advice, the Left will drop him like a hot rock.

Whaddya *think* a typical Chicago politician's gonna do?

Posted by: Bill le T at July 22, 2008 09:39 AM

Here's more of his trying to have it both ways, but ultimately saying he's smarter about strategy than the generals: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/07/021057.php

Posted by: FbL at July 22, 2008 09:59 AM

Is it really news that Presidential candidates are marketed and sold to the American public? Have you never read "The Selling of a President"? From Amazon:

"This is the book that catapulted Joe McGinniss to nearly icon-status at the age of 25 in 1969. At the time, it was a shockingly revealing book at how presidential candidate Richard Nixon was being sold - gasp - like a product. The original book jacket featured Nixon's face on a pack of cigarettes, as if the notion of Madison Avenue ad-men playing a pivotal role in a presidential campaign was dirty.

The book became such a classic that it remains assigned reading in many government classes to this day. But it is no longer shocking. Today, the practices described actually seem backward. Rather than a jarring warning about how campaigns are trading issue discussions for staged events, it today might be read as an out-of-date how to book. The discerning reader should not make this mistake. Instead, try to feel the original sentiment, the innocent expectations the book assumes of the reader.

There are two interesting aspects of this book that are ancillary to the main point. The one is the appearance of political figures, like Pat Buchanan and Roger Ailes, who would go on to other things and remain well known today. The most interesting such example is none other than George Bush (the dad), who is profiled as a mere Congressional candidate, epitomizing the "modern" type of candidate who is "an extremely likable person" but is hazy on the issues. Bush's successful campaign featured "no issues" not even when his opponent asked Bush "if he would favor negotiations...to end the Vietnamese war" (see pages 44-45). The point was that Bush, who wasn't especially well-known, was a vapid product rather than a substantive candidate (some things change, some stay the same)."

Sound familiar?

Here's another point to consider when trying to figure out why Obama has such appeal. You're responsible for that (by you I mean Republicans). Starting with the controversial election of 2000 and the almost unfathomable damage that George Bush & Co. has done in only 8 years, almost everyone but the most conservative Republicans are flocking to a candidate who happens to be savvy enough to embody what we're looking for.

So when you're chatting with fellow conservatives about how awful Obama is and why would anyone support him, remember that you all share some responsibility for creating the environment from which he's sprung.

Posted by: Jeffrey at July 22, 2008 10:17 AM

The question is not why a political candidate would try to "sell" himself to the American public, but why a supposedly non-partisan and unbiased media don't seem to be asking the same questions of Obama that they routinely ask of Republican candidates.

Over and over we've been told the media require shield laws and special privileges so they can perform this so-called vital audit function.

Let them perform it - we're all waiting to see them do it. The fact is that many of them have openly admitted they are shilling for Obama and that they refuse to apply the same standard they applied to George Bush: that they will (quite literally) do just about anything to see this man elected.

The question YOU don't seem interested in asking is, is this really a responsible way for a press corps to behave, especially when we're at war? Bush was given unrelenting media scrutiny during both his campaigns. Not so with Obama.

"Savvy"? Is that what you call a candidate who seems determined to do all the things you faulted Bush for? :p

Interesting, Jeffrey.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 22, 2008 10:32 AM

So what are you implying Cass - that there's a massive conspiracy at work among media outlets? I hope not. I've given you credit for more intelligence than that.

As far as your statement that Obama "seems determined to do all the things you faulted Bush for", I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm faulting Bush for 8 years of bad decisions and the destructive impact that it's had on the U.S. and the world. What are you specifically referring to 'cause it certainly isn't that.

Posted by: Jeffrey at July 22, 2008 10:49 AM

Hmmm...

8 year of bad decisions. According to Obama, we can't afford to lose the war in Iraq, but he doesn't support what we need to do to win it.

Check.

According to Obama, we should have sent 20K more troops to Afghanistand 2 years ago, but we would have lost the war in Iraq if we'd done that.

But we can't afford to lose the war. But he didn't support the Surge in Iraq either. Even though it worked.

So... he wants to have a Surge in Afghanistan. Because our troops are overstressed and he wants to bring them home.

Check.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 22, 2008 11:05 AM

So... he wants to have a Surge in Afghanistan. Because our troops are overstressed and he wants to relieve the strain.

By removing them from Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan to do what he didn't support when it was proposed in Iraq (an easier battle, by the way) and still doesn't support even now that he knows it worked.

Pardon my confusion, Jeffrey.

There are parts of Obama's "plan" which confuse this Marine wife.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 22, 2008 11:08 AM

You remember the minute-long Obama video where he talks about all the military spending he would cut? I was looking at his earmark list to verify whether he really had earmarked a million bucks for his wife's hospital. He did -- and also tens of millions for defense contractors in his home state.

The man is consistent. Nothing he says means anything at all. This is called "flexibility," I'm told, and is a positive quality.

Posted by: Grim at July 22, 2008 11:16 AM

"So when you're chatting with fellow conservatives about how awful Obama is and why would anyone support him, remember that you all share some responsibility for creating the environment from which he's sprung."
Mornin' Jeffery,

I'll take a break from flogging myself with the cat-o-nine this afternoon and maybe comment upon this whole responsibility thing... I'm a bit too busy now between the chores, the laughter and the cat-o-nine.

Posted by: bt_gonna-carry-that-load-a-long-time_hun at July 22, 2008 11:17 AM

I don't think the selling of Obama is unusual (that seems to date back to Eisenhower using an ad agency). What does seem more excessive than usual is the extent to which the press is fascinated by Obama without a corresponding in-depth look at his positions and policies. This seems even more odd when - as Cassandra points out - Obama seems to be treating the press rather shabbily.

I do think Jeffrey is right about the Bush factor here although not in the way he meant. Obama is the mirror image of Bush. Just as the press loathes Bush they love Obama. Both stances are extreme and completely without nuance - Bush is all bad; Obama is all good. (I find it fascinating that Hillary Clinton was also awarded the "all bad" mantle by the press but so far John McCain has not been. Can you imagine what the press would be doing to a Republican like Mitt Romney right now?)

As for "everyone but the most conservative Republicans ... flocking" to Obama the polls don't necessarily support that. They seem to be all over the place but the current Real Clear Politics average shows Obama up by only 4.6 points with more than 12% declaring for neither candidate. Furthermore, from what I'm reading the "most conservative Republicans" are as likely to sit out this election as are PUMA adherents.

Finally I can't speak for conservatives - not being one myself (hey, I voted for Kerry) - but my concern is not that Obama is evil but that he's unknown. I know less about what Obama will do in any given situation than the nation knew about what Bush II would do. The press' unwillingness to press Obama and Obama's unwillingness to be pinned down on positions help insure he'll remain unknown. That works against him for me - I'm squarely in the "better five dragons you know than one you don't" camp on this - but he seems to be betting it will work for him with most of the electorate.

Posted by: EliseK at July 22, 2008 11:42 AM

You remember the minute-long Obama video where he talks about all the military spending he would cut?

Yep.

I recall. Because my husband had just finished assembling a lot of information for that Quadrennial Defense Review Obama went out of his way to say he would make damned sure didn't get funded.

You know.

The one where the Marine Corps tried to make sure it got the things it needed?

Yet this man wants to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Check.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 22, 2008 12:40 PM

The press' unwillingness to press Obama and Obama's unwillingness to be pinned down on positions help insure he'll remain unknown.

He never really answered the question about the surge, did he. He was asked if he'd change his voting, knowing what he knows now. And rather than answer that directly, he choose to make it about the politics of George Bush.

Um Obama, hon? You aren't running against President Bush...

Posted by: Kris, in New England at July 22, 2008 12:44 PM

Like Obama, I was against the Surge, against the invasion in Iraq, and am for the war in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's purpose was a valid one - to go after al-Qa'ida. The invasion of Iraq was completely wrong for a littany of reasons that have already been discussed ad infinitum elsewhere. The concept of the Surge was unproven - only one example could be pointed to at the time, and it was in a much smaller city than Baghdad. It's eventual success was due to a mulitude of factors. It wasn't a "pure" strategy in that respect. I'm sure that there will be a raft of papers written about it by the officers involved and it'll make for an interesting read, but I'd be willing to bet that the majority opinion will be that the Surge strategy was a mix of failures and successes, was modified accordingly, and was favored by other events happening simultaneously.

EliseK, I've been voting in presidential elections since the 70's and I don't recall a single example of a Presidential candidate laying out a detailed plan and then following it once he was voted in. I don't know why Obama is faulted for something that is the gold standard of American politics - tell the voters what they want to hear, get elected, and then do what your advisors tell you to do. It sucks as a methodology for electing the leader of the free world, but that's apparently how we like to do things.

Posted by: Jeffrey at July 22, 2008 12:51 PM

"Yet this man wants to send more troops to Afghanistan"
It might be more troops to Illinois or maybe just red states...

Or maybe he has something else in mind..

"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set," he said. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded."

Posted by: bt_carry-that-weight-a-long-time_hun at July 22, 2008 12:53 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 07/22/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at July 22, 2008 01:13 PM

I believe there is a media conspiracy among those news outlets that swoon over BHO. They hired sympathetic sycophants out of left wing journalism schools to promulgate the message embodied in the BHO dreamworks.

Left wing journalism teachers in left leaning universities catering to like minded students ultimately hired by left wing media sounds like a conspiracy (Fairness Doctrine) to me.

Connect the dots and follow the money.

Posted by: vet66 at July 22, 2008 01:16 PM

...but I'd be willing to bet that the majority opinion will be that the Surge strategy was a mix of failures and successes, was modified accordingly, and was favored by other events happening simultaneously.

Other events which would not have happened if it were not for the Surge -- the whole purpose of which was to flood known trouble spots with dismounted troops to work the streets, get information from the average citizen, poke around in basements and back alleys and give the Iraqi army a breather -- a chance to recruit, train and reorganize, without having to pull combat operations simultaneously -- and then move to the next trouble spot.

It's eventual success was due to a mulitude of factors. It wasn't a "pure" strategy in that respect.

*No* strategy is ever "pure in that respect" -- unless you're playing solo chess.

Posted by: BillT at July 22, 2008 02:58 PM

It's eventual success was due to a mulitude of factors. It wasn't a "pure" strategy in that respect.

Like I said, the point of all this was never about whether the Surge was a good idea, or even whether it worked (which tends to be what matters in war) but about whether Obama can say he was right :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 22, 2008 03:00 PM

...as opposed to what would have happened if we'd stayed with that 'failed strategy' Obama was lambasting before the Surge.... :p

Yeah.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 22, 2008 03:01 PM

,i>and what some would call fake interviews, because they're not interviews from a journalist.

Gee. Who would those "some" be? Journalists? Because as far as I'm concerned the "fakeness" or "realness" of an interview is a function of the questions asked, not the person asking them. And "real journalists" certainly don't have much of a stellar record asking Obama tough questions. Lord, but don't these people have egos!

Posted by: RonF at July 22, 2008 03:24 PM

Is that other guy - Whazzisname - still running? I don't see hide nor hair of him in the news.

Posted by: ZZMike at July 22, 2008 05:41 PM

"Is that other guy - Whazzisname - still running? I don't see hide nor hair of him in the news."
I've heard that he spends his time sending letters to the editor in hopes that someone will publish him.

Posted by: bt_gonna-carry-that-weight-a-long-time_hun at July 22, 2008 06:10 PM

Or cover HIS trips half as extensively as Barack "Hallowed be thy name" Obama's are..

Posted by: Semper Fi Wife at July 22, 2008 06:22 PM

I wouldn't say it's a "Media Conspiracy".

Conspiracy implies a certain level of coordination or collusion between multiple groups lead by a small group of people. I don't think this coordination exists.

Which isn't to say that a high level of cultural and institutional bias doesn't exist.

You don't need the former to get the latter.

For a non-politically charged example: There is no conspiracy to malign certain words in the English language by labeling them "Obscene". But one cannot deny that there is a very strong cultural bias against the use of certain words in polite discourse.

So trying to dismiss the claims of a cultural bias in favor of Democrats by asserting that such bias would require a conspiracy is a fallacy.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 22, 2008 06:53 PM

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 22, 2008 07:02 PM

Neal Boortz for US Ambassador to the UN! Neal's a natural for the direct diplomacy needed on behalf of the U.S. at the UN. Not that he would take the pay cut or the aggravation, but...

Posted by: bthun at July 22, 2008 07:33 PM

Jeffrey said - EliseK, I've been voting in presidential elections since the 70's and I don't recall a single example of a Presidential candidate laying out a detailed plan and then following it once he was voted in. I don't know why Obama is faulted for something that is the gold standard of American politics - tell the voters what they want to hear, get elected, and then do what your advisors tell you to do. It sucks as a methodology for electing the leader of the free world, but that's apparently how we like to do things.

That isn't my point - not even in the neighborhood. My point is that the lack of clarity on Obama's part bothers me more than a similar lack of clarity would in a candidate who has been around longer.

I don't know Obama - he has no discernible track record so there's no Obama history to tell me what he's likely to do about various issues. If Obama tells me what he's going to do and does so clearly and consistently and his positions are internally consistent I have a basis to decide what he's going to do and thus a way to decide whether to vote for him. If Obama doesn't tell me what he's going to do then I have no information. If he tells me he'll do A, then says he'll do B or actually does C, I've got nothing but confusion. In both the latter cases, I have absolutely nothing on which to base a decision about whether to vote for Obama.

For me, this is a drawback. I believe Obama is betting it's an advantage with the rest of the electorate because he's charismatic which means people will imbue him with positive characteristics in the absence of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As long as he can't be pinned down each voter can believe Obama will govern as the voter desires.

For a politician with a longer record the lack of clarity isn't such a great problem. Even if McCain's statements contradict each other I can look at his history and get a good idea of how he'd approach various issues. I may not always like what I see in his history - and I'm not going to be happy about him contradicting himself - but at least I've got some hard information to work with. And beyond that, I've got some character information. That is, I have some general picture of what kind of man McCain is; I don't have that with Obama - I just don't "know" him that well.

To address the point you made, the reason some people may be expecting Obama to "[lay] out a detailed plan and then [follow] it once he was voted in" is because Obama was supposed to be a different kind of politician, the one who told it like it is. That was his brand during the primary. It's clear that his brand now is, "I'm the Democratic nominee so my base is stuck with me and I'm sliding right" but some of his early supporters apparently haven't gotten the memo. And, of course, some of his detractors are having fun pointing out that Obama is now just doing what politicians do.

Posted by: EliseK at July 22, 2008 07:53 PM

Jeff:

Starting with the controversial election of 2000 and the almost unfathomable damage that George Bush & Co. has done in only 8 years, almost everyone but the most conservative Republicans are flocking to a candidate who happens to be savvy enough to embody what we're looking for.

Is that what it is? He "embodies" something? Is that why he is given every honor in spite of his actual performance?

That's a topic I'd like to see elaborated upon. Just what does he embody, exactly? What is he that you want to be, or to have?

Posted by: Grim at July 22, 2008 09:48 PM

After an exhausting day grappeling with the hostile media, The Obama Campaign released this statement concerning further interviews...

Posted by: Dan Blather at July 22, 2008 10:37 PM

EliseK: I assume that you've visited his campaign website where he lists his positions on a variety of topics http://www.barackobama.com/issues/. Which one of them isn't clear? Which one has he changed so radically that you are now lost as to where he stands? And just out of curiosity, who would you prefer to vote for, if he or she were running?

Posted by: Jeff at July 22, 2008 11:24 PM

Why is it always when the Left tries to make an argument for why their totalitarian and socialist policies are good for America, they start talking about the damage other people have supposedly done?

People who want to build something up, don't first blow up the competitor's buildings and say "aha, we're better cause our buildings don't fall down"...

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 22, 2008 11:35 PM

Yet this man wants to send more troops to Afghanistan.

That's what cannon fodder is for, Cass. At least, that's what they said about the Soviet Union saving America's arse in WWII.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 22, 2008 11:37 PM

Grim wrote: "what is he that you want to be, or have?"

LOL! You're really trying to approach this from every possible angle. Because I'm voting for the guy doesn't mean I want to be him.

At any rate, I don't think its as difficult as you make it out to be, Grim. Most of his supporters that I know just want someone who won't make any more stupid decisions.

Posted by: Jeffrey at July 22, 2008 11:42 PM

Yes, Obama was tied to a slum landlord in Chicago who refused to turn the heat on in the projects in the winter. He is a smart man, all right, with a far-sighted energy policy.

What was that line from 10,000 B.C.?

"He is not a god!!!"

Posted by: Cricket at July 23, 2008 12:34 AM

I assume that you've visited his campaign website where he lists his positions on a variety of topics http://www.barackobama.com/issues/. Which one of them isn't clear? Which one has he changed so radically that you are now lost as to where he stands? And just out of curiosity, who would you prefer to vote for, if he or she were running?

I am not clear where he stands on Iraq at this point. Even if he still plans to withdraw 1-2 brigades per month he now seems to want to redeploy (some of them? all of them?) to Afghanistan. Since part of what was going to pay for his domestic programs was the money saved by ending the war in Iraq, how many of those domestic programs will need to be postponed or eliminated because of continued spending on the war in Afghanistan?

Does Obama believe the surge worked? Does he believe the Iraq government is making political progress? Doesn't he worry at least a little bit that if he announces the US will be out of Iraq in 18 months the insurgency will simply go on vacation until them? Are we leaving because we won or because we lost or just because it's time to go?

Then there are the usual suspects. I'm unclear on NAFTA. During the primaries, Obama targeted Hillary Clinton with a flyer stating that only he had opposed NAFTA; he referred to NAFTA as a big mistake and as devastating. Now he says, "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified." (Love the passive voice, BTW. That rhetoric, boy, you have to watch it every minute or it just goes and does whatever it wants.) His website says he wants to work with Canada and Mexico to fix it - I'm not sure what that means.

He seems to have supported gun control in Chicago but be okay with the Supreme Court striking down DC's gun control regulations. He supported public campaign financing but now declines to participate. FISA, of course, is a huge one: moving from "I'll filibuster the telecom immunity" to voting "Yea" is more than stretch - it's a flying leap.

Other stuff. Obama wants to allow Americans to buy drugs outside the US and to force drug companies to allow generics into the market. At the same time, he wants to improve the development of medical treatments through government funding *and* through partnerships with private entities. I'm not sure you can reduce profit margins for drug companies and still get a lot of R&D out of them.

He wants to make health insurance available to everyone with no extra charges for pre-existing conditions but not make it mandatory. I don't know why he would think that the young and the healthy would then buy health insurance since it appears they can wait until they need it to purchase it and incur no penalty for doing so.

His website says he supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security withholding. I could have sworn it used to say - and I know he has said - that he wants to leave untouched the earnings between the current maximum and $250,000, then start withholding Social Security again on earnings over $250,000. This makes no sense to me. Also many of his supporters seem to think Obama plans to protect them from having to support the retiring Baby Boomers - I don't see any evidence of this in his policies: he opposes any change in retirement age and makes no mention of means testing.

He plans to make Medicare viable by reducing waste (always a usefully vague promise) but also promises to close the doughnut hole in Medicare Part D prescription drug program which I'm pretty much almost certain will cost more money. (I do really, really like his promise to make the prescription drug program more transparent. The way it works now is pretty stupid.)

No, these internal contradictions are probably no worse than most candidates (McCain certainly doesn't seem to have a clear voice on economic issues) and yes, I know moving to the center is a time-honored tradition. However, as I seem to keep staying, what Obama says is all I have to go on. So confronted by his move to the center how do I know which is the real Obama - the primary one or the general election one? And when I find stuff in his policy proposals that doesn't make sense does that mean he doesn't know what he's talking about (bad) or does it just mean he's promising all things to all people (regrettable but better than the first alternative)?

Finally, your curiosity about who I would prefer to vote for will have to remain unsatisfied. Why would I make it easy for anyone to dismiss me by assigning me to the appropriate box? You know the boxes I mean:
Oh, you can't listen to her on Obama - she's a McCain supporter.
Pay no attention to his criticism of McCain - he's an Obamabot.
Of course she thinks both McCain and Obama are wrong on health insurance - she really wanted Hillary.

Shudder. I have terrible claustrophobia - can't stand being shut in. Or should that be "can't stand being shut up"?

Posted by: EliseK at July 23, 2008 01:56 AM

So what are you implying Cass - that there's a massive conspiracy at work among media outlets? I hope not.

What is up with the Left and their central command tendency to believe that things only get done because there's a conspiracy: a network of people with a hierarchy and a strong man "making things" happen. In reality, a lot of things happen because individuals make choices for themselves and thus create a macroscopic causality chain.

Central command from the top, going down to the bottom, doesn't actually get many of the things in our world done. The media included.

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Big surprise there.

You remember the minute-long Obama video where he talks about all the military spending he would cut? I was looking at his earmark list to verify whether he really had earmarked a million bucks for his wife's hospital. He did -- and also tens of millions for defense contractors in his home state.

Papa brought home the bacon that time!

What is he that you want to be, or to have?

That sounds like you're asking the Babylon 5 question of "what do you (truly) want" ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 23, 2008 11:59 AM

Most of his supporters that I know just want someone who won't make any more stupid decisions.

I hadn't realized God from stepped down from the Heavenly Throne. Guess I need to read Daily Kos more.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 23, 2008 01:39 PM

Hey Bill, you've worked as God's Angel of Death and personal executioner. Surely you, of all his mortal agents, should know whether God stepped down from the Heavenly Throne or not. If he has, then that means a man or a woman can claim the throne and never make any stupid or unwise decisions, BIll. He or she'll be perfect, a vision of purity, omniscience, and omnipotency. Omniscience for the women and omnipotency for the men.

So, what's the news from the Gates of Heaven?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 23, 2008 01:45 PM

Most of his supporters that I know just want someone who won't make any more stupid decisions.

I don't know about the rest of VC, but I don't particularly want to see people voting into a new Pope, along with that "infallibility" clause. That may or may not be fine for religion, but it is rather horrible for civil government. Especially civil government run by atheists.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 23, 2008 01:51 PM

So, what's the news from the Gates of Heaven?

It bombed.

Warren Beatty's sole consolation is that spd rdr didn't find out where it was stashed on U-Toob...

Posted by: BillT at July 24, 2008 05:28 PM

Has Obama ascended to the Heavenly Throne yet through the Gates of Heaven?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 25, 2008 08:26 AM

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