There was a key foreign policy moment linked to a debate question on Tuesday. No, not Libya, although that moment did much to show how President Obama will defuse Mitt Romney’s most likely line of attack. The question I’m talking about didn’t exactly create a “moment” – that instance of villager consciousness less delicately referred to as “collective idiocy” – but such debate lines lost in the details can still give us important insight into embryonic narratives. Going to the transcript…
Q: Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter because I'm disappointed with the lack of progress I've seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America's economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration. Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush? And how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?
…and the only alleged distinction Romney drew on foreign policy…
Number two, trade: I'll crack down on China. President Bush didn't. I'm also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. It's been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so we'll have more trade.
Now, this line of discussion did generate the much-repeated line from Obama, “Governor, you’re the last person who is going to get tough on China,” and I certainly agree with that particular line of criticism. However, like Bush, Romney has a better case for suggesting he’ll talk
tough to China. When Bush wasn’t invading countries on false pretenses, tough talk was his primary foreign policy M.O.. Romney, with nothing to show of his own record and largely advised by Bush neocons, has nothing but tough talk to offer on the subject of foreign policy (well, that and a set of false pretenses designed to invade a country). My reaction to this question was that Romney had a chance to disavow the results and drastically negative results of G.W. Bush’s act overseas, and deferred. Capitalizing on that mistake is a key element of the next debate.
More after the fold…
I recently moved “back” to the great state of Minnesota. When I came here in '99, the governor was one Jesse Ventura, and when I later moved to California the governor spoke with an enduring Austrian accent. It seems I must inhabit states governed by actors from “The Running Man” (or “Predator”... thank goodness Sonny Landham's political career has gone nowhere ), except that these states (and many others) unfortunately share something else in common in my time of residence – constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot.
4 years ago, Proposition 8 hurt. I was hosting a small party watching the election returns. By dinner time when people showed up, the presidential race had already been called. There was little to do but serve the food, drink the wine, watch senate races and progressively lose faith in California's progressivism. The result wasn't shocking – I'd certainly seen the polls and a weekend drive past a pro-8 rally in Newport Beach (with my mother yelling at them through the window from the backseat – I love my family) was all the reminder I needed of the state's crimson nether regions. Still, I held out some hope that late returns in L.A. county or even heavier turnout out of the bay area, until it became clear L.A. would stay on the wrong side of the ledger. That was depressing, and the cause of a significant amount of regret I didn't do more.
So we now have an on-the-record statement from the Obama transition team, by way of TPM:
President-Elect Barack Obama doesn't "hold any grudges" against Senator Joe Lieberman for opposing his presidential candidacy, and will not take any position on the question of whether Lieberman should be permitted to keep his plum chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee, an Obama spokesperson just confirmed to us.
"We aren't going to referee decisions about who should or should not be a committee chair," Obama transition spokesperson Stephanie Cutter emailed me, in response to questions about Obama's stance on Lieberman's future.
"President-elect Obama looks forward to working with anyone to move the country forward," Cutter continued. "We'd be happy to have Sen. Lieberman caucus with the Democrats. We don't hold any grudges."
...and then, after the fold, Greg Sargent proceeds to overinterpret this statement beyond all recognition...
It's happening again.
You know what I mean- the bold predictions that Hillary Clinton will in the end come out on top of the polular vote, along with analyses that states she will not. As much as I respect Chris Bowers and his analysis at the latter link- this falls into what we know is a false narrative.
There is no such thing as the "popular vote" as a measure of support for the Democratic nomination.
Crossposted at One Million Strong...
My father once ran for state office, and that was my first experience in perceiving politics as something with personal influence as well as something influenced by personality. You see- one can't help but be influenced as a young teen when a mob of well-meaning donors descends upon your home and sanctuary for a fundraiser, or when a pile of letters lies strewn underfoot across the living room waiting to be licked and stamped. Moreover, I was the most competent computer operator in the house.
...I was also the most politically disaffected in the house, having little reason to be that way, given that I couldn't even vote for a lost cause yet. I asked my father, once, whether he couldn't have greater influence as a teacher than as a solitary member of the state legislature. Over time, I've become somewhat more inclined to believe his answer...
...and hopefully among the last you read. Those who have picked apart and parsed Obama's recent comments have not only excluded the necessary context of the full statement but also the context of Obama's fundamental character. They have neglected his statements from the past in word and writing, when it is fairly simple to pick up a copy of The Audacity of Hope and observe how little Obama sympathizes with Reagan policy. The notion that Barack Obama has spoken out in "praise" of Ronald Reagan is absurd on its face, given these two men who take the fundamental question "what to do with government that does not work for the people," and receiving two antithetical answers.
- Take it apart.
- Make it work.
Interwoven with his rhetoric, Obama has always referred to the shortcomings of government as an opportunity to build up those neglected segments of society. That is the central theme of his candidacy... to build a popular, progressive majority towards issues which speak to the poor and the middle class.
Who is hip deep in financial ties?
From the category of ironic arguments... TPM reports on a radio attack ad the Clinton campaign has put out against Obama in Nevada:
And Barack Obama? The Las Vegas Review Journal said Obama was, quote, "hip-deep in financial ties" to one of America’s biggest Yucca Mountain promoters ...nuclear giant Exelon.
So if you want Yucca Mountain shut down for good, there’s only one choice ...the one the Sun called – quote – "the best prepared, best qualified Democratic candidate."
Yesterday I wrote a detailed diary discussing the Clinton campaign's misrepresentation of Barack Obama's opposition to Iraq. Today, Bill Clinton appeared on Al Shapton's radio show and continued the historical revisionism... from TPM:
or: How the Democratic Party is Ceding the Anti-War High Ground
Since the original authorization there has neither been a vote to invade Iraq nor a vote to take back that decision made for us by the president and a congressional majority. If there had been such a vote- many of those who made the wrong decision back then have learned better or have been replaced by those whom knew better... so I am not particularly worried that we will somehow choose to invade Iraq all over again. I am worried that those who have learned of their error do not realize it was the wrong decision based on what they knew at the time, rather than what they know now. You do not only need to know the Iraq war was wrong, you need to know why.
This (pdf link) is why the Iraq War was wrong in October of 2002:
The insanity of "experience"
In recognition of the message’s success in Iowa, Hillary Clinton adopted a "change" message both before and after the caucus:
I am so proud to have run with such exceptional candidates. I congratulate Senator Obama and Senator Edwards. I thank Senator Dodd and Senator Biden and Governor Richardson and Congressman Kucinich. Together we have presented the case for change and have made it absolutely clear that America needs a new beginning.
Similarly, her campaign has begun to reach out to younger voters in New Hampshire, recognizing their failure to capture that demographic on the 3rd. However, this makeover doesn’t appear to mean that Clinton is anywhere near abandoning the too-often repeated experience meme
Your embrace of progressive policy is a persistent challenge to other Democrats, no matter their standing in the polls, to respond to issues that matter to those of us on the left. This is not an election of a candidate in stasis, but a candidate tested by the primary to be more representative of the massive impetus towards a new party in presidential office come 2009. Anyone who can push that eventual nominee towards the left belongs in this race.