08 April 2008

Politicians As Usual

Before and after skiing today we've been watching General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on the television. Good stuff. Senator Obama just finished asking his "questions" of these two good men.

A few thoughts:

- these hearings, and especially Hillary and Barack's performance in them, show that winning a primary election is more important to them than what is going on in Iraq. Hillary last September and Barack today both tried harder to score political points than have a constructive conversation about the future of Iraq. Could anyone say the same of John McCain? We didn't think so.

This is just one more sign that Obama is cut from the same cloth as every other smooth-talking politician.

- The way Hillary spoke to Gen. Petraeus last September ("willing suspension of disbelief") and Obama's anti-war lecturing (the war was a "blunder") reflect the type of adversarial relationship the left (and dominant) wing has had with the military since Vietnam. Their badgering and abuse of General Petraeus is shameful. They use him as a cut-out for President Bush--the rightful recipient of their ranting and raving.

We know grandstanding is a Senate tradition, we just wish these two Presidential candidates would forbear when speaking to a man who is clearly doing his best to serve his country.

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RD said...
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RD said...

1. The problem here is that these politicians (and Democrats in general) have created a situation in which they benefit from bad news in Iraq. More casualties = more popularity. The race between Obama and Hillary is a race to see who can denounce the war more. I can't overemphasize the danger here: a political party that benefits from losing a war. That's a problem.

2. The facts on the ground in Iraq have changed substantially during the last year. Security has increased, casualties have decreased, and progress has been made. Both Petraeus and Crocker are cautiously optimistic about the future there. Despite this progress being made, the Obama/Clinton rhetoric hasn't changed. The facts have changed; the rhetoric hasn't. This is a huge problem. The right thing for these candidates to do is admit that they were wrong about the surge, then put pressure on the Bush Administration to continue and catalyze political progress.

I wrote about this disturbing politicking back in January at Pendulum Politics.

Mike_D said...

Do you have a job besides this blog?

Critical Badger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Critical Badger said...

There's no reason to have "Barack Hussein Obama" as your label for him, unless you're trying to be a jerk, or jerk people around. Why not John McCain's middle name?

I really think it degrades politics to an unnecessary level of rhetorical fluff. Attack him on policy. Attack him because he's one of the most liberal Senators in the United States. Attack him because his "spirital advisor" is bad shit crazy and it may influence the type of people he surrounds himself with. But "Hussein" of all issues, is quite unnecessary.

buruboi said...

Last summer when the surge began to work, Democrats should have shifted gears and began attacking the Republicans evident lack of a political solution rather than continue decrying the military strategy which has proven successful. This would have allowed Democrats to avoid looking foolish criticizing American victories during war while still providing them with room to continue criticizing aspects of the Republicans handling of the war, thereby creating much needed political capital for the general election.

I don’t know if McCain’s attitude towards Petraeus as compared to Hillary or Obama’s is an accurate measure of who takes their senatorial duties seriously. I’ll bet you a Snowbird lift ticket (I’m sorry, I can’t support exclusionists like Alta) that McCain’s campaign is far more important to him than his senatorial duties. I think the difference we see in McCain’s decorum as compared to Clinton’s is this: McCain’s candidacy is riding largely on his foreign policy credentials and the success of the military in Iraq; Clinton’s is not. Thus, to McCain, this hearing is far more important than it is to Hillary.

As for Obama, I’ve never seen much that’s led me to believe he takes his senatorial duties seriously at all pre or post-election. Two examples aside from the one you’ve pointed out. #1: Despite being adamantly opposed to classifying the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, he failed to show up for the vote. Instead, he was campaigning. #2: Obama has failed to propose anything concrete regarding NATO’s future even though he is chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Relations which is responsible for US relations with NATO.

I happen to like Obama’s name, but I refrain from using it to avoid suspicions that I use it pejoratively. I don’t presume to know what your motives are.

I rode Snowbird yesterday. One and a half feet of powder on the mountain…epic.

RD said...

Another point: I continue to be annoyed by the way the Dems frame the Iraq debate. Their reasoning goes something like this: "This war was the wrong decision. I (Obama) was against it from the start. McCain was for it. It has cost us too much. We could have used that money elsewhere. Therefore, we should pull out."

This is, by definition, irrational thinking. The decision to stay or leave must be based on future costs. Rational people don't make decisions about the future based on past costs. If that were the case, I would examine the costs I've paid to go to college, and I would drop out right now because it has cost me so much. Instead, I look at the future costs and benefits. Conspicuously missing from Dem dialog is an analysis of what would happen to Iraq if we actually did leave. They are right to criticize those who gave too much support to a dumb war, but that is not relevant to the current decision. The Dems don't want to analyze the war at that level, because it may require them to change their rhetoric.

Buruboi is right, however, to point out that this change needed to occur last summer. Every month that goes by makes the change in opinion more costly. That is why they won't do it. Also, there is a gamble for Dems, secretly hoping that the surge continues to work so that they can actually pull out as promised next year. If the surge fails, the pull out will be a disaster. If the surge succeeds, ironically, the Dems might just be able to keep their promise.

That said, I would appreciate if the Republicans would stop acting like Saddam blew up the Twin Towers, and therefore the war was just. Dems are right to criticize the original rationale for the war. It was not as closely tied to the War on Terror as they thought; however, now it is because now al Qaeda is there, Iran is there, Syria is there.

So, I'm not too pleased with either party. It just happens to be the GOP who are right at the moment. This is why McCain puts so much stake in it now - because now, he's right. He could do a lot more, however, to discuss political progress.

Anonymous said...


According to Urban Dictionary, it's "bat-shit crazy." Just fyi.


Anonymous said...

McCain is not in a primary any longer. The comparison makes no sense.