Saturday, August 02, 2008

Obama the Magnificent?

So what do we think of the McCain spots making fun of Obama's celebrity? I suspect that they are in response to Obama's trip overseas. My guess is that polling and focus groups show that Obama and his media camp followers went too far and the idea that Obama and his supporters have gone over the top resonates.

Obama supporters have pointed to the enthusiasm that their candidate generates as some type of endorsement - or confirmation - of the notion that he should be the President. Look at all the young people! Look at how they love him in Europe! What enthusiasm in the black community! It was Obama, and not McCain, who first ran spots with that creepy Obama chant and it is Obama, not McCain, who seems committed to providing his critics with ridiculously overdrawn rhetoric with, I'm sorry, eschatological overtones.

The best way to respond to that may be to make fun of it. But there is also a serious message here. Obama is extraordinarily new and inexperienced for a man running for President. There is also a concerted lack of substance in much of what he says. Personally, I think Obama is a garden variety left liberal - maybe even a bit on the extreme side by American standards. But,save for the occasional gaffe, that is not how he's running the race. Given recent political history, that's understandable, but it contributes to the sense that we don't know what we are getting.

14 comments:

Mike Plaisted said...

"Obama supporters have pointed to the enthusiasm that their candidate generates as some type of endorsement - or confirmation - of the notion that he should be the President."

Oh? I've never heard anyone say that anywhere. One of the interesting aspects of Obama-phobics is that they misrepresent and exagerate not only Obama's sense of himself, but also that of his supporters. I don't know any Obama supprters who are interested in anything by the issues and getting the nation back from the Bush disaster that you have supported.

"...ridiculously overdrawn rhetoric..."

Like what? "We are the change we've been waiting for" is him quoting someone else, and what's so wrong with that anyway?

"There is also a concerted lack of substance in much of what he says."

Really? I think his positions are very specific -- what area are you not clear about? The Stupid War? The economy? Energy? It's all up there in detail on his website. But the repeated lie that he is not specific makes it possible for those trying to destroy him (as opposed to talking up their own candidate) to pretend like there is a mystery man, a closet socialist behind the curtain.

McCain knows it's not true. You know it's not true. But, if you say it often enough, it's perceived as true. Aren't you sick of "winning" by just tearing people down with lies and faux deep concern?

And, by the way, I still can't get at your site through IE. I had the same problem and just removed sitemeter all together. I don't need to know how many people are reading me anymore. I can feel it!

Terrence Berres said...

Or as Tom Maguire summarized,"WaPo columnist Richard Cohen wonders what Obama has ever done. Matt Yglesias has an easy answer - he has put up lots of cool proposals and position papers at his website!"

William Tyroler said...

I think his positions are very specific -- what area are you not clear about? The Stupid War? The economy? Energy? It's all up there in detail on his website.

I'm not sure Obama's as anti-war as some of his supporters seem to assume. His nomination is due in no small measure to his assurance he'd withdraw troops from Iraq according to a fixed timetable. Now, though his web site suggests that withdrawal can be accomplished in 16 months, his is in fact a highly contingent plan: The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government.

And, although he denies any intent to create permanent bases, he suggests that we may in fact do just that: Under the Obama plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel.

More problematically still, at least for his anti-war supporters, Obama's critique is really fairly narrow: Bush went wrong not by prosecuting a war, but choosing the wrong theater for that war: The decision to invade Iraq diverted resources from the war in Afghanistan ... . The scale of our deployments in Iraq continues to set back our ability to finish the fight in Afghanistan, producing unacceptable strategic risks.

There are good reasons to question Obama's assumptions -- for one thing, he gets it precisely wrong: Bush's decision to conclude the on-going war with Iraq bequeathed by Clinton caused al Qaeda to divert its resources to that theater, where it has suffered a strategic defeat. And, it might be questioned why Obama thinks a surge of troops will work in Afghanistan, especially given that Pakistan shelters hostile forces (not to mention Obama's own denial that Iraq benefited from the surge there).

I'm curious why (if indeed they do) his supporters think he's an anti-war alternative to Bush and McCain. And even more curious as to whether they're concerned that under Obama we'll merely trade one quagmire (Afghanistan) for another (Iraq).

Dad29 said...

The Britney/O ad was not what I would have done.

There are better ways to convey the impression that O is a pretentious self-loving machine politician.

On the other hand, the O's reaction(pulling out the race card) was the best gift the McCain people could have gotten.

Anonymous said...

MP: I think his positions are very specific -- what area are you not clear about? The Stupid War?

So, the topic is specific positions, and the example is the Stupid War. Presumably the replies will specifically engage the actual position of Obama: that the Iraq invasion was stupid.

And yet...

WT: I'm not sure Obama's as anti-war... his anti-war supporters... anti-war

No doubt the specificity of his positions will remain invisible to anyone grimly determined to ignore it.

The most entertainingly ironic bit? This one:

More problematically still, at least for his anti-war supporters, Obama's critique is really fairly narrow: Bush went wrong not by prosecuting a war, but choosing the wrong theater for that war: The decision to invade Iraq diverted resources from the war in Afghanistan

Plaisted offers Obama's critique of the war as an example of a highly specific position, not a vague or general one. Tyroler replies that in fact Obama's critique was a highly specific one, without vague and general anti-war implications. Who could have foreseen so cunning a rejoinder?

Most bafflingly delusional bit:

Bush's decision to conclude the on-going war with Iraq bequeathed by Clinton caused al Qaeda to divert its resources to that theater, where it has suffered a strategic defeat.

Never mind the post-KoolAid, pre-coma rehearsal of the hilarious theory that the invasion of Iraq gathered The Enemy into one location for convenient defeat. Let's look hard at the bizarre spin that "the on-going war with Iraq" was "bequeathed by Clinton"!

I suppose the portion of the national debt stemming from Reagan's presidency was also "bequeathed by Clinton" to Bush? Seriously, I'd swear you couldn't make this stuff up... if you hadn't just.

William Tyroler said...

So, the topic is specific positions, and the example is the Stupid War.

I was actually less interested in whether Obama's programs are "specific" and more so in that where he did manage some specificity (with respect to the war) he might well end up at odds with his base. Perhaps the point was too subtly made for Anonymous 9:03.

Speaking of specificity: I didn't exhaustively search Obama's site, but I'm pretty confident he has no position, specific or otherwise, on "the Stupid War." Is the reference to Iraq? Maybe. The Global War on Terror? Possibly. Obama's proposed surge in Afghanistan? Not sure at all about that one. Is the war in Iraq the Stupid War? If so, would that make Afghanistan, if Obama has his way, the Smart War?

Again: Obama's proposal to shift military assets from Iraq to Afghanistan is somewhat specific. But then the question becomes: where does that leave Obama's anti-war constituency? Anonymous 9:03 doesn't say whether he or she supports this "plan," such as it is, but instead inveighs against a couple of subsidiary points I made. I don't know what Anonymous 9:03 thinks we were doing over there during the Clinton Administration. Enforcing no-fly zones and a blockade on various exports among other things (including the occasional exchange of fire) is a massive infringement of a country's sovereignty. If it didn't amount to an unfinished war, then perhaps Anonymous can say just what characterization he or she thinks appropriate. (No, I'm not ascribing blame to Clinton; I'm just saying that Bush didn't create the situation, he inherited it.)

Quite without realizing it, Anonymous 9:03 raises an interesting question about the outcome of the war in Iraq. He or she says, substituting invective for argument, that it is "bafflingly delusional" to think A-Q suffered a strategic defeat. History will have the final say of course, but there is good reason presently to think my assertion correct:
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq;
Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country, a top U.S. military official contended yesterday.;
Iraq will not be another Vietnam because, this time, the war is ending in a clear victory for the good guys (the actual good guys, as grating as that might be to your non-conservative sensibilities).".

And so on. The point isn't that I'm "right." There's always room for disagreement, except to those impoverished in word and thought. It's that there's strong support for the idea that the war may well have a positive outcome. Finally: I'm still waiting for an Obama supporter to explain why his "specific" plan for a surge in Afghanistan is a good one. Maybe Anonymous 9:03 can put aside his dictionary of petty insults long enough to step up to the plate and take a swing at that one.

Brew City Brawler said...

Herr Tyroler:

I think you raise a valid point re: the risk of quagmire in Afghanistan. How to balance suppressing Taliban/AQ in Afghanistan with avoiding getting sucked into a forever war is going to be a concern.

That said, I think it's a bit disingenuous to suggest that Obama's support of military intervention in Afghanistan should be problematic for his "anti-war supporters." Most on the left -- not all, but most -- supported that invasion given that the country contained a party that had some involvement/gave support to bin Laden. Iraq was a different matter entirely. I don't think it's accurate to suggest opponents of the Iraq war are absolutely anti-war. There may have been some marches against the Afghanistan invasion, but nothing on the scale of the ones preceding the invasion of Iraq.

Also, the no-fly zones were initiated under the Bush 41 administration. Tough to blame those on Clinton (though he did extend the fly zone range). More to the point, there was no reason to "finish" a war against Iraq under Clinton given that Hussein did not represent a threat to his neighbors, let alone to the U.S. And the Bush 43 administration had to stretch intelligence beyond the breaking point to suggest Iraq presented any sort of imminent threat in the leadup to the 2003 war. (And would a Republican-led Congress have gone along with a Clinton effort to "finish" the war against Saddam or would it have sought to use it as a cudgel to score points against him?)

Anonymous said...

WT: I was actually less interested in whether Obama's programs are "specific"...

Yes, you'd have to say so, wouldn't you?

And yet the quote from Plaisted that you provided, to set up your response, was: I think his positions are very specific -- what area are you not clear about? The Stupid War? The economy? Energy? It's all up there in detail on his website.

Fair enough to use a single keyword as your cue to go rambling off on a data-free conjecture about the entirely pacifistic image that Obama's supporters allegedly have of him. But maybe a little heads-up that you don't actually intend to address the point you've quoted would be a good idea.

No, I'm not ascribing blame to Clinton; I'm just saying that Bush didn't create the situation, he inherited it.

"Bequeathed by Clinton" isn't a way of blaming Clinton? Even without the context of a pathological Republican fashion for blaming the Clenis, this would be hard to credit; as things stand, it is... hard to credit.

That Clinton did not resolve the Iraq conflict that was (now an actual truth:) bequeathed by Bush 41 is not in doubt. How this makes it intelligible to describe Bush 43's actions as "concluding the war" is anyone's guess.

William Tyroler said...

Interesting. I raised the possibility that Obama might not be quite the anti-war stalwart his supporters make him out to be, and the responses range from Brawler's smarmy insult ("Herr Tyroler") to Anonymous' incensed insults (how I dare I go off-topic, as he defines the topic).

To anonymous:You're wrong about "bequeath." It just means left to, or handed down by someone else. When Bush took office he inherited a fricking mess. I suggest you invest in a household dictionary; maybe someone will bequeath you theirs. This has degenerated into a very boring exchange. I'm terminating it.

To Brawler: I'm guessing you must be a big fan of ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone. Odd, too, given that "Beer City Brawler" suggests a bit of projection at work (Hitler created the Ordnertruppen, a body of ex-soldiers and beer hall brawlers in order to protect gatherings of the Nazi party).

At least the creepy Brawler has something to say about Afghanistan, unlike the vacuous Anonymous. What Brawler says, if I understand him correctly, is that Afghanistan is regarded as the "Good War" and has the full support of most on the Left. Given this well-spring of support, I hope to hear in detail from my friends on the left (though apparently it won't be forthcoming on this thread) about how Obama's plan to salvage Afghanistan is a sound one.

Brawler is right, of course, that Clinton inherited the problem from Bush 41; as did Bush 43 from Clinton. Whether Iraq presented a sufficient threat to justify Bush 43's escalation is something we simply disagree about. What I will say (and it will be my final word) is that, much as the Dems would like to forget it now, Clinton did sign off on "a resolution calling for regime change in Iraq."

Brew City Brawler said...

Mr. Tyrol:

As someone of Austrian descent, I used the Herr merely to refer to your last name. Which,unless I'm mistaken, suggests at least some of your volk hail from the Osterreich. (Or maybe i'm projecting -- after all, Hitler was Austrian.) I apologize if that jovial salutation didn't translate in the ether.


And if we want to argue who "bequeathed" the mess in Iraq to Bush 43, I would suggest that the blame lies with the Reagan and Bush administrations,which built him up and subsequently left him in power. Unless you can make a plausible case that the GOP-led congress would have signed on with Clinton going to war with Iraq -- and unless you can make a case why that war was even necessary vs. containment -- it's difficult to blame our current situation in Iraq on Clinton.

Finally, if you can argue that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has not had the support of most on the left, please make it. It's even had the support -- and the troops -- of the French! As for the merits of Obama's plan for Afghanistan... I'll withold judgment until he's in a position to execute it and until we can see where the situation stands once he's in office (assuming that happens). Generally I agree with critics that suggest sending more troops to Afghanistan is not a cure-all and if improperly managed could be disastrous (ask the Russians, who had far more troops there than we would likely deploy with considerably loosened rules of engagement). Sorry if that seems like a dodge. However, I would still trust Obama to manage that situation more than I would McCain if only because Obama doesn't surround himself with the radical hawks that encircle McCain.

Creepily,
Brew (note Beer) City Brawler

William Tyroler said...

My sincere apologies to the Brawler. I'd just reconsidered the basis for my ire and was about to remove my last post when I saw his. I'll remove it if he requests or maybe it should remain, as a testament to the danger of over-sensitivity. In my circles, "Herr" means something very much different than in the Brawler's -- my problem, not his. I should have realized that much quicker.

I appreciate Brawler's suggestion that the left generally supports our presence in Afghanistan. I hope he's right.

Again: my sincere apologies. Brawler simply didn't deserve my invective.

Brew City Brawler said...

Mr. Tyroler:

Verstehen. And no apology necessary. I suppose one should always use a smiley face emoticon when using such salutation on the intertubes.


Gehen mit Gott,
Brew City Brawler

Dad29 said...

Peace and love between BCB and the Tyrolean.

Wow.

LIke BCB, I have reservations about simply 'sending ~30K troops' to Afghanistan.

Partly b/c of the geopolitics (India, Paki, etc.) and partly b/c one best fights guerillas with counter-guerilla tactics, not with a typical set of heavy armor and infantry blocks.

Anonymous said...

I raised the possibility that Obama might not be quite the anti-war stalwart his supporters make him out to be, and the responses range from Brawler's smarmy insult ("Herr Tyroler") to Anonymous' incensed insults (how I dare I go off-topic, as he defines the topic).

lol

Newsflash: Straw Man, Red Herring, related fallacies declared defunct. Henceforth such cases to be dismissed merely as "going off-topic (as you define the topic)!".

This has degenerated into a very boring exchange. I'm terminating it.

I'm sure you find it unpleasant to have your various projections about Obama and his supporters exposed to the light of day. I haven't much use for the man, myself, but the relentlessly unwarranted spin against him does call for debunking.