Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The War of the Roses

I am in the throes of completing two papers, so I've got to squeeze in the daily post. On this Last Stand Tuesday, I have a few random political thoughts.

1. Obama's response to Hillary's red phone ad raises a question about the left's judgment on foreign policy. When I was a kid, Democrats fought with other over who was first to jump ship on Vietnam as if opposition to the war was clearly right from the outset and early resistance was a sign of intelligence and moral clarity. Maybe.

We see the same thing on Iraq but it seems even less appropriate. Two administrations thought that Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism (it was) and that it had an ongoing WMD program. This view was largely shared by intelligence agencies around the world. Saddam had a history of aggression and the sanctions regime was, for a variety of reasons, problematic. 9-11 had made terrorism a more salient issue - it had shown what these groups will and can do - and had highlighted the particular evil that runs through the Middle East - call it Islamofascism, Militant Islam, etc. That evil is not limited to the person of Osama Bin Laden and his associates.

In light of that, Bush and many Democrats chose to take Saddam out. We can debate the wisdom of that (at the time I thought it was an exceptionally close call) and, in hindsight, can argue that certain things that everyone believed to be true were not and that we "should have" known this. (The argument that "Bush lied" is specious.) Quite possibly, that knowledge would have tipped the balance against invasion.

But Illinois State Senator Barack Obama had no access to any information that anyone else did not have. His suggestion over the weekend that Hillary Clinton "did not read" the NIE and his implication that, if anyone had, they would have voted "no" is silly (and, as it turns out, was inaccurate in other ways.) The available intelligence and then current circumstances suggested that Saddam posed a serious problem in a number of ways (WMDs being one of them) and Illinois State Senator Obama knew no more about that - and probably a good deal less - than others who came to the conclusion that the invasion was warranted.

Obama's "early" opposition to the war seems far more likely to reflect a greater predisposition against the use of force than superior judgment. As a general matter, candidates with that predisposition have not done well in US presidential elections or, for that matter, as foreign policy Presidents.

2. In response to one of my posts on the politics of Obama's response to Louis Farrakhan's endorsement, some readers brought up John Hagee's endorsement of John McCain. I said that McCain should throw Hagee under the bus. He hasn't adequately done so. What that means for me, however, is better put by my old law school classmate Robby George (although I barely knew him)posted at Mirror of Justice.

3. The movement seems to be toward Hillary right now. Unless the pollsters have turnout misfigured, it looks like she may win in Ohio and fight to a draw in Texas (where she might get shorted on delegates). If that happens, is there any way it doesn't come down to Pennsylvania and a nasty battle over Michigan and Florida? The longer this lasts may hurt Obama because it increases the window of opportunity for his bubble to burst before the nomination is settled. Or maybe it does because it narrows the window of time for McCain to define him at a time when people are listening.

But I still think he puts her out today.


Anonymous said...

Brett is retiring . . . how can you think about politics at a time like this Rick?!?

I think the worst part is not the retirement, but that Randy Moss is involved.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I would like to see Rick dissect the cult of personality swirling around Favre. Favre worship is far creepier than Rick's bete noir.

I have yet to see an Obama shrine. I would be willing to bet there will be at least one Favre shrine featured in some local news story in the next week.

Obama worship is an extension of our celebrity obsessed culture. Brangelina and Favre have been the focus of the same phenomenon that brought us Obamamania.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that Farve's . . . I don't know, earned it? I mean, if Obama can point me to something that would make me believe that he's damn near the best in history at something, I'd probably buy in. But last I heard, one of his colleagues couldn't even point to an accomplishment of his in the Illinois legislature when pressed.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think Favre has earned the level of adoration he receives. A guy in my office had tears in his eyes this morning when the news broke.

All I am saying is that the worship of Obama is an out growth of our culture. There are other examples of it happening to people in ways that are creepier than the reaction Obama has recieved. I have not seen anyone crying with Beatle like adoration at an Obama speech. Hopefully that won't happen, if it does I won't blame it on Obama.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but. Favre doesn't encourage it. And perhaps that's the real test of leadership.

Anonymous said...

Obama has expolited it to a certain extent. I don't think "encouraging" is the right adjective.

He is a politician, if he doesn't work every angle he can to gain support he isn't doing his job. When he starts to employ pyrotechnics at his speeches I will start to worry.

Anonymous said...

When he starts to employ pyrotechnics at his speeches I will start to worry.

When he starts to employ pyrotechnics at his speeches, Obama will himself have cause to worry as the lawyers step in with very large claims. Might even include John Edwards in their number; he can smell a good tort claim from miles away.

Anonymous said...

"Mr.Obama, I knew Brett Favre and you sir are no Brett Favre."
Comparing Barack Obama to Brett
Favre is like comparing Britney Spears to John Lennon.
Listen to 3rd way.
He has "yet to see an Obama shrine".
Then he goes on to say he has "yet to see" a Favre shrine, but he's willing to bet there is one.
News flash 3rd way. Obama went to College via his color of skin. Brett Favre went because he was a great athlete. Obama was and is a back bencher. Favre sat on the bench one year out of 17.
Favre embodies the American dream.
Obama dreams the Socialist embodiment.
Favre is the all time touchdown pass leader.
Obama is the all time "change" leader.
While Obama and his wife are just recently proud of America.
Brett Favre puts his hand over his heart and sings along with the national anthem.
Brett Favre is from the South.
Barack Obama is from the Mouth.
Obama tells us the we need the government to help us.
Favre tells us that by individual effort, in a team format, we can do anything.
This little tome, illustrates the style of Obama with zero accomplishments, vs. the substance of Favre. Favre was not born rich, he grew up in a literal back water of Kiln MS. He went to high school in Pass Christian MS. He never took nor asked for quarter.
Obama wants change.
I'm voting for Favre.

Anonymous said...

Well said Joe. I second that.

Anonymous said...

I never made a direct comparison between their accomplishments, it is impossible. Favre has earned his place among the greatest football players to play the game, Obama has run a campaign that is able to convey a message that people are hungry for and hasn't been seen in their lifetimes. The reaction they have recieved from some people for these achievements can be characterized as "creepy" or "embarrassing".

It is not normal for a grown adult to be reduced to tears after learning that their favorite sports entertainer will no longer be throwing an oblong ball on sundays. It is somewhat creepy for people to devote a portion of their house to shrine-like displays of Favre memorabilia. It is very odd to see entire families walking through the grocery store on a Sunday morning with matching #4 jerseys as if they were members of some cult.

Rick has articulated what he finds "creepy" or "embarrassing" about Obama supporters. The irrational reactions some have had to these men are similar cultural phenomena.

Rick Esenberg said...

Obama has run a campaign that is able to convey a message that people are hungry for and hasn't been seen in their lifetimes.

See, that's the part that I have trouble with. What is it? I am admonished not to think that, despite his rhetoric, that it is left wing populism. I am told that it is supposed to be some openness to dialogue with, I suppose, people like me but I see little evidence of that. Why is it divisive to argue for a particular view of morality on, say, abortion and not divisive to say, as Obama just did, that the Sermon on the Mount compels support for domestic unions - a view, incidentally, that arguably violates the maxim of Lex specialis derogat lex generalis although I think it's a plausible argument with respect to the need for tolerance and respect for others, even if it doesn't quite prove what he says it does.