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May 29, 2008

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That would be awesome, no doubt. Especially that would presumably include the godawful "global gag rule."

It's magnificent. The best thing that could happen. So, with that, I'll point out two ways it could be better.

First, I do wish he hadn't said "feel". He's a freakin lawyer, and he can (consulting, to be sure, with his Atty Gen) think about what's illegal and what isn't. I guess Mr. Bernard made too strong an impression on me in 12th grade English back in the Eisenhower administration, but I think he was right: "I feel that", which apparently was badly overused in student essays, won't replace analysis. (Oh, and you thought all that touchy-feely was hippies and Mister Rogers? Nope.)

And I really hope, and have been hoping for months, that the president-elect would come to the Inauguration with rather a long list of things he can reverse with a stroke of the pen. And, like the ex-Governor Who Cannot Be Named, he could go to the office after the swearing-in, and start issuing the first executive orders. Bill Clinton, I believe, did a little of that, of course not to the extent of missing any parties; and with so few opportunities to praise the Clintons these days, let's give him credit and hope the next president emulates ("to attempt to equal or surpass") his policy.

But really, it is terrific, and exactly the kind of thing that I hope Obama would say and do.

Yes, yes, the global gag rule! Isn't that the main Stroke of the Pen that Clinton did right off the mark?

It is on its way to being a national tradition, Gag Rule Ping-Pong, a ritual reversal with each change of party in power. One more honoured, if I may coin a phrase in the breach than in th'oservance, if only one could get a Republican to see that.

“I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution.”

You know, the cherry on top would be if that call were to begin, "Hello, Russ?"

And then ask him to recommend prosecutions for willful violations of law by former officials of the executive, starting with the torturers.

Re: “Professor Obama”

I don’t think he is a professor Hilzoy. I think that was a ‘misstatement’ from months ago. If I’m right, his staff should let the press know.

You're wrong, Bill. At least, according to the University of Chicago Law School, which pointedly told the press so.

WASHINGTON -- The University of Chicago released a statement Thursday saying Sen. Barack Obama "served as a professor" in the law school -- but that is a title Obama, who taught courses there part-time, never held, a spokesman for the school confirmed on Friday.

"He did not hold the title of professor of law," said Marsha Ferziger Nagorsky, an assistant dean for communications and lecturer in law at the school.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/sweet/867973,CST-NWS-sweet30.article

Chicago may very well have shut Nagorsky up, after the statement, just like they did that guy with the patents.


Yeah, and Richard Posner isn't a "professor" there either. Whatever.

Better trolls, please.

Some of Nixon's enablers went to jail, and things briefly stopped getting worse. We could certainly use another dose of the same real soon.

Factcheck:

The parallels between modern Democrats and the Catholic Church-1500s are http://www.lyricsfreak.com/i/indigo+girls/galileo_20067322.html ">strong.

The link does not discuss Posner, who is a smart man. You are using the man’s good name for your purposes. The article merely references some obscure association between Obama and Posner.

Posner is sharp, although he has problems with Federalist 46.

Galileo wins, in the end, by the way.

Every time.

Wow, BOB, using the Indigo Girls to attack the Dems. You are aware of this

The Indigo Girls have been active politically and musically. Among others, they have championed the causes of the environment, gay rights, the rights of Native Americans and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. For many years they incorporated a recycling and public outreach program into their road tours by including Greenpeace representative Stephanie Fairbanks in their road crew. They helped establish Honor the Earth, an organization dedicated to creating support and education for Native environmental issues. Amy and Emily have also appeared at the annual SOA Watch rallies, the March for Women's Lives, and several other rallies and protests.

In 2006, the Indigo Girls were featured in artist P!nk's album, I'm Not Dead in the song, "Dear Mr. President", which has been regarded as a political statement to George W. Bush about poverty, LGBT rights, abortion rights, and the No Child Left Behind Act.

During June 2007, the Indigo Girls were a part of the multi-artist True Colors Tour 2007,[3], on the tour's Las Vegas stop, which benefitted the Human Rights Campaign and other organizations that provide support to the GLBT community. link

While I don't anticipate a Poser endorsement of Obama, I think it is a lot more likely than an Indigo Girls endorsement of the Republican party.

“I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution,” said Obama."
Yes! This is one of the first things that needs to be done. The Bush/Cheney "inherent powers of the President" poison tree needs to be destroyed root and branch for our Republic to start getting healthy again.

Certainly there are plenty of executive orders he should rescind. However, if he plans to “overturn those laws” he doesn’t like that would make me a bit nervous. I do understand that executive orders generally clarify or expand a law, but I think a constitutional law professor and presidential candidate should be more careful not to casually conflate the two.

I know what he means – but it’s another sound bite for the right to parse: “Obama claims to be a constitutional scholar and wants to be president, yet apparently he does not understand the difference between an executive order and a law…” or “After years of the left screaming about Bush being a dictator their leading candidate claims he will single-handedly overturn any laws he doesn’t like…” I expect to see one or the other (or both) of these memes crop up in the right-o-sphere.

He seems to primarily offer these nuggets up when he goes off script. Stay on script dude.

"Especially that would presumably include the godawful 'global gag rule.'"

As a rule, I stay out of abortion threads, and so I'll only ask this, and then drop it, but while I'm 1000% for instantly repealing the gag order on policy grounds, and I'm as strong as anyone on having always passionately opposed it as a murderous law, I'm not clear that it's in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

But I'm not qualified to say, and presumably a case can be made, and I can see grounds for it. But does everyone see the gag order as unmistakably a violation of the U.S. Constitution, beyond being evil, murderous, policy? If so, ok. I just wasn't familiar with the notion that this is clearly so, and if it is, I have to wonder why no one has successfully sued to overturn it on that basis.

"However, if he plans to 'overturn those laws' he doesn’t like that would make me a bit nervous."

More nervous than when G. W. Bush did it?

I'm having some mildly serious gout attacks as of last night and through this morning, and so, being pained and sleepless, I'm not going to google at the moment, but you can find plenty of documentation on G. W. Bush doing just that when he came into office. So I'm wondering if you were equally alarmed then? Or is it only bad when Democrats re-examine decisions of the previous administration? Presumably you don't think that, I'm sure, OCSteve. But I wonder why you seem to think there's something abnormal about what's SOP when the Presidency changes parties.

"I don’t think he is a professor Hilzoy. I think that was a ‘misstatement’ from months ago. If I’m right, his staff should let the press know."

It's not a matter of opinion. You can look it up before speaking up, I suggest, rather than imagining it's somehow uncheckable. You have the internet right in front of you.

Is it difficult to google "obama professor"? Could you not be bothered to make that huge effort, before typing in what you "think"?

Statement Regarding Barack Obama

The Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as "Senior Lecturer."

From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School's Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.

Looking things up -- this took me literally ten seconds -- can go a long way towards not making people look foolish and ignorant and incapable of finding out facts for themselves.

And when people regularly can't check a fact, it suggests that they regularly run around with a lot of unchecked facts in their heads and belief system that they helpfully feel compelled to pass along to other folks. This is an interesting use of time and energy, but perhaps not the best use of them.

If people were forbidden by law from using the phrases "I think" and "it seems to me," and similar usages, in favor of requiring people to simply check and state facts, or be silent, internet discussions might be considerably more productive. There's just no reason to be talking about facts when you can't be bothered to take ten seconds to see if they actually are facts or not. Is there?

How can you guys be worried about the constitution, laws, executive orders, etc. when this is about to happen?

The question whether Obama is a "real" professor may be academic in the US. Over here a technically false statement on that can mean severe legal trouble (and up to one year in jail).

Gary: ...check and state facts, or be silent, internet discussions might be considerably more productive.

And it would save bandwidth.

Gary -- I'm very sorry to hear about your gout. If everyone will excuse me going off-topic, I might mention that my dad (of Eastern-European Jewish ancestry) eliminated his gout symptoms entirely by cutting dairy out of his diet. It is my understanding that lactose intolerance is more common amongst certain groups, and perhaps this also applies to you. FWIW.

Gary: I'm not going to google at the moment, but you can find plenty of documentation on G. W. Bush doing just that when he came into office. So I'm wondering if you were equally alarmed then? Or is it only bad when Democrats re-examine decisions of the previous administration?

Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough. I said:
Certainly there are plenty of executive orders he should rescind.

My only concern here is the sound-bite conflating executive orders and laws. As I mentioned, it’s just another statement that the right will call a gaffe and add to the (growing) list.

As I mentioned, it’s just another statement that the right will call a gaffe and add to the (growing) list.

Jesus. Can we please, please, stop the knee-jerk, defensive-crouch, hand-wringing, concern-troll-like regard for what the right will consider a gaffe. I really don't give a shit what those morons think.

Barack Obama is not goddamn Dunkin Donuts, for crying out loud, and thank goodness. Jesus fucking Christ. Seriously. Stop it.

it’s just another statement that the right will call a gaffe and add to the (growing) list

the nuts are obviously trying to make Obama seem as gaffe-prone as Bush. but, take a stroll through the Bushisms archive, and it'll be side-splittingly obvious that Obama will never be a match for Bush when it comes to gaffes:

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."

May 08

"Oftentimes people ask me, 'Why is it that you're so focused on helping the hungry and diseased in strange parts of the world?' "

Apr 08

"Let me start off by saying that in 2000 I said, 'Vote for me. I'm an agent of change.' In 2004, I said, 'I'm not interested in change—I want to continue as president.' Every candidate has got to say 'change.' That's what the American people expect."

Mar 08

Hey Jake.
First; language and posting rules.
Second, you’re a little tense, and OCSteve is a treasured member of the community here and has gotten far more than his share of that kind of reflexive attack.
Lay off.
Please.

OCSteve,

Why do you think giving nuts on the right another gaffe is important? I mean, if Obama hadn't said this, do you think anyone on the right complaining about it would have liked him? Or do you expect those people complaining now would just be complaining about his Muslimness?

I think part of Obama's appeal is his willingness to go off-script and act like a normal adult. It helps people buy into the change narrative. It would be a shame to lose that in exchange for not getting the support of a bunch of people who will not support Obama ever under any circumstances.

Felix,

Point taken re: the posting rules.

Concerning your second point, I'm not tense so much as tired of this sort of reflexive anticipation of how the right will respond to something. I think that sort of thinking gets us nowhere, fast.

While my post was in response to OCSteve's comment, it wasn't necessarily directed *at him*. More at the general sentiment. He may well be a treasured member, but I don't see how that should translate into the use of kid gloves in response.

I'm much more concerned about whether Obama truly wants to ban the production of fissile materials than whether he can properly be called professor, or not.

Looking at his website, that policy statement doesn't appear at all, so I'm guessing that was a misstatement.

Slarti,

I think (but this is only a guess) that Obama was referring to the Kissinger/Shulz/Perry/Nunn effort to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020. Their WSJ article includes a line about a global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons. Dropping the bit about "for weapons" would certainly qualify as a misstatement.

I hoped that was what he was talking about, Turbulence, because otherwise he'd have a REALLY hard sell in front of him.

OCSteve:

I really wouldn't worry too much about the negative effects of the "Obama gaffes will get repeated by the wingnuts" scenarios. After the recent flap over Sen. Obama's Auschwitz/Buchenwald "error" - where all too many right-wing bloggers have gone ballistic over a simple mistake-of-recollection, frothing and fulminating about BO's "unfitness for the office" - I think the public (as much as they pay attention to this stuff, which is probably WAY less than folks like we happy band here at ObWings!) - will tune most of this nonsense out as the campaign trucks along. Especially as the Obama organization seems to be ginning up a national campaign based on the bizarre and radical notion of campaigning for President on actual issues and policies.

PS: John Cole has some more perspective on the "flap": WARNING: Very unsettling photos.

Hilzoy,

I just wanted to say, thanks for running a sane blog that comments on stuff that actually matters.

They ban you from Redstate yet flyerhawk?

Gary, two quickies.

#1. I'm finding that a glass of cherry juice each morning helps with my gout. I recommend it. (The hard part is just making sure that I'm getting actual cherry juice rather than a bottle of corn syrup-sweetened water and a dash of cherry flavoring.) No miracle cure, but it reduces the intensity of my swelling and pain a couple of notches.

#2. I searched before writing this, and regret that I can't find it right now, but I recall reading an argument against the global gag rule that challenged its constitutionality starting with the "no religious tests for holding office" provision. I post this mostly in hopes that it might stir a memory in more informed readers.

The parallels between modern Democrats and the Catholic Church-1500s are strong.

Yes, indeed they are.

Their chief weapon is suprise... suprise and fear...

Their *two* weapons are fear and suprise... and ruthless efficiency.

Whatever, I lost count.

But amongst their weapons are an almost fanatical devotion to Markos Moulitsas!

Thanks -

Better trolls, please.

To be fair, I saw Brick Oven Bill directly acknowledge an error of fact in his own posting yesterday, after it was brought to his attention. To my mind, that excludes him from the class "Troll", whatever else he may do.


“I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution,” said Obama."

I may be hopelessly naive or just giving too much credit where it is not due, but I read the word "overturn" here to mean different things depending on whether we are talking about an executive order, a law passed by Congress and signed by the (previous) President, or a Presidential signing statement appended to the latter.

I would have thought that overturning a law would involve asking the AG to go before a federal court and challenge the law in question on constitutional grounds (which means picking your battles carefully).

I'm not enough of a constitutional scholar to know what would be involved in overturning a signing statement by a past President. Aren't these essentially marginal instructions to the executive branch regarding how the current executive wants the law in question to be implemented and enforced, where ambiguities in the language of the law allow some room for interpretation? (note: not to say that this was how W attempted to use them, but rather how they are commonly accepted by a wider body of constitutional experts)

If this is the case, can signing statements from a past President be overturned by a corresponding statement of intent from the current executive (Obama to Bush: I drink your milkshake), or is it not that simple? Would the courts need to be involved?

A restoration of the Rule Of Law would seem to be a logical first on the Order of Business.

Retribution, even if in the course of law enforcement, will probably come in much farther down.

I'd look to the legal systems in other countries to act here first. There will be a lot of people who won't need to keep their passports current.

Thanks for the advice, farmgirl (it probably is better to offer such advice on one of the open threads, though); it's true that I've been drinking a lot more milk in the last month than I have in a bunch of years (my previous apt had only a microfridge, and it was a fair walk to the supermarkets, so I tended to only have it for around 3 days every 2-3 weeks, and I've been having a bowl of milk and cereal around every other day for the last week), so it's something I'll give serious thought to, and talk to my new doctor about, when I finally find a local sliding scale clinic here to find a doctor at, which is pretty much my top priority right now, as circumstances allow; thanks for the suggestion. (I suggest that if you feel like replying, you do so here; I'll see it, have no fear.)

"As I mentioned, it’s just another statement that the right will call a gaffe"

I can't see clutching one's pearls everytime the nutbars announce an Obama "gaffe," since they do it over completely inane stuff. Sorry, but confusing Buchenwald and Auschwitz -- and I say this as someone with extremely intense and acute feelings about the Nazis and the camps, and as someone who has studied the history and events with great intensity, if not, indeed, obsession for past periods of his life -- is meaningless, and not a "gaffe" in any way (wtf does does the difference matter in this context? Answer: absolutely none), so if one wants to jump every time that sort of thing is screamed about, one will forever be driven the by meaningless and insane agenda of nutbars. Sorry, but no. We have serious matters to discuss and campaign on, and serious swiftboating needs to be countered, but this sort of kookiness is only to be laughed at.

That's my reaction, at least. Naturally, you're entitled to your own completely different one, and different concerns.

But I know a gaffe, and Senator, this was no gaffe. This is lunacy, and it's just funny to watch the hysteria of these idiots.

I'll have more popcorn, heavy on the real butter, though, if you're picking up any, please.

"If people were forbidden by law from using the phrases "I think" and "it seems to me," and similar usages, in favor of requiring people to simply check and state facts, or be silent, internet discussions might be considerably more productive. "

Granted, there'd be a transition period during which all discussion on the internet would be reduced to about five people . . .

"Barack Obama is not goddamn Dunkin Donuts"

America may run on Dunkin, but Dunkin runs from wingnut scarf-baiters. Sad.

"My only concern here is the sound-bite conflating executive orders and laws."

Sorry, I forgot we were talking about this, not the camp misattributing. Again, though, either one can react to statements as if a human said them, or according to some sort of I Will Always Interpret Statements In The Most Hostile And Unreasonable Fashion.

I have no plans to do the latter, or get in a tizzy when, gollikins, the usual suspects attempt to make a hill out of a Not Perfectly Formed Sentence. We know what he meant; I couldn't care less how someone wants to deliberately distort it. They'll always be doing that, and so what?

Let go of the concerns of your friends in the Sith, Steve: they'll never come back, and worrying about their lies isn't a fun way to spend the rest of one's life. Lord Malkin's way is dark.

I've got to go along with the chorus of "who cares what the wingnuts will do with the gaffe's".

At this point, it's as silly as setting foreign policy based on how we think Osama will react to it.

The Malkins of the world will continue to make fools of themselves regardless of what Obama says. We should give them all the consideration they deserve. None.

If people were forbidden by law from using the phrases "I think" and "it seems to me," and similar usages, in favor of requiring people to simply check and state facts, or be silent, internet discussions might be considerably

shorter.

Much much shorter.

"If this is the case, can signing statements from a past President be overturned by a corresponding statement of intent from the current executive (Obama to Bush: I drink your milkshake),"

IANAL, but: yes. Those statements are purely executive, which is their point.

"or is it not that simple? Would the courts need to be involved?"

IANAL, but: no. Not unless the question was much more involved than as put here. I'm reasonably sure, anyway; naturally, response from actual constitutional lawyers is far more worthy of attention than mine.

Oh...and yes....A.G. Russ would be just about perfect!

DJA:

I don't like your cherry on top, if only because I want that to be the first name of the Veep, not the AG. :)

Gary:
I'm not clear that it's in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

I thought about that while I was typing it, and I was surprised that it took that long to find someone pedantic enough to call me on it. :)

Looking things up -- this took me literally ten seconds -- can go a long way towards not making people look foolish and ignorant and incapable of finding out facts for themselves.

You do realize that you posted this a mere 11 minutes after copping to being too lazy to Google something yourself, right? :)

joel hanes:

I agree. If BOB is what qualifies as a "troll" around here, then ObWi is doing pretty well for itself...

Fer goshsake, I went to U of Chi and took Professor Obama's class. I assure you, we all called him "Professor." The difference between Lecturer and Professor reflects career plans, not ability or responsibility. It's irrelevant to, well, anything.

Jake, Turb, Gary:

One quick follow up: On the one hand I read a lot about how the right-wing smear machine will smear Obama no mater what. OTOH, I read that feeding them ammunition constantly is apparently no big deal, nothing to be concerned about; we need to disregard the crap and focus on the issues.

What constitutes a gaffe, or how serious it is, is open to debate. But that has little to do with what can be done with the gaffe/slip of the tongue/misstatement. Hardly a day goes by lately that the campaign is not issuing statements to clarify something Obama said the day before. Some can be made out to be flip-flopping on issues; some can be used to underscore his lack of experience. Some are minor slips; others offer a little more meat. Yes McCain and Clinton have their own – but not in the same numbers.

When you put them all together it’s not that difficult to portray him as a candidate who is just not ready for the job. Right now that is a factor that the super delegates may consider. In the general it’s all gravy for the RNC and 527s to use, and of course they will.

Like it or not this stuff drives the (political) news cycle. Crap can go from the blogs to Malkin on FNC with an audience of millions in a matter of hours. More importantly, Obama is having to react to it. He tries hard to project the image that he is above it, but then he has to react. It’s driving his campaign in directions he may not like. He had no intention of visiting Iraq IMO. One day he says he doesn’t want to be involved in a political stunt. The next day (“And when will you finally decide to meet one-on-one, unconditionally, with General Petraeus?”) he’s considering a trip.

I mean if 10% of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim, how hard will it be to make another 10% believe that “Obama has said that he will overturn those laws he does not like”? All I’m saying is that it is easier to defend if you don’t give them material to work with. You can spend more time on the issues today if you are not constantly responding to yesterday’s misstatement.


felix: treasured member of the community

Dude – Thullen is a treasured member of the community. I’m happy to be tolerated. ;)


Jake: I don't see how that should translate into the use of kid gloves in response

It shouldn’t of course. I’m more likely to respond or clarify if you don’t seem to be jumping down my throat, but if you don’t care about that then go for it (within posting rules of course.)

Every politician misspeaks just like every person. There is no such thing as a "gaffe" except in terms of how the press and the political apparatchik's choose to handle it. Loveable goof? Plain talkin' maverick? Anybody would have said it? or evil intent? these are all attributions made by the press. As politically active people we need to be on top of the press on these things, not attacking our candidate over them. The professor thing is a perfect example--as the poster above pointed out when you teach a class in a university you are known as the "professor" and you, in fact, "profess" that's true whether you are a part time adjunct, a lecturer, or a "full" professor. We have terms to distinguish these categories because they are relevant to career path and to pay grade but in common parlance they aren't used at all. No student says "my adjunct said in class today..." or "my lecturer said in class today..." Now, calling Bush a fighter pilot or a veteran of vietnam, that's a whorse of a different color.

aimai

Hardly a day goes by lately that the campaign is not issuing statements to clarify something Obama said the day before.

Out of curiosity, can you recall what the last 6 gaffes were off the top of your head? I can't. I can't recall those gaffes for Clinton or McCain either. The closest I can come is the Clinton Tuzla and Zimbabwe stories and the McCain Shiite-Sunni story. I'm better informed than most people. If these clarifications are so common and so significant as to effect the media portrayal of Obama, shouldn't it have registered with me?

Yes McCain and Clinton have their own – but not in the same numbers.

Why do you think so? I'm not asking for a cite, I'm just curious why you believe this since it doesn't seem obvious to me at all.

When you put them all together it’s not that difficult to portray him as a candidate who is just not ready for the job. Right now that is a factor that the super delegates may consider. In the general it’s all gravy for the RNC and 527s to use, and of course they will.

I think the RNC and associated 527s will focus on attacks that are likely to succeed and I honestly see his blackness and Muslimness as being far more dangerous there. Dick Cheney creeps the daylights out of most people and it will take very little effort for Obama to say: "You're right, I don't have nearly as much 'experience' as Cheney did. Thank God; I don't think this country can take much more of Cheney and Rumsfeld's 'experience'." Play that back with video footage of Cheney talking about us being greeted as liberators while rolling back a long list of his 'experience'.

Like it or not this stuff drives the (political) news cycle.

It does? I'm not sure that's true. I mean, Bush spoke incoherently for his entire political life and it didn't seem to affect the news cycle much. Yeah, yeah, Jon Stewart makes fun of him, but he doesn't have the reach that CNN does.

I'd argue that what drives the news cycle is when politicians do something that fits well with an existing media narrative. So when Bush fracked up over New Orleans (and yeah, the state/city governments fracked up too), the media hammered him for it (somewhat) because they were starting to buy into the notion that he's a heartless person who doesn't care about the suffering of black people at all. He had done lots of heartless things in the past that got a lot less coverage.

Alternatively, consider how much attention has resulted from intra-campaign squabbles at the Clinton campaign: think of all the leaks and backstabbing and departures and bitter recriminations among Clinton's campaign staff. Quick: name the Obama campaign equivalents to Patti Solis Doyles or Mark Penn or Howard Wolfson. I can't. Those stories get air time because they reinforce media narratives about divided and disorganized Democrats who can't manage their way out of a paper bag.

Crap can go from the blogs to Malkin on FNC with an audience of millions in a matter of hours.

I think this is a deceptive point. Sure, some stuff does go from Malkin to FNC, but how much of the volume of stuff that Malkin puts out actually makes it onto FNC? And how much of the stuff that goes from Malkin to FNC gets there because both of them got it from the same RNC source?

More importantly, Obama is having to react to it. He tries hard to project the image that he is above it, but then he has to react. It’s driving his campaign in directions he may not like. He had no intention of visiting Iraq IMO.

Question: if Obama can use a trip to Iraq that he hadn't planned on making benefit him, why shouldn't he do it? I mean, if going to Iraq allows him to dominate the news cycle for a few days while denying McCain a talking point, why not do it? If it gives him the chance to say "Geez, this place is a total disaster, they don't let any VIPs out without 200 troops and a helicopter and armor escort; this just further proves what a liar McCain is", how is that bad?

One day he says he doesn’t want to be involved in a political stunt. The next day (“And when will you finally decide to meet one-on-one, unconditionally, with General Petraeus?”) he’s considering a trip.

And you remember that and it bothers you. Now, how many people who watch TV are well informed enough to have heard both bits of information and have enough spare mental cycles to remember both bits, compare them, and actually give a flying frack about them? How many of those people had a snowball's chance in hell of voting for Obama in the general? The whole point of the modern news cycle is that our news organizations are not institutionally smart enough to remember stuff like that.

I mean if 10% of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim, how hard will it be to make another 10% believe that “Obama has said that he will overturn those laws he does not like”? All I’m saying is that it is easier to defend if you don’t give them material to work with. You can spend more time on the issues today if you are not constantly responding to yesterday’s misstatement.

I don't think this is correct. You can't spend any time on issues today unless the media decides to give you airtime. Do you remember how awesome Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd's anti-Iraq war speeches were? Of course not: they got zero media coverage. Obama gets no coverage unless the media decides to cover him and they don't make those decisions based on the novelty or the importance of his arguments.

And yes, there are costs to making mistakes in public. But there are also benefits. Talking off the cuff reinforces the change narrative. People don't like having scripted politicians. It alienates them. You can't just say gaffes are bad so Obama should never go unscripted: you need to consider both the costs and the benefits in your analysis. Besides, if Obama followed your advice, the media would hammer him relentlessly for his lack of "authenticity". We've gotten little tastes of that meme when they complained about how he needed a teleprompter or could only talk to large rallies or refused to take questions.

Turb:

Relax. The candidate treats these things like dandruff. And to a large extent, it looks like the public is starting to as well.

Dubya can't even finish a declaratory sentence. His 'gaffes' came at such a furious pace, that they literally fill a book.

Opponents make issues of things that they CAN make issues of. Take this as a sign that Obama probably is the real thing, presenting opponenets with precious little useable grime.

He is a powerful politician: an organized thinker and a plain speaker. This will not be a problem. Not even a speed bump.

Steve,

I don't have much to add to Turbulence's well-thought-out response.

I understand the sentiment about not giving the right ammo to use, to an extent. The fact of the matter is that they'll use anything, even things that no reasonable human being could identify as ammo, such as a freaking scarf that *looks like* it might have Middle-East origins. I mean, how can one possibly anticipate that sort of thing. More important, do we really want a president who does? I certainly don't.

Let's see if Obama has to respond to this latest "gaffe" you've identified. I seriously doubt it. And that's the problem I have with your post. It has that OH NOES!!! NOT ANOTHER GAFFE!!! WHAT WILL THE RIGHT-WINGNUTS DO!!! OH NOES!! type feel to it, that I think most of us are really tired of.

Yes, Obama has had to respond to some of these things. So what? They all have. I find the contention that it's driving his campaign ludicrous and unsupported by any real evidence. So too the notion that he's had to respond with a greater clip than either Clinton or McCain.

Stop wetting your pants. Thanks.

Hardly a day goes by lately that the campaign is not issuing statements to clarify something Obama said the day before. Some can be made out to be flip-flopping on issues; some can be used to underscore his lack of experience. Some are minor slips; others offer a little more meat. Yes McCain and Clinton have their own – but not in the same numbers.

OCSteve,

For me, that is part of what is refreshing about Obama as a candidate, that his brain has not been completely taken over by the OMG-you-so-cannot-say-that political filter that makes most other pols seem so wooden in personality and so ideologically and intellectually rigid. The alternative is what is so drearily familiar to us - someone who never speaks except in safe platitudes or on a topic for which they've already devoured all the relevant position papers and focus-group tested sound bites. If that is what we collectively wanted this year, there was a plentiful supply of such more traditional candidates on offer at the beginning of this nominating contest, yet they seem not to have triumphed for some reason.

If Obama occasionally misspeaks, that is a price I'm willing to pay for having a leader who speaks to us like adults and is willing to engage a topic without advanced preparation, and it seems to me that whether we as a country are at last ready to elect someone like that as the leader of our nation is one of the larger issues which this election is about and will render a verdict on. I wouldn’t be supporting him if I didn’t think that one of the unintended consequences of the Bush years and the fallout thereof has been to make us collectively grow up a little bit with regard to politics, so I’m not as pessimistic on this score as I would have been a decade ago.

I'm not denying that Obama is a pol or has a built-in content filter like the others, just that in his case intellectual and verbal rigor mortis does not seem to have set in just yet, and for me that is a feature, not a bug.



Dude – Thullen is a treasured member of the community. I’m happy to be tolerated. ;)

Being a noob, I can't claim to speak for the commentariat, but IMHO you add a lot of value OCSteve. ObWings is collectively a treasure in part because of the relative civility of the posts and comments, and in part because of the relatively wide range of outlooks represented, for a politics blog.

You are doing much more than your fair share of holding up both of those tent poles, which puts you in the "highly valued" category to say the least, IMHO.

TLFTABQ - I couldn't agree more.

Yes McCain and Clinton have their own – but not in the same numbers.

True dat. McSame misspeaks every time he opens his mouth, confusing Sunnis with Shiites, and forgetting who Iran is allied with. If you read http://www.crooksandliars.com/>Crooks and Liars, you'll appreciate that McCsame is getting the cushy ride that reporters are falling all over themselves re Scott McClennan.

So different numbers for Obama and McSame, but McSame's are 10 times higher.

=================

I can't recall those gaffes for Clinton or McCain either.

Hagee, Hagee, Hagee. Plus, Ron Presley. Plus Phil Grahm. etc. etc. etc. See above link to C&L for your daily McSame "gaffe".

=================

If it gives him the chance to say "Geez, this place is a total disaster, they don't let any VIPs out without 200 troops and a helicopter and armor escort; this just further proves what a liar McCain is", how is that bad?

Do you think he should visit the same market McSame did and talk to the survivors about what happened after McSame left? I'm thinking it might be counter-productive, but a little revenge-fantasy can be fun.

=============

I like Steve, too.

Meanwhile... can we get any stupider? Apparently.

"You do realize that you posted this a mere 11 minutes after copping to being too lazy to Google something yourself, right? :)"

Yes. I take the long view. I'm not losing sleep over people who will conclude that I rarely use google, or support my cites with links.

And, yes, I'm just so so lazy about Googling. I'm so concerned about my resulting reputation for not Googling. Oh, me. Oh, my. The pain! The pain!

[throws hand against forehead as Gary has a spell over the tragic potential repercussions]

"Now, calling Bush a fighter pilot"

Technically, the F-102 is an "interceptor," or "fighter-interceptor." (The distinction being that interceptors were intended to zoom up to their targets, getting to them with their swift speed before their target planes were in range of their own targets, and shooting them down with missiles. It had no guns to engage in any other kind of "fight" with. (Ironically it was largely later employed as a ground-attack plane, primarily with 2.75-in rockets.)

But calling it a "fighter" isn't out of line with popular usage. It was a favorite plane of mine as a kid, when I was too ignorant to realize just how problematic it was in many ways.

But since Bush flew it -- not in combat, of course, but that's neither here nor there as to what kind of pilot he was -- and similarly, there's no evidence he completed his TANG service, but that also has nothing to do with what kind of pilot he was -- I'm unclear what it is you are suggesting about calling him a "fighter pilot" -- which he was, with the previous caveats -- that makes it "a whorse of a different color," whatever precisely that means. Could you perhaps clarify?

OCSteve is a mensch and a good guy, and a respected longtime commenter at ObWi, as everyone who has been around here for a while knows perfectly well.

His judgement on the other hand: not always perfect. Unlike, of course, me. Or Hilzoy.

(Nah: we all get some things wrong now and again.)

OK, I'll be the one to say it: OCSteve was right. He didn't say he was outraged, he didn't say Obama was a horrible person, he didn't play concern troll and predict gaffe-clobbering. All he said was that Obama's comment was wrong because it conflated executive orders and laws.

And it's true: Obama's comment was wrong. President Obama will be able to overturn executive orders unilaterally, but he won't be able to overturn a law without Congress or the courts.

It's not a tremendously big deal. Obama knows all of this perfectly well. This isn't the sign of some insane power grab; it's a minor slip of the tongue in an important and inspiring promise. We can recognize that it was a slip, recognize that it was nothing more than a slip, and move on.

I'm so concerned about my resulting reputation for not Googling.

Perhaps the commenter you had just chided for not looking something up has a long history of not looking things up? Otherwise, still smells like mild hypocrisy to me. I'm the first to admit that happiness is recognizing that I'm a hypocrite, so don't read to much into it.

OK well I don’t see any sign it was picked up yet, under the radar so far anyway. You all were right and I was wrong. Nothing unusual about that. Or, maybe they just believe at this point that a president can overturn laws they disagree with. ;)

OCSteve,

I think it is way too early for you to concede defeat; it takes a few days for these things to percolate.

Talk about a contentious group: I won't even let you concede without a fight.

I don't like your cherry on top, if only because I want that to be the first name of the Veep, not the AG. :)

(with the caveat that this is a pure pipe dream and will never, ever happen... )

Russ as veep would be on a leash. I actually think that post-Cheney, it is inevitable that all future vice-presidents will wield more power than they have historically. But still.

Russ as AG would be off the leash, free to launch a serious crusade against the illegal and unconstitutional behavior of the previous administration, up to and including prosecution for war crimes. Russ having some influence on executive policy would be good; Russ restoring the rule of law and putting m*****f*****s in jail would be even better.

OCSteve: I'm hoping.

Because in my dreams, we let candidates use slightly imprecise language when they're answering questions off the cuff. (And I at least try to do this across the board: I took "bomb bomb Iran" as fatigue, myself.)

Prepared written texts are a different story, as are screw-ups that aren't obviously readily explained. (Tuzla: not a mere screw-up. RFK: unclear, to me. Which is why I didn't blog it.)

But if we don't want to be governed by robots, I think we need to do this.

(I'm not interpreting you as having jumped on Obama yourself, as opposed to having anticipated that others would. This is just random musing sparked by what you said. I really think that expecting candidates to never ever make the kinds of slips that people always make is disastrous for politics, which is why it's on my mind. Plus, I was just reading a round of comments in which people were saying: he'll overturn the things he feels are unconstitutional? He's going to rely on a mere feeling, as opposed to actual advice and serious legal opinions? This way, madness lies. Also, lousy Presidents.)

"Otherwise, still smells like mild hypocrisy to me."

I'm happy you have an opinion.

"Perhaps the commenter you had just chided for not looking something up has a long history of not looking things up?"

Brick Oven Bill? Oh, heaven forfend.

Hey, I'm happy to let people judge the reliability of our claims, and our record of supporting them with checkable citations, and come to their own conclusions.

I've been engaging in this sort of written discussion since I was twelve years old (I'm now 49), and doing so in science fiction apas (amateur press associations); I don't lose a lot of sleep worrying about what people think of me (unless I really care about that individual's opinion of me, which is a different case from caring about what random People On The Internet think in the short term).

I'm always in this for the long term. Judge away as you like.

"Talk about a contentious group: I won't even let you concede without a fight."

You're not all that contentious.

Wait, is this Argument? I thought you were here for Abuse. Down the hall, please.

B. O. B. tells us,
The parallels between modern Democrats and the Catholic Church-1500s are strong.

Well, I'm not one to complain about a little Galileo adulation if it's well grounded, but if you want to stay away from its being just the crackpot's Galileo Gambit, a couple of things:

Don't use it for really idiotic analogies;

Take the trouble to get the century right, or it will sound as if you, like, don't know the history.

I think the usual suspects are still too occupied with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedem_das_Seine>Buchenwald-gate.
(Sorry, could not resist).
If this goes beyond the fringe faction, I propose to fight fire with fire and push the "just a labor camp" accompanied with gruesome pictures* to show the opposition's true colors.
In order to defang the possible "overturning laws" smear, Obama could make a more elaborate public statement on the topic that would include the means (asking congress, challenging aspects in court etc.). This should not be a "in case somebody misunderstood" affair but a "since somebody asked for a few more details" one.

*That could be the start of a whole "just a..." campaign to unmask the spin millers of the right.

I welcome BOB.

As far as I can tell, he's a Republican -- definitely not a Democrat.
Or am I wrong, Bill?.

And as a full-fledged Dem, it can't hurt to have a Republican -- albeit one of BrickOvenBill's special flavor -- join the discussion here.

Gary, I'm so sorry about the gout. I can remember the first time I woke up in the middle of the night thinking that if anyone so much as exhaled within the immediate vicinity of my big toe I was going to scream.

I had no idea what I was experiencing. My wife (awakened when I threw the covers on the floor) went to the computer to Google my symptoms. From the bedroom, I could hear her start to laugh. The first website she hit said something like "Gout: a disease of overweight middle-aged men." Arrgh.

Gary, how is your cholesterol? I never again had gout after going on Lipitor (for heart issues, not for gout).

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