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July 19, 2008

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McCain’s relative snoozers to Iraq, Canada, and Colombia

Although I disagree with the usefulness of a candidate visiting Iraq, I get that. And Canada is quite connected to the US, what with infrastructure and trade. But Columbia? Wha?

Any idea on what he was trying to accomplish domestically by visiting South America?

i think he was trying to portray his commander in chief-ness. nixon always tried that too -- went abroad to beef up domestic image (according to Nixonland)

One thing they can try is to spin the obvious international affection for Obama, which will be very much on display, as a negative: Obama as the foreigners' candidate. I'm not sure it will work except for the Republican base, though.

I thought the Columbia trip was to signal his support for the free trade agreement that failed to pass Congress. It was a play to the base, as usual.

Also, Publius, do you know when Obama's Houston headquarters is going to open again? I'm assuming not until after the convention but since you actually did some voluteering I thought you may know.

So, the Colombians notified the White House 10 days in advance of the hostage rescue mission (they divulged this in their press conference, I cannot find a link, but I heard it translated in their live broadcast). Now, I want to hear about the coincidence of the campaign trip again.

I don't know that you can make much of the Kerry v. Bush campaign strategies (i.e. that sticking to one message is more effective than going after daily gaffes or the other way around). That last election was weird for so many reasons, not the least of which was Bin Laden's video tape message in the last days. The vibe of the country was different. Even though progressives were clearly energized and getting organized, most people still believed Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, most people still wanted to kill some Arabs, the Mommy Party v. Daddy Party thing was still going strong, the media was aiding the swift-boating of Kerry, Bush's approval wasn't what it is now -- the scales had not come off. And despite all that the election was pretty darn close.

Any idea on what he was trying to accomplish domestically by visiting South America?

Cindy sent him out for some blow?

More seriously, Columbia has been the Iraq and Afghanistan of South America with American troops, irregulars (CIA, DEA, etc.) and mercenaries there for years, fighting to support a marginally competent government against a vile insurgency funded to a great degree by American drug money. As with Afghanistan (and to a lesser extent, Iraq), our government has no evidence that we have a clue how to win the war.

I would have preferred to see Obama explicitly renounce a trip to Iraq, on the grounds that he's running for President of the United States, not Mayor of Baghdad. Sure, McCain would denounce him for that, on the grounds that Iraq is critical to America's future. That would make McCain an even bigger laughingstock than he is now. Not to die-hard Bushies, of course; merely to the vast majority of voters.

Also, I worry about the fact that Obama did not capitalize on the opening Charlie Black offered up to him a couple of weeks ago: the notion that 'another 9/11' would shift the electorate toward McCain. Suppose al-Qaida pulls off another big attack before the election, despite Dick and Dubya's invasion of Iraq, despite torture and warrantless wiretaps, despite TSA's pointless hassling of air travelers. Any sensible voter would NOT respond to such an attack by voting for more invasions, more torture, more warrantless wiretaps, more hassle at the airport. But of course voters would not be inclined to act sensibly AFTER such an attack. It is only now, BEFORE any attack, that there's any point in putting the logical proposition to the voters. Why the Obama campaign did not take advantage of Black's comments is a mystery to me.

Much as I sincerely respect Obama, I'm not sure he's plotting one or two moves ahead. But hey: HE's the nominee, and I'm not :-)

-- TP

That last election was weird for so many reasons, not the least of which was Bin Laden's video tape message in the last days.

And don't forget Kerry's money/timing problem. Bush and Kerry both opted out of public funding for the primaries, but accepted it for the general election. This put a cap on their spending for the general election, which is deemed to begin at convention time. But the Democratic convention was much earlier than the Republican convention--comparing the years, it happened not much later than now. That meant Kerry was hamstrung for several weeks while Bush's "primary campaign" was still going on, and while the Swift Boat ads were running; and through that whole period, August into early September, he kept sinking in the polls. He almost pulled out of it at the very end, but it wasn't enough.

Altogether it was a huge strategic mistake on the Democrats' part, as high-minded as it may have been. This mistake is not being repeated.

(I personally think this is one of the biggest problems with the public funding system as it stands--it makes this distinction between the primary and general election that goes entirely by the calendar, with the convention as the dividing line. The Bush reelection campaign expertly gamed it.)

But that said, if McCain had planned on using this attack, he should have at least waited until September or October when Obama wouldn’t have had time to go. Now, by contrast, is a dead news period and then come the Olympics.

by the same token, i think lefties are vastly overestimating the impact this is going to have... on anything. Malaki suggested our being out in 16 months is a good idea??? OMG! did he back it up with anything? no. is there any force behind it? no. it's only talk. cheap talk.

see Josh Marshall going from gushing "I don't think it's enough to say this is a huge development" to almost puzzledly noting the "major papers' rather reticent response". he can't believe it. another blockbuster that fails to pop?

the press doesn't care.

and even if they did care, they'll have forgotten about it in two weeks anyway. if this had come out in mid-October... maybe. mid July? meh.

babble. burble. banter. bicker bicker bicker.

The media exposure on this trip will probably move the tracking polls. It's unclear which way, but it should provide some separation and indicate how the voters liked the show. Conservatives are feeling pretty good. They don't like McCain, but if he wins it's no big deal. He would simply continue the current policies. If Obama wins, they can blame the next four years on him, and run a more conservative candidate in 2012. It seems that conservatives have a win-win situation.

Colombia. Colombia. Colombia.

The name of the country is Colombia.

It is not Columbia University.

HTH.

Cindy sent him out for some blow?

Ive been thinking about how ObWi has trouble attracting new good conservative commentators; Id like to see more balance, but I admit if I were on the opposite side of the spectrum the place would be hard to stomach. Maybe worthwhile, but difficult.

Im imaging the outcry if a righty were to come in and make an Obama-coke joke. He'd get knocked around pretty good- insulted by those of us prone to that sort of thing, and sternly asked to keep the discussion out of the sewer by the higher-minded folks.

Ok, so I admit Im the *last* person (barring those permanently banned) who ought to be saying this, but maybe stuff like this is out of line. Not outside of the posting rules (not that I get to decide on that anyway), but a bad idea if we want to attract and keep non-troll conservative posters.

Also, Ive got something of a soft spot for addicts of all stripes- it's an ugly place to be. If Cindy were running for President Id say it was disqualifying & want to talk about it, but under the circumstances I don't think it's relevant, so bringing it up seems unnecessary. I even felt bad for Rush- I mean, he's a toad of a human being, and a terrible hypocrite for advocating jail time for drug abusers, but I felt that his addiction itself was worth pitying.

"May well win"?

Seriously?
Come on. Let's be honest.

The guy's whole campaign has looked like amateur hour. Their side doesn't even expect him to win. We're all just going through the motions.

I've said this elsewhere, and Billy Kristol backed me up (perhaps inadvertently), but I'll repeat:

Obama has the Change/No More Bush narrative

McCain has yet to make a compelling narrative (or reason) why he should be president. Or if he does, I haven't seen it. Hence the flailing: there is no core message, no justification on which he can rely and return.

"McCain has yet to make a compelling narrative (or reason) why he should be president. Or if he does, I haven't seen it."

"I have nice pale, male, skin."

And: "I'm not a scary, tax-raising, terrorist-loving, gay defeatocrat white-hating Muslim Democrat."

Frank Rich calls out McCain on the flip-flops.

McCain has yet to make a compelling narrative (or reason) why he should be president. Or if he does, I haven't seen it.

Making an affirmative case for a Republican candidate is really a tough nut to crack this year, because the Republican brand has become synonymous with Bushism and 70% of the electorate have had their fill of that. The Republicans are, for now, out of ideas, or at least sound ones - like liberalism circa 1975, the Reaganite movement has accomplished most of its major goals and is left with less and less to fight for. "The other guy is one of those tax raising, weak -on-defense peacenik Spendocrats" is not a good argument (or to me, a persuasive one) but it's the best one they've got left so it's not surprising they're resorting to it.

"I have nice pale, male, skin."

And: "I'm not a scary, tax-raising, terrorist-loving, gay defeatocrat white-hating Muslim Democrat."

Let's be fair Gary. Some of the more unsavory elements on the right have made this argument, overtly or otherwise. But the McCain campaign has consistently disavowed smears and the like.

---But the McCain campaign has consistently disavowed smears and the like.---

He has kept it pretty clean. He has removed surrogates who have done otherwise, and the tracking polls indicate a close race. It's hard to understand how a 71 year old man, running on the damaged Republican ticket, without the support of his base, can be doing so well.

McBush who supported the attack on Iraq and is keen to please Israel and obliterate Iran and ignoring US personnel in the the middle east which will be bogged down for decades against the shiites as well as the Sunnis.
McBush needs his a massive overhaul of his foreign policy.....actually his AIPAC attendance shows where he gets his ideas.
When he was campaigning both candidate were shamelessly competing to prove who is better for Israel rather than USA.
two marionette for the presidency
The whole world is laughing at you.

McCain's the default candidate. He knows this--he got the nomination by being the default candidate there.

This is why there isn't much media exposure when McCain says something ridiculous. It isn't so much that the media are in the tank for him. They're not--they have residual affection for him, but on the whole they really don't care about him. When McCain tries to do something dramatic, it doesn't get any traction either.

Obama is the one they're fascinated with. Build him up, knock him down--Obama's where the attention is. When some gaffe or pseudo-scandal gets attached to the campaign and gets all over the news, it's because they figure the Obama story is a "rise and fall of a superstar" tragedy. If it doesn't turn into that, then it's Camelot.

I agree with the people who say this is like Reagan in 1980, only more so. People basically want to vote for him, but Obama is different--he's black; he's marginally a GenXer; he's a little more forthrightly liberal than any Democrat since Johnson; he has an unusual background; he has a name that frightens bigots and the underinformed. This makes him completely atypical for American presidential politics, so Obama's being vetted. If none of this turns out to be a deal-breaker, he wins and it's a fantastic story. Otherwise, McCain wins by default. He's just the Other Guy. All he has to do, and all he really can do, is remain standing until November.

My first thought is: These guys are über-lobbyists? Superbly skilled at devious persuasion? Does this mean it’s easier to push Congress around with big bags of money than the electorate with smaller bags?
But these guys work through manipulation of public opinion too. Maybe they’re being clumsy on purpose?
But then there’s Independent’s point. Against all logic it seems to be working. McCain’s rating is way over Bush’s in popularity polls while running clumsily as Bush III. And not one very bright person, of which there are many, has made sense of it.
Weird and troubling.

a little more forthrightly liberal than any Democrat since Johnson

Any Democratic President, I meant.

Sorry, that was a little silly.
Lots of bright people have made sense of the situation; it’s just that no one has explained it to my satisfaction.
And that’s because I expect logic to dominate public discourse.
Silly.
I should know by now.

Carlton wu said,

Im imaging the outcry if a righty were to come in and make an Obama-coke joke. He'd get knocked around pretty good- insulted by those of us prone to that sort of thing, and sternly asked to keep the discussion out of the sewer by the higher-minded folks.

Ok, so I admit Im the *last* person (barring those permanently banned) who ought to be saying this, but maybe stuff like this is out of line. Not outside of the posting rules (not that I get to decide on that anyway), but a bad idea if we want to attract and keep non-troll conservative posters.


I don't get this at all. First of all, are there non trolling, serious, conservative posters anymore? why on earth wouldn't they want to join in and talk about their conservative policies (and how they've been betrayed) and their conservative politicians (all two of them if they can find them) and etc... Their non trollishness would be proven by their unwillingness to attack Obama on the fake right wing talking points (coked up afro-islamo-fascist) and their desire to engage on the merits. Nothing on earth is stopping them. Certainly not the liklihood that they'd be made fun of for making jokes they don't want to make.

As for the McCain columbia cindy coke joke, it was rude and, to my mind, unnecessary as well as untrue. He went to colombia because it was there and he thought it would make him look presidential and stuff, and probably because he was given insider information that the big prisoner break would occur and he thought that would give him a more lasting boost in popular opinion than it did. I don't think this more correct evaulation of his domestic caluclations is any less vile than the cindy crack. In fact, I think its more vile. But I'd say this kind of analysis is equally punishing to the hypothetical honest, thoughtful, conservatives out there--I take their existence on faith because I occasionally meet them in the real world, but I never meet them online. The real world ones know too much to parrot the current conservative talking points, and are too ashamed to go online.--and equally the reason they don't post. Look at the tribe of conservatives who do post here? Aren't they good enough exemplars for you of what the mentality breeds?

aimai

felix:
Does this mean it’s easier to push Congress around with big bags of money than the electorate with smaller bags?

Well, yeah. Those big bags of money are *targeted*, after all.

Colombia. Colombia. Colombia.

The name of the country is Colombia.

Italia, Deutschland, Nippon . . .

Carleton Wu and aimai- While definitely not on the conservative side, I'm (perhaps) the newest face to comment. In the 3-4 months I've been lurking, I got enough sense of the blog to see that its liberal, but not a place conservatives are laughed off the stage.

So, FWIW, if I were on the other side, I don't think I'd be any less inclined to join in.

My apology for the joke at Mrs. McCain's expense. As with the New Yorker cover, the bad joke managed to undermine the point being made.

I don't understand why we bother to spell Colombia the way they spell it when we spell every other instance as Columbia and when we cannot be bothered to spell Brasil or Hannover the way the locals do, but I will make the effort to do it correctly in the future.

The name of the country is Colombia.

Italia, Deutschland, Nippon . . .

Really, the name of "Colombia" in English, and in Spanish, is "Colombia." In no language is Colombia "Columbia." That's just wrong.
Spanish: República de Colombia?·i, Spanish pronunciation: [reˈpuβlika ðe koˈlombja]
People are wrong on the internet! I must fix this!

YouDrew: "I got enough sense of the blog to see that its liberal"

The blog ain't anything but software; the people who contribute to it, whether in comments or posts, have various individual political views, though the majority of people who comment tend towards some variant of liberal-lefty -- but only the majority.

The intent of ObWi was to be a balanced place where people of all non-lunatic political beliefs could converse with some modicum of respect and civility. The primary activist behind it was Moe Lane, a conservative Republican, and the other founders were Von, who regards himself as a "classic liberal," I believe, or some kind of "centrist" of Republicany flavor, and Edward Winkleman, a liberal. Later came Katherine R., a liberal, and conservatives Charles Bird and Sebastian Holsclaw, then years later liberal Hilzoy, then kinda conservative Slartibartfast briefly, and very lately Andy Olmsted/G'Kar, even more recently, publius arrived, and then just yesterday, practically speaking, Eric Martin.

A bit more discussion of this recently in this thread, which seems to kinda have fallen by the wayside.

It wasn't until after Hilzoy's arrival, and Moe left, that things swung drastically left/liberal, after a tipping point rather rapidly tipped the blog over towards an unfortunate and rather drastic imbalance, which unfortunately has only been further exacerbated by the loss of Andy, the quitting from front-page posting of Slart, and the retreat to only infrequent posting by Sebastian and Von, and infrequent (and now unacknowledged in the credits) posting by Charles, and the addition of liberals publius and Eric.

Hilzoy alone is so brilliant and prolific that she needs about 4-5 good conservative/libertarians to balance her alone. The current ratio of the blog, for the past couple of years, has drastically altered the entire tone and shape and intent of the blog to something quite warped from what it's supposed to be. :-(

It desperately needs about 6 good conservative and/or libertarian bloggers ASAP, and has for more than two years. Plus more sane conservative and/or libertarian commenters, to get back to what the blog is supposed to be.

A view from three and a half years ago:

For the record, currently Charles Bird, Andrew, and Sebastian Holsclaw are on the right; Von is in the center; and Hilzoy is on the left.;-) Yes, that's unbalanced...we're working on it.*
Moe was feeling outnumbered even in 2004, with Von to his left.
Welcome, by the way. You'll know you're really a regular when I mercilessly take apart something you've said, just like I do to everyone else.

But with wuv in my heart! And a twinkle in my eye! It's just my way of showing respect, I tells ya!

I'm all about the wuv.

"I don't understand why we bother to spell Colombia the way they spell it"

It's not that it's the way they spell it; it's the way we spell it. In English.

Similarly, "Fred" is not "Ferd," "John" is not "Joan," "Obsidian Wings" is not "Obsidian Wongs," the "United States of America" is not the "Uneted States of Amurica," "France" is not "Frounce," and so on.

Eww. I started the Colombia/Columbia thing didn't I? I hang my head in failure.

And let me adjust my earlier statement.
"I got enough sense of the blog to see that its commentators tend to the left"

Even after the correction, I'm a a bit anxious of the 'wuv' that I may deserve... ^.^;

"I don't understand why we bother to spell Colombia the way they spell it when we spell every other instance as Columbia"

To be clear, there is no other instance of how we spell the name of that country. "Columbia" is a different word. It's not a variant of the name of "Colombia." They're proper nouns, not variants of a common noun. They refer to different places.

MeDrewNotYou: not sure whether I said this before, but welcome. Gary's summary is accurate. We keep trying to change the balance, but nothing works.

why on earth wouldn't they want to join in and talk about their conservative policies... Nothing on earth is stopping them. Certainly not the liklihood that they'd be made fun of for making jokes they don't want to make.

I dont want clown conservatives, but if I were considering spending time on a conservative-leaning site that didn't discourage nasty stuff from their side but attacked it from the other side, Id be hesitant. It's hard enough to join a site where there will be 10 commenters critiquing what you say with varying levels of rudeness, without having to put up with that.
Im not saying that they would want to make this kind of joke- Im saying that that kind of joke from the other side usually sounds pretty coarse. I mean, can we expect that [t]heir non trollishness would be proven by their unwillingness to attack Obama on the fake right wing talking points if we don't discourage trollish behavior on our own part?
[freelunch- sorry to be picking on your comment in particular, Im as guilty of this sort of thing as anyone]

Gary's summary is accurate.

Is accurate in discussing the spirit and intent of everything ObWi, although several key details are out of order:

The primary activist behind it was Moe Lane, a conservative Republican, and the other founders were Von, who regards himself as a "classic liberal," I believe, or some kind of "centrist" of Republicany flavor, and Edward Winkleman, a liberal. Later came Katherine R., a liberal, and conservatives Charles Bird and Sebastian Holsclaw, then years later liberal Hilzoy

Edward wasn't a founding frontpager; Katherine was. Also, Hilzoy came on board (in August 2004, not 'years' later) before CB did (December '04).

(Yours truly began reading ObWi in September '04, after discovering ObWi while doing a search for non-Canadian sites/media outlets discussing Maher Arar. In case y'all were wondering :-P)

In particular, it shows that the McCain people never look more than one move ahead on the chessboard.

Reminds me a lot of Hillary's campaign. They did a number of things for short-term gain that bit them later.

We keep trying to change the balance, but nothing works.

Given that the latest attempt is to have hilzoy suggest that she is actually a conservative (I'm sorry, I can't find the comment, so I hope y'all know what I am talking about), we are pretty much at the end of the line.

This is not to snark on hilzoy, I've made the same point that liberals are often more interested in 'conserving' than conservatives are, in that it is often liberals who interest themselves in trying to keep alive various traditions etc. My feeling is that the term conservatism is slowly turning into a term like anarchism, where it is going to be reviled because of the weight of negative impressions, regardless of how you explain how it actually has a meaning beyond the perjorative.

I mean, we recently had von defining himself as a classical liberal (another comment here). This is not to say that von is sneakily redefining himself, but it seems like conservatism is a place where no one wants to be pigeonholed. Or perhaps the love that cannot speak its name. It's getting a bit like that old joke about calling someone an idiot, and then they really insulted them and called him a conservative.

Returning to the link between anarchism and conservatism, the main difference is that anarchism came to be defined as a perjorative thru external efforts, while making conservatism a bad word has all the makings of an own goal.

This doesn't undercut Carleton's point about the joke (and I'm not claiming that I don't make jokes that go clank in the night, so there but for the grace of god), but it's like trying to figure out what kind of birdseed does the best to attract birds when the problem is that they are an endangered species. The problem is the ecosystem, not the birdseed.

"Given that the latest attempt is to have hilzoy suggest that she is actually a conservative (I'm sorry, I can't find the comment, so I hope y'all know what I am talking about)"

I do, and I suggest it's a considerable misunderstanding of what Hilzoy said, distorting the meaning and intent considerably.

Saying one has various conservative aspects to one's political philosophy is not saying that one "is a conservative."

Specifically, the comments you want are mine here, followed by the next several, including Hilzoy's here. HTH.

"I mean, we recently had von defining himself as a classical liberal (another comment here). This is not to say that von is sneakily redefining himself, but it seems like conservatism is a place where no one wants to be pigeonholed."

"Classical liberal" is a well-defined, reasonably oft-used, term.

"Edward wasn't a founding frontpager; Katherine was"

I keep mixing that up; I actually wrote that, but then changed it to "fix" it. :-(

"Also, Hilzoy came on board (in August 2004, not 'years' later) before CB did (December '04)."

Thanks muchly! I have a lousy memory for time sequences. (And numbers, not that that's relevant.)

"perjorative"

Pejorative.

Thanks for the link, though my point is that Hilzoy feels it necessary to defend the value of conservatism, which has the flavor of trying to keep some specimens alive so that in some future, we can allow those traits to be reintroduced into the wild. I read your unmasking of conservative tendencies as part of your dialogue with Slart, so I didn't comment on it. I also was commenting on the label of conservative, and not trying to pin a label on anyone. If I left the impression that I thought it was appropriate to label Hilzoy (or myself) as a conservative, my apologies, I did not intend to do that.

Thanks yet again for catching my mistake on pejorative, it's one of a vast stable of words whose misspellings I don't catch.

OT- Tied to my n00b status, I'm not to good at spicing up my comments. (Although I did figure out italics!)

Since I'm not even sure if this is HTML here, I don't know where to look for an instruction manual. So, that being said, can anyone point me to a list of commands for things like embedding links and such?

I ask here, since this thread is still alive, but on a different track. If that's bad manners, please yell at me then forgive me. ^.^;

Gary: you're welcome. :-)

Drew, you can embed a link the usual HTML way text of link

MDNY: Here ya go--and welcome to Obsidian Wings.

Gah! I used "& lt" and "& gt" to quote that but it didn't work. What I can't seem to do is spell it out!

Do a "view source" and you'll see.

Thanks guys, lets see if I got it down.

http://www.straightdope.com/>One of my favorite sites

Looks like a success to me, Drew.

By the way, Drew: You have no idea just how much respect you earned by simply saying that you didn't know how to do HTML formatting and asking for help. You'd think this would be unremarkable, but an amazing quantity of folks go by insisting that they don't need to know any old thing at all and someone else can fix the problem and it's so tyrannically unfair and...on and on like that. Genuine requests for help are far rarer than they should be. Your willingness to do it puts you in some very fine company, simply for being honest and open to learning.

Thought you'd like to know.

"Thanks yet again for catching my mistake on pejorative, it's one of a vast stable of words whose misspellings I don't catch."

It's extremely common as an actual error, rather than a typo, which is why it's one of the very few misspellings I'd ever comment on, since quite a lot of people sincerely believe that that's how the word is spelled. Wasn't trying to pick on you, or do a gotcha, if that wasn't clear. I just like to make sure people in general know there isn't such a word as "perjorative," rather than "pejorative."

In contrast, usually I just sigh when I come to "alot."

Though I do sigh heavily. Al Gore-like, I guess.

"So, that being said, can anyone point me to a list of commands for things like embedding links and such?"

I use this, myself. All you really need is < i > for italics, and < blockquote > for blockquoting, and then How To Link, and otherwise maybe you can bold if you feel fancy, though I never do. For true extra credit, strikeovers.

"I ask here, since this thread is still alive, but on a different track. If that's bad manners, please yell at me then forgive me. ^.^;"

Best form is to use an open thread if there is one, but since usually there isn't, don't worry about it; things are pretty easy-going around here about thread drift and all, so long as it doesn't seem like a deliberate attempt to derail a topic.

Carleton Wu: Id like to see more balance, but I admit if I were on the opposite side of the spectrum the place would be hard to stomach. Maybe worthwhile, but difficult.

Days late but I’ve been offline and tied up with family stuff. Well said and thanks for saying it as it carries more weight from you than someone like me saying it (IMO).

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