pageok
pageok
pageok
Why Did President Bush Advocate War with Iraq?:

As 'a cover-up for a failing economy.'"

Guess who said that. Answer below.

(show)

neurodoc:
Please, you're making me uneasy about someone who could easily be our next president. (The remedy to the disaster we have been experiencing for the past 7 years 1 month and 9 days is not to counterbalance it with another disaster, only of different polarity.)

I should think that in the course of all the debates to date someone would have asked Obama to explain what you have quoted here. Well, the opportunity will be there when he squares off with McCain. And I'm sure he is crafting an answer now.
2.29.2008 8:08am
carpundit (www):
Obama was wrong about that, of course. Bush's War wasn't a mask for the failing economy; it was a precipitating cause of the failed economy.

Electing a man who would prolong that insanely expensive and unproductive conflict makes no sense to me.
2.29.2008 8:14am
K. Dackson (mail):
neurodoc:

Please, you are making me uneasy. How dare anyone have the audacity to challenge the "chosen one"? Obviously, the economy in 2002 was pretty good, strongly recovering from 9/11, and St. Obama blames the Iraq war as a diversion to a "failed economy"?

Any question as to what Obama has said, or a question on what he thinks is, of course, an attack. Heaven forfend that we try to get a substantive answer from that hack.
2.29.2008 8:16am
Lawer-Wearing-Yarmulka (www):
Link?
2.29.2008 8:26am
Jeff Raymond (mail):
carpundit, you don't really believe that, right?
2.29.2008 8:37am
Justin (mail):
It's a good thing we have you around, DB. With your fairminded optimism, we'll always have hope, even when others do not.
2.29.2008 8:50am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Unfortunately, LWY, not everything is publicly available on the internet, but the Chicago Defender is available on the Ethnic Newswatch database. And btw, there is no additional context for the quote, and that's the entire quote.
2.29.2008 9:17am
The Emperor (www):
I think they invaded Iraq to distract from the fact that they couldn't get Bin Laden. They didn't want the issue in the 2004 election to be their failure in this regard.
2.29.2008 9:28am
BruceM (mail) (www):
Hope and Cynicism are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I'd have a lot more hope for the future of our country if Americans were more cynical. Cynicism has been given a bad rap, but it's a truly wonderful window into the workings of the world.
2.29.2008 9:33am
Passing By:
Okay.... so we are presented with a quote, allegedly made by Obama six years ago, from a newspaper few of us have heard of, and are told that we can read the whole article if we subscribe to a database that very few of us have, but that there is no additional context provided in the article so it won't do us any good to read it. Nobody else in the entire world has ever heard Obama say such a thing. And we're supposed to take this seriously?

I realize you oppose Obama, and you like to fan the flames of paranoia about him, but don't you care about your own credibility?
2.29.2008 9:46am
kadet (mail):
Obama was wrong.
The invasion of Iraq was always on the table, way before 9/11...
9/11 helped the Utopian neoconservative fantasies push in the main stream of American thought, at least for now....

Oh, and Jeff Raimond, I do believe that too.....
2.29.2008 9:58am
Mahan Atma (mail):
I saw this post and thought, "I have no idea, but if it's David Bernstein, it's gotta be a Barack Obama post."

You never disappoint!

Of course, it is of far greater consequence that it was the Republicans who got us into this mess. The other day McCain said, "Oh but that's all history now." And I certainly understand why the Republicans want us all to forget who made that colossal mistake.

But seriously -- why in the world would Americans want to entrust our future foreign policy to a group of people who have demonstrate such an enormous lack of judgment on the matter?
2.29.2008 10:05am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Passing, anyone with an account at a decent academic library can look up the article himself, and I assure you that my credibility will remain intact. But since you are almost as cynical as Barack Obama, here's the relevant text:

Elected officials like Reps. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-2nd), Bobby L. Rush (D-1st), Danny K. Davis (D-7th) and Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D-13th) urged Bush to end his "pattern of destruction" for the sake of America and its economy.

"The president has not made his case for going into Iraq," said Obama.

"What is clear is that we have severe problems here at home."

Having traveled downstate, Obama said people are talking about health care and how their pensions have melted away through corporate scandals.

"I think the president has an obligation to focus on critical foreign policies. I also think his neglect of the economy does nothing to enhance America's long-term security."

Two days ago, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported that the price of oil surged above $30 a barrel once again, hitting a 19-month high as traders fret about the likelihood of war in the Middle East.

And, the mounting tensions over Israel's bull dozing of most of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's headquarters, coupled with Bush's strong hawk position on Iraq, the U.S. economy, Obama said, is caught between the crossfires with little relief in sight and a fear of body-bags returning home from another war.

Arafat has said: "I will not surrender," and Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "We'll have to see how he responds to the pressure he is under from the international community.

"Pressure has to be maintained on Iraq until the UN is satisfied that he has gotten rid of these weapons and allowed inspectors in to make sure of that," said Powell.

"That's the only way to do it, and then we will see whether or not that is adequate or whether more action is required.

"The U.S. continues to believe that the best way to disarm Iraq is through a regime change."

Obama said Bush's push for a war is "a cover-up for a failing economy."

"We are watching the markets closely but we are not worried yet," OPEC Secretary General Alvaro Silva Calderon said.
2.29.2008 10:06am
mrshl (www):
So, I guess optimists aren't allowed to point out cynical policy decisions. Because that would be cynical.

Uh, no.

I should say that I think Obama was WRONG on this point. But mistakenly identifying cynicism doesn't make you a cynic. There was plenty of cynicism behind the decision to invade (and plenty of hope, too, I think). Pointing out cynical motives doesn't make you a cynic.
2.29.2008 10:14am
JosephSlater (mail):
Thanks for providing more of the article. Let's see. . . .

The president has not made his case for going into Iraq," said Obama.

"What is clear is that we have severe problems here at home."

Having traveled downstate, Obama said people are talking about health care and how their pensions have melted away through corporate scandals.

"I think the president has an obligation to focus on critical foreign policies. I also think his neglect of the economy does nothing to enhance America's long-term security."


All pretty much correct, IMHO. And more importantly, all pretty much consistent with what I would bet is majority opinion in the U.S. right now, in retrospect.

Two days ago, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported that the price of oil surged above $30 a barrel once again, hitting a 19-month high as traders fret about the likelihood of war in the Middle East.

I believe oil prices hit another all time high. Yeah, this really makes Obama look much worse than the advocates for the Iraq war.
2.29.2008 10:16am
Designbot:
Gotta say, this is pretty weak. Who did Obama say this to? When? What was the first half of the sentence?
2.29.2008 10:18am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

So many conservatives, so eager to believe the worst about Obama, and so willing to seize on the slightest scrap as evidence.
2.29.2008 10:25am
John (mail):
It's interesting that the ills Obama is quoted on--corporate scandals, etc., all occurred in a Dem. administration and were prosecuted in a Repub. one. The bursting of the Clinton stock market bubble at the end of the Clinton administration is now conveniently blamed on Bush.
2.29.2008 10:28am
Ben P (mail):
Somewhere, someone seems to be mining the Chicago defender for things Obama said or that were said about him.
2.29.2008 10:28am
Randy R. (mail):
Since we are going to play petty politics on this board, why not do the same for McCain? Didn't he say that we might be in Iraq for the next hundred years? And didn't he just say that we'll be out very soon? So why the flip flopping? Isn't he as much an idiot as any other republican?

Look, if I want slanted political commentary, I can go to any dozens of blogs. Let's keep that out here.
2.29.2008 10:30am
The Unbeliever (mail):
Thanks for posting the full text of the article, DB. It re-reminded me of one of my favorite Bush foreign policy moments: the marginalization and rejection of Yassir Arafat.
2.29.2008 10:36am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'll probably stop posting about Obama when his supporters start acknowledging that at root he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with.
2.29.2008 10:40am
Dave N (mail):
David Bernstein,

Don't you understand? Only Republicans can say stupid or disingenuous things. Heck, the next thing we will hear is that calling Obama a "liberal" is part of the politics of personal destruction and an attempt to smear him.
2.29.2008 10:50am
Mahan Atma (mail):
Great piece over at TPM about all the attempts to slur Obama as anti-Semitic:

LINK
2.29.2008 10:50am
The Unbeliever (mail):
So many conservatives, so eager to believe the worst about Obama, and so willing to seize on the slightest scrap as evidence.


Just like Obama, apparently so eager to believe the worst about Bush, was so willing to seize on the ghost of conspiracy theories to explain his actions. And let's be clear here: Claiming Bush launched a war for the purposes of distracting national attention away from the economy is a garden variety conspiracy theory, in the vein of Canadian Bacon or Wag the Dog.

Now I don't think Obama is actually a conspiracy nut, or seriously thought Bush started a war because he was worried about approval ratings. (If you'll recall Bush's numbers at the time were actually quite high.) But no matter how much his supporters write it off as an "irrelevant scrap", the fact remains that Obama's willingness to sling the spurious accusation in the first place tells you something important about the man's character. And that is no small thing, considering Obama is running primarily on his own character, or charisma, and not a pile of experience or innovative policy.

Will this quote alone change everyone's minds? No. But combined with the other "scraps" unearthed as we begin the process of presidential candidacy scrutiny, it begins to paint a notable picture different from his self-projected image.
2.29.2008 10:52am
Brian Mac:
David, you'd best listen to Randy. It's his blog after all.
2.29.2008 10:57am
Orielbean (mail):
I would put forth the fact that we only get to choose our leaders from the pool of politicians. I like Obama not just from the rhetoric angle, but the fact that he is playing politics in a much cleaner manner than any of his opponents, all of whom were forged in the fire of Clinton &Bush era demagoguery. Everyone else is telling me to be afraid, and all the other attacks are character smears when the different candidates have legit policy views that should be attacked instead.

I get it. I realize he is a politician, and a Chicago politician as well. But when I see what the opposition has done in response to his message of optimism, in the form of Manchurian candidate emails, the whole Hussein non-issue, the "articulate" comments, quadruple Guantanamo, 9-11-9-11-9-11 chanting, hating lobbyists with the left hand, while creating earmarks to hand out to them on the right - how can I identify with any of that nonsense?

I'm more comfortable with this man who I barely know as far as policy views go. His demeanor is comforting and not divisive. I don't see him playing to the loudmouths like the other candidates do - you can see the symbiosis between Bush keeping his hands clean while the right-wing Hannity/O'Reilly/Coulters could whip up the red meat into a populist frenzy and it was very distasteful to watch.

Bush may have had a few useful policy ideas, but I'd never know, because I couldn't get past his awful delivery of the ideas and his heavy-handed blind approval of his loyal moron wonks. I liked the Social Security privatization concept; we have a powerful financial machine in this country and it has created amazing things in our lifetime already - this had potential. But he presented it like a buffoon and I cringed every time I heard about it on the media.

If anyone has captured the leadership aspect of Regan, it's Obama. He speaks in a firm manner, his voice is strong, and while he obviously is a politician, I don't get the dirty greasy feeling from the Keating Five McCain, from the Machivellian Centrist Clinton, from the Panderbot Romney, or from Greek Chorus Guliani.
2.29.2008 11:00am
Brian Mac:
"Great piece over at TPM about all the attempts to slur Obama as anti-Semitic"

Especially the part where he blames the Jews for the rise of Farrakhan?
2.29.2008 11:08am
SP:
Some liberals who post here are getting tiresome. ANY post that is political in nature is met by cries of equal time, and "disappointment" that a blog they like would have a post taking a shot at the crypto-radical the Democrats have decided to run out as this year's McGovern. It's not your blog.
2.29.2008 11:08am
Brian G (mail) (www):
Who didn't see all of these economy issues coming? The media and the politicos are going to act like its 1933 from now until November, and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don't worry, though. Obama and the Democrat Congress' repeal of the Bush tax cuts and their new social programs should make all of us prosperous and wealthy again.
2.29.2008 11:16am
Guest101:
How many searches did you have to run through how many databases to find that mildly inaccurate quote, David? Really, if this is the worst the Republican attack dogs can do against Obama, you should just give up now. Unless you'd like to rehash his kindergarten essays?
2.29.2008 11:26am
rarango (mail):
Re republicans and kindergarten essays: I wonder if team Clinton will share their oppo research files on Obama with the republicans after Senator Obama gets the nomination.
2.29.2008 11:31am
kidblue:
It's interesting is how little the conservative pundits have actually been able to get to stick to Obama. They try, but it just isn't working. As far as political mud goes, he's clearly the cleanest of the 3 remaining candidates.

So when I see criticism like this - which seem so light and desperate compared to what you can pin on the other 2 - it makes me feel good that he will most likely be our next president.
2.29.2008 11:38am
wandering:
I think that we are all (as in, the American populace) forgetting what might be one of the most important facts of life: We should care about what happens to people thousands of miles away, even if we would rather be protesting against the Hellspawn rightwings/Bush administration/conservative demons in human skin. That being said, it would seem to me that people just do not care about anyone else nowadays. When I say this, I mean: When we see someone being murdered, tortured, &raped on TV, do we actually do something about it (e.g. support our soldiers who are finally putting a stop to that kind of thing)? Or do we say "oh, that's horrible" &go back to our planning for a ridiculously expensive luxury cruise? While it may be true that you can't wage war on people just because they are evil, you should take every measure possible to stop it (including pre-emptive strikes, when necessary). The worst form of inhumanity are the people who won't even send their fellow Americans in Iraq toilet paper, &who don't care about others because they are too busy supporting terrorists (But Hezbollah has a right to murder the evil &sadistic Jews who are trying to root them out! It's not Hezbollah's fault when they hide inside civilian buildings &use civilians as protection!)
2.29.2008 11:38am
Brian Mac:
"As far as political mud goes, he's clearly the cleanest of the 3 remaining candidates."

Maybe because he's barely out of high school?
2.29.2008 11:42am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Guest, I was curious what Obama had said about Iraq before he knew he was running for president. One database, Ethnic Newswatch. One search, date before 2004 and Obama and Iraq.
2.29.2008 11:44am
Jacob (mail):
Some liberals who post here are getting tiresome. ANY post that is political in nature is met by cries of equal time, and "disappointment" that a blog they like would have a post taking a shot at the crypto-radical the Democrats have decided to run out as this year's McGovern. It's not your blog.
This seems like a bit of a mischaracterization. I think it's more accurate to say that some are bothered by the fact that one of Prof. Bernstein's pet topics is shaping up to be ObamaWatch. I don't see why, though. All the Conspirators have their specific interests, and many of them are political in nature. This is just one more. Some good-natured poking of fun about it might be appropriate sometimes, but Bernstein didn't really do anything wrong here. He seemed to provide as much context as was available and gave a citation. So far there's little reason to believe the Senator meant anything other than what he said.
2.29.2008 11:44am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"We should care about what happens to people thousands of miles away"


And that would include not invading them and destroying their country. Seriously, when it comes to killing Iraqi civilians, the U.S. has made Saddam look like an amateur.

Besides, why do you assume war was the only solution to the problem? If we'd been willing to devote the many hundreds of billions of dollars towards some other approach, something tells me we could have acomplished a lot more good than we did through this idiotic war.
2.29.2008 11:45am
rarango (mail):
Obama seems to be pretty "clean," but I see his biggest problem as tacking back to the political center. I frankly don't see how he is going to remain left of Hillary Clinton and attract the political middle in the general election. Of course, 8 months is an eternity in politics, so time will tell. Ask HRC about that!
2.29.2008 11:46am
The Unbeliever (mail):
kidblue: light experience invites light criticism. Whether that's a feature or a bug, is up to the voters to decide.

(And please don't post a link to the list of "accomplishments" Obama put up on his website. We've been down that road already.)
2.29.2008 11:47am
titus32:
So now Obama's views as a State Senator are akin to kindergarten essays? Cue the experience attack.
2.29.2008 11:52am
Brian Mac:
"If we'd been willing to devote the many hundreds of billions of dollars towards some other approach, something tells me we could have acomplished a lot more good than we did through this idiotic war."

Still hearing those voices, eh?
2.29.2008 11:52am
The Unbeliever (mail):
If we'd been willing to devote the many hundreds of billions of dollars towards some other approach, something tells me we could have acomplished a lot more good than we did through this idiotic war.


Is bribery the official lefty policy now, or should we hold off on the appropriate Neville Chamberlain accusations until a Democratic presidential candidate explicitly says it?

Also, I thought we were supposed to still be hating on the US for supporting quasi-friendly thugs and strong men who overthrew the dictators that were our outright enemies, however many years ago. Or did you have another "solution" to the problem in question, similar to Kerry's nebulous plans, which never quite materialized when he opposed policies solely for the sake of providing opposition?

(Hint: I'm secretly hoping you suggest some manner of humanitarian aid, so I can bring up the notoriously corrupted Oil For Food program.)
2.29.2008 11:55am
JosephSlater (mail):
DB writes: I'll probably stop posting about Obama when his supporters start acknowledging that at root he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with.

I am an Obama supporter. I fully and unreservedly acknowledge that at root, he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with.

I would ask if that sufficiently completes the requisite condition you offered, or if there would have to be a few more Obama supporters willing to take the above pledge. But frankly, I think this attack stuff is so weak that it actually makes Obama look better (to anyone who might plausibly be undecided or already an Obama supporter). So I'm not sure I really want to hold you to your words.
2.29.2008 11:55am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I also think his neglect of the economy does nothing to enhance America's long-term security."

How exactly does a president "neglect the economy," since a US president has only limited powers affect it? The Federal Reserve has as much or more power to influence the economy. POTUS can appoint the chairman, but Greenspan was already in place in 2002. The president submits the budget to Congress, but Congress can change it and does. The president can veto wasteful legislation and Bush can certainly faulted failure here.

We can see how little the president can do to rescue the economy right now. The stimulus package, which requires a vote of Congress, is a joke. Already surveys show 18% of the recipients will spend the money. The rest plan to save or buy down debt. The Federal Reserve is trying to boost the economy by lowering the Federal Funds Rate and it's not working.

The real significance of Obama's statement is that it reveals his lack of understanding of the office he seeks. The ability to make inspiring speeches is neither necessary or sufficient to be a successful president.
2.29.2008 12:06pm
Bildungsphilister (mail):
I applaud the mystery click come on! A straight-up post of "Obama said x" would certainly be glaringly feeble, so the game show approach was warranted, even if ultimately unsuccessful.
2.29.2008 12:08pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
JosephSlater and DB:

"I fully and unreservedly acknowledge that at root, he is a politician, …"

What does this "at root" qualifier mean? BHO is a politician-- period. Moreover he's a politician without any appropriate experience for the office he seeks. I've actually had BHO supporters tell me that his inexperience is a good thing! How can that be? Would you hire anybody without experience for the job you were hiring him for? Would you want an inexperienced doctor or lawyer? Would you want to promote an inexperienced soldier to General or Admiral?
2.29.2008 12:17pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
I'll probably stop posting about Obama when his supporters start acknowledging that at root he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with.

You seem to be assuming that Obama supporters as a whole lack skepticism. I'm extremely skeptical of him and I don't like most of his platform (if nothing else, because it will result in my taxes going up). I'm still a supporter however. Why? Because his opponents are Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Even crediting every single solitary criticism of Obama that I have seen, he would still not be as bad as the other two's official positions, let alone what they are likely to do. Putting it another way, if you put Clinton and McCain on a scale, Obama is farther away from either of them than they are from each other.
2.29.2008 12:22pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
Moreover he's a politician without any appropriate experience for the office he seeks. I've actually had BHO supporters tell me that his inexperience is a good thing! How can that be?

I would submit that history seems to show a near zero-correlation between the amount of "experience" a president has and whether or not he does a good job in office. The three most "experienced" presidents post-FDR were almost certainly Nixon, LBJ, and George H.W. Bush. I will be very surprised if those names correspond to whom you would name as the three "best" presidents for that same time period.
2.29.2008 12:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
" … if you put Clinton and McCain on a scale, Obama is farther away from either of them than they are from each other."

I don't see that, but perhaps I'm missing something. As far as I can tell, BHO and HRC differ little on policy. Of course HRC can't match BHO's charisma, but neither can McCain. McCain supports the Iraq war, while BHO and HRC oppose it. I don't see what political metric puts BHO equidistant from the others.
2.29.2008 12:40pm
Mark Field (mail):

Is bribery the official lefty policy now, or should we hold off on the appropriate Neville Chamberlain accusations until a Democratic presidential candidate explicitly says it?


Actually, bribery seems to be official government policy.
2.29.2008 12:42pm
The Unbeliever (mail):
The three most "experienced" presidents post-FDR were almost certainly Nixon, LBJ, and George H.W. Bush. I will be very surprised if those names correspond to whom you would name as the three "best" presidents for that same time period.


An interesting argument against McCain, who I won't be voting for anyway, but hardly a positive argument for Obama.

Put it another way: take the Presidents you would list as the best Presidents in recent memory, and stack their resume at the time of winning the Presidential election against Obama's current resume. Do you really think Obama will compare favorably? I assume the name(s) on that list would include Reagan and/or Clinton, depending on which side of the aisle you hail from); both of whom had executive experience before running for office.

I believe the common critique on this site of Obama's supporters is that they don't champion their man based on his experience, and they usually don't champion his specific policies; as evidenced in the comments above, the common thread seems to be advocacy based on vague promises of togetherness, unity, and "change". It boils down to simply charisma, and if that is enough to get your vote, fine. But surely you must acknowledge the arguments against voting on that basis alone are legitimate, and understand why so many of us are skeptical of charisma-based candidacy.
2.29.2008 12:51pm
George Tenet Fangirl:

I'll probably stop posting about Obama when his supporters start acknowledging that at root he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with.


Just out of curiosity, how are Obama's supporters supposed to convey their appreciation of the fact that he is a politician? Should they all (1 million+ have donated to his campaign) sign a petition? Write you letters? Publish an ad in the NYT? Does their acknowledgment need to be a consensus or is a simple majority sufficient to get you to stop posting?
2.29.2008 12:53pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Zarkov: re "at root," I was just quoting DB to make sure that I was meeting his precise criteria. For the record, I also am not sure what that means beyond "is a politician."

George Tenet Fangirl: LOL at your post and your posting name.
2.29.2008 12:57pm
GV:
DB, if you're looking for what Obama said about the war before 2004, you can watch this.

I'm also another Obama supporter who admits that he's a politician. Who is claiming he isn't? But that doesn't mean all politicians are exactly the same. Some are more corrupt than others. Some are more concerned about doing the right things as others. And some are more honest than others. I think Obama, for a politician, is less corrupt, more concerned about doing the right thing, and more honest than most other politicians. He certainly bests Clinton, Bush, or McCain on each of those three points.
2.29.2008 12:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Just Dropping By:

"I would submit that history seems to show a near zero-correlation between the amount of "experience" a president has and whether or not he does a good job in office."

You're telling me the US presidency is unique in that experience doesn't count? I find that hard to believe since experience counts in every other executive job I can think of. Can you name one successful president with as little experience as BHO?

I think we can say that experience is a necessary, but not sufficient requirement for the presidency. Only two sitting Senators have been elected president. Warren G. Harding and JFK. The former was unsuccessful, while the latter never finished his term. However JFK's inexperience did lead to problems in foreign policy. One possible exception is Lincoln who had no executive experience, but did have leadership experience. On the other hand look at T. Roosevelt, a very successful president. He was head of the NYC police, New York governor, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, military leader, and Vice President. All that before age 42. BHO is 46.
2.29.2008 1:04pm
Mark Field (mail):

Can you name one successful president with as little experience as BHO?


Objection: vague. What do you mean by experience?

Lincoln obviously had less experience in elected office than Obama. I can't recall Jackson offhand, but he'd be close. Eisenhower never held any elective office other than President, and the same is true of other generals (Taylor, Grant).

Define your terms.
2.29.2008 1:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I think Obama, for a politician, is less corrupt, more concerned about doing the right thing, and more honest than most other politicians."

How is that? BHO hasn't been around long enough to accumulate an obvious history of corruption. Besides the press is mesmerized by him and won't ask tough questions or probe his background. What makes BHO more honest and less corrupt than say Richardson? As for "doing the right thing." What does that mean besides doing what you want? How do we determine what the "right thing" is in politics?
2.29.2008 1:15pm
The Unbeliever (mail):
the same is true of other generals (Taylor, Grant).

I thought it was self-evident that we should exclude military generals from the "no experience" category, since they have exactly the kind of executive experience one would expect to see in a President.
2.29.2008 1:20pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mark Field:

Objection: vague. What do you mean by experience?


I thought what I meant by experience was obvious from my post. But ok, here is what I mean. Experience for a candidate for president means he should have held an important executive office such as the governor of a large state like California, New York, or even mayor of New York City. A General or Admiral would also qualify as experience since he has to run a large organization, and have leadership skills. He has to delegate authority. Moreover, since the president is Commander and Chief of the US military having been a successful General or Admiral is a good qualification. Even CEO of a large business organization might qualify as experience. I discussed Lincoln, Jackson and Eisenhower were Generals.
2.29.2008 1:27pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Can you name one successful president with as little experience as BHO?"

Lincoln's leadership experience was private lawyering and a short length of service various legislative capacities . . . the parallels to Obama are obvious. GW Bush's cabinet (especially that of his first term) of course has an enormous amount of collective experience, dating back to the illustrious Ford administration. The at best lackluster and at worst shameful results are all around us, especially in the Defense and State departments. Don't ideas, principles and judgment matter too/more?
2.29.2008 1:27pm
The Unbeliever (mail):
Don't ideas, principles and judgment matter too/more?


Apparently not. Every time a VC poster questions Obama's judgement, based on what scraps of thought he has left in the public record, it is dismissed as paranoid, unserious, or slander. And whenever someone digs into his past trying to gain an insight on what his core principles actually are--not what his handlers post on his website, or what rhetoric he puts forth on the campaign trail--it is criticized as well.
2.29.2008 1:35pm
kiniyakki (mail):
Do you think that Obama's "politic's of hope" mean that he is never allowed to be critical, or let alone cynical? Cherry picking one quote from 5 years ago doesn't really show much.

As far as showing that Obama "at root ... is a politician" - do you think anybody is confused as to whether or not Obama is a politician? I thought that was obvious.

And finally, you say that Obama "deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians." Does this mean that in your eyes all politiicans deserve the same skepticism automatically?
2.29.2008 1:42pm
Justin (mail):
Kiniyakki,

Well, except Reagan. :)
2.29.2008 2:24pm
The Unbeliever (mail):
And finally, you say that Obama "deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians." Does this mean that in your eyes all politiicans deserve the same skepticism automatically?


Of course not. There should be an intentionally undefined "basic level" of skepticism applied to all politicians everywhere, which can be increased when the case warrants.

On that note, I humbly submit that the presumptive nominee for one of the two major parties--who boasts a very light track record and equally little substance on the campaign trail, yet somehow inspires an enthusiastic following--deserves more cynicism than the known quantities he's running against.
2.29.2008 2:38pm
Watts (mail) (www):
[Full disclosure: I am an Obama supporter, although I'd certainly like to think I'm clear-eyed rather than starry-eyed about the fellow.]
On that note, I humbly submit that the presumptive nominee for one of the two major parties--who boasts a very light track record and equally little substance on the campaign trail, yet somehow inspires an enthusiastic following--deserves more cynicism than the known quantities he's running against.

I don't know that I agree with this, simply because I'm not sure that either of his opponents--particularly Senator Clinton--deserve to get as much credit for being "experienced" as they keep getting. In Clinton's case, she's got less experience as an elected office-holder than Obama does, and assuming we give credit for the state Senate, fewer legislative accomplishments to point to. A lot of her "experience" argument presumes we take her "job" as First Lady as experience, but does this really make a lot of sense?

McCain has a lot of time in the legislature, which gives him a lot of experience there, but he doesn't seem to have a lot that he lists as accomplishments during that time. As someone noted, on McCain's own web site, it only mentions one "landmark" bill he's gotten passed in 25 years: the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. I suspect he'll still be able to play the experience card against Obama in particular, but I think that's because it'll be very easy to play into that perception, not because it's all that valid.

Of course, the most valid "experience" complaint I've seen against Obama is that he has no executive experience, and I think that could really be an issue in practice. But y'know, I'm not sure anybody else left in this race is going to be rushing to point that out.
2.29.2008 3:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Thales:

"Lincoln's leadership experience was private lawyering and a short length of service various legislative capacities . . ."

Lincoln had somewhat more leadership and political experience than BHO, but he does constitute an exception. However I don't think one, or even few exceptions provide enough evidence to make a case that experience doesn't matter. We should not have to gamble that BHO will become another Lincoln.

"Don't ideas, principles and judgment matter too/more?"


They do, but not enough by themselves. Good ideas are cheap and plentiful; it's execution that counts. With respect to BHO, we don't even know if his judgment is good, and his ideas are vague.
2.29.2008 3:42pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Mr. B.,

I laughed out loud. Good one-liner. Thanks.
2.29.2008 4:10pm
eddie (mail):
Almost as funny as this one liner:

"I'm a uniter, not a divider."
2.29.2008 4:14pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"How many searches did you have to run through how many databases to find that mildly inaccurate quote, David? Really, if this is the worst the Republican attack dogs can do against Obama, you should just give up now. Unless you'd like to rehash his kindergarten essays?"

Obama tells us he is best qualified to be president because he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. Now we know he thought it was a cover for a poor economy, so we can better judge his claim. We can also begin to see a mind well attuned to economics. All those economists sure must feel stupid for missing what he saw.

I doubt this is the worst republicans will come up with. Right now they are letting the democrats parse Obama's kindergarten essays. Why do the heavy lifting yourself when Hillary will do it for you? I'm sure none of us will ever forget the Democratic Diversity War of 2008 when Hillary bravely led the Mexicans against Obama and the Blacks.
2.29.2008 4:33pm
Crimso:

Seriously, when it comes to killing Iraqi civilians, the U.S. has made Saddam look like an amateur.


Do you actually believe this? And if you do, can you provide a source for this assertion? And if you can't, can I also just make stuff up? Because if I can, then I'll assert that Obama has killed more Iraqis than Saddam and Bush and Bush combined. The difference is I'll admit I'm lying.
2.29.2008 4:40pm
PLR:
Quoting DB:
I'll probably stop posting about Obama when his supporters start acknowledging that at root he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with.

I have always acknowledged that, though I don't care if you post about Obama. It's good to have easy targets to shoot at.

1. Obama said this in 2002, at a time when there was a considerable amount of head-scratching as to which idiots in the administration thought an attack on Iraq would be a good idea, and why. People closer to the situation than Obama (Zinni, Scowcroft) had no good answer either. If only we had had the Downing Street memo, or Paul O'Neill or Senator Durbin had piped up.

2. Obama's theory was not mine, but I am heartened that he did not claim it was all about oil like many in the anti-corporate left did.
2.29.2008 4:41pm
PLR:
Seriously, when it comes to killing Iraqi civilians, the U.S. has made Saddam look like an amateur.

[responding]Do you actually believe this? And if you do, can you provide a source for this assertion? And if you can't, can I also just make stuff up? Because if I can, then I'll assert that Obama has killed more Iraqis than Saddam and Bush and Bush combined. The difference is I'll admit I'm lying.

There are numerous sources, but if memory serves the administration charged Saddam with killing about 355,000 Iraqis while he was in office.

Extrapolating forward from the epidemiological report in The Lancet on the Iraqi death toll (which was a conservative estimate in the first place), the number of excess deaths since the invasion has almost surely exceeded one million. If you remove from that number the combat deaths of members of the Iraqi army, and the deaths by homicide of insurgents who took up arms (estimated to be far below 100,000), you get a civilian death toll which quite obviously exceeds 355,000 by a significant amount.
2.29.2008 4:49pm
Crimso:
So the sources are your memory and the deeply suspect Lancet paper.
2.29.2008 5:03pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Obama said this in 2002, at a time when there was a considerable amount of head-scratching as to which idiots in the administration thought an attack on Iraq would be a good idea, and why."

Clearly, at least one of the idiots was outside the administration.
2.29.2008 5:03pm
Crimso:

the number of excess deaths since the invasion has almost surely exceeded one million.

And you do understand that you're suggesting that over the past 5 years there have been something on the order of 1000 "excess" funerals per day in Iraq. Per day.
2.29.2008 5:11pm
PLR:
So the sources are your memory and the deeply suspect Lancet paper.

The Lancet report was not suspect to those in the field of epidemiology. The primary shortcoming of the study was that the data excluded one large city, Fallujah.

As for the White House's claims against Saddam, add them up yourself using the highest numbers, and we'll not worry about my memory:

link


And you do understand that you're suggesting that over the past 5 years there have been something on the order of 1000 "excess" funerals per day in Iraq. Per day.

The daily number would be about half that, but they're not my numbers.

If you have another statistical report of excess deaths since the invasion, please link it. Happy hunting!
2.29.2008 5:34pm
Crimso:

but they're not my numbers.

Do you believe the numbers or not? A simple survey of graveyards and undertakers should resolve this issue quite quickly.
2.29.2008 6:00pm
Crimso:

If you have another statistical report of excess deaths since the invasion, please link it. Happy hunting!

I don't think basing your thesis on a single report strengthens your argument. Especially when said report is considered suspect by more than just a few fringe whackos.
2.29.2008 6:02pm
hattio1:
So,
Those arguing that Obama doesn't have any executive experience because he was merely a legislator, who are you going to vote for? When was Hillary or McCain a general, admiral, CEO of a major corporation, or governor of a large state? Huh? When? Oh, that's right. Next unfounded attack please.
2.29.2008 6:18pm
Crimso:
And let's not stop there. How about if I stipulate that the Lancet paper was accurate? Let's return to the implied point: Iraq was better off under Saddam. Agree or disagree?
2.29.2008 6:27pm
Randy R. (mail):
"I'll probably stop posting about Obama when his supporters start acknowledging that at root he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with."

Well, I never claimed that Obama is a piano teacher or a biologist. So I have no probleming signing this pledge.

So now can we start seeing similar quotes that make McCain look stupid? Oh, well, probably not, since, as many have pointed out, it's not my blog.
2.29.2008 6:29pm
Open Eyed Dem:
Wow, it's amazing how far the cult of personality surrounding Obama extends. Quoting the man's own words is an attack! If this kind of ridiculous contempt at any mere discussion of Obama's weaknesses continue there's got to be some backlash coming.
2.29.2008 6:50pm
hattio1:
I'm not sure we should be trusting this quote anyway. Early on in the comments Professor Bernstein posted what was apparently the full article. It has this passage;

Arafat has said: "I will not surrender," and Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "We'll have to see how he responds to the pressure he is under from the international community.

"Pressure has to be maintained on Iraq until the UN is satisfied that he has gotten rid of these weapons and allowed inspectors in to make sure of that," said Powell.

"That's the only way to do it, and then we will see whether or not that is adequate or whether more action is required.

"The U.S. continues to believe that the best way to disarm Iraq is through a regime change."



Huh? It seems like in one section Powell is talking about international pressure on Arafat, and in another he's talking about international pressure on Saddam. These quotes are pushed together as if they are about the same subject in the original piece [unless there's editing in the online version that isn't obvious].

Given that, I'm going to take their quotes with a grain of salt. Finally, even taking the quotes at face value, it seems that Professor Bernstein has at least slightly mis-construed the quote. Nowhere does it say that the Iraq war was started in order to be a cover-up for a failing economy, only that it does act that way. Isn't that pretty much beyond doubt? The economy was in headlines, we went to war, and the economy largely disappeared during the early months of the war.
2.29.2008 6:52pm
hattio1:
Open Eyed Dem

If you were responding to me, I was obviously talking about those who attack Obama as lacking executive experience. If you can show me where Obama has stated he lacks the executive experience to be president, then I guess you're comment makes sense...if not.....it doesn't.
2.29.2008 6:54pm
hattio1:
Another point, if we are going to look at the article as a whole, and assume that Professor Bernstein correctly interprets the remark, Obama seems to be getting a lot more hits than misses. He states that Bush has not made his case for war, an opinion most people agree with now (and those who did think he made his case for war largely did on his guarantee that Saddam had weapons, and we knew exactly where they were, but he didn't and we didn't). He said that America had severe problems at home. We did and do. He said that neglecting the economy is bad for the long-term security of America. It is. There's a notation that traders were fretting about oil going over $30 a barrel. Who wouldn't like to have those worries back? And he talks about people fearing a return of bodybags from the war. All patriotic Americans feared that, and still do. Nobody wants to see our men and women die, whether you think the war is worth it or not.
2.29.2008 7:00pm
MarkField (mail):

Experience for a candidate for president means he should have held an important executive office such as the governor of a large state like California, New York, or even mayor of New York City. A General or Admiral would also qualify as experience since he has to run a large organization, and have leadership skills. He has to delegate authority. Moreover, since the president is Commander and Chief of the US military having been a successful General or Admiral is a good qualification. Even CEO of a large business organization might qualify as experience.


Presidents with no previous executive experience per your definition are Lincoln, B. Harrison (he was a brevet brigadier general, but his actual rank was colonel), Harding, Truman, Kennedy, L. Johnson, Nixon, and Ford.*

Those with minimal executive experience (2 years or less, or in minor office) are Van Buren, Polk, Fillmore, and Arthur.

Interestingly, we've done better -- indeed, much better -- with zero experience than with just a little.

*As should be obvious, I don't consider that VP meets any serious standard for executive experience.
2.29.2008 7:29pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"*As should be obvious, I don't consider that VP meets any serious standard for executive experience."

That's where we differ.
2.29.2008 8:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"When was Hillary or McCain a general, admiral, CEO of a major corporation, or governor of a large state? Huh?"

I agree, but that's not the context. HRC and McCain don't enjoy the starry eyed adoration that BHO gets. There is really no reason to suppose he's more fit than the others for office other than charisma. I personally don't put much faith in charisma. I'm afraid that none of them gets my vote for the reasons stated. Other may differ.
2.29.2008 8:18pm
Baseballhead (mail):
"I'll probably stop posting about Obama when his supporters start acknowledging that at root he is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with."
Translation: I don't like him, and I'll keep doing this until you don't like him, either.
2.29.2008 10:18pm
Randy R. (mail):
Zarkov: ""*As should be obvious, I don't consider that VP meets any serious standard for executive experience."

That's where we differ."

Oh! So now the truth comes out -- Zarkov voted for Al Gore in 2000!
2.29.2008 10:39pm
PLR:
<blockquote>Do you believe the numbers or not? A simple survey of graveyards and undertakers should resolve this issue quite quickly.</blockquote>
That would be a stupid exercise relative to the sampling and data gathering methods of the 2006 study.
<blockquote>I don't think basing your thesis on a single report strengthens your argument. Especially when said report is considered suspect by more than just a few fringe whackos.</blockquote>
The wikipedia entry for The Lancet report has a handy catalog of the objections to the study, thanks to the diligent efforts of various Concerned Citizens Using Open Source Materials. The objections are absolute crap, and do not remotely discredit the peer-reviewed sampling and data collections of the report. Sorry.
<blockquote>And let's not stop there. How about if I stipulate that the Lancet paper was accurate? Let's return to the implied point: Iraq was better off under Saddam. Agree or disagree?</blockquote>
Thanks, but no thanks. The original point was that the U.S. had a more meaningful reputation as a killer of civilians than did Saddam Hussein. You professed shock and accused the poster of writing fiction. I laid out the basis for why his inflammatory assertion could be supported by known facts.

I am not interested in discussing whether "Iraq" is subjectively better off now. I don't live there, have never been there, and cannot read the native language. I'm guessing the same is true of you.
3.1.2008 12:08am
JSinAZ:

The original point was that the U.S. had a more meaningful reputation as a killer of civilians than did Saddam Hussein.


Within the timeframe that Saddam was gassing his subjects, would you care to name a similar body count collected by the USA? Or are you delving into history a few generations removed, or more?

Any other dictators you would wish to absolve by comparisons to some aspect of American history, perchance?
3.1.2008 2:06am
Crimso:
I repeatedly warn my students against using Wikipedia as a source. I especially warn them against doing so WRT any topic that is remotely controversial. You can continue to insist that there is no controversy (kind of like insisting "the science is settled"), but I know better.

In any case, let me again stipulate the study is accurate and beyond reproach (and I'll note that you refused to answer the question). Is there any difference you can think of between Saddam's victims and Bush's?


I am not interested in discussing whether "Iraq" is subjectively better off now.

Of course you aren't, because to do so might cause a fatal case of cognitive dissonance. This reminds of a recent exchange I had at another fairly prominent blog, where a commenter made the offhand statement that Iraqis were more free under Saddam. I called BS, and then was treated to a number of people desperately trying to insist that it was true.
3.1.2008 5:44am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Oh! So now the truth comes out -- Zarkov voted for Al Gore in 2000!"

Everything else being equal I'll take a governor over a VP. Of course a Texas governor has a lot less responsibility than a CA or a NY governor. You're getting close. Gore has a much better attitude on immigration than Bush who seems to think he's president of Mexico. On the other hand, Gore's AGW activities don't speak well of him. But AGW could really be a problem and Gore is right for the wrong reasons. Ain't life complicated? Always keep em guessing.
3.1.2008 2:12pm
josh:
To echo Joseph Slater above, I too am an Obama supporter (have been since before he ran against Bobby Rush for Congress -- when he was working in the state Legislature to require videotaping of homicide interrogations due to abuses by a certain cop named Burge)

Allow me also to make the pledge:

"I fully and unreservedly acknowledge that at root, [Obama] is a politician, who, despite his soaring rhetoric, deserves all the normal skepticism Americans typically approach politicians with."

K. So acknowledged, DB can go back to writing about the bias in the media against Israel (on a law blog). Actually, no. please don't. As Slater said, these kind of attacks are gold for Obama in the campaigns.
3.1.2008 3:40pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Attack? What attack? The guy said something stupid, and now he's stuck with it. Lots of politicians get caught up in the local group they are addressing, and forget that everything they say will eventually become part of their life transcript, only a click away from anyone with a computer. If a politician has a bunch of idiots in front of him who keep nodding their heads, he's apt to feed them whatever keeps them smiling and nodding. Nodding heads lead to votes.

Obama will face the same problem when he eventually has to climb down from his promise to change or quit NAFTA. So, while it's fresh, did Obama really mean he will dump NAFTA unless the treaty is renegotiated to benefit US workers? Would anyone care to tell us what he really meant? Now's the time to start spinning and laying the groundwork for a climb down. Alternatively, one could just wait and say it's an attack if anyone mentions it in the future.
3.1.2008 5:18pm