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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

You’d be surprised at how exhausting it is to churn out one to four posts a day, with at least one containing an original thought and most others some small spin. Or at least, you’d be surprised at how exhausting it is in addition to a full-time job.

So, to start the summer, I’m going to take a week off.

Now that Judge Sotomayor has been leaked as Obama’s nominee, I realize I don’t have much of a dog in this fight – at least not so far. My big concern for this nominee is their position on executive power. Sotomayor doesn’t have much of a public record on these issues – as Charlie Savage explained, she:

has never worked in the federal executive branch and sits on a court that hears few executive power cases.

I would have had to comment and get excited if the nominee had been Elena Kagan (negatively) or Diane Wood (positively). Or Harold Koh, though he wasn’t on the list this time around (positively.)

Matt Drudge is already on the case – bringing racial issues to the forefront and making the innuendo-driven case against the Judge – while acknowledging the opposition will be futile.

I’ll leave this fight to others. For this week, it’s time to take a break.

Of course, I reserve the right to jump in if I feel so compelled – so check back if something extraordinary happens in politics.

I will – of course, continue to Twitter this week. If you haven’t already, follow me there.

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Posted in Law, Politics, The Opinionsphere | No Comments »

The Best Designed Site on the Web

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

I have to agree with Stanley over at 37Signals.

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Posted in The Media, The Web and Technology | No Comments »

Drudge Jumps the Shark

Monday, November 3rd, 2008


It’s not news that Matt Drudge has always been very sympathetic to conservatives and the Republican party. He helped sell the Iraq war; he was part of the grand right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton; he campaigned enthusiastically for Bush against Gore and Kerry. But in the past month, Drudge seems to have lost the narrative and lost his touch.

Today, he jumps the shark with this ridiculous “headline” as he desperately attempts to make “news” that could shift the election.

In the beginning of this year, he seemed comfortable in his place driving the news media – demonstrating his eye for interesting stories that had been overlooked. He also seemed to be sympathetic to Obama.

The key thing that makes Drudge worth paying attention to is his eye for interesting and overlooked stories. It is based on that skill that he has gained such a following, especially among the media. He has demonstrated an eye for those details which drive campaign narratives, and although his right-wing leanings are well-known, he managed to keep his site from becoming pure propaganda.

Since September, Drudge hasn’t only been sympathetic to McCain – he seems to have lost his eye, as he promotes one story after another that lacks punch.

He seems to have lost it – and with this, he has jumped the shark.

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Posted in Criticism, The Media | 1 Comment »

Drudge’s Bold Red Headlines

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Drudge has outdone himself today with two unusually misleading headlines.

First, the blaring red super-sized font that announced that a McCain volunteer has been ATTACKED AND MUTILATED IN PITTSBURGH – which quickly became a small side story when the actual facts came out – that a woman with a McCain sticker on her car had been mugged outside an ATM. Awful – but not the political violence initially suggested.

Now, he’s put up a link to what he calls the “Most Accurate Pollster in 2004 Election” which puts the race within 1.1 points. Of course, a perusal of the breakdown shows that the poll has McCain beating Obama in the 18-24 year old age group by 74% to 22%. To repeat, McCain is – according to this poll – winning 74% of 18-24 year old; Obama is winning only 22%.

C’mon Drudge, old boy – you can do better than that.

To think – it was just a few months ago that Drudge had seemed to have shifted his support to Obama. It was subtle but there – just like his animus towards McCain. But then – roughly as the Paris ads went up, Drudge began his not-so-subtle attempts to throw the election to McCain.

I don’t know what happened – but it does make Drudge seem like he’s losing his touch.

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Posted in Election 2008, McCain, Obama, Politics | 2 Comments »

McCain Throws an Elbow

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Matt Drudge is reporting that the McCain campaign will leak the identity of their Vice Presidential pick at 6 pm tonight, and confirm the identity at 8 pm. Barack Obama is scheduled to give his acceptance speech between 10 pm and 11 pm. Obviously, this is a tactic designed to break into Obama’s news cycle.

It’s cheap. It’s pretty low class. And it’s excellent politics.

I think the McCain camp is miscalculating here – and although an announcement tomorrow might cut into Obama’s bounce, leaking the news tonight will cut into any benefit McCain might derive from it.

But the real bet must be that by leaking the news tonight so soon before Obama’s speech they can force him to react to the pick or look foolish not doing so.

I’m not sure exactly how this will play out – but McCain is playing a dangerous game here. And I’m not sure his campaign is up to it.

Of course, McCain does seem a bit cranky in his recent interview with Time magazine:

In 2000, after the primaries, you went back to South Carolina to talk about what you felt was a mistake you had made on the Confederate flag. Is there anything so far about this campaign that you wish you could take back or you might revisit when it’s over?
[Does not answer.]

Do I know you? [Says with a laugh.]
[Long pause.] I’m very happy with the way our campaign has been conducted, and I am very pleased and humbled to have the nomination of the Republican Party.

You do acknowledge there was a change in the campaign, in the way you had run the campaign?
[Shakes his head.]

You don’t acknowledge that? O.K., when your aides came to you and you decided, having been attacked by Barack Obama, to run some of those ads, was there a debate?
The campaign responded as planned.

I guess McCain has now decided to go out of his way to alienate the group he once called his base – presumably following the same Rovian strategy that Bush did.

McCain obviously does not care about his independent brand anymore.

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Posted in Election 2008, McCain, Obama, Politics | No Comments »

Why I Am Still Confident About Obama’s Campaign

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

[digg-reddit-me]Drudge has the scare headline up today. And pundits across the world are speculating about why Obama hasn’t blown McCain away yet. Yet I’m still confident in Obama’s campaign.

One of my first blog posts – and my first blog post to gain a sizeable readership – ran last October 12 when Obama was trailing Hillary by sizable margins and was entitled: “Why I Am Confident About Obama.”

My conclusion – despite the media’s almost universal consensus that no one could take down the Clinton juggernaut at that late date (with a 20 point lead nationwide and a slim lead for Clinton in Iowa) – was:

Clintonian hubris, an Obama strategy to put the pressure on Clinton late, with Iowa in a statistical dead heat, and a ton of other primaries following hard-upon Iowa.  It seems to me that Obama has a good chance of winning even if he doesn’t hit his stride.

The overall perception driving me to this conclusion was that Obama was the natural candidate for this time – that his candidacy and person fit the moment in a way no other candidate’s did. George F. Will, among a few other astute observers of American politics, saw this too. Obama was the candidate that fit the times – and he had a smart and hard-nosed plan for getting the nomination from Hillary and the presidency from any Republican. The intellectual ferment, the grassroots enthusiasm, and the international support for Obama all confirm that he is the candidate of the zeitgeist.

These fundamentals have not changed.

Which is why, now, with McCain ahead of Obama by five points nationally (the first lead he has had against the presumptive Democratic nominee) and with McCain outspending Obama in many key states, and with many media supporters of Obama beginning to panic and conservatives beginning to gloat, and McCain finally finding his voice given the prospect of a war with Russia – I am still confident about the Obama campaign.

  1. I trust the Obama campaign’s game plan. They have run one of the best campaigns in recent memory – they are confident and they have a plan. They beat the feared Clinton machine. And they knew it after Super Tuesday – months before anyone else. They strategized perfectly and executed their plans almost flawlessly. No other campaign this election cycle can say that.
  2. Obama will get more bounce from the Democratic National Convention next week than McCain will get from the Republican National Convention the week after. Why? Because Obama does not have George W. Bush and Dick Cheney speaking at his convention.
  3. Contrary to the “conventional wisdom” of the right-wing opinionsphere, Obama has more to gain from debates with McCain than McCain. Obama’s presence and answers will stand in stark contrast to the terrifying image of “Barack Hussein Obama.” Just as Ronald Reagan did not take a clear lead over incumbent Jimmy Carter until just after their sole debate (in the last week of the campaign) – so Obama will capitalize on his debates. Reagan was running as a change agent light on specifics, high on rhetoric and hope, against a reformer who defended a good deal of the status quo whose party had been blamed for significant foreign policy and economic disasters at a time when most people felt their country was going in the wrong direction. Many people didn’t feel comfortable with Reagan until they saw him stand side-by-side with Carter and felt he seemed reasoanble. The same dynamic seems to be working now.
  4. Obama’s supporters discovered in July and August that he’s not a perfect candidate. He supported the FISA compromise; he explained again that he was in favor of individual gun rights; he reiterated his longstanding support for faith-based programs; he went back on his (slightly hedged) promise to participate in the federal financing program for the general election campaign. They’ve been getting antsy. But with the serious prospect of a McCain presidency, most of those who care about liberal values will discover how much better Obama is than the alterative.
  5. McCain doesn’t do frontrunner well.
  6. Polls are only as good as their turnout models. Obama’s supporters come from those demographics least likely to have a landline – and thus, many of his supporters are not taken into account in polls. Plus, if black Americans and young Americans turn out at higher than predicted levels – given that both groups are extremely energized by the Obama campaign – this could tip the election further.
  7. If McCain is understood to be the frontrunner, his gaffes suddenly take on a new importance – and the media will be much tougher in covering him. Thus far, they’ve treated him with kid gloves – and mainly ignored his negatives (because they’ve been ignoring him altogether.) Where is the Iraq-Pakistan border again, Mr. McCain?
  8. Although McCain is outspending Obama now in some key states, Obama will have far more money down the stretch – and already has a more significant campaign organization in each state than Kerry or Gore did. Right now, he is spending most of his money on creating boots on the ground and campaign infrastructure which he can call on in November to turn out the vote. Once McCain’s spending is restricted, Obama can saturate any market he wants with ads.
  9. Obama’s supporters are more enthusiastic. McCain’s are too old to be enthusiastic, and most don’t like him all that much anyway.
  10. Much of the public still sees McCain as a maverick rather than as someone who “totally supports” Bush on “the transcendent issues” like Iraq. Most of the public does not know that McCain has flip-flopped on torture and on economic policy – and that four more years of McCain promise to be no better than four more years of Bush with regards to the economy.
  11. Finally – and the biggest reason – neither Obama nor his surrogates have started to attack McCain yet. They have local issue ads up in many states already. But the Vice Presidential nominee’s number one job will be to take the fight to McCain. McCain is wide open to attacks on so many fronts –

I trust the Obama campaign has a plan and that they will execute it well. That plan will include hitting McCain hard when he has less money to spare. There’s no guarantee, but Obama’s chances are still very good – and he has been consistently doing better in the polls than Gore or Kerry at similar times in the race. Obama has said that he is in this to win.

I hope so – and I know I will do all I can to ensure that he does.

  1. A bit of an unfair question as McCain eventually repudiated the remark, but Gramm did more than anyone to shape the policies McCain still supports. []

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Posted in Domestic issues, Economics, Election 2008, Foreign Policy, McCain, Obama, Politics, The Opinionsphere | 3 Comments »

A World That Stands As One

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

[Photo of poster by brian.glanz.]

[digg-reddit-me]Obama’s much-anticipated Berlin speech has now leaked. To watch the live feed for the next few minutes, check out the Raw Story.

Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

Ê And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty People of the world, look at Berlin!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall — a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope — walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.  So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century — in this city of all cities — we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us — what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

Those are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. Those aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of those aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of those aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of those aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on history.

People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world.

Posted in Election 2008, Foreign Policy, Obama | 2 Comments »

Setting America Up to Fail

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

[digg-reddit-me]Putting aside the controversy over whether the New York Times should have published John McCain’s op-ed piece – his piece itself illustrates the lose-lose strategy McCain is putting forward.

This line in particular from his unpublished op-ed struck me:

…if we don’t win the war, our enemies will.

What interests me about both McCain’s and Obama’s positions is that both have stuck to their general idea about what the next step would be despite the changing situation on the ground.

McCain was in favor of troops staying longer in Iraq when things were bad and getting worse; now that things are improving, he is still in favor of keeping our forces there.  Obama was in favor of pulling out of Iraq while the situation was deteriorating; and now that the situation is improving, he still is in favor of ending the occupation.  McCain’s editorial tries to hit Obama on this point, unconvincingly in light of McCain’s own seeming intransigence.

But it isn’t entirely accurate to call Obama’s and McCain’s fixed goals in spite of the changing circumstances “intransigence”.  The crux of the disagreement between the candidates is not the contrast that McCain sets up in his op-ed:

I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons.

Rather, the crux of their disagreement is about the wisdom of the Iraq adventure and the overall strategy of establishing some kind of neo-empire in the Middle East.  McCain believes that the Iraq War was necessary and strategically sound – and that although he may not call it an empire or neo-empire – he believes America must have an established military presence in the Middle East as a matter of policy.  Obama is suspicious of this view – believing that any form of imperial influence exerted over the Middle East will cause a backlash greater than the benefits – and he specifically pointed out before the war, and has kept pointing out, that the Iraq adventure was strategically “dumb” and that it was benefited our enemies in the Middle East even as it has undermined our friends.  By taking out Iraq, we removed Iran’s regional foil – and we set up an Iraqi regime that has become a regional ally of Iran.

There are two competing sets of suppositions here:



On the first question, the country and the world have overwhelmingly come to believe the first option.

On the second, the answer is less clear. What is clear is that:

These commonly accepted facts demonstrate our short-term tactical limits and our tactical utility – but most of all, they demonstrate that our long-term strategy is underming our position.  From the Iraqi perspective, Maliki clearly thinks that it is best for Iraq if America leaves as soon as possible.  Analyzing what we know about Iraq leads to the same conclusion.

The only possible long-term salvation that could come from this debacle is if Iraq becomes an American-friendly, stable democracy.  Which is possible, but not the most likely conclusion based on the facts as they are now.  It is a possiblity based on a desperate hope.  But even this long-term possibility would necessitate that we demonstrate that we are intent to leave Iraq as soon as possible – and certainly as soon as we are asked.

McCain – by focusing on our short-term tactical successes (and ignoring our tactical limits and our strategic errors) – is bringing America down the wrong path – and setting us up to fail.  By saying, “if we don’t win the war, our enemies will,” McCain is attempting to impose a framework on Iraq that does not apply.  The Iraqis themselves defeated Al Qaeda and the extremists after they became tired of their extremism – with our troops playing a supporting role.  One of our primary functions in Iraq is preventing a civil war between the Iraqi ethnic groups.

The question is: Is McCain himself so deluded as to see Iraq as simply a battle between us and our enemies – like World War II – or is he merely using this framework to allow him to use Iraq as a political weapon and to paint his opponent as a “weak-kneed liberal”?

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Posted in Election 2008, Foreign Policy, Iraq, McCain, National Security, Obama, Politics, The War on Terrorism | No Comments »

The 188-Minute Workout

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I appreciate that Matt Drudge is in the tank for Obama, but this is a bit ridiculous.

I find it hard to believe that ABC News published the story, let alone the fact that Drudge is linking to it as his biggest story.  It’s virtually inexplicable.

Unless Drudge has some angle on this that he has yet to reveal.

Otherwise, this is just silly.

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Posted in Election 2008, Obama, Politics, The Media, The Opinionsphere | No Comments »

The Drudge Primary

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Matt Drudge is far and away the most influential force in journalism and political coverage today. He has dominated the political press coverage ever since he broke story after story in the summer of 1997 almost singlehandedly keeping Monica-gate alive. In 2000 and 2004, he was a major force in the conservative message machine as it attacked Al Gore and John Kerry. But in the past year, as Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith of the Politico observed:

[Matt Drudge has] emerged as an unreliable ally for the GOP, while trumpeting Obama’s victories and shrugging at his scandals.

“It’s clear to us that Barack Obama has won the Drudge Primary, and it’s one of the most important primaries in this process,” conceded a senior aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also acknowledged that Drudge’s treatment of Obama could make the Illinois senator more electable in November.

The article offers several explanations for Drudge’s apparent preference for Obama. Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post, suggests that Drudge has a good sense of the “zeitgeist” and can see it shifting. Although I think that must be a factor, the more convincing explanation seems to be Drudge’s reputed libertarian streak. McCain is probably the most anti-libertarian candidate the Republican party has – from his positions on civil liberties in the War on Terrorism, to the use of government as a tool against big business, to limiting free speech for campaign finance reform. Obama, though in favor of more economic intervention than McCain, does seem to be more sympathetic to libertarianism as a whole – especially with regards to civil liberties.

Whatever the reason, Drudge, so far, has seemed to tilt towards Obama. And that could be a major factor in the lead-up to November.


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Posted in Domestic issues, Election 2008, Libertarianism, Obama, Politics, The Web and Technology | 46 Comments »

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