Friday, February 01, 2008

Agonist: "The Surrender is Working"

If there's one thing you read today,allow me to suggest Stirling Newberry's The Surrender is Working.

There's a great talking point or two in this post..and the title, in and of itself, could be a King among buzz-phrases.

Obama goes negative with mailer

This recent mailer from the Obama campaign that attacks the Clinton healthcare plan, similar to the plan originally proposed by former Senator John Edwards, is not an example of playing by the rules of inspiration and the politics of hope. Fear-mongering is never about hope. Cheap attacks are hardly inspiring. See Huffington Post. According to Ben Smith at Politico, it was so bad that the Clinton campaign convened a conference call to denounce it. The Senator from Illinois didn't convince me in his talking points at last night's debate in Los Angeles that his plan was a better one than Edwards' or Clinton's. Scaring people was Plan B, I guess, since Plan A failed. The Denver Post announced an endorsement for Clinton today and said it was, in part, because of her capacity to deal with the health insurance crisis. According to the article at HuffPo, a former John Edwards adviser on health care named Peter Harbage was on the conference call about the mailer and he said that he believed the Obama campaign mailer drives the debate on the issue to "the lowest common denominator." Sounds about right. Will the Obama campaign denounce the obvious fear-mongering? If they don't, they'll likely have to answer for the route they've chosen to take.

- Steve Clemons on Universal Healthcare/Healthcare Coverage, Clinton v. Obama

February 3, 2008: Obama Hires 'Harry and Louise' to Attack Hillary's Plan for Health Care: Republicans Thrilled! by Irwin Redlener, M.D. (Huffington Post)
Senator Obama is a very smart guy, and I would like to think that he wouldn't mind a re-do on this issue. But, of course, that is a no-no in American presidential politics. So, Obama is left in the extraordinary position of now having to defend a position that most progressives would never embrace -- in essence leaving large numbers of people without health care. And to top it off, he's now attacking universal health care and making a reincarnated Harry and Louise to do the dirty work. I suspect that many Democrats will simply see this as a desperate "go Republican" strategy that could have the unintended consequence of setting back the cause of universal health care.

Levin Amendment - Who Voted For It?

Judge for yourself. Below (in bold) are the Democrats who voted "Yea" to the Levin amendment that former-Senator Lincoln Chafee (moderate Republican from Rhode Island who has recently written a book to be released in April) wrote about in today's NY Times, apparently to bolster his own reasoning behind his 2002 vote in light of Senator Barack Obama's heavy-handed criticism in last night's debate of those who voted "Nay" to the amendment (specifically his opponent Hillary Clinton).

Curiously, 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry had voted "Nay" and has endorsed Senator Obama in 2008 versus Edwards and Clinton, both who voted just as he did in 2002.

I wonder...if we agree with Senator Obama and former Senator Chafee on the decided lack of good judgment for those who voted against the Levin amendment, what would that say about John Kerry's judgment now? Is he...or was he naive? (using CNN's Wolf Blitzer's unfortunate characterization, made impulsively last night..the biggest BOO!-raiser of the night from the audience.)

Senator Joe Biden has certainly never spoken against multilateralism. Senator Biden hasn't endorsed Obama or Clinton, but he did vote "Nay" to the Levin amendment while speaking often about the importance of multilateralism.

Categorizing the Levin amendment as what would've been "middle ground" in the question of authorization at the time, Senator Chafee says,
A mere 10 hours before the roll was called on the administration-backed Iraq war resolution, the Senate had an opportunity to prevent the current catastrophe in Iraq and to salvage the United States’ international standing.

Isn't that revising history? It would not have made President Bush disappear. It may have slowed him down, but I don't believe for a minute that it would've stopped him. I certainly don't believe it wouldn't have turned him into a multilateralist in that political atmosphere. It wouldn't have caused Judith Miller to accurately report the WMD story. It wouldn't have stopped the endless on-the-hour echoes of Bush sabre-rattling on CNN and FOX. It wouldn't have caused George Tenet to be brave enough to admit he saw cherry-picking and war-marketing by the Office of Special Planning happening at the time. It wouldn't have stopped then-Secretary of State Colin Powell from giving his traveling terror show at the United Nations.

Does it make Clinton, Biden, Kerry, or Edwards right on the IWR or the Levin Amendment, now that we look back almost six years? If you always take an ahistoric view, they will always look wrong.

Still, in intellectual terms, it's always going to be debatable. Where would Saddam Hussein be today had he not been removed from power? I think it's a fair question to ask, and one that either Obama or Clinton will surely be asked in a general election debate. Perhaps the "Nay" vote on the 2002 Levin amendment wasn't the right one, but is it a lot easier to wag fingers and play superior judge when you took a risk, perhaps at the expense of National Security (knowing just how bad our intel was less than a year following 9/11) and voted against giving the President an appearance of strength-of-sovereignty.

With all due respect, where is Lincoln Chafee today? What caused voters in his state to lose faith in him? He's outside Washington, Barack Obama was in 2002 when he (along with every liberal blogger under the sun) was protesting the Iraq war.

Senator Obama's argument for "better judgment" and "experience" over that of Hillary Clinton by saying he was against the Iraq war while not being part of the federal government is not any different than Howard Dean's case in 2004. It didn't get Howard Dean very far, although being unfairly marked by talking heads as the most left-leaning anti-war liberal, along with one over-amplified and over-played scream didn't help matters for him.

Jonathan Alter made the prediction quoted below back in October, 2006. I've seen Obama campaign manager David Axelrod try to "cash in" (in a ghoulish way) on the point in 2007, when he tied Senator Obama's opinion on Iraq back in 2002 directly in with Clinton-blame regarding the death of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto..quite a stretch.

Jonathan Alter quote from October, 2006:

On the Iraq war, the critical issue for Democratic primary voters, Obama is perfectly positioned. He opposed the war from the beginning, with an articulate denunciation of the Bush policy as a distraction from the war on terror. In other words, he was four years ahead of the curve. By contrast, John Edwards is in the uncomfortable position of having said he was wrong to support the war. Hillary Clinton is even worse off. She has yet to acknowledge the obvious: that if she knew then what she knows now, she would have voted against the war instead of for it. If both Obama and Clinton run, he would quickly best her on this issue, which all of her "early money" would do little to counteract. LINK

I have to say that I'm not convinced on the "judgment" issue.
See my posting from FIFTEEN MONTHS ago.

(Speaking of GOOD JUDGMENT and Obama, look at what Lambert's got at Corrente. It'll curl your hair.)

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton publically admitted she'd had regrets about her IWR vote in December, 2006.

I offered my own public advice to Senator Clinton one year ago. (Like she'd take it, already..but at least I offered....)
SEE: "Tough Love for Hillary Clinton on IWR"

Final Note: I don't claim to be an expert on Iraq and our nation's history with them, but Juan Cole certainly is a great resource for this kind of insight. See his comments (and partial transcript from the Iraq-talk at the debate last night.)

("Yeas" are in bold font)

Arkansas: Lincoln (D-AR), Nay
California: Boxer (D-CA), Yea Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Connecticut: Dodd (D-CT), Nay Lieberman (D-CT), Nay
Delaware: Biden (D-DE), Nay Carper (D-DE), Nay
Florida: Graham (D-FL), Nay Nelson (D-FL), Nay
Georgia: Cleland (D-GA), Nay Miller (D-GA), Nay
Hawaii: Akaka (D-HI), Yea Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Illinois: Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Indiana: Bayh (D-IN), Nay
Iowa: Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Louisiana: Breaux (D-LA), Nay Landrieu (D-LA), Nay
Maryland: Mikulski (D-MD), Yea Sarbanes (D-MD), Yea
Massachusetts: Kennedy (D-MA), Yea Kerry (D-MA), Nay
Michigan: Levin (D-MI), Yea Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Minnesota: Dayton (D-MN), Yea Wellstone (D-MN), Yea
Missouri: Carnahan (D-MO), Nay
Montana: Baucus (D-MT), Nay
Nebraska: Nelson (D-NE), Nay
Nevada: Reid (D-NV), Nay
New Jersey: Corzine (D-NJ), Yea Torricelli (D-NJ), Nay
New Mexico: Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
New York: Clinton (D-NY), Nay Schumer (D-NY), Nay
North Carolina: Edwards (D-NC), Nay
North Dakota: Conrad (D-ND), Yea Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Oregon: Wyden (D-OR), Yea
Rhode Island: Reed (D-RI), Yea
South Carolina: Hollings (D-SC), Nay
South Dakota: Daschle (D-SD), Nay Johnson (D-SD), Nay
Vermont: Leahy (D-VT), Yea
Washington: Cantwell (D-WA), Nay Murray (D-WA), Nay
West Virginia: Byrd (D-WV), Yea Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Wisconsin: Feingold (D-WI), Nay Kohl (D-WI), Yea