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Friday, May 16, 2008

A Partisan's View of Obama's Strategic Political Blunder

Given that I am the political rival of Barack Obama it might just be that I am viewing this bru ha ha over Bush's remarks yesterday through partisan lenses. That maybe so and thus everyone reading this should keep that admission in mind.

That said, I am frankly shocked and intrigued by his, along with most of his party's, over the top response. I firmly believe that raising this issue brings with it several pieces of baggage and only one glaring positive. Now, the positive can be summed up by this part of his speech today...

Obama said, ticking off grievances ranging from the billions spent on the Iraq war to the thousands of Americans who have been killed there.

By tying this dust up to the Iraq war, he also ties McCain to that policy. No doubt he will want to enjoin McCain as much as possible to that policy, and that is his most effective foreign policy attack. It will of course be up to McCain to point out that he was one of the few politicians that that criticized the failed Rumsfeld strategy from the beginning, but that is a debate for another day. For now, Obama has tied this supposed attack on him to the failed Iraq policy and that is effective.

Unfortunately, the positives of this strategy end there, and the negatives frankly almost never stop. First, read the comments section to this story from almost any source and you can't help but notice a comment much like this.

I know it is hard to swallow Mr. Obama, but the world does not revolve around YOU. You have a rather inflated sense of self importance and it is becoming increasingly annoying. President Bush was NOT talking about YOU. Get over it.

This is one of many reasons why you will NOT be getting my vote this November.

While this comment comes from the Fox News story, you will find a similar sentiment from just about anywhere this story is mentioned. In other words, while Barack Obama maybe convinced that Bush was talking about him, the public at large isn't necessarily convinced as well. President Bush never mentioned Obama or the Democrats, and yet they took his statements as an attack on them. In order to do that, they had to read between the lines. Well, of course there is nothing but empty space between the lines, and so they are now interpreting and getting inside his head. Bush continues to insist that he wasn't directing his remarks at Obama and he is the authority on what he meant. This only perpetuates that perception that Obama is full of himself. That is exactly how this commenter took it.

President Bush speaks in Israel and states that the way to work with terrorists is not through appeasement. No names are mentioned by President Bush but Senator Obama accuses President Bush of attacking him. Reminds you of the song “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you”.

Frankly, the over the top interpretation is not nearly as devastating as what this does to the political debate. The Democrats aren't in great position to have major victories because Barack Obama wants to talk with no pre conditions with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They are in great position for victories because we have a housing crisis, out of control gas prices, rising health care costs, and a protracted war in Iraq. Obama would be wise to keep the debate on domestic policy not foreign policy. I am of the opinion that this is foolish and naive policy but much more than that it is terrible politics. Obama may actually believe that the majority of Americans are with him when he says he will meet with Ahmadinejad with no preconditions, but they aren't. All he does is tie himself to a dictator.

More than that there is an old adage in politics. The simplest most concise arguement wins. John McCain says we are going to stay in Iraq till we win and we won't negotiate with terrorists or the states that sponsor them. Barack Obama says we will begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, unless any number of one hundred hypotheticals happen in which case he reserves the right to do any number of undetermined actions. Furthermore, he won't meet with the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah because they are terrorist organizations but he will meet with the President of Iran because that is a recognized country. Now, which of those arguements sounds more concise and simple?

Finally, John McCain has built his campaign mostly on the strength of his foreign policy readiness, leadership, and experience. Thus, Barack Obama is now fighting on his turf. Remember, McCain recently admitted that he doesn't know much about economics. If the conversation is there, it is Obama's turf. So, why would Obama consciously move the conversation to the opponent's home turf? Obama can proclaim that his vision is the right one, but that offers McCain the opportunity to say this. It is McCain that knows the horrors of war first hand. It is McCain that has foreign policy and military experience for more than half a century. It is McCain that has had first hand dealings with all of the players that Obama is talking about. Obama may think he is right, but that's just because he is a naive neophyte in foreign policy.

So, as a political opponent, I encourage Barack Obama to advance this debate until November. I would like from now until then explain to us the differences between negotiating with Hezbollah and Iran. I am curious why terrorists get the cold shoulder but state sponsors of terror are welcome with open arms. This is the sort of debate that John McCain and his supporters welcome.

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