Thursday, August 23, 2007

Obama -- the Pragmatic Foreign Policy Guy

I've not said much recently about my guy Barack Obama. Although he's let a fairly large gap develop between himself and Hillary, I still think that this gap will narrow considerably before the Primary season gets up and running. He's still the best candidate to take on the GOP and he's learning how to lay out his message.
I did find interesting a Washington Post op-ed piece that suggests that Obama is setting the foreign policy debate and getting the better of his critics. David Ignatius writes:

Indeed, you can argue that over the past month, Obama has been shaping the foreign policy debate for the Democrats -- and getting the best of the arguments. By last Sunday's televised debate in Iowa, nobody else seemed eager to challenge Obama's postulate that "strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries." And there was little repetition, either, of the tut-tutting that greeted his statement that he would be prepared to go after al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, with or without President Pervez Musharraf's blessing.

Sen.
Hillary Clinton's stance has been more cautious, seeking to convey a general but vaguely defined sense that her toughness and experience would make her a strong president. Obama is taking the opposite tack.

Obama added some new (and potentially controversial) foreign policy details in an interview Tuesday afternoon, before he hopped a plane for his next stop, in
New Hampshire. He said he expects there will still be U.S. troops in Iraq when the next president takes office, and he is discussing with his advisers how this residual force should be used. "For getting out in an orderly way, withdrawing one to two brigades a month is realistic," he said. With 20 combat brigades in Iraq, that would imply a withdrawal schedule of at least a year.

His mix of idealism and pragmatism seems to be a good one -- if only the current leader had such a mix then we wouldn't be in such a mess. He's been opposed to the war from the beginning, but recognizes that we can't just "pull out" over night. It must be done "decently and in order" (to quote those Presbyterians).
If he continues to set the agenda for the conversation then he'll make the necessary inroads as people actually make up their minds!

5 comments:

Mike L. said...

I don't know what to think at this point. I'm becoming less optimistic. I sure wish somebody would step up to the microphone and inspire us. The race now seems to be about who can say the least and avoid making a mistake. That is a shame.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Mike,

I guess that's part of the political game -- don't say anything that will get you into trouble. But there's still a lot of time left to see what will happen.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I've been impressed with some things Obama has said, recently, but deeply disappointed in others. What ticked me off, though, was the way in the last debate, George Stephanopolis turned the thing into a Obama v. Hillary debate. He went 28 minutes before asking ANY question to Kucinich! I hate the media trying to narrow the field for us instead of letting voters do so in the primaries!

Let's remember that Stephanopolis was part of Bill Clinton's cabinet. He's not neutral. He has a horse in this race and he has done everything in his power to turn this into a 2 person race long before the Iowa caucuses! It's enfuriating.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Michael,

I agree that the process shouldn't be artificially narrowed. But, at the same time I wish at least a few of the candidates -- on both sides of the party aisle -- would realize that their nothing more than distractions. If we could get down to 4-5 candidates on each side we could then let them deal with issues in greater detail. Kucinich is one -- like Brownback that needs to pack it in.

This isn't a baseball league where we can afford to have a few teams be there to get beat up by the playoff bound.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Kucinich has no real chance in our current system, Bob. But he's not polling nationally any lower than Biden or Dodd and higher than Gravel. If any need to "pack it in," now, I'd look to them because, unlike Kucinich, they aren't adding anything to the debate. Kucinich, however, keeps pushing the Party and the other candidates in the direction they need to go. In fact, I would argue that, except for the strong peace emphasis of Kucinich (and its appeal to the Democratic grassroots), Hillary would still be defending her vote for the war and telling protesters to shut up (as she did at her early rallies). I think that even Richardson, Edwards, and yes, the pragmatic Obama would be far more cautious and even hawkish without Kucinich challenging them from the Left--because the mainstream Dems are scared whitless of being called "soft on defense."
So, I hope Kucinich stays in all the way to the Convention and gets to add planks to the Democratic platform--and maybe gets to pledge his support and delegates to the frontrunner who takes his concerns most seriously.
I think, although this should not happen before the first few primaries (the WAY TOO EARLY start of this campaign has warped everything) that we could see either Edwards or Obama agree to be the other's running mate and Kucinich supporting both IF they promised to support his Dept. of Peace and single-payer universal healthcare (neither of their healthcare programs goes as far as his). Then they could stop corporate clone Clinton from the nomination and be in great shape for the general election. But to urge that a true, grassroots progressive should drop out before the Iowa caucuses even start is ridiculous.

And none of this excuses the media. In 2004 at the very first Democratic debate (because they didn't start a year early!!!), Ted Koppel walked up to several candidates and told them to drop out of the race and then proceeded as if they weren't there. The next day, REALLY early in the campaign, the embedded media left all those campaigns singled out by Koppel and that left the way clear for the candidates that the media SAID were "serious." And we know what happened in '04.
We've got to pick candidates WE want and stop letting the vested interests pick them for us!!!