OxBlog

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

# Posted 10:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHICH OBAMA? The buzz is growing. Who can resist the senator from Illinois? Apparently, Maureen Dowd can. She wrote a nasty column last week accusing Obama of being self-centered, superficial and in love with his own publicity. Perhaps MoDo is jealous of the handsome, younger man who can make more Democrats swoon with his warmth than she can with her hard-bitten cynicism?

The more substantive questions for Obama, came from Tim Russert. This one should not have been any kind of surprise, but Obama wasn't sure how to handle it:
MR. RUSSERT: Well, nine months ago, you were on this program and I asked you about running for president. And let’s watch and come back and talk about it.

(Videotape, January 22, 2006):
MR. RUSSERT: When we talked back in November of ‘04, after your election, I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your full six-year term as a United States senator from Illinois?” Obama: “Absolutely.”

SEN. OBAMA: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things, but my thinking has not changed.

MR. RUSSERT: But, but—so you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

SEN. OBAMA: I will not.
(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: You will not.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, the—that was how I was thinking at that time. And, and, you know, I don’t want to be coy about this, given the responses that I’ve been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility. But I have not thought it—about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required. My main focus right now is in the ‘06 and making sure that we retake the Congress. After oh—after November 7, I’ll sit down and, and consider, and if at some point, I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me.
Big deal. Every candidate plays down his or her ambition before deciding to run for president. But most candidates dance around the question instead of committing unequivocally to serving out their current term of office. They look silly when they do, but their dance is soon forgotten. But if Obama can make a personal promise with such certainty only to go back on it nine months later, perhaps he needs to know himself better and place less emphasis on saying what others want to hear.

But running for president wasn't the only question that Obama tripped on:
MR. RUSSERT: Two years ago in September of ‘04, this is what you told the Associated Press: “Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama ... opposed invading Iraq ... but pulling out now [he said] would make things worse.

“A quick withdrawal would add to the chaos there and make it ‘an extraordinary hotbed of terrorist activity,’ he said. It would also damage America’s international prestige and amount to ‘a slap in the face’ to the troops fighting there.” So two years from now—from then, you no longer believe pulling out would damage our prestige or slap our soldiers in the face?

SEN. OBAMA: I—at the time, as you know, I, I thought this whole venture was, was poorly conceived. Not just poorly executed, but poorly conceived. I think it was a mistake for us to go in. I felt that once we had gone in, it made sense for us to try to make the best of the situation. And my hope was is that the Iraqi government could in somewhat—some ways, bring about some sort of stability in the region.

What we’ve seen is such a rapid deterioration of the situation...it is clear at this point that we cannot, through putting in more troops or maintaining the presence that we have, expect that somehow the situation is going to improve, and we have to do something significant to break the pattern that we’ve been in right now.
Again, Obama seems forced to retreat from a position he took that was convenient at the time. There is a certain amount of sense to saying that things are worse now than they were in 2004. But the real issue is tone. "A slap in the face" to our soldiers? Those sound like the words of either a GOP hack or a Democrat acting tough when the polls say that tough is good. Now that tough is bad, Obama has softened his tone.

To be fair, neither of the gaffes I've pointed out are of major significance. But they do provide an important contrast to the adoring press coverage that presents Obama as nothing short of the next JFK (who himself was no JFK until after he was dead).

Moreover, Obama seemed genuinely surprised at being confronted with what he himself had said not too much earlier. Perhaps he will learn the lesson of consistency now, when he can afford it.
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Perhaps MoDo is jealous of the handsome, younger man who can make more Democrats swoon with his warmth than she can with her hard-bitten cynicism?

OOOOOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!! OUCH!


Spot on, as per usual.
 
letter to dowd
Dear Maureen,
Today's attack on Obama just supports my contention (since 2000) that you are a closet Republican. My friends (including a Republican or two) agree that you have significant responsibility for the Bush victory in 2000 with your witty assassination column on Al Gore. I remember it well. I hope you do too, since it gives you some responsibility for the Iraq war, global environmental deterioration, an even more conservative supreme court, possibly the 9-11-01 attack, and on and on! The Obama column is unlikely to have such ramifications, but it certainly puts down one of the more intelligent politicians around. Who needs Rush Limbaugh when they/you have Maureen Dowd? Too bad. You seemed to have some intelligence in many columns. I guess you just can’t let go of a humorous piece, unable to think of consequences. I’d call it the Quixote defect.
Bob brown
 
Maureen is a Clintonista getting earning her pay.
 
PS: Disregard "getting".
 
I was a fly on the wall at one of Obama's pitch sessions early in the '04 campaign to a very small group (4) of very heavy hitting doners.

The one heavy hitter who had been doing business for years in Africa was deeply under-impressed.

The one who had black busines partners on deals in the past was neutral.

The two whose rise to mega-success had been in areas of life where blacks are/were absent above the clerical level were totally blown away.

Obama's a nice guy, but his 'star power' is soley a creation of his audience.
 
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