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Barack Obama's Lack of Real Interest in Transatlantic Cooperation

Barack Obama is a very smart and impressive politician, who was right about Iraq from the start. He has won big time at the Iowa caucus. Is that good news for Europe?

Well, Senator Obama is criticized for failing to convene a single policy meeting of the Senate European subcommittee, of which he is chairman. The Times quotes Steve Clemons, director of foreign policy at the New American Foundation in Washington:

Someone who is seeking the presidency should have some facility for the most important anchor in global affairs, which is the transatlantic relationship. (...) The major threats in the 21st century are changing but what is not changing is the vital necessity of Europe and the US collaborating in meeting those challenges with Europe, for instance, in the lead on dealing with Iran. This is a very disconcerting void in Obama's profile.

I am sure most Europeans love Clemons' appreciation of the Atlantic alliance as the "most important anchor in global affairs." Obama, however, is trying to get votes from Americans, who are increasingly less interested in (or have less faith in) transatlantic cooperation.

Of course, Obama is saying the usual nice things about Europe and NATO. And he promises to restore and further strengthen America's global alliances. David Vickrey wrote a guest blog post about Barack Obama's Foreign Policy article. IMHO, Obama expressed unrealistic expectations and wishful thinking in that article: "I will rally our NATO allies to contribute more troops to collective security operations and to invest more in reconstruction and stabilization capabilities."

I have the impression that many other Democrats underestimate European opposition to US policies.

They seem to assume that European countries do not support the US because of a dislike of President Bush. Yes, President Bush is not popular over here, but that does not mean that we love Democrats and do whatever a Democrat in the White House wants.

What is "to rally our NATO allies" supposed to mean exactly? How does he want to "rally" us? If Mr. Obama had convened a few policy meetings of his Senate European subcommittee, I would have more faith in his ability to increase transatlantic cooperation.

Steve Clemons writes on his blog The Washington Note:

My concern has to do with the fact that as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations' Subcommittee on Europe, Obama has held zero hearings -- at least that is how the record appears to me. Compare this to the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe, which is having constant hearings -- or to the Senate Subcommittee's work before Obama became Chair -- or to a comparative commitment of Hillary Clinton on a Subcommittee she chairs, and the zero hearing detail is disconcerting.

And he writes on TPMCafe:

Despite serving as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe, Barack Obama has not been there (unless we count Ukraine. . .but I'm not ready to do that yet) -- at least not recently. This was a bit of a follow-up to a piece I wrote the other day that Obama did not call any issue or policy oriented hearings in the Subcommittee during his tenure.

I spoke to a senior foreign affairs adviser to Senator Obama who I ran into at the foreign policy wonk-packed holiday party of the Center for a New American Security. This adviser, who must remain unnamed, said that he/she had worked very hard to get Obama to Europe this past year -- but that in the end, a planned trip fell through. This person also admitted that despite his/her own efforts to move Senator Obama towards more focus on Transatlantic issues and the fact that nearly all of the major challenges facing the United States today required significant, robust collaboration with Europe -- "Europe just isn't high on the list of Barack's priorities."

Related post in the Atlantic Review:  NYT: Obama is Supported by the Vast Majority Democratic Foreign Policy Advisors

Duck of Minerva writes about Hillary Clinton's (lack of) foreign policy experience. 

Endnote: John in Michigan emailed Daniel Pipes' article "Was Barack Obama a Muslim?" and comments: "I don't care if he was, and I think most Americans or Europeans wouldn't care, either.  The really interesting thing is, would the Islamic world react to him as a Christian, or as a apostate?  Something to think about."

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Don S on :

I think this is more of a 'Which came first: the chicken or the egg?" problem, and that this piece could just as easily be titled "Europe's Lack of Real Interest in Transatlantic Cooperation"! You did make one excellent point when you wrote: "They( many Democrats)seem to assume that European countries do not support the US because of a dislike of President Bush. Yes, President Bush is not popular over here, but that does not mean that we love Democrats and do whatever a Democrat in the White House wants.". True, but you seem to miss the main point which I have been trying to communicate for more than a year. That point is that both the US and Europe need to move if effective trans-Atlantic cooperation is to be restored and new life breathed into the currently moribund NATO alliance. The US needs to consult and communicate more on policy, and Europe needs to show leadership in actions and capabilities, not only mere words and noble sentiments. This is not happening very quickly at all, and particularly Germany comes short in this. It's too early to judge whether Sarko means what he says. Angela Merkel is rather more advanced in her chancellorship and I wax sceptical over what she meant what she said in the early days. Because action hs not followed her fine words to any marked degree....

David on :

It is unfortunate that you respond to a historic event - the decisive victory by an African-American in the Iowa caucus - by citing the Steve Clemons from the Clinton camp, and then especially Daniel Pipes, a commentator of hate. If the results in Iowa proved anything, it is that Americans are hungry for change and hungry for new leadership. That includes change in the way we approach foreign policy and strengthen our alliances. The last thing on America's mind just now is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe.

Anonymous on :

Are you saying Europeans have to feel about Obama like you and many Americans do? Are you saying Europeans have to view his triumph in Iowa the same way as Americans do? Are you saying Europeans are not allowed to ask, whether Obama is active in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe? Americans ask themselves all the time, whether European leaders are good for the US. Why is Schroder bad? Not because he was bad for Germany, but because he was bad for the Bush efforts to drag as many countries as possible into Iraq.

Don S on :

"Are you saying Europeans are not allowed to ask, whether Obama is active in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe? No, but we are entitled to ask whether such a question is realistic or relevant. Looking at the field of candidates of either party it's difficult to spot a foreign policy expert in the entire group with the possible exception of Biden, who dropped out asfter Iowa. Hillary has next to zero experience, as does Edwards. Obama is no more of a naif than either of his major rivals. Zero equals zero equals zero. I rate Obama's native wit as superior to that of either of his rivals and his personal charm superior to Edwards and FAR outstrips any charm Hilary may possess. Therefore I think he posesses above-average aptitude for developing the skills needed to do well in FP, difficult as it is to judge that for certain right now. Hill;ary has a major foreign policy advantage which I haven't mentioned - a chappie forenamed Bill, who DOES possess wit, charm, and experience. Does it matter whether Obama paid attention to his duties as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? The practical fact is that he has been running for president since he entered the Senate, if not before. It's also a fact that any senator serious about getting that promotion has to choose between their campaign and their senatorial duties. I doubt you'll see much of any more effort on Senator Clinton's part. Ex-Senator Edwards was notable for being one of the more lightweight Senators during his tenure, though he has many rivals for that honor.

SC on :

"I rate Obama's native wit as superior to that of either of his rivals and his personal charm superior to Edwards and FAR outstrips any charm Hilary may possess. Therefore I think he possesses above-average aptitude for developing the skills needed to do well in FP, difficult as it is to judge that for certain right now." That's a reasonable assessment from where I sit. And your point that domestic policy matters more in these matters always bears repeating. Many are taking note of Obama's "historic" victory in Iowa because Iowa is seen to be so very bland culturally, so very white, while Obama appears to be quite the opposite. But when change is in the air, Iowans, in the Democrat caucuses, have not refrained from choosing "the outsider" thought to be untainted by the ties that long exposure to politics in Washington generates. It is significant that Obama has been careful to cultivate the image of being "his own man" as he indeed seems to be. His care to distance himself from the old guard of the civil rights movement has been a far more subtle and potentially more profound action than Clinton's "Sister Souljah moment": a necessary step on the road to the Presidency and an interesting glimpse into the character of a man who just might come to define US foreign policy in the coming years.

Don S on :

Thanks or the compliments, kind sir! (buffs nails) ;) "Many are taking note of Obama's "historic" victory in Iowa because Iowa is seen to be so very bland culturally, so very white, while Obama appears to be quite the opposite. But when change is in the air, Iowans, in the Democrat caucuses, have not refrained from choosing "the outsider" thought to be untainted by the ties that long exposure to politics in Washington generates. It is significant that Obama has been careful to cultivate the image of being "his own man" as he indeed seems to be. His care to distance himself from the old guard of the civil rights movement has been a far more subtle and potentially more profound action than Clinton's "Sister Souljah moment": a necessary step on the road to the Presidency and an interesting glimpse into the character of a man who just might come to define US foreign policy in the coming years." I'm taking note of it. Iowa has voted for change before - but never for a black (never had the chance of course). This result did not come as a shock, but two years ago the notion that Obama could win the Iowa caucuse strongly would have surprised me. Bit of a sea change, that. For the first time since '92 I'm seriously considering voting for a Democrat - Obama has been that impressive. Not to put too find a point on it - I don't claim to be color blind in political matters. President Obama would be a good thing for the US on a symbolic level in a lot of ways. I sincerely believe in equality. Electing Barack Obama would show that core American value in the most decisive way possible. Both to ourselvs (most important) and the rest of the world (of lesser importance IMHO).

Anonymous on :

@ Don "No, but we are entitled to ask whether such a question is realistic or relevant." It's relevant for Europe. Likewise it is relevant for US newspapers to ask before the last German election whether Merkel or Schroeder would be good for America.

Don S on :

Ask what you will - free speech is a natural right of man, even Anonymous types like you. But don't expect Americans to take too much notice of you're quibbling; this is a genuinely exciting political development from the Yank POV, and a realistic appreciation of how politics actually work (as opposed to faux perfectionism) is a valuable tool in life. Even for a European.....

Evil European on :

Ahhh, the old 'free speech defence'...used when one is unable to think of a suitable comeback. POV is key here. The POV of Europeans and Americans are going to be different on the same issue as we come from different perspectives. Thats why its a POV. Obama winning in the US is going to mean different things in Europe, than in the US. And his major weakness from Europe is lack of policy experince. Maybe the real issue is that the US government and its people have got so used to seeing the entire planet in terms of how useful it can be to them, that when the tables are turned it gets confusing! I also find Obamas comments about Europe needing to spend more money on reconstruction intresting as the EU nations already contribute 50% of the planets aid budget!

Don S on :

I think Joerg has the right to poke holes in any of the candidates, David, but I agree with you that he is being less than completely fair to Obama. I think we two normally agree on very little, but I do agree with you that Obama is the best-looking of the Democratic contenders (in the sense of being a potential president, not looks). Hilary is marginally behind in my view, but neither would be a disaster. Edwards I see as either a cipher or a disaster - I hope we never have to find out. After Iowz things look bad for him anyway.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"he is being less than completely fair to Obama." Why? What did you expect to read here? This post does not claim to look at Obama's qualifications and visions and intellect and experience from all sides. This is a narrow article looking at his track record on Europe. An article about German unemployment does not have to mention the growing GDP. It is fair enough to write an article about all the problems of unemployment. Anyway, I hope this did not sound too defensive. I am fine with the article. I appreciate and respect the criticism from you, Don and David. And please bear in mind that I have [b]not [/b]written that Hillary Clinton (or anybody else) would be better for Europe than Barack Obama. Perhaps Obama is the least bad option for Europe. All the other candidates might not have more interest in transatlantic cooperation than Obama. All I am saying is that Obama has not shown much interest in Europe yet.

Don S on :

"Why? What did you expect to read here? This post does not claim to look at Obama's qualifications and visions and intellect and experience from all sides. This is a narrow article looking at his track record on Europe." I suppose my point is that one does not become a President of the US by being a fine senator - Bob Dole proved that. Obama focussed on the essential requirements needed to achieve his real goal, which is a possible indicator of at least some executive talent. Nor is the good opinion of Europe or Europeans necessarily of huge importance at this point in the political cycle although it may become so later. Obama holds all the essentials to charm the pants off of Europe when the time comes. 'Ich bien ein Berliner', remember? He's young, charismatic, smart as a whip, and leftish; Europe will love him (if not obey him). But do unsterstand that an Obama presidency is not a European 'play' in my view. He will go over great globally including Europe, but I think 'people of color' will especially love him. That means Africa and possibly South America. Great 'soft diplomacy' at the most fundamental level there is, which is symbolism. It will show that the US 'walks the walk' when we talk about human equality, not just 'talkm the talk', a notable European specialty.....

Bill L on :

And you are exactly right. The whole article is right on, I think. One possible correction: the Democrats may actually know better, or once have known better. Their talk like Europe will love us again if we have a Democrat president is political bs. But I tend to agree with with you: over time they seem to have come to believe their own bs. One things for sure though. Euros can manipulate them like the wizard manipulates the Great Oz, simply by throwing a fit and threatening to call them them evil the moment they seem inclined to do something other than what you want them to. Republicans don't much care if you call them evil. They're used to it.

joe on :

The last POUS Iowans chose was Jimmy Carter. Who also promised change and supposedly promised new leadership. That worked out really well. And who says history does not repeat itself. As an aside David calling anyone a commentator of hate caused me to spill my morning coffee all over my keyboard.

Don S on :

There was an interesting piece by David Gerson about 'change elections' in the Wall Street Journal today. He sees 1976, 1992, and 2008 as fitting this paradigm. Iowa didn't determine the 1976 election, Joe. A helluva lot of states voted for JC that year. I remember it well because it was my first vote as an adult. I voted for Mo Udall in the Wisconsin primary and watched into the wee hours as Jimmy Carter gradually pulled ahead of him to win by a hair. Voted for Carter over Gerry Ford (aka Bozo the Clown), the last Democratic presidential vote I cast until 1992. Obama is no Carter. He;s a helluva lot smarter than JC for one thing, and not nearly the naif. It doesn't mean he won't find a way to make his term into living hell (if he wins), but all presidents seem to have that talent except maybe the Great Reagan.

joe on :

Don, The only candidate in a contested nomination process who won Iowa and went on to become POUS was Jimmmmy.

SC on :

And if Obama loses in Wyoming, Alabama, or Michigan what will that be evidence of, David?

Don S on :

In the primary or the general election, SC? It surely makes a difference. I think Obama has as good a chance as anyone winning the primary in all those states. I think the general election will be a close one unless the GOP blows a gasket and nominates Huckabee, so my best guess is that 'bama and Wyoming hold form and go red, and Michigan holds form and go blue.

SC on :

I should have been clear on that point, Don. I meant in the primaries, and I was commenting on the tendency to over ascribe significance to Obama's win. As symbolic, and yes, important, as the win in Iowa for Obama is, it's a long way before anyone secures the nomination of either party. His win in Iowa has been anticipated by those following the campaign just as his loss in other states will not surprise the cognoscenti. It's best not to set the whole country up for a fall if he fails to secure the nomination. Politics ain't bean bag, as the old saying goes. That being said, the man may be meeting his moment. With Iraq quieting and Afghanistan largely ignored by the media, the moment does not seem to be orbiting around foreign policy issues except as an avatar of some general desire for a different direction taken to address traditional domestic concerns: the economy, the role of government, and the culture. This could be seen particularly on the Republican side in Iowa. Huckabee's populist message combined with a frank appeal to a shared faith resonated with evangelicals and cultural conservatives and contributed in generating a quite large turnout. In both the Republican and Democrat caucuses it sure looked like voters found a compelling personality and character of greater interest than the particulars of any policy domestic or foreign.

Don S on :

SC, you are normally correct about Iowa. Some weird people chave won in Iowa over the years the Right Reverend Pat Robertson comes to mind. Iowa wasn't relevant in the last 'change election', 1992, because Iowa Senator Tom Harkin ran that year and all the other Dems opted to stay out. So New Hampshire was the first test. President Bush (I) was the incumbent in 1992 and I don't think Buchanan fought hard in Iowa (he amBUSHed the president in New Hampshire though). I don't see Obama as a weird choice and the polls from New Hampshire seem to reflect genuine momentum. New Hampshire should be very interesting. If Obama wins he will be in a very strong position. I think it slightly more likely we will finish a strong second. Hilary needs to win in the worst way, as does Edwards. If Edwards loses you can stick a fork in him - he's done. Hilary has a bit more staying power than Edwards, and even a loss won't finish her off. It would weaken her pretty badly. I think she wins New Hampshire by a nose over Obama, with Edwards the also-ran. Edward's problem is that Obama offers everything Edwards does and more. Edwards' is handsome, inexperienced, somewhat inteliigent, and glib. Obama is handsome, inexperienced, genuinely intelligent, and articulate. If you would consider voting for Edwards why not back Obama instead? He's similar but better.

SC on :

"I think it slightly more likely we will finish a strong second." Just saw this. Not bad. I think you should contact the various media and offer your services!

Don S on :

"we". Errrrmm. I meant "he" of course. I'm tempted to quip that "we", as in the citizenry of the US always finish second, but that's not (quite) true....

Don S on :

"I am sure most Europeans love Clemons' appreciation of the Atlantic alliance as the "most important anchor in global affairs." Obama, however, is trying to get votes from Americans, who are increasingly less interested in (or have less faith in) transatlantic cooperation. " Europeans traditionally love 'trans-Atlantic cooperation" because just as traditionally the net effect of these policies has been that Europe got services and benefits of very real value without having to surrender much at all. Quid cans quo. Only since the end of the Cold War have Europeans been asked to do more, and refused as we have seen this past decade. American's patience is at the breaking point with this kind of behavior, and the comments of Obama and Guliani (also the subject of a AR guest blog post) both reflect this fact in different ways.

Branson on :

No we dont care, Nice to read about what Europeans want, but don't get ahead of yourself. As if electing Barack is a message to Europe that we are sorry or looking for support is wromg. We are looking to maintain the world order, maybe some in Eroupe want occupation back. Dont laught maybe next time the US wont come to your/our support. What is it with Europeans that makes them so quickly forget? The republicans will be there, Obama (democrat) will not. Are you guys so strong now that you don't need USA support? If so great......we could save billions! Barack is about isolationalism which I support. My advice is that you sould be carefull for what you wish for because it just might become true. I will vote Obama and let Europe sail good luck....

Don S on :

"Hillary Clinton's (lack of) foreign policy experience." Gosh, fancy that? Looking back at the list of US presidents it is difficult to spot too many foreign policy experts. A few have had some experience - most notably Dwight Eisenhower and George Herbert Walker Bush over the past 50 years, and Herbert Hoover before them. But this is not a unique failing of the US. Name me a German Chancellor with substantial Fp experience before he became chancellor? I can't think of any at all. France? DeGaulle possibly, but DeGaulle had a facility for FP discord more than anything. The single exception who comes readily to mind was Anthony Eden of the UK, Churchill's successor and long-term Foreign Secretary of the UK. Eden was the architect of the Suez invasion and barely lasted a year as PM, 'nuff said. Nor is foreign policy experience often important in selecting the leader of more autocratic countries like Russia or China. What experience did Gorbachev, Yeltsin, or Putin have before their elevation? Or Stalin, Khruschev, Breznev, or Andropov. I'm less familiar with China's leadership but cannot think of a single Chinese leader with obvious FP experience. The fact is that a 'striped pants' career does not prepare a leader well for either politics or handling domestic policy in any democratic country - possibly any country at all? One needs to pass the political hurdle first, and domestic policy is more important to most voters than foreign policy. The converse is true when Europeans judge a US president, or Americans judge a German chancellor or a French President, but we should not confuse our own obsessions for something which is not as important to voters in another country.

Zyme on :

Reading all this about the lack of experience of the candidates is interesting. Just think of the main consequence a comparatively young age and a lack of experience will have: It will speed up current tectonic developments in international politics because such a president is a lot more likely to prefer radical solutions over traditional ways. Also it will decrease the chances of the american government at stopping negative developments, since the leader lacks expertise and is more likely to listen to incompetent advisors. In other words: Among the current candidates there is a number of perfect successors to the current president. I don´t count Clinton as one of these - she seems tough and I would consider her an uncomfortable partner in transatlantic negotiations. But Obama? He looks a lot like somebody who will turn away from Europe the moment he realizes that european antagonism towards the US goes beyond Bush. The perfect guy to withdraw american troops from here and put the transatlantic relationship to a less illusorical level. Hopefully he will make it.

SC on :

Well Zyme, before getting too soft on Obama, you better check out whose foreign policy advise he's accepting. ;-)

Zyme on :

Who would that be?

SC on :

Here's a score card as of October: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinions/documents/the-war-over-the-wonks.html But how about these to name just a few: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard A. Clarke, Anthony Lake, Lawrence J. Korb, and Dennis Ross. Not exactly revolutionary, eh? I especially think that Zbig is a nice touch, don't you? :)

Zyme on :

Interesting - though it is not surprising that my guess was wrong. I could only judge him by a few media appearences and by his age and the experience in foreign policy the he is said to lack. Again I can hardly see an advantage of his young age. Experienced advisors might have an easy time at pulling the strings and causing presidential decisions the president himself may regret afterwards.

ADMIN on :

Please note that by default the comments in this blog are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest comments and responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear, which enable you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.

Pat Patterson on :

Before everyone annoints Sen. Obama I would like to point out that in 1984 Jessie Jackson won five primaries and in 1988 he won eight primaries. Midway through the primaries Jackson was actually ahead with the number of delegates accumulated. And winning a caucus in a state that is mostly white and isolationist should be grounds for some hesitation as to how truly representative was this victory. However if the Senator is elected he will have very real not hypothetical problems to face in world affairs and if he is very unlucky something will happen that, like Pres. Bush, forces him to act on the international level.

Don S on :

Senator Obama isn't Jesse Jackson any more than JFK was Al Smith - or Father Coughlin. It's stll early times but Barack has generated a genuine buzz and made a senation. I'm now convinced that he will one day be President. If not in 2008 then in 2012 or 2016. The political cards are falling his way. I have long felt that he could use experience as a state governor. I'm not sure you've noticed but the Democratic governor of Illinois seems to be on the road to follow his GOP predecessor to the Federal Pen sooner than later: that leaves the door wide open for Obama to run for that job if he doesn't take the brass ring this time. A long tenture in the Senate would be the deadliest possible thing to his presidential aspirations; a term as a reforming governor of Illinois is just what the doctor ordered - as long as he doesn't succumb to the Gray Davis disease......

SC on :

Dead on, Don. Being in the St. Louis television market I've seen plenty of news about Blagojevich and his antics. I don't know if he'll end up in the pen like Ryan, but there are plenty in his party that would like to attach concrete boots and take him for a boat ride on Lake Michigan.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Thanks for the hat tip, Joerg. Senator Obama has my sincere congratulations on his impressive victory. If as I suspect this is the beginning of the end for the Clinton campaign, he has done the Democrats, and the country, a huge service. Very interesting to learn that Obama isn't very active as chair of that subcommittee. This ties in to another fact about him, that in both the Illinois Senate and in the US Senate, he has an unusual record of voting "present" much more often than is typical. Note, voting "present" in this context is different than simply failing to show up for the vote (which many Presidential candidates do when they are busy fund-raising). Details at [url=http://opinionjournal.com/federation/feature/?id=110009664]The Ever-'Present' Obama[/url] @David: "Daniel Pipes, a commentator of hate". Please cite specific, published or spoken commentary of his that is hateful. Unverifiable words his opponents attribute to him don't count. Some of his recommendations are too law-and-order for my taste, but he goes out of his way to speak respectfully about Islam as practiced during most of its long history, and admires many aspects of historical Arab and Muslim culture. I have never seen him act with hate, or even disrespect, to anyone who will debate with him honestly and respectfully. For critics who fail to do that, he has boundless contempt, but I have detected no hate. There are many hateful-sounding quotes out there that are attributed to him, that upon investigation turn out to be distortions, or outright fabrications, of what he actually said. Obama himself raised the issue, arguing that his childhood exposure to Islam would give him an advantage in dealing with Muslim people and governments. In the current climate, the question is certainly relevant.

quo vadis on :

Obama's lack of emphasis on foreign policy reflects the mood of the US electorate. We swing from internationalism to isolationism and we are just coming off an especially unpleasant flirtation with internationalism. The emerging big issues are all domestic or are driven by domestic concerns, the economy, immigration, healthcare. For better or worse, former hot button issues like terrorism, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan along with our relations with our allies have faded into 'business as usual' to be dealt with by the experts, whoever they are.

Martin on :

Europeans are conservative: They want people with experience. "No experiments" used to be a popular campaign slogan in the 60s in Germany. Americans on the other hand love someone new and fresh. They hate people with too much experience in Washington DC. That's why they elected George Bush from Texas. Americans knew that he was an Alcoholic and not terribly smart, but he promised to bring "values" (always a favorite in the US) back to DC. And fresh ideas. He had a vision etc. Now American will elect Obama for the same reasons, plus Obama is very smart and is not an alcoholic.

Elizabeth B on :

Martin that is just plain wrong. The election decision of 2000 resided mainly in what shade you preferred your high-tax big government domestic platform--compassionate (no one knows what it really means) or within a lock-box (on one knew what it meant). Both challengers were scions of prominent political families who went to first-rate private schools (Andover and National Cathedral School) and Ivy league institutions and enjoyed net worths over 20 million dollars with ample tax havens for their trusts and family corporations. The 'values' you seem to remember were political codes for assuring the eldery they would be taken care and reminding the country that the Clinton years were a morass of illegality and floozy philandering in public, no less. Bush was famously crucified for not knowing the President of Pakistan and in those happy days no one cared; Pakistan was irelevant. The alcoholic thing fits nicely within the Evanglicial movement coinciding with religious attitudes of redemption, but it also is very much part of the greater American ideology. He stopped drinking a while back so it was a non-issue. The point of fact is that Obama discounting his overabundance of melanin is a run-of-the-mill McGovern middle left democrat with a weird racially-infused evangelical Christanity patina. There is no 'brave new world' here or a dramatic break with prior politics and ideas. Obama is a more eloquent, smarter and oilier version of Dukacsis (spelling). Whether that is good or bad is left up to your conscience, but he will not shift the domestic political landscape like Reagan or to a lesser extent with the Democratic party Clinton.

SC on :

Oh my! With an attitude like that, there will be no absolution for you. ;)

SC on :

@Joerg: In my response to Zyme (see 5.1.1.1) I link to a WaPo page that lists foreign policy advisers to Obama and Clinton as of October. Apart from the gathering names, does this list for Obama suggest to you and your colleagues at the Atlantic Community anything at all, or are the views these people have held in the past too divergent vis a vis transatlantic relations?

Pat Patterson on :

One of the things I am waiting for is not necessarily proof that the candidates do indeed know the difference between the types of representative democracies or even who are, the leaders of either Lower Slobbovia, Pottsylvania or Elbonia(if you do know, then you have spent too many hours reading the comic pages). What will be important is the recognition of what is in America's short or long term interests? Not necessarily on what is the most popular or even the seemingly most newsworthy event. Pres. Nixon eventually saw the need to extricate the US from Vietnam, via his White Papers, because he and Sec. Kissinger didn't see our continued presence there matching our the national interests. Not because it could be argued that it was the right thing to do on a moral basis. And since some have complained mightily about the idealistic idea of spreading democratic ideals throughout the ME then the possibility of an even more idealistic president should give pause. Especially one that either suggests a completely hands off approach or more of the same.

James Bass on :

Aside from making liberals all gushy and wet, JFK and Obama have very little in common. JFK: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." That position, carried by subsequent presidents, accounts in large part for Germany being one nation today, not two. Obama wants to cut and run from Iraq, which is not the right position now or "from the beginning."

Pat Patterson on :

I skipped through most of this screed but couldn't help noticing the claim that the Anti-Christ was supposed to a middle-aged man of Muslim origin. Considering that Revelations only makes reference to various beasts and that Islam didn't appear for another 400 years the charge that this applies to Sen. Obama is utterly nonsensical and the kind of nasty and stupid internet drivel that only the brain damaged would repeat. But the image of Sen. Obama trying to hide his seven heads and ten crowns must really take gallons of Clearisil to accomplish. In other words no anti-Christ, except in the Gospels and no Muslims for another four centuries.

Joe Noory on :

That is the looniest collection of unrelated theories I've ever seen. It doesn't even add up chronologically. Barack Obama somehow knew Prescott Bush? Joerg: Since the entire thing is cribbed, factually implausible, and vaguely fascist in its' motives, I suggest deleting it.

Pat Patterson on :

Ah, it's multiplying! Just like all those little murderous Bruce Campbell's Ash character in Evil Dead II.

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