He Said/She Said

It’s happened. After months of watching Hillary and Barack circle around each other firing warning shots, it looks as though the two campaigns have engaged each other directly, and are ready for a little duke out.

Here’s the quick back story. Last night during the presidential debates, one questioner asked if the candidates would, without precondition, meet with foreign leaders of countries such as Cuba, or Iran, or Venezuela in order to attempt to increase our relationship with such countries.

It was a quick moment, one that Cooper Anderson cut off before much serious debate could handle, but the general gist was that Obama said he would, and Hillary said she wouldn’t.

Not much more beyond that was said before the next question came.

Seeing an opening, however, camp Hillary today pounced. Speaking about Obama’s comment, in a phone interview today Senator Clinton said, “I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive.”

It’s an effective attack, bringing into the voter’s mind Obama’s lack of experience. She has mentioned that she didn’t want to become part of a propaganda machine for a dictator on the basis of unconditional talks.

But if one thing that Obama has shown he is good at in previous debates, it’s stepping up when attacked. If Hillary was going to pin Obama with “naive” then he was going to pin her with something worse, “Bush-like”, an attack that could prove equally effective in a time when the single mandatory political gambit for success just about every candidate must employ is running from the abysmally unpopular president.

“What she’s somehow maintaining is my statement could be construed as not having asked what the meeting was about. I didn’t say these guys were going to come over for a cup of coffee some afternoon,” he said.

He added Clinton is making a larger point.

“From what I heard, the point was, well, I wouldn’t do that because it might allow leaders like Hugo Chavez to score propaganda points,” he said. “I think that is absolutely wrong.”He likened the position to a continuation of the Bush administration diplomatic policies.

In truth, this quibble is rather rempresentative of both candidate’s foreign policies. Hillary, believe it or not, is rather hawkish, and has been so while in the senate until Bush took the Iraq war and started choking both the US and Iraq with it. Not to rag on Hillary too much, her national security stances have long been somewhat triangulated; leaning hawkish so as not to appear weak or soft on national security, but not overly so in order to not completely and totally sever her ability to speak to the base.

Conversely, Obama has a tendancy to favor more diplomatic and open policies. He’s left of Hillary on this issue and no where near as hawkish or ready to call in the troops. That and much of what governs his political philosophy is the concept of interconnectivity which seeks to solve problems through indirect and unconventional means, ie. reduce abortion by stimulating the economy. Or, to be more accurate, interconnectivity seeks to solve many varied and seemingly unrelated problems by addressing larger, broader problems which stand as ultimate factors for the smaller ones.

And in a way they both have a point. It may very well be naive to just have an open dialogue with some of these dictators without precondition. But on the other hand, when have we tried, and is what we are doing right now really helping us out?

While the neocons are not making the greatest case for a war against Iran, it’s no secret that Iran is not our friend, and our efforts in Iraq are doing little to endear us to them (though, as my friend Cernig points out today, we are starting to work with them a teeny little bit, but who knows where that may lead?).

In North Korea, Kim Jong Il starves the world and sits alone as a mad dictator with an itchy trigger finger.

The fact is, these aren’t new threats or new enemies, these dictators that are sitting there and providing an ever present threat to their own people and sometimes to us, they’ve been there for a long while, and little we have done over the past few decades has seemed to work to any appreciable degree. So perhaps it is time we changed tactics. Perhaps it is time we opened a door or two and see what lays behind it.

Like is so often true in politics, nearly every issue is quickly divided up into two sides, and both sides claim they’re right and the other is wrong, but in all likelihood the truth, the real right answer lies somewhere in the middle.

I want to see someone who, like Hillary, would enter into such a prospect with apprehension and caution, but at the same time, there should be an intrepid spirit to actually proceed, not unlike that displayed by Obama. This, folks, is what real debate is about, taking two opposing ideas and finding the common and middle ground that may actually work.

As for politics, this is most likely only the opening fireworks in a firefight we’ve all been waiting to see. Expect more of this stuff in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook