February 27th, 2008 by Rightsideup

Nice mature response here from Barack Obama to a legitimate criticism from John McCain. (From Jim Geraghty at The Campaign Spot on National Review Online.)

Obama apparently said the following in the Democratic debate Tuesday night:

As commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad.

John McCain rightly pointed out when asked about the comment later:

I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq. It’s called ‘al-Qaida in Iraq,’ [unless of course, you’re the New York Times, in which case Al-Qaida (or Al-Qaeda) is not in Iraq but in Mesopotamia, wherever that is…]

When presented with this snippet, Obama responded as follows:

I’ve got some news for John McCain, that is there was no such thing Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade.

“I’ve got some news for John McCain. I’ve got some news for John McCain. He took us into a war, along with George Bush that should have never been authorized, never been waged. They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11 and that would be Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, that is stronger now than at any time since 2001. I’ve been paying attention John McCain!

“John McCain may like to say that he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell. But so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that’s cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars and that I intend to bring to an end so that we can actually start going after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in the hills of Pakistan, like we should have been doing in the first place. That’s the news John McCain!

“I respect John McCain, but he’s tied to the politics of the past; we’re about the policies of the future. He’s the party of yesterday. We want to be the party of tomorrow. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.”

This is kind of the 46-year-old politician’s version of the schoolchild’s “oh yeah? well, you suck!” It doesn’t address the question itself, but instead tries to change the subject and counter-attack with something completely different. But, thankfully, Obama “respects” John McCain – phew. That’s alright then.

Now, I think it’s inevitable that during a campaign as long and arduous as all these guys have to go through, they’re going to goof every once in a while, and when it’s a Republican who goofs, it gets blanket coverage (see Romney saying Osama instead of Obama compared with this Obama goof and Hillary’s “Medvedev – whatever” comment from the debate last night). But it sure would be nice if the candidates would just say, “you know what? I misspoke. I apologize. What I meant was….” I guess we can dream on with that one…

January 31st, 2008 by Rightsideup

Time’s debate scorecard for last night’s debate demonstrates some incredible mental dexterity from Mark Halperin, who gave McCain a winning B grade (Romney got a D). The following quote is the first two thirds of his blurb on McCain’s performance:

As a testament to his suddenly strong position in the battle for the nomination, he showed off all of his worst traits — and still won! Alternately cranky, elderly, caustic, equivocating, inarticulate, passionless. But he flexed his ability to intimidate Romney as needed, usually with an arch one-liner that was 3/5 mean-spirited and 2/5 light gag. Made little effort to defend his own tax record or negative Florida attacks, and failed to drive a positive message.

And this is the guy who won? It reads like satire. The idea that Romney was intimidated bears no relation whatsoever to what actually happened in the debate, where Romney stood very firm and countered all of McCain’s smears. In the last third of Halperin’s summary he suggests that questoiners and the other candidates treated him as the front runner. No doubt the questioners did – this has been their line for the last several weeks, even when McCain was badly lagging Romney in the delegate race. But given there are only two serious candidates left in the race, who else was Romney to go after? Huckabee? Paul?? And McCain certainly focused his attention on Romney – does this mean he thinks Romney is the front runner? The whole thing is bizarre, and another sign that the media is desperate to have McCain as the nominee – either because they believe he will implode or because they like his centrist positions better than Romney’s conservative stance.