Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It’s Not Too Late for Democrats to Nominate the Better-Qualified Candidate

Photo credits: AP/Susan Walsh

Two of the three articles I’m linking to this morning are related to the current positions staked out on the war in Iraq by Barack Obama and John McCain. The third article highlights the closeness of the general election race that many would argue ought to be Obama’s to lose.

WaPo Criticizes Obama on Iraq War

An editorial in today’s Washington Post turns Barack Obama’s criticism of President Bush and John McCain for their rigidity on the Iraq War back onto Obama:

BARACK OBAMA yesterday accused President Bush and Sen. John McCain of rigidity on Iraq: "They said we couldn't leave when violence was up, they say we can't leave when violence is down." Mr. Obama then confirmed his own foolish consistency. Early last year, when the war was at its peak, the Democratic candidate proposed a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. combat forces in slightly more than a year. Yesterday, with bloodshed at its lowest level since the war began, Mr. Obama endorsed the same plan. After hinting earlier this month that he might "refine" his Iraq strategy after visiting the country and listening to commanders, Mr. Obama appears to have decided that sticking to his arbitrary, 16-month timetable is more important than adjusting to the dramatic changes in Iraq.

Read more:

Obama's Web Site Deletes Surge References

Touching on the related matter of Obama’s initial opposition to the surge, Andrew Malcolm's post at Top of the Ticket (the LA Times) reports how the Obama campaign has lately deleted relevant references on its Web site:

“A funny thing happened over on the Barack Obama campaign website in the last few days.

“The parts that stressed his opposition to the 2007 troop surge and his statement that more troops would make no difference in a civil war have somehow disappeared. John McCain and Obama have been going at it heavily in recent days over the benefits of the surge.

“The Arizona senator, who advocated the surge for years before the Bush administration employed it, says the resulting reduction in violence is proof it worked with progress on “15 of 18 political benchmarks and Obama's plan to withdraw troops by now would have resulted in surrender.

“When President Bush ordered the surge in January, 2007, Obama said, "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse," a position he maintained throughout 2007. This year he acknowledged progress, but maintained his position that political progress was lacking.

“Tuesday, while Obama gave a speech on foreign policy, the New York Daily News was first to notice the removal of parts of Obama's campaign site listing the Iraq troop surge as part of "The Problem." An Obama spokeswoman said it was just part of an "update" to "reflect changes in current events," as our colleague Frank James notes in the Swamp. The update includes a new section on the rise of al-Qaeda violence in Afghanistan.

“But some might see the updating as part of Obama's skip to the political center now that he's secured the Democratic nomination. "Today," McCain said Tuesday, "we know Sen. Obama was wrong" to oppose the troop surge.

“An old quote of Obama's criticizing the "rash war," which helped him with the left wing of his party and helped differentiate his stand from that of Sen. Hillary Clinton, a primary opponent who voted for the use of force in Iraq, has been replaced on his site by one saying that ending the Iraq war will make America safer. That's more of a general election message.

“And hat tip to the folks over at the Wake Up America blog for their continuing trenchant analyses of the summer campaigns in general and, specifically, for highlighting the video below that contrasts Obama's pre-surge position with a more recent interview of David Axelrod, his chief campaign strategist, denying Obama's statements. A reminder of how carefully voters must listen during these last four campaign months.”

Watch the video here.

Are Obama and McCain Ebbing or Flowing?

Finally, Tom Edsall at the Huffington Post, wants to know if Obama and McCain are ebbing or flowing:

“About a week ago, Republican media specialist Alex Castellanos asked pollster Scott Rasmussen to add a question to one of his surveys: If the November election were between Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who would you vote for? Obama crushed Bush 54-34.

‘“Noting that tracking polls generally show just a 2 to 4 point edge for Obama over John McCain, Castellanos said the most obvious conclusion is that "McCain is not Bush." But more importantly, Castellanos argued, ‘It means McCain is not running against the Obama who won Iowa, but [against] the more polarizing Democrat [who] Hillary Clinton was beating like a drum in Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, etc.’

‘“In the current political environment, according to Castellanos, ‘where the GOP is in disgrace, the President is unpopular, gasoline is 5 bucks a gallon, housing prices are sinking, and the economy is in the toilet,’ Obama's slim lead ‘means he is not an acceptable Democrat. . . . Obama is in big trouble.”’

Following the Rules in Denver

I would argue it’s the Democratic Party that’s in big trouble. But it still has a chance to set matters right in Denver with Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot and a roll call vote. Obama has not yet been duly elected as the party’s nominee even though the DNC has rented a football stadium for his “acceptance speech.” We can still hope for a last-minute upset by Sen. Clinton, who is easily the better-qualified candidate.

For more on keeping the Democratic Party's convention democratic, check out the Denver Group and Heidi Li's Potpourri.

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