Obama Takes on Bush/McCain/Clinton All At Once

Matthew Yglesias presents a portion of Obama’s speech in Denver:

It’s time for new leadership that understands that the way to win a debate with John McCain is not by nominating someone who agreed with him on voting for the war in Iraq; who agreed with him by voting to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; who agrees with him in embracing the Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to leaders we don’t like; and who actually differed with him by arguing for exceptions for torture before changing positions when the politics of the moment changed.

We need to offer the American people a clear contrast on national security, and when I am the nominee of the Democratic Party, that’s exactly what I will do. Talking tough and tallying up your years in Washington is no substitute for judgment, and courage, and clear plans. It’s not enough to say you’ll be ready from Day One – you have to be right from Day One.

This is excellent, and what we will need to continue hearing between now and Super Tuesday. Obama shows how he will differentiate himself from John McCain by showing both how he is different from Hillary Clinton, as well as showing how Hillary Clinton represents just a continuation of the Bush/Clinton Dynasty.

One place where the conventional wisdom and most pundits got it wrong this year is in claiming there is not much difference between the Democratic candidates. There is a tremendous difference between Obama and Clinton. Alex Knapp, in commenting on the same speech, gets it right:

Now that Edwards is out of the race and John McCain is the GOP frontrunner, one of Obama’s great strengths in the campaign is his foreign policy positions. Bush’s foreign policy has become rather unpopular, and the fact of the matter is that McCain’s foreign policy is Bush-plus (Bush isn’t hawkish enough for him), and Hillary Clinton’s, frankly, isn’t much different–especially if we judge by her campaign advisors, her Senate voting record, and her husband’s record while in office.

It’s worth noting that while it’s a fashion among the punditocracy that there’s “hardly any policy difference” between Clinton and Obama, that isn’t exactly the case. True, large portions of their domestic economic policies are similar, but on crucial issues like civil liberties and foreign policy, there are important differences. Unfortunately, these aren’t exactly covered well by the media. Or at all.

If McCain is the Republican nominee he has an excellent chance to beat Clinton on both experience and integrity. Whether or not it is true, the race will pit the straight talker McCain versus Hillary Clinton, who has been widely branded as a liar and cheat by even her own party. By adopting a variety of dishonest tactics, and showing her true colors, Clinton saved herself from certain defeat for the nomination but might have made a general election victory unobtainable for her. Even without losing on the character issue, Clinton has far less to offer voters who desire a change in course than Obama does.

Update: Via Memeorandum I find that Pamela at The Democratic Daily cites this speech as a some sort of evidence that Obama is engaging in the politics of personal destruction. Such Clinton supporters frequently attempt to create a false equivalency between criticism of a candidate on issues and principles as Obama has done and outright lying about the opponent’s position and race baiting like the Clinton campaign.

In answer to the question she poses to Senator Kennedy, there are significant differences here between Obama and the Clintons. This is why Kennedy decided to get off the side lines, and why so many honest Democrats have been outraged by Clinton’s tactics. As Alex Knapp also said about today’s speech, “I think that this is an excellent attack, both in the fact that its substantive and there’s nothing really unfair about it.”

Pamela also repeats the other common Clinton talking point that “Obama speaks in platitudes on the issues, Hillary Clinton offers a clear, substantive vision of her plans for the future of our nation.” Obama does speak more in poetry than verse in such campaign events, but he has also laid out detailed plans as to what he would do. One major difference between Obama and Clinton comes down to judgment. From Iraq to health care to her various nanny state ideas, Clinton has a history of displaying poor judgment. She’s a self-professed government junkie who doesn’t understand the limits of government power as Obama does. It is also significant that Clinton supporters see Obama’s speeches as “platitudes” rather than principles. It is the easy abandonment of principles for political expediency which characterizes the Clintons and is why it is time for an end to the Bush/Clinton dynasty.


  1. 1
    Wayne says:

    Yep, as soon as I heard Clinton unleash the mud and sic her attack dog husband on Obama, I thought “leave it to the Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” As unapealling as all of the Republican candidates are, I don’t think Hillary would get many votes for the position of dog-catcher.

  2. 2
    Pamela Leavey says:

    Hi Ron

    Thanks for the link. Regardless of who the nominee is they will get my full support.

  3. 3
    Ken Williamson says:

    What exactly is the difference between Hillary Clinton, McCain and George W. Bush?

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