McCain Forgot Canada

Right after doing a post which refers to McCain’s frequent gaffes I came across this from First Read:

In his interview with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, which will air on NBC’s Nightly News tonight, McCain questions whether Obama should have given a speech in Berlin before becoming president.

“I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States,” McCain told O’Donnell. “But that’s a judgment that Sen. Obama and the American people will make.”

However, on June 20, McCain himself gave a speech in Canada — to the Economic Club of Canada — in which he applauded NAFTA’s successes. An implicit message behind that speech was that Obama had been critical of the trade accord. Also, McCain’s trip to Canada was paid for by the campaign.

This could be framed as a yet another example of something McCain forgot, or perhaps one could even question if McCain realizes that Canada is outside of the United States. What this really represents is yet another example of how weak McCain’s criticism of Obama has become, and how he now looks like someone who will say anything in the hopes of picking up political points.

Update: McCain is also being criticized today for forgetting Afghanistan, as well as Canada. He forgot Afghanistan when he referred to Iraq as the first major conflict after 9/11.

McCain Doesn’t Seem to Know His Stuff

Yesterday I had a post on how Obama “knows his stuff.” This proves a welcom contrast from George Bush, who clearly does not. Recent statements from John McCain have raised the question as to how much John McCain really knows about current international problems. I’ve recently had a post on the large number of gaffes he has made on a subject which is supposedly his strong point. Fred Kaplan asks, How Much Does John McCain Really Know About Foreign Policy. He answers with a subtitle saying, “Not As Much As He’d Like You To Think.” Kaplan notes that some questioned if Obama would make any damaging gaffes on his overseas trip, and then moves on to McCain:

But, of course, it was Obama’s opponent, John McCain—the war hero and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee—who uttered these eyebrow-raisers. “Czechoslovakia” was clearly a gaffe, and understandable for anyone who was sentient during the Cold War years. What about the others, though? Were they gaffes—slips of the tongue, blips of momentary fatigue? Or did they reflect lazy thinking, conceptual confusion, a mind frame clouded by clichéd abstractions?

If Obama had blurted even one of those inanities (especially the one about the Iraq-Pakistan border), the media and the McCain campaign would have been all over him like red ants on a wounded puppy.

McCain caught almost no hell for his statements—they were barely noted in the mainstream press—most likely because they didn’t fit the campaign’s “narrative.” McCain is “experienced” in national-security matters; therefore, if he says something that’s dumb or factually wrong, it’s a gaffe or he’s tired. Obama is “inexperienced,” so if he were to go off the rails, it would be a sign of his clear unsuitability for the job of commander in chief.

It may be time to reassess this narrative’s premise—or to abandon it altogether and simply examine the evidence before us. Quite apart from the gaffes, in formal prepared speeches, McCain has proposed certain actions and policies that raise serious questions about his suitability for the highest office. As president, he has said, he would boot Russia out of the G-8 on the grounds that its leaders don’t share the West’s values. He would form an international “League of Democracy” as a united front against the forces of autocracy and terror. And though it’s not exactly a stated policy, he continues to employ as his foreign-policy adviser an outspoken, second-tier neoconservative named Randy Scheunemann, who coined the term “rogue-state rollback” and still prescribes it as sound policy.

Kaplan proceeded to discuss these points in more detail, showing little respect for McCain’s knowledge of foreign policy.

Republicans for Obama Unite

After the last two elections in which the conventional wisdom was that victory was determined by turning out a candidate’s own party’s base as opposed to attracting swing voters, it is a welcome change to see both parties nominate candidates who have shown interest in attracting support from members of the other party. I hope that this means that regardless of who wins we will not have a president who attempts to govern from one extreme while ignoring the views of the other party. I’ve had numerous previous posts noting conservatives and libertarians who are supporting Obama over McCain. The Hill reports that Obama plans to use this to his advantage:

Barack Obama’s campaign is talking with Republicans who have endorsed his presidential bid, seeking to coordinate a publicity blitz together.

The campaign recently held a conference call with a small group of officials who are or who have previously been identified with the Republican Party, according to sources who were on the call.

The initiative to highlight the backing of “Obamacans” is in its infancy. But campaign events featuring Republicans praising Obama are seen as an effective counterpunch to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) aggressive backing of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) White House bid.

Republicans, and former Republicans, backing Obama discussed in the article include Lincoln Chafee, Douglas Kmiec (a professor at the Pepperdine University School of Law who was co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign’s Committee for the Courts and the Constitution), Susan Eisenhower, Larry Hunter (a former adviser to President Reagan and president of the Social Security Institute), and Jack Holt (Texas businessman and former Marine). They also mention Chuck Hagel and Colin Powell as Republicans who have not yet endorsed Obama but who might do so in the future. They also asked Zell Miller who he is supporting this year, but have not received a response.

Obama Beat McCain In Arizona Fund Raising in June

I certainly don’t think Obama has much of a chance to beat McCain in Arizona, but these fund raising numbers are sure interesting:

Barack Obama quietly raised more money in Arizona last month for his presidential campaign than John McCain did, and the Illinois Democrat dominates the overall fundraising map in 43 states and Washington, D.C., records show.

Obama reported $432,000 in donations from Arizonans in June, compared with McCain’s $313,000, based on an Arizona Republic analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Neither campaign properly codes all contributions with a state, making it impossible to know exactly where all donations came from.

Since last year, McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, has raised at least $4.7 million from his fellow Arizonans, double what Obama reports from the state. But donations this year are nearly even: McCain’s Arizona donors have given him $2 million. Obama’s Arizona donors have given him just $66,000 less.

A Further Look at The Clinton Die Hards From PUMA

Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog provides follow up to the post yesterday on CNN’s report on the PUMA groups of Clinton supporters who would prefer to see McCain as opposed to Clinton be elected. CNN’s report quotes Webster Tarpley as believing “a McCain victory might be the best result if Obama is the Democratic nominee.” Steve provides some background on Tarpley:

Tarpley is a LaRouchenik and a 9/11 truther who thinks Obama is a puppet of the Trilateral Commission and “the candidate of the U.S. intelligence community,” Obama apparently having been recruited by The Conspiracy in his “lost years where nobody knows anything about what he was doing, we’re not even sure where he was. 1981, 1982, 1983 his last two years in college,” all of which Tarpley recounts in his new book, Obama: The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate, the cover of which pairs a photo of Obama waving and a photo of Mussolini giving a fascist salute.

Obama Knows His Stuff

Back in the early days of the campaign I was frustrated by the fact that the three top tier candidates were all relatively inexperienced and that the more far more experienced candidates in the second tier were being ignored. As the year went on it became increasingly clear that this situation was not going to change and that the top tier presented the only viable choices for the nomination.

During this period I evaluated the candidates further, including reading Obama’s books and speeches, as well as some of the occasional in depth interviews which could be found among all the usual meaningless media clutter. From doing this I found two important things about Obama. Ideologically I found him preferable to the conservative populism of Clinton and Edwards, and I was impressed by his intelligence and grasp of the issues. It certainly should not come as a surprise that a professor of Constitutional law has been impressive when speaking or writing topics such as civil liberties and separation of church and state. His grasp of foreign policy was also impressive, including but not limited to his initial opposition to the Iraq war.

M.J. Rosenberg noted that Obama “knows his stuff” in a post on the success of his overseas trip:

I worked on Capitol Hill for 20 years and I can tell the difference between a staff driven politician and one who knows what he’s talking about. The staff driven pol (McCain is an example) is always capable of the big blunder. He does not mix up Shiites and Sunnis because he “misspoke;” he really doesn’t know the difference. Same on the economy, he studies a memo and works to assimilate it. But there is no depth.

The sad fact is that most of our politicians are like that. On the Arab-Israeli issue, all they know is that they need to sound pro-Israel. So they end up mouthing the most superficial pieties. They are afraid to talk about the Palestinians because they might say the wrong thing.

They pander and pander, knowing that they won’t get into trouble by just sucking up.

Not Obama.

He is pro-Israel and he supports the two-state solution. He is for keeping Jerusalem undivided but supports resolving Jerusalem’s status in negotiations. He acknowledges the Iranian threat to Israel but does not endorse a military response to deal with it.

So what’s Obama’s secret. He’s smart. He reads. He knows his sh*t. And that is why the Republicans who are counting on him to lose this election through some verbal blunder are going to be disappointed.

I’m not saying that McCain cannot win. He can. But he’ll have to win it. Obama is not going to hand this election to him by stumbling.

I just talked to a friend who saw Obama in Israel. I asked him what his friends in the Israeli media are saying. “What are they saying? They are saying that he’s the next President. And they think he’s the smartest American politician they have seen yet.”

Me too.

More experience might be of value, but in a situation where we needed a change from the status quo a relative Washington outsider such as Obama might have been the best choice.  I would sure rather have someone like Obama who knows his stuff, and who even reads, as opposed to someone like John McCain who has far more experience but is totally lacking in substance.

Michigan Tries To Make Amends for Mitt


The State of Michigan gave birth to Mitt Romeny, and we do sincerely apologize for this. His father, and our former governor, was a liberal Republican and we don’t know where Mitt went wrong. Most likely he realized that there is no future for liberal Republicans.

While we have been spared having Mitt as a presidential candidate, the fear persists that McCain might pick him as his running mate. The Michigan Democratic Party has released the above web ad in preparation should Romney be chosen.

I know it is a small gesture, but I do hope that the rest of you can forgive Michgan for any role we had in imposing Mitt Romney upon the country.

Obama’s Appeal To Conservative Collegues

One of Obama’s strong points has been his consideration of all viewpoints, allowing him to transcend many of the differences between the left and right in order to seek solutions to today’s problems. This is certainly a needed change after eight years of someone as closed minded as George Bush in the White House (and for the benefit of those discussed in the previous two posts, one of the many reasons to stop Hillary Clinton was to prevent yet another four years of the same problem.) This is a quality which has contributed to many conservatives and libertarians who do not generally support Democrats being able to support Obama. (Recent examples here and here).

Obama’s closest colleagues at the law school tended to be the more liberal members of the faculty–such as Cass Sunstein and Geoffrey Stone–but many conservatives were fond of him, even though they often didn’t see eye to eye. Saul Levmore, the school’s current dean, whose politics are hard to characterize but generally right-leaning, says, “We were intensely interested in him. We were looking for him to say, ‘I’m giving up politics, I want to be an academic.’ We were always in recruiting mode with him.” Epstein, who once almost sold his Hyde Park home to Obama and would buttonhole him to talk about things like state mandates for health insurance, offers one reason why: “He was always a terrific listener. He’d sit there and cock his head, take it all in.”

Of course, as Epstein points out, Obama’s willingness to listen didn’t necessarily mean he was willing to be convinced. “What you don’t get, alas and alack, out of all this is a change in point of view,” Epstein says. “If you ask me whether I had any influence on his intellectual or moral development, I’d say no, not even a little.”

But other Chicago conservatives seem content with the fact that Obama tried to understand their point of view, even if he didn’t wind up adopting it. “What I know from my dealings with him at the law school is that he does really attempt to understand the points of view of other people who look at the world or a particular issue differently than he does,” says Fischel. “He’s much more intellectual, much more thoughtful, much more interested in discussion, debate, and dialogue than the typical politician. And that gives me some confidence about him, even though from my perspective he’s much too liberal. I’ve never voted for a Democrat in my entire life. He’s the first one I might vote for.”