July 26, 2008

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McCain's Media is up in arms over the backfire of McCain's challenge to Obama to go to Iraq. Obama went, he saw, he conquered Europe. That has to smart after spending the last seven years telling Americans that the French were sissies to compensate for their sneering of our foreign policy. Tom Brokaw, interim host of Meet the Press, is apparently an elder statesman of the McCain Media, since his choice to confront Obama is nothing less than citing once again those foreign policy "experts" of Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. Remind me again, when have they been right about anything in this Iraqi invasion and occupation? Oh yeah, NEVER. Naturally, that's who Brokaw should choose as the framing for his questions accusing Obama of being a little light on the specifics in his Berlin speech. What, you've never heard of EJ Dionne or Paul Krugman? How hard is it to even occasionally acknowledge a pundit from the other side of the aisle? Why on earth do they continue to give so much gravitas to pundits who have been so tragically and disgustingly wrong every step of the way?

As Obama rightfully points out, a 200K crowd in a foreign country is hardly the venue in which you pull out your inner wonkiness to get deep in the weeds of specific policies. Be honest, Brokaw, Brooks and Krauthammer whined about it because that's all they had. If Obama had been specific, they'd whine about that too.

And if it is specifics you seek, where the hell is the media in asking McCain for specifics when he floats his "victory in Iraq" and "we are winning" memes every other sentence? I've been waiting for years for someone to explain to me what "winning" means in an occupation.

Transcripts below the fold

BROKAW: Next stop, Berlin. You were a rock star, as you often are when you give a speech, you had some by estimates, 200 thousand people listening to you-big crowd. Not everyone in America was an admirer. Charles Krauthammer, the conservative columnist, said ‘he hadn't earned the right to speak there,' and David Brooks from the New York Times, who is an early admirer of your rhetoric and the early stages of the campaign had this to say in his column, about your appearance in Berlin: " When John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, their rhetoric soared, but their optimism was grounded in the reality of politics, conflict and hard choices. Kennedy didn't dream of the universal brotherhood of man. He drew lines that reflected hard realities. Reagan didn't call for a kumbaya moment. He cited tough policies that sparked harsh political disagreements. Much of Obama's Berlin speech fed the illusion that we could solve our problems if only people mystically come together. We should help Israelis and Palestinians unite. We should unite to prevent genocide in Darfur. We should unite so the Iranians won't develop nukes. The great illusion of the 1990s, according to David Brooks, was that we were entering an era of global convergence in which politics and power didn't matter. What Obama offered in Berlin flowed right out of that mind-set. Since then, autocracies have arisen, the competition for resources has grown fiercer, Russia has clamped down, Iran is on the march. It will take politics and power to address these challenges, the two factors that dare not speak their name in Obama's lofty peroration. Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn't eloquence. It's just Disney."
Why didn't you use that occasion to spell out in great detail a sweeping vision of the Obama Doctrine?

OBAMA: [laughs] Well...

BROKAW: You're [unclear] the President of the United States.

OBAMA: ...Let me say first of all there are a bunch of really good reviews that you didn't ....that you didn't put up on the screen. I'd say there's about nine good reviews for every bad one. Number two, I think David Brooks is one of my favorite conservatives, but he is a conservative who is supportive of John McCain, so let's, you know, put that out there as a caveat.

BROKAW: But here's the point...

OBAMA: But let's get to the point. No one speech does everything, right? I could have delivered a(n) exhaustive list of policy prescriptions. I suspect that 200,000 people would have slowly drifted off as I entered into the 45th minute of the speech. What I was trying to do was provide some broad themes in terms of where America needs to go and where Europe needs to go. And contrary to David Brooks' suggestion, and some of the suggestions of other conservatives, I was I think pretty clear about the difficulties of power and politics. When I specifically said that Europeans need to step up and do more in Afghanistan, that wasn't an applause line in Germany. When I talked about the fact they need to do more in Iraq, despite our past differences, that wasn't an applause line in Germany. When I talked about the fact that there has been too much anti-American sentiment and a stereotyping of America in Europe, that wasn't an applause line in Germany, that wasn't a bunch of high flying rhetoric. So I think given the purpose of this that I had, which was to get Europeans to recognize the extraordinary sacrifices that Americans have made on behalf of world freedom and security and to get Americans to recognize we need partners in order to be effective to solve our problems. I would give myself a slightly better grade than David Brooks did.

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