July 9, 2008


Obama running in place on Iraq (ROGER SIMON, 7/8/08, Politico)

Obama was goaded into the planned trip by John McCain, who, along with the Republican National Committee, has been keeping track of the number of days since Obama last visited Iraq. A clock on the RNC website counts the days, hours, minutes and seconds since Obama was last in Iraq. (As I write this, it has been more than 912 days.)

McCain has been to Iraq many times, and it hasn’t changed his mind. He says that if he is elected president, he would eventually withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, but only “with victory and honor.”

Even though such trips are of limited value — how much do the highly protected, highly isolated VIPs actually get to see? — Obama’s campaign decided he should actually go there as long as he was going to keep talking about the place.

But the trip has already turned into a trap.

Because Obama is a logical guy, he said there was a logical reason for him to go to Iraq. He was going to talk to military people there, he said, and “continue to refine” his Iraq policy.

“I am going to do a thorough assessment when I’m there,” he said at a news conference last week in Fargo, N.D. “When I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and continue to refine my policy.”

More information? To refine his policies? Oh, boy. What a reason to make a campaign trip!

Because Obama has already committed to removing all combat brigades from Iraq within 16 months of taking the oath of office, and because most Democrats are very much opposed to the war, his statements were seen as a blunder at best and a flip-flop at worst.

What Obama should have said is: “Though my mind is totally closed on the subject of Iraq, I have agreed to go there because it will be good publicity and the Republicans will have to shut up about how long it’s been since I have been to Iraq.”

Which he did not say. Instead, he got besieged with questions and had to have a second news conference, where he was forced to say pretty much the same thing.

The poor guy is stuck on the defensive for the next four months and he's only effective in scripted appearances mouthing pabulum to acolytes.

Obama Tells Kids to Stay in School, Learn a Foreign Language (Bonney Kapp, 7/08/08, FOX: Embeds)

At his Georgia town hall meeting, Obama cautioned kids not to drop out of school to pursue a far-fetched dream. Addressing a mostly African American crowd outside Atlanta, Obama joked, “You can’t find a job unless you are a really, really good basketball player. Which most of you brothers are not. I know you think you are. But you’re not. You are overrated in your own mind. You will not play in the NBA. You are probably not that good a rapper. Maybe you are the next Little Wayne, but probably not. In which case you need to stay in school.”

On a roll, Obama then said they’d be much more employable if they know a foreign language, and said we should be emphasizing foreign language study in classrooms. “It’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is merci beaucoup.”

Obama shows signs of being trail-weary: The Democrat makes the most of the occasional break with his family but can't seem to escape the spotlight (Peter Nicholas, 7/09/08, Los Angeles Times)
Being Barack Obama would seem an ego-enlarging thrill, with ecstatic crowds at every stop and -- if the polls are right -- a better than 50-50 shot at becoming president.

Watching him on the trail in recent days, though, it often appears as if the unrelenting attention and prolonged campaigning are getting wearisome. He told a customer at an Indiana diner two months ago that he had lost 7 or 8 pounds. He said he was learning to get by on four-to-five hours' sleep.

Since late last month, after Obama clinched the nomination, his movements have been tracked as never before. He is trailed constantly by a corps of reporters and camera crews, even when his public day of campaigning ends.

When the candidate goes to the gym, takes his wife to dinner or sets up a folding chair on an athletic field to watch his daughter play soccer, the journalists follow in case anything might happen.

Many of these are private moments, but as Obama is discovering, the Democratic presidential nominee has no private life. Any display of spontaneity or deviation from the scripted message can alter the course of his campaign.

Finishing a swing through some Western states Saturday, Obama vented about the loss of personal space that has accompanied his political rise.

"I've never been a big entourage guy," he said during a news conference as his plane flew from Montana to St. Louis. "And so one of the adjustments of being a candidate is not being able to go take a walk somewhere without having a big fuss. And that takes some getting used to."

The point was demonstrated vividly on his campaign plane a few days before, when Obama had to use the bathroom at the back of the aircraft -- the lavatory in front being temporarily unavailable.

Obama's betrayal on campaign finance (DANIEL KOFFLER, 7/9/08, Politico)
Barack Obama’s decision to renege on a promise he made last fall and opt out of public financing for the general election triggered widespread public outrage. Coming from centrist and center-left pundits, such condemnations of Obama make a certain amount of sense. Those who believe that reducing the amount of money in politics produces better government ipso facto, and especially those who believe full public financing of elections is the ideal, have good reason to be angry with Obama. Given his past commitments to public financing, they also have reason to feel somewhat betrayed.

But what sense can we hope to make of the denunciations soi-disant conservatives have unrelentingly heaped on Obama? Take it for granted that the candidate’s gambit was every bit as unprincipled and politics-as-usual as the most vociferous attacks on him make it out to be.

Wall-E for President (FRANK RICH, 7/06/08, NY Times)
For me, Mr. Obama showed signs of jumping the shark two weeks back, when he appeared at a podium affixed with his own pompous faux-presidential seal. It could have been a Pixar sight gag. In fact, it is a gag in “Wall-E,” where, in a flashback, we see that the original do-nothing chief executive of Buy N Large (prone to pronouncements like “stay the course”) boasted his own ersatz presidential podium.

For all the hyperventilation on the left about Mr. Obama’s rush to the center — some warranted, some not — what’s more alarming is how small-bore and defensive his campaign has become. Whether he’s reaffirming his long-held belief in faith-based programs or fudging his core convictions about government snooping, he is drifting away from the leadership he promised and into the focus-group-tested calculation patented by Mark Penn in his disastrous campaign for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Obama’s Wednesday address calling for renewed public service is unassailable in principle but inadequate to the daunting size of the serious American crisis at hand. The speech could have been — and has been — delivered by any candidate of either party in any election year since 1960.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 9, 2008 8:26 AM

Obama has a french inferiority complex, and so schoolchildren in Georgia should learn a dead language?

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at July 9, 2008 10:03 AM

Note: OJ, these double posts, like the above two, are because your comment engine is really, really slow. One thinks one's post has failed because it cannot possibly take 90 seconds to post, so one tries again.

Obama's foreign language orthodoxy is rooted in a worldview that holds the U.S. should not be dominant and therefore isn't, so France/Germany/ Italy area really peers of the U.S. and our kids should therefore spend four years trying to learn useless European languages to reciprocate for Euro-kids learning ours. Our kids don't need their tongues, their kids need ours.

Obama continues to mistake his fantasies for reality.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 9, 2008 2:47 PM

There are no double posts--the software eliminates them too. Just trust the site.

Posted by: oj at July 9, 2008 3:48 PM


That's good about your post cleanup software. Still, I encourage you to compare the bjudd commenting experience using IE7 with that of commenting on, say, baseballmusings or powerlineblog or even detroittigersweblog.

Posts to these are very fast and don't hit timeouts or your wonderful sql_error message. I encourage you to improve the posting speed and reliability of your blog. Yours remains one of the most interesting stops on the web, your traffic would grow if the commenting mechanics were fixed. Growing traffic equals growing dissemnination of your views, which, if you think them useful to the body politic, is sort of your somekindaChristianleaning duty.

I am perfectly aware that you may not care at all about growing your traffic. I have a fuzzy image of you living your days in your stained wifebeater with pj bottoms and an oversized plaid mountain shirt cooking-up delicious arterial clogs, watching the kids, reading everything, thinking wrong political thoughts that need correcting, and not really giving two turds whether anybody reads the blog at all.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 10, 2008 7:25 AM

Hosting the blog already costs us way too much (pretty much all our revenue nowadays) and one of the big problems is that we just have an enormous amount of data archived: 46,000 posts and 255,000 comments.

Sorry if your comments don't appear as quickly as you'd like, but they do appear. I'd recommend just not watching for them to do so. It's a faith-based experience.

Posted by: oj at July 10, 2008 10:49 AM

You've built the brand, now start slipping the products beneath it. I suggest a chain of brotherjudd craft breweries that serve ruination, 90-minute, 2-hearted, and the plinies. Then have more product waiting for us there: t-shirts about the virtues of open, unsecured immigration, etc., brojudd beerglasses, brojudd HSA's.

Kick it up a notch, then get a better commenting engine. Today I got two "movable type invalid ID" errors??? Then again, my faith needs lots o' work.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 11, 2008 12:31 PM

How about focusing on who has the experience, judgement and character to protect us and bring prosperity to Americans … not someone who in the eleventh hour, finally tries to establish foreign policy credentials, in a one week visit, as a transparent political ploy to get himself elected. Where was Obama, when he was supposed to chair the congressional committee on Afghanistan, and never had a single meeting. Why did Obama vote ‘present’ over 100 times in the senate? Even if he stages a political rally in the Roman Coliseum, he’s still just an inexperienced politician, who is not qualified to be President of the United States of America !!!

Posted by: Howard at July 22, 2008 10:48 AM
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