Frankly my dear, she doesn’t give a damn

Obama supporters and Democratic Party members should stop wasting their time being outraged about Hillary Clinton and work on getting their guy to the general

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., pauses as she is introduced during a campaign stop at the train depot in Hattiesburg, Miss., Friday, March 7, 2008. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio’s the only place they can win … She is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything … You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh’,” Power is quoted as telling the newspaper. “But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.”

Samantha Power, a foreign policy adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign quoted in remarks she later attempted to retract as saying in The Scotsman newspaper. Power has since left the Obama campaign.

“After a campaign in which many of the questions that voters had in the closing days centered on concerns that they had over his state of preparedness to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he has chosen instead of addressing those issues to attack Senator Clinton. I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president.”

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson on Obama’s statement that he plans to be more critical of Clinton’s record.

A lot people have expressed some surprise, alarm and anger even over the Democratic Party’s Hillary Clinton situation. There’s the shock and dismay. How could she say the things or do the things she’s doing with disregard for her friends, supporters and fellow Democrats? It’s all very personal considering many of us defended her when she was routinely attacked by Republicans.

Why would she denigrate Barack Obama by ensuing that she and the Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, are more qualified to run for president? Why is her campaign continuing when the math doesn’t favor her? Why is she attacking Obama’s campaign the same way she would attack a Republican?

The answer is very simple – She wants to win.

Naked ambition is something most Democrats have divorced themselves from. The party is largely dominated with Northern Democrats, who are a genteel bunch and very different from their Populist-leaning, rancorous Southern and Midwestern brethren who defected to the opposing team after Jim Crow was abolished.

The present day Democratic Party, bless their timid hearts, is kind of passive. The Clintons, on the other hand, are into the same rancorous, rough n’ tumble politicking that has typified American campaigns. They had no time for pleasantries. They have no concerns about justifications or fairness. It is about the endgame. She wants to win through, even if it takes super delegate wheeling and dealing, backdoor favors and bargaining, blow-for-blow, attack/counterattack, assassination-style hardball politics.

From The New Republic:

Clinton’s path to the nomination is pretty repulsive. She isn’t going to win at the polls. Barack Obama has a lead of 144 pledged delegates. That may not sound like a lot in a 4,000-delegate race, but it is. Clinton’s Ohio win reduced that total by only nine. She would need 15 more Ohios to pull even with Obama. She isn’t going to do much to dent, let alone eliminate, his lead.

That means, as we all have grown tired of hearing, that she would need to win with superdelegates. But, with most superdelegates already committed, Clinton would need to capture the remaining ones by a margin of better than two to one. And superdelegates are going to be extremely reluctant to overturn an elected delegate lead the size of Obama’s. The only way to lessen that reluctance would be to destroy Obama’s general election viability, so that superdelegates had no choice but to hand the nomination to her. Hence her flurry of attacks, her oddly qualified response as to whether Obama is a Muslim (“not as far as I know”), her repeated suggestions that John McCain is more qualified.

This is not new.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a political animal who bullied his New Deal through, fought and won against the Republicans and congress and served four-and-a-half terms as president. His relative and former president Teddy Roosevelt was also a fighter with populist leanings. Andrew Jackson, who didn’t he fight? Lyndon Johnson was the most powerful and influential member of congress, giving up that threshold to be Kennedy’s vice president, despite the fact they were bitter rivals.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had the power of the unions behind him and was the man you needed to be in with to win the state of Illinois. Many historians believe the “irregularities” in the vote count in Chicago during the 1960 presidential race won the presidency for John F. Kennedy.

These are people who don’t shy away from a fight. They actually enjoy it. They work to build a network, then position themselves as the conduit people have to go through to advance. They were always in positions of power to advance their own goals and the agendas of their parties.

These are the sort of people where you say, “Gee. I’m glad they’re on our side.” They’re so destructive to the opposition, and it’s fun to watch your lion to rip into someone else.

But it’s not all that enjoyable when your beast mauls you.

Democrats have a habit of eating their own.
This campaign is definitely not an exception. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is full of boundless ambition and ego. What she lacks is his warm charm and his ability to be all things to everyone without irking the different factions he was promising things to. She’s been running a tin ear campaign based on the fact that she’s been unable to adapt to an unforeseen opponent.

Clinton and her team didn’t conceive the race lasting past Feb. 5. They didn’t conceive of a race where any Democratic candidate would rival her in popularity. She had no “Obama” contingency plan. There is no plan “B.” So she’s doing the only thing she knows how to do, fight. She can justify it or quantify it in any way she pleases. The New Republic repeats the meme that Clinton is doing this to “toughen” Obama up for the general, but let’s be real. We both know it’s not about that.

Clinton’s path to the nomination, then, involves the following steps: kneecap an eloquent, inspiring, reform-minded young leader who happens to be the first serious African American presidential candidate (meanwhile cementing her own reputation for Nixonian ruthlessness) and then win a contested convention by persuading party elites to override the results at the polls. The plan may also involve trying to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations, after having explicitly agreed that the results would not count toward delegate totals. Oh, and her campaign has periodically hinted that some of Obama’s elected delegates might break off and support her. I don’t think she’d be in a position to defeat Hitler’s dog in November, let alone a popular war hero.

It doesn’t matter if the fighting is destructive or hurts people. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like her or not. She only has one goal – to win, no matter the costs. Get the nomination, get the White House and then all wounds will be healed through winning.

Many people are appalled by this. The ambition, the lack of boundaries. They compare it to the tactics of the tormentors of Democrats, the Republican “attack machine.” That chorus of far right talk show hosts, gutless ex-congressmen and commentators, FOX news, the RNC all trying to buffalo. How could she engage in the politics of destruction?

Because the politics of destruction get you in office.

It’s not a perceive tactic, you can’t do it without looking dirty yourself. But most Republicans don’t care whose feelings they hurt to get where they want to go. They normally don’t turn their talons on each other publicly, but they are willing to do anything to win in a general election. When Hillary uses words like she’s “vetted” and “tested” that’s code for her saying, “I’m in tune with the political reality. I know what is coming. I’ve dealt with it before and I survived.”

Not many Democrats can claim they survived a Republican firestorm. The battlefield is littered with Democrats who were shocked, SHOCKED, when members of the opposition were be so brazen in their pursuit of power. That they didn’t have the decency to abide by the rules. How there were no rules. How they were willing attack the service records of war heroes while backing a person who spent Vietnam in the Texas Air National Guard. There is no bar that is too low to stoop to.

As distasteful as this is, this is the political reality. No amount of charisma or charm is going to make up for the fact that the Republicans and their proxies will do anything to win. It doesn’t matter if the attacks are untrue or distortions. They simply don’t care. They know how to make a falsehood become the new reality.

This isn’t a case for Senator Clinton, this rather more of an explanation. You can’t be surprised when a political animal attacks you. What did you think they were going to do? Politely retire to the sidelines? Do you blame a wild animal for acting like one?

That’s why I don’t get so rankled about Hillary. Sure, I wish she’d find a less counterproductive way to make her case, but this is politics, not golf where we’re whispering and marking each others scores down respectfully. She’s acting like a politician who is brash and bold, ready to go to the do most suicidal things to weaken the corrode halo on her opponent’s head.

To think she was gong to genteelly play footsie with Obama on the way to his coronation is simple foolishness. Negativity is all she has to pry voters from Obama. They are running on identical platforms. They are both junior senators. They have similar voting records. They have very few substantive points to fight over. He accuses her of having bad judgment in voting for the provision that lead to war in Iraq. She accuses him of having a healthcare plan that doesn’t cover everyone.

There’s not much to work with here. They’re debates are an agree-a-thon. So with Obama out in front and Hillary close behind she’s trying to balance her attacks by not making them as blunt as the Republicans, while not explicitly debunking lies conservative interlopers fabrications on Obama. She is using the Democratic political machine, trying to work it to her advantage, holding on to super delegates and begging others to come back. Unless Obama decapitates her campaign with a decisive, dream-ending paso doble in the next few states, Clinton will keep coming back like a cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger. Clinton has to be defeated in order to win.

She’s not going to back down out of respect or niceness. She is not interested in our feelings or the dreams of others. She has one goal, and one goal alone, get to the White House, make up with everyone later. Live and fight for today, don’t worry about tomorrow. Damn the party because if she loses at the end of the day she’ll still be the senator from New York. We’re the ones who really have something at stake this election.

If and when Obama gets the nomination he is going to need a Hillary Clinton style attack dog to be the aggressor he can’t be. Obama is running on a platform that presents him as a fresh air alternative and no one wants to see how the sausage gets made.

No one wants to know about the back room deals, attacks and compromises. And Obama doesn’t have the same liberties Bill Clinton had in 1992. Bill could play both “the charmer” and “the hatchet man,” and never promised to be above the fray. He was always in it, moving back and forth between the two without a thought. When Obama shows even a glimmer of frustration he’s labeled as a “whiner” who can’t take the heat of a real campaign.

Obama’s best bet is to continue to be relaxed, but give swift, definitive responses to libelous allegations. And underneath that pristine sheen of hope he needs a junkyard dog, his own personal LBJ, to get things done.

Strangely, Hillary Clinton would actually make a decent junkyard dog if she weren’t so dead set on being top dog. But Obama is going to need an aggressor if he doesn’t want to become another member of the “We Got Cold-Cocked by the Right” club. The ticket can’t afford to look passive in the fall. It has to be a mixture of both new and old politics because old politics is what runs Washington.

He is going to need an insider to inject some spine into Democrats who usually fall to pieces at the first sight of a Republican attack. He’s going to need surrogates who will doggedly demand fair coverage from the press, who will practically bully the opposition into distancing themselves from the bigots they cuddle up to for support. Who will chastise the press into submission, without regard if the press’ allegations w
ere justified or not. Intimidate those who dare to challenge your mission, to not feel pity for those who fight against you.

Yes. It’s dirty, but it works.

Obama can’t be the man to commit the hits, but he needs someone to carry them out. He’s not going to be able to “hope” the Tom Delays and Newt Gingrichs of the world into submission. And people will become pretty disenchanted once the general election starts and they watch RNC operatives twist and convolute every word and stoop to levels you think they won’t go.

Just rhink the worst, multiply it by two and you’ll find that there’s still a level lower than that which they will go. For nearly two decades now there are still rumors circulating that Bill and Hillary Clinton made people “political prisoners” in Arkansas and that she was behind the suicide of Vince Foster. If you’re willing to come up with things this preposterous and peddle them as truths you don’t have a limit.

If Obama’s the nominee it will not vanquish the dark hearts of some Americans who want him to fail. And that is what Hillary is arguing for. She knows their dark hearts. She has studied them. She has adopted their tactics and now uses them at her disposal. You know what you’re getting into with her. You know what to expect. She argues that you don’t know how Obama will hold up against the tactics of the RNC’s proxies.

And the reality is we don’t know. Obama is still trying to find the right way to deal with Hillary’s accusations and hers are mild in comparison to the right wing’s habit of bringing up his middle name “Hussein” all the time. Yes, it seems childish, but it works. On Tuesday CBS interviewed white, blue collar men in Ohio who honestly believed Obama was a Muslim who he didn’t know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance and didn’t stand up for the national anthem.

Obama needs to show he can take care of Hillary with authority. Because if he can’t deal with her, he’s going to have the shock of his life come November. The enemy is coming and unlike Hillary, who’s actually attacking with one-hand behind her back, (hence the maddening inconsistency), the opposition will have two guns in hand, locked and loaded, and a militia of operatives who all have millions of viewers and listeners who will spread their disease of ignorance to everyone they touch.

Hillary knows it. And that’s why she keeps bringing it up. I don’t think her heart is dark, or that she’s a racist. I think she has a huge ego. I think she wants to win. If her heart was dark she’d be calling him by his middle name and screaming “Nation of Islam Muslim Radical!” at the top of her lungs with the conservative chorus. She’s not that destructive. She’s just prickly enough to make charges that he lacks qualifications, would be seen as weak in a general election and can’t win. Anything to give the super delegates pause so that she can possible snag the nomination.

During a rally back in South Carolina when John Edwards was still in the race, in exasperation he yelled at the crowd that it made no sense nominating someone who can’t win. He also made allusions on CNN and MSNBC that the last two Democratic presidents talked like him, implicating that they were southern white males. Hillary’s doing the same thing, only she’s much more high profile than the scrappy but ineffective Edwards.

She represents the last two term Democratic administration and the political establishment. She is trying to remind people that although she’s not a man, she’s the lesser risk. That America is more likely to elect a Democrat with the last name Clinton than a black man named Barack Obama. She’s banking on racism to trump gender.

I don’t know if that would happen. I still think this is a hard glass ceiling to crack for either Obama or Clinton.

It’s sad that it had to get to this point where everyone is walking around with chips on their shoulders accusing each other of being “monsters” and “Ken Starrs.” It’s all very ridiculous, but politics are ridiculous.

I still encourage people to stay motivated and positive. You’re going to need to have some good times to remember before the shit officially hits the fan. But you’re not going to be able to finesse the Clintons of the world out of existence. It’s better to learn from them and find a better way to improve upon their battle tested modus operandi of attack-retreat-counterattack.

Perceived weakness because of an inability to debunk Hillary’s attacks is one attribute Obama cannot afford in the fall. No one wants to hear the cries of, “If you can’t handle Hillary Clinton, how can you handle al Qaeda?”

14 thoughts on “Frankly my dear, she doesn’t give a damn

  1. Interesting take on politics Snob and for the most part true. Yes, folks should focus on helping Obama, but people have a right to be pissed if they want and voice it. I’d rather hear black folk riled up and passionate rather than whipped, checked out and silent the way many of us have been for years.Yes, it’s politics, but it doesn’t have to be acceptable either. If you want to play dirty fine, but I can also call you out, get angry and check you as well.You and I both know that many of our folks are hurt because some of us had alot of respect for HRC and Bill whether it was earned or not. These are the feelings being expressed. The biggest hurt you can ever feel is when it comes from those you believed you could trust.So while it is politics, it is also personal for many and that needs to be respected. I know you want folks to keep their eyes on the prize and I dig what you are saying. I just want to present another perspective.

  2. Dammit! I wrote a response and blogger had a brain fart.Well, short version. It’s fine to be mad, but Hillary wants everyone to be mad so Obama and his surrogates will get thrown of their gave, fuck up, and give her a chance to ride in and snatch herself a victory because she can’t win on points. And Obama has to foul up big time in order for her to win.She knows he’s not comfortable fighting head on because he’s the only one who promised to not play dirty or go negative like other politicians. Her goal is to make him look just as dirty as her, hence the squealing when one of Obama’s surrogates called her a “monster.”So it’s OK to be mad. It just won’t do anyone any good because she wants you to be mad. She wants to suck up all the attention, good and bad, because she wants to win.And this is why it’s best not to get too emotionally invested in politicians because of how divisive and underhanded it can be. It’s best to focus on the message and the actions because things could change with the individuals at any time.So be outraged, just remember she lives off that because she will use your outrage to say “see, those Obama people are insane.”I don’t know how you fight a Clinton without actually fighting, but that’s basically what Obama needs to figure out to keep her from blindsiding him again.

  3. Snob, I am in complete agreement with you. You’ll get no argument from me, just playing devil’s advocate so to speak and throwing it out there.Blogger can be a pesky beast!

  4. I agree Hillary doesn’t give a damn. But if after the nomination there is no cohesive Democratic party: then what???? she won…we loss. Grid lock galore! And then don’t discount the number of young people who may just say : I dont give a f…k about politics: its as nasty as I thought. Then we are back to disillusionment and apathy. There is more at stake here, than just “her” winning. This is about a New America with young people who feel good about the political process and what can be done. That’s what Barack is talking about…I think there is much more at stake here than just who’s winning. But it’s about how the game is being played as well is the main issue, and whether we can keep folks involved in the political process. Stimulating thoughts Black Snob…thank you.

  5. sandra: But Hillary has her plan to fix all that – she’s going to win!I mean, it’s batshit insane, but it’s an insane she’s familiar with. I’m deeply aware how devastating this is to people trying to acquaint themselves with politics for the first time. It didn’t benefit us, the voters or the party in any sort of way for her reject the notion that everything isn’t about her.I hoped that she wouldn’t trip on her own ego when Obama started picking up steam. I don’t mind a fair fight, but there’s no good in going nuclear on someone because you think you can make up for it later. That’s like pre-screwing over your spouse and being like, “I’ll just make it up to her when I get her elected president.”That’s batshit insane! The hubris!I’m not insinuating that’s what happened in her case, but I think the act first, apologize later is a character flaw of both Clintons.So it’s hard to negotiate with an egomaniac who is positive that only she can save America and keep the party together.You just have to beat her. Beat her so resolutely that there will be no comebacks, no spinning, no artificial goal posts. Beat her so thoroughly that Obama is the story and not whatever she is screaming, that the press accepts the reality is not a factor and Obama’s ascension is the story. So far she’s been successful at injecting herself as a factor even when mathematically she shouldn’t be. I heard pundit after pundit pre-Tuesday talk about how she was dead and that if she won Texas and Ohio (which were still possibilities) they she would try to spin the press by pulling a Lazarus.Well, she pulled a Lazarus and they happily fell for it. Now everyone is talking like you can actually change the rules in the middle of a game. If someone with some logic doesn’t insert them into this fight to articulate circles around Clinton and her proxies, Obama’s campaign is going to be buffaloed by the queen of bullshitting.Granted, I still don’t see her being able to pull it off, but I’m not going to rule it out because she’s not afraid to go there.

  6. Change the rules, raise the bar: heard that one before—Michelle, Michelle, where are you? I’m not feelin Hillary and Michelle Obama in the same white house. It’s not going to work for me now. As far as the media, The Obamas have some strong media support, who can set up an interview to dispel all the lies and myths and put out by these sorry channels …

  7. wow… i love the way your mind works. you have totally given me something to think about with this one, put a lot of things in perspective… i mean, more than anything i’d hoped this democrat thing would end in texas because i was tired of listening to hillary’s attacks. and feeling apprehensive because i know it’s only going to get worse and worse in the months to come. once you become truly invested in it, politics is an emotion harrowing beast. DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! a la Florida Evans.

  8. sandra: That’s the problem with the “dream team” vision of an Obama/Hillary Hillary/Obama ticket. Who’s in charge? Obama is no George W. He doesn’t want his VP doing the heavy lifting. And Hillary is not interested in being second to anyone, even if she were the VP.Add Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama into the mix and you got a WHOLE LOTTA DRAMA. Imagine the press coverage. They would be OBSESSED with what was going on in that White House. They would be reading the tea leaves for any gurgle of discontent, any whiff of friction. And you know there’d be friction.fantastically misunderstood me and sandra: You know Michelle is from the South Side of Chicago. Don’t let the designer clothes fool you. She will cut a bitch. I have cousins from the south side. These are not people you want to start any drama with. You may start shit with Michelle Obama but Michelle Obama will finish it.I think if for some freak reason there was a “unity” ticket that it could work out. (I think Hillary could swallow the bile and take the veep spot if she knew it was her only way to get back to the top.) The problem would be just laying the ground rules. And they would have to be some pretty strict ground rules. Like no going off the reservation, Bill. No trying to undermine Obama’s policies, Hillary. Then maybe it could work.Maybe.fantastically misunderstood me: Yeah, you just can’t get too invested. Politics will mess with you head. Back in the 1990s I was all in fits over the Monica Lewinsky garbage and Ken Starr’s “<A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables“ REL=”nofollow”>Javert/Jean Valjean” obsession with Clinton. That whole mess was just too insane. And I hate that because of it the Democrats were all afraid to get tough on George because the Republicans would cry victim and invoke the name if Clinton, like someone else dogged Clinton, not them.Morons. I don’t know why the Dems fall for their crying wolf game all the time.It’s also good to add a dollop of realism to whatever candidates are saying. Like I don’t think anyone is going to be able to bring the troops home as quickly as they claim. God only knows what nightmarish mess George W. is pawning off on his successor. I don’t even want to know where the bodies are buried.A matter of fact, with the way the country is now who would even want to be president? We’re in two wars that have no foreseeable end. The economy is in the shitter. All the other countries hate us. All our friends hate us. And we’re getting punk’d all the time by Hugo Chavez, of all people. You know you’re in trouble with the Canadian dollar is worth more than ours. Immigration is a mess. A whole lot of people (including me) what to see some payback for Katrina, 9-11, the war, our crumbling infrastructure, “No Child Left Behind,” torture, Guantanamo and a host of other things screwed up in the last seven years. I want justice! But I know I’m probably not going to get any.

  9. TBS: I favored Clinton slightly and as you know have had trouble undrestanding the Obama campaign, but I am withdrawing from that polemic because it’s absurd. All points made here in the post and on the comments are valid. Should Obama win, I sure hope he beats McCain. Same for Clinton. Whatever fight these two mushy centrists need to have to sort it out, they will. I’m going to look at it from afar as theater. I understand and appreciate all points of view here.There is something I need to point out, TBS. I has to do with your quick dismissal of Hugo Chavez. With the caveats that I am White, speak fluent Spanish, and live 200 miles from Chavez as the crow flies — all of which I’ve come to understand CAN be instant disqualifiers — I feel in the intersts of educating and perhaps if Barack Obama does ever visit here an olive branch in the form of some free advice.Whatever image “latino” or “hispanic” conjures up in anyone’s mind, please erase it when you’re thinking about South America. Hugo Chavez ia very much not like a poor wretch at the day-labor pick-up center. Think more in terms of Vladimir Putin if you’re thinking about any head of state in Northern South America.Of course, he “punk’d” Bush. He’s done it over and over again because he’s fearless and is a member of OPEC. Obama will be easier to punk if he’s not brought up to speed on what’s going on down here. People down here know what’s going on. Obama and Perez-Balladares both use Gregory Craig’s legal services. And as silly as that “if he can’t deal with Clinton how can he deal with Al-Qaida argument might be,” Al-Qaida is NOT AMERICA’S ENEMY. IT’S AMERICA’S FRIEND. 9/11 worked out great for both Bush and bin Laden, si o no?Al-qaida will be easy to confront compared with Northern South America. But any of them, Chavez, Uribe, Gaviria, Correa even Herrera and Perez-Balladares are more of less AGNOSTIC or ANTOGONISTIC but in a non-military way. And make no mistake they are watching this. You yourself in a very perceptive comment to my comment made the point about how different the slavery and colonial issues resolved themselves down here as opposed to there. American notions of race do not apply. For the sake of peace and harmony, I have to insist that everyone understand how it is.You hear the accent and you think “beaner” or “lazy” or “Clinton-supporter” and it’s a big joke, but it’s not. Oil, banking, cocaine. Educated people throughout the social strata. Now, couple that with a culture in which an upper-middle class Jewish teenaged girl in Cali, with body piercings and an Amy Winehouse t-short has seen more death and misery (though less material need) than anybody in the US Armed forces or in any “underprivileged” area of the US. I know that sounds unbelievable but when you have a country 1/3-1/2 of whose economy is wrapped up in the business of cocaine and a continual power struggle over that cocaine, what do you expect?No, that little girl couldn’t defend herself by hand against any girl her age in an American ghetto, but she’d shoot someone or put a knife in someone’s eye sure as glance in their direction. She’s surely seen at least one brother shot to death or hacked to death or blown-up. And maybe the only end of the business her family was in was moving money. The child might have a tennis court in her backyard (behind razorwire) but she’s completely affectless. Now, if it’s a issue of who can “punk” whom in Colombia, how do you think whatever your image of “hard” is would stack up against poor urban Colombians or the FARC or the paramilitaries? It’s a silly thing to even contemplate because you can’t put an American paradigm on this.If you’ve studied Colombia, it doesn’t bother me one way or the other if you lean to Uribe or Gaviria or the Paras or the FARC, do you realize how much courage it takes to run for national office there? Cesar Gaviria, the leader of the center-left party, is a middle-aged White man with graying hair. John McCain may be a POW-turned politician but he’s scared of his own shadow compared to Gaviria or his right-wing counterpart, Uribe.So, with regard to Colombia, “the streets of Chicago” are no preparation for Obama’s presidency. He’ll have a choice. Listen to Colin Powell and Joe Lieberman and get involved in backing the Colombian Right with military “advisors” and money and all that and more. Or he can listen to Dr. King’s words and either be a peacemaker or stay out of it. He can’t back Gaviria because good-bye Time-Warner, Goldman-Sachs, etc. USD trading on top of CAD? That’s a concern? The Colombian Peso has appreciated 3x vs USD. That’s Colombia.Hugo Chavez and Venezuela? Are you kidding? Survived a coup attempt, won three elections, has the most crude in the region by far. And the crude oil price is pretty high. Obama’s going to “punk” him, as Bush was unable to? Chavez with one stroke of a computer keyboard could do a reverse-Voinovich and burn Obama’s coalition to a crisp if Obama goes the Powell/Lieberman route. All he has to do is nothing at all. Just make sure every CITGO franchise in the Northeast charge prevailing market price for home heating oil to all customers — instead of for free as it has been to this point. All of a sudden The-Agent-Of-Change becomes the Agent-Of-Sleeping-Wrapped-In-A-Trashliner-Unded-15-blankets and that coaltion of “new” Democrats becomes 100% White.Or, here’s another scenario. Obama goes the “tough” Powell/Lieberman route and it really rankles Chavez a lot. He would sell every US treasury security held in the Central Bank and issue a “suggestion” to the private banks they do the same along with a policy of only accepting payment for crude in EEU, JPY, CAD or Swissy. “Punk’d”? Obama would be IMPEACHED. Again, forget the “hard guy” thing and just focus on Dr. King. Very easy to do. That’s Venezuela.Torrios/Herrera and Panama. Powell tells Obama bedtime stories about the 30,000 killed in CdP during Operation Just Cause and suggests that maybe it’s a good idea to try that again because it was fun, and President Herrera’s a woman like Clinton, and a leftist, and hates America and besides the Panamanian banks aren’t cooperating with the “war on terror.” Having met the woman, oh I suppose a really really angry Obama-supporter could beat the tar out of her. She’s pretty cordial actually. Wow. That’s impressive. She can’t “punk” Obama, can she? How does a 500% tariff on every product Microsoft and Time-Warner sells? How about freezing every single US asset held in Panamanian banks? How about NO ACCESS to the canal locks? Again, Dr. King should be the pole star here not Colin Powell or Joe Lieberman or any outmoded ideas of machismo. Or any idea at all that every latino is the same and they wear sombreros and operate leaf-blowers.I’m taking the man at his word that he’s gotten this far not for novelty value or “buzz” but rather because he is a new kind of candidate who DOES believe in peace and diplmacy. I can imagine that sounds kind of soft and hippie-esque, so let’s say he’s a new kind of candidate who believe in doing good business with hig neighbors.And I forgot to mention Bachillet, Correa, Fernandez-Kirchner, Lula and Morales. Best to just let them be.These are not the words anyone WANTS to read, but it’s the reality.Here are some nice words. I think Obama did super in immediately defending himself tonight when this absurd Republican congressman said that “the election of Barack Obama as president would mean the terrorists have won.” I cannot think of a stupider thing I have yet heard in politics. In the first place, the election of Obama, if he stays on his diplomacy-first message, means the terrorists all of the world and especially in the Republican Party have LOST. Moreover, if “Muslims dancing in the streets upon hearing of Barack Obama’s election and more excited than they were on 9/11(they weren’t) is observed, I’d call that a very good sign be
    cause it could very well mean a step forward for international peace.I see Obama pulled in two directions: the religious/Powell/Lieberman/post-partisan/bellicose one and the more hopeful direction of cooperation and non-violence. Combine the latter with, paradoxically, a little more toughness with the Republicans and America’s got a candidate.

  10. kelso: I don’t have any actual beef with Chavez. I just know that people are constantly bitching about the man in the US and about how we’re the most powerful country in the world, yet the US response to him is consistently anemic and pathetic. Many people easily get buffaloed by our government, confusing “enemies” and “people we’ll actually go to war with.” If you listened to George and the gang, you’d think that Chavez was just some socialist nut job, but all of the US actions says he isn’t. Because if he was some rank criminal and we could get away with it we would have pulled one of our classic jack moves by now. Like when we invaded Panama just to get one man.It’s the same with our Cuba policy. Or, hell, we’ve had a complicated-to-fucked up relationship with everyone south of us since the Monroe Doctrine. I don’t think there isn’t a government or a country that we haven’t tried to manipulate to our own gain in some fashion.Columbia is just tragic and another example of who the US picks as friends often has nothing to do with our “founding principles” and everything to do with money and strategic power/alliances. We like who ever is going to let us steal with little recourse. We will let that dictator live a lush life off of our looting and oppress his own people. That’s why Iraq was infinitely saddening. Us fighting to free a people we helped imprison. I know that you prefer Hillary. I have always admired the balls of both Clintons. I’m always half offended, half amazed. My issue with Republican/Neocon foreign policy makes no fucking sense. We fight and punish all these tiny countries and turn into a paper tiger on Putin, Chavez, Kim Jong Il, et al. We do nothing to them (because we can’t afford a third more messed up war where we’d get our asses handed to us.)But Iraq/Afghanistan? Let’s blow it back to the stone age just for shits and giggles?I do not understand our countries approach on Cuba at all, unless this is the ultimate act of face saving. We’ve been obsessed with co-opting Cuba for decades, since the Spanish-American War. I’ve always assumed that we meant for it to be another colony, another Hawaii, Guam or Puerto Rico. And when that didn’t happen, when Cubans insisted time and time again on running their own country, that after Batista fled and Castro came to power it was like we were some jilted lover.How could you leave us for them? The USSR? Of all people! The nerve. Well, fuck you forever, Cuba!I mean, other countries have burned us and we’ve made (financially-based) amends. Vietnam is one. China is another.I get that the former upper class and middle class of Cuba was all kinds of pissed when Castro took the country in a communist direction, but since when did we base our entire foreign policies on an angry minority community? Nobody cares about how us Chinese, black, Africans, Haitians, Dominicans and Mexicans feel about our respective countries of origin.Unless your main passions are Cuba or Israel, no one in our government cares. We won’t take women facing genital mutilation because we claim their not suffering from political persecution and don’t face “imminent harm.”But if you can make it to US soil and you’re Cuban you can stay forever. What the hell? Haitians, royally screwed on their half of the island are denied into our country because America can only take, like, two Haitians a year. Or whatever excuse they give.But the Cubans are that special? And you can’t tell me that it’s a “strategic” location. The USSR fell in the late 80s/early 90s. And I believe the Kremlin stopped cutting Fidel checks even before then. Then it became “Cuba is a state sponsor of terror” and I was just through. If we didn’t stop developing our business interests with China after their treatment of Tibet and the massacre in Tienanmen Square, we should be selling Cuba food and letting people visit their relatives.Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of our relationships (the older ones) changing. There are some areas where I see some chance for new attitudes, but there will be so much pressure to keep up the status quo I wonder what good will get done.I seriously hope we could let up on our obsession with everyone the south of us. I wish we would really reassess those relationship and stop punishing people just because they chose a style of government different from ours. I can’t believe we’re still even having the socialism-communism-democracy fight considering every American I know claims we won that argument. So how are these countries threats? And wouldn’t we have an easier time nudging them to “liberty” if we had better relationships with them, trade or otherwise?Economics and information were the things that eventually did the USSR in no matter what the Republicans say. I know they get into their Reagan worship, but I seriously think the only one who should get credit is our GDP. I still remember an interview Yeltsin gave Leslie Stall of “60 Minutes” where he went into a rage when she criticized Russian’s economy and he bitched her out about how his own mother has to go outside of Russia for her medical treatment. Later Stall pointed out that Yeltsin was stupafied on his first visit to the US and he saw the grocery stores, the oppulence and how while we were getting fat eating Twinkies his country was being starved to death in a effort to hasten our ascension and their destruction. Yeltsin said we destroyed his country.I’m not going to argue with him there. But now I’ve gone off topic. Our foreign policy makes no sense. It’s based on long-standing beefs, superstition, conjecture and manipulation. Who we love and who we hate often depends on how you look at things. And we almost never consider the consequences when we try to remake more vulnerable parts of the world in our “image.”I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure how Obama will handle foreign policy. No one can do worse than Bush (one only hopes). So I think he would be a plus based on that alone. But then so would McCain, and I don’t like him very much.I’d hope that Obama would take a fresh look at some of our long term fuck-ups and come away with a new perspective, like, stop wasting energy fighting Chavez and meddling in South America. Why do we even care? There’s no bipolarity in the world anymore. The fall of USSR put almost everyone back on equal footing. We have the greatest Army in the world and we’ve been bogged down by so-called “dead-enders” for five years now. Our European friends no longer feel a bunch of pressure to cosign on things they don’t agree with (Iraq, for one). They no longer require our protection because the Reds aren’t coming. Hell, that was the only reason anyone listened to us at all. We were the protectors of the free world. Well, I don’t think we’re in the “protection” business in anything more than a mafioso sense where you either pay us (in oil) to protect you or we invade you and make your life a living hell. I always joke with my parents that this administration wasn’t a Democracy, it was a “Thugocracy.” Steal and bully with a heaping of incompetence. It was like the country was being run by Chicago’s Gangster Disciples. Although I’ve listened to Obama’s foreign policy, I’m still not quite sure which side he would come down on. You kind of have to take both Democrats with a grain of salt. They can’t say anything too loudly that could raise the cackles of the extremists who think the answer to everything is killing somebody. I mean, say “trade with Cuba” too loudly and you’ve got Florida up in your ass. Mention altering relationships with repeat political, environmental and human rights offenders, and someone will bemoan how we really, really need to keep paying Egypt and Jordan to not invade Israel.They have the largest military in the Middle East that we paid for. Why are we paying people? And it’s no secret that if Israel got in trouble that we wouldn’t ride in
    with the calvary (unless we have another war going on). So no one who doesn’t want to get Iraq’ed is going to invade. So, I’m hoping Obama is going to avoid being buffaloed by hardliners who think our policies in the Americas, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East make sense.Steve King of Iowa is a simplistic dumb ass. Typical of every closed-minded troglodyte who has backed our disastrous bomb “first, ask questions later” policies. Oh, and sanctions don’t work. But not in the way the Republicans have pitched. They don’t work as they don’t cause people to rise up and reject their governments. It only makes it easier for leaders to close ranks, squash dissent and make the people living in the country hate you. It’s collective punishment and it’s just wrong. It makes me sick when the Israelis punish every citizen of Gaza because they’re in the middle of a 60 year old beef over a post-WWII land grab. I think people forget that for hundreds of years Jews, Christians and Muslims had lived in the Middle East without this particular level of drama. That the bulk of the angst is over the push to have Israel declared an independent country when the land belonged to Jordan and Israeli and an entire group of people was already living on it.But no one in the US seems to know this or the history, considering that after WWII Truman was under tremendous pressure not to recognize Israel out of the unforeseen consequences that everyone in the Middle East are still living with today.After, Israel couldn’t do what American settlers did. In the US we just murdered the Native Americans when we took their land. There simply aren’t enough Israelis to pull off that severe of a jack move.But I ramble. So I’m going to stop now.

  11. TBS: Wow. Keep rambling. You have a remarkably broad, sophisticated open-minded and pragmatic viewpoint, while still having an ideology which is your own. Very rare.Or maybe it’s just because I AGREE with you! Are you aware that you have a rather “Northeastern” way of looking at things? Are your parents really from the Deep South and are you really from StL?Would you mind if I posted this response on my blog. I think it’s a very comprehensive shirt-pocket analysis of recent American foreign policy and I like that you are AGNOSTIC on a lot of stuff and that you share MY view of the Middle-East (not the popular one to be sure!) Israel is a fascinating country. In many ways it’s like the US with “Blue” and “Red” parts. Vast numbers of educated and well-to-do people in Tel-Aviv and Haifa are even to LEFT of most Muslim-Americans on Palestinian statehood! While there are some true locos in Jerusalem and in the sticks. Especailly as a Jew who in the main likes Israel and Israelis, I have a lot of trouble coming to grips with the idea that a debt incurred by White Christians was paid by people who are our cousins. I think the Poland solution was the right one, but then again, I’m not religious, so the geography is irrelevant to me.But on the “Jewish” question, I noticed and got a good laugh out of your list of Fake Negroes. To that end, I want to aid the cause and revoke Michael Rapaport’s Shtetl Pass in sympathy with the revocation of his Ghetto Pass. Sorry, Rapaport, black people don’t want you and you have no Jewish friends anymore either!I want to add a corollary to your remarks about Cuba. I has been not only a feeling of being stood up in favor of the USSR that has bugged the USA. Worse still (and this goes for Guatemala under Arbenz, Nicaragua under Ortega v1981, etc) is that Cuba etc was happy to do business with the rest of the THE CAPITALIST WORLD. A double jilting, in other words.I believe the Reagan Administration’s Latin America policy was more about fighting AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, CANADA, FRANCE, HOLLAND, ITALY, NEW ZEALAND, SPAIN, SWITZERLAND, THE UK, and WEST GERMANY than about fighting the USSR.But you knew that didn’t you?

  12. kelso: I’m just glad that rant made sense. I wrote “Israeli” where “Egypt” was supposed to be. It was so long that I totally skipped on giving it a second read.The only things I can accredit my foreign policy beliefs are to my parents’ pragmatism; my empathy for anyone who has a legitimate gripe against the US since as a black American I know what it’s like, historically, metaphorically and literally to be under the thumb of our hegemony; and my love of politics, history and current events, American or otherwise.And I’ll even entertain the views I don’t agree with. It’s always good to know why people feel the way they feel, even if it isn’t justified.And while arrogance has existed in every world power since Rome, there just seems to be something sui generis about the hubris that exists in my country. Usually countries are wrapped up in either militarism, nationalism or religion. We have all three, plus capitalism and racism. We’re such a mix of extremes, all under our tent of selective “tolerance.”How could any one country operate on the same Roman decadence that raised the hackles of pious few who would later take Rome’s place and become the predominant religion in our tolerant empire? How can you have the strictest of Christians in a capitalist environment that caters to the vainest and most seductive of indulgences? It’s such an oxymoron. And to have all those church folk, capitalists and hedonists, wrapped in our nationalist war machine telling the rest of the world that we know what’s good for you.I love my country, but I also know that historically my country hasn’t loved me. I also know that the US is batshit insane.The odd mix of Libertarians, Puritans and heretics, combined with the founding fathers’ vision of a country where all white landowning males should have the right to manifest their own destinies, set forth this unique place where since movements were not suppressed, they flourished wildly, so wildly in fact that they forgot the rules that allowed them to grow in the first place and those same groups are now working feverishly to usher in America’s own bastardized version of the papacy/caliphate to rule us and help usher in the apocalypse vis-a-vis irresponsible Middle East policies.It’s magically nutty.You can post the exchange if you like. It’s good have a nice challenging foreign policy discussion. I don’t profess to be any sort of expert. Like most journalists I’m able to skate by with vast amounts of knowledge on random things, but I never know enough about anything to truly be an expert.As for Michael Rapport, I’ve always had issues with him. I can’t remember when I eventually became through with him. I know that it was before FOX’s sitcom “The War at Home,” but I do remember catching that show a few times and wanting to stab myself in the ears and eyes. (Maybe it was “Cop Land?” Or some Spike Lee film he was in perhaps?) He’s so grating. And I know he thinks he’s edgy, but he mostly sounds like a jack ass. And not in a funny way.I also don’t like Jay Mohr. They’re two different comics but in my brain they’re working out of the same field, one’s just grosser than the other.Most people in the states really don’t grasp the complexity of the Middle Eastern conflicts, especially the Israelis and the Palestinians. We Americans live in this protective bubble. Most of us never leave the lower 48, let alone go outside the continent. We tend to believe whatever our government says about the rest of the world. So when our government shifted from a passively supportive Israel stance to a full-on savior of the Promised Land with Gold Star member level privileges, most citizens felt we’d really signed on for a noble cause. But the relationships is so strange. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of small countries who have a rough time with their neighboring countries or with waring classes. We don’t spending billions on those countries or pay off their enemies. Even Kosovo, recently freeing itself, as much as they love us the most the US has promised Kosovo is that we will recognize their independence. We didn’t volunteer we’ll save your ass if the Serbs decide to take their land back by force, or that we’ll work to keep the Kremlin from interfering. I guess that’s all we initially promised Israel, back when no one would sell them weaponry and the French didn’t bother to mask their disdain. But we apparently decided to get all doped up on the brain crack and start throwing elbows for Israel. Maybe we were just tired of their multiple wars with Jordan and Egypt screwing with our cheap oil cycles. I dunno. See? This is one of my history gaps. Like I know that the Arabs officially became pissed with us when they learned the Israelis had the bomb and we knew about it, even though both us and Israel denied the whole thing. But I know that was huge since we were actively fighting to keep anyone in the Middle East from getting nukes. But I don’t know what kicked of the billions of dollars for all.Money. Is there nothing it can’t make worse?But remember reading back in the late 1990s about Israelis who were questioning their Palestinian policies because the number of suicide bombings had ticked up again and Clinton was rushing to get a peace deal finished before he left office. Some people seemed to be uncomfortable about the endless violence and the murmurs among some of doing something that sounded curiously a lot like “the Final Solution” for Palestinians. Most argued that it just seemed anti-Jewish to be fighting all the time, practicing collective punishment and living under siege so often. Because, color me crazy, living in a country where everyone surrounding you hates you doesn’t sound like that great of a picnic either. Both sides are prisoners to their histories and ideologies. I got in an argument with one man once who kept trying to ram home the notion that few Arab countries have been interested in helping the Palestinians and that these nations were manipulating the Palestinian cause to their benefit. I agreed with that, but I didn’t agree with how he kept flinging around that the land, technically, wasn’t owned by the Palestinians and that there was no country called ‘Palestine,’ therefore Israel is right to exist.The fallacy in that logic is that:A) The land STILL belonged to someoneB) People were STILL displacedC) The Palestinians STILL have a legitimate gripe even if suicide bombers and crudely made rockets are very imprecise ways to go about itThey decided to go the Northern Ireland route and less the Indian route when it comes to voicing your discontent.But you can’t have a discussion with anyone who comes to the table believing their side is completely innocent and the other is immoral and soulless. Especially when you’ve been trading atrocities. Some are guiltier than others, but it irritates me when people are very vociferous in the defense of the Israeli use of collective punishment versus their condemnation of Muslim extremist’s view that we citizens of the west are “fair game” because we elect the governments who dole out their oft wrongheaded foreign policies. Typically in a war zone the enemy like the press. In Iraq all journalist, western or otherwise, are targets.But people can’t see the differences (or similarities) between our treatment of Cuba, Russia’s treatment of Chechnya, the Israelis treatment of Palestinians and al-Qaeda targeting Washington, DC and the twin towers.You can quibble about what’s justified and what isn’t, but punishing everyone for the crimes of a few or targeting innocent civilians does not endear you to anyone but extremists.

  13. Gee, TBS, no fair actually THINKING things through and realizing that 0,1 and Infinity are intellectual conceits, useful ones in mathematics and science to be sure, but conceits nonetheless, and USELESS in international affairs.If we haven’t bored everyone to death with this there is a “Dennis Kucinich teachable moment” here: ON THE MIDDLE EAST IF YOU’RE BLACK YOU DON’T HAVE TO PARROT THE N-O-I LINE AND IF YOU’RE JEWISH YOU DON’T HAVE TO PARROT THE AIPAC LINE. Everyone is allowed to do their own research and discussion and come to their own point of view.The argument you had is a very common one. I’ve taken your position in that argument many times. Of course, there is a “pecking order” among Arabs and all Middle-Easterners as there is in every other continent, country, state, city, town, ethnic group, group of people who share the same hobbies, etc, etc, etc. I’ll ask the Black readers here if they are particularly happy with the idea of a “talented tenth”? I’ll ask the Jewish readers here if they are particularly happy about not being part of “Our Crowd” (pre-1900 German Jewish immigrants)?The man was right. Most Arabs look down on Palestinians. Persians look down on most Arabs. I can tell you from personal experience having lived all over the world that when everybody’s basically interested in the same stuff the politics goes out the window. Although I was never a member of the club, I used to get invited to Annabel’s in London quite a bit and invariably you’d find Saudi princelets at nearby tables or couches and I’d always find myself NOT discussing anything to do with Arabs or Jews with them but rather who we liked in the upcoming soccer, horse races, NFL games, and what securites we liked and didn’t like and I never made any secret of what I was. You think that kind of evening is available to a Palestinan? The guy you argued with, TBS, was actually fading the US-media hype here. No matter what you read, the Lebanese elite do not want hoardes of Palestinians in their country. My God, the Hezbollah elite isn’t all that fond of them either! And it’s pure ethnic and class prejudice is all.You cited exactly where he was wrong. There were certainly some Palestinian landowner who took a high premium-to-market offer from interested parties for their property in 1946 and 1947. Their choice. All that did was change title to a piece of property. It in and of itself did not ipso facto create a state of Israel. “B” had to obtain to create the state of Israel from whole cloth.”C” is unfortunate, but (I’ll use a European example so as not to ruffle any more feathers than I already have and not guarantee that AIPIC’s comning for me!) what would happen if the new post-EU Irish elite, Mary Robinson, and Gordon Brown came to some agreement that a good sized area of the poorer outskirts of Liverpool was “for historical reasons” part of the true Celtic homeland and “settlers” were given a 500K-sterling bonus to move there, set up luxury housing and golf courses, etc., hard by the poorest Liverpudlings who remained, with the displaced tossed to the wind? And moreover even though the majority of normal Liverpudlings with Celtic ancestry didn’t approve, the British government mandated it and gave the “settlers” rights that even the average Liverpudling didn’t have?Oh, that would be a big party, let me tell you! And would it make a difference if two years earlier some rich Irish people had PAID the owners for some tracts of land in this area?TBS, I don’t even bother writing stuff like that on blogs debating Middle-Esat policy. There’s no point.This is another reason that I don’t like organized religion. This problem could have been resolved in favor of European disporal Jews as well as Sephardim in the Middle East, with a fair accord among the Americans, British, Soviet Union and whatever “Polish” governmental structure there was left standing in 1945. But that pesky Bible got in the way.I think if you watch the movie SHOAH it’s hard to come away with another point of view, but what do I know, I’m a secular humanist.

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