(but be warned: watching this video is kind of like looking at the ark in that Indiana Jones movie)
Colombia Journalism Review:
So: The latest round of mock outrage—in a presidential race that has turned the tactic into an art form—now comes in response to comments made by General Wesley Clark. Appearing as a surrogate for Barack Obama on CBS's "Face the Nation", Clark, in reference to John McCain, said:I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war…But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded—that wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall.
When moderator Bob Schieffer interjected that "Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences, either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down", Clark responded: "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
The McCain camp, sensing an opportunity, complained that Clark had "attacked John McCain's military service record." Of course, Clark had done nothing of the kind. He had questioned the relevance of McCain's combat experience as a qualification to be president of the United States. This is a distinction that you'd expect any reasonably intelligent nine-year old to be able to grasp.
But many in the press have been unable to. ABC News political director Rick Klein led the outrage, writing in a blog post on ABCNews.com:
Find me a single Democrat who thinks it's good politics to call into question the military credentials of a man who spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war.
This is the perfect embodiment of the press's unbelievably destructive habit of assessing every piece of campaign rhetoric for its political acuity, rather than for its validity and accuracy. Clark's comments may (or may not) have been impolitic. But that has no bearing on their validity or lack thereof—which is how the news media should be evaluating them.
It's crucially important that we have a political debate in this country that's at least sophisticated enough to be able to handle the following rather basic idea: Arguing that a person's record of military service is not a qualification for the presidency does not constitute "attacking" their military credentials; nor can it be described as invoking their military service against them, or as denying their record of war heroism.
That's not a very high bar for sophistication. But right now it's one the press isn't capable of clearing.
Digby on Clark:
Wes Clark is a very special person in the Democratic Party and should be highly valued. They don't have many people like him. He not only brings national security credibility and experience in a unique way, he has proven himself to be a tireless worker for Democratic candidates and causes for the last four years. He is very, very smart and would be an asset in any Democratic administration. Indeed, I think it was assumed that he would be in any Democratic administration. Certainly, one would think any Democrat would want him.
No one in the entire country is more important to Democratic credibility on foreign policy than Wesley Clark. No one.
on the plus side, the attacks against Clark are so flimsy they probably will make Republicans look like idiots. Also, Clark isn't backing down, either. One of the important lessons from the Terry Schiavo affair three years ago is that even if Republicans whip their entire media operation into high form, and even if the national media bows over to them, and even if leading Democrats lend credence to their attacks, sometimes the Republican message is so heinous that the vast majority of the country can see through it anyway.
Obama today said Clark's comments were "inartful" but refused to go further, so that's good.
Hersh on U.S. involvement in Iran (vid)
I looked at the Obama campaign not through the prism of my own progressive views and beliefs but through the prism of a cold-eyed campaign strategist who has no principles except winning. From that point of view, and taking nothing else into consideration, I can unequivocally say: the Obama campaign is making a very serious mistake. Tacking to the center is a losing strategy. And don't let the latest head-to-head poll numbers lull you the way they lulled Hillary Clinton in December.
Running to the middle in an attempt to attract undecided swing voters didn't work for Al Gore in 2000. It didn't work for John Kerry in 2004. And it didn't work when Mark Penn (obsessed with his "microtrends" and missing the megatrend) convinced Hillary Clinton to do it in 2008.
Fixating on -- and pandering to -- this fickle crowd is all about messaging tailored to avoid offending rather than to inspire and galvanize. And isn't galvanizing the electorate to demand fundamental change the raison d'etre of the Obama campaign in the first place? This is how David Axelrod put it at the end of February, contrasting the tired Washington model of "I'll do these things for you" with Obama's "Let's do these things together":"This has been the premise of Barack's politics all his life, going back to his days as a community organizer," Axelrod told me. "He has really lived and breathed it, which is why it comes across so authentically. Of course, the time also has to be right for the man and the moment to come together. And, after all the country has been through over the last seven years, the times are definitely right for the message that the only way to get real change is to activate the American people to demand it."
Watering down that brand is the political equivalent of New Coke. Call it Obama Zero.
KO has some advice to Obama regarding FISA
Three speeches in three days:
Monday it was Patriotism. Tuesday, Faith in Public Life. And tomorrow, according to an email from press secretary Bill Burton, the candidate will be speaking in Colorado Springs on "a comprehensive national service agenda."
Obama delivered another speech about faith Tuesday. He's done a few of these concerning his faith and how it shapes his public policy. But Sunday his campaign and the Democratic Party were handing out pro-gay rights flyers at the Pride Festival in St. Louis. How is that going to play in the heartland? The Brody File has four flyers in its possession. You can view them by clicking here and here and here and here. These are larger files, so please give them a moment to download.Obama has passed the first hurdle by engaging people of faith and being willing to discuss his faith openly. He has passed with flying colors. But now comes the hard part. It's called scrutiny. His political opponents believe that once Evangelicals really get a handle on what Obama is all about policy wise, then they'll be turned off and they won't buy in to the lofty rhetoric.
Handing out pro-gay rights flyers while at the same time talking about your "Christian faith" is a MAJOR disconnect for not only conservative Evangelicals but for some of those Independent voting, moderate leaning working class folks in the rust belt. It doesn't play well.
There's plenty of things Obama can talk about that are relevant to Evangelicals, but I'm glad to see he's not going to be kowtowing to the usual religious bigotry.
I thought this was a great summary of Obama's foreign policy challenge:
The challenge facing Obama is clear: he must go beyond merely pointing out the folly of the Iraq war; he must demonstrate that Iraq represents the truest manifestation of an approach to national security that is fundamentally flawed, thereby helping Americans discern the correct lessons of that misbegotten conflict.
By showing that Bush has put the country on a path pointing to permanent war, ever increasing debt and dependency, and further abuses of executive authority, Obama can transform the election into a referendum on the current administration's entire national security legacy. By articulating a set of principles that will safeguard the country's vital interests, both today and in the long run, at a price we can afford while preserving rather than distorting the Constitution, Obama can persuade Americans to repudiate the Bush legacy and to choose another course.
This is a stiff test, not the work of a speech or two, but of an entire campaign. Whether or not Obama passes the test will determine his fitness for the presidency.
For any of you who may be missing the primaries, Vanity Fair has an extensive look at what went wrong in Hillaryland
Off-topic, this subtitled Joe Cocker video is funny