Daily Archives: September 26, 2008

Debate “afterblogging” UPDATE: Whatshisname?

Henry Kissinger has told The Weekly Standard that Obama is kidding himself if he thinks Kissinger’s attitude toward engaging Iran is at variance with McCain’s:

“Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.”

OK, so I’ll revise my original assessment slightly:  there was at least one notable stumble.  Hot Air goes into further detail, and Gateway Pundit points out the McCain called “shenanigans” right after Obama said it.

Ben Smith at Politico says that Obama fell back on abstract language when talking about “the visceral issues of war and peace.”  Yeah, I picked up on that too.  He was treading on that danger zone where he affects what many have called a “professorial” tone, making him look like an Adlai Stevenson-style egghead.

Smith does make a point I’m not so sure about:

McCain’s goal in the foreign policy debate, a smart operative points out, is to prove that Obama “doesn’t understand” foreign policy.  Under one theory of this debate, Obama has a low bar, which is to prove a threshold competence on foreign policy.

Anybody who’s read my debate liveblog in the post before this one knows I don’t think Obama had a low bar, despite his campaign’s attempt to lower it by feeding a talking points memo to the New York Times beforehand saying…well, what a crappy debater he usually is.  I do agree with the first sentence, however, and I think McCain got more mileage out of casting Obama as a foreign-policy naïf than Obama did out of any lowered expectations.

UPDATE: I’ve noticed that a bunch of livebloggers have had a much different reaction to Obama’s “I’ve got a bracelet too” riposte.  I said it was an effective comeback to McCain’s “bracelet” schtick.  However, since I sit at my desk with my back to the TV (turning around only intermittently), I didn’t see what Obama’s counter-schtick looked like.  What I missed is that Obama blanked on the name of the solider the bracelet was supposed to commemorate, and had to check it while fumbling for the name (video here).  OK, fair point…I can see how that would detract from the poignancy of the moment, yes.

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Presidential Debate Liveblog!

OK, debate’s over, and full liveblog transcript is below the break.  Other liveblogs here, here, here (drunkblogging!), here (Part I and Part II), here, and here.  Instapundit has his own roundup here.

Overall, no “knockout punches,” which favors Obama by default, but he had to overcome the impression that he’s not a foreign-policy lightweight, which he didn’t manage to do.  McCain currently leads by double-digits in poll questions asking who’s the better Commander in Chief, and I doubt that will change after tonight.

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Where villainy and thugs prevail, there Ted is ever found

I tell you, it seems no matter how bad the Democrats get in terms of campaign thuggery, Republican Senator Ted Stevens never seems to have any trouble helping the GOP keep up with the Joneses.  Yea, verily, a bloated paragon of venality and shady-eyed depravity!

From the Wall Street Journal, via Instapundit, more cease-and-desist abuse, this time in Alaska:

In Alaska earlier this month, radio ads hit the airwaves trumpeting the allegation that Sen. Ted Stevens received a sweetheart trade-in deal on a new Land Rover. An Alaska law firm representing the Republican senator quickly fired off letters to stations around the state demanding they stop running an ad it said was “factually incorrect and a gross distortion of the real facts.”…

While some stations buckle under the pressure and drop the ads, most refuse. “I think candidates want us to become the censors,” says Mike Burgess, general manager of KOB, the NBC affiliate in Albuquerque. “I don’t think that’s our job.” The station has already received a handful of letters requesting ad takedowns this political season.

The article also says:

While no one tracks the number of legal notices broadcasters receive on political ads, station managers and lawyers say attempts to block ads are growing both in number and intensity, particularly in states with closely contested elections.

I’d like someone to start clocking and documenting this trend.  If nothing else, when officeholders finally face the prospect of a track record of state-sanctioned harassment of TV and radio stations, it may make them think twice about abusing the legal system to harass legitimate broadcasters (or at least limit their itchy C&D-letter fingers to complaints that actually have legs).

As for Senator Stevens (hopefully soon to be Citizen Stevens, then Inmate Stevens)…enjoy prison, Senator.  You won’t be missed.

It’s on! UPDATE: Will Dems have to cave?

The debate appears to be going forward as planned.

Barack Obama’s plane to Mississippi took off as planned this morning.  John McCain’s plane also went “wheels up” later on.

McCain’s rationale for leaving Washington, at least according to his campaign’s statement, is that the Democrats were negotiating in bad faith, which left him without much reason to stick around.  His implication (which I believe I touched on earlier) is that the Democrats were pushing for the package as it stood (with Obama as their point-man), but given its overwhelming public unpopularity, were unwilling to pass it without first recruiting some Republicans to pin it on.  When the House GOP refused to go along, the talks broke down.

Obama really didn’t need a rationale for leaving, since he’d been planning on leaving all along.  We’ll see if he finds a need to explain anyway.

Expect a flurry of dueling statements during the day, and financial topics leaking into the foreign-policy debate tonight.

UPDATE: At the Rasmussen site (via Power Line), Dick Morris predicts the Democrats will have to cave to the House GOP plan in large part.  The Treasury/Pelosi/Reid package as it stands (and which Obama championed on Democrats’ behalf last night) is simply indefensible to voters; they won’t pass it without broad Republican support; that support won’t be forthcoming without major changes in the direction of the House GOP statement of principles from last night’s summit.

Meanwhile, McCain probably won’t take any lasting damage for showing up tonight.  For one thing, the Dow is actually up slightly (20+ points) as I write, despite initially plummeting; things are stable enough that he doesn’t look like he’s deserting.  For another, if there’s a deal by the time the debate starts, McCain can walk on stage the conquering hero after having given a minority in both houses a much-needed voice in the face of the imminent ramming-through by the majority of a bad, pork-laden bailout plan.  On the other hand, if there isn’t a deal by showtime, McCain can (credibly) lace into Obama for defending said bad plan despite the public will and dragging out the market agony.

State intimidation of political opponents, again

(UPDATE: David Bernstein at Volokh has an excellent point.  Following his example, I’m putting my money where my mouth is and putting the controversial “Hunter” ad right here on the blog.  You’ll see embedded YouTube video below the break.  Let ’em come after me.  Now on to the post…)

On the heels of the Democratic Party threatening to release the IRS hounds on the organizers of the anti-Ahmadinejad protest earlier this week if they didn’t personally snub Sarah Palin as a speaker, here comes Barack Obama’s lawyer threatening to release the FCC hounds on any TV station that dares to air an anti-Obama issue ad released by the NRA.

If shutting down TV stations weren’t bad enough, officers of the court and law enforcement in Missouri, prompted by the Obama campaign, are gearing up to prosecute for libel anyone the campaign says “lies or misleads” about Sen. Obama.  Fabulous idea:  a political candidate formulating his own standard of libel and recruiting officials with the power of the state to enforce it.

It’s tough to type while I’m clenching my fists in white-hot anger, but details are indeed below the break.

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House Republican holdouts UPDATE: $51 million in earmarks for Biden?

Wow.

Looks like a deal was never in the offing, Pelosi is the one who needed John McCain in Washington most of all, and Obama has stayed in Washington too long to say they didn’t really need him.

Gory details, and implications for tonight’s debate, below the break.

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Biden Gaffe Watch

OK, there have been enough of these by now to warrant their own recurring theme.  Given their surprising frequency and the new focus on Joe Biden in the news, I just know this won’t be the last.

At a major foreign policy address Biden let fly this beaut:

“After seven years, in which our senior diplomatic personnel were not allowed to make a single contact with Iranians, the Bush administration realized the absurdity of its own policy and sent our leading diplomat to Iran,” he said. “The Assistant Secretary of State as he went to Tehran, sat down at the instruction of the President of the United States.”

FoxNews.com (via OpinionJournal.com) provides a Biden-to-Real-World translation:

In point of fact, the one “meeting” that has taken place was in Geneva, Switzerland, when Under Secretary of State William Burns sat in on a discussion between Iranian representatives and the other “P5 +1″ political directors involved in nuclear talks. The meeting, while a first, was not a negotiation; Burns was there merely as an observer, and had no formal role or talks with the Iranians.

So, point by point: Burns was not sent to Tehran; he did not go to Tehran; and there was no such instruction from the President.

Retroactively rounding up the Biden Gaffe Watch archives below the break.

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