MEDIA ALERT: Keith Olbermann’s Countdown Tonight on Obama’s Foreign Policy Scorecard


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I will be discussing with Keith Olbermann tonight on MSNBC’s Countdown Barack Obama’s foreign policy scorecard after a pretty staggering week for him in Europe, Turkey, and as of today, Iraq.
I think overall the week was a stunning public relations success for President Obama — but comes up with more mixed results when one takes a look at the policy wins and losses.
I am considering whether to write a longer piece on this subject soon — comparing Obama’s well-crafted, uplifting, genuinely historically significant speeches which he has offered this last week in Europe and Turkey with the speech he gave in Kenya in August 2006.
I think that one can see how Obama has matured since 2006 and developed a shrewder sense of impact and an understanding of the consequences of his words.
Others may want to jump into this as well — and where my marker is (I think) is that the University of Nairobi speech while uplifting and lofty was reckless and showed a naivety about foreign policy realities that Obama today should receive credit for overcoming.
I should be on at about 8:15 pm EST and then again at 10:15 pm EST for those interested.
I will also post the video clip here on the blog after it airs for later viewing.
— Steve Clemons


5 comments on “MEDIA ALERT: Keith Olbermann’s Countdown Tonight on Obama’s Foreign Policy Scorecard

  1. rich says:

    We have no scorecard as long as our ‘foreign policy’ toolbox relies on unmanned predator drones to wage war.
    After bombing several dozen wedding parties, you’d think American geniuses would conclude that button-pushers based out of Las Vegas instead of at 40,000 feet will never be any better at distinguishing ‘militants’ from ‘citizens’.
    We will lose this war. We are using bombs and guns against a political stance rooted in a cultural fabric, one that’s lost any relationship with the perpetrators of 9/11. If we cannot address their security needs and governance requirements, then we’re on the wrong side of this ‘war’. And using counterproductive methods as well as the wrong tools, and on the wrong side of the political cause, there’s no way to win. Without just wiping everyone off the map, that is. And that’s no victory at all.


  2. Don Bacon says:

    “There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practiced in the tricks and delusions of oratory.”–Mark Twain
    So where’s the beef? More war, more domestic spying, more military spending, more money to fat cats, more unemployment and more needless deaths due to lack of medical coverage — and here we’re debating oratorical ornamentations.


  3. arthurdecco says:

    Two great posts above. With a provocative piece leading.
    Chris Floyd posted this today:
    Hard Rain Keeps Falling:
    Talking Peace in Prague, Dropping Bombs in Pakistan
    Written by Chris Floyd
    “I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it.” — Bob Dylan
    While the usual gaggle of sycophants and media hive-minders — along with some ordinarily perspicacious analysts — tell us that Barack Obama literally changed the course of human history by disgorging a great load of thrice-chewed cud about nuclear disarmament in Prague this week, the high-tech drone war the great hero of peace is waging inside the sovereign territory of America’s ally, Pakistan, is helping drive tens of thousands of people from their homes and killing civilians almost daily.
    Obama’s Prague speech was a bold, creative, world-shaking, epochal address whose full import will only be understood many years hence by future historians, declared no less than Juan Cole. But the good professor seems to have mislaid his laser pointer — the sharp-focused beam that just a week ago skewered Obama for his outright lies and Cheneyesque manipulations in announcing his “comprehensive strategy” to escalate and expand the “Af-Pak War”. Indeed, just two days before Obama’s pseudo-epiphany in Prague, Cole was accurately delineating the folly and falsehoods permeating Obama’s Afghanistan policies.
    Yet like so many, Cole seemed dazzled by Obama’s nuclear boilerplate, hailing the president as “among the more creative and bold leaders the world has seen in the past half-century.” (Admittedly, that is a mighty low bar.) Cole even found some reason to hope that that Obama would follow the logic of his disarmament rhetoric and somehow force Israel to give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons. But there was nothing in Obama’s speech that had not been said dozens if not hundreds of times before by American presidents from both parties, going back decades: We pledge “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Nuclear proliferation must be stopped. Rogue states can’t have nuclear bombs. We will work with the Russians to reduce our stockpiles. What president has ever said otherwise? Has there ever been a U.S. president since the atomic evisceration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who has not made an impassioned plea to rid the world of these terrible weapons?
    story continues at:


  4. JohnH says:

    It is indeed apparent from reading Dan’s comment that, whatever Obama says, the words get sucked immediately into the corporate media’s filtration and re-interpretation vortex. Anything outside the standard frames and formulations gets immediately cast into the same old, same old.
    One could see it with some of the comments here over the past few days. It’s as if the chorus was standing ready to echo whatever needed to be played to American people, their standard fare of foreign policy gruel and little more.
    The question is: who is responsible? Is it the corporate media? Or is it the army of PR people deployed by the government to reassure the American people that change is at hand without having to show any concrete evidence?
    Obama said a lot more than got reported, but much of it seemed to get filtered out and re-interpreted as not suitable for American ears. It makes you wonder who the targets were for the unpublicized parts of his speech. Whose ears were the unreported pieces suitable for?


  5. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, if I could ask Barack Obama one (longish) question about this trip, it would go something like this:
    “President Obama, You have frequently told Americans, and the world, that your administration reflects a change back to an America that listens to its friends abroad, and does not just tell them things; an America that will thrive by working cooperatively with other nations, and learning from them, and does not measure itself entirely by how successful it is in getting other nations to adhere to pre-existing American preferences.
    “And yet the media coverage of your trip was dominated by the coverage of your speeches and public events, and fixation on how well your words were being received. I think we are all pleased that we now have a president who is a skilled communicator, and does such a good job at conveying the American message to those abroad with tact and persuasiveness.
    “But what I really want to know is this: How did the *listening* part of the trip go? What did you *hear* and what did you *learn*? Were your views on global conditions, particularly the global financial situation, modified in any significant ways by what you heard from our friends in Europe and Turkey? Will your policies be adjusted to reflect new knowledge you acquired abroad?
    “I ask this because I was somewhat taken aback by the degree to which the fundamental attitudes about Europe of many prominent American commentators here in the US seem not to have changed much those that prevailed during the Bush administration, even though the issues and personalities are different. Much of the liberal punditocracy seemed convinced in advance that if Europeans’ views differ from the views of the American government, that can only be due to obtuseness, political cowardice, irrational obsessions or arrogant grandstanding. Very few commentators seemed willing to entertain seriously the possibility that, at least some of the time, some of these Europeans might actually possess certain insights, experiences and useful differences in perspective from which we might profitably learn. The same old attitudes of exceptionalism, and beliefs in the overriding American obligation to tutor the world while learning nothing from the world, still appear prevail here.”
    The success of Obama’s trip should not be measured entirely by how well the speeches went over, although that is very important. Nor should it be measured by how successful Obama was in selling his current views and extracting commitments related to current policy preferences, although that is important too. Ultimately, the question is how well the trip will help Europeans and Americans succeed in moving toward a more mutually profitable working relationship, and a smarter set of overall policies, no matter which national leader originates the ideas for those policies.


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