The Politics of Fear, Part II

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It’s true, I’ve given Hillary Clinton a harder time for her fear-based messaging than I’ve given Barack Obama for his.
Well, I have my reasons.


First of all, in my view, Clinton has done more of the fear-baiting than Obama . Some readers may disagree, but I’ve noticed “dangerous world,” “we are at war,” and other fear-provoking rhetorical devices pop up in Clinton speeches off and on throughout the campaign. Obama’s messaging is less fear-driven than Clinton’s. She is out-feared by McCain, who in turn is out-feared by President Bush, who yields in this department to ex-candidate and fearmongering-high-emperor Rudy Giuliani, he of the tagline “The Terrorists War On Us” (yes, the Giuliani press releases really did capitalize that).
There’s another reason I haven’t called out the Obama folks on their 3 a.m. ad: I think it’s so amazingly counterproductive to their campaign that they don’t need to be reprimanded further. Here’s the ad, in case you haven’t seen it:

The last line of the ad is, “In a dangerous world, it’s judgment that matters.” The problem is, as far as electoral politics are concerned, that’s simply not true. In the context of a dangerous world, most voters choose toughness and reliability, not judgment. Put on their heels, they choose the candidate who stands up to the bad guy, not the one who negotiates with him. Crisis-driven decision-making might be a strength of a prospective Obama presidency, but given Obama’s message, image and policy choices, it will inevitably be a weakness of his candidacy.
The reason Clinton’s ad bothers me so much is that it probably does work for her — at least in the primary. But these ads and speeches make lasting impressions on the public. They tilt the playing field in favor of unilateral guns and bombs types and make life harder for candidates and advocates who promote multilateral engagement and robust diplomacy, including Hillary Clinton in a general election. Clinton may derive some short-term gain from the dangerous world talking points, but they hurt her, Obama and the country in the long run. That’s why the fear-based messaging has got to go.
— Scott Paul

Comments

50 comments on “The Politics of Fear, Part II

  1. Tahoe Editor says:

    Walter REED, Carroll. Walter REED. Go check it out sometime.

    Reply

  2. Tahoe Editor says:

    Yes, I think this is the first war in the history of the world. It isn’t?

    Reply

  3. Carroll says:

    My inner bitch has actually served me very well Tahoe…heheheh
    And what is with your asking everyone “if
    they know any military members”..how old are you anyway? Do you think this is the first war that has ever occured? I had an older brother who was a Marine Lt. in Vietnam, two friends of his from our same hometown were killed in that war.
    If you are so afraid of the scary terriers invading America and so pro war why aren’t you in Iraq or Afghan doing your duty? Afraid of ending up legless and further brain damaged in Walter Reid are you?

    Reply

  4. Tahoe Editor says:

    P.S.: Go do some of your own research at Walter Reed. No doubt your instinct is never to leave the confines of your own bubble, but you might be pleasantly surprised at the rewards.
    “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” — JFK quoted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press (courtesy of The Week magazine).

    Reply

  5. Tahoe Editor says:

    OK, well I don’t know where the “wur! wur! wur!” comes from.
    I’m glad you’re so in touch with your inner b1tch, but how far has “you’re stupid” ever gotten you in life?
    Please, feel free not to answer. 😀

    Reply

  6. Carroll says:

    Posted by Tahoe Editor Mar 08, 1:35AM
    Let’s see. “Carroll” seems to be trying to insult Southerners, and then calls me “stupid”; “PissedOffAmerican” jumps at the chance to use his favorite racist pejoratives.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I insulted Southerners?…how odd since I am a Southerner,a real one, not a transplant, a 379 years old one.
    Yes I did call you stupid..perhaps I could have called you uninformed instead but since you have access to research on the net and have chosen not to use it “objectively” to acquaint yourself with the facts of the ‘terrier wur” your ignorance is self chosen, hence you are stupid.
    I could have called you a troll with an hidden agenda in promoting Hillary but I chose to give you the benefit of a doubt.

    Reply

  7. ... says:

    one of the 23 senators who voted against the resolution is a hillary backer… there may be more, but i wanted to point this out
    Corzine (D-NJ) is helping to fund hillary at present.

    Reply

  8. Nan Carter says:

    We used Samatha Powers book in our class. Students have been inspired by her. It is too bad her comment had to be reported. She is not the problem. I hope she will continue all of her good work. She has many friends who continue to appreciate her work.

    Reply

  9. Linda says:

    Both Samuel and POA make interesting points, and all three of us were private citizens in fall 2002 and didn’t think there was enough evidence to go to war against Iraq. It didn’t particularly matter what we did or thought–only what members of Congress actually did mattered.
    I know very well that I didn’t believe Judith Miller’s articles and was aware that the aluminum tubes issue already was debunked by scientists who knew about nuclear reactors. I went to a lecture by Scott Ritter. I urged my Congressman not to vote to authorize use of military force. There were plenty of antiwar demonstrations in LA where I then lived. I didn’t go to any of them until 2/03 when it was clear that Bush was going to use that authorization and not let the inspectors continue and that we were going into this pretty much alone without UN or enough allies. I was very much aware that speeches hinting at that intent started in 6/02. That’s about all I could do as a private citizen.
    Obama had the same judgment we had and did go to and speak at a public anitwar demonstration in 10/02. He didn’t have to speak out or be there, and granted that as an IL legislator it meant nothing as IL has no foreign/military policy. But that’s what I wish a lot more people with a public persona would/should have done because of their ability to influence others.
    Clinton and every member of Congress had the opportunity to go read the NIE reports. My understanding is that for security purposes members of Congress had to go to a secure room themselves and spend time reading the reports. Every member of Congress should have done that, and I surely would have done that if I were in Congress. I don’t know what Obama would have done, but I know that Clinton didn’t do that.
    The bill was entitled “A joint resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq”
    These 23 Senators voted against the resolution:
    NAYs —23
    Akaka (D-HI)
    Bingaman (D-NM)
    Boxer (D-CA)
    Byrd (D-WV)
    Chafee (R-RI)
    Conrad (D-ND)
    Corzine (D-NJ)
    Dayton (D-MN)
    Durbin (D-IL)
    Feingold (D-WI)
    Graham (D-FL)
    Inouye (D-HI)
    Jeffords (I-VT)
    Kennedy (D-MA)
    Leahy (D-VT)
    Levin (D-MI)
    Mikulski (D-MD)
    Murray (D-WA)
    Reed (D-RI)
    Sarbanes (D-MD)
    Stabenow (D-MI)
    Wellstone (D-MN)
    Wyden (D-OR
    The nays in the House were 133, 126 Democrats, Bernie Sanders, and 6 Republicans including Ron Paul and the most courageous Republican in Congress at that time, Amo Houghton who was a moderate Republican from upstate NY. He retired from Congress a few year ago.
    The most important decision a President or member of Congress can make is use of military force. There was no attack on us by Iraq. There was no need to rush to judgment or this vote. We already were in Afghanistan. The resolution could have been worded in ways that would require Bush to come back to Congress before taking action. I’m not sure, but I believe there were defeated amendments that tried to do that.

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Samuel raises a point that hasn’t seen enough light of day. It would be interesting to find out how many Americans think Obama actually voted against the war. The rhetoric from both Obama’s camp, and the media, hasn’t exactly framed Obama’s so called “opposition” to the invasion in an honest light. The fact is, he wasn’t a player, and any supposition about how he would have voted is just more fairy dust. I would bet that his actual vote would have been along the lines of political expediency, and the Bush criminals had done a pretty good job of dictating what was politically expedient, as Hillary’s vote underscores.
    There is a big difference between mouthing opposition to something you were completely uninvolved in deciding, versus actually casting a politically risky vote on an epic issue.
    Of course, just like the rest of Obama’s campaign talking points, the truth is left entirely up to the imagination of the public.

    Reply

  11. Samuel says:

    I didn’t like Hillary’s 3 am ad, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t relevant.Hillary has been speaking against the wind about experience, while the media ahs been swooning about Obama’s eloquence. Sometme you have to make the point a little louder.
    Judgement and strength are very important in choosing a president. Obama’s ad makes a moot point. His claim that he was right about Iraq, whereas Hillary wasn’t doesn’t play too well with me. I didn’t like Hillary’s vote on the Iraq war, but I understood it. In Obama’s case, he wasn’t in Washington at the time. I didn’t think that there was enough evidence to go to war, but then I didn’t have a “dog in fight”, so to speak. Barrack’s judgement was no better or worse than mine, nor did it make any more difference than mine, except that he is running for president. If I had been in Washington and had been given evidence( false as it turned to be)that there was a threat, how could I not have voted to give the President the power to go to war? And, that’s basically what Obama said: I don’t know how I would have voted if I had seen the Intelligence.
    When you can’t get your voice heard because those who control the stage don’t give you a mic ( the media playing favorite with Obama), sometimes you need a visual aide(ad).
    I didn’t like the ad, but it certtainly got the debate going. And I think that was the main thing she was trying to do.

    Reply

  12. rich says:

    MarkL,
    I disagree. The stakes are too high to apply the standard but too-shallow metrics on foreign policy. We’ve seen how received wisdom and exclusionary decisions that evade formal process or public examination can harm this country.
    ‘Experience’ at the national level is no trump card in Presidential elections. Clinton over Dole is a classic example. Carter over Ford; Reagan over Carter; Clinton over HW Bush; Bush over Gore.
    John McCain’s experience hasn’t served him well: he’s openly admitted he knows ‘next to nothing’ about the economy, while roping himself to the anvil of Bush’s failed invasion & occupation.
    He’s so in touch with reality McCain actually thought he could waltz through a Baghdad market to prove it was safe. He thought Americans wouldn’t notice he did it wearing a flak jacket, flanked by dozens of Marines, with squads of Blackhawk helicopters & Humvees running interference.
    The most experienced candidate thinks an invasion and occupation that goes against everything this country stands for is a bright idea.
    Senator Obama is the only candidate who applied widely available facts & core principles to take a public stand against the war.
    When McCain & Obama stand side-by-side it’ll be clear who’s the serious candidate.
    Length-of-service and blind, over-eager fealty to establishment herd mentality don’t cut it anymore. It’s time for the adults to take their turn, and be taken seriously as this proces moves forward. And by that I mean anyone not associated with or complicit in standard operating procedure on these questions.

    Reply

  13. Tahoe Editor says:

    “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” — JFK quoted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press (courtesy of The Week magazine).

    Reply

  14. Tahoe Editor says:

    Washington Post is reporting the Obama camp is going to send their candidate to Europe, Israel & Asia to bolster his foreign-policy cred in the weeks before the Pennsylvania contest.
    A while back the Obama camp sent a memo to its supporters effectively saying, “Look! Barack just placed a phone call to Kenya — what a foreign policy maven!”
    The BO camp’s track record with foreign governments and foreign press is worrisome. I don’t see how he’s going to gin up lunch-pail support in the Keystone State by taking his speeches on a world tour.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I see no evidence that she is either a saint or a “monster”; rather, a very intelligent politician, with all that entails”
    Of course you don’t see a monster. In your world, the crimes against the Palestinians are called “Israel’s right to defend itself”, and Hillary’s unfettered support for that twisted and monstrous deception is her strongest asset.

    Reply

  16. MarkL says:

    Rich,
    TPM is also suffering from severe CDS.
    Obama’s MAJOR claim to foreign policy expertise is that he spent 4 years in Indonesia as a child.
    This is the single most ridiculous claim of expertise I have ever heard in national politics.
    Obama will be pilloried for it if he is the nominee—in fact, that could be enough to cause him to lose, just as Kerry’s “for it before he was against it” comment damaged him so much in 2004.
    Obama won’t even do the job he was elected to do in the Senate, refusing to hold hearings for his vital subcommittee.
    By the way, I think Hillary is puffing up her resume to some extent. So what? Obama’s political resume is ALL puff. His major accomplishments in the IL Senate came from a set of bills which were handed to him in his last year to sponsor, so that he could have “accomplishments” to cite when running for the Senate. (previously the Republicans controlled the legislature, so Obama could not pass legislation).
    Dan Kervick,
    You argue your points very well, but I am troubled that you base an argument on the assertion that
    Hillary is temperamental and erratic, among other numerous failings.
    On what basis do you make that judgment. She seems quite even tempered to me. I see no evidence that she is either a saint or a “monster”; rather, a very intelligent politician, with all that entails.
    Calling her dangerous on such a flimsy basis is not acceptable.

    Reply

  17. LC says:

    I had a different reaction to the 3am ad, perhaps because I’m old enough to remember LBJ’s daisy ad and the Willy Horton one, both of which make this ad seem even tamer than it is.
    But the main reason, I don’t agree is that I first saw it when the mute button was on and I thought it was kind of cute. Even when I got to see it with the sound on, I thought it played on the well-known fact that when a kid cries at night, it is usually the mom who gets up to take care of the problem.
    But the main reason I don’t label it a fear ad is simply because of the way Hillary looked: glasses, serious but calm. No flags. No soldiers, bombs, guns. No martial music.
    I will also admit that Hillary has won not just my support but my enthusiastic support and some dollars (for the first time in my entire life), not because she will be the President I want but because she has shown incredible class and courage in the face of an unprecedented onslaught of truly vicious attacks from all sides (TV, press, the “liberal” blogosphere). Even Nixon had, and has, public defenders. About the only ones for Hillary that I have been able to find are Anna Quindlen, Ellen Goodman, and Dorothy Rabinowitz.
    I’ve also noticed that Obama is a poor loser and an ungracious winner. Hillary outclasses him by a mile. And while she won’t be an inspirational President, I think she will be an effective one. Obama? Only with the greatest amount of luck.

    Reply

  18. rich says:

    Scott,
    I know your point is about effective political messaging. Fine.
    But assisting the shallow discourse of horse-race campaign coverage–as well as the ads themselves–is a big mistake.
    If you’re helping strategists hew to conventional wisdom, and evade realistic, contextualized, and realpolitikal discussion of the issue, you’re doing them a disservice.
    Tough? Toughness without judgment isn’t tough.
    Josh Marshall at TPM makes the point: If Sen. Clinton is basing her appeal on toughness & experience, she’ll be hoist on her own petard. First Ladies do have a petard, don’t they?
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/182303.php
    Read both Marshall’s previous post and the ChicagoTribune article. TPM:
    >>
    Bringing It On Herself
    The ChiTrib looks at Clinton’s claims of foreign policy experience. And the verdict is not a good one. I refer back to my point from yesterday — she doesn’t need to be a seasoned foreign policy hand. But she’s setting herself up for a fall when she claims to be.
    <<
    It has always been in our interest, and tough, to communicate with our enemies and rivals.
    When did this country default to “never negotiating with terrorists”? Obviously adhering to a just foreign policy consistent with American values would eliminate the political causes that drive terrorists. That’s basic.
    Note well: Bush’s notion that torture and bombing the crap out of the wrong country is tough, or somehow benefits us, has made good judgment THE issue of this campaign.
    Helping take that off the table ill-serves the country.
    Senator Clinton’s complicity in Bush’s deviant wreckage displayed extremely poor judgment. And the Clinton’s inability to stand up to Bush showed no toughness.
    If Hillary Clinton is too unreliable on that score, then she’s not tough enough or reliable enough to take on America’s truly dangerous enemies.
    Think: How would Hillary Clinton have the stature or gravitas to bring Musharraf/Pakistan to heel (since toughness is her tactic)? Unless continuing to exploit a still-free Osama bin Laden & an undefeated al Qaeda is Clinton’s strategy as well as Bush’s?
    What’s more, the complication of gender is not going to allow Clinton to get tough w/Musharraf (& Co.) OR apply the velvet glove of negotiation to a country that assassinated Bhutto–Pakistan’s only torch-bearer of democracy.
    (Note, Scott, that your previous ‘concern’ re Bhutto’s supposed ‘corruption’ was again disproven. Recent reporting exposed what an utter farce that kangaroo court was–and those couldn’t’ve been the first news accounts.)
    As for Obama:
    Barack Obama’s good judgment on the invasion and occupation of Iraq required significant toughness. It required courage. Whatever experience he had at that point clearly served him well.
    Sen. Obama already said he’d go into Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden. And he was excoriated for that.
    Tough Obama is excoriated as reckless; Negotiating Obama is excoriated as naive or somehow foolhardy. Which is it?
    Richard Nixon went to China. Franklin Roosevelt met with Stalin. When did George Orwell get to rule public discourse in America?
    Cutting down Senator Obama because he’d actually speak to foreign leaders is incredibly destructive to this country. That’s not what we need.
    Reducing our public discourse to such a degree that a Przntl candidate has no room to say “I’d use military force against al Qaeda in Pakistan” is patently irresponsible. Wasn’t that gotcha [sic] about judgment?
    Sure, Sen. Obama’s TV ad should’ve also claimed the toughness label as his own.
    But if the implication of this post is that judgment is not THE issue today, you’re sadly mistaken.
    If the implication is that political strategists should not raise the issue of judgment, and instead hammer on false notions of toughness, then that reinforces damage to our discourse, and damages our country.
    Crying gotcha with Senator Obama’s intent to get Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan seems to mean that Clinton & Bush & officialdom use bin Laden as an excuse to continue illegally occupying Iraq. Because it sure hardly implies Sen. Clinton has better judgment, or more respect for the international boundaries or the rule of law.
    Crying gotcha over Senator Obama’s sane & reasonable willingness to speak with foreign leaders hardly implies a lack of toughness.
    But this post, even if it assists political hacks who hammer on toughness at the expense of sound leadership and full debate, cannot erase good judment as the main issue facing this country.

    Reply

  19. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve,
    I appreciate the new site makeover. But why will you still not enable html tags? It is very limiting, and contrary to the practice of most of your fellow-bloggers with similarly high-profile sites.

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    Once again, as an Obama supporter and vigorous Clinton opponent, I find myself in the awkward position of defending the “3 am” ads against Scott Paul’s fretting, which strikes me as somewhat silly and hysterical.
    Scott, you say:
    One clarification: I am all for a national security debate, both in the primaries and the general election. Such a debate should present policy options on a variety of important issues, as well as some sort of grand strategy and vision of America’s role in the world, to the public.
    The point I am making here is about rhetoric. Observations about danger in the world and America’s military posture (at war or not at war) have zero policy implications but leave a lasting impression on the public psyche. We don’t need this fear-based garbage to have an honest debate about issues, experience and judgment.
    This is an incoherent line of argument. One cannot have a rational discussion of national security, and of the various national security policy options under political consideration, without including in that discussion some observations about the several dangers present in the world. The world is indeed filled with many dangers; it is also filled with many opportunities. It is important to emphasize both in our discussion. Trying to evaluate national security policy options without making observations about danger in the world would be like trying to evaluate a patient’s medical treatment options without making any observations about the dangers posed by the patient’s diseases or pathologies.
    I also find it impossible to understand how anyone could think “observations about danger in the world and America’s military posture … have zero policy implications.” That’s just silly. Of course these observations have policy implications.
    You seem to want to draw some direct connection between Obama’s campaign appeal to judgment, and his expressed willingness to negotiate with bad guys. Yes, Obama has signaled a willingness to engage in diplomacy with various US rivals. But the judgment he is talking about goes far beyond questions of whom we should or should not be willing to negotiate with, and under what circumstances. For example, the Obama ad you include here discusses weapons proliferation. While Hillary Clinton was using her Senate position to pander to domestic pressure groups and deliver massive amounts of defense industry pork to the folks in New York, for the sake of her future political advancement, Obama was working with Dick Lugar on dealing with an actual danger in the world – weapons proliferation – in a constructive way. That’s an instance of the judgment he is talking about. Recognizing in advance that an invasion of Iraq would likely make us less secure rather than more secure is another such instance. Your facile judgment/talking connection is without logical basis.
    One reason I prefer Obama over Clinton is because I regard Clinton as a very dangerous person. She’s a reckless and mercenary political hack, whose approach to national security is based on a habit of delivering private benefits for the various organized interests who have invested in the Clinton operation as shareholders: various domestic lobbies, the defense industry, foreign governments and their agents. The Clintons are owned lock, stock and barrel by their pals and backers. They sold pardons to criminals like the global petro-gangster Marc Rich for the sake of monetary and political gain. What makes one think that pattern would not be repeated under a Hillary Clinton presidency? Obama should make the point that not only are their dangers in the world, but these dangers will become even more pressing with the Clintons in power.
    And in addition to the failings I just mentioned, Clinton seems temperamental and erratic. There is no way I want my son’s future put in the hands of this irresponsible, craven and mercenary individual. We need to keep Hillary Clinton’s finger off the proverbial button.
    The legitimate place of fear in the moral psychology of human beings has been discussed ably by many thinkers going back most notably to Aristotle. The virtue connected with fear is courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but is a habit of mind and behavior that strikes the appropriate mean between fear and confidence, avoiding the extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness.
    But there appears to be a new, pseudo-scientific school of thought among some policy types that all discussion of danger and fear is to be deemed harmful and odious. This school of thought is based on nothing but one measly, limited study. This new “fear of fear” has reached absurd proportions, and is a ridiculous, baby-with-the-bathwater overreaction to the Bush administration zest for fear-mongering, with its many terror alerts and whatnot.
    As an example of this new school of thought, it is now argued by certain nouveau environmentalists that we can somehow motivate the American people to engage in a massive program of public investment to build a greener, post-petroleum economy solely on the basis of promises about the golden economic opportunities provided by this new economy, and without warnings about how bad would be some of the consequences of failing to address environmental and energy challenges. Well, climate change is real. And if it is well-understood, it is a bit scary. People should be scared about it. Being scared is in this case healthy.
    It is simply untrue, as the new pseudo-science of fearlessness would have it, that the only response to fear is paralysis and submission. Most psychologically healthy people are able to recognize dangers, feel healthy and appropriate levels of fear in consequence of that recognition, and respond to their fears in a constructive way. If people don’t experience pain in response to bodily injury, they will not respond appropriately to that injury and take the correct steps to avoid it. Similarly, if people don’t experience fear in response to real dangers, they will not respond appropriately to those dangers. Americans are not as dumb and bovine as you seem to imagine them to be, Scott. They are getting it. They know that the bravado and tough-guy posturing of the poseur boy-king Bush have actually made them less safe rather than more safe. And their healthy fears about the consequences of Bushism are motivating them to seek a change.
    Here are some of the very real dangers facing us in 2008:
    1. Global competition among heavily-armed, militarily potent states for dwindling supplies of vital resources;
    2. Climate change and economic degradation;
    3. The global scale of urbanization, which includes the concentration of impoverished billions in economically stagnant slums ringing expanding megacities;
    4. The frenzied proliferation of weaponry around the world, especially nuclear weaponry;
    5. The accumulation of unhealthy levels of personal and national debt.
    I want a candidate who shows me that he recognizes these dangers, is not afraid to talk about them, and has practical plans for addressing them. If you are not frightened about the consequences of these dangers, then you are not the kind of person I want making decisions about how to address them.

    Reply

  21. rich says:

    Scott,
    I’ll grant you that “… as far as electoral politics are concerned, … In the context of a dangerous world, most voters choose toughness and reliability.”
    BO’s ad is a bit awkward in that it skips over defining BO as tough and reliable. And indirectly defining Clinton and Bush as having poor judgment.
    ” . .[most voters] choose the candidate who stands up to the bad guy, not the one who negotiates with him.”
    Problem is, this is not an Either/Or choice, and further, Presidents may not indulge in an Either/Or method or stance.
    The lesson of George Bush is that toughness without judgment isn’t toughness at all. It has cost this country everything it has to offer. WE have borne that cost. (Such force without law is tyranny, by every definition–specifically Bush’s)
    And NO one said Sen. Obama would be a President who “negotiates with [the bad guy]” to the exclusion of “stand[ing] up to the bad guy.”
    Your objection defaults to a complaint about refinement of message.
    Judgment matters. As proven positively by JFK during the Cuban missile crisis and negatively by Bush’s errors and wrongdoing re Iraq.
    Senator Obama already said he’d go into Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden. And he was excoriated for it. How’ja miss that, Scott?
    Tough Obama is excoriated as reckless; Negotiating Obama is excoriated as naive or somehow foolhardy. Which is it?
    You can’t have it both ways, Scott.
    Think hard: Richard Nixon went to China. Franklin Roosevelt met with Stalin. But wait! Here’s documentary evidence that Richard Nixon was actually in the same room as Leonid Brezhnev!
    http://encarta.msn.com/media_461536754_761563374_-1_1/nixon_and_brezhnev_in_moscow.html
    A particularly damning photo of Mr. Nixon, as he’s sharing a drink with Brezhnev, who’s puckered to plant a big wet one.
    And look! Another photo of Nixon! This time consorting with Mao Zedong:
    http://encarta.msn.com/media_461520942_761563374_-1_1/Nixon_Visits_China.html
    I say the evidence is in. Freely associating with Known Communists plus Globetrotting clearly makes Richard Nixon a fellow traveler and a card-carrying member of the Communist Party! My only question is: How long had Nixon been a Communist?
    Didn’t President Richard M. Nixon know he was negotiating with terrorists and talking to dictators??
    If that’s not enough to getcha off the ‘gravitas’ hobby-horse, let me cite none other than this very website:
    >>
    Oct. 20, 2006
    Kim Jong Il ‘Sorry’
    “We need a ‘Nixon Goes to China’ approach for North Korea.”
    —Steve Clemons
    <<

    Reply

  22. Will Bower says:

    On the contrary. Hillary will have the -best- argument come
    November.
    She can demonstrate that she’s willing to use force to protect
    America…
    …but that she would also have better strategists at her disposal
    should it come to that.
    The Center. The Center.

    Reply

  23. arthurdecco says:

    Posted by DonS (referring to Tahoe Editor) “Do you feel personally threatened, my friend? If so you belong on some far right site, not here.
    I have resisted calling you a troll, or a youthful offender.
    But I will call you a motor mouth of the digital variety.
    Please, for the sake of measured discourse here, grow up or get lost.”
    Hallelujah, DonS!
    Could he be:
    A)an earnest keyboard kommando with too much free time and an awkward understanding of life
    or
    B)a paid shill
    or
    C)all of the above?

    Reply

  24. Homer says:

    Bend over Tahoe, the boogie man is coming for you. Careful
    though, for he bears a remarkable resemblance to good ‘ol Uncle
    Sam.
    They knew, but did nothing
    In this exclusive extract from his new book, Philip Shenon
    uncovers how the White House tried to hide the truth of its
    ineptitude leading up to the September 11 terrorist attacks. .
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/they-knew-but-did-
    nothing/2008/03/07/1204780065676.html?
    page=fullpage#contentSwap1

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Let’s see. “Carroll” seems to be trying to insult Southerners, and then calls me “stupid”; “PissedOffAmerican” jumps at the chance to use his favorite racist pejoratives”
    Ah yes, in Tahoe’s world of evil Muslim boogymen, the “racists” are the ones that point out the active demonization of all things Islamic, the folly of this deception entitled “The Global War on Terrorism”, and the murderous nature of our current Middle Eastern policies, which have resulted in the deaths of over a million Iraqi citizens. Two million, if you want to go back to 1991, and the subsequent sanctions.
    Of course, we will never see Tahoe decry the core racism that lies at the heart of Israeli policies, or is the common bond of the RW mouthpieces poisoning the minds of the truly “stupid” Americans clued to the AM talk shows, worshipping the words of fat drug addicted slobs and shrewlike crones drooling a steady litany of racist derision aimed at the blacks, Muslims, liberals, and the gay community.
    Highly offended that Carroll would dare call one who partakes of this snake oil “stupid”, he continues the tried and true fearmongering that has so succesfully brought this nation to its knees, and successfully lubricated eight years of the mass sodomization of the American public.
    Bend over Tahoe, the boogie man is coming for you. Careful though, for he bears a remarkable resemblance to good ‘ol Uncle Sam.

    Reply

  26. Steve O says:

    Steps to Democratic Victory in the Fall:
    1. Emphasize the point that what America needs most right now is a transformational and visionary leader who can move the debate beyond high fear and national security.
    The risk is not that having Hillary harp on Obama’s national security will weaken him nationally, it is that by making that the center of her candidacy, she is picking a fight that she CAN NOT WIN with John McCain in November.
    2. Bolster Obama’s relative inexperience but great judgement with strong Natl Sec figure …
    Bill Richardson / Anthony Zinni / Jim Webb
    4. Remind the American people and the rest of the world that the American military is still capable of kicking the ever loving hell out of anyone it chooses to. The fact that the national security fear based drum has been beaten this long from the actions of an extremely small group of extremists is astounding. We need to change the terms of the debate and win hearts and minds!
    Make no mistake, come this Fall …
    High Fear Clinton vs. High Fear McCain =
    McCain Wins
    Transformational Obama vs. High Fear McCain = Obama Wins (as long as the debate stays on broad themes important to Americans and does not hyperfocus on national security and the war)
    Whatever happened to, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” ?
    Whatever happened to, “Speak softly but carry a big stick” ?
    Finally, the prospect of having the superdelegates decide the democratic candidate will destroy the democratic party and put McCain in the White House. End of story. Get your crap together Dems, and do it by the light of day.
    The world is watching.

    Reply

  27. questions says:

    Below is an excerpt from CounterPunch’s JoAnn Wypejewski (sp?) — a nice piece on what some Ohioans think of Clinton vs. the Clinton record. It probably is worth remembering that the 90’s were good for some and beyond awful for others, especially the downtrodden. Fear of terrorism battles fear of economic misery and for now the quick death of buildings blowing up seems scarier than the slow death of job loss and dislocation.
    Wypejewski points out that there is a lot of waiting for deliverance in Ohio — and much of that waiting prefers Clinton — talk about religious imagery!– and it plays to Clinton, not Obama.
    Read the whole post at one of my favorite sites, counterpunch.org — Patrick Cockburn spend a fair amount of time reporting from the ground in Iraq — not from the Greenzone.
    the post:
    Anyone who wants chapter and verse on how cynical the Clinton team was on the price of deindustrialization should read Louis Uchitelle’s book of a couple of years ago, The Disposable American. And for a refresher course in the realities of the “peace and prosperity” that the Clintons promise to bring back — and anyone who has trailed the campaigns in a primary state cannot miss that “the Clintons” are indeed running as a team promising to do just that — there is Robert Pollin’s devastating account of global austerity at the end of the ’90s, Contours of Descent. But the larger point is how they got away with it. The prison population and prison labor (engaged in everything from taking reservations to sewing jeans to building furniture and transmissions for pennies an hour) mushroomed under Clinton’s three-strikes-you’re-out and kindred crime policies, and organized labor didn’t fight. Prisons expanded, and organized labor didn’t fight. (To the extent that more cops and more prison guards and more construction crews were real or potential union members, this development was sometimes even welcomed.) Privatization moved apace here as in so many other sectors, and organized labor didn’t fight. The prisons filled with young black and Latino men, and black leadership didn’t fight, Latino leadership didn’t fight, the civil rights movements didn’t fight — not in any robust, sustained and visible fashion, just like the unions with job loss, NAFTA and the decline in real wages. Now one in less than 100 adult Americans is locked up. That was a blip in the news during the campaigns in Ohio and Texas. Hillary Clinton called for even more cops on the streets, more community policing and only lastly a review of sentencing.

    Reply

  28. Will Bower says:

    …or maybe the voters will want someone in the center…
    somewhere, say, -between- McCain and Obama.

    Reply

  29. TonyForesta says:

    Southerners who abide by racist policies and ideologies, and southerners who support the fascists in the Bush in locksetp unison deserve to be insulted Tahohoe Editor. Redneck America and the rank ignorance, racism, hatred, and robopathic glorification of the fascists in the Bush government deserves to be insulted, because the ideologies and pernicious activities of these broods are retarded, based on lies, rooted in rank ignorance, pathologically viscious, and patently unAmerican.
    All the blandishments and babel refering to democratic fearmongering is unadulterated slime. Not one word is true. Note this despicable commentary by the notsogood gop representative from the great state of Iowa spewing this naked lie and radical gibberish is a true example of ‘fearmongering’.
    (“An Iowa Republican congressman said Friday that terrorists would be “dancing in the streets” if Democratic candidate Barack Obama were to win the presidency.
    Rep. Steve King based his prediction on Obama’s pledge to pull troops out of Iraq, his Kenyan heritage and his middle name, Hussein.
    “The radical Islamists, the al-Qaida … would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror,” King said in an interview with the Daily Reporter in Spencer.)
    Wake up democrats. All is not well in the land of Oz. The wizard is a fraud, a warmonger, a fearmonger, a pathological liar, and a wanton profiteering. Every democrat on democrat cut serves red meat to the fascists. The fascists will stoop to the lowest depths of human depravity to acquire and secure economic and political gains. Popularity may be down, but the tyrannical policies and machinations of the fascists in the Bush governemnt are advancing unabated, winning every skirmish and perpetuating said polices and machinations unchecked, and unrestrained.
    Stick to the issues. Focus on defanging and dethroning the fascists. And cease and desist all the fruitless and masochistic internecine tussles.
    We only defeat ourselves. The fascists will seal the coffin, close the gates, and silence or snuff out any and all opposition.
    Being nice has it’s place, but not against the fascists. The election will depend on American’s wisdom and courage.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

    Reply

  30. Tahoe Editor says:

    Let’s see. “Carroll” seems to be trying to insult Southerners, and then calls me “stupid”; “PissedOffAmerican” jumps at the chance to use his favorite racist pejoratives.
    These are the things that come out when 1) you have nothing useful or constructive to say and 2) you’re so afraid of others that you spew bile like a sea cucumber.
    Really, does this base gutterspeak make you feel good? Call your mother and tell her you love her — you’re long overdue for a shot of humanity.
    Scott Paul: You imply that “observations about danger in the world” have no place in the conversation. Please provide us with your list of subjects that are and are not on the table for mention or discussion — we don’t know your rules.

    Reply

  31. thomas jefferson says:

    billy was elected twice versus 2 war heroes and he was documented draft dodger…hrc nor obama have served, though hrc would look great in a tank…perhaps bareback in tora bore…but I digress….
    fear and hate politics are prevalent in theelectoral landscape…hrc has had to desperately resort to these b/c BO stole her thunder…her rhetoric worked last week…some say it works in the short term but is apoison pill long term…time will tell….

    Reply

  32. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “For starters, we’re due for a civility boost”
    What do you suggest? Prozac?

    Reply

  33. Scott Paul says:

    Folks:
    For starters, we’re due for a civility boost. Let’s everyone take a deep breath, relax, and remember that we are all — myself included — guests at Steve’s blog.
    One clarification: I am all for a national security debate, both in the primaries and the general election. Such a debate should present policy options on a variety of important issues, as well as some sort of grand strategy and vision of America’s role in the world, to the public.
    The point I am making here is about rhetoric. Observations about danger in the world and America’s military posture (at war or not at war) have zero policy implications but leave a lasting impression on the public psyche. We don’t need this fear-based garbage to have an honest debate about issues, experience and judgment.

    Reply

  34. Homer says:

    Reality check: This nation is at war.
    ***************************************************************
    So why have we been free from a terror attack?
    John Mueller, an Ohio State University political scientist and
    noted contrarian, argued in a 2006 Foreign Affairs article that
    “One reasonable explanation is that almost no terrorists exist in
    the United States and few have the means or the inclination to
    strike from abroad. . . .
    “Americans are told — often by the same people who had once
    predicted imminent attacks — that the absence of international
    terrorist strikes in the United States is owed to the protective
    measures so hastily and expensively put in place after 9/11. But
    there is a problem with this argument. True, there have been no
    terrorist incidents in the United States in the last five years. But
    nor were there any in the five years before the 9/11 attacks, at a
    time when the United States was doing much less to protect
    itself. It would take only one or two guys with a gun or an
    explosive to terrorize vast numbers of people, as the sniper
    attacks around Washington, D.C., demonstrated in 2002.
    Accordingly, the government’s protective measures would have
    to be nearly perfect to thwart all such plans. Given the
    monumental imperfection of the government’s response to
    Hurricane Katrina, and the debacle of FBI and National Security
    Agency programs to upgrade their computers to better
    coordinate intelligence information, that explanation seems far-
    fetched. . . .
    “A fully credible explanation for the fact that the United States
    has suffered no terrorist attacks since 9/11 is that the threat
    posed by homegrown or imported terrorists — like that
    presented by Japanese Americans during World War II or by
    American Communists after it — has been massively
    exaggerated.”
    Mueller offers several anecdotes to support his view, including
    this one: “In addition to massive eavesdropping and detention
    programs, every year some 30,000 ‘national security letters’ are
    issued without judicial review, forcing businesses and other
    institutions to disclose confidential information about their
    customers without telling anyone they have done so. That
    process has generated thousands of leads that, when pursued,
    have led nowhere. Some 80,000 Arab and Muslim immigrants
    have been subjected to fingerprinting and registration, another
    8,000 have been called in for interviews with the FBI, and over
    5,000 foreign nationals have been imprisoned in initiatives
    designed to prevent terrorism. This activity, notes the
    Georgetown University law professor David Cole, has not
    resulted in a single conviction for a terrorist crime. In fact, only a
    small number of people picked up on terrorism charges —
    always to great official fanfare — have been convicted at all, and
    almost all of these convictions have been for other infractions,
    particularly immigration violations. Some of those convicted
    have clearly been mental cases or simply flaunting jihadist
    bravado — rattling on about taking down the Brooklyn Bridge
    with a blowtorch, blowing up the Sears Tower if only they could
    get to Chicago, beheading the prime minister of Canada, or
    flooding lower Manhattan by somehow doing something terrible
    to one of those tunnels.”
    He concludes: “The massive and expensive homeland security
    apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some, spying
    on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend the
    United States against an enemy that scarcely exists.”
    Is Mueller right? Is Bush? As I’ve written over at
    NiemanWatchdog.org, there is plenty of reason for skepticism in
    the face of assertions Bush makes about the success of his
    counter-terrorism programs.
    It obviously makes sense to take precautions against future
    terrorist attacks. And reasonable precautions include
    surveillance of legitimate suspects, elaborate detection devices
    and an increased focus on non-proliferation. But if anyone,
    including the president, tries to make the case that warrantless
    surveillance, torture and massive spending on a bloated
    bureaucracy have prevented terrorism plots, they should be
    asked to prove it.
    Why Haven’t We Been Attacked? By Dan Froomkin Special to
    washingtonpost.com Friday, March 7, 2008; 12:46 PM
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/
    03/07/BL2008030701908.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ewwwww, yeeeees, its a daaaaangerous world out there, by golly.
    BOO!!!!
    Gee willickers, we better waterboard a few ragheads, cluster bomb the hell out of a bunch of Lebanese kids, level a few Palestinian olive groves, and coat the whole God damned mess with a healthy dusting of DU. Did I mention a million or so dead Iraqis yet?
    And while we’re at it, lets see how well our Constitution works as toilet paper.
    Frankly, Tahoe, if I was you, I’d waste no time puttin’ in a bomb shelter. Just do us all a favor, will ya? Don’t come out until we call you.

    Reply

  36. Homer says:

    Sam: [T]the Republicans are going to make this election about
    national security and whoever the Dem nominee is simply has to
    be able to go toe to toe with them on this issue
    Yes.
    I must point out too, though, this is strong evidence that many
    Americans are some of the dumbest fuc$ing people on the
    planet.
    Jesus Christ this is so scary!!!!
    9/11, the most horrific attack in the history of the USA, occured
    on Bush’s watch (i.e. when it was Bush’s “most solelmn duty” to
    protect the US from attack).
    Then in response to these attacks, basically Cheney uses an old
    war plan by Wolfowitz and orders an attack against SH who had
    nothing to do with 9/11, with the result being that Iran’s power
    and influence has exponentially grown throughout the ME.
    The GOP is adept at national security?
    rotflmfmol!!!!
    Despite 9/11 and the FACT the Iran is the victor in Iraq,
    Americans still trust the GOP more with national security???
    S-T-U-P-I-D!!!!!

    Reply

  37. Carroll says:

    “Reality check: This nation is at war.”
    Posted by Tahoe Editor Mar 07, 5:40PM
    “Do you know anyone in the U.S. military? They might disagree. You’re living in an alternate universe”
    Posted by Tahoe Editor Mar 07, 7:49PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The nation is at Wur!,Wur I tell you, Wur,Wur,Wur!
    Well here’s your bad news Tahoe…there is no cure for stupid.

    Reply

  38. Tahoe Editor says:

    Kudos for not calling me names, if you need kudos for that.
    I don’t have to feel personally threated to know that U.S. interests around the world are.
    Oh, and I’m not going anywhere.

    Reply

  39. DonS says:

    …: but then you look at the economy and you realize the rest of the world is managing while the US is headed into the tank, albeit financial markets everywhere are suffering.
    Mark, it is the economic issues that really cut deeply. True, the repubs this year have NOTHING to trumpet but fear. And they will.
    But all things being equal, this year should be a cakewalk for the dems if they can package it correctly. Not that that inspires me.
    Hillary has the machismo, and lots of negatives. And some currently deficient poll numbers.
    Barack has the vision thing, but not a lot of record out there.
    I’m coming around to Clinto-Obama, as the iteration of Steve’s prediction. The sooner the better. And with a lot of strength.
    And then we hope to whip the franchise into some semblance of sense.

    Reply

  40. MarkL says:

    Steve,
    How many times has a Democrat failed to win the Presidency exactly because of the CIC question?
    I would say Dukakis, Mondale and McGovern are all examples of this. National security has always been a defining issue for Dems vs. Republicans.
    Hillary is seizing the bull by the horns and saying, ‘Yes, I’m strong on national security”.
    That is exactly correct. It is up to Obama to do the same for himself. If he can’t do it now, he certainly will fail to do so against McCain.
    BTW, I’ve been wondering if McCain will choose a general as VP, especially if Obama is the nominee.
    What do you think?

    Reply

  41. calling all toasters says:

    Shorter Tahoe Editor: IOKIYAC.
    This applies to all his posts, actually.
    Until the general, when he can switch back to IOKYAR.

    Reply

  42. ... says:

    well given the usa has a policy of war 24/7, i would say they have been pretty successful at it, whether it is a covert, or an overt war… i don’t think it is a stretch to say the usa is at war… i am not sure if these same folks realize the usa is always at war, or what they think about that???? ron paul had some thoughts on interventionism.. too bad the repub-lite party didn’t want to adopt some similar thoughts to ron pauls on this issue.. but alas, it is war, talk or war and war ideology 24/7 that keeps the military machine ticking along. hillary is playing into that..

    Reply

  43. DonS says:

    Do you feel personally threatened, my friend? If so you belong on some far right site, not here.
    I have resisted calling you a troll, or a youthful offender.
    But I will call you a motor mouth of the digital variety.
    Please, for the sake of measured discourse here, grow up or get lost.

    Reply

  44. Tahoe Editor says:

    Do you know anyone in the U.S. military? They might disagree. You’re living in an alternate universe.

    Reply

  45. DonS says:

    Tahoe Editor, I’m about tired of your propagandizing here about the U S being “at war”. That’s exactly the kind of doublethink that is not useful to working our way out of the hole our current leaders have landed us in. It is fear mongering of the clearest sort. Perhaps you could find some way to address your concerns without slogans.

    Reply

  46. Tahoe Editor says:

    Note this is Scott Paul’s post, not Steve’s.
    Though Steve has in the past pushed the “we can’t say the world is dangerous” line.

    Reply

  47. Sam says:

    Steve, I often agree with what you have to say, but I really disagree that the 3am ad was fear mongering. I think it is a fair point, we are at war, after all….and we really do need someone who can figure out how to get us out and someone who is ready to respond quickly…and I think the 3 am concept really extends beyond a national security disaster. If the markets crash in China, who do you want answering the red phone, etc? I just cannot understand how it is fear mongering to ask people to consider who you want to be responding should something go wrong in the world. Whether you or I like it, the Republicans are going to make this election about national security and whoever the Dem nominee is simply has to be able to go toe to toe with them on this issue. Suggesting that national security discussions are fear mongering is, in my opinion, not at all pragmatic….
    And honestly, though I like Senator Obama, I do think we needed something to refocus the conversation back to issues and back to who we want leading us because the world is in fact not going to allow broad sweeping change just because Senator Obama (or Senator Clinton for that matter) ask for it. I think some/much of SEnator Obama’s campaign has revolved around personality, and there are very real things at stake. For some people, they want Obama anaswering that phone, and for others it is Clinton…

    Reply

  48. ... says:

    spreading fear used to be the domain of the present admin under bush and cheney.. it has worked so well in fooling so many, while helping these bozos get elected a 2nd time, that it would make sense others would try on the same bs.. what amazes me is how hard the democrat party works at being the repub-lite party now… used to be one could see some differences between these parties.. not so much anymore… what a disappointment to have to choose between the repub or repub-lite party…

    Reply

  49. Tahoe Editor says:

    “There’s another reason I haven’t called out the Obama folks on their 3 a.m. ad: I think it’s so amazingly stupid and counterproductive to their campaign that they don’t need to be reprimanded further.”
    NICE! That’s about as big a double standard we could expect from any BO shill. “He sucks so bad that we don’t have to say anything about it.”
    BO plagiarized Hillary’s “3 a.m.” ad faster than he can say “Hope®.” Then he doubled down on it, outspending her 2-to-1. And it sank. Says a lot.
    I agree with Hillary’s statement:
    “I know that Mr. Obama has been complaining that talking about national security is fear-mongering, but I could not disagree more … I think it’s a defining issue. If Senator Obama is unwilling to engage me over national security, how is he going to engage Senator McCain?”
    Reality check: This nation is at war.
    A campaign built on “we can’t say these things” is a recipe for failure. What’s next? “A vote for my opponent is a vote against Hope®”?

    Reply

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