A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The political ad we'd all like to see

My friend, Tom Devine, proposes this TV commercial. Granted, it's sheer fantasy, and completely unrealistic, but wouldn't it be nice?

Obama: I’m Barack Obama

McCain: And I’m John McCain

Obama: We’re speaking to you together because we want to set the record straight about some lies that you may have heard.

McCain: For instance, some people have alleged that Senator Obama is a Muslim, or attended a Muslim school as a child, or is unpatriotic, or sympathetic to terrorists. None of that is true.

Obama: And some people have alleged that Senator McCain wants to dismantle Social Security, or that he fathered a black baby out of wedlock, or that his war service was something other than honorable and heroic. None of those charges is true.

Obama: These lies are stitched together by unscrupulous political operatives who want this campaign to be about race and fear, about old hatreds and prejudices. And whether they seem to reinforce the left or the right, they undermine our democracy. Neither John nor I wants to benefit from lies.

McCain: Both of us are honorable and patriotic Americans who want the best for our country and for our children’s future. We disagree on the best ways to achieve those goals, but we both love America, and we both are equally committed to the United States, its Constitution, and its people.

Obama: So we are asking you, the American people, to ignore these lies, and to focus instead on our policy proposals and differences - the REAL differences.


Obama: I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message.

McCain: I’m John McCain, and I approve this message.


Anonymous said...

How right you are that the country would benefit by such straight talk. In fact, both candidates would benefit as well. How could they be moved to make it happen?!

Anonymous said...

With its ongoing military action in Georgia, Russia is sending a loud message to the West that it is back and capable of acting effectively in its periphery. That message is also being heard in Iran. Russia’s show of strength is making Tehran weigh its options — both in how it deals with the United States in talks over Iraq and how it handles its relationship with Russia.
Through its ongoing military offensive against the former Soviet state of Georgia, Russia is sending a strong and deliberate message to the West: Russia is back, and ready to reassert its prowess in Eurasia at the expense of Western interests. That message is being heard loud and clear in Tehran, and has significant implications for U.S.-Iranian negotiations over Iraq.
Russia’s actions in the Caucasus have exposed the current limits on the U.S. military’s capacity. Aside from U.N. Security Council meetings and public condemnations of Russian aggression, there is little to nothing the United States can do right now to intervene in Georgia. Russia is well aware that the United States has its hands full with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and did not waste the opportunity to pound the Georgians and reassert Russian influence over its periphery without having to worry about Western interference.
Russia’s actions have set off alarms in Washington. Now more than ever, the United States is feeling an overwhelming urgency to seal up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so it can focus on issues more vital to U.S. national security in Eurasia. Afghanistan carries its fair share of complications, but any resolution to Iraq has to come through negotiations with Iran, and for this reason, Washington has every reason to furiously push these negotiations toward some sort of final accommodation. The hardest part of these negotiations is already done; the level of violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq over the past year thanks to a U.S. military surge, political negotiations with Iraq’s Sunni faction and an Iranian strategic need to contain Iraq’s Shiite militias. While a number of sticking points remain, the matter of Washington and Iran striking a deal in Iraq is no longer a distant possibility, as long as both sides see the need to move forward on a deal.
Iran is now considering its options. On the one hand, Iran clearly sees a Russian intent to reassert its prowess in the Caucasus as an affront to the West. The Iranians could use this Russian offensive to try to lure Moscow into selling Tehran key weapons systems (such as the S-300 air defense system) at a time when Russia is bent on showing the West that it is a major force in Eurasia with a far-reaching capability to upset U.S foreign policy.
But the Iranians have also likely grown weary of the Russians stringing them along in these weapons sales for years. There is no guarantee that Moscow would follow through with any such arms deals, especially as Israeli defense officials have been pumping out a number of statements on restricting sales of military hardware to Georgia over the past several days. In an Aug. 10 Jerusalem Post report, an Israeli defense official even claimed that Israel saw this outbreak of hostilities between Georgia and Russia “several months ago,” and decided to “drastically minimize sales of weapons to Georgia,” leaving open the possibility that Israel had had a conversation with the Russians when making that decision. Through these statements, Israel could be implying that a strategic deal has been struck with the Russians for Moscow to restrict arms sales to Israel’s adversaries in places like Iran and Syria, while Israel in turn cuts back on military assistance to Georgia.
The Iranians also understand that they do not have a lot of time to deal with the Russians and stall on an agreement with the United States. With the United States facing a wake-up call to get its forces out of the Middle East and back into a position to respond to a growing Russian threat, now is the time for Iran to move forward in its negotiations — when Washington is feeling extremely vulnerable and is on an election timetable. Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani even spoke to this point Aug. 10 when he announced at a seminar for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that the United States is facing a strategic deadline in the region, stressing the critical situation that Washington now finds itself in. It must also be remembered that Iran takes no comfort in a resurgent Russia bearing down on the Caucasus, potentially threatening Iran’s northern frontier. Containing a Russian comeback in the Caucasus is an issue that both Washington and Tehran can agree on.
The geopolitical logic dictates that both Iran and the United States should now be moving closer and faster to a deal on Iraq. Signs of such progress will be revealed through a seemingly contradictory blend of heavy military posturing and positive movement on issues related to Iraq and the nuclear issue. What remains to be seen is whether the Iranians and the Americans back up this logic with action.

Anonymous said...

He was for a pro-choice running mate before he was against it before he was for it.

That would be John McCain, who on a Wednesday morning campaign flight, told The Weekly Standard he'd consider a pro-choice running mate to share his ticket this fall. Which is odd, because just four months ago, he told Chris Matthews that it would be "difficult" to choose someone who is pro-choice. Which itself is odd because the last time he ran, McCain made clear that if nominated, he would indeed consider a pro-choice candidate. Which in turn is odd because for twenty years before that, McCain held a nearly perfect anti-choice voting record and firmly held anti-choice views.

What's even odder is that the pro-choice candidate McCain praised in Wednesday's Standard interview was Tom Ridge: "he happens to be pro-choice. And I don't think that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out." That would be the same Pennsylvania governor whose pro-choice views Matthews asked McCain about in April. Would the governor's views preclude him from sharing the ticket? "I don't know if it would stop him, but it would be difficult," McCain said then. "[T]he respect and cherishing of the right of the unborn is one of the fundamental principles of my party. And it's a--a deeply held, deeply held belief of mine." Just the kind of straight talk that could make a person dizzy.

What's going on is nothing more than McCain trying to have his cake and eat it too. After cozying up to the far right this election cycle--calling Roe a "flawed decision that must be overturned," and promising judges in the mold of Alito and Roberts--McCain is now minding the middle. In the interview with the Standard, he renewed his pro-life commitment, but also tried to reassure pro-choice Republicans that the party's pro-life stance "does not mean we exclude people from our party that are pro-choice. We just have a--albeit strong--but just it's a disagreement."

McCain should know by now that this kind of fancy footwork really doesn't work. For one thing, eight years ago, he said just about the same thing, suggesting that the party revert to it's 1980 platform, that included a pro-life measure but also tolerance language on the issue of abortion. "I believe we are an inclusive party and we can be so without changing our principles," he said then. Of course, the highly sensitive hard right creamed him for his centrist comments, just as it could again if he keeps this up. For another, it's just not believable coming from a candidate who has voted in favor of every possible abortion restriction, in favor of every possible any-choice judge, and against every possible form of federal support for family planning, low-income women's health services, contraceptive access, comprehensive sex education. Evidence says McCain is intent on overturning Roe--whether or not Ridge is at his side.