Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Campaign Flashback

From TPM, here's a video compilation of statements made during the campaign by all three candidates about Pakistan and terrorism. Now we can appreciate the strength of someone who tells you, and the world, up front, what he intends to do, gets criticized for it, then goes ahead and does it. Then the rest of us catch up and acknowledge that he was right all along. It seems that candidate Obama was especially right about the thing that McCain was criticizing him for during the campaign: telling Pakistan well in advance what our intentions were, so that they can never complain that this was a sneak attack. So that they are seen by the whole world community to have accepted American aid for years with the knowledge that we reserved the right to take action within their country if circumstances warranted.

What is remarkable is that even during the campaign, even before he had access to all the information the president has, and the benefit of the advice of all the people the president has working on a problem like this, Obama still had this all figured out pretty much by himself. And in a way that was directly contrary to the conventional wisdom of the time.


  1. Well, to be fair I don't think McCain was so much criticizing the idea of going into Pakistan, but rather the irony of Obama's stance.

    He posited that a lot of people would vote for Obama on the promise that we'd get the heck out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but anyone that listened understood that Obama was okay with going into Pakistan, Sudan, or any place that he thought necessary.

    I don't think that McCain and Obama differed on that idea (perhaps they did), but I knew a lot of people who voted for Obama simply because of his Afghanistan and Iraq promises. Whenever I mentioned the whole Pakistan stance he had, they just sort of ignored me. Cognitive dissonance I suppose.

  2. Obama was crystal clear during the campaign that his plan was to draw down in Iraq and build up forces in Afghanistan. His whole point was that the war in Iraq had distracted us from the fight against Al Qaeda, and that was where we should have concentrated our efforts. But you're right that a lot of people, both his supporters and opponents, did not take him at his word, and assumed that his plan was simply to pull out of all military conflicts everywhere and just make nice with everybody. I think McCain's point was just to attack Obama as being inexperienced and naive and unrealistic.

    At this point, nobody should doubt that Obama means what he says, and people should also be taking seriously the wisdom of his strategies.

  3. McCain's was probably right to attack Obama as being inexperienced and naive on many fronts. At times, he does mean what he says but it doesn't follow that we should see the wisdom of his decisions. Time will tell.

    Osama is a distraction and it won't last -- at all. Meanwhile, this country is coming unglued financially. Gas is at $4 a gallon (more here), people are unemployed, income is declining for most us, inflation is in full swing and the dollar is falling off a cliff while both Dems and Repubs want to claim high ground!

  4. While citing Obama's wisdom of bombing Pakistan and assassinating Osama, lets also recall he reversed his positions from his campaign wisdom relative to indefinite in terrogation, GITMO and the Patriot Act.

  5. Obama did not change his position on Guantanamo. He even offered to move the prisoners to Illinois, and he wanted to try as many of them as possible. But Congress blocked all funding for moving the Guantanamo detainees. He has also been consistent in acknowledging that some of these prisoners can probably never be tried, and probably can't be released either. Obama also prohibited torture on his first day in office, but he has allowed some renditions to continue. On the Patriot Act, he has made critical statements about it, but voted to re-authorize it even when he was a Senator. Some shifts in position, perhaps, but I don't see any fundamental reversals.