Sunday, July 29, 2007

Clinton Debating: A Derisive Look is Worth a Thousand Words

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When Debating Foreign Policy,
A Derisive Look is Worth a Thousand Words.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to try to score points off one another based on last weeks' debate, particularly around the issue of foreign policy.

The New York Times reports,
For days, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have been exchanging retorts over the wisdom of sitting down for diplomatic meetings with hostile dictators. In case voters had not been following along, Mr. Obama sought to inform them, weaving his side of the dispute into the overarching message of his campaign.

“Some of you noticed that this week I got in a debate with one of my colleagues who is also running for the presidency,” Mr. Obama said Friday night, opening a two-day trip to Iowa. “The debate was about whether we talk to world leaders even if you don’t like them. My theory is that you do.”

The quarrel emerged from this week’s debate in South Carolina, when Mrs. Clinton said she would not meet with foreign leaders, including those of Iran and North Korea, without preconditions. She later criticized Mr. Obama’s response as “irresponsible and, frankly, na├»ve.”

Those four words touched off the most direct confrontation yet in the fight for the Democratic nomination. And Mr. Obama worked to keep the distinction alive during a weekend trip to Iowa, turning the disagreement into an example of how he would lead the country differently.

“Our standing in the world has diminished so much because people think that the United States wants to dictate across the world instead of cooperate across the world,” Mr. Obama said Saturday. “When we start sending a signal that we are ready to engage in serious diplomacy, then we’ve got the opportunity to stand before the world and say: We’re back. America is back.” New York Times
It seems to me that Clinton has brought the longer knife to this fight, since she is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, traveled overseas extensively and participated in foreign policy choices during two terms as First Lady, and has one more term in the US Senate under her belt than does Barack Obama.

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Clinton/Obama in 2008: It'll make me feel better,
and it certainly won't make America any worse than it is now.

On the other hand, Barack Obama correctly predicted that the Iraq War would turn into a foreign policy disaster, and his foreign policy ideas at present are firmly within the mainstream of what Democrats are seeking. Who wins the foreign policy debate may come down to what the public wants more: experience or a "new politics." Unfortunately for Barack Obama, it will be far easier for Clinton to appropriate his "new politics" language than it will be for Obama to appropriate Clinton's experience.


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