Barack Obama is flipping out. He flopped in the South Carolina debate. He flopped in the new South Carolina poll. Instead of taking his losses on the chin, Obama is sticking his chin out and insisting he is right.
Is this any way to run a campaign?
Obama was asked this question at the South Carolina debate:
In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since. In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
The components to the question were 1) meet separately; 2) without precondition; 3) during the first year; 4) In Washington or anywhere else; 5) with leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea. Obama answered the question with “I would.”
John Edwards, sensibly following Hillary’s lead answered the question by saying: “Yes, and I think actually Senator Clinton’s right though. Before that meeting takes place, we need to do the work, the diplomacy, to make sure that that meeting’s not going to be used for propaganda purposes, will not be used to just beat down the United States of America in the world community.”
In an interview with right wing journalist Byron York immediately after the debate, Joe Biden also agreed with our Hillary:
Afterward, other candidates echoed Clinton’s criticism. Sen. Joseph Biden, who has emerged as the clear-eyed antiwar realist in the Democratic race, told National Review Online that the idea of a president meeting with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, and others was “naïve.” “World leaders should not meet with other world leaders unless they know what the agenda is, so you don’t end up being used,” Biden said. “When I went to meet with Milosevic before the war, the condition I met with him was that no press would be available, I’d only meet him in his office late at night, and I wouldn’t dignify being seen with him.”
Instead of exhibiting good judgment and common sense by retreating from his position, Obama has dug in his heels. With a Bush-like defiant posture, Obama continues, contrary to all evidence, to insist he is right. The flop has him flipped.
What is the current Obama campaign defense for his flop debate answer? It is odd. It is unhinged. It is detached from reality. But make no mistake, it is the party line defense because Obama himself has prattled it. Here it is:
“Look, one thing I’m very confident about is my judgment in foreign policy is, I believe, better than anyone else in this race, Republican or Democrat. “And I don’t base that simply on the fact that I was right on the war in Iraq. But if you look at how I approached the problem. What I was drawing on was a set of experiences that come from a life of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders.”
Just how flipped out is the above response? Obama seriously thinks that because he lived in Indonesia when he was 6 years old (he was there until he was 10) somehow makes him presidential timber? Because he has family overseas he is presidential timber? That agreeing, without preconditions, to meet with dubious (to say the least) world leaders demonstrates quality judgment? Maybe Obama thinks Hawaii, where he lived as a young man, is a foreign country. How else to explain living overseas as a pre-teen signals a future claim to occupancy of the Oval office?
[So ridiculous are the claims of superior judgment in foreign policy by Obama that they actually managed to breathe some life into the corpse which is the McCain campaign: McCain took exception to remarks in which Obama asserted his foreign policy judgment was superior to any of the candidates in the race, Republican or Democrat, partly because he has lived overseas and had a multicultural upbringing. “Well, I also think I’m the most qualified to run the decathlon because I watch sports on television all the time,” the Arizona senator said with sarcasm between stops in this leadoff primary state.]
But there is another aspect of the Obama narrative that is so untethered to reality it is laughable:
Asked about his foreign policy credentials on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” in January, Obama said his “experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. I mean, I’m somebody who has actually lived overseas, somebody who has studied overseas. You know, I majored in international relations.”
Well, that certainly makes us feel at ease. He took classes in “international relations.” That’s the ticket to the Oval office. Next Obama will be saying he was a cheerleader at his school too.
The Obama strategy then is to somehow sell to Americans as a compelling narrative, his “experience” as a 6 year old living overseas, family members overseas, and his classroom studies as qualifications for election to the presidency. Never has so little been used to fool so many for so much – the Presidency.
For the time being, Obama has decided to bark as his supporters demand. Is there a historical precedent for such delusion at such a high level? Let’s go back in time to a long ago debate and a years later talk about another big debate blunder:
PRESIDENT GERALD FORD: … There’s no question I did not adequately explain what I was thinking. I felt very strongly, and I, of course, do so today, that regardless of the number of Soviet armored divisions in Poland, the Russians would never dominate the Polish spirit. That’s what I should have said. I simply left out the fact that at that time in 1976, the Russians had about 10 to 15 divisions in Poland. [snip]
JIM LEHRER: Let’s go back at the time you said that. I’m sure you’ve replayed this in your mind a million times. I don’t have to remind you what happened. You gave that answer, and then there was a follow-up, and you repeated it, so my question is did you have any idea that you had said something wrong?
PRESIDENT GERALD FORD: Not at the time. Not at the time, [snip] So at the time, I did not feel that I had made an error. In retrospect, obviously, the inclusion of a sentence or maybe a phrase would have made all the difference in the world.
JIM LEHRER: When did you realize that you had made a mistake, or at least or do you honestly believe you made a mistake, now, sitting here now?
PRESIDENT GERALD FORD: Well, I can see that I made a mistake in not adequately explaining what I had in mind. [snip] So when I finished the debate, I felt very comfortable. But the press focused in on that one exchange, and I happen to think that most of the press distorted the facts, and overly emphasized something that was not the most substantive issue in the whole debate.
JIM LEHRER: Do you happen to remember that just as the debate was over, when you first talked to your aides, your family, or whatever, did anybody say to you, Mr. President you made a mistake, you did bad on this one statement.
PRESIDENT GERALD FORD: The first comments by my staff were that we had done very, very well overall. But then when the press, in their own analysis —
JIM LEHRER: Immediately, you mean right after the debate.
PRESIDENT GERALD FORD: The press that were making the post debate analysis focused in on that, and made very adverse comments about my comment. Well, when that press reaction became the dominant one, of course, the whole feeling that I had won this debate overall changed quite dramatically.
Gerald Ford did not learn his lesson in time and lost the election because he stuck to a ridiculous position stated at a debate. Obama has not learned his lesson and insists on sticking to a ridiculous position he stated at a debate.
Why is Obama self-destructing this way? We will examine that question later today as we continue to explore the flop that flipped.