Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Obama and "Advisers"

About my earlier statement that "Obama doesn't work in a vacuum without advisers along the way, and EVERYTHING in politics is conditional", a reader writes:
You give great credence to Obama having advisers. Truman had advisers when he moved to defend S. Korea without approval by Congress. Kennedy & Johnson had advisers when they sent troops to Viet Nam without approval by Congress. Carter had advisers when he gave away the Panama Canal. Reagan had advisers when he sent forces to Panama, Grenada, etc. without approval of Congress. G. W. Bush had advisers when he sent forces to Iraq after getting approval from the UN and Congress. Advisers are necessary but are not held responsible for their advice.

True, but all the men you are referring to were Presidents. Obama is a candidate campaigning to be president. The actions he takes, the decisions he makes, have to accomplish two things: first and foremost, they have to get him elected; second, they have to look presidential. He has advisers to help him do both those things. And advisers are both necessary and held accountable. When they screw up, they usually lose their jobs at the White House or quietly resign. It's just not as public as, say, an impeachment trial.

An aside to the current Obama trip -- blogger Dave Weigel writes:
A debate over how right McCain was/how wrong Obama was over this aspect of the war is not going to [include] a debate over when to leave Iraq. I don't see any of this [inuring] to the benefit of John McCain. McCain's goading Obama to make this trip stands tall and proud as one of the dumbest blunders of the campaign. He couldn't have helped the Democrat more if he'd challenged him to a slam dunk contest. And lo and behold, Maliki is shorting McCain stock as fast as he can move it.

In a way, this has been my point of the last two posts. All McCain can do right now is avoid saying something so stupid during the Obama trip that he renders himself irrelevant. With his non-answer to Meredith Vieira yesterday, he came very close.

I think of that climactic scene at the end of Searching for Bobby Fischer, where young Josh Waitzkin offers his hand to his opponent in a draw. When the opponent refuses, Josh says, "You've lost. You just don't see it yet." In a way, Obama has seen the board, and the game, all the way to its end. When he returns from his trip, when he blasts out of Denver with the nomination, a solid VP choice, and his fundraising engine firing on all cylinders, he will engage in a few friendly, supremely staged debates with his opponent, and summarily wipe the floor with him. It won't even be a contest come September. Unfortunately, McCain's the fall guy this time like Dole was in 1996. He just doesn't see it yet.

However, I'll bet his advisers do.

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