Monday, June 30, 2008

Leave Schieffer alone!

The Big Tent Democrat writing at Talk Left seems to be upset with CBS's Bob Schieffer:
Yes Bob Schieffer, really. Do you think it is a qualification to be President? Does CBS News think it is? Why? I think Bob Schieffer has some questions to answer on this point imo.
What's he talking about?

Well, he's talking about a conversation Schieffer had with General Wesley Clark on Face the Nation Sunday. Let's go to the "rush transcript":
SCHIEFFER: With us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, retired General Wesley Clark. He was for Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Once Hillary was out of it, he announced that he was supporting Barack Obama.

And let's get right to it here, General. You heard what Senator Lieberman said. He said that Barack Obama is simply more ready to be president than Barack Obama.

General WESLEY CLARK (Retired; Obama Supporter): Well, I think--I think Joe has it exactly backwards here.
No wonder Big Tent is upset and confused, these people are literally talking in circles.

OK, fun done. The hot potato in question is one word, "really" uttered by Schieffer after Clark suggested being shot down as a fighter pilot has no bearing on becoming president. Our critic has generally failed to consider the context of the word, which was uttered after Clark disparaged McCain's non-wartime command in the Navy and his lack of executive experience followed by accolades about Obama's judgment and superior communication skills sans military experience.

Of course being a wartime fighter pilot, even one who's been shot down in combat, doesn't automatically prepare one for being president. Everyone knows that only riding in small naval Swift Boats can do that.

And of course, the fact that McCain spent more time in the Hanoi Hilton than Obama has in the Senate isn't an instant qualification either because let's face it--anybody can be captured and tortured by a bunch of shortish communists, it takes a strong leader to sit in a church and listen to a radical reverend for 20 years, never communicating any complaints to said reverend then later communicating to the press that he heard nothing controversial until after the reverend retired. Or to mesmerize the press with chants of 'yes we can' while flip-flopping on just about every major issue to date.

But for lefties to go after Bob Schieffer, one of the most polite and unobtrusive journalists in media -- for anything -- seems overly cruel and desperate. For crying out loud he's done his time in the trenches people--in six months or so he'll be living the retirement dream, probably motoring around America in the ole Airstream staying at the KOA. Leave Bob Schieffer alone.

MORE 6/30/08

After further thoughts I've come to the conclusion that Wes Clark simply cannot be that stupid to compare Obama's experience and judgment to McCain's. Chances are this was the first of many attempts to say something so outrageous as to trigger a temper blowup from Mac, which will then become the story. After all, who cares what Clark says? But they would care how McCain reacted.


Surely General Clark's mention of McCain's service and Obama's speech on patriotism were mere coincidences, right? Let's pretend they were. Here's my quick take:

It wasn't his most impassioned speech but it wasn't bad. The fact he gave it only represents more evidence Obama feels the constant need to reintroduce himself to the electorate, not necessarily a good thing for someone running for president. He keeps blaming it on right-wing smears and misinformation, but part of the problem has come from his own associations, which he vaguely referred to in the speech.

Obviously there were several goals, most probably the main one being to dispel conventional wisdom about flag pins, the pledge of allegiance, G-D America and so forth. To great applause he used Mark Twain's quote on patriotism to define it for himself (which is a good one), but that occurred right after criticizing people who criticize the country without acknowledging it's goodness (defining many on his side).

He declared cheap shots at patriotism as off-limits, as if he'd ever personally consider doing such a foolish thing anyway. Clearly, without a military service record and with so much ambiguity about his background that construct mostly benefits him, ie, he's trying to link attacks on McCain's service record with attacks on his association with William Ayers or militants in the black movement.

Towards the second half it was standard political fare with talking points wrapped in the flag. He defined the soldier who blew the lid off Abu Ghraib as a patriot, skipping countless examples of heroic service folks he could have cited. The point was understandable but Abu Ghraib is like code word for the left, leaving the impression that the Times and Post writers who leaked national security info about detaining prisoners might also be patriots. At least that's how I took it.

He said Bush never called anyone to service after 9/11, a lie, and had encouraged people to "shop", which is true, but the attack on America was an attack on our financial system and not "shopping" out of fear would have caused further damage. Here's what Bush said:
I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity. They did not touch its source. America is successful because of the hard work, and creativity, and enterprise of our people. These were the true strengths of our economy before September 11th, and they are our strengths today.
He criticized the tax cuts during a war, most of which were in place before 9/11. Is Obama suggesting Bush should have raised taxes after a massive drop in the stock market with the financial center of the world laying in ruins?

He talked of the lack of togetherness in weening ourselves off foreign oil (true) without acknowledging the restrictions on actually getting more oil in the interim while we're busy looking. He failed to mention that Bush has put more federal dollars into researching alternative fuels than previous presidents and we have a Democratic-controlled Congress who continue to do nothing aside from drag administration officials in for testimony.

BTW, rather nit-picky, but around 10:15 Obama talks about his mother reciting the Declaration to him when only a wee tot living in Indonesia (not his step-father) and he decided it was time to recite it, to which he said "unalienable" instead of "inalienable" (the definitions are the same). Whoops. It's interesting he felt the need to say it at all. Hey, was that a flag pin or not?

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