Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lacking the Vision Thing

I was over at Carpetbaggers, yet again thrashing about with Hillary supporters, and wrote a comment on Hillary's vote to authorize war in Iraq that I figured I'd share with you. But don't tell anyone else about this one. This post is just between you and me.

One thing I’d just like to mention is that the Iraq vote isn’t an isolated incident, but rather is symptomatic of the entire Clinton method. In essence, they’re not proactive fighters, but reactive. They wait for their opponents to establish the playing field, and then they find a key position to hide in which allows them to declare a relatively easy victory. Which is good in the short term, but in the long term, they end up going deeper into their own territory every time.

That’s how we got into Iraq in the first place. How often did we hear Bill’s and Hillary’s words come back to haunt us during the build-up to the war, and even afterwards? Too often. But why was Iraq such a big deal in the 90’s? They never threatened us. They weren’t going to attack us. I’m not big on countries flouting the UN or torturing people and whatnot; but are we going to pretend this was some special case for Iraq? Of course not. Some of our key allies do the same thing. The truth is that this was a big issue because the war mongers wanted to attack Iraq, and so Bill played it the best he could. He allowed them to set the stage, and then worked to stop their goals on it. But in the meantime, he wasted too much time on an issue that wasn’t vital to America’s security. And when he finally left, it really didn’t take too much, relatively speaking, for Bush to launch an unnecessary pre-emptive war that continues to screw us up to this day.

And that’s the thing, for as much as he was credited with it, Bill never did have the vision thing. He talked a good game, but in the end, always worked within the constraints that the conservatives set for him. Because he waited for them to make their move, and then reacted to it; rather than taking the initiative. And I suspect it’s because they just like winning battles, and don’t really have any broader goals beyond that.

And that’s exactly how Hillary looks now, and is why I prefer Barack. It’s not just a fluke that he’s better at staying on message and projecting a vision. That’s what he does. He’s not going to waste time combating every little squabble, but tries to focus on the Big Picture and staying with his own narrative. And it works, and is what we need in a president. Not someone who waits to find out where his opponent is going, but moving ahead, forcing his opponent to run to catch up with him. And so we see Fighter Hillary now playing nice with Obama, just as he had planned. It was obvious that Hillary’s strategy was to pull him into a mudfight to sully him, but he ended up pulling her out of the mud and sidelining Bill.

And that’s the same kind of stuff conservatives did to the Clintons throughout the 90’s. As I’ve said before, I always defended that crap, but I never liked it. I want a president I’m proud to support; not another I’m ashamed to defend.

Oh, and I finally got around to reading Obama's big anti-war speech from 2002. If you haven't read it yet, you should. Good stuff. Too bad more Democrats weren't saying stuff like this, rather than trying to prove their patriotic bonafides by allowing us to get rolled by the Republicans. And we ended up getting attacked as unpatriotic traitors anyway. Great plan, guys.


JSN said...

It is hard to imagine voting for anyone who voted for the worst policy decision in my life.

However, Obama voted for the Iraq funding in 2004. If there were any point at which getting out would have been good, it would have been at the beginning. It almost suggests that, if Obama had been in power, he might not have been able to stand up to the administration pressure that wasn't being piled on him because he was an outsider.

Have you read Imperial Life in the Emerald City? I recommend it. The first bit was the worst. The "surge" isn't really working because of extra troops, but because Petreaus is sane and the lackeys and lapdogs Bush had running the show before were not. You haven't said nice things about Petraeus, and surely he isn't perfect, but I'll give you a few items.

Less than two minutes into the speech that everyone was watching, his September progress report, he told the American public and all watching that we were using energy beam weapons on Iraqis. Which of your favorite politicians has discussed this being a possible issue? Something to consider or debate, perhaps? Another thing he emphasized in his report was that the violence was mostly sectarian, purposefully de-emphasizing the constant Bushie MADNESS that it is really all about al-Qaeda. He also mentioned Saudi Arabia in non-glowing tones.

Ambassador Crocker was a shit covered sock puppet, but Petraeus was pretty damned real. And if you expected him to say "I can't improve the situation, I give up" you haven't met many people who are giving reports on their own job performance.

That said, I kinda smile thinking about the combination ticket, Clinton/Obama.

Before I thought of that, I thought the only way we beat McCain is to count on his great age and inability to vigorously campaign to produce a 'gaffe' the likes of "I hate the gooks" like he said in 2000.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Actually, I'm one of those who thought that going to Iraq would be a disaster, but believed that once we were there, we should have made the best of it. The Pottery Barn rule, and all that. And if I remember correctly, I was saying that at the time in 2004, though it's hard to remember when I changed my mind. But there was awhile where I assumed they could still pull out a victory. Foolish, I know.

And regardless, voting to continue funding the war was not in the same league as voting to start it. And that Iraq War authorization bill was the worst of all, and should have even been opposed by pro-war Democrats, as well as any decent Republicans. They made a point of holding a similar vote until after the mid-terms for the first Gulf War, for this very reason. This was nothing but shameless politics that should have embarrassed everyone involved. I'm writing a little about it right now.

As for Imperial Life, no I haven't read it. I actually don't read any modern books, especially not ones that are just likely to depress me. If I remember right, I've read a few excerpts of that, but I generally only read old science fiction, like from Arthur C. Clarke and H.G. Wells. It's so much more enlightening. Wells in particular was quite the progressive, and it's nice to see that many of the problems he addressed are now taken for granted these days. That's much better than reading about the problems we're still facing today.

JSN said...

How about Norstrilia, by Cordswainer Smith? It's super sci-fi/politics.

The "thing" is, could Obama have withstood the administration's pressure, which obviously was never brought to bear on him? It's not clear.

Re: Pottery Barn. Sure, we have certain obligations. But if you think leaving our ARMED FORCES there for a half decade was a good idea... There was a batshit crazy bull in the China shop, and you don't want the bull to leave, so it can fix things up? Has the bull displayed any capacity for fixing shit? NO. We are paying off the guys who used to shoot at us, in part. No matter how good the rest of our "surge" plan is, that part is pretty close to evil. Anyway, what's the point of trying to keep a unified Iraq? Those were colonially imposed borders in the first place. Cut it in two, let the Kurds go their own way. The Sunnis would still be a minority, but a much large proportion of the rump of Iraq.

You want to fix Iraq? Send 140,000 dentists, or street sweepers. No one can imagine someone going "Die Infidel, who happens to be keeping my street quite tidy!"

And, for my money, there is no way to "win" in Iraq in the long term military way unless OUR GUYS LEARN ARABIC. Who the fuck has been in charge this long that Arabic language training isn't a daily part of every single stinking grunt's daily regimen? Ok, or Kurdish, Marsh Arabic, Turkomen, and whatever else they might have.

And, the sectarian split, that's OUR FAULT. We told them that we would divide power between these three groups. All of a sudden being in a mixed group "Sunnis and Shias for a more equitable distribution of oil wealth, Booyah!" became a STUPID position to have. The Sunnis weren't privileged under Saddam, it was mostly just his tribe, and a few others, to a far lesser extent. Not one of these other tribes ever thought they'd get to the top, they just had a good concession.

I'm reading about the end of Napoleon, no one complained about the occupation. The parties started IMMEDIATELY.

Being smart, if that's what this gush of whatnot amounts to, _really_ sucks.