Sunday, July 29, 2007

Views on Diplomacy, Part 3

Hilzoy wrote a post at Obsidian Wings on Saturday regarding the dustup between Clinton and Obama over a YouTuber’s question on conduct of diplomacy. It’s a lengthy and extremely insightful post and I urge you to read it. I’m not really going to quote from it here, except to highlight some thoughts that I have related to the subject.

Reporters and pundits on both sides seemed to think that Clinton was right, but the American people disagree.

(A commenter added that polls actually show 42% agree with Obama, 35% with Clinton, and 24% are uncertain.)

Hilzoy, I think, understates. “Seemed” is pretty mild in terms of what I am reading and hearing. Pundits and reporters and raving about what a horrible mistake Obama made, and how Clinton “brilliantly displayed her superiority in experience.”

I find this rather disturbing. One of the commenters opined that in due course the public’s opinion will fall into line with that of the pundits and reporters, and I find that extremely disturbing. It suggests to me that the election will be decided, not by the people or by the candidates, but by the pundits and reporters. What is particularly disturbing about this feeling is that I rather suspect that it may be correct.

As to setting limitations on meetings, and conditions on who we will meet with, hilzoy writes,

…the peculiar view that negotiating with someone confers some sort of legitimacy on that person. This is a view that we can make true if we want. If we go around saying that we will only negotiate with people we think are absolutely wonderful, or that negotiations with us should be thought of as a certification of quality, like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, then it will be true that a lot can be read into our decision to negotiate.

To me, that's a very good reason not to say things like that.

That is so nicely said that I’m not even going to comment further.

Hilzoy then goes on to Obama turning the discussion to the Congressional voting record on the war in Iraq, quoting Obama,

And there's no getting around it: the Iraq vote is central here. It was the biggest foreign policy mistake of my lifetime, and possibly in our history. And whether because of opportunism, a misplaced trust in George W. Bush, a failure to foresee the likely consequences, or whatever, Clinton and Edwards both voted the wrong way. Moreover, in Clinton's case, it's not at all clear to me what, if anything, she has learned from that mistake.

Hilzoy doesn’t really comment on this issue, but the whole dustup is about foreign policy experience, is it not? And what he says here is very much to the point. Mistakes do get made, and when one does not admit error one cannot possibly learn from that error. Clinton made a huge error by voting as she did, and she steadfastly refuses to admit that error. What does that say about her ability to conduct foreign policy?

In any event, I think that this was a controversy that Hillary Clinton devised, and that while there didn't have to be any disagreement between the two of them as far as their actual answers in the debate went, she mischaracterized what he said and created one.

Because this is what Hillary Clinton does. This is who Hillary Clinton is. This is what Hillary Clinton is made of. Not real leadership, not real issues, not honesty, but political calculation, adversarial confrontation, manipulation, and abuse of process. When listening to a questioner, she is not thinking how she can answer the questioner, she is thinking how she can use the opportunity.

I have read one Hillary Clinton supporter after another say that I am against her because of the “right wing smear machine.” No, my opinions of her have been formed by the words that I have heard her say live and in context, and by the votes that she has cast on the floor of the United States Senate.

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