“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Affirmative Action Candidate

If he weren't black he would not be here.

July 20, 2008
Obama Wraps Up the Bush Status Quo in Pompous Clichés

By Robert Tracinski Real Clear Politics

I am quickly coming to the conclusion that all there has ever been to Barack Obama is symbolism and grandiloquent speeches. There is the symbolism of him as the (potential) first black president. And there is his ability to give portentous speeches in high-flown Harvard rhetoric, perfectly pitched to sound thoughtful to college-educated liberals--without actually saying anything.

And here we go again, with another one of Obama's patented Big Speeches, this time on Iraq. It is pitched to sound sincere and intellectual, and to sell us on his allegedly superior foreign-policy judgment--so long as we drift through it and don't start asking any questions.

The speech has two purposes. One is to artfully evade Obama's massive misjudgment of the "surge," which he unequivocally opposed. Thus, while he half-acknowledges the enormous turnaround in Iraq, here is how he describes its cause:

As I have said many times, our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence. General Petraeus has used new tactics to protect the Iraqi population. We have talked directly to Sunni tribes that used to be hostile to America, and supported their fight against al Qaeda. Shiite militias have generally respected a cease-fire. Those are the facts, and all Americans welcome them.

Here's a tip. When Obama begins a sentence with "As I have said many times," this means that he is about to announce a totally new position that contradicts everything he has said before. For a little reminder of what Obama has actually said about the surge "many times," check out this video clip helpfully posted to YouTube by the Republican National Committee.

The rest of that passage shows a total, willful ignorance about what the surge actually consisted of and what it has done. He says that we "talked directly to Sunni tribes that used to be hostile to America." Well, we did a little more than talk. We backed up the Sunni "Awakening" movement with some serious military action--which is precisely what the extra "surge" troops were needed for.

But the most ridiculous line is that "Shiite militias have generally respected a cease-fire." This Spring saw pitched fighting between Iraqi troops and the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army militia--fighting that ended because the Mahdi Army lost. Does Obama not even watch the news?

But that is not what is most interesting about the speech. What is most interesting is its main purpose, which is to make it sound as if Obama is offering a whole new strategic direction for the War on Terrorism--while he declares that he would implement precisely the policies that are already being followed by the Bush administration.

He says that "True success" in Iraq--note that he has even borrowed Bush's habit of saying "success" in place of "victory"--"will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future--a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge." But that is precisely what is already happening. Sectarian killings in Iraq, for example, have dropped to zero for about ten weeks running.

And how does Obama propose to ensure that we keep on enjoying this "true success" in Iraq? "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010--one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we'll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq's Security Forces."

Note the part about the "residual" combat force, whose size Obama never specifies, which will target the remnants of al Qaeda and train and support Iraqi forces--which is precisely the end result envisioned by the Bush administration if the current progress in Iraq continues.

But maybe the big difference is that Obama will stick to his 16-month timetable no matter what, while Bush and McCain want to make withdrawal dependent on conditions on the ground. Well no, Obama would "make tactical adjustments" after consulting with "commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government."

That final flip-flop that the left has been dreading, when Obama throws out his commitment to a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq? It just happened. I wonder how long it will take them to notice.

Obama's policies for Afghanistan and Pakistan also read like a giant "me-too" to the current administration. His "new strategy" is to do more of what we're already doing: increase troops, increase economic aid, and try jawboning the Pakistani government into fighting the militants.

But the biggest piece of misdirection in the whole speech is about Iran. One of the centerpieces of Obama's strategy is a plan to "secur[e] all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states." So that means shutting down Iran's nuclear weapons program. How does he propose to do that?

Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a vital national security interest of the United States.... I commend the work of our European allies on this important matter, and we should be full partners in that effort.... We will...present a clear choice. If you abandon your nuclear program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, there will be meaningful incentives. If you refuse, then we will ratchet up the pressure, with stronger unilateral sanctions; stronger multilateral sanctions in the Security Council, and sustained action outside the UN to isolate the Iranian regime. That's the diplomacy we need
So he'll cooperate closely with our European allies to offer the Iranians incentives to stop their nuclear program and threaten them with sanctions and diplomatic "isolation" if they refuse. In other words: precisely the policy the Bush administration has followed for the past six years, and especially since the summer of 2006--all with no results.

So on these issues, there is nothing to Obama's speech. It is a whole bunch of pompous clichés--stuff like "it falls to us to act with the same sense of purpose and pragmatism as an earlier generation, to join with friends and partners to lead the world anew"--wrapped around the conventional wisdom.

And that's all there ever has been to Barack Obama: symbolism and grandiloquent speeches.

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and


  1. So, there will be no foreign policy revolution when Obama takes charge. He sounds more reasonable than I had hoped. If he's just following in Team43's track, well who could possibly complain about that?

    Obama offers nothing new, so he's a 21st century conservative.
    Not a revolutionary nor a radical

    Who on Maverick's team is coming up with these storylines of objection to Obama, because he's to conservative?

    I'd feel bad, if I didn't already have such low expectations of Maverick.
    Trouble is, he is fulfilling them.

  2. This must mean that Ash, who follows Obama in all things, supports the Bush policy in all things. How things change. Ash, the warmonger.

    Sectarian killings in Iraq, for example, have dropped to zero for about ten weeks running.

    It almost seems long ago when bodies, mutilated, tortured, were turning up by the dozens in the streets and floating down the rivers.

  3. If Obama came out for bombing Iran, I do think Ash would be for that.

  4. What if he asked him to join in a menagerie ah trio w/Sen Wide Stance?

  5. And that's all there ever has been to Barack Obama: symbolism and grandiloquent speeches.

    That's all a President is asked to do.

    "I am not a crook."

    "The Long National Nightmare is over."

    "Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

    "Read my lips, no new taxes!"

    "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

    "I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."

  6. Nope. Ashley is first a jihadist stooge and then anything and everything else.

  7. What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

    Rasmussen--Saturday, July 19, 2008

    Is the U.S. winning the war on terror? Nearly half of Americans said yes this past week while only 20% gave the nod to the terrorists, a dramatic improvement over the past year and the most positive margin we’ve recorded since Rasmussen Reports began tracking on the issue in January 2004.

    This rising confidence in U.S. efforts against terrorism – and in Iraq –may help explain the tightening of the presidential race as well. Barack Obama has maintained a modest lead over his Republican rival, John McCain ever since Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in early June. But, last weekend, the race suddenly became all tied up.

    Since then, Obama has moved slightly ahead in our daily Presidential Tracking Poll, aided no doubt by voters’ continued trust in the Democrats on most key issues. But the numbers nationwide indicate that this one is far from over. The numbers also suggest that--despite all the hype--the demographic alignment in 2008 looks a lot like it did in 2004.

    In Virginia, a red state Democrats hope to move into their column this year, for example, Obama and McCain are in a dead heat for the second straight month. But Obama’s negatives have risen to 47% now in the Old Dominion state, a number that could spell potential trouble at the polls.
    Also, as the presidential race tightens up, we found that both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore currently poll better than Obama against McCain. At the same time, Obama would beat George W. Bush by twenty percentage points.

    Things are far from cut-and-dry with the economy, too. Economic issues remain the number one election concern, with many saying they have been forced to cut their spending and savings habits to cope with higher gas prices. This would seem to bode well for the Democratic candidate. But voters overwhelmingly think gas prices are the biggest problem facing the economy, and six-in-ten favor McCain’s solution – offshore oil drilling – as a key way to start pushing those prices down.

    That’s not all they told us though:

    -- There was little good news for Republicans in the Senate races we polled on this week. Jesse Ventura’s decision not to run for the Senate in Minnesota leaving Democrat Al Franken with a modest boost over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. Another GOP incumbent, Gordon Smith, has fallen behind his Democratic challenger for the first time in Oregon. Meanwhile, one of only two potentially vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, widened her lead on her Republican opponent.

    -- Obama is heading off on a fact-finding trip to the Middle East but not before he declared in a major foreign policy speech that President Bush is fighting the war on terror in the wrong place. Afghanistan should be the central front in that fight, he said, and 48% of Americans agree.

    -- Most Americans believe the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons, but they also think that no matter who is elected president he won’t be able to stop them. A week earlier 46% said the U.S. should respond militarily if Iran attacks Israel.

    -- For the President, perhaps any news is good news these days. Our latest polling finds just 33% of Americans approve of his job performance, but that is one point better than our findings in June, the fifth straight month his job approval ratings had fallen and the third month in a row that he had set an all-time low.

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  9. Better to be first a jihadist stooge and then everything and anything else, than everything and anything else and then a jihadist stooge.
    from "The Collected Sayings of al-bob"

  10. clinton (someone I did vote for and like) always Co-Op'd the GOP's position and thus marginalized them

    Barack Hussein is trying to do the same, except he's proclaimed himself to be different than normal politicians and the sad fact is, upon examination, he worse than a typical politician...

    May the far left be so pissed off by his hard right turn to our right the right that they do what they always do..


    Young people, gays and blacks... worst voting turnout record of all measurable minorities

  11. It's still remains that Obama has been so all over the map on stuff, it's not possible to know what he would do on anything, save raising taxes.

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  13. "Best is a dead jihadist and its stooge." -The uncollected mutterings.

  14. That's all a President is asked to do.

    Nay, it's to make or suggest a coherent policy and then make a grandeloquent speech. Often, they do neither.

  15. If you gather those saying up and get them out there Mat, you'd find yourself famous, like me.

  16. Yes, that sounds quite good. Should catch an ear or two.

    An a sequel would be More Mat's mutters matters

  17. "Palestinian news agency: Israel using rats to drive Arab families from Old City... "
    Fuckin Jooos.

  18. They be circumscribed in their circumcision. The rats!

  19. I guess they thot Headless Hitler would be too graphic for the Video.
    Maybe they'll play the Danny Pearl Video until they fix him back up.

  20. Obama speech to commemorate Prussian victories over Denmark, Austria and France.
    Maybe he'll be in PA on opening day to give a speech at the 9-11 Red Crescent Memorial.

  21. Ladies and Gentlemen, when you post your comments, keep in mind that--

    “Anti-knowledge”? We already have a word for that - “ignorance.” Anyway, “anti-knowledge” would not be the unknowing or unknown but instead the knowing-to-be-false or known-to-be-false. “Anti-”, “contra-”, “counter-”, and “dis-” have that sense of a diametrical opposite rather than of simple negation. Like the difference between counterfactual and nonfactual. Or between disbelief and unbelief. (Sometimes in English “un-” works like “dis-” or “anti-,” e.g. “unhappy” which means a negative feeling, not merely “non-happy.”)

    posted by 'ForNow' at BC

    Yeah, I kept my eyes glued to Dolph, and then, he just wasn't there.

  22. I just shook my head and left at the last post.
    ...I'm a slower learner than most here.

  23. Speak o'de Debil:

    Only Journalists And Liberals Would Confuse “Schedule” And “Conditions”

    OMG - how much brain damage did the elitist school system do to this nation?
    The reason I ask is because those of us who went to public schools seem to have come through the ordeal sane, but those with Ivy League educations seem to have lost all their marbles...

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Terrye,
    Maybe I am missing something, but this just looks like a semi circle to me. I get the whole crescent thing and if it really bothers people, then they should change it, but when I looked at it I did not think of Islam.""

    I guess that's socialist, Welfare Worker Terrye the "conservative" once of yargb fame raisin her perky and brilliant little noggin again.

    I thot of "Cheers" the Bar,
    and "Cheer" Laundry Detergent, myself.

  26. Gawd, it gets worse when someone argues.

  27. aerawls said,

    The design is without a doubt a crescent. It was originally named Crescent of Embrace, and as can be seen in the animation, every particle of that original crescent design remains completely intact in the redesign.

    People also need to know that the giant crescent points to Mecca, and that this Mecca-orientation is repeated in the crescents of trees that surround the crescent-shaped Tower of Voices part of the memorial.

    This repetition proves that the Mecca orientation is intentional. That makes the giant crescent a mihrab: the Mecca-direction indicator around which every mosque is built. Some mihrabs are pointed arch shaped, but the archetypical mihrab is crescent shaped.

  28. Terrye can suck every bit of intelligence out of a discussion.
    Should sent her to BC, maybe the average would result in common sense.

  29. ...Or – just maybe – he’s the perfect person for our times – a man who can help us confront our internal racial divisions and also help build bridges with other nations where people view us as tyrants and exploiters.

    Whether Obama prevails in November, his presence has dragged one ugly truth out of the shadows and into the light.

    As a nation, we do have a long way to go – and the distance we must travel has grown greater since Sept. 11, 2001.

    Evidence of our Divisions

  30. Actually I have to take back much of my comment about Ash above, as I missed his post on the earlier thread where he seems to be disagreeing with Obama. Ash, I will try to read more carefully hereafter.

    Russian history should be instructive but alas, for Obama (the next POTUS) it appears as if it will be as Iraq was to Bush. Another friggin' quagmire to get bogged down in. Ash

  31. I'd make that memorial into the form of an American flag with the word's Let's Roll on it.

  32. "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided"


  33. "No one can question my love for this country."
    (in my image)

  34. Greek Navy Launches Fuel Cell Powered Submarine

    Air Products, in partnership with Hellas Air Pro Ltd., recently supplied a new state of the art submarine of the Hellenic Navy with hydrogen.

    Hsy_fuel_cell_submarine The HDW Class 214 submarine has a fuel cell-generated power supply, allowing it to operate entirely on hydrogen. The fuel cell, which produces electrical energy from oxygen and hydrogen, allows the new submarine to cruise under water for up to three weeks without resurfacing. Conventional diesel-electric submarines typically deplete their battery power after a few days cruising under water. In addition, the fuel cell makes no noise and produces no detectable exhaust heat, in turn making the submarine virtually undetectable.


  35. Good luck tracking these subs once the bad guys get them.

  36. What about moving to significantly lower levels of nuclear weapons, such as eliminating land-based missiles? Gen. Welch - the former military commander of all U.S. nuclear forces - noted that while we know the submarine missile fleet is the most survivable, it can be attrited over time.

    But there is no motivation to do so while there are significant numbers of ICBMs on alert. Further, there is no motivation to attack the ICBM force.

    With the configuration of single-warhead ICBMs and arms-control agreements that have drastically reduced strategic warheads, ICBMs have become a stabilizing force. Without them, a pre-emptive attack may be more likely, the nuclear threshold may be diminished and the possibility for conflict increases.

    U.S. Nukes

  37. Bobal wrote:

    "This must mean that Ash, who follows Obama in all things, supports the Bush policy in all things. How things change. Ash, the warmonger."

    Please don't mistake my predictions on what will happen as endorsements. I was keener on Obama when I thought he was 'anti-war'. Now, he's just a guy in favor on one clusterf*ck as opposed to two clusterf*cks. I guess... one is better then two....but I'm not convinced. Still, McCain's full of fossilized sh*t.

  38. bobal said...
    If Obama came out for bombing Iran, I do think Ash would be for that

    nope!!! biggo mistake that one.

    Look - India has refused to sign NPT, has already set off da bomb AND we do a deal. Iran has signed NPT, has not set of da bomb, says they don't want to set off a bomb and we won't talk (well, we murmurred a bit the other day). wasss up wit dat??

  39. The Democratic presidential contender who criticized Afghan government weeks ago had promised additional troops to Afghanistan to bolster war on terror if he comes to power.

    The statement added that the two delegations during the meeting noted that both the Democratic and the Republican parties have been supporting long-term presence of the US in Afghanistan.

    Obama's itinerary also includes Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Germany.

    Long Term Support

  40. bobal said...
    Actually I have to take back much of my comment about Ash above

    thanks bobal -- I also disagree with the protectionist bull he spews. Though, interestingly enough, our boy Mattie seems enthralled with that BS.

  41. The Hindus are a peaceful lot, Ash. Recognizing many paths up the mountain. That's what's up with that.

    Ash, did you find out anything about nuclear waste, it's storage, disposal, reprocessing etc from your friend?

  42. (Aywhannajihad Proposes to Use a Very Large Art Gum Eraser to achieve his goal wrt Israel.)

  43. We may have to throw a few foreigners out, guard our gates a little more effectively, and stand up to the Chinese manufacturing bullies to get things under a reasonable level of control, but the escape hatch is slowly sealing itself closed forever. We must take many, assorted, new types of actions before the final air hisses through the seal.

    We could stand around like chickens in the barnyard waiting for the arrival of Colonel Sanders, but somehow I don’t think we would care much for the ending of that movie. Waterworld ceased to be shown at the Cineplex years ago and that should be a hint.

    We shall soon be running out of water instead of floating on it. Taking away the corn for ethanol is only going to make the cows mad.

    Return to Quality

  44. How do Hindu's say
    "Death to America?"
    You should listen to Kagan on Hewitt to hear how things are going in Iraq.
    esp wrt How the Iraqis feel about the Persians.

  45. "The Democrats have used this quite dishonestly to get at the current government," said Chris Baker, a British historian of Thailand, speaking of the main opposition party. "This of course is a very dangerous game.

    A troop buildup is a very dangerous game."

    The temple was built between the ninth and 11th centuries, and the catalyst for the current standoff was its designation on June 17 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, a designation sought by Cambodia. Legally, the temple has belonged to Cambodia since 1962, after a ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

    Political Crises

  46. But all the while, the debt mounts along with the costs of an ultimate day of reckoning. Debate grows about the wisdom of leaning on foreign credit, and about how much longer Americans will retain the privilege of spending and investing money that isn't really theirs.

    Bailouts amount to mortgaging the future to stave off the wolf howling at the door. The likelihood of a painful reckoning is diminished, while the costs of a reckoning - should one come - are increased.

    The costs are getting big.

    Too Big to Fail?