Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Obama Nailed Again By His Own Foot-In-Mouth Comments

Ben Smith @ Politico has the details, and it does not look good for Obama:

The latest Obama story, from an interview with The Associated Press, isn't online yet, but get ready: It's an interview* in which Obama initially rules out the use of nuclear weapons entirely, then seems to take it back:

''I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,'' Obama said, with a pause, ''involving civilians.'' Then he quickly added, ''Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table.''

Strikingly, this, like the dictator remarks, doesn't seem to be a calculated, on-message foray. It's an authentic answer, and a huge departure [UPDATE: See the question below; it's still a striking thing to say, but not with the same sweep], if he means it, in which the point of having nukes is that you could use them. But it's also probably pretty close to the way a lot of Americans, and Democrats, actually think about nukes.

This whole shadow debate between Obama and Clinton has wavered back and forth on one axis: Clinton is trying to use it to show that Obama is personally unready, while essentially agreeing with him on policy details; Obama is using the fact of a disagreement to paint himself as the candidate of change when it comes to policy.

So where does this one fit in? Is it a damaging sign of unreadiness? An inspiring mark that he has a truly different view of the world?

Relevant section of the AP story after the jump.

*UPDATE: Obama's campaign says the story lacks the context of the quote, which was a question specifically about nuking terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. That's a much narrower context, and doesn't imply the same kind of grand strategic revision.

Here's the original question, from the campaign's transcript: "In Afghanistan or Pakistan, is there any circumstance where you would be prepared or willing to use nuclear weapons to defeat terrorism and Osama bin Laden?"

By DENNIS CONRAD Associated Press WriterWASHINGTON (AP) —

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday he would not use nuclear weapons ''in any circumstance.''

''I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,'' Obama said, with a pause, ''involving civilians.'' Then he quickly added, ''Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table.''

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf earlier this week that he would use U.S. military force in Pakistan even without Musharraf's permission if necessary to root out terrorists.

However, when asked by The Associated Press after a Capitol Hill breakfast with constituents whether there was any circumstance where he would be prepared or willing to use nuclear weapons to defeat terrorism and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Obama replied:

''There's been no discussion of using nuclear weapons and that's not a hypothetical that I'm going to discuss.''

When asked whether his answer also applied to the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons, he said it did.

Let me be clear here. Neither Thomas nor I would readily go to nuclear weapons as a "first-strike" option unless we had solid evidence that a nation that could hit the United States was preparing to strike us first. They are not to be used so cavalierly. But the option should always be on the table. Nuclear weapons are a part of our military contingency, and should not simply be put on a shelf and ignored. They should actually be in a glass case that reads: "In case of war, with no other options, break glass."

This is just one more statement that shows the utter inexperience of the still-first-term-serving-senator from Illinois. Only God knows why he decided to run. Maybe he thought he was like John F. Kennedy. Maybe he thought he had enough support to pull off a miracle campaign. Dean Barnett, AKA "Chowdah" to Thomas, has the bad news for Obama today. It comes of Rasmussen's newest polling data:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows New York Senator Hillary Clinton reaching another new high-water mark in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Clinton now has support from 43% of Likely Democratic Primary Voters, more than double the total of her nearest challenger. Illinois Senator Barack Obama is a distant second at 21% while former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is preferred by 12%.

Clinton is now viewed favorably by 82% of Democrats, Obama by 66%. Those figures include 43% with a Very Favorable opinion of Clinton. Thirty-three percent (33%) have such a positive view of Obama. Just 16% of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Clinton while 30% hold such a view of Obama.

Among all voters, Clinton is viewed favorably by 49% and unfavorably by 48%. Those figures are in the middle of the range she’s occupied all year. Obama is viewed favorably by 48% of all voters, unfavorably by 45%. Those are the weakest ratings for Obama in 2007. In mid-July, he was viewed favorably by 54% of all voters.

Can this be attributed to his recent gaffes? More than likely. Many mainstream Democrats look to their party's history of a strong national defense, hearkening back to the days of FDR and JFK. When they hear a potential candidate would be inclined to talk to our enemies like Cuba, Iran, Syria and Venezuela it speaks loud and clear to potential constituents. When he says he would invade an ally to do the work he does not think they are serious about it unnerves the mainstream Democrat base. It also will not sit well with the moonbats on the fringes of the party (a point the Kossacks at "YearlyKos" had better remind him of).

The more he stumbles, the more Hillary gains. If he is not careful, he may just write himself straight out of the primaries before they even begin. That will leave a clear path for Hillary to the nomination, and it will end any notions of him even being a running mate for her.



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