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Foreign Policy: An Entrance Examination

The Russian invasion of Georgia is a genuine crisis, with significant meaning on many levels. In addition to the obvious military, political, and economic issues surrounding the conflict, a leader may be measured by his preparation for the possibility of such a conflict rising. Therefore, it may be useful to consider how much, if at all, each of the two main candidates for President of the United States, were aware of the potential crisis.

The Campaign Spot notes that Senator Obama specifically warned about Putin's aggressive behavior one time in a speech, compared to three specific and detailed warnings about Putin from Senator McCain.

This does not include passing or general comments made by Senators Obama or McCain.

More specifically, Senator Obama has never mentioned Ossetia in any speech, while Senator McCain has done so twice, as far back as two years ago.

There is a clear difference, as to which candidate has studied this specific scenario and theater of operations, and is therefore capable of making an informed decision without dangerous assumptions or trusting banal generalities.


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Comments (55)

One very dangerous attribut... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

One very dangerous attribute in a leader is a certain naive belief that there is no such thing as a truly evil person.

While I'm not a fan of much Sen. McCain's domestic policy, I do believe that having spent 5 years as a POW he should certainly understand the depth of evil of which some humans are capable.

When I contrast that with Sen. Obama, I do see color but not the color from his skin pigment - it's the green from his inexperience.

For the record, I think Pres. Bush's statement re: Putin was naive and agree McCain's assessment. Putin isn't someone you send the kids to negotiate with.

Obama had to look at a map ... (Below threshold)
COgirl:

Obama had to look at a map first to figure out where Georgia is located. Then he had to check the polls. Then he had to study the issue.

He's as green as green can be and dangerous!

Cut Obama some slack - he j... (Below threshold)

Cut Obama some slack - he just needs a couple hundred more advisors.

What's wrong with you peopl... (Below threshold)
Rankins:

What's wrong with you people? This particular arrigance that has been apart of this country's behavior,when it comes to intelligently solving the international problems,has gone on too long. America is supposed to be a leader fo the world when it comes to Human Rights of GOD'S people. Instead,we carry out this behavior that's surely not the best avenue(aggression)for solving the world's problems.Military action is always the LAST resort,especially when you've put your hand in the lion's mouth(Russia). We as a nation DO NOT want certain types of governmental beliefs that we believe to be a unhealthy to Americas social and political welfare setting up at our boarders. Let's be clear on one thing. We were all created by GOD,to live in peace without bulling any of your brothers and sisters. If we truely believe in the American creed then world peace would be a piece of cake. This is the wish of most,if not all,world communities.

Rankins, you seem to have m... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Rankins, you seem to have missed the topic completely. Thank you for your rant, but your invective might be better served with a focus on proper context next time.

Rankins,How nice. ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Rankins,

How nice. Lets just all get along and everything will be ok. Of course, human nature is not so monolithic even among those who believe in God. Some among us will resort to force, and in case you haven't noticed, the only counter is ultimately greater force or the credible threat of it.

Georgia is now lost as a pro-western democratic nation. The west has also lost the only non-Russian controlled pipeline into the Caspian Sea region. Yet his is not without advantages for the west. For one, it demonstrates that Russia is still aggressive and western military might must be maintained. It also emphasizes the need for speed when a nations like Georgia and the Ukraine seek membership in NATO. No more of this wait two or three years nonsense. Either that or make it clear that NATO will not expand further, and in doing so, create a perceived threat to Russia. Stop feeding the bear.

Mac? The pipeline's still t... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Mac? The pipeline's still there. The Russians don't control it. And the US has put the Russians in a bad spot where they're having to back out of the country.

When the Messiah speaks, hi... (Below threshold)
Rance:

When the Messiah speaks, his followers get the message the first time.

When mere mortals speak, the message sometimes has to be repeated before it sinks in.

Rankins: This is the wis... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Rankins: This is the wish of most,if not all,world communities.

Thank you. You've provided an excellent example of the type of naivety to which I was referring.

As serious as the Georgia s... (Below threshold)

As serious as the Georgia situation is, the U.S. still needs to preserve the larger vision of having a working relationship with Russia because their cooperation in many other international matters such as Iran is needed. Further, since Russia still has a large nuclear force as well as one of the largest oil revenues in the world, and they still hold a great deal of clout no matter what terrible actions they do to a point. Whether the Georgia crisis is beyond that point is a very serious question for the Bush Administration to ponder.

While China is largely consumed with the Olympics right now, there is always the hope that China may be wary of easy use of military power by Russia, and reignite the same sort of fears of Russia that once brought Mao and President Nixon closer together in the 70's. China could view the U.S. as a far more reliable friend and ally than Russia over this situation if China can find enough secure sources of oil to fuel their rapidly expanding economy. But with their huge supply of oil which China needs, China could also find themselves a reluctant ally of the Russians just as well, although privately fearing the loose use of Russian military power.

I'm certainly bothered that so many figures in the Putin government are former Communists, many associated with the past Soviet government such as Vitaly Churkin, who is their UN Ambassador. Churkin was a pure "company man" type spokesman for the old Communist regime and is still the same sort of guy for the Putin regime. Putin may have put up a young figurehead bureaucrat up to run for president, but Putin is still essentially in charge, and is probably the de facto president for life of Russia so the U.S. is going to have to deal with him for a long time because he's a reasonably young fellow. I personally have not seen any real evidence that Putin, Churkin or many others in this government are even real democrats, but just old Communist Party members who function mainly to benefit a new class of oil billionaires coming out of Russia. But with a soaring economy, this Putin regime also has huge support among the rising middle class as well, only leaving some older citizens, the very poor and some radicals to support the much smaller Communist Party.

By comparison, there are some signals that John McCain could announce that he only intends to seek just one term for president at the Republican convention, which would be a very bad signal to Russia, Iran and North Korea, to wait out this four years before they agree to anything substantial with the U.S. or responsible world community.

On the other hand, Obama would likely serve for two terms and provided that his foreign policy team offers pragmatic views, Russia, Iran and North Korea might have to accept any reasonable proposals from this administration because they would be in power for the better part of a decade.

My best guess is that the Georgia crisis helps John McCain somewhat because some might feel that he may deal tougher with Russia, even though McCain mispronounced the name of the president of Georgia three times in a press statement. Obama might also gain some respect on foreign policy if his campaign can offer some statements that they will deal smarter with foreign policy that the current administration, however the Obama campaign is largely preparing for the convention right now, and not really competing with the Olympics which are drawing monster ratings worldwide and not really leaving much of a stage for the candidates to present their views other than through paid ads. McCain is spending $14 million during the Olympics on ads, and Obama $10 million.

While both campaigns are being briefed by the Secretary Of State, there is actually very little that candidates can do during a foreign policy situation like this other than make a few statements that seem to convey that they know something about the subject.

Paul: "make a few statem... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Paul: "make a few statements that seem to convey that they know something about the subject"

Indeed. It is evident from their statements and the history of their prior warnings, that McCain saw this event as a possibility as early as 2006 while Obama, even now, is still trying to grasp its scale and significance.

That whole '3 AM phone call' thing, you see ...

If your conclusions are tru... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

If your conclusions are true, DJ, would you care to reconcile them with the fact that the troops donate a lot more money to Obama's campaign than to McCain'
depp=true

Listkeeper,Your op... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Listkeeper,

Your optimism is not justified. Russia is not going to leave until the current government has stepped down. Once that happens, and it will before winter sets in, a pro-Russian puppet government will control the pipeline. With control of most of the natural gas and oil that Eastern Europe depends on under Russian control, the influence of Russia on Eastern Europe will greatly increase. Did you really think Russia went into Georgia to restore peace and protect civilians?

I dispute your claim, hyper... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I dispute your claim, hyperliar. Your 'source' is biased, and in any case the claim is irrelevant to the topic.

Don't call me a liar, Drumm... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Don't call me a liar, Drummond. Stating "that is biased" is not disputing a claim; it's stomping your feet like a baby. Pick nits with their methodology (if you can), but "ThinkProgress = liberal = WRONG" is not an argument. Children are capable of doing better than that. Weak sauce.
depp=true

...and I'm surprised to rea... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

...and I'm surprised to read your statement that the political speech of the armed forces of the United States is somehow irrelevant to gauging the foreign policy credentials of the candidates.Again, weak sauce.
depp=true

DJ, I will certainly grant ... (Below threshold)

DJ, I will certainly grant you that John McCain still views the world in much more of Cold War terms than Barack Obama and probably expects problems along those lines. But then again, unfortunately so those Putin. And I'd also expect John McCain to respond tougher to many situations as well. However, when McCain mispronounced the name of the Georgian president three times during a press statement, the public can still a huge difference between a president with a wide array of professionals, advisers and facts at hand, and just someone running for president.

But regardless, there will certainly be a few situations in which John McCain's toughness might be required. So the major job for Obama is to convince enough voters that he would respond smarter to many foreign policy situations, as I doubt he could ever impress most voters that he could be as tough as McCain. But in some situations toughness is not always required. A smarter foreign policy is.

I always think back to the toughness of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev who was a very difficult customer to deal with. But his toughness also helped to get him replaced by the more pragmatic Brezhnev because Khrushchev's lack of good judgement frightened even the Soviet leadership. So toughness is not always a real asset without good judgement.

But my best guess is if this international incident with Russia worsens or plays out badly, then McCain will benefit the most though and could be his chance at an upset victory.

"However, when McCain mispr... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

"However, when McCain mispronounced the name of the Georgian president three times during a press statement, the public can still (sic) a huge difference between a president with a wide array of professionals, advisers and facts at hand, and just someone running for president."

Very true, Hooson. A man who knows what he is talking about can make an honest mistake and still convey that he is in command of the situation. Obama, he of 57 states, cannot.

Paul, how exactly could a h... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Paul, how exactly could a horrible situation in Georgia help McCain (or hurt Obama)? That doesn't make any sense to me, as neither one are dictating any response to the incident--except perhaps the response of their respective campaigns.

Hello Hyperbolist, my view ... (Below threshold)

Hello Hyperbolist, my view is that in a real serious foreign policy crisis voters would be unlikely to change parties in power, and that would certainly help McCCain.

But right now the Georgia situation is not a full blown international crisis, the American voting public is largely distracted by the Olympics and Summer, and the public largely doesn't understand the situation in Georgia, so there is probably only a small net benefit for McCain's party at this point. However if the situation worsens, then McCain's party could benefit greatly as voters would not want to change leadership parties during a major crisis.

In 1948, even though many voters had their leadership doubts about Harry Truman they elected him anyway because of enough lingering Cold War problems with the Russians that they didn't want to see different leadership in the White House.

If the Georgia situation is relatively calm from this point on, then McCain benefits a little in my view. If the situation turns real bad, then McCain could possibly benefit a great deal as long as the White House judgement is seen as good by the public.

Well, the Democrats in Cong... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Well, the Democrats in Congress had closed the "national security gap" in the eyes of the public, but your point about not changing leaders in the middle of a crisis makes sense. In this case, however, I have to disagree. McCain hasn't done a very good job at differentiating himself from George W. Bush, whom the public does not trust with matters foreign or domestic.

Foolish Hyper, DJ has no us... (Below threshold)
max:

Foolish Hyper, DJ has no use for pesky little things like facts. His gut informs him of the truthiness of a situation and that's all you need to know.

And apparently he can dish it, but can't take it. I read your posts, and you were more civilized than he was. What a baby.
depp=true

I got disemvoweled for t... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

I got disemvoweled for that? Utterly pathetic.

Still haven't addressed the fact that the troops prefer Obama by a wide margin, judging by campaign contributions.
depp=true

Address the data linked to ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Address the data linked to at the ThinkProgress website, DJ. Come on, do it.
depp=true

I will say this once. Diff... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I will say this once. Different opinions are not only tolerated, but welcome. That does not mean, however, that attempts to disrupt the discussion by trying to change the subject, present propaganda as objective fact, or sneering derision because your hijack attempts got disemvoweled, will be tolerated.

Try it again, and I will simply unpublish all of your comments in this thread. This is not WizBlue, there are consequences for going out of bounds.

This is not WizBlue, the... (Below threshold)
mantis:

This is not WizBlue, there are consequences for going out of bounds.

Actually, what you're doing seems quite similar to the kinds of things the idiot Lee Ward does over at Blue.

When the Messiah s... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
When the Messiah speaks, his followers get the message the first time.

Not only is Obama not the messiah, he is only a second-guesser to the ones who already knew what was going on in Georgia. He will say anything that sounds midway to acquire an independent vote, including the production of ethanol.

If people don't get it the first time around, it's because they are not listening. Those earplugs of bias work every time. If you don't like the candidate, what he says has to be either inaccurate or insignificant.

God help me, I'm going to s... (Below threshold)

God help me, I'm going to speak up for hyperbolist. Someone note the date and time, because it hasn't happened before and highly unlikely to happen again.

I don't blame DJ for discounting anything from ThinkProgress. Lord knows I wouldn't trust them to say the sun rises in the East.

But in their article, they linked to Open Secrets, whom I trust. Hell, I've used them for my articles on how the liberal 527 groups are trying to buy the election for Obama, and how the SEIU is leading the charge with some very criminal fundraising efforts.

And Open Secrets says that Obama is doing better when it comes to donations from deployed troops -- 5-1 in number of donations, almost 6-1 in amounts donated.

What are those actual numbers? Obama, 134 donations totaling $60,642; McCain, 26 donations, totaling $10,665.

Average donation to Obama: $452.55
Average donation to McCain: $410.19.

We're talking a grand total of 160 members of the military here, and we have well over 100,000 just in Iraq. I'd call the thole thing statistically irrelevant.

But yes, hyperbolist is correct. But he was still a dipshit for not citing the original source, instead relying on a very unreliable secondary source for his information.

J.

I pointed out how it was re... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

I pointed out how it was relevant. The armed forces use their political speech to express a preference for Obama. The 'boots-on-the-ground' folks prefer Obama, the naive liberal, to McCain, the battle-hardened warrior-mensch, as Commander-in-Chief.

Just because it doesn't fit with your preconceived notions of what the military thinks (or should think), doesn't mean it's off-topic. I will say again: do not call me a liar. Explain why what I linked to is propaganda, or address the data.

I tried to get at the origi... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

I tried to get at the original link but can't access the TP website right now, for whatever reason. Thanks, Jay Tea.

It's not statistically irrelevant. One can start to make conclusions on a population of 100,000 with a sample of 160 if the data between the two groups is distinct enough.

That is not the only proble... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

That is not the only problem, Jay. Hyper was also trying to change the subject. The topic of campaign contributions is not germane to the question of foreign policy comprehension. Small wonder, since there is no real way to address Obama's lack of comprehension, short of just making up claims as The One has tried to do.

The warning remains in effect, Hyper.

And not that I should touch... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

And not that I should touch it, but statistical relevance is dependant on the margin of error. Opinion polls are statistically irrelevant for a national election unless at least one thousand valid respondents are presented, 'valid' being defined as relevant to the context (such as 'likely voters', or members of the defined demographic - a poll of Republicans about who Obama will choose as his running mate is not valid, for example) of the poll. A lack of valid respondents creates a margin of error greater than an acceptable measure. Generally, polls with less than one thousand 'valid' respondents have a standard deviation of three to four magnitudes beyond acceptable parameters. A poll of 160 respondents is therefore invalid by definition for a poll of the military as a whole, especially since common sense indicates that there are many more contributions to both candidates than the data reported in the poll. The fact that the poll represents such a small portion of actual contributions further invalidates the contention.

So DJ says that McCain comp... (Below threshold)
max:

So DJ says that McCain comprehends foreign policy better because he mentioned Georgia a couple more times than Obama did. Apparently, the Americans whose lives would be most directly impacted disagree. That fact is, at the very least, tangentially relevant. Unless you think that military personnel are incapable of making an informed decision.

As much as I hate to make you look even more ignorant, DJ, the Open Secrets article is based on campaign finance filings, not an opinion poll. So your post #32 is truly irrelevant. Just sayin'.

You're right if you're talk... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

You're right if you're talking general population, but as we're speaking only about the military, a smaller sample would suffice. I do this for a living. 1,000 people can reflect the opinion of 300,000,000, but you don't need to ask 1,000 soldiers to understand the opinion of the 'military' (unless you want specific demographic break-outs within your sample, e.g. Hispanic/black/white soldiers, male/female soldiers, officers vs. NCOs, navy vs. air force, etc.). That data affords very general conclusions--namely, that of the 160 donors, they are much more likely to contribute money to Barack Obama's presidential campaign than to John McCain's. With the gap in the number of contributions so wide, this conclusion can be made with 100% certainty, statistically speaking.

I wish you had engaged the data from a methodological standpoint in the first place rather than censoring what I had to say.

No max, you are confusing '... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

No max, you are confusing 'significance' because you think something is important, with 'statistical relevance' because the sample is shown to demonstrate mathematical confidence for the whole. The poll, even using specific contributions, is invalid because it is A-demonstrably incomplete against the known totals, and B-depends on a sample with a margin of error above 50%, when an MOE above 5% is considered statistically worthless.

You claim most soldiers suport Obama, on the basis of the information Hyper presented. However, the data he provided is - literally - specious, because it does not reach a viable statistical threshold.

And getting back on topic, the fact you just can't wish away is that McCain knew specifics and mentioned them, years before Obama understood where 'Georgia' was on a map of Europe.

Hyper, you continue to pret... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Hyper, you continue to pretend that a bit of data which you like is valid even though it fails to meet minimal criterion.

Suppose, for example, that I took a poll here about who everyone would vote for this fall. Given the nature of our site, it would be safe to say McCain would win. Now, if I said that because so many of our community is likely to vote, this meant that McCain would win, it would be specious, for the reason that the respondent pool would not be valid for the question. Similarly, a similar poll at, say, DU, would be heavy for Obama, but it would be no more valid, for the same reason.

I do not dispute that you found information on contributions. But 160 contributions is simply too far below the threshold to speak reliably about the opinion of the military vote, and no matter how you spin it, that is not going to change.

DJ, what statistician says ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

DJ, what statistician says 1,000 people's opinions are required in order for a conclusion to be drawn about a population of size X? The people in my stats department would surely be curious about wholesale revisions to standard industry assumptions of which they were obviously unaware.

DJ--if ~130 out of 160 vote... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

DJ--if ~130 out of 160 vote X, then that is statistically significant with 100% confidence.

Hypie - Sorry, ma... (Below threshold)
JLawsonn:

Hypie -

Sorry, man, but as a 23-year veteran I wouldn't take ThinkProgress's word on anything important - much less what they might think the military is thinking.

Besides - any poll you might get a military member to answer would probably not take their sense of humor into account. "Let's see... would I vote for Obama? Hell yeah I'll vote for him! A guy who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel? Just who I'd want as a commander in chief! Let me tick the box as YES!"

And ThinkProgress gets what they think is another 'Confirmed Obama Supporter'. I wouldn't put much stock in the accuracy of it at all.

I'd like to thank hyper for... (Below threshold)

I'd like to thank hyper for getting me to take a real look at that Open Secrets article. I'm about to publish an article playing with the actual numbers behind that hugely hyped article.

DJ has a better grasp of statistics and statistical analysis than I ever could, so I hope he gets to play with the numbers. In my extremely amateur opinion, it's even more insignificant than he has said above.

J.

Once again, you are address... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Once again, you are addressing opinion on a national election, as well as contending you have a valid respondent poll for the military as a whole. A sample of 160 respondents is not nearly valid for that purpose, and you cannot pretend otherwise.

"And getting back on topic,... (Below threshold)
max:

"And getting back on topic, the fact you just can't wish away is that McCain knew specifics and mentioned them, years before Obama understood where 'Georgia' was on a map of Europe." - DJ the Liar

Ya got any proof of that statement? Specifically that Obama didn't know where Georgia was in 2006?

You still missed the mark, ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

You still missed the mark, max. You got any proof that Obama addressed the issue before this week?

Max, DJ's really set himsel... (Below threshold)

Max, DJ's really set himself up for you to take him down hard. All you have to do is find a single example of Obama mentioning Russian-Georgian tensions before the recent flareup, and he's left eating crow.

And it can't be that hard to do, max. Obama himself said that he'd given such warnings.

This is a giant "kick me" sign DJ's hung on himself. Go ahead and take it, max.

You know you want to. You want to so bad you can taste it. Kick him. Kick him HARD.

J.

You guys are cute. Dj said ... (Below threshold)
max:

You guys are cute. Dj said that, as late as 2006, Obama didn't know where Georgia was on a map. Now we all know he was just shooting his mouth off, but for someone who is so ready to call others liars for stating facts that he doesn't like, I'd be a little more careful about making claims that are obvious bullshit. Not a very christian thing to do.

Personally, I don't care exactly when Obama first spoke on the situation in Georgia, I'd still trust his judgement on a complex issue like that a hell of a lot more than McCain. The dude can't even pronounce the name of the president of Georgia.

max, it's called "hyperbole... (Below threshold)

max, it's called "hyperbole." It's an accepted rhetorical tactic. It's not just the name of a mild pain in the ass.

And Obama stated, clearly and unequivocably, that he had warned about Russian aggression. NO ONE has been found who heard that warning. On the other hand, McCain has been saying just that for several years ago.

If you have this evidence that no one else has, that Obama actually did give warnings about Russia, then bring it to the table. Prove that Obama has the foreign policy chops he claims.

DJ, you and I make a wonderful double-team. Why haven't we done this before?

J.

Well Jay, it had to happen ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Well Jay, it had to happen sooner or later.

August 1....<a href="http:/... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

August 1....Obama urged the Georgian government to resist the temptation to be drawn into a military conflict. He also offered strong criticism against Russia, stating that Moscow needed to end the aggressive actions it had taken in the last three months.

Wow Steve, August first? W... (Below threshold)
RScott:

Wow Steve, August first? Way back then? He HAS been warning for such a long time.

Mantis #26:"This i... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

Mantis #26:

"This is not WizBlue, there are consequences for going out of bounds.

Actually, what you're doing seems quite similar to the kinds of things the idiot Lee Ward does over at Blue."


Not even close mantis, hyperliar is allowed to continue posting his bullsh*t here, while I and several other people have been banned from posting on WizBlue.

RScott. I was giving Obama'... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

RScott. I was giving Obama's most recent warnings. They were given from a speech made on July 23rd. They seem remarkably prophetic given recent events.
In April, he also spoke about the Georgia/Russian tensions.

While we are at it..McCain ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

While we are at it..McCain complains about Obama being presumptous and that Obama said he was "a citizen of the world". Now suddenly McCain announces that he speaks for all Americans when he says "We are all Georgians" and then he decides to send two senators, Lieberman and Graham to Georgia as his emissaries while Rice is there, as Secretary of State.

"DJ, you and I make a wonde... (Below threshold)
max:

"DJ, you and I make a wonderful double-team." - JT

Whatever floats yer boat, guys. I don't judge.

But I wonder if McCain could be any more clueless. Or uppity.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/14/AR2008081403332.html

But hey, at least he's not a lawyer, eh DJ?

Kenny, if you wanted to dem... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Kenny, if you wanted to demonstrate a shred of cleverness, you'd have come up with "hyperboliar". Sounds way better.

Also, liberal commentators get banned at WizBlue too, so don't act like you're special just because you have to wear a bike helmet when you ride the bus.

Well at least Steve has com... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Well at least Steve has come up with a few things that Obama has said, but Herman, who started all this in another thread, is strangely absent. Probably still searching the Innertubes.




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