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The Most Important Point Made in the Debate

I think the most important point John McCain made in the debate last night is that Barack Obama's misunderstanding of foreign policy is dangerous. Obama now has a string of "misunderstandings" when it comes to foreign policy and he committed another one last night during the course of the debate. When Obama tried to make a huge deal out of Henry Kissenger supporting him on the issue of meeting with the president of Iran without preconditions, he looked like an idiot when later even Kissenger himself came out and called Obama on the mischaracterization, or misunderstanding, of what he had said.

OBAMA: "Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who's one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran -- guess what -- without precondition. This is one of your own advisers."

Obama tried to make a big point of it. He didn't just mention it in passing, this was obviously one of his prepared talking points. The little "guess what" he put in there is especially embarrassing considering how completely wrong he was about what he was saying. Later in the exchange when McCain called him on it and said he had known Kissenger for 35 years and that he was sure Kissenger did NOT say that, Obama said, " We will take a look." Obama didn't have to look hard because Kissenger was watching and issued a statement immediately following the debate:

Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.

Ed Morrisey said of this, "Either Obama lied, or he's too inexperienced to understand what Kissinger said and actually meant."

That is not only the case in this one instance, it is a pattern Obama repeats. When he met with the Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari during his worldwind tour in July, Zebari said Obama pressed for a delay in negotiations over troop withdrawals until after the Bush administration was out of office. At the same time publicly Obama was calling for a speedy withdrawal of troops. Via the New York Post:

Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops - and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion."

It took the Obama campaign many hours to figure out how to respond to the story since there were others in the room that could confirm what Zebari was saying. What they ended up with was a "denial" that essentially confirmed exactly what Zebari said. This is another case where Obama, at best, had a pretty significant "misunderstanding" in his communications regarding a foreign policy matter. At worst, he was trying to use the lives of U.S. troops for political advantage. He just does not seem to understand that even as a presidential candidate his words mean things. The thought of the repercussions of some of these "misunderstandings" if he were President is scary to say the least.

Update: Amanda Carpenter and Pat Hynes (who works for the McCain campaign) have more Obama flubs -- these on the discussion of why his subcommittee hasn't had a hearing on Afghanistan, while at the same time he accuses others of taking their eyes off the ball.
It started when Obama said, "We took our eye off Afghanistan."

"You might think that with that kind of concern that Senator Obama would have gone to Afghanistan, particularly given his responsibilities as a subcommittee chairman," McCain retorted.

Obama's answer? "Look, I'm very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as he explains, and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that, don't go through my subcommittee because they're done as a committee as a whole."

"That's Senate inside baseball," he added.

Seems to me the exchange Amanda refers to would make a pretty powerful ad. Amanda points to the fact that Obama cites his choice of Joe Biden as his excuse for not doing anything on the issue himself. That is a good point no one seems to be talking about, but what I think was really powerful was Obama's excuse that it wasn't the job of his subcommitte and his reliance on Biden, followed by the response McCain had later about if he were in Obama's position what he would have done.

Pat points out that the reason Obama gave in the debate is different from what he has said previously and that Biden has criticized Obama on Afghanistan.

This is a different reason than Obama has given in the past to the same question. Heretofore Obama has argued that he became subcommittee chairman at around the time he started running for president and frankly he had not been in Washington, DC all that much.

What is more, Sen. Biden himself was a frequent critic of Sen. Obama's "Johnny come lately" position on Afghanistan.

Sen. Obama's bizarre assertion that the declining security situation in Afghanistan proves his foresight and judgment is a testament to just how remarkably thin his foreign policy credentials really are.

Update II: I hope Obama's lack of understanding was as noticeable to the viewers as this:

However, my favorite line was when McCain hammered him about meeting certain people who are screaming anti-American tyrants without any pre-conditions. When Obama tried to claim everyone meets with foreign powers, McCain explained to him that there was a difference between some low level flunkies getting together in a room to exchange messages and sitting down to a tet-e-tet with the leader of a country that is a professed enemy of the United States and its allies.

You do not give that person or their crazy ideas any gravitas in public where the media can record you sitting there with your mouth open while the nut job lectures a sitting president about all the evils of your nation, your allies or the "rights" of a tyrannical regime to do evil things.

You. Just. Don't. Do. It. Period. End of story.

The entire damn world knows it. Even the French wouldn't be caught dead with a Chirac or Sarkozy having a photo op with Ahmedinejad.

McCain beat Obama with a two ton clue bat. The moment showed that Obama hasn't got a clue how foreign relations really works.

Please read it all.


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Comments (10)

As ol' WB stepped in it on ... (Below threshold)

As ol' WB stepped in it on a previous post that I haven't check to see if there was a response, there are things you do without saying. ANd things you say without doing. Its a part of diplomacy, and Obama doesn't get it. That is one of the reasons he is so dangerous.

I have to agree. This ought... (Below threshold)

I have to agree. This ought to be a significant issue because of Obama's certainty. If he was both so sure and so wrong it reveals a major flaw.
and everyone keeps saying there no major gaffes?

I find it interesting that ... (Below threshold)

I find it interesting that nobody has mentioned Obamas facial expressions during the debate - I think ultimately Obamas obvious frustration will hurt him more than anything he actually said in the debate.

The Obama camp might say th... (Below threshold)

The Obama camp might say that it is McCain's lack of understanding, or feigned lack of understanding, of Obama's positions that is the problem.

The McCain</... (Below threshold)

The McCain camp might say that it is Obama's lack of understanding, or feigned lack of understanding, of Obama's positions that is the problem.

There, fixed it for you.

Obama's talks with Iraqi le... (Below threshold)

Obama's talks with Iraqi leaders may be a violation of the Logan Act. But I'm not suprised as I have his behaviour filed under "dumbassery"

This election is simple. If... (Below threshold)

This election is simple. If you enjoy the freedoms you have and want to keep them vote McCain. If you want to lose all freedom and live under Socialism or Islamism vote Hussein O.

Or if you want to live in o... (Below threshold)

Or if you want to live in outer space, write in Joe Biden.

I think the most important ... (Below threshold)

I think the most important point in the debate was the discussion of energy policy. Our failed energy policies are spilling over into our foreign policy decision and have facilitated the economic crisis we are having right now. We cannot keep electing people that cling to partisan politics instead of looking for a plan to facilitate energy independence. I am from Colorado, and Mark Udall is a tupical Democrat on energy. He thinks it's enough to just say "NO". Just look at his record . .


Udall, and representative him, are steering our country in the wrong direction on energy policy.

The fundamental question is... (Below threshold)

The fundamental question is where was McCain's foresight before we went in to Iraq. Secondly, will he abandon, limit or expand the Bush Doctrine? I know, I know, you are asking yourselves, "to which part of the Bush Doctrine is he referring?" Ask Sally.






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