The Benghazi fallout continues
The Obama administration continued to face criticism this week over its handling of the Sept. 11 attack that killed U.S. Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Contradicting the initial statements made by senior administration officials, the event is now being described as a terrorist attack unrelated to the protests over an anti-Islam video that erupted elsewhere in the Middle East on the same day. At a dramatic hearing convened by the House Oversight Committee this week, the former chief security officer for the U.S. Embassy in Libya testified that his request to extend the deployment of a U.S. military team had been turned down by the State Department.
In her testimony, Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, insisted, "We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11," to which committee chairman Darrell Issa replied, "That doesn't ring true to the American people."
Democrats, including ranking committee member Elijah Cummings, criticized the GOP for politicizing the investigation into the attack, but Barack Obama campaign spokesperson Stephanie Cutter took things a step further on Thursday by arguing during a CNN interview, "The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It's a big part of their stump speech and it's reckless and irresponsible."
Romney was quick to take advantage of the gaffe, saying at a rally that night, "No President Obama, it's an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a U.S. ambassador has been assassinated. Mr. President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11."
Meeting of the running mates
Benghazi also came up on Thursday night during the one and only debate between Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden. The vice president insisted that the White House had not been made aware of the request for more security from Tripoli. "We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there," he said. Ryan also picked up on Cutter's remark, saying, "This is becoming more troubling by the day. They first blamed the YouTube video. Now they're trying to blame the Romney-Ryan ticket for making this an issue."
Moderator Martha Raddatz, a veteran foreign-affairs correspondent for ABC news, pressed the candidates on a number of foreign-policy issues, including Iran's nuclear program, the escalating violence in Syria, and the war in Afghanistan. "Under a Romney administration, we will have credibility" on threats to use military force against Iran, Ryan promised, and said, "We wouldn't refer to Bashar Assad as a reformer when he's killing his own civilians with his Russian-provided weapons." But he offered few specifics on how a Romney administration's policies on these issues would differ going forward. "What would my friend do differently? If you notice, he never answers the question," Biden quipped.
Both candidates agreed on a 2014 withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, but Ryan criticized the Obama administration for announcing its withdrawal plan in advance. Biden said that U.S. goals in Afghanistan are "almost completed. Now, all we're doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It's their responsibility, not America's."
There were no questions about East Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, or any country outside the Islamic world.
Romney speaks out
In a speech on Monday at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney referred back to the post-war policies of VMI graduate Gen. George Marshall -- not exactly a conservative hero in his day -- in arguing that Obama has weakened U.S. power through cuts to the military and has lost control of events in the Middle East. "I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States," Romney said. "I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy. We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity."
Attack of the RAND PAC
Outside of the presidential race, a political action committee associated with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been buying ads targeting vulnerable Democratic senators over their support for foreign aid. In the first ad, targeting West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the narration states, "While they tear down and burn the American flag in Egypt and shout ‘death to America, Joe Manchin votes to provide U.S. taxpayer aid to Egypt." It concludes: "Joe Manchin works with Barack Obama to send billions of our taxpayer dollars to countries where radicals storm our embassies, burn our flag and kill our diplomats." RAND PAC is also planning to run similar ads against Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham defended Manchin from his Republican colleague's attacks, saying, "I'm sorry that my colleague Sen. Rand Paul felt that he needed to get involved and has gotten involved ... I very much would like to have a Republican president, and I'd very much like to have a Republican-controlled Senate, but when it comes to foreign policy and matters of war and national security, I really do try to be bipartisan and I respect Joe a lot."
The poll picture
Polls this week continued to show Romney making up ground. While the two candidates are in a dead heat nationally, a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/Miami Herald poll shows Romney with a 7-point advantage in Florida, a state that appeared to be trending toward Obama a month ago.
The shift is even starker on foreign policy. A Fox News poll released on Wednesday gave Obama a 6-point edge over Romney on handling of foreign policy, down from a 15-point lead prior to the Benghazi attack. A new Zogby analytics poll gives Romney a 48 to 45 percent advantage on national security.
The latest from FP:
James Traub looks at Biden's role in shaping the Obama administration's foreign policy.
Jacob Heilbrun wonders when Republicans decided they had always loved Harry Truman.
Danielle Petka, Joshua Trevino, and Justin Logan debate who's winning the battle for Romney's national security soul.
Ty McCormick looks at Romney's history of declinism.
Uri Friedman runs down the best moments in vice-presidential debate history.
The inauguration of Barack Obama wasn't just the event of the day in the United States. It received above-the-fold coverage in countries all over the globe, as Jan. 21's front page of the United Daily News in Taipei, Taiwan, above, shows. To see more Obama-blaring newspaper front pages from Namibia to Israel to Poland and more, check out this week's photo essay, "The Inauguration Heard 'Round the World," which features images obtained from the Newseum.
I hate to diss the folks at Pajamas TV, who were nice enough to let me come on recently to promote our worst predictions list, but sending Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher to cover the war in Gaza seems like a questionable decision:
Mr Wurzelbacher, 34, says he will spend 10 days covering the fighting in Gaza and explaining why Israeli forces are mounting attacks against Hamas.
He told WNWO-TV in Toledo, Ohio, that he wants "go over there and let their 'Average Joes' share their story".
If you're a little fuzzy on Joe's foreign policy views, just recall that he agreed with a voter on the campaign trail that a vote for Barack Obama was equivalent to a vote for the death of Israel.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Apparently, some Kenyans are still celebrating Barack Obama's winning of the U.S. presidential election last month. But a Kenyan high court pulled the plug on one celebratory activity that was scheduled to take place in Nairobi last Saturday, the 13th: a bullfight.
Animal-welfare activists said the competitions, in which two bulls have a go at one another, are cruel. Check out the full National Geographic video report here.
All may not be lost for McCain-supporting Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman. It seems President-elect Obama won't be kicking him to the party curb after all. Apparently, supporting the opposition -- campaigning with Republican candidate John McCain, speaking at the Republican National Convention, and criticizing Obama's foreign policy cred -- wasn't enough of an offense against Obama to get Lieberman banished from the party altogether.
Not all Democrats are in a forigiving mood, though. Many, like Majority Leader Harry Reid, are still gunning to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senate Democrats are set to vote next week on whether or not Lieberman will keep his chairmanship. If Lieberman has spent any time kissing the reigning party's behind since the election in an attempt to keep his spot, he's not exactly apologizing for his recent behavior. Lieberman says he'll walk if he loses his gavel.
I have to get behind Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd's advice that Obama stay out of this one and avoid a political mess. Why would the president-elect waste such precious time and energy haggling over a Senate seat? And even more to the point, over Lieberman? Let's not gloss over Lieberman's voting recording. While he's fond of saying it's 90 percent in line with Democrats, it tends to go against the next administration's plans when it comes to matters of foreign policy -- Iraq and Iran to name two biggies.
The Connecticut senator has shown himself to be a hardy politician, one who's stayed afloat by swinging between parties. This time Lieberman played his hand, hoping to get another shot at the VP seat, and he bet poorly -- on McCain. If there's a pity party in his honor, I won't be going.
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Hopejacking: n. The cynical use of exaggerated or completely invented associations with president-elect Barack Obama by international leaders or organizations.
We'll be keeping an eye out for more examples.TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images
The Arab daily Al-Hayat on Tuesday quoted a senior Hamas official as saying that United States President-elect Barack Obama's advisors met with members of the Palestinian militant group before the U.S. presidential election.
Ahmed Yusuf, a political advisor to Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh, reportedly told the London-based paper that, "The connection was made via email and after that we met with them in Gaza."
Al-Hayat reported that Yusuf also said the relations were maintained after Obama's electoral victory last Tuesday. He said the president-elect's advisors requested that the relations be kept secret so as not to aid his rival, Senator John McCain.
So, we're supposed to believe that a campaign that was afraid to have its candidate filmed in front of women wearing hijabs, would take the risk of holding closed-door meetings with Hamas? Obama's advisors have already denied the report. I suspect we're going to be seeing a lot more of this.
Let us imagine that the surge had not worked. Imagine that over the past year and a half, American deaths in Iraq had soared, the gruesome civil war between Shiites and Sunnis had deepened, the
flow of refugees out of Iraq had increased and the government in Baghdad had lost control of the country to gangs and militias. Would Americans then have turned to the most passionate advocate of the surge and given him the presidency?
Zakaria means this to be a rhetorical question, but I think it's actually worth pondering. If the top story in every nightly news broadcast throughout October had been about terrorists killing U.S. soldiers instead of corporate meltdowns, would Americans really have voted for a candidate who (perhaps unfairly) was best known for his pledge to negotiate with extremists?
When terrorism is at the forefront of voters' minds, they tend to favor more hawkish candidates and Barack Obama actually fared worse than John Kerry with voters whose top concerns were terrorism or Iraq. Luckily for him, there were far fewer of these voters in this election.
The electorate has seemed to sense that there is a new world out there and that the nostrums presented by McCain in his campaign are irrelevant to it. [...] The vigorous unilateralism openly advocated by the administration is recognized by most Americans to have weakened the country's influence abroad."
Wishful thinking. If anything, voters saw Obama's foreign-policy vision as not objectionable enough to outweigh his perceived superiority on economic issues.
It's true that Obama probably has a better chance of enacting change in foreign policy than on the economic conditions that won him the election. U.S. presidents are generally elected for their stances on domestic issues and remembered for their actions on international ones. But interpreting this election as a major shift in how the United States views its place in the world is probably premature.
[Carl] Cameron, the Fox beat reporter for the Republican presidential ticket, said he had been told by unnamed sources -- and on the condition he not report the details during the campaign -- that Palin could not name all of the countries that are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He did not mention which one (or ones) she whiffed on, but there are only three: Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Nor, according to Cameron, was Palin aware that Africa is a continent.
Here's the video:
In the post-election lull, every pundit from the left and right will offer President-elect Obama advice about how to run his administration. Oh, and the emir of the Islamic Army in Iraq, an insurgent faction, also wants to throw in his two cents.
The emir's dispatch, translated by the SITE Intelligence Group in Maryland, summarizes the election quickly: "This day... a mad elephant fights an ambitious black donkey to reach the destination of America's decision." It goes on to attack George W. Bush and his supporters as "war criminals" and "Darwinists," both charges which Bush would probably deny.
But if one can get beyond the ridiculous imagery, the letter offers is a fairly standard, nationalist case against the occupation of Iraq. "America should know that a people never lost a struggle for freedom," it warns. America should depend "on dialogue and cooperation with others in order to achieve goals."
Odds are, Obama won't be listening to the advice of the Islamic Army in Iraq, but his most trusted advisors will soon be telling him some of the very same things.
The results of last night's U.S. election swept the world over and over in waves of unbridled enthusiasm. It's as if the next American president doesn't just belong to Americans -- the global community feels that it, too, has a stake in Obama's success.
But what about the Middle East, where the United States is famously unpopular? So far, No. 44 has been greeted with rhetorical flowers and sweets. Today's messages to the president-elect -- from Israeli leaders, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Iraqi ministers, and even Iranian lawmakers -- were largely congratulatory.
The U.S. election received notably unremarkable attention from the Iranian media, but the buzz on Tehran's streets is positive if not a touch pragmatic and Iran's "intelligentsia" are cautiously optimistic about Bush's successor. As MP Hamid Reza Haji Babai put it today, "Obama has promised change and this is both an opportunity and test for the United States. We are waiting for that change."
Iran, as I mentioned yesterday, is holding its own presidential election next June. With Obama -- an African-American bearing the middle name Hussein who has spoken openly of his intention to negotiate -- in the White House, it will be far more difficult for extremists to demonize the United States, at least at first. This puts incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, already losing his grip on the Iranian parliament, at a clear disadvantage and may "breathe life into Iran's opposition reform camp," as former Iranian Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi hopes.
Iran is just one among many countries where a fresh start for the United States might do some good. As Andrew Sullivan so presciently deemed Obama back in Dec. 2007, he is a man "who is a bridge between" worlds. From today's vantage point, at least, the possibilities seem endless.
Photo: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
Newsweek is reporting today that both the Obama and McCain campaign Web sites were hacked over the summer by what the FBI called a "foreign entity" looking for information on policy positions:
At the Obama headquarters in midsummer, technology experts detected what they initially thought was a computer virus—a case of "phishing," a form of hacking often employed to steal passwords or credit-card numbers. But by the next day, both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: "You have a problem way bigger than what you understand," an agent told Obama's team. "You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system." The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: "You have a real problem ... and you have to deal with it."
The Feds told Obama's aides in late August that the McCain campaign's computer system had been similarly compromised. A top McCain official confirmed to NEWSWEEK that the campaign's computer system had been hacked and that the FBI had become involved.
Officials at the FBI and the White House told the Obama campaign that they believed a foreign entity or organization sought to gather information on the evolution of both camps' policy positions—information that might be useful in negotiations with a future administration. The Feds assured the Obama team that it had not been hacked by its political opponents. (Obama technical experts later speculated that the hackers were Russian or Chinese.)
Here's why you shouldn't try to use political events to explain random walks on Wall Street.
Exhibit A, James Surowiecki last night:
One interesting variable to consider in thinking about how the stock market might react tomorrow to tonight's election results is the possible reaction of foreign stock markets, which as we know have lately often had a powerful influence on how the U.S. market opens. At the moment, the Australian and Japanese markets are up sharply, presumably as a result of today's U.S. rally. But one could easily imagine that rally being extended—and, even more important, one could easily imagine European markets rising sharply—if Obama were to win, since it seems clear that he's the preferred candidate of most of the world. And that, in turn, could help the U.S. rally keep going. In fact, I think it's possible that an Obama election could have a longer-term impact in boosting global markets' confidence in the U.S., even if it's also possible that American investors would be happier with McCain. So it’ll be worth paying attention to what Asia and Europe do tonight once we have a clear sense of the winner will be.
Exhibit B, major world stock indices as of 12:08 p.m. ET:
I've been trying to figure out what I wanted to say about today's election, and here's the parting thought I'd like to close with: No matter who wins, the United States and the world are going to be just fine.
During the heat of the campaign, I think many people tend to forget that U.S. politics is fought over very narrow ground. A good analogy might be to a football game that takes place entirely between the two 40-yard lines.
Barack Obama, for all his sweeping rhetoric about "change" and his critics' fatuous cries of socialism, isn't actually offering radical policy changes. You might say he merely wants to return to the Clinton years in pushing for an incremental expansion of healthcare coverage, a slightly more progressive tax structure, and a liberal internationalist foreign policy. And just look at some of the names being floated in the press for senior-level positions -- many of them, such as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, are Clinton veterans.
As for John McCain, yes, he's run a traditional Republican campaign that has undermined his claim of being a "maverick." But before he began actively seeking the presidency, he showed a clear inclination to work across the aisle on issues such as climate change, interrogation policy, immigration reform, and campaign finance. He's not a dogmatic conservative on economic issues, and he appears to have little interest in fighting the culture wars of the past. On foreign policy, McCain is in some cases more hawkish than Bush, more cautious in other areas, but generally well within the foreign-policy establishment's well-worn consensus on most topics.
Yes, there are important substantive differences between the two men. McCain's support for free trade and his disdain for ethanol subsidies appeal to me more than Obama's pandering to unions and the corn lobby. Obama's proposals on climate change will be more effective (though unless the Democrats get 60 seats in the Senate today he will have a heckuva time getting them passed -- especially given the state of the economy). And the Illinois senator has proven far steadier in talking about the financial crisis as McCain has mumbled incoherently about earmarks and spending freezes.
But at the end of the day, it is hard to imagine that either man could be worse than the current occupant of the Oval Office, and there are many indications that either would be vastly superior.*
*As long as John McCain stays alive throughout his term.
In the 2006 midterm elections, Americans living abroad returned only a third of the approximately one million absentee ballots mailed out to them. With roughly six million Americans serving in the military overseas or living abroad eligible to vote, that works out to a pretty dismal 5.5% turnout rate. In this election, expatriate voting rates should be much better -- and not just because of the presidential race at the top of the ballot.
The voting process has always been especially difficult for Americans serving in the military, who are often posted to remote locations and move around a great deal. The military postal service recommends that soldiers mail their completed ballots by Sept. 30 in order for them to be counted, but acknowledges that only 24 states have absentee ballots available by that date. Some states also prohibit methods of delivery other than by the United States Postal Service, or require American witnesses to verify the legitimacy of absentee ballots, which further complicates the process.
This year, however, a joint effort by the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation and Fedex has made voting easier for Americans abroad. The Overseas Vote Foundation showed voters how to order their ballots online -- and Fedex shipped the ballots back to the United States for free, or at drastically reduced rates. Expatriates who ordered an absentee ballot that never arrived also have the option to print and fill out a federal write-in absentee ballot, which allows them to vote only for federal officials, and then mail it back to their voting office.
In this election, expats have no excuses.
OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images
Zambia has chosen today, of all days, to act out every American's worst fears about their own election. Michel Sata, leader of the Zambian opposition Patriotic Front Party, announced that he will challenge the result of Zambia's election last week. Sata had announced before the vote that he would not accept a defeat, and has evidently made good on that promise by accusing the army of "intimidating people," and "[fixing] the election" in favor of his opponent, Rupiah Banda.
Could the American election reach Zambia's levels of dysfunction? Well, probably not, though there have been signs that the voting hasn't gone entirely smoothly. The process got off to a bad start yesterday, when thousands of pages of voter information were found inexplicably lying on the side of a highway in Florida. Today, The New Republic's David Jamieson reported complaints ranging from a lack of ballots at polling places, flyers telling people to vote on Wednesday, and even "wet ballots."
Here's hoping for an Election Day with a bare minimum of soggy ballots, and which evokes no parallels to Zambian politics.
Here are some front pages from around the world today, courtesy of the Newseum's website.
I've seen the polls too, but I still think Belgium's De Standaard is jumping the gun a bit:
"The Word Holds its Breath" leads Quebec's Le Soleil:
George W. is still very much on the minds of Medellin's El Colombiano who proclaim this, "The Day of Bush's Successor":
This one from the Czech Republic is just terrifying:
A musical based on Barack Obama's life will open on Sunday in Nairobi, Kenya:
The play tells the story of Mr Obama's life.
It begins with his father's move to America to study and his meeting with Barack Obama's mother, before covering the events of the young Obama's life.
Mr Orido says he came up with the idea of the play three years ago, as Mr Obama rose to prominence.
"Music is the universal language and Obama is a universal figure," he said. "If you want to tell his story, you have to tell it in a universal language so that everyone can understand." [...]
The play ends with an enactment of Mr Obama's acceptance of the Democratic nomination, shying away from predictions about who will emerge victorious after the 4 November elections.
The play's author hasn't ruled out a sequel, but I suppose that depends on what happens tonight.
(Hat tip: Chris Blattman)
It was about a 30-minute wait for me at the polls in Northwest D.C. Much more civilized than Ohio four years ago. What are all of you in the swing states and around the world seeing today?
...switching over to election night mode. Post reactions here throughout the evening.
While numbers show that Barack Obama has much of the world rooting for him in tomorrow's election (take a look at FP's interactive map), it seems one young Palestinian campaigning from Gaza on behalf of the Democratic candidate is stirring up a mess of controversy this week.
Twenty-four-year-old Ibrahim Abu Jayab, a media student at Al-Aqsa University, has been calling random U.S. phone numbers via Skype, imploring Americans to vote for Obama. Not an English speaker, he's memorized the heart of the message: "I think the Senator Obama achieve the peace in the world and in my area. For the peace, please elect Senator Obama. Thank you very much."
Although Al Jazeera reported the story back in March, it seems the last days before the election are the prime time for extreme conservatives to finger this as evidence Obama has links to terrorists, Hamas, and haters of Israel. Among them Rush Limbaugh who, after adding to those charges, mocked Jayab on his show last week, said he finds it "interesting" that Jewish voters could support Obama.
Why are people insisting that Obama is bad for Israel? Even a Fox News anchor, Shepard Smith, chastised Joe the Plumber for saying as much. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are in serious jeopardy, but citizens from both sides are tired of stalled negotiations and are ready for peace. Even many Israelis recognize that talking to Hamas will be necessary. To make any progress, though, the next U.S. president will need to convince the Palestinians of the merits of any deal.
Against this backdrop, I just don't get what the critics are saying. How does one inspired Gazan youth -- in a region where support for the United States is hard to come by -- really work against Obama?
When you watch this video of Hugo Chávez speaking about Barack Obama, you feel like it was probably the closest the Venezuelan president could bring himself to a complimenting an American leader. Quoted in Spanish newspaper El Pais, he says [our translation]:
Tomorrow the U.S. will have an election. The world awaits the arrival of a black president to the United States, we can say this is no small feat [...] We don't ask him to be a revolutionary, nor a socialist, but [we ask] that he rise to the moment in the world."
Chávez also says he will sit down and speak with Senator Obama, should he become president, and urge him to lift the embargo on Cuba. He seems particularly pleased that Obama is black, a detail that fits nicely with Chávez's own rhetoric of freeing the enslaved indigenous from the throws of capitalism.
So does this mean it's not so much the United States that Chávez finds so displeasing as it is President George W. Bush himself? It's no small news for Chávez, who recently kicked out the U.S. ambassador in Caracas, to promise friendly ties with "the Great Satan" under a new administration.
Of course, the U.S. public has grown equally skeptical of Chávez, so Obama might not be so grateful for the public endorsement. Yes, it is slightly reminiscent al-Qaeda's sort-of endorsement of John McCain. But privately, the Obama camp must be gratified to see that even the United States' most bitter critics are now trying to win the senator's good graces.
Is it possible that the biggest challenges that a McCain or Obama administration will face will not have anything to do with the global financial crisis, Iraq, or terrorism?
It's hard to imagine such a scenario now, but elections are often a pretty poor predictor of the major issues that those elected will face. In all of George W. Bush and Al Gore's 2000 debates, for instance, al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Pakistan were never mentioned and Iraq came up only in passing. The major economic issue was not how to prevent catastrophe, but how to spend a budget surplus.
In this week's List, we look beyond the front pages and try to anticipate some of the major issues that were rarely, if ever, discussed during this election, but might nonetheless be among the next president's major foreign policy challenges.
The above is an aerial view of a humongous portrait of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, sculpted in gravel and sand by American artist Jorge Rodriguez Gerada on a Barcelona beachfront, on Nov. 3. The project is called Expectation, and it required a civil engineering firm, a topographer, machinery for clearing the area, and gravel as a filler, among other things.
Information provided with the photo says:
The outsize scale allows the artist to allude to the global impact on the eve of his [Obama's] election. It both embodies the immense sense of hope felt by Barack Obanma's [sic] supporters and raises a mirror to reflect the source of that hope.
Photo: LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
It's "gloves and bets are off" time now that the U.S. election is finally in its final leg and both campaigns are bringing out the big guns, the big favors, and the big endorsements. At least that's the game plan.
NPR's Talk of the Nation is featuring a series of "final arguments" where invited guests are given a chance to give a last pitch for their candidate. Thursday's pitchman was Lawrence Eagleburger, a McCain supporter and former secretary of state under George H.W. Bush.
Throughout most of the 17-minute segment, the gruff and sometimes sarcastic Eagleburger played his part well enough -- referring to McCain as an unquestionable "hero," offering an avuncular "good for you" to one pro-McCain caller and dismissing Obama's ideas for Iraq as "absurdities."
So far so good, right? But when NPR interviewer Neal Conan started asking about Sarah Palin, things started to go horribly wrong.
Asked if the vice-presidential nominee is ready to take the presidential reins, Eagleburger said bluntly, "Of course not."
The real issue, Eagleburger said, is "can she learn and will she be tough enough" under such circumstances. But his response to that amended question was no more reassuring:
Give her some time in the office and I think the answer would be she will be -- adequate. I can't say that she would be a genius in the job, but I think she would be enough to get us through a four-year... Well, I hope not, get us through whatever period was necessary and I devoutly hope that it would never be tested."
Ouch. Listening to Eagleburger even for a few minutes, I get the sense that the man isn't the type to suffer fools or, judging from these comments, neither does he suffer foolish VP selections. I guess we won't be seeing him trotted out as a McCain proxy anymore?
Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
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