I’m with Shlok
Shloky’s right. Obama’s “national security working group” is designed to be safe, graybeardish and reassuringly vetted to avoid some embarrassing time bomb going off in the media down the road. Madeleine Albright is the edgiest figure in the group! You can almost hear Senator Obama saying, much like a used-car salesman, ” this foreign policy team was owned by a liberal Southern governor of a small rural state who only drove it on Sundays…”. How many of the somewhat conservative Democrats on this list will actually be offered a job come January if Obama wins? Nunn and Hamilton were too conservative for the Clinton administration and Barack Obama is quite a bit left of old Bill.
The Starbuck’s sipping radicals in Yglesias’ comment section appear to be unhappy but for different reasons; evidently they expected the Obama campaign to have named Leon Trotskii and Che Guevara as advisers…
June 18th, 2008 at 11:38 pm
It will be interesting to see where Zinni, Hagel, Powell and other presumable GOP/conservative supporters of Obama end up in the admin. I think Nunn could end up in some specific position dealing with WMD, especially the Russian nuclear materials, an issue Obama talks about often and has brought legislation often with Lugar, Warner and others on the issue.A lot of this too is to mollify Hilary donors and supporters too.. he can’t just edge out their team completely and definitely wouldn’t put Sam Power (who worked for him throughout 2005 and for his campaign for a year until her "Monster" outburst about HRC) on there.Where is Dick Holbrooke? You’re absolutely right about its value to him as "safe and reassuringly vetted."
June 18th, 2008 at 11:52 pm
Hey, Brother Zen…. Easy on Starbucks. O.K., maybe I’m not a "personal grande half-caff three-pump sugar free vanilla soy latte extra hot no foam" kind of patron. But I do prefer
to sip my "for-here triple espresso macchiato".
June 18th, 2008 at 11:54 pm
It is weird how everyone who claims to like Obama hopes he is lying. Three examples:
1. People who like free trade hope he is lying to the voters of Ohio.
2. People who dream of bipartisanship ignore the fact that he is the most partisan Senator in the whole chamber.
3. People who want to believe he will be an incarnation of Noam Chomskyism will try to believe that this list is a subterfuge.
Usually you hope someone you want to vote for is telling the truth, that he will carry through consistently with his track record, and what he says he will do. Why is Obama different?
Because Obama’s vacuous campaign of "change" is meant to create a blank whiteboard that everyone can project their fantasy scenarios onto. Every time that Obama seems to suggest an actual direction, it boges the fantasy, and causes cognitive dissonance and irritation, and a pronouncement that the REAL Obama is the one in my head, not the one who intermittently articulates the ghostly outline of a policy position.
June 19th, 2008 at 12:09 am
1. His economic advisers are almost all free trade acolytes or hopeful skeptics (those who share the views of econs like Dani Rodrik). Of course he was lying to voters in Ohio, he’s a politician and that’s what they have to do at times to win the support of their base (In this case the protectionist blue collars in Ohio). McCain certainly doesn’t talk up his immigration reform or his anti-torture accolades in front of certain elements of the conservative base whose votes he requires.2. Your claim he is the most partisan is based on a roundly criticized survey by the National Journal. Its beyond unreasonable to claim he "is the most partisan", by whose standards and on what votes was he so partisan?The run back to the center by both candidates is highly amusing and enlightening, full of flip-flopping on both sides and opportunistic behavior. Yet its clear from every issue but the Iraq war Obama is far from some token peacenik liberal, and even there, his policy until the military success of the surge and short-term political success made as much sense if not more than McCain’s.
June 19th, 2008 at 12:20 am
[…] Zenpundit has discusses the boring and mainstream makeup of Obama’s newly announced National Security Working Group. Zen links to Matthew Yglesias, whose commenters are not entirely happy with the low quotient of “change” this group represents. But they hope he is just pointing to these people to get elected, and then the real Barack the “change guy” will come to the fore. […]
June 19th, 2008 at 12:28 am
I apologize to all, I neglected to realize my Safari settings and this blog don’t seem to get along.
I agree with Lexington Green in the sense that he is lying to different groups, but given how unhinged some of the Democrat base is (as some of the GOP base is on issues like torture and Iran), I can understand and even sympathize, as I try to do with McCain when he is forced to hem and haw his way around the truth and away from it at times.
Its not these two gents fault that a good 20-25% of their base is "out there". To blame them for not appealing to these bases at times is unreasonable.
June 19th, 2008 at 2:37 am
Obama’s main thing is to keep it supremely vague, with hints of "trust me, I’m smart". This permits his strategy of being the imaginary dream candidate for as many people as possible scope to work.
I find it weird. I thought the guy was a b*llshit artist from the get-go, without regard to ideology. But his schtick works wonders with millions of people. Go figure.
June 19th, 2008 at 5:01 am
Sam Nunn is a very good choice. But Warren Christopher or Tony Lake? You can do better than recycling has-beens like those guys.
McCain has some good or semi-good advisors (e.g. Robert Kagan) and some tools as well (e.g. William Kristol). All in all, bit too weighted to the neocon/PNAC side for me.
I would hope that if he wins, Obama takes advantage of talent from Center for New American Security (people like Sarah Sewall and Colin Kahl) rather than recycling washed-up Clintonites, and that if McCain wins, he doesn’t take his foreign policy advice from more knowledgeable people than Bill Kristol.
June 19th, 2008 at 5:06 am
doesn’t take should be takes
June 19th, 2008 at 8:31 am
Not true. I wanted to ask Mark about his comment at Shlok’s blog, "Obama needs to reach out for fresher faces with new ideas and less baggage." I was wondering if the Zen master has seen McCain reaching for fresher faces or, more to the point, "new ideas and less baggage"? If not, then they are a wash, provided that new ideas etc. are really needed.
The problem with analyzing "change" according to ye old ideas….well there it is. Of course, some bit of politicking is always in order during a campaign, but Obama’s a new kind of player. My own impression, from the very beginning of his campaign incidentally, is that he’s probably far more conservative than his opponents believe. (But then, what is "conservative"? Social conservative? Libertarian conservative? Fiscal conservative? Yadda yadda.) Little hints, like frequent enough mention of personal responsibility and parents yanking the video games from their kids, etc., point to a real difference between this Dem and many Dems.
But it’s late, and I’m babbling. Back in a bit.
June 19th, 2008 at 10:59 am
I’m impressed with McCain’s foreign policy ideas. They’re real, they’re new, and they’re useful. (A lean OSS type intelligence collection agency, something to replace a western western heavy global governance apparatus, etc).
Obama’s "change" annoys the hell out of me. A change agent could really make an impact right now, it’s one of those presidencies. But there’s nothing useful coming out of the Obama camp other than how to streamline Washington politics (Put the national guard on the JCOS, make DNI a fixed length term, etc).
He’s too focused on domestic politics. It’s the 1990s again. Except it aint.
June 19th, 2008 at 12:02 pm
Lexington Green is exactly right. Forget all this change stuff. Obama is an old-fashioned partisan lefty candidate and looks more like the sort of politician you get in declining towns in France – very left, very close to machine politics, vague on everything but running away from his past record. McCain needs to start defining Obama soon while the public are still unsure about him.
June 19th, 2008 at 4:04 pm
"I’m impressed with McCain’s foreign policy ideas. They’re real, they’re new, and they’re useful. (A lean OSS type intelligence collection agency, something to replace a western western heavy global governance apparatus, etc)"
The one you mention may be the only real & useful idea he’s come up with. He offers a continuation of failed policies (emphasis on the military over law enforcement in fighting terrorists, raising the temperature with Iran, support Israel 100% no matter what), extremist positions that are muddled by incoherence (punish Russia- throw them out of the G-8… no wait, Russia, please help us with nuclear materials and missile defense, confront China on everything) and idealistic tripe that is more empty and blockheaded than anything I’ve yet seen from Obama ("Alliance Of Democracies" and more of the same "democracy in the Middle East", while we support tyrants in Saudi, Egypt, Jordan etc….).
There is also a substantial schism within his foreign policy advisers that rivals that of Bush II & Carter. Once again, the realists vs. the neocons, and McCain has legitimate beliefs and feelings with both camps while showing no ability yet to bring them under the same tent for longer than a bi-polar policy speech.
June 22nd, 2008 at 2:58 pm
[…] love intros like this: Coming Anarchy, Phatic Communion, Soob, Tom Barnett, Weekly Standard, and zenpundit have thematically similar posts that boil down to a a discussion of America’s relatively […]