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Question of the day - Obamarama edition

Friday, Apr 27, 2007

My Sun-Times column today is about more possible turmoil in Chicago elections, but ends with these thoughts about the recent aldermanic races

Speaking of Obama, it might be interesting to watch what the presidential candidate does in next year’s primary. Obama refused to endorse any of the insurgent candidates this year, sticking with the Daley Machine and openly endorsing faded hack Ald. Tillman in her losing race to Pat Dowell, who is truly a breath of fresh air.

It’s more than a little ironic that a self-styled ‘’new politics'’ guy like Obama has no strong ties to the newly elected aldermen who seem to share so many of his self-professed political values. He’s just lucky that no national political reporter has covered this hypocrisy angle yet.

My syndicated column this week also took a whack at the guy for the same reason and put him in the “loser” category for the season…

Barack Obama, who styles himself as the epitome of a young, black “new politics” candidate, did not endorse a single one of the bright, new, independent-minded aldermen who will be taking the helm of black wards on the South and West sides. Count him as a big loser.

And here’s a little teaser: On Monday we’ll take a look at how Obama’s association with the Daley Machine is playing with voters.

Anyway, to the question: Did anyone watch the Democratic presidential candidates debate last night? What did you make of it? Apparently, Lynn Sweet didn’t think much of Obama’s performance.

If you’ve been on Mars for a while and did not know the names of the Democratic White House frontrunners, you could have thought after the first presidential debate Thursday they were Sen. Joe Biden, Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Chris Dodd.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bill Baar - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 9:42 am:

    I was stunned with his response to the attack on two cities question. I don’t have a transcript yet but Byron York picked it up. Obama’s answer to a question of how, as commander-in-chief, he would change America’s “military stance” in response to an attack by al Qaeda did not involve using the military.

    Obama’s tone reminded me of Dukakis’s answer to the What would you do if Kitty… question in 1988. A totall scripted response. None of the leading Dems sound authentic to me. Very much unlike Giuliani or McCain.

    I though Biden did pretty well although I admit to not watching all of this. He was right to say he’s the only guy with a plan for Iraq (partition). The rest are just inviting an American Dunkirk I fear with their vote yesterday.

  2. - Buck Naked - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 9:48 am:

    While Lynn Sweet, who for whatever reason has been trying to tube Senator Obama’s candidacy, may have felt that the Senator’s performance wasn’t the best, this Survey USA poll indicates that real people felt otherwise

    It’s clear that people in SC felt that Obama won hands down. GOod work Senator!

  3. - ids - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:05 am:

    “I am not thinking of nuking any country, right now.” Great! Go bomb ‘em, Obama. Can’t wait!

    Machine-man, big corn-oil and coal liquification. Put it together and it’s another apocalyptic neo-con.

  4. - ArchPundit - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:23 am:

    So who do you attack if Al Qaeda did attack the US Baar?

  5. - Just Saying - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:36 am:

    A lot of the pundits thought Obama did his best work when he was tangling with Kucinich and Gravel over the war, but I disagree. Here’s a guy who is the only mainstream player who was against the war from the outset. As Kucinich said, “We’re choosing a president. And we have to look at the audition that occurred in 2003, when my good friends were called upon to make a decision and then made the wrong decision.” Obama getting fired up by jabs from Grabel and Kucinich only made him look like he was just as wrong — if not more so — on the war as Hillary, Edwards and the rest of the crew.

    He had a great response (reminiscent of Indiana Jones) about the Confederate flag: “It belongs in a museum.”

    And I think he did a good job answering questions about health care and foreign policy. Yeah, he didn’t mention Israel, but he had a minute to answer and he was only supposed to mention three allies. He cheated by choosing NATO. His other picks were Japan and (sort of) China. Even if they’re not our best bosom buddies, all of those choices are top, top priorities in our foreign policy.

    When prompted about Israel, he handled the question adeptly. He sympathized with the Palestinians but indicated that their suffering was, at least in part, due to the failure of their leadership.

    I think David Broder got it right in his column. He said the debate showed the strength of the Democratic field. That’s true. All of the candidates had good moments and none (except maybe Grabel, although I thought he was fine) had really bad ones. Debates alone won’t decide this campaign, but the event showcased all of the candidates at their best. It was a perfect kick-off for the primary, even if it is incredibly early.

  6. - bored now - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:42 am:

    lynn sweet must be stuck on mars. chris dodd a winner? for what? showing up?

    sometimes i wonder if people don’t take this midwestern insecurity thing a bit too far…

  7. - Bill Baar - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:43 am:

    So who do you attack if Al Qaeda did attack the US Baar?

    Check Richardson’s response a few questions later Arch when the transcripts are available. Richardson asked to respond to that question even though he was asked something different. He realized the others failures and recoverd.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve long predicted if Dems implement a Kerry war of last resort doctrine, it’s going to mean a devasting retailiation against Arabs (probably the Saudi’s as the bankers of all of this). We do nothing until there is nothing but a devastating and vengeful retailation. Dems are going to be under a lot of pressure to look tough, and tough they will be.

  8. - SilverBackDemocrat - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    I watched the debate last night. I think the candidates performed ok, but nothing too impressive. There is not enough time for all of the different candidates. I like them all but I just am not excited. I still think and hope Gore is going to get into this race after summer and before mid October. It’s just a hunch or gut feeling I have. He can wait because he isn’t missing out on nothing, especially in the debates (all of a total 5-10 min. he would get to speak). He has over $40 million sitting in his personal bank account, thanks to being on the Apple board. If he were to get into this race in the fall, he would automatically be the 600 lb Gorrilla, and the man to beat.

  9. - Bill Baar - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:55 am:

    SilverBackDem: It’ll be Gore-Obama running in 2008. The result of a brokered convention caused by lumping all the primaries together. Obama a certainity for VP.

  10. - SilverBackDemocrat - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 10:57 am:

    10-4, I can see that.

  11. - Reddbyrd - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    If Lynn had wrote Obama did great — as he did — no one would have read it. The Dowd/Biden baloney gets her a litte attention.

    Meanwhile Obama-Richardson wins big

  12. - bored now - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    of course, obama has already said he wouldn’t accept a veep nomination…

  13. - ArchPundit - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 11:06 am:

    I did hear Richardson’s response and it was nonsensical.

    Who do you attack for a terrorist attack? Afghanistan made sense because there was a location to attack where Al Qaeda was essentially a partner of the regime.

    You want to attack Saudi Arabia or Pakistan? You want someone to say that on TV who might become President?

    How did Spain and Great Britain respond to the subway and train attacks? Militarily? Not in the traditional sense. They continued operations in Afghanistan and we presume efforts to track them down.

    Attacking with a surgical strike as Richardson suggests would probably not be effective and doesn’t provide a coherent strategy.

    There is a fantasy world people are living in where everything is done by brute force no matter how overstretched and exhausted the US military is. You want to attack Saudi Arabia which includes Mecca and Medina? Good luck with that.

    Bush has turned the Middle East into a steaming pile and there are no easy or effective answers. Obama is right–you change the military stance and try and deal with the crappy situation your predecessor left without starting a war across the entire Muslim world.

  14. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 11:13 am:

    Barack needs to do better next time. He never hit his stride. At times he looked uncomfortable (esp. responding to foreign affairs-related questions), though not as much as Richardson whose weird facial expressions and gestures made the former Governor look like a goof.

    I think Barack is lucky that no one is really calling him out on a lack-luster performance, esp. given the fact that he is more or less the front-runner and has been chided for his ‘lack of substance’ and ’specific ideas.’

    Although I don’t like her, I think Hillary did a better job than Barack. She appeared to be more presidential-like, more in-command…though she dropped a few “big” words that I don’t think most viewers understood, which tends to demonstrate (among other things) that there’s a disconnect with every day people.

    They all punted the hedge-fund question, though. And I don’t think any of them..especially Barack…gave the necessary recognition to the significance of being at SC State.

    In the end, the entire debate, no thanks to a horrible format, was mediocre at best, which is hopefully not symbolic of the candidates themselves.

  15. - Bill Baar - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 11:16 am:

    Arch, Obama reminded me of Dukakis not so much of what he said in response but the way he said it. It needed some feeling. It was a serious question on the most serious question a President can face. Richardson had the feeling. Obama didn’t.

    One thing about the net now is I rarely listen to these debates and much prefer the transcripts easily found later on the net, but you can get entirely different perspectives on what happened between the two forms.

  16. - Team Sleep - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 11:51 am:

    Does anyone watch “Boston Legal”? William Shatner’s character had a great quote at the end of Tuesday’s show: “Obama? What does he stand for? I don’t think he stands for much of anything. He’d make a great president!” Hmmm. Even David E. Kelley took a huge potshot at Obama’s vagueness. Obama’s happy-time, “everyboy hold hands” attitude reminds me of Grover or Telly Monster from Sesame Street. Speaking in generalities is not going to win him over. Even Bush-bashing can’t put him over the top.

  17. - amy - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 11:55 am:

    lynn sweet did Obama a favor by not speaking
    the truth….Hillary was clearly the best
    candidate last night. After strong statements
    answering Rudy just days ago, Obama spoke from
    the gut and gave an abysmal answer on the 2 city
    terror strike question. if he were to move
    to the general we would be reminded again and
    again that his thoughts are not that of a
    commander in chief. Prudent and strike back…
    Hillary was hitting on all cylinders last night.

    Best comment of the night, Keith O. on MSNBC
    deconstructing the Obama answer to the Rezko
    question. Keith explained that when he worked
    at the sports channel (clearly referring to
    ESPN) that athletes grilled on something they
    had done wrong should start their answer with
    the very words Obama used to start his answer
    to the Rezko question. Oops.

  18. - Bill Baar - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 12:07 pm:

    Just a tiny tangent. I just had an email from the Obama campaign about the debates and this image of pen and the comment just one easy signature away from Peace. Obama has no idea what his vote yesterday can bring.

    Here’s an article in GovExec from a few days ago on planning the strategic retreat out of Iraq. Clinton’s Michele Flourney who helped manage our retreat from Somalia says,

    Following the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia, the country quickly descended into chaos and a civil war that drew in its own neighbors. Michele Flournoy, a Pentagon official in the Clinton administration who helped to manage the Somalia mission, looks to that example today.


    “Everyone had better understand that this period of withdrawal from Iraq will be a time of very high risk, with difficult choices and operational challenges, and no good options,” Flournoy said. “I fear our most challenging days in Iraq are still ahead of us.”

    None of these folks sounded like they had a clue where they’re taking Americans and Iraqis. They got a real pass at these debates on their plan.

  19. - Truthful James - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 12:07 pm:

    Senator Obama is still an undercooked egg. He needs some time in boiling water to mature. Any talk of him on the ticket is premature.

    I prefer my Presidents hard boiled and my Veeps ready to succeed. GWB was a preemie, too.

  20. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 12:45 pm:

    The attack that Obama endorsed incumbent Aldermen never resonated with me. Incumbents endorse incumbents.

    A couple things that did/do rub me the wrong way about Obama and his friends with Old School hacks….

    The day before the 2006 elections Obama and Durbin were on stage with Tammy Duckworth singing her praises. The next night when Duckworth conceded she was on stage with her husband who had been kept off the stage the day before.

    Where was Obama? Shaking a leg at the Todd Stroger victory party.

    And Obama delivered the key endorsement that got a whole bunch of Illinois Senate Dems elected. Obama gave these endorsements as a favor to Emil Jones. The Obama Senators gave Jones a super majority in the Illinois Senate.

    What’s Jones do with his super majority? Slams Illinois consumers with a huge electric rate increase. The Black political elite, including bigwig ministers, get millions from electric utilities and the rest of us pay the bills.

    Where has Obama been on this issue? Has he gotten on the phone to Emil Jones and told Jones he ought to help consumers?

    The chief reason Republicans like Andy Martin and Tony Peraica are peddling the Obama-Tillman connection is because they want to scare “White” voters about reparations.

    It’s Obama’s lack of loyalty to Duckworth, schmoozing with Stroger and failing to use his ties with Emil Jones to help Illinois consumers that bugs me.

    The Tillman attack is most enthusiastically embraced by Republicans hoping to be able to play the race card. How’s a Republican supposed to win if he can’t stir up fears about Communists, Blacks, terrorists, or immigrants?

  21. - ZC - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 12:46 pm:

    The evidence from the poll Buck Naked presents above suggests, yet again, that Barack Obama has great power to make a favorable impression upon people with very short exposure. For a lot of those debate viewers, that was probably the first time they’d ever really seen him in action. More long-time Barack watchers, on this blog and in the media and just in a few conversations I’d had this morning, seemed to feel it was a subpar performance for him, and I agree.

    I don’t know what debate Lynn Sweet was watching.

  22. - HoosierDaddy - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 1:58 pm:

    James– that’s one of the first things you have ever said that I have agreed with. Obama is a premature candidate, so was W. Given another term as governor or a term in the Senate, or a term as VP, Bush would have been a much better president.

    Unless Obama gets some seasoning– another eight years in the Senate, or a term as governor, or in the cabinet, or as VP, he’s similarly disappoint.

    As for the comment on the frontrunners, I think the three listed are the ones who SHOULD be the front runners, if we went by qualifications. The last two presidents are evidence we don’t. The last highly qualified president we had was GHWB.

  23. - bored now - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 2:41 pm:

    HoosierDaddy: qualifications? obviously, they are *all* qualified or no one would pay attention to them. or do you mean some mysterious, subjective qualifications that only you can know and use?

  24. - Shadoobie - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 2:51 pm:

    I really like Obama and would love to see him as president. I don’t know why the turn in his style, or if he’s even aware of it. Perhaps he’s starting to thaw from that frigid February morning back in Springfield. Anyway, it doesn’t seem like his heart’s in it like it once was.

  25. - aHead - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 3:07 pm:

    Lynn Sweet has been pounding Obama every chance she gets, seems to me she might have been stiffed for an interview and is exacting revenge

  26. - Minion - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 5:20 pm:

    Chris Dodd looked great.

  27. - Wumpus - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 8:11 pm:

    Lynn Sweet may be punfingObama unfairly, but the rest of the non conservative media is more in love with him than Mary Schmict of the Tribune

  28. - T.J. - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 8:29 pm:

    At times he looked uncomfortable (esp. responding to foreign affairs-related questions), though not as much as Richardson whose weird facial expressions and gestures made the former Governor look like a goof.

    Former governor?

    Former governor?

  29. - phocion - Saturday, Apr 28, 07 @ 4:57 am:

    Nyberg, Obama endorsed an ineffective, nepotism-minded hack over a qualified, independent, African American leader. That’s not race baiting. Obama got his clock cleaned in the latest aldermanic runoffs. Miller’s column is right on - Obama’s good govermnent veneer covers some pretty bad machine flaws.

  30. - Rich Miller - Saturday, Apr 28, 07 @ 2:08 pm:

    Nyberg, maybe you didn’t notice, but I wrote the column and I have never talked to Andy Martin and rarely speak with Peraica. Take off that tinfoil hat, please.

  31. - Southern Man - Sunday, Apr 29, 07 @ 1:18 pm:

    Lynn Sweet’s analysis was way off the mark. She must have been watching another debate (although her columns seem to show a real anti-Obama bias, so that’s what’s probably going on). None of other national pundits (or polls of watching viewers) agreed with her.

  32. - Yioryios - Tuesday, Jun 5, 07 @ 8:07 pm:


  33. - Charalampos - Wednesday, Jun 6, 07 @ 4:10 pm:


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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