Two Ohio Debate Highlights From Obama


cross-posted to Jack & Jill Politics

As usual, yall rocked the open thread. I was on a shaky Internet connection, so MSNBC's stream fell off, but I kept up thanks to yall. Read the transcript on the train this morning, and I thought the following were worth highlighting from Obama on Iraq and mobilizing the American people.

BTW, I think Hillary did fine. The SNL callout and whining about getting the debate question first did look petty, but I think she did OK in explaining the breadth of her actions around trade and in discussing Russia. Her attempt to over-anti-anti-Semitism Obama also read a bit awkward.

Tim Russert was a bit of an asshole overall. If you have concerns about Obama's church, please check the facts.

Anyway...



Obama on Iraq. Many have commented on his "drive the bus into the ditch" line, but the entire answer I thought was pretty good.
Let me just follow up. My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why.

And so when I bring this up, it is not simply to say "I told you so," but it is to give you an insight in terms of how I would make decisions.

And the fact was, this was a big strategic blunder. It was not a matter of, well, here is the initial decision, but since then we've voted the same way. Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there were only so many ways we could get out. The question is, who's making the decision initially to drive the bus into the ditch? And the fact is that Senator Clinton often says that she is ready on day one, but in fact she was ready to give in to George Bush on day one on this critical issue. So the same person that she criticizes for having terrible judgment, and we can't afford to have another one of those, in fact she facilitated and enabled this individual to make a decision that has been strategically damaging to the United States of America.

With respect to Pakistan, I never said I would bomb Pakistan. What I said was that if we have actionable intelligence against bin Laden or other key al Qaeda officials, and we -- and Pakistan is unwilling or unable to strike against them, we should. And just several days ago, in fact, this administration did exactly that and took out the third-ranking al Qaeda official.

That is the position that we should have taken in the first place. And President Musharraf is now indicating that he would generally be more cooperative in some of these efforts, we don't know how the new legislature in Pakistan will respond, but the fact is it was the right strategy.

And so my claim is not simply based on a speech. It is based on the judgments that I've displayed during the course of my service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while I've been in the United States Senate, and as somebody who, during the course of this campaign, I think has put forward a plan that will provide a clean break against Bush and Cheney. And that is how we're going to be able to debate John McCain. Having a debate with John McCain where your positions were essentially similar until you started running for president, I think, does not put you in a strong position.

Obama on Mobilizing the American People
You know, she mentioned that she is a fighter on health care. And look -- I do not in any way doubt that Senator Clinton genuinely wants to provide health care to all Americans.

What I have said is that the way she approached it back in '93, I think, was wrong in part because she had the view that what's required is simply to fight. And Senator Clinton ended up fighting not just the insurance companies and the drug companies, but also members of her own party. And as a consequence, there were a number of people, like Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Bill Bradley and Pat Moynihan, who were not included in the negotiations. And we had the potential of bringing people together to actually get something done.

I am absolutely clear that hope is not enough. And it is not going to be easy to pass health care. If it was, it would have already gotten done. It's not going to be easy to have a sensible energy policy in this country. ExxonMobil made $11 billion last quarter. They are not going to give up those profits easily.

But what I also believe is that the only way we are going to actually get this stuff done is, number one, we're going to have to mobilize and inspire the American people so that they're paying attention to what their government is doing. And that's what I've been doing in this campaign, and that's what I will do as president.

And there's nothing romantic or silly about that. If the American people are activated, that's how change is going to happen.

The second thing we've going to have to do is we're actually going to have to go after the special interests. Senator Clinton in one of these speeches -- it may have been the same speech where you showed the clip -- said you can't just wave a magic wand and expect special interests to go away. That is absolutely true, but it doesn't help if you're taking millions of dollars in contributions from those special interests. They are less likely to go away.

So it is important for us to crack down on how these special interests are able to influence Congress. And yes, it is important for us to inspire and mobilize and motivate the American people to get involved and pay attention.

This point is critical and is usually my "closer" in arguing my case for Obama versus Clinton. rikyrah pointed out that Obama has reached his one millionth donor, and commenter Angela put me on to this article which explains the significance of his non-traditional financial support. Obama is more beholden to the people than Clinton is. He's not just talking about limiting the influence of lobbyists, etc. He's being about it.

But read on, and check this excerpt:
While some cynics still view Barack Obama’s appeal for “change” as empty rhetoric, it’s starting to dawn on Washington insiders that his ability to raise vast sums of money from nearly one million mostly small donors could shake the grip that special-interest money has long held over the U.S. government.

This spreading realization that Obama’s political movement might represent a more revolutionary change than previously understood is sparking a deepening resistance among defenders of the status quo – and prompting harsher attacks on Obama.

Right now, the front line for the Washington Establishment is Hillary Clinton’s struggling presidential campaign, which has been stunned by Obama’s political skills as well as his extraordinary ability to raise money over the Internet. Obama’s grassroots donations have negated Clinton’s prodigious fundraising advantage with big donors.

Powerful lobbies – from AIPAC to representatives of military and other industries – also are recognizing the value of keeping their dominance over campaign cash from getting diluted by Obama’s deep reservoir of small donors. It’s in their direct interest to dent Obama’s momentum and demoralize his rank-and-file supporters as soon as possible.

Fired Up!