Liveblogging the Democratic debate, part 1

Did Barack Obama just cost himself support among the anti-war Democratic base?

Obama just said that the war in Iraq "is not making us more safe and is costing us in Afghanistan." This is his standard line on Iraq and not surprising.

Tim Russert is doing a great job trying to call the candidates on their inconsistencies. He just asked Hillary if she would be willing to re-invade Iraq if needed at some point in the future after retreating. She refused to answer, of course, and kept repeating that she wants to start withdrawing within 60 days.

Obama answered the same question by saying that he would be willing to attack any terrorist group anywhere, including the newly vacated Iraq.

I wonder if that will cost him some support among the anti-war fringe. Hillary tried to make a remark as they cut to commercial.

In conjunction with his remarks on Pakistan, could Obama face the threat of ostracizing his radical anti-war base?

I've never tried liveblogging before, but I'm watching the debate with my friends Zac Morgan and Joe Pechacek who made me think it's a good idea. Tell me what you think in comments.

Posted by Andrew Breza at February 26, 2008 9:42 PM
Comments
Comment #246512

He also admitted that he has not done his job working with Europe to get more NATO troops into Afghanistan because he became the leader of the subcomittee when his campaign began and has not had the time for it.
He should have passed the position to someone else OR gone back to work.

Posted by: Dawn at February 26, 2008 10:31 PM
Comment #246516

I wonder if that will cost him some support among the anti-war fringe.

That “fringe” is over 60 percent of Americans.

Posted by: Steve at February 26, 2008 10:49 PM
Comment #246518

Steve: I am not referring to people who are vaguely listed as being “against the war in Iraq” in public opinion polls. When I say “fringe” I mean people who take their marching orders from the likes of MoveOn.org and think that Nancy Pelosi is too conservative.

Posted by: Andrew Breza at February 26, 2008 11:08 PM
Comment #246598

I don’t think Obama will lose any more votes from the far left for that comment than McCain might lose from the far right for some of his more moderate stances that have some conservatives besides themselves. No candidate can get elected by appealing to the extremes on either side. See George McGovern and Barry Goldwater for Exhibits A and B.

Posted by: Steve K at February 27, 2008 8:07 PM
Comment #246639

None of the candidates ever had a true support base from any of the military. And the one that did garnered the most support(monetary that is) from the Army, Navy and Air Force, than all the other candidates combined, is still in the running. I pose to say that the support base of the candidates now does not agree with the working families, and/or servicemen and women, of those mentioned. Besides, when did, if ever, Goldman Sachs agree with Admiral William Fallon about the war?

Posted by: dobropet at February 28, 2008 1:02 PM
Comment #246750

-Part of me shares the enthusiasm for Barack Obama. After all, how could someone calling themself a progressive not sense the importance of what it means to have an African-American so close to the presidency? But as his campaign has unfolded, and I heard that we are not red states or blue states for the 6th or 7th time, I realized I knew virtually nothing about him.

Like most, I know he gave a stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I know he defeated Alan Keyes in the Illinois Senate race; although it wasn’t much of a contest (Keyes was living in Maryland when he announced). Recently, I started looking into Obama’s voting record, and I’m afraid to say I’m not just uninspired: I’m downright fearful. Here’s why:

This is a candidate who says he’s going to usher in change; that he is a different kind of politician who has the skills to get things done. He reminds us again and again that he had the foresight to oppose the war in Iraq. And he seems to have a genuine interest in lifting up the poor.

But his record suggests that he is incapable of ushering in any kind of change I’d like to see. It is one of accommodation and concession to the very political powers that we need to reign in and oppose if we are to make truly lasting advances.

THE WAR IN IRAQ

Let’s start with his signature position against the Iraq war. Obama has sent mixed messages at best.

First, he opposed the war in Iraq while in the Illinois state legislature. Once he was running for US Senate though, when public opinion and support for the war was at its highest, he was quoted in the July 27, 2004 Chicago Tribune as saying, “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage.
The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.” The Tribune went on to say that Obama, “now believes US forces must remain to stabilize the war-ravaged nation ­ a policy not dissimilar to the current approach of the Bush administration.”

Obama’s campaign says he was referring to the ongoing occupation and how best to stabilize the region. But why wouldn’t he have taken the opportunity to urge withdrawal if he truly opposed the war? Was he trying to signal to conservative voters that he would subjugate his anti-war position if elected to the US Senate and perhaps support a lengthy occupation? Well as it turns out, he’s done just that.

Since taking office in January 2005 he has voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration’s various false justifications for going to war in Iraq. Why would he vote to make one of the architects of “Operation Iraqi Liberation” the head of US foreign policy? Curiously, he lacked the courage of 13 of his colleagues who voted against her confirmation.

And though he often cites his background as a civil rights lawyer, Obama voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act in July 2005, easily the worse attack on civil liberties in the last half-century. It allows for wholesale eavesdropping on American citizens under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts.

And in March 2006, Obama went out of his way to travel to Connecticut to campaign for Senator Joseph Lieberman who faced a tough challenge by anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. At a Democratic Party dinner attended by Lamont, Obama called Lieberman “his mentor” and urged those in attendance to vote and give financial contributions to him. This is the same Lieberman who Alexander Cockburn called “Bush’s closest Democratic ally on the Iraq War.” Why would Obama have done that if he was truly against the war?

Recently, with anti-war sentiment on the rise, Obama declared he will get our combat troops out of Iraq in 2009. But Obama isn’t actually saying he wants to get all of our troops out of Iraq. At a September 2007 debate before the New Hampshire primary, moderated by Tim Russert, Obama refused to commit to getting our troops out of Iraq by January 2013 and, on the campaign trail, he has repeatedly stated his desire to add 100,000 combat troops to the military.

At the same event, Obama committed to keeping enough soldiers in Iraq to “carry out our counter-terrorism activities there” which includes “striking at al Qaeda in Iraq.” What he didn’t say is this continued warfare will require an estimated 60,000 troops to remain in Iraq according to a May 2006 report prepared by the Center for American Progress. Moreover, it appears he intends to “redeploy” the troops he takes out of the unpopular war in Iraq and send them to Afghanistan. So it appears that under Obama’s plan the US will remain heavily engaged in war.

This is hardly a position to get excited about.-

Matt Gonzalez is a former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and is running on Nader’s ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

Please see counterpunch.org for original posting.

Posted by: dobropet at February 29, 2008 1:05 PM
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