Thursday, August 09, 2007

Helping Out Kevin Drum

By Cernig

Kevin's getting himself tied in knots wondering about that nuclear option lying around on the kitchen cabinet table as well as trying to figure out who the Very Serious People are in America's foreign policy community. The foreign policy question, for him, is this:
what about the diplomatic convention that says it's best for presidents to stay quietly ambiguous about nuclear doctrine? There really is something to be said for it, no? After all, once you start answering hypotheticals, it's hard to stop. And when you do stop, people are going to draw conclusions about where you've apparently drawn the line. Sometimes, it turns out, diplomatic conventions really do serve a purpose.
Well, Kevin, it seems to me that VSPs are OK with leaving the prospect of imminent nuclear immolation on the table, but will worry themselves sick about whether saying too much or saying too little is best while doing so. It's sorta reminiscent of teen angst, only more Serious.

Jack Straw, the old UK foreign secretary, obviously had no such worries about the size of his nation's manhood. He pointed to a progressive answer which only VSP's wouldn't find obvious. The words "inconceivable" and "completely nuts" should be used.

Glad to help, Kevin.

As to the manufactured spat between Clinton and Obama which begat all this foreign policy navel gazing, a spat which is giving no end of glee to Republican partisans, it now turns out Hilary has also previously said she would take the nuclear option of the table. Good for her. It's a pity she now wants to reverse course and apply for VSP membership because the world would feel safer if she didn't.

For all neccesary commentary on the tactics of the political infighting involved, I refer readers to Josh Marshall:
What this has boiled down to -- and this became even more clear after Tuesday night's labor-hosted debate, when Biden and Dodd acted as Hillary's proxies -- is Hillary, in league with the party's foreign policy establishment, trying to make Obama, implicitly or explicitly, concede an error, that he misspoke.

Precisely what he misspoke about is largely beside the point. The key is that they get him to concede that in the complex and serious world of foreign policy big-think, where words have consequences, he made an error. Of course, it's almost good enough if most observers decide that Obama screwed up. But once he concedes it himself, if he does, he stipulates from now through the end of the Democratic primary campaign that his inexperience in foreign policy is a basic premise of the campaign upon which the battle between him and Hillary will be waged. He can learn, improve, make progress, whatever, but his inexperience compared to Hillary will continue to be the reference point throughout.
and to Kyle Moore:
what the highly disciplined Mrs. Clinton has let slip in this particular instance is that she is now playing follow the leader, compromising her own stances in order to win immediate match ups with Obama in the present. Thus, she is allowing him to define the playing field.
Advantage Obama.

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