Monday, April 21, 2008

The Real Problem with the Last Dem Debate: Iran

I would have signed that letter complaining about the questions asked by ABC's Gibson and Stephanopolous if someone had asked me to. However, they may have done Obama a favor in the end by giving him a dry run with this sort of trivial stuff, which the Republicans will surely hit him on hard in the general election (although it is my understanding that John McCain does not wear flag lapel pins much more than Obama does, although clearly he can get away with that better than Obama).

No, the much bigger problem with the debate was Stephanopolous asserting (in contrast with the US NIE finding unanimously agreed to by all 18 US intel agencies) that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and asking the Dem candidates what they would do about it. Neither called him on what garbage this assertion is, especially in light of the fatwa against nuclear weaons by Vilayat-el-faqih and Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian military, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i. Instead they both declared how much they opposed this by Iran and supported defending Israel on the matter, although Hillary went much further than Obama, proposing a defense shield over all of the Middle East, something beyond anything advocated by either Bush or McCain. I observe that about the only media people to note the extreme nature of this declaration were Rachel Maddow and Patrick Buchanan on Olberman's show. This is far more appalling and serious than all the dreck posed in the first 45 minutes.


ProGrowthLiberal said...

And I thought the real problem with Gibson's free lunch supply side nonsense with respect to capital gains taxation. Even when the ABC crew decided to talk policy, they got it all wrong.

Bruce Webb said...

A rational analysis would show that even a nuclear armed Iran would represent a infintesimally near zero threat to the United States or its European allies. A further analysis would clearly show it would only be a theoretical threat to Israel, the logic of MAD and so deterrence just being as strong as it ever was.

Then again a rational analysis came to the same conclusion when applied to Iraqi WMD, chemical weapons requiring a massive delivery system (i.e. a few batteries of artillery in Central Park or unlimited air access over major cities), while biological weapons are vulnerable to some of those same delivery difficulties and are also vulnerable to a modern medical system. Any number of people made that rational analysis in real time with little real effect. Which suggests one of two things, First that some people were incapable of grasping rationality. Or second that other people simply were not interested in the concept.

It is hard to draw the lines between stupid/deluded/evil, in large part because so many people straddle one or both, 'stupidity' speaking to capability, 'delusion' to state of knowledge, and 'evil' to intent.

As to Steph there is no question that he is sharp but it is not clear that he is serving as a sharp tool or as a sharp craftsman wielding a tool. It is what makes blog commentary so hard, so much clever evilness comes wrapped in a cloak of amiable ignorance, what starts as an effort to correct a misconception immediately transforming into a death cage match.

If I had to guess I would suggest that Stephanopolous is acting as an active agent here, that he is a craftsman trying to create something for his client/principal. Who his actual principal may be is unclear to me, but sometimes you have to conclude that much of this is just a concerted attempt to defend the collective Village of High Broder and so justifying your Serious Person entry key card to the Beltway. That in the end it is all just self serving. said...


I agree that Gibson's remarks on cap gains taxation were egregiously misguided. But, a) Obama opposed cap gains tax cuts, even if he did not fully confront Gibson with the erroneous nature of his remarks, and b) both of the Dem candidates accepted Stephanopolous's erroneous characterization of the Iranian nuke issue, which is ultimately far more important than what the cap gains tax rate is, if I may say so. War and peace and all that, possibly nuclear.


I think Steph is probably implicated by his too-close association with the Clintons (and she has been very hawkish on Iran, voting for allowing Bush to go to war with Iran, unlike all the other Dem prez candidates). I do not know what explains Gibson, although some have suggested that it is personal, him being very wealthy and all and thus taking the cap gains tax rate personally. I dislike taking such a crudely and personally materialistic view of things, but sometimes that looks about right.


Bruce Webb said...

IIRC Steph turned on the Clintons in a very public very overt way. 'Throw them under the bus' being a pretty good summation. I don't read this as carrying water for the Clintons, that his views on this align with hers seems more along the lines 'correlation does not equal causation' said...

And, the day before yesterday Hillary went further and threatened to "obliterate" Iran if it were to attack Israel with nukes during the next ten years. I am afraid that this problem has large wheels, especially given the scale of Hillary's win in PA yesterday and the resulting fact that she is not going away soon and will continue to spew this warmongering drivel widely.


Admin said...

It may be even worse than that. If an Asian person is spotted in an Arab nation it's grounds for aerial bombardment, because it must be a North Korean imparting the secrets of nuclear weapons.

Miracle Max