David Brooks: The Obama-Clinton Issue

I stopped long ago cutting/pasting entire articles, but this one is too interesting for me not to point you to. David Brooks, one of my least favorite columnists, writes a tribute to Barrack Obama that can only be described as an anointment. I mean, it sounds as if he is describing a saint. And Brooks used to write for Weekly Standard. Very strange, because the column is a major win for Obama and a serious slap in the face to Hillary Clinton, the one great hope the GOP has to remain in power Why is Brooks doing this? Has he had a rare blast of conscience? If not, it’s unfathomable.

You can read the entire mystifying column here. [Word file.]

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 31 Comments

Brooks was writing in Bob Herbert’s place. Maybe he borrowed his ideology for the day.

I know once the general starts GOP types would be hammering Obama, but there does seem to be a genuine affection for him, or at least no aversion, among them. He’s sort of like the Democratic Huckabee–minus the statements that AIDS patients should be quarantined.

Andrew Sullivan is also a big Obama fan.

December 19, 2007 @ 9:43 am | Comment

I remain a dedicated Edwards supporter… not for the sake of continuing the long and hallowed tradition of nominating rich white guys, but because he still appears (at least to me) to be the candidate most dedicated to change on a massive scale, from lobbying to health insurance. Of course, it also seems he’s going to completely lose the primaries (especially where I’m voting, in New York), so I’ll either be voting for Obama or Hillary in the gen. el. Until then, I’ll let the two fight it out.

December 19, 2007 @ 10:11 am | Comment

Edwards is my personal favorite but I’m endorsing Obama because I believe he’s got the best chance of winning. I know, it’s very pragmatic, but I never again want to see another presidential race like the last one, where we found the one single Democrat who was guaranteed to turn off the most voters.

December 19, 2007 @ 11:17 am | Comment

Drudgereport has a story about a possible Edwards love child about to come out.

As long as shrillary doesn’t win the nomination…

December 19, 2007 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

Does anyone find some problem with the election process? Hillary looked unbeatable only one month ago. After she made a few minor mistakes, now Obama is most likely to be the winner. Almost all policy discussions are superficial.

December 19, 2007 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

z, that’s the inherent flaw in democracy and a free media, I’m afraid. If the people are morons and don’t do their own thinking, they can be influenced by the latest Drudge story and change their minds at a moment’s notice. What can you do? You can’t force people to think. Thus all discussions of all topics will remain superficial, and candidates will rely on memorable one-liners to help them “win” debates because the American attention span is so short (is it any different anywhere else?).

December 19, 2007 @ 1:01 pm | Comment

Nanhe, let’s not forget that it was Drudge who in 2004 leaked a story – proven totally false – that Kerry was having an affair with an intern. Drudge wrote at the time that the Kerry campaign was “in a tailspin” and that he might have to drop out of the race. I wish he had dropped out of the race, but that’s another story.

December 19, 2007 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

Very nice and convincing answer. Thanks, Richard.

December 19, 2007 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

When I asked the question, what I had China in my mind. At the current stage, is China better off with the US way of selecting its leaders or its current way of appointing its leaders by elites? Sure, in the long term, I like to see some kind of democracy in China.

December 19, 2007 @ 1:54 pm | Comment

“If the people are morons and don’t do their own thinking, they can be influenced by the latest Drudge story and change their minds at a moment’s notice.”

Ok, time to mix it up. Want to know where Hillary’s campaign really nose-dived? As soon as her campaign advisers had her taking shots at Obama’s past drug problems and his recovery. People saw the mean, divisive Hillary that we all know lurks beneath that steely lawyer exterior.

Here is the link to a variety of sources:
google.com/search?hl=en&q=Obama%27s+past+drug+problems&btnG=Google+Search

She covets power and has to rely on her husband for personality lessons as well as the “I’m a woman” platform. How often does Obama go around reminding people that he is of mixed background? People saw Hillary for who she really is and see Obama as someone who is short on experience but long on touching something that many forget could exist in a political leader since Kennedy and Reagan (hey, Ray-gun knew how to talk to people).

Here is a nice NYT opinion about Clinton v Obama:
nytimes.com/2007/12/18/opinion/18brooks.html

Hmm, I wonder if I’m being intelligent enough for this board?

December 19, 2007 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

Support who you believe in for the primaries. Be practical for the general election and support the nominee who better represents your interests.

So Richard, nothing wrong with voting for Edwards in the primaries. A strong showing from him helps give his ideas a place at the table.

December 19, 2007 @ 2:49 pm | Comment

If I were able to vote in the primaries, I would vote for Edwards. And as much as it hurts to say this, I’ll vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination. Anyone but a Republican. I don”t like her, but it is a little depressing to see the beating she is taking from the far left – she doesn’t quite deserve it. And yes, Nanhe, I know about the Obama drug gossip from the Hillary aide, and also Bob Kerrey’s asinine remarks about how wonderful it is to have a candidate from (in part) a Muslim family in the running (slick, very slick). Hey, it’s politics as usual. And I have bad news for you: all of the candidates from each party “covets power.” Only power-hungry egomaniacs would even think of running for president. Egomaniacs or lazy, dim-witted fratboys who were born into the race. Let’s hope the least self-serving and best-qualified candidate wins. I’d love to see and Obama-Edwards ticket, no matter who’s at the top or bottom of it.

December 19, 2007 @ 4:02 pm | Comment

“Drudgereport has a story about a possible Edwards love child about to come out.

As long as shrillary doesn’t win the nomination…”

Yea, National Enquirer reported. :) Cool…lol

My vote is Edwards, Obama, Richardson (I think he will actually make the best President out of all democrats this election but he wont’ win nomination), then Hillary. Hey, I am actually going to vote in California…

December 20, 2007 @ 7:42 am | Comment

Ignore the people for a moment, what I found most interesting about this article was the thesis that experience is not all that important. I have been thinking the US cannot afford another President who knows nothing about foreign policy. Not now. But this article MAY make me re-think that. Notice how the media seems to be favoring Clinton and McCain, which if you are going to go only with foreign policy experience (ignoring Biden, Dodd, and Richardson who have it but cannot win), is who you have to choose.

So I would love to see a discussion on the importance of experience right now, particularly when it comes to foreign policy.

December 20, 2007 @ 10:12 am | Comment

I don’t like what I see from Hillary or most of the others when it comes to foreign policy. Giuliani and nearly all of the Republicans would be a nightmare, as each is trying to out-do Bush in terms of foreign policy machismo (Ron Paul excepted, and at least McCain has denounced oiur license to torture). I admire Obama for taking a position on Iraq and sticking to it. I know he has limited experience in foreign policy, but so did Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton; what will matter is who’s advising him. I’ve admired his refusal to flip flop and kowtow to Bush, and I think this is the perfect time for a dramatic about-face from the Bush foreign policy catastrophe (and many other Bush-induced catastrophes). Experience can’t be the sole factor – McCain has huge experience, yet no one beats the drum louder in support of the Iraq War. Do I want him to be president? No, though I’d rather it be he than any of the other Republicans. Same with Hillary; she has been too quick to rubber-stamp GWB’s war legislation. Foreign policy experience does not ensure foreign policy expertise.

December 20, 2007 @ 11:23 am | Comment

Clinton had no foreign policy expeience, but he was very intelligent and was willing to learn. Reagan was not very smart, but he had the right advisors around him and used them very effectively.

The George W Bush’s failure in foreign policy is not merely his lack of expeiences. He is not as smart as people like Clinton. He is not willing to learn and surround himself with the wrong advisors.

December 20, 2007 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

I disagree about being realistic in the general elections: the Democrats have almost certainly got this one sewn up — and if they somehow manage to lose it, it’ll be their own fault — and os if they once again fail to pick a decent candidate, then I see no problem at all with writing in someone better, like “Ralph Nader” or “My Left Testicle.” I decided in 2004 that it would be the last time I let the Democrats pressure me into voting for a candidate I hated, and I haven’t seen anything yet that would change my mind.

On that note, though, I would love to see an Edwards-Obama/Obama-Edwards ticket. And I would really, really love the see the Republican nominee be Huckabee: he’s actively good, like Edwards, on the topic of poverty, which would make the subject, finally, an actual issue; meanwhile, he’s bugshit crazy enough on most other subjects to be soundly defeated once it came down to actual election time.

December 20, 2007 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

“ave been thinking the US cannot afford another President who knows nothing about foreign policy.”

@CLB:

Karl Rove wrote an open letter to the Obama camp advising them to stay away from Hillary’s foreign policy experience. She did get some experience as being first lady.

But on the other hand, not having experience but having a very open mind and a consensus approach to foreign policy can make up for a lack of experience. Being experienced but stubborn does no good.

And though Edwards makes good talk regarding poverty, you have to wonder how far he’ll really go to level the playing field considering his personal wealth and his blue blood wife.

December 20, 2007 @ 3:07 pm | Comment

z, that’s the inherent flaw in democracy and a free media, I’m afraid. If the people are morons and don’t do their own thinking, they can be influenced by the latest Drudge story and change their minds at a moment’s notice. What can you do? You can’t force people to think.

The classical liberal idea would be: make the possibility that politicians eclected through such a flawed system as democracy (it still is the best of all the flawed systems) can commit major mistakes as small as possible. That means a goog constitution, checks and balance but also a small state with the politicians only setting the very broad framework but don’t try to solve every problem through a new law.
Go Ron Paul, go!

I appologize for that. Once again the Austrian in me took control.

December 20, 2007 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

You know, Brendan, I really hear you loud and clear. But no matter what, even if they nominate Hillary, I am going to hold my nose and vote for her. I simply can’t stomach the notion of another 8 years of Republicans in power. You’re right, the Dems should have this all wrapped up. But I am not taking any chances.

Shulan, you are Oesterreicher? I thought you were from Germany. You make an excellent point about checks and balances. The scary thing is when a politician gets into power and disables the constitution and declares himself above the law – we all know what that can lead to.

December 20, 2007 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

Yes Richard that’s the very point about freedom and democracy. The paradox of freedom, that people can also vote for unfreedom.
I read some works of the Austrian economic school that’s why I refferd to Östereich ( I really can recomend Hayeks “Road to serfdom”) in recent time and think that Hayek and Mises have a point in arguing that democracy is endangered by too much state-intervention. That the state apparatus and the government allways are a danger to freedom even when nobody chooses to vote for a dictator. And that you get the more on a slippery slope the more you allow the state to redistribute the money of the individuals and thus empower politicians and lobbies with their particular interests.

Quite something for me to say, who allways argued that the European welfare-state is the better model. But I think they have a point there.

December 20, 2007 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

Why does Brooks praise Obama? He assumes Hillary will be the Democratic nominee. Praising alternatives is a roundabout way of criticizing Hillary. The Obama surge has already stalled. Hillary is now ahead everywhere except Iowa, where Edwards is No. 1.

December 20, 2007 @ 11:26 pm | Comment

Nanhey is right. Intellect and character are at least as important as experience. A president has large number of assistants and advisors. He needs to have the knowledges to tell who’s right and who’s wrong; and that’s often not very difficult to do. Obama or Edwards will be a great president in foreign policy.

McCain is a hero; but he is a guy advocating booming Iran. If Hillary is elected, the country will be in an endless cultural war again, from the right.

December 21, 2007 @ 1:17 am | Comment

If Obama is not able to win the party nomination, it will probably due to his Muslim heritage. First, it is Romney misspelled Obama as Osama. Now, you have former senator Bob Kerry reminded people Obama’s Muslim heritage and his middle name Hussein. The issue keeps coming.

An ideal in the country is that politic is free from religion. It is not so in reality. One also just needs to look at the sudden surge of Mike Huckabee, from nowhere.

December 21, 2007 @ 2:33 am | Comment

It’s not that Democrats have anything against Obama, they just really love Hillary. Putting the Clintons back in the White House would be payback for Starr, impeachment and all that. There is so much campaign news about Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina that people forget that there are 47 other states where Hillary has is ahead by double digit margins. Even in New Hampshire, she has a seven point lead. Obama surged soon after the war in Iraq ended. IMO, his vote against the war is what was holding him back earlier.

December 21, 2007 @ 8:52 am | Comment

Obama surged soon after the war in Iraq ended.

Wait, what?

December 21, 2007 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

“First, it is Romney misspelled Obama as Osama. Now, you have former senator Bob Kerry reminded people Obama’s Muslim heritage and his middle name Hussein. The issue keeps coming.”

That is fear mongering, which is the surest sign of desperation long before the primary even happens.

Let opponents remind everyone about Obama’s muslim upbringing, Obama can counter attack with “well, if that is why my opponents have to stoop to, so be it”, and the roundhouse knockout:

“But Obama converted to Christianity”.

December 21, 2007 @ 2:18 pm | Comment

The US casuality rate in Iraq has been at peacetime levels since early October, cemetery workers are being layed off, Iraqi refugees are returning from Syria, and the US has withdrawn a brigade. So I’d say, yeah, the war’s over.

Actually, I think what gave Obama his opening was Hillary’s pathetic flip-flop on driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. Her poll numbers fell noticably right after that fiasco, but they have recovered since. Despite all the publicity, the drug dealing and “Muslim heritage” incidents don’t appeared to have had anything like that level of impact.

Obama’s religious position is certainly a very odd one. Many Muslims think of him as a “secret Muslim.” If he really converted, then he would be an apostate, which carries the death penalty in Islam. I guess he is what he is. The problem is mainly that we don’t have snappy word for, “brought up as a Muslim, presents himself as a liberal Christain, yet shifted back to his Muslim name when he entered politics.” He transcends our verbal catagories, like the particle-wave problem in physics.

December 21, 2007 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

Oh God, oh God – insanity alert. The goal of the war was not to reduce the level of slaughter of pre-war levels. Alas, how soon we forget! It was about bringin a glorious Western-style democracy to the Muslim Middle East and thus creating a domino effect of peace and love. It was about women’s rights and freedom of tyrrany. It was about bringing the Sunnis and Shiites and kurds together. All goals have failed. Now you have set up a bullshit goal of reducing the rate of carnage and declaring victory. What about pony we were all promised, the myth of “flowers and chocolates,” the being greeted as liberators and the war not costing us one red cent because it would be funded by the oil? Ah, memory is so convenient. It is now four years later, and the minute we leave the carnage starts anew. There may be inkling of hope. But the war has not been won and it can and will never be won because we were sold a bill of goods. We have a gay-hating, women-hating, Sunni-hating Iranian style theocracy in power, we have lots of contractors and mercenaries made impossibly rich while thousands of our troops the right claims to love so much dead and maimed. And you have the balls to declare victory because there is a lessening of carnage? What are your criteria for victory? Has anything Bush promised us materialized? And do you really believe we are out of the woods? Of course violence is down – you can always reduce violence anywhere if you flood the area with armed-to-the-teeth troops. Maybe the surge will ultimately work, at least in creating an ongoing reduced state of violence. But victory? “Won the war”?? Petraeus himself said only a handful of his benchmarks have been met. The goal of the surge was not ending the violence – it was political reconciliation and the forming of a unified representative government. How dare you make shit up, like “Iraqi refugees are returning from Syria, and the US has withdrawn a brigade. So I’d say, yeah, the war’s over.” And finally, how do you make shit up about Obama like, “I guess he is what he is. The problem is mainly that we don’t have snappy word for, “brought up as a Muslim, presents himself as a liberal Christain, yet shifted back to his Muslim name when he entered politics.”

That is a Republican talking point – that Obama was brought up as a Muslim. Sounds like you’ve been reading too much Michelle Malkin and Dan Riehl. Sickening. You are one piece of work. Other than that, loved your comment.

December 21, 2007 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

Well, that’s, um, quite a reaction. IMO, the goal of the war was to prevent Iraq from being used as a base from which to launch terrorist attacks, a particular danger in view of Saddam’s interest in nuclear technology.

“Bush at War” by Woodword has the best description of the decision-making process. According to Woodword, Bush concluded soon after 9/11 that Saddam must have been involved somehow. Michael Moore and others have argued that Iraq couldn’t have been involved because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. This assumes that every hijacker bought his ticket using his real identity. Yet each and every one had multiple alias’ and fake identity papers. I think it’s safe to assume that Saddam’s intelligence service had at least as much ingenuity as a 20-year-old trying to get into a bar.

With the war over, Iraq should be able to ramp up its oil production. It has the second largest reserves in the world and still has the potential to be a rich nation with democracy and all that other good stuff. Muslim influence is likely to increase substantially in the next 30-40 years, especially in Europe. I don’t think we can afford to write off moderate Islam, respresented in Iraq by Shiite leader Sistiani.

Obama’s biography says he got religious education while attending a Muslim school in Indonesia, at which time he was in the care of his Muslim step-father. It was only for four years, so less of a connection than I thought. I don’t think there is any danger that he is an “Islamic Manchurian candidate,” as Bob Kerry puts it. He’s just deploying religion to get votes, as politicans tend to do.

December 22, 2007 @ 8:26 pm | Comment

Peter, you’re a pure BSer. Sorry to have to say it. “With the war over…” Damn, that takes big balls. And about Obama, here is exactly what he says in his autobiography:

In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I’d pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended.

Nothing you’ve said yet about anything is accurate. Thus my reaction – at this point in my blogging career, I know a BSer when I see one.

Sorry, everyone, if I get less patient and more blunt with commenters,

December 22, 2007 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

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