Nuclear Rhetoric Update

I previously discussed Barack Obama's answer on the use of nukes and this important piece of information comes to us via Kevin Drum, the transcript of the exchange:

AP: Sir, with regard to terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan ...

OBAMA: Yeah.

AP: Is there any circumstances where you'd be prepared or willing to use nuclear weapons to defeat terrorism and Osama bin Laden?

OBAMA: No, I'm not, uh, there has been no discussion of using nuclear weapons and that's not a hypothetical that I'm going to discuss.

AP: Not even tactical?

OBAMA: No. I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance. Uh, if involving you know, civilians... Let me scratch all that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table so...

Emphasis supplied to the RIGHT ANSWER from Obama and the exact same answer given by Hillary Clinton. This is exactly what Obama should have said. Unfortunately, he did not stop there. His failure to adhere to his initial statement was his error. I wonder if now people like Matt Yglesias will retract their attacks on Hillary Clinton's response to this. As is apparent, Obama himself realized he made a mistake, "scratch all that." I hope they will "scratch all that" nonsense they wrote in criticism of Clinton on this subject.

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    Now I Don't Know What to Think (none / 0) (#1)
    by BDB on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 03:59:46 PM EST
    other than the AP sucks.  But that's hardly news.

    It's not just the bloggers, but Obama's campaign that's trying to paint a difference with Clinton on this issue, when - based on those quotes - there really isn't one.

    Here's a quote from Obama's campaign memo -

    "When asked whether he would use nuclear weapons to take out terrorist targets in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Barack Obama gave the sensible answer that nuclear force was not necessary, and would kill too many civilians. Conventional wisdom held this up as a sign of inexperience. But if experience leads you to make gratuitous threats about nuclear use - inflaming fears at home and abroad, and signaling nuclear powers and nuclear aspirants that using nuclear weapons is acceptable behavior, it is experience that should not be relied upon.

    Barack Obama's judgment is right. Conventional wisdom is wrong. It is wrong to propose that we would drop nuclear bombs on terrorist training camps in Pakistan, potentially killing tens of thousands of people and sending America's prestige in the world to a level that not even George Bush could take it. We should judge presidential candidates on their judgment and their plans, not on their ability to recite platitudes."

    If that is intended as a shot at Clinton, it distorts what she said, IMO.  She didn't propose dropping nukes, she said she wouldn't discuss it one way or the other.  But it also now seems to distort what Obama said since his answer now looks almost exactly like Clinton's (and it's an answer I agree with).  Unless this entire memo is aimed at Tancredo, but somehow I doubt that...

    I tend to agree with Kevin Drum that this fighting over linguistic crap is getting old.  In my mind all it's doing is underscoring that there isn't much difference between Obama and Clinton.  But maybe that's Obama's problem, how do you gain in polls over an opponent who holds many of the same positions you do and has an almost indistinguishable voting record?  I don't know, but distorting things isn't exactly a new kind of politics (which, btw, I totally don't expect, but I'm not the one who promised it - rookie mistake, IMO).

    The other interesting thing about that memo is its use of the phrase "inflaming fears at home and abroad."  Inflame like, say, Pakistanis burning American flags in the street?  Okay, I admit that's kind of a cheap shot, but I'm somewhat surprised that I haven't read more about this.  Does anyone know the context of that flag burning in Pakistan?  I suspect it's just enough people to fill up the frame of the photo and doesn't necessarily represent much, but I'd like to know that for sure.  

    Absolutely (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:01:07 PM EST
    "Not Hillary" (none / 0) (#3)
    by koshembos on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 08:23:39 PM EST
    Obama and his campaign are play "we are not Hillary." Hillary is not a perfect candidate and has numerous flaws. Except for Obama's inexperience, which doesn't matter e.g. Kennedy, he takes several stands I don't like. The nuclear one, a blogger special, is not one of them. I disagree with merit pay to teachers instead of higher salaries for teachers. Talking to enemies is not a political plan, it's an empty and tired slogan. I also think that talking about African American males' responsibility misses the huge issue of arbitrary and punitive drug laws that are biased against African American.

    In summary, Obama reflects Hillary type mainstream opinions without Hillary's strength. May neither of them should be our choice.