Obama Adds Nato and Europe to Campaign Speeches
After last week's debate when Barack Obama acknowledged he hadn't held a single hearing on Nato and Afghanistan during his year as chair of the European Affairs subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because he was running for President, he's now giving lectures to Europe in his campaign speeches.
[He said] European governments had to pull their weight in Afghanistan and not rely so much on the United States to do the "dirty work" against Taliban fighters.....
He said the US needs more support from its NATO allies in Afghanistan and implied Germany should lift its ban on combat operations in the dangerous south.
He even sounded like George W. Bush:
[He] set a new tone on his campaign plane by telling reporters there had to be more give and take between Washington and its NATO allies.
"I've been very clear that we do need more support from them," he said, referring to NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan. "We also may need to lift some of the constraints that they have placed on their forces there."
He didn't name any countries. But Germany, Italy and Spain have been under pressure from NATO and the administration of US President George W. Bush (more...) to devote more soldiers to risky missions in Afghanistan.
Well, maybe he's been very clear but without holding a hearing, it's likely nobody heard him.
Hillary makes this point:
"My opponent likes to talk about what he will do, but there was a perfect example last night about the difference between talk and action,” she said yesterday, per NBC/NJ's Athena Jones. “He was given the responsibility of chairing what's called a subcommittee in the Congress responsible for the European countries and our alliance with them and as part of that responsibility was NATO… [W]hat you learned last night is he's never held a substantive hearing or meeting to look at what is going on in NATO, to take a hard look at what's happening in Europe and in fact the reason he hasn't as he said is because he got the assignment when he started running for president. Well, I don't think that's an adequate excuse.”
Not to mention:
...the RNC used this very line of attack on Obama yesterday as well…
Joe Conason was on this story in December.
Senate hearings do not merely provide occasions for grandstanding as many voters may suspect, but fulfill a critical purpose in providing information and perspective to lawmakers. In the Senate, the foreign relations subcommittees have few direct legislative responsibilities, but they have traditionally gathered substantive research for the committee itself and for the rest of the Senate.
That is why congressional hearings matter, and why a subcommittee chairmanship represents a significant responsibility. Knowledge is not just power but the fundamental requirement for either house of Congress to act as an equal of the executive branch in government.
Today, Turkana at Left Coaster writes about the similarity between Obama and Bush on the topic.
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