This actually started out as a comment in Stuart’s post below, but I wrote so much, I’m gonna make it my own thread instead.
I’ll take a contrarian view here and say Obama is right. The original point in the debate he was making is that the current administration has spent years “punishing” countries by not talking to them (which is playground diplomacy 101). I found Obama’s desire to talk to everyone, even our enemies, refreshing and thought nothing of it until Clinton’s more neurotic “well, I’d never do that,” response.
Then immediately I could see the headline: “Obama To Dine With Chavez And Dance With Ahmadinejad; Clinton Calls Him Naive”. And sure enough…Clinton and her campaign are basically swiftboating the guy (something I would think readers here would be more leery of). He never said he was going to “give away or the store” or pull a Neville Chamberlain or some such, but thanks to the Clinton camp’s maligning of his words, the Republicans have their Swiftboat moment taped, cued up and ready to go if Obama should get the nomination.
As to the comparison of Hillary to “Bush/Cheney Lite“, it is a bit over the top, but somewhat accurate. The Bush’s and the Clinton’s have become big buds over the years (even the Hatfields and McCoys made up), and when you throw in the 28 or 36 years that a Bush or Clinton would have occupied the WH if Hillary wins, there’s real concern. Dynastic regimes have a way of finishing one another’s sentences, and while that may make great pillow talk between the two families, it’s not good for a representative democracy such as ours.
International polls have shown that Obama is seen as the only candidate who can “restore America’s reputation”. And while the world isn’t electing our president, what the world thinks about us *does* matter. It’s not the 90’s anymore, and no amount of rewinding the political clock will bring it back.
Last point, on who has the most experience, I think that too is a draw. Clinton has 4 years more in the U.S. Senate than Obama (her years in the WH don’t count, and I’m not sure why anyone would count them), but his experience as a legislator in Illinois puts him on equal footing or slightly ahead. And even if you look at just her first four years (including her breathless support of Bush and the IWR of ’02), it’s hardly a record I’d call “progressive”. Either way, he’s no neophyte, and she doesn’t have her husband’s experience, in that sense.
At the end of the day, this is bad for the party, as others have said, but good for the process. Democrats have never subscribed to Reagan’s “11th Commandment” philosophy (Republicans don’t even buy it anymore) and there’s no reason to start now. Frankly, the debate the other night was too sterile for my liking (you can read my my thoughts on YouTube here).
Let the games begin.