Sunday, October 21, 2012


A leak published in The New York Times changes the question order for tomorrow's debate -- as a result of the leak, the first question will now be about Iran, not Libya. I'm not sure this is good news for President Obama:
The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, a senior administration official said, telling their American counterparts that they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.

News of the agreement -- a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama's term -- comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world's major powers to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time....
I'm not sure how this plays, but I worry that having a negotiated settlement potentially within reach doesn't really help Obama -- just the opposite, in fact. On the one hand, America is sick of war in the Middle East. On the other hand, Americans are always susceptible to the notion that foreign policy problems can be solved much more quickly and easily by a tough guy who's just going to kick ass rather than talk -- as if there's some way of kicking ass that has no real costs, that doesn't involve a lot of time and blood and treasure.

I'm afraid Mitt Romney may have found a sweet spot in his rhetoric -- not actually rattling sabers while implying that the Obama administration dithers and vacillates and whimpers. I think the anonymous GOP spin doctor quoted by BuzzFeed may be on to something:
"This whole thing should be a gift for Mitt," said a Republican operative who works on foreign policy. "It's an embarrassing reminder of how little progress they've made on Iran and it comes on the eve of the foreign policy debate."
I assume that the leak was, in part, intended to tee up Obama's approach to the debate. I just hope the Obama folks know what they're doing.

This (from the Times article) is the sort of thing Obama needs to emphasize in the debate:
... pain from the sanctions has deepened. Iran's currency, the rial, plummeted 40 percent in early October.
He needs to tell the American people that he's hurting Iran. That's what has the potential to blunt Romney's tough talk. Saying that he's engaging in a patient, thoughtful, adult process that can protect America while avoiding war isn't good enough.


I wanted the first question to be on Libya because I think it's quite possible that Romney would have responded by literally attacking Candy Crowley and trying to re-litigating the last debate. It could have been an ugly moment: Romney, right at the outset, not even offering us a few seconds of civility. Now if that moment comes, it'll come after the Iran discussion. And maybe it doesn't matter -- Romney was obnoxious in the last debate, but it hasn't hurt him in the polls. The public seems to have decided that he's passed a threshold test in these debates, even if he's often come off as a prissy, self-important rules fascist.


Victor said...

It's going to be interesting to see what Mitt says about Iran, and if he tries to bring up Libya in some way.

I'm sure Mitt's line on Iran will be, 'Well, sure they want to negotiate with this pussy. They can't bear by firm resolve, and won't be able to look into my steely-eyed gaze.'

In other words, more tough talk from another war-loving pussy who dodged Vietnam.

If Mitt loses, hopefully that will be the last of the Vietnam War draft-dodging war-loving pussies to run on the Republican side. FSM, I'm sick of these cowards stomping around like they're John Wayne - who also conveniently skipped-out on serving in HIS war - unlike Gable, Stewart, and others.

Oh, and farewell to great, George McGovern.
We shitty American people didn't deserve a good man like you as President.

And, much as I don't like ALL of Obama's policies, I sure as hell hope he wins big.
If the stupid Americans vote for another amoral sociopath for President, they'll get what they deserve.
Too bad so many of us will have to go down the shitter with these rubes, racists, misogynists, xenophobes, and homophobes.

USA = United States of Assholes.

Philo Vaihinger said...


No, Romney lost the Crowley argument, though he was right.

A propos, Figaro says the recently released US govt report on what really happened is exactly what Republicans say happened, right down to no role at all for the Mohamed video, no mobs, etc.

Just one helluva successful terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11.

An anniversary publicly celebrated in Cairo and many other Muslim cities with the usual, pro forma references to "disrespect" for the prophet, murders, and so on.

Followed not too much later by another Cairo crowd pleaser, the attack and rape of a pretty, young Western journalist, this one French.

You have to wonder how much hammering the Libya episode since then and yelling about Iran has helped the GOP hold down any Obama rebound from the last debate.

If he loses the election Democrats will say Obama blew it with the first debate, his performance there costing him his solid and steady lead.

But Republicans will add the Libya affair.

Not just the killing of the ambassador, but the administration's handling of the event that the GOP has very successfully attacked, almost daily, since then.

Given the opportunity, expect Romney to hammer Obama for not defeating al-Qaeda, not stopping Iran, not defeating the Taliban, not stabilizing Iraq, and not preventing a sweeping rise of Islamism under the rubric, "Arab Spring."

The fact that no one could have done better and the American cause in the region is a lost cause and was from the day GW started his hopeless invasions will not stop them hammering Obama.


Steve M. said...

Philo, read this from Kevin Drum.