Obama 2008’s George W. Bush

Obama 2008’s George W. Bush John Steele Gordon makes some very slight edits to the NYT’s 2000 endorsement of Al Gore over George W. Bush:

Mr. Obama has asked to be judged by something more than his positions. He offers himself as an experienced leader who would end the culture of bickering in Washington and use wisdom and resoluteness in dealing with domestic social problems and international crises. But his resume is too thin for the nation to bet on his growing into the kind of leader he claims already to be. He does have great personal charm. But Mr. Obama’s main professional experience was a few undistinguished years as a back bencher in the Illinois and U.S. Senates. His debates with his primary opponents exposed an uneasiness with foreign policy that cannot be erased by his promise to have heavyweight advisers. John F. Kennedy, as a far more seasoned new president, struggled through the Cuban missile crisis while his senior advisers offered contradictory advice on how to confront a Soviet military threat on America’s doorstep. The job description is for commander in chief, not advisee in chief.

The Senator from Arizona has admitted to his limitations as a speaker. But John McCain has a heart—and a mind—prepared for presidential-scale challenges. When it comes to the details of policy making, he will not need on-the-job training.

Compare it to the original at Gordon’s site. While we almost assuredly won’t see the Times make the same argument against Obama this time, the original proved rather prescient.

Photoshop courtesy Unconfirmed Sources

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. talboito says:

    Obama has an easy answer to all these naive gotchatunities.

    On the most important foreign policy decision of our current era Obama got it right, and his opponents got it dead wrong.

  2. James Joyner says:

    He made a binary Yes/No decision in a way that looks better right now than choosing the one alternative. Give him a cookie.

  3. Michael says:

    He made a binary Yes/No decision in a way that looks better right now than choosing the one alternative. Give him a cookie.

    Every complex decision can be broken down into binary choices. I think the argument should be that it was just one decision, not that it was a binary one.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Every complex decision can be broken down into binary choices. I think the argument should be that it was just one decision, not that it was a binary one.

    My point is that, on complex decisions, one can be “right” for the wrong reasons and “wrong” for the right ones.

    On war, the modal right decision is almost always “No.” But being wrong in the “No” direction is the most catastrophic possible outcome.

    Further, while I’m increasingly convinced that there was no right way to do this war, one could support it, as McCain did, and yet argue from very early on that it was being poorly administered.

  5. Michael says:

    My point is that, on complex decisions, one can be “right” for the wrong reasons and “wrong” for the right ones.

    True, and in complex decisions, it’s possible to be both right and wrong on many individual aspects of the decision. On the decision of “What to do about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq”, Obama was only right on one choice, and largely didn’t state a position on any others. Again, my argument would be in the small number of choices made, not the type.

    On war, the modal right decision is almost always “No.” But being wrong in the “No” direction is the most catastrophic possible outcome.

    Second only to being wrong in the “Yes” direction, I would say. Just like I’d rather let a guilty man walk, that let an innocent man hang. But maybe that’s just the liberal in me.

    Further, while I’m increasingly convinced that there was no right way to do this war, one could support it, as McCain did, and yet argue from very early on that it was being poorly administered.

    But that only helps you if you either keep arguing that it’s currently being poorly administered, or it gets noticeably better. We can argue all day about whether or not Iraq actually is getting better or not, but I think we can all agree that the public’s general perception is that it is not, so this position won’t help McCain.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Second only to being wrong in the “Yes” direction, I would say. Just like I’d rather let a guilty man walk, that let an innocent man hang. But maybe that’s just the liberal in me.

    Different stakes. If we had decided not to go in to Iraq and Saddam had acquired nuclear weapons and blown up Israel, or sold biological weapons to al Qaeda, that would be worse than going to war only to find no WMD.

  7. legion says:

    Of course, there’s the flip side of “why is Obama different from Bush” – Obama hasn’t been an abject failure, rescued by his family’s friends, for pretty much his entire life.

    Everybody _knew_ GW was dumb as a doorknob. People voted for him because a) he wasn’t Al Gore and b) he had announced a cabinet full of Big Names whose expertise and wisdom would supposedly guide him. Obama, OTOH, is _not_ known for his incuriosity (is that even a word?) or his string of business failures that he touts as his “experience” to be a “CEO President”.

  8. Michael says:

    Different stakes. If we had decided not to go in to Iraq and Saddam had acquired nuclear weapons and blown up Israel, or sold biological weapons to al Qaeda, that would be worse than going to war only to find no WMD.

    If you’re only concerns are what produces the optimal conditions for Americans, then yes. However, if you don’t believe that the end justifies the means, then no.

    By the first criteria, and given our current military supremacy compared to any other nation on earth, we should be perpetually attacking any power that could threaten us. Morally, however, I don’t think either of us wants to go down that road.

  9. James Joyner says:

    If you’re only concerns are what produces the optimal conditions for Americans, then yes.

    Certainly, that’s my prime concern in deciding whether America should go to war. Followed by our Allies. Then everyone else.

    [W]e should be perpetually attacking any power that could threaten us. Morally, however, I don’t think either of us wants to go down that road.

    I don’t think morality is the mean reason to not do that. Obviously, we shouldn’t go to war based on outrageous improbabilities. But it makes sense to take the calculated risk if the target has demonstrated hostile intent and our best intelligence shows hostile capability. The latter is what was in dispute in the case of Iraq.

  10. Michael says:

    But it makes sense to take the calculated risk if the target has demonstrated hostile intent and our best intelligence shows hostile capability.

    Then we become Rome.

  11. James Joyner says:

    Then we become Rome.

    Only if we occupy and colonize.

  12. duckspeaker says:

    best intelligence…what was in dispute in the case of Iraq.

    Best intelligence, or cherry-picked intelligence that started with fixed conclusions and ignored all evidence to the contrary?

  13. anjin-san says:

    Give him a cookie

    Funny stuff. Of course, its not your ass getting shot off in Iraq, so you can afford to joke.

  14. James Joyner says:

    Of course, its not your ass getting shot off in Iraq, so you can afford to joke.

    It’s an all-volunteer force. Virtually every single enlisted soldier in Iraq has enlisted or re-upped since March 2003 and most officers either got commissioned since then or have enough time in service that they could have resigned.

  15. Ugh says:

    It’s an all-volunteer force. Virtually every single enlisted soldier in Iraq has enlisted or re-upped since March 2003 and most officers either got commissioned since then or have enough time in service that they could have resigned.

    WTF does that have to do with anything?

  16. Michael says:

    Only if we occupy and colonize.

    That’s just one way to extend hegemony, we’ve taken another. In the end, the result is the same: we are forced into perpetual wars against far-away nations to protect far-away lands, and once we defeat those nations we are forced to protect them against even further-away nations.

    If we were to attack Iran and topple their government, surely we’d have to stick around to protect them from Russia or China, maybe even Pakistan. And what then?

  17. anjin-san says:

    It’s an all-volunteer force.

    Right. So starting a war with a country that did not attack or threaten us in which they get killed is OK.

    Support the troops folks. Wear a lapel pin.

  18. sym says:

    fwiw, obama was “right” on the binary decision for the right reasons. his 2002 “i’m not opposed to all wars, i’m opposed to dumb wars” predicted the events of the war frighteningly well, especially compared to what those two candidates with foreign policy experience he’s been running against were saying at the time.

  19. M1EK says:

    sym is exactly correct. Shame on you, James, for continuing to carry the water of Bush’s crew in such a transparently hackish fashion.

    Obama didn’t say, as Kucinich’s band of idiots did and still do, that all wars were bad (that the war in Afghanistan was wrong, for instance). He didn’t even say that we should never fight in Iraq and never fight Saddam Hussein.

    What he DID say was that there wasn’t sufficient justification at that time; that the war would blow back on us; and that we would get distracted from dealing with those who really attacked us (Afghanistan/Pakistan) and those who paid all their bills (Saudi Arabia).

    Looks to me like he was right for many right reasons.

    And he said these things at a time when many Democrats who knew (or should have known) better didn’t have the political courage to go against the wartime President. Lookin’ at you, Hillary.

  20. Michael says:

    And he said these things at a time when many Democrats who knew (or should have known) better didn’t have the political courage to go against the wartime President.

    To be fair, they weren’t afraid of the President, they were afraid of us, the American people.