Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Race for White House Transcript: Obama Swiftboats McCain? (6-30-08)

The Democrats have decided that rather letting the Republican attack machine go after Obama they will attack first. In the process, they are using the same tactics employed by Bush's people in 2004. This transcript is from MSNBC David Gregory's, The Race for the White House:

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark fired this salvo at John McCain on yesterday`s "Face the Nation." He`s downplaying the idea that McCain`s experience as a POW should be seen as qualification for the presidency.

Check this out.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), U.S. ARMY: He hasn`t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn`t a wartime squadron. He hasn`t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. I don`t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.


MADDOW: John McCain himself responded today with this...


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that that kind of thing is unnecessary. I`m proud of my record of service. It certainly doesn`t do anything to address the challenges that Americans have in keeping their jobs, their homes and supporting their families.


MADDOW: OK. Responding to the response, today the Obama camp put out this: "As he said many times before, Senator Barack Obama honors and respects Senator McCain`s service. And of course he rejects yesterday`s statement by General Clark."

So here`s the question: Is Clark`s criticism a bold move or a low blow, or both?

Michelle, what do you think?

COTTLE: Well, you know, technically, it`s true. There`s a difference between being a military hero and being a military leader.

That said, it feels really icky just when you hear it. And I think it`s a very dangerous move for them to make. I mean, this is a man whose campaign is built in large part on the idea of heroism and character and marshal sacrifice, and to go directly at it, they risk losing a lot of people, especially with a candidate who`s supposed to be Mr. Nice Guy.

MADDOW: Tony, do you think this is a smart move?

BLANKLEY: Well, interestingly, this is the seventh time that a major Obama supporter has taken a shot at McCain`s military record -- Jay Rockefeller, Senator Harkin, Ed Schultz, Tony McPeek, who is Obama`s -- one of his military advisers. So, it begins to look like something other than the random decisions of random people. It looks like it`s an Obama strategy. And he comes out and says, oh, I have nothing to do with it, but it begins to look a little dirty to me.

MADDOW: Tony, do you think though that it matters whether or not it`s true? Should it be debated on its merits, or is it the sort of thing that should be dismissed out of hand?

BLANKLEY: I think that everything that any candidate wants to debate on the merits is fair game in a presidential election. See whether -- you know, where it goes.

I don`t think it helps Obama to make this case, because McCain is not arguing that the mere fact that he suffered and was tortured for five years qualifies him to be president. I think the point that most people understand is it`s a character developer. That, added to 30 years of experience in the Senate on foreign policy and defense policy, might make him the man who you can trust to deal with difficult problems under difficult circumstances.

I think McCain wins that hands down. But nonetheless, I think the Democrats are free to take a shot at him.

HARWOOD: Rachel, I would just add that, look, in Wes Clark`s case, I think you`ve got some serious vice presidential fever going on. And there`s a little auditioning to say, you pick me in a general election, look how I can take on this guy. But I agree with Michelle, it is a very dubious strategy. There`s a lot of risk associated with it.

MADDOW: If he`s -- if auditioning consists of grabbing the third rail with both hands, then it certainly is an audition.

Wounded Iraqi Forces Say They’ve Been Abandoned

This shocking article is from the NY Times:

In the United States, the issue of war injuries has revolved almost entirely around the care received by the 30,000 wounded American veterans. But Iraqi soldiers and police officers have been wounded in greater numbers, health workers say, and have been treated far worse by their government.

A number of the half-dozen badly wounded Iraqis interviewed for this article said they had been effectively drummed out of the Iraqi security forces without pensions, or were receiving partial pay and in danger of losing even that. Coping with severe injuries, and often amputations, they have been forced to pay for private doctors or turn to Iraq’s failing public hospitals, which as recently as a year ago were controlled by militias that kidnapped and killed patients — particularly security personnel from rival units.

No one knows the exact number of wounded Iraqi veterans, as the government does not keep track. In a 2006 report by the Congressional Research Service, Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, the American commander in charge of Iraqi police training, said that in just two years, from September 2004 to October 2006, about 4,000 Iraqi police officers were killed and 8,000 were wounded.

That number does not include soldiers in the Iraqi Army, who are far more numerous than the police and, Iraqi commanders say, have suffered injuries at a far greater rate.

In a February 2006 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, the report states, Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the secretary of defense, said that Iraqi security forces were being killed and wounded at “roughly twice the rate of all coalition forces.” If that rate held up, the number of wounded Iraqi veterans might well surpass 60,000.

[...] Nubras Jabar Muhammad, a 26-year-old soldier, was shot by a sniper in May 2007 as he was on duty at a Baghdad checkpoint. He nearly bled to death, losing a kidney and part of his liver, while suffering damage to his right hand. His torso is scarred, and two fingers are locked in a permanent curl.

He says he still has shrapnel lodged in his back, and rarely sleeps through the night. He has trouble digesting food. But the army refused him a disability pension, claiming he was able-bodied, and he was forced to return to active duty after nine months. He says he has already spent about $2,100 of his own money on operations, selling jewelry and a pistol to raise the cash.

Though he had instructions from his doctors to avoid standing for long periods, the army quickly returned him to checkpoint duty, where he is on his feet all day long in temperatures up to 120 degrees. “I demanded that my superiors give me a desk job,” Mr. Muhammad said. “They told me if I keep complaining, they’ll kick me out of the army.”

Vanity Fair: Bill Clinton, Infighting Destroyed Hillary's Campaign

This might explain why Bill is so bitter. He has destroyed his legacy. But then again Bill Clinton has always been a disaster to those around him.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign had it all: near-death moments, hard-won triumphs, dysfunctional relationships—and a staff consumed with infighting over how to sell their candidate. It was a battle that revealed why she came so close to victory, as well as why she didn’t make it.

[...]For weeks she had been pulling 12- to 18-hour days, bouncing back and forth between Ohio and Texas in a plane full of national press who were writing drafts of her political obituary. “Senator Clinton has been carrying this campaign on her own back for a long time,” sympathized Geoff Garin, the easygoing pollster who would later be hired to try and rein in Hillary’s bullying chief strategist, Mark Penn. The campaign had slammed into a wall on February 5—Super Tuesday. Her brain trust had hoped to pocket most of the 24 states that day and force her competition to fold. Clinton herself had publicly proclaimed on December 30, “I’m in it for the long run. It’s not a very long run. It’ll be over by February 5th.”

[...]Any campaign is a mirror of the candidate. Hillary’s need for a bulwark against all the secrets she’d kept over the years prompted her to surround herself with a tight cabal of loyalists, mostly scandal-scarred survivors of the Clinton White House bunker. “People who go through a battle together basically bond. They know their survival rests with staying together,” explains Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, but he adds, “It probably diminishes their efficacy as staff, because they’re more like family.”

[...]ckes was the only member of the Big Five to have ever run a national presidential campaign. “The rest hardly knew a delegate when they saw one,” says a top adviser sarcastically.

But the real flaw in Hillary’s presidential campaign was the lack of any clear lines of authority. Her “team of rivals,” as she thought approvingly of them, assured she would remain in total top-down control. But it is often necessary to tell a candidate what she doesn’t want to hear in a cold, hard, neutral manner. With Hillary, the word among her staff was “I don’t want to get spanked by Mama.”