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2 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:20 pm

Remembering Gerald Ford. Maybe Not So Much.

Currently C-SPAN2 is showing a tribute to those leaders of the Republican Party who have passed away since the last Convention.  No snark here, just a couple of observations.

1.  Tony Snow got the biggest applause.

2.  Jesse Helms was a close second.

3.  President Gerald Ford got absolutely no applause.  A short video tribute to Ford followed, and that got only the most tepid of responses.

I cannot think of anything that more dramatically illustrates the shift within the Republican party away from the center.  For most of these delegates, Gerald Ford is still the guy who kept Ronald Reagan from becoming President in 1976.

I think it’s telling that today, most of those who could be described as “Gerald Ford Republicans” are supporting Obama — Jim Leach, Lincoln Chafee, Susan Eisenhower, and so on.  And I’m guessing that Chuck Hagel will follow them shortly.

| posted in media, politics, pop culture | 1 Comment

24 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:45 pm

Hagel for U.N. Ambassador?

Yglesias suggests that Obama reward a smart Republican like Hagel not with Defense, but with the U.N. Ambassadorship:

It would be much more productive, I think, to take someone with a solidly conservative domestic record but internationalist views on foreign policy and make him (or her) UN Ambassador or something. That sends the message that the liberal approach to world affairs has appeal that transcends party lines or debates over tax policy or whatever else. . . .Those are ways of co-opting conservative politicians in order to broaden the appeal of progressive solutions, rather than a way that draws attention to alleged weaknesses in the progressive approach.

I understand the argument, but I can’t say that I agree with it.  Given our track record with the U.N., and given the fact that our credibility with the U.N. is at an all-time low, and especially given the fact that we need someone who can help fix the UN, I don’t think that Hagel is the right choice.  Maybe Jim Leach or Lincoln Chafee, but I don’t know if they’re the right choice either.

So who would I pick?  An old friend of mine.  I think he’d be absolutely brilliant.

| posted in foreign policy, politics | 0 Comments

14 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:22 am


So now there’s a Republicans for Obama movement.  It’s headed by three individuals I respect greatly:  former Rep. Jim Leach (IA), former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, and philanthropist and intelligence expert Rita Hauser.  I imagine Susan Eisenhower is involved as well, although she was not identified in the news reports I saw.

I was disappointed that Chuck Hagel, despite Steve Clemons’ prediction, is not in the group.  And I would love to see a few other folks — Colin Powell and Bret Scowcroft come to mind, as does Tom Kean — join them.  But it’s a good start.

An anecdote:  I happen to know a gentleman in his 80s who is from one of the oldest Republican families in the nation.  Some of his ancestors served in very high positions in government, and some of his current relatives have served there as well.  He and his wife now support Obama — and not merely financially, but also by getting involved in grassroots campaigning.  He said to me that he cannot in good conscience support the Republicans any longer.  He’s not alone — I have dozens of former Republican friends who now consider themselves not just Obama supporters, but Democrats.

That is George Bush’s true legacy.  Congrats, Dubya.  You’ve done a heckuva job.

| posted in media, politics | 0 Comments

27 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:00 pm

Hagel Defends Obama (Vandy Prize)

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) isn’t happy with his old friend John McCain:

Sen. Chuck Hagel took on his old friend and fellow Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain, criticizing McCain’s new TV ad attacking Sen. Barack Obama.

In the ad, the Republican presidential candidate complains about Obama’s recent decision not to visit U.S. troop hospital in Germany, saying, “Sen. Obama made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops.”

“I do not think that ad was appropriate,” Hagel said in an appearance on CBS-TVs “Face the Nation.” Obama’s staff was advised by the Pentagon about the military’s concerns with Obama bringing his political campaign to see soldiers there, his advisers have said.

It’s been two weeks since Steve Clemons reported that Hagel was going to endorse Obama, and it hasn’t happened yet.  That may be because Hagel doesn’t plan to, or it may be because Obama wanted to wait until after their trip.  Either way, having a man who once was a top pick for VP (albeit in 2000) now criticize him publicly must be driving McCain nuts.

Read the rest of this entry »

| posted in foreign policy, media, politics | 1 Comment

23 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
04:32 pm

Dept. of Not Paying Attention, “The 300″ Edition

Here’s what The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire had to say about Obama’s trip today:

Sen. Barack Obama doesn’t exactly travel light. Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown writes that, as the candidate moves through the Middle East and Europe, “the Obama campaign machine appears as sprawling and seamless as it is on its home turf. As the presumptive Democratic nominee tours five countries in five days, he brings an entourage that would make a pop star envious.”

The group includes a dozen foreign policy advisers, “either traveling with Obama or doing ground work ahead of his arrival in each country” as well as traveling campaign aides, advance staff and “layers of Secret Service agents,” with the entire group filling 20 vehicles in a motorcade.

Don’t get me wrong — if it’s true, it’s a valid story. Of course, I would bet good money that McCain’s entourage in Mexico and Colombia wasn’t much smaller.

But here’s the kicker.  Look at the photo they used to demonstrate the accuracy of the story:  Read the rest of this entry »

| posted in foreign policy, media, politics | 0 Comments

15 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:13 am

Quote of the Day

Matt Yglesias on the absurdity of the arguments against a timetable for pullout in Iraq:

[A]ny time a politician offers a medium-term plan — 16 month withdrawal timeline, treaty to reduce global carbon emissions, health care reform, whatever — you can make it sound absurd by saying it would be crazy to stick with the plan under absolutely any circumstances.

Maybe a race of alien lizards will land in Mosul and commence their program of world conquest, in which case it would be odd to stick with the 16 month withdrawal timeline and I assume John McCain would revisit his plan to kick Russia out of the G-8 in the interests of human solidarity.

But under a range of realistically likely sets of “facts on the ground” a timeline for a phased withdrawal of forces from Iraq would improve the strategic context in which we’re operating and free up resources for use on other problems.`

Heh.  You gotta love any foreign policy argument that invokes Harry Turtledove.  Yes he’s a bit of a hack, but no more than Michael O’Hanlon and other Iraq die-hards.

Oh, one more thing:  why does the Washington Post think it is necessary to quote one of the few remaining Democratic supporters of the war every single time it does a story on domestic divisions over Iraq?  Why aren’t they also talking to Republican opponents (Chuck Hagel, Ron Paul, Walter “Freedom Fries” Jones etc.)?  That’s the real alternate history here.

The Post can’t have it both ways.  Either they can (inaccurately) portray the disagreement over withdrawal as a partisan divide, or they can (correctly) give voice to supporters and critics on both sides of the aisle.  Right now, their current approach is no more fair and balanced than Bill O’Reilly.

| posted in foreign policy, media, politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

12 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:50 am

A Reverse Lieberman with a Half Twist

THIS JUST IN:  Steve Clemons is reporting that Hagel will endorse Obama.  This is the same post as before, which if Steve is right, is even more important now.

According to The Wall Street Journal, among others, Chuck Hagel is planning to travel to Iraq with Barack Obama.  Hagel, of course, has featured prominently in the Obama VP sweepstakes, although his name has dropped off the radar a bit over the past month.

I like Hagel, and I think he’s been an important voice on the Iraq war.  I don’t go as far as Steve Clemons does in arguing he should have run for President, or that Obama would be wise to choose him as VP.  Frankly, were Obama to put together a unity ticket, he would be better off with Richard Lugar, one of his mentors on foreign policy in the Senate.  Lugar brings greater gravitas and is from a swing state to boot.  But I think the chances of Lugar on the ticket are about as great as  The Condi winning the Masters next spring.

I also believe, in the spirit of Spencer Ackerman and Matt Yglesias’s argument against keeping Robert Gates on as SecDef, the Democrats need to prove that there are worthy people within their own party for these posts.  It’s often overlooked, but John Kerry’s slide four years ago began not with the Swift Boat ads or his terrible acceptance speech (although both certainly hurt), but rather with his efforts to get  John McCain to become his VP nominee.  When McCain said no, it weakened not only Kerry but also John Edwards, the eventual nominee, who was regarded by many as little more than a consolation prize.

All that said, I do find it interesting that none of the mainstream media’s reports (or at least none of the ones I’ve read) have mentioned the fact that Hagel is in many ways the mirror of Joe Lieberman, who betrayed defected from the Democratic party to support John McCain:

  • Lieberman was on the Democratic ticket in 2000; Hagel was widely presumed to be McCain’s choice to be VP had McCain beat Bush in 2000.
  • Lieberman is socially liberal; Hagel is socially conservative.
  • Lieberman is in favor of staying the course in Iraq; Hagel wants us to get out as quickly as humanly possible.
  • Lieberman has grown increasingly shrill in his criticisms of his former party; Hagel has remained thoughtful and balanced in his criticism of President Bush.

Unlike Lieberman, Hagel has not yet endorsed the opposition party’s nominee.  The rumor mill says he just might yet, and it certainly would be a big boost to Obama were he to pull a reverse Lieberman.

But even if he doesn’t, a joint trip to Iraq — and, I would assume, a statement supporting Obama’s position on Iraq — would certainly be as embarrassing to McCain as Lieberman’s shenanigans have been to the Democrats.  Even better, it could diminish the marquee value of Lieberman’s defection, and might even force the boys on the bus men and women on the Not-So-Straight Talk Express to ask McCain some hard questions on the war.

| posted in foreign policy, politics, war & rumors of war | 0 Comments

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