What is decidedly vague is just what "change" is being proposed... save in one arena. Foreign policy.
After Benazir's assassination, a WaPo editorial graded the wannabees' response as both aisles rushed to the front line to appear "Presidential".
THE ASSASSINATION of Benazir Bhutto presented U.S. presidential candidates with a test: Could they respond cogently and clearly to a sudden foreign policy crisis? Within hours some revealing results were in. One candidate, Democrat John Edwards, passed with flying colors. Another, Republican Mike Huckabee, flunked abysmally. Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain were serious and substantive; Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani were thin. And Barack Obama -- the Democratic candidate who claims to represent a new, more elevated brand of politics -- committed an ugly foul.
Read above link in full for specifics. But overall, what was demonstrated by most is a picture of the typical arrogant pol, consumed not only with looking good on the campaign trail, but exposing their complete ignorance of middle east history and their unique challenges. Huckabee - currently the media GOP darling - was downright embarrassing on his lack of current events.
Following the Benazir assassination photo op came the round robin of Dem wannabees, assuring the voting public they are still out to get Bin Laden... at any price. And that includes putting unwelcome US boots on the ground in Pakistan.
Washington: In a tough message to Pakistan, leading Democrat Presidential hopefuls on Sunday supported pursuing al Qaeda militants in the troubled country even without Islamabad's permission if the US had "actionable intelligence".
Mr. Popular, and the first to promise "change" is Obama.
Back in August, I said we should work with the Pakistani government, first of all to encourage democracy in Pakistan, and secondly, that we have to press them to do more to take on al Qaeda in their territory," the Illinois Democrat, who now threatens to strike at Senator Hillary Rodham Hillary in New Hampshire after a stunning performance in Iowa, said.
"What I said was, if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike."
The problem with Obama is that we'd all like him to be as good as he says he is. But the San Diego Union Register's Robert Caldwell had an interesting column on Jan 6th, Obama in Perspective, exposing the gap between Obama's words/promises and actual record. It appears the young rock star pol not only vacillates, but has a distinct knack of avoiding votes on the tough issues. It should concern the American voter as to why.
Obama is still the presidential contender with a one-page resume. The Illinois state legislature and half of one term in the U.S. Senate is scant preparation to be president of the United States. In his brief Senate tenure, Obama has no legislative accomplishments, mainly because for most of that short time he's been running for president.
Foreign policy and national security are a president's top responsibilities, especially in time of war. Obama is devoid of experience in either field. His gaffes – threatening to invade Pakistan, offering prompt negotiations with anti-American despots – bespeak his amateur standing on matters vital to the safety and security of the American people.
Obama's inconsistency on Iraq is amply documented. He's been alternately for and against withholding funding for the troops, for and against setting timelines for withdrawal, and for and against a quick retreat from Iraq.
Whatever one's views on Iraq strategy and homefront support, these vacillations on a war in progress don't inspire confidence; in Obama's judgment, his grasp of Iraq realities and his constancy of purpose. Whatever this is, it isn't leadership.
Obama's record also raises another disturbing matter – his penchant for ducking tough issues. In the Illinois Legislature, Obama compiled a record of voting “present” on controversial and politically explosive bills. However politically convenient, this isn't leadership. Obama's three years in the U.S. Senate are similarly devoid of any leadership examples on legislation of consequence.
Jointly, all three Democrat candidates (Clinton, Obama, Edwards) have voiced - in their own ways - a unilateral strike strike if Bin Laden could be pinpointed, or there were evidence of an "imminent strike" (liberal translation = nothing short of a smoking gun). Hillary, adept in the two-step, forked tongue Clintonesque approach, answered more cautiously. A savvy that speaks to the advantage of co-habitation in the WH.
However, Hillary did strike a word of caution saying any actionable intelligence that would lead to a strike inside Pakistan's territory must be given the "most careful consideration" and pointed to military tension between India and Pakistan.
Then, alluding to the oft-referred to "co-presidency" with the word "WE"...
"We did take action similar to what has been described about 10 years ago, based on what was thought to be actionable intelligence, sending in missiles to try to target bin Laden and his top leadership who were thought to be at a certain meeting place. They were not taken out at the time," Hillary said in a Democratic debate in New Hampshire ahead of the critical primary in that state on Tuesday.
"So we have to be very conscious of all the consequences," she warned.
Any points she scored with stepping cautiously INRE US boots in Pakistan was pretty well nullified a few days ago in Manchester when she proposed that the US and Britain should babysit Pak's nuke arsenal.
“So far as we know right now, the nuclear technology is considered secure, but there isn’t any guarantee, especially given the political turmoil going on inside Pakistan,” Clinton said during a Democratic debate here.
If elected president, the US senator said, “I would try to get (Pakistan President Pervez) Musharraf to share the security responsibility of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the United States and, perhaps, Great Britain, so that there is some fail-safe.”
Richardson had the chutzpah to suggest Musharraf depose himself. Thank heavens he's far down in pecking order.
What with all the bru-ha-ha on Pakistan, and every candidate weighing in multiple times daily on all MSM, just how does Pakistan feel about being a foreign policy issue?
Incensed. And with ample reason. The NYT's broke a story about WH strategy discussions that included options of extended covert ops in Pakistan. While it's the responsibility for a CIC to have plans for *any* (even if unused) contingency, discussion is hardly a definitive action. But just hearing that the mere discussion has taken place ... and from the media and not the WH officials... had Pakistan in an uproar.
Needless to say, the loose lips of candidates freely dictating to Pakistan their militant intents, and Bush's discussion options, have been the focus of a few Pakistani editorials. Some dissing not only Bush's "naivety" for merely discussing escalated covert ops and criticizing how the Afghan/Iraq wars were waged, but slapping the wannabees pretty hard as well.
AMERICAN threats to intervene in Pakistan militarily have become a routine affair. This time, however, the threat has come after some gap and has evoked the usual response by the Foreign Office spokesman. Islamabad, he said, would not allow America to intervene militarily in Pakistan, because fighting terrorism in Fata and elsewhere was the government’s responsibility. One does not know who to pick up first for some plain speaking. The naivety being show by the Bush administration is amazing. Its stand suffers from a fundamental flaw: it wants quick results without having a full grasp of the intricacies of the situation. This is not a job that can be done in a hurry. The Taliban represent a movement which has existed in Afghanistan and Pakistan for decades. Its military and ideological roots lie in the anti-Soviet resistance movement which was armed and funded by the US. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal, Washington washed its hands of the Afghan imbroglio. This enabled the ISI to fill the gap and use the Taliban for its own purposes.
Another DAWN article by Amjad Mahmood calls the candidates (and media) "irresponsible".
LAHORE, Jan 7: Opposing any action by foreign troops on Pakistani soil, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has urged foreign countries to desist from making “irresponsible” statements about Islamabad’s nuclear programme as it was well-protected.
Briefing the media after a meeting of the central working committee of the PML-N here on Monday, party patron Nawaz Sharif reiterated its offer of calling on President Musharraf for steering the country out of the crisis it is in provided the latter sought no public office in the future setup.
He said the working committee expressed its serious concern at reports of proposed foreign military action inside Pakistani territory, and vowed to safeguard sovereignty of the country against any such transgression.
He also urged foreign countries to desist from making reckless statements about Islamabad’s nuclear programme, saying the country had a strong command and control system in place for the safety of its nuclear assets.
Herein lies a reality check that I'm sure goes over the head of most misinformed American voters. Before Bush was the "devil or Satan" incarnate, Clinton held that title (see, among others, the 1998 World Islamic Front Statement). And when Bush leaves office, the next CIC will be the next Satan/devil... or perhaps devil'ess. The only way to avoid that would be the foolish move to pull all US interests - from military installation to embassies - out of all lands desired by the jihad movement to be governed by Islamic law.
While Pakistan's population has battles within over national Islamic law, the differing parties can unite on one issue... and that is an anger over America's promises to increase meddling in their affairs.
The reckless statements of the candidates prove that our next president (most assuredly if a Dem) are starting their candidacy with a lie upfront. On one hand they assure us they intend to "mend" int'l relations and start a more hands off policy for military action - on the other, they promise to be even more "cowboy" than their accusations of the Bush policy.
And they expect us to be just stupid enough not to notice the difference.