Friday, August 15, 2008

The MSM On The Candidates' Responses To The Russian Invasion Of Georgia

While Obama kicks back on his vacation in Hawaii, Georgia is burning and the MSM is evaluating the very different responses thereto by Obama and McCain.

Surprisingly, the NYT criticizes Obama for his aloofness in comparison to John McCain who, the paper notes, is further burnishing his foreign policy credentials.

WaPo goes for what has become the typical line over the past week for the MSM and the Obama camp, glossing over Obama's feckless initial response to the crisis and his relative non-engagement since while attacking McCain for acting decisively. Indeed, WaPo goes so far as to equate criticism of McCain "acting Presidential" in regards to the Georgia crisis with criticism of Obama for "acting Presidential" in the preceeding weeks. The distinction that Obama merely coopted the symbolism of the Presidency while McCain is appearing Presidential based on his thorough knowledge of a situation involved in a foreign crisis is apparently lost on WaPo.

You know Obama's position is weak when the NYT is given over to criticizing The One in comparison to McCain. This from the NYT:

For the last several days, Senator Barack Obama has seemed to fade from the scene while on his secluded vacation here, as his opponent, Senator John McCain, has seized nearly every opportunity to display his foreign policy credentials on the dominant issue of the week: the conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Only once, at the beginning of the week, did Mr. Obama discuss the fighting in public, when he emerged from his beachfront rental home to condemn Russia’s escalation, in a way that seemed timed for the evening television news. He took no questions whose answers might demonstrate command of the issue.

Mr. McCain and his surrogates, however, have discussed the situation nearly every day on the campaign trail, often taking a hard line against Russia to the point of his declaring the other day, “We are all Georgians.”

It is as if the candidates’ images have been reversed within a matter of a few weeks. When Mr. Obama was overseas last month, Mr. McCain’s foreign policy bona fides seemed diminished, if only because he could not attract the news media attention received by Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Now, Mr. Obama’s voice seems muted at a time when much of the world has been worriedly watching the conflict.

. . . For his part, Mr. McCain has fielded questions daily, batting back criticism that his tough stance is reminiscent of the language of the cold war. On the other hand, the fluency with which Mr. McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, discusses Georgia, citing the history of the region and the number of times he has visited, lends an aura of commander in chief. And as if he already had a cabinet, Mr. McCain said he was dispatching his allies Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, to the region.

To conservatives, particularly the neoconservative set, Mr. McCain’s forceful responses have been welcomed. Conservatives have pointed out that Mr. Obama looks a bit out of touch this time. “I didn’t think that Obama had to do much during his week’s vacation — everyone deserves a break,” wrote Jim Geraghty of National Review Online. “But this week is starting to really turn into a week where you don’t want to be seen golfing.”

Mr. McCain, pressed by reporters, has resisted opportunities to criticize how Mr. Obama has addressed the situation in Georgia.

Mr. Obama’s week has been low-key, a sharp contrast to his high-voltage campaign events. On Thursday, he toured a nature preserve and went body surfing. Beyond that, Mr. Obama has played golf, taken walks on the beach with his daughters, eaten dinner at a few Honolulu restaurants with his wife and friends, and visited almost daily with his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, whom Mr. Obama calls “tutu,” a Hawaiian term. . . .

Read the entire article. The Washington Post goes the more traditional route of the MSM over the past week, attacking John McCain for sounding decisive in response to the Russian crisis. And, like the AP's insane hit piece of the other day, WaPo notes that McCain has a former lobbyist for Georgia on the payroll while neglecting to mention that he also employs former lobbyists for Russia. And you have to love how they equate criticism of Obama for coopting the symbols of the Presidency with their criticism of McCain now for acting decisively in response to a foreign crisis:

Standing behind a lectern in Michigan this week, with two trusted senators ready to do his bidding, John McCain seemed to forget for a moment that he was only running for president.

Asked about his tough rhetoric on the ongoing conflict in Georgia, McCain began: "If I may be so bold, there was another president . . ."

He caught himself and started again: "At one time, there was a president named Ronald Reagan who spoke very strongly about America's advocacy for democracy and freedom."

With his Democratic opponent on vacation in Hawaii, the senator from Arizona has been doing all he can in recent days to look like President McCain, particularly when it comes to the ongoing international crisis in Georgia.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says he talks to McCain, a personal friend, several times a day. McCain's top foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, was until recently a paid lobbyist for Georgia's government. McCain also announced this week that two of his closest allies, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), would travel to Georgia's capital of Tbilisi on his behalf, after a similar journey by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The extent of McCain's involvement in the military conflict in Georgia appears remarkable among presidential candidates, who traditionally have kept some distance from unfolding crises out of deference to whoever is occupying the White House. The episode also follows months of sustained GOP criticism of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who was accused of acting too presidential for, among other things, briefly adopting a campaign seal and taking a trip abroad that included a huge rally in Berlin.

"We talk about how there's only one president at a time, so the idea that you would send your own emissaries and really interfere with the process is remarkable," said Lawrence Korb, a Reagan Defense Department official who now acts as an informal adviser to the Obama campaign. "It's very risky and can send mixed messages to foreign governments. . . . They accused Obama of being presumptuous, but he didn't do anything close to this."

But McCain and his aides say his tough rhetoric on the Georgia crisis, along with his personal familiarity with the region, underscores the foreign policy expertise he would bring to the White House.

His focus on the dispute has also allowed McCain to distance himself somewhat from President Bush, who has been sharply criticized by many conservatives for moving too slowly to respond to Russia's military incursion into Georgia and South Ossetia, the breakaway province at the heart of the dispute. McCain's first statement on the conflict last Friday came before the White House itself had responded.

In often-lengthy remarks about Georgia this week on the campaign trail, McCain repeatedly talked of how many times he had been to the region, let it be known that he had talked daily with Saakashvili since the crisis began and made it clear that there had been times he thought Bush's response could have been stronger.

He provided a primer for why Americans should care about the "tiny little democracy" and tried to tie the foreign crisis with a domestic one: oil. Georgia is "part of a strategic energy corridor affecting individual lives far beyond" the region, he said.

"His statements have been very presidential," said John R. Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador under Bush who has since become one of the sharpest critics of the administration's recent foreign policy. "These are the kinds of things that the president should have been saying from the beginning."

. . . McCain's ties to Saakashvili go back to the 1990s, when the future leader of the "Rose Revolution" was a student at George Washington University. In an interview this week on CNN, Saakashvili said he was "talking to Senator McCain several times a day."

"You know, I think he spends less time on his presidential campaign these days and lots of time on Georgia," Saakashvili said. "And I really appreciate that, because Senator McCain has been fighting for freedom of Georgia for many, many years."

. . . The Obama campaign has been generally cautious in its remarks about the Georgia conflict, and the campaign yesterday declined to comment on the appropriateness of McCain's role. But earlier this week, Obama adviser Susan Rice said McCain "may have complicated the situation" with his early tough rhetoric on the dispute.

"John McCain shot from the hip," Rice said on MSNBC, calling his initial statement "very aggressive, very belligerent."

Lieberman, one of McCain's most ardent and vocal supporters, responded by criticizing Obama's more cautious first statement on the Georgia situation an example of "moral neutrality" that showed his "inexperience."

By Wednesday, however, both McCain and Obama had come together to praise the Bush administration's announcement of humanitarian aid and the secretary of state's diplomatic journey. McCain also told reporters that "this isn't the time for partisanship, sniping between campaigns," and declined to comment on Rice's or Lieberman's remarks.

Read the entire article. Fortunately, TNOY has the true story of what is going on. Obama is in hull defilade in Hawaii merely gathering his mystical strength to solve the Georgia Russia problem in a matter of days upon his return.

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