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Sweet column: Hillary says Obama 'irresponsible" and "naive' on dealing with rogue leaders. Obama says Clinton "naive" to vote for Iraq war.


WASHINGTON -- In fallout following a Democratic presidential debate, White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused rival Sen. Barack Obama of being "naive," as tensions between the camps increased Tuesday because Obama said he would be willing to talk without precondition to leaders of rogue nations.

At the South Carolina debate on Monday night, Obama said, in response to a question, that he would meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea in his first year as president without any preconditions. An underpinning of Obama's presidential bid is his belief that solutions to problems -- domestic and international -- can be found through a search for common ground and consensus.

Clinton did not make any pledge to meet with these leaders. "I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes," she said.

The exchange in the debate marked the sharpest divide between Clinton and Obama, the Democratic front-runners. It was most perilous for Obama because it raised questions about his inexperience, an area where polls show voters have the most reservations about Obama, while giving Clinton an opportunity to appear more seasoned.

During the day Tuesday, the Clinton and Obama campaigns issued dueling critical memos while advisers sparred over who appeared more presidential. The candidates each gave interviews to the Quad City Times in Iowa, the state with the crucial lead-off presidential vote, where they escalated the rhetoric.

"I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive," Clinton told the paper. Obama, she said, gave an answer "I think he is regretting today."

Obama told the paper that Clinton's camp was trying to score "political points." He stood by his response and that Clinton's position was not that different from the Bush administration policy, so she "can't claim the mantle of change."

Obama's campaign was trying to regain its footing after walking into a potential political minefield. The debate story in the Miami Herald, another early primary state where Cuban Americans make up a voting bloc, said Obama and Edwards "suggested Monday that they would meet with two leaders who top South Florida's most-hated list: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez."

If he met with Chavez, Obama told the Iowa paper, it would be to tell him "what I don't like" while finding areas to "potentially work together."

"I didn't say these guys were going to come over for a cup of coffee some afternoon," Obama said.


That's not controversial. Hillary saying Obama's answer is naive is controversial, however. Obama's position is not naive...its actually what most on the left have been calling for since Bush took office. If she's gonna disagree with that, then what position is she espousing?

Can't have it both ways. If you want to make the point that her position isn't that hawkish, then you gotta admit she's distorting Obama's position. If you won't admit that, then you gotta take her as being much more hawkish than she came off.

What's more, the very fact that she would criticize his position is in and of itself a hawkish move. The only people is seems to have pleased are the National Review types.

Regarding high-level communications with Iran, Syria, Cuba, etc., Sen. Clinton should be made aware of the age-old adage (I don't know who said it first):

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

I think Sen. Obama's response was the best. Isn't it rather 4th grade behavior -- I don't like them. I'm not talking to them.

I watched the debated and I thought that ALL of the democractic candidates were very good. Well, maybe not everyone, the former senator from Alaska seemed a bit angry. But with that said, I watched and listen how each candidate answer the questions. I wanted to see who was the most sincere with answering the "people's" questions instead of the questions usually given by the "know it all" news press. Hillary is a very knowledgable woman who has many strengths, but she is way too calculating and controlled. She began doing well in the polls only after having her husband, Bill "I feel your pain" Clinton parading around with her. She was about even in the polls with Obama or a little ahead until she did this. Over all people don't connect with Hillary when she's on her own. Now with Obama, he has the same qualities that was seen by the America people when they elected her husband, except he is more prone to tell the truth unlike Bill. Hillary is a good candidate, but Obama is a better one. The reason? She talks about her experience and what she has done in the past. We've had the "experience candidate" in office with Bush, Jr, Cheney and Rumsfield and look at the mess they have caused. She's old school. Her husband in 1992 on the theme let's move to future and stop living in the past. Remember their theme song? "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Yesterday gone, yesterday gone". Hillary is yesterday. Obama is our future.

There is a Hillary supporter online who now likes to ask, "has Obama booked his flight to Havana yet?"

I enjoy responding, "first they have to get the dust off the presidential luggage from Reykjavik, Beijing and Berlin. Some presidents are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with our adversaries."

"Irresponsible and frankly naive" reminded me of the photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam after he had used his chemical weapons against his own people. Propaganda, anyone?

The real issue with the debate question was asking if "you" would meet with the foreign leaders. That could be taken as "you, personally" or "you, your administration". Pretending it could only be interpreted in one way is "juvenile and frankly silly", if not "irresponsible and frankly naive".

I blame the resulting brouhaha on the summer heat. Let's get back to actual issues now.

Let Obama and Hillary REALLY tip-toe through this 'potential political minefield' by answering two questions:

1. What EXACTLY DO you like about the leaders of Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, and

2. What EXACTLY do you NOT like about the leaders of Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?

If these questions are not asked and answered, then the America Press AND the American people are 'irresponsible and frankly naive'!

I am not american even though I follow uh politics very well. Mark my words, if u americans elect any of the republicans and HR. Clinton, then u will look back at 2008 and wish u made another decision. Ask, Iran, debts to China, subprime loans,..and all those mess.
Even Biden and Dodd will make better presidents than d republicans and clinton.

I am curious if Hilary Clinton believes that Obama's stance on poverty is also naive. Does she believe it's possible to solve? I hope so because it is not an idealistic endeavor, but a practical and realistic one. Estimated by the Borgen Project, impoverished worldwide live under 2$ a day. So we what little we can contribute is more than enough.

In my opinion, Hilary Clinton won the debate hands down. She demanded the attention of the audience, having the strongest stage presence and the most thought-out and well articulated responses. Yet, I would have liked to see all the candidates address the United States’ commitment to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting world hunger in half by 2015 and eliminating it altogether by 2025. Indeed, it is estimated that the expenditure of a mere $19 billion annually would eliminate starvation and malnutrition worldwide. In a time when the current defense budget is $522 billion, the goal of eradicating world hunger is clearly well within reach and it is my hope that whoever becomes president in 2008 addresses this pressing issue.

"Regarding high-level communications with Iran, Syria, Cuba, etc., Sen. Clinton should be made aware of the age-old adage (I don't know who said it first):

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

I think Sen. Obama's response was the best. Isn't it rather 4th grade behavior -- I don't like them. I'm not talking to them.

Posted by: J. Pawlik | July 25, 2007 08:30 AM"

Hey J. Pawlik...that quote is actually Vito Corleone' further explanation. It is way more savvy to hold your enemies closer than freezing them out.
Barack, Baracki, Baracka

Actually, it's Sun-tzu - Chinese general & military strategist (~400 BC):

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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