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Sweet column: Clinton naive charge triggers ferocious Obama pushback.

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WASHINGTON -- Until last week, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) lived a charmed political life, never the subject during his campaigns for state Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate of a major negative hit, so he never had to punch back.


Accused by chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) of being "irresponsible, and frankly, naive" for saying he would meet with foreign despots without preconditions during his first year as president -- the charge coming the day after Obama said it in Monday's Democratic primary debate -- the Obama campaign mounted a ferocious response, giving a taste of what is in store in the months ahead.

Obama shot back that she was the naive one for voting to authorize the Iraq war, marking the first time the two have personally engaged, on the record and not through surrogates or memos.

With Obama's theme of "change" and "hope" threatened by a word that raises questions about his experience -- a vulnerability --the Obama camp started a drive to neutralize the "naive" tag by applying it to Clinton for voting to authorize the Iraq war -- her major political problem -- and calling her (not by name) Bush-Cheney lite. The Obama campaign launched banner ads on its New Hampshire and Iowa Web sites Friday stating there is "one candidate who knows it's naive to believe we can resolve conflict without talking to our adversaries."

All this notwithstanding Obama's pledge to run a different kind of campaign.

That Obama is running "an aspirational campaign," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told me Friday, does not mean he does not engage when there are "substantial differences" on the table.

On Saturday, the most serious dispute of the six-month campaign -- dealing with leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea -- continued, as a Clinton campaign co-chairman, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, called on Obama to "clarify his comments as to whether or not he is for preconditions or not and would cease and desist from criticizing and distorting the record and the comments of Senator Clinton."

Vilsack made his remarks in a hastily arranged (37-minute notice) afternoon conference call with reporters. He noted that Obama, in a Miami Herald interview last Sunday, said he would meet with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. "Under certain conditions, I always believe in talking," Obama said.

That is, Vilsack said, "precisely what Senator Clinton said during the debate." Vilsack said Obama's tactic "flies in the face of the promise that Senator Obama gave to all of us when he began his campaign of avoiding negative politics."

Obama was campaigning in Iowa on Saturday, and the Associated Press reported that Obama said he would, as president, be open to meeting in his first year, with no conditions, the leaders of those five nations. "I was called irresponsible and naive because I believe that there is nobody we can't talk to," Obama said.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a memo issued in reaction to Vilsack's call, "Obama has been entirely consistent -- he never said he would invite dictators over for a cup of coffee, and he said he wouldn't let these dictators use him as a propaganda tool."

The bottom line is Obama and Clinton, unlike President Bush, would have a diplomatic policy that the United States needs to be talking to enemies as well as friends. At issue in this escalating war of words is the exact process.

24 Comments

I think Obama is a good candidate. But I must say I think him and Congressman Jackson, have forgotten about the plight of the poor. And it is politics as usual, they use political tools to destroy up and coming Black Politicians. And should really focus on the needs of the people that look like them! We need a strong candidate like Mayor Eric Kellogg, he might be imperfect but he cares about his community, and has the hearts of his people on his side.

In reading Obama's Miami Herald interview, one must conclude that Obama's and Clinton's views on diplomacy are as similar as their Senate Iraq voting record.

Wrong, their Iraq voting record is not the same. One voted to authorize the war (Clinton). The other was against the war (Obama). And according to the guy who asked the question in the debate, he meant preconditions to be like...demanding the nation to change their views before even talking to them, he did not mean preconditions to be staff and departments making sure it wont be propoganda. Not even Bush would go meet with Castro or Chavez without the state department making sure it wont be propaganda

Just stand by, it hasn't even started to steam yet. The closer it gets to showtime, the more the Clinton smear tactics will come out.
They are some of the best for letting the leaks out at the right time. You Obama backers better hope that your candidate has been fully vetted and the skeletons are no longer in the closet.

I think it is naive (or misleading) on Hilary Clinton's part to imply that when Obama said he would talk to anyone, he meant to do it without doing any legwork using diplomatic channels. As President, one cannot just hop into a plane and visit a country - friendly or not!

Hillary today claimed Obama "promised" to meet with "a holocaust deniar." Wow....someone please tell me where Obama promised anything...he said he would be willing to meet...meaning he would consider a meeting.

This woman has no business in the White house...none.

And now she's playing the victim...

Clinton and Obama's voting records are virtually the same. Face it. I'm so tired of hearing that Obama was against the war. He was in the state legislature not in the US Senate - so his anti-war stance doesn't really matter when judging them by their voting records. A lot of us non-politicos were against the war, that doesn't mean we should all run for president. We should support a hawk, a policy wonk, someone who can WIN. The biggest difference as time progresses will be Obama's "change" vs Clinton's "experience". The primary is just starting to get interesting..

It is naive on Hillary Clinton's part to believe that she can pass off her vote to authorize the Iraq War as a vote for strong diplomacy, considering the fact that she specifically voted against the Levin Amendment to the Iraq War Authorization which would have required President Bush to conduct vigorous diplomacy at the UN and required another Congressional authorization before a unilateral invasion. When people start hearing about the half-truths and lies Hillary uses to frame her Iraq vote her credibility will begin to resemble that certain someone whose views on diplomacy she seems to share. no Bush-Cheney Lite in '08, vote for real change.

I'm not sure what Barack O'Reagan's diplomacy position will be tomorrow. Perhaps he doesn't, either.

As of today, however, having studied O'Reagan's many, many, statements over the past week, I think I have my head wrapped around his current view of Presidential diplomacy.

O'Reagan thinks that preconditions are OK on the condition that conditional conditions are previously agreed upon. Further, under the Conditional Propaganda Clause, there are conditional exceptions to this rule, but only under certain conditions.

Are we clear now?

Clinton has a lot to hide and is a typical politician...this, I believe, will be her downfall. She never expected Obama to make such a close run and raise so much money. If new voters who contribute to Obama and young people come out to vote she will lose and she knows this. So it is time for dirty tactics. Expect more.

This was really just Hillary Clinton's unique way of letting us know she had changed her mind about her recent criticism of Bush's refusal to use diplomacy with Iran. More details at:
http://unitedagainsthillary.wordpress.com

All this is a tempest in a teapot. The real issue:
When will either senator bring impeachment charges against the Supreme Court justices who seated George Bush even while they should have recused themselves because they had families working on Bush Cheney 2000?

The fact that Mitt Romney, Giuliani and McCain all came out this week in agreement with Hillary Clinton and attacking Obama should set off alarms in our heads.

The politics of hope does not mean you can't do some truth-telling in a tactful and respectful way. Obama's right on this one in two counts: policy and politics.

The media got it wrong because they forgot that most Americans are not foreign policy gurus and that we are in a change election. Although Clinton's answer may have appeased the foreign policy establishment, Obama's answer was refreshing and different. In a change election, the latter wins.

In my post on http://www.irishamericansforobama.com/hillary_clinton_phases_of_panic_defeat.html, I make a balanced point:

Obama didn't outrightly say he will talk to rogue leaders. Just that he would be WILLING to do so. Which is in sharp contrast from Bush-Cheney.
Hillary didn't say she would not talk to rogue leaders. Just that she would not promise to do so.

The problem is, the question asked if they would be WILLING, not if they would PROMISE OR COMMIT. Hillary ether misjudged the question or dodged it because she's not willing to repudiate Bush-Cheney.

So, if Hillary couldn't even say plainly whether or not she WOULD BE WILLING to meet with rogue leaders without preconditions (which was the questiion), then she's not promising a repudiation of Bush-Cheney, which the voters are asking for. It is clear why she has been in so much panic. Read more:
http://www.irishamericansforobama.com/hillary_clinton_phases_of_panic_defeat.html

NONE of the "top tier" candidates have strong, extensive experience in Foreign Policy decision-making. One or two terms in Congress (Edwards, Obama, Clinton) or as First Lady (Clinton), does not represent leadership. Bush overcame this same obstacle in his first run for president (remember his political credentials had only included Governor of Texas)by focusing on his supposed business acumen and religious beliefs, rallying around him supporters in both areas. No matter how hard his opponents tried to point out this grave pitfall, his spinminions were able to smoothtalk the public into believing that it wouldn't matter, we were at peace and that wasn't likely to change. Then came 9/11... Let's not be fooled this time from within our own party! The current candidates who are leaders in Foreign Policy this time around are all considered light-weights, bottom tier, and unelectable by the media. If their campaigns and voting records received the same media coverage as the top tier candidates, the polls may well be different, and the public might well have a different financial response to them. Iraq is NOT the only pivotal point of interest to the voting public, and until the candidates respond in depth to the questions posed to them by the population at large, distrust leading to apathy and then low voter turnout will once again prevail. It is time that the candidates voice definite plans for the future of this country domestically and internationally, and it is up to the media to make sure they are all heard fairly!

Anybody who has taken the time to read "The Audacity of Hope' or
'Dreams from my Father' undrestands that Barack Obama is NOT
niave. He is a practical man who is most worthy to be our President.

Regardless of obama's naivety, it is still a better solution than no diplomacy whatsoever with a replacement of military action. I wish both candidates could understand that fighting global poverty is pivotal to developing a strong diplomacy with the rest of the world.
Estimated by the Borgen Project, 78% of Americans believe that fighting global poverty is a good way to fight terrorism. So what are we waiting for?

Why has this Hillary interview received so little coverage ?
Another reason I will never again vote for Clinton !
She'll say anything and vote for anything if she crunches the numbers and they look favorable. We've all heard Hillary attack Barack Omama for refusing to rule out talks with anyone. If you haven't seen this already check out this You-Tube clip of her
position on the issue in January. Fool me once Hillary....
Take a look at this below.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENQxZGk1XQ4

On war authorization, Obama didn't have to vote. Big difference. Another reason why it's hard to run for the presidency as as a sitting Senator.

But HRC overreacted, as she often seems to with Obama, who makes her campaign mad because they should have the black vote, Bill having been the first black president and all.

Mike,

It is no surprise to me that you find Baraq Obama's eloquent dialogue, laced with numerous multi-syllabic words, confusing and difficult to grasp. To me he is a breath of fresh air because he refuses to dumb down his speech, and talks to us like the intelligent adults that we are.

Those of you who prefer to be talked to like mindless little 4th graders, by all means, feel free to indulge in the embarrassing monosyllabic drivel that good ol' Dubya pumps out, day after day after day...

The US has always met with their enemies:

FDR, Harry Truman and Ike met with Josef Stalin.
Vice President Nixon met Castro.
JFK met with Nikita Khrushchev.
Richard Nixon met with Mao Zedong.

Besides that, H.Clinton flip-flopped:

In the January 27th interview on MSNBC H.Clinton was asked if she would "meet immediately" with leaders of Iran and Syria, she said:

"I don't see it as a sign of weakness, I see it as a sign of strength. You know our president will not talk to people he considers bad. Well there are a lot of bad actors in the world and you don't make peace with your friends. You've got to deal with your enemies, your opponents, people whose interests diverge from yours."


Considering the ignorance of our current Presdent about international affairs before and after he became President and his absolutely miserable foreign policy record, I think the lack of foreign policy experience is completely bogus.

Presidents hire good people to advise them for the NSC and in the State Departemnt, and then they take their advice(excepting Bush.)The Bush adminstration is the first whose foreign polciy has been captured by a fierce radical cabal of ideologues rather than pragmatic realists and idealists.Unfortunately Rice has been a "yes-woman" and Bush listens to God,his gut, and Dick Cheney on foreign policy issues. I wish "political death" on the neocons (not to be taken literally) who have completely discredited our country in the eyes of the rest of the world. Somehow Bush's promise of a humble foreign policy got lost in the ideological shuffle and the neococn delusion about an American empire.

Other than Joe Biden, I don't think consider any of thw potential nominees has any stature in foreign policy. Biden would be good pick for Secretary of State, rather than a good Presidential nominee.

I agree with George Rose 100%

"Considering the ignorance of our current Presdent about international affairs before and after he became President and his absolutely miserable foreign policy record, I think the lack of foreign policy experience is completely bogus.

Presidents hire good people to advise them for the NSC and in the State Departemnt, and then they take their advice(excepting Bush.)The Bush adminstration is the first whose foreign polciy has been captured by a fierce radical cabal of ideologues rather than pragmatic realists and idealists.Unfortunately Rice has been a "yes-woman" and Bush listens to God,his gut, and Dick Cheney on foreign policy issues. I wish "political death" on the neocons (not to be taken literally) who have completely discredited our country in the eyes of the rest of the world. Somehow Bush's promise of a humble foreign policy got lost in the ideological shuffle and the neococn delusion about an American empire.

Other than Joe Biden, I don't think consider any of thw potential nominees has any stature in foreign policy. Biden would be good pick for Secretary of State, rather than a good Presidential nominee."

Hilary is being as selfish as she could be. She cares little or nothing about the interest of the party, the people or the country. Whether it is the Bosnia lie, the changing of the rules in the middle of the game, dividing the country into "white working class" and blacks who do not work,hispanics, white people who would not vote for a black man or whatever, she will do what she has to do to get into the white house at any ones expense. If Obama was not a gentleman he would have gone into the gutter with her. Both she and her husband tried to take him there. Their true colors came out. I hope black people understands the true Clintons.

If she can lie like that about Bosnia, try to switch the rules in the middle of the game right in front of the whole country, what would she do behind our backs. Not only is she a politician she is a liar. She cannot be trusted and she has too much personal baggage.

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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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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on July 29, 2007 10:36 AM.

Sweet Sunday blog extra: Newt Gingrich predicts Clinton-Obama ticket. Says Thompson will be "formidable" candidate. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet bloc scoop: Giuliani endorsed by Illinois House members Biggert, Weller. is the next entry in this blog.

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