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uncle ebeneezer
10-01-2008, 01:35 AM
http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2008/09/former_ambassador_to_pakistan_milam_i_had_a_pretty _good_idea_of_what_failed_states_look_like_and_it_ was_not_one.php#comments

Good thing the MSM is holding McCain's feet to the fire on this mistake of his.

Thus Spoke Elvis
10-01-2008, 10:23 AM
Eh, I write this off as hyperbole. Pakistan was in really bad shape, but it wasn't a "failed" state in the way that the term is used to describe countries like Somalia. I look at this in the same way I look at charges that we are currently in a recession, even though we haven't had two quarters of economic deline.

uncle ebeneezer
10-01-2008, 02:38 PM
Point is, he's trying to sell himself as an expert and Obama as ignorant despite the fact that his proof of his own expertise is something that the real experts don't agree with. But of course the media will continue calling him a foreign policy expert and a maverick because that's what he says he is.

Thus Spoke Elvis
10-01-2008, 02:50 PM
Point is, he's trying to sell himself as an expert and Obama as ignorant despite the fact that his proof of his own expertise is something that the real experts don't agree with. But of course the media will continue calling him a foreign policy expert and a maverick because that's what he says he is.

McCain's no great shakes in foreign affairs, but how is this different from Obama claiming McCain "doesn't get it" because Phil Gramm, one of McCain advisors, said (correctly) that we weren't in a recession a few months ago? I didn't see the media criticize Obama for making that factually inaccurate charge.

The point is that there's a degree of acceptable hyperbole in political campaigns. McCain exaggerated when he called Pakistan a failed state, but he was correct in arguing that Pakistan was in really bad shape before Musharaff took over. Likewise, Obama wasn't accurate in suggesting throughout the campaign that we've been in a recession, but he's right that our economy is in bad shape.

uncle ebeneezer
10-01-2008, 09:12 PM
I get what you're saying and somewhat agree that it's just the hyperbolic nature of campaign politics, but it seems a little like apples and oranges.

Obama is saying that McCain doesn't get it, in that most Americans believe that we are in a recession (whether or not we technically are according to economists) and are feeling the burden of the situation. McCain can't keep track of his many houses and says that $5M is "rich" etc. Most economists agreed that the economy was in serious trouble even before the past couple weeks, but McCain has steadfastly skirted the issue until just recently. That, seems to be the message that Obama has been pushing. "All hell is breaking loose, we all feel it, but John McCain wants to pretend otherwise."

McCain's message is that Obama hasn't been around long enough to have the expertise that McCain and others have, and that Obama's not calling Pakistan a "failed state" was an indicator of his ignorance and also a chance for McCain to claim expertise. Problem is, the experts (including the ambassador at the time) and people who were around back then (Biden perhaps) don't use the term "failed state" to refer to Pakistan. Pakistan may have shared many attributes of "failed states" but there is a reason the real foreign policy wonks choose their words carefully.

The overall point is that McCain's failed state claim not only doesn't prove any ignorance on Obama's behalf, but the fact that it wasn't accurate diminishes McCain's own claim to foreign policy expertise (which we hear ad nauseum.)

FWIW I don't believe that Obama is an expert on the economy, but he seems to understand at least as well as (or better) than McCain.