Friday, February 29, 2008

The Words Put Into Politician's Mouths

Michael Gerson tells us,
The construction of serious speeches forces candidates (or presidents) to grapple with their own beliefs, even when they don't write every word themselves. If those convictions cannot be marshaled in the orderly battalions of formal rhetoric, they are probably incoherent.
Michael Gerson? Speechwriter for G.W. Bush? Did it even occur to him that he's indicting his own work?
McCain can and should make an ideological case against his opponent. Why does Obama want to fight terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan but not in Iraq? How would it advance the war on terrorism to grant al-Qaeda's fondest wish - an untimely American retreat from the Middle East? Would Obama really devote his first year in office to a series of surrender summits with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea?
Here's the problem. If you caricature and misrepresent your opponent's beliefs, you don't come across as a "straight talker". McCain has already stumbled when trying to confront Obama on foreign policy, ridiculing Obama's statements about striking targets inside Pakistan even as the White House was adopting the very techniques Obama proposed.

Trying to caricature Obama as intending to meet with every world leader, no matter how despotic, during his first year in office? At the expense of every single other priority, domestic or international? Let's just say that if I were drafting Obama's response to such an accusation the overt message would be "he's confused", and the subtext would be "he's senile." Obama's team may be more charitable than I, but I would suggest that McCain take a look at G.W.'s past, frequent incoherence before adopting a response endorsed by one of Bush's principal speechwriters.

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