Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What does Barack's world tour tell us?

Barack's "world tour" to the Middle East and Europe tells us simply that he is a great candidate for the job of Secretary of State, but a non-starter for Secretary of Defense, let alone Commander-in-Chief from a military perspective. The big question is where the priorities of American voters will be in November, either more worried about "relations" or more worried about physical response to hard-core security threats. It could go either way. Sure, a lot of people are disappointed about Iraq, but that appears to be more a matter of the "rationale for war" rather than a lack of concern for security threats per se. Although a lot of Progressives are certainly committed to diplomacy and talking our way to peace and safety, it is not clear how many non-Progressives are deep and passionate believers in non-military solutions to physical security threats.

Barack's push to exit Iraq will appeal to some percentage of voters, but I am not at all convinced that his commitment to getting more deeply involved and committed in Afghanistan is a good thing for anybody but the diehard Neo-conservatives and other members of the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby.

Besides, who doesn't believe that al Qaeda and the Taliban "hide" in Pakistan, so that even "winning" in Afghanistan is a dubious proposition. And who believes that the U.S., let alone Barack is going to "invade" Pakistan and further inflame Muslim passions against the U.S.?

Overall, I do think the the "world tour" did improve Barack's stature and give him a little more credibility as being a visionary "leader", but I am not so sure that he changed very many minds rather than simply firmed some beliefs about him.

I think people are more anxious to see who he picks to VP to get a handle on what "package" they will be voting on in November. I have no idea who he will or should pick, but I do believe that his choice will be a strong indicator of how he intends to "govern" once in office. I think he wants a "collaborator" rather than a political expedient, but I do believe that he is aware that he needs somebody who can work effectively at achieving "change" in Washington. Barack could do well by focusing on promotion of his vision for change, but only if he has a #2 who can actually "make the trains run on time" and do the necessary lobbying behind the scenes to get things done. He needs a real team.

At this time I do think that the election is Barack's to lose and that the key remains his ability to keep the level of discourse up on high ground to offer a "big tent" that is inclusive of moderates and centrists and even "liberal" Republicans rather than settle into a "war on the right" by the Progressive wing of the Democratic party. I think that he personally can do it, but I do not yet sense that his left-wing supporters are deeply passionate of any initiatives that smark of "moving to the center." I can't wait to see how "inclusive" a party platform comes out of the convention.

-- Jack Krupansky


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