Bloggers on Barack Obama.

Bloggers on Barack Obama.

Bloggers on Barack Obama.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Nov. 2 2007 6:44 PM

The Obama-sphere

It's all Obama in cyberspace, with bloggers offering both yays and boos for the Democratic candidate. Also, Donald Rumsfeld's "snowflakes" melt on hot liberal tongues.

The Obama-sphere: Both the Atlanticand the New York Times Magazine released online versions of forthcoming print profiles of Barack Obama. Are these the last hiccups of the media's "Obama-rama," coming as they do even after Hillary Clinton's commanding lead in the polls remained unthreatened following her worst debate performance? Bloggers scrutinize his foreign policy and campaign gaffes.

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Obama told the InternationalHerald Tribune this week that he'd be willing, as president, to hold talks with Tehran without "pre-conditions." In contrast to his main challengers, he might promise not to seek regime change in exchange for the mullahs' willingness to stop supplying terrorists in Iraq and to end their nuclear program. Moderate Michael van der Galiën thinks Obama is a hypocrite: "Remember how Barack Obama criticized Hillary Clinton for voting for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment?...Well, what's funny about his attacks is that Obama himself missed the vote…In a follow-up to that Kyl-Lieberman vote, Democratic Senators decided to send a letter to Bush urging him not to attack Iran without the consent of Congress. This letter was signed by Senators Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd. Who, however, didn't sign it? That's right, Barack Obama."

But Scott MacLeod at Time'sMiddle EastBlog is impressed by Obama's diplomatic overtures to the mullahs: "American leaders have been too timid to engage in a constructive dialogue with Iran. That includes Hillary's husband, whose curiosity was aroused by the moderate Khatami but failed to rise to the challenge of how to achieve a diplomatic opening for the good of both countries. Now Obama says he's willing to go to Iran to talk without preconditions, reward Iran with positive changes in behavior and demonstrate that the U.S. is not hellbent on regime change."

Matt Yglesias likes Obama because he was against the Iraq war from the start, and his foreign policy advisers were, too: "[T]hough Clinton certainly counts some war opponents and some younger rank-and-file people, she and her campaign fundamentally represent continuity with that seem set of political and policy elites who were running the show in 2002 and 2003. Obama represents a break from that; a turn toward people who think a different way, who probably aren't as famous but just might know what they're talking about, and perhaps even more important than that to people whose thinking isn't hobbled by an unwillingness to break with past positions."

On another front, Obama defended Donnie McClurkin, a preacher and gospel singer who claims to have been "cured" from his homosexuality and was invited to perform at a pro-Obama gospel tour in South Carolina. The Senator said  that the LGBT community had to learn not to be "hermetically sealed" from the faith community, which didn't go down well at all. "Part of the reason they should now know Obama is different than Clinton," writes Josh Feit at the Stranger's Slog, "is because Obama was disorganized enough to let this whole thing happen. Clinton's campaign organization is tight, and would have vetted and calibrated this whole thing out before it blew up; and they would have put the kibosh on it before it ever got started."

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Andrew Sullivan, who wrote the Atlantic piece, quotes from his blog: "At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a momentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce."

Read more about Obama.

Gnomic knowns: The Washington Post has highlighted some of Donald Rumsfeld's more memorable "snowflake" memos. These were the hectoring memoranda the former defense secretary dispatched to his staff at a rate of about 30-60 a day. Wright cites one that has Rummy saying that Muslims avoid "physical labor," the need to elevate "the threat," and to link Iraq and Iran.

At the New Republic's Plank, Jason Zengerle responds to one of the late snowflakes—Nov. 28, 2006—in which Rumsfeld demands his staff come up with a good rejoinder to the New York Times editorial cheering his resignation: "There's something almost kind of poignant about this one. By this point, after all, Rummy had been fired. He was just biding his time at the Pentagon until Bob Gates got confirmed. But there he was still imperiously chewing out his staff and complaining that they weren't sufficiently supporting him. You can almost imagine Rummy's underlings not even bothering to read his memos and just tossing them straight in the trash."

Ann Althouse is underwhelmed and quotes Joel, one of her commenters: "Let me see if I have this straight, we can get the memos of a defense secretary in a time of war before the administration he worked for is even out of office, but we cannot get the memos of the first lady 7 years after her administration is over?"

Mustang Bobby at liberal Shakesville says: "What's perhaps the most telling thread running through these memos is that Rumsfeld's primary mission was to basically scare the crap out of the country. That way the Bush administration could do whatever they wanted in terms of war and conquest."

At TPM Cafe, Bernard Finel, a senior fellow at the American Security Project, was willing to give Rumsfeld some slack given "how bad civil-military relations had become in the Clinton years." But, "[i]n these memos, Rumsfeld comes off as defensive, self-centered, manipulative, deceitful, anti-democratic, and closed minded. He seems more concerned about selling policy to the public than actually getting it right. His substantive assessments are simplistic."

Read more about Rumsfeld's snowflakes.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.