Dead Horse: You may have heard by now that Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war five years ago.
If not, turn on your TV: Obama caps his four-day "Judgment and Experience" tour with a new ad featuring a retired four-star general testifying to Obama's—you guessed it—judgment and experience. "Barack Obama opposed this war from the start, showing insight and courage others did not," says Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, who commanded the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm.
Obama has been harping on his initial opposition to the war for some time now. He mentioned it in his campaign announcement speech. He brings it up at every debate. And he just spent a week patting himself on the back for a decision that, while prescient, many people don't see as a massive gamble. The real gamble, it turns out, is basing so much of his campaign on that one stance he took five years ago.
The problem is, his attack on Hillary for voting to authorize the war—if you can call vague allusions to "judgment" and "Washington insiders" an attack—doesn't seem to be working. Hillary is popular among the anti-war left and has pushed for withdrawal at least as vigorously as Obama has. Plus, her initial support of the war means she doesn't have to strike poses to prove her toughness—see Obama's remarks about bombing Pakistan and Iran. Most Democratic voters don't see Hillary's vote for the war as a deal breaker. Obama should probably stop pretending that it is.
Oct. 4, 2007
Tax Attacks: The GOP debate in Michigan on the economy doesn't happen till next week, but Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are already circling the ring. The two candidates seem determined to show who can send out the most press releases boasting the biggest tax cuts using the biggest fonts.
Yesterday, Giuliani kicked off "Rudy Makes Cents" week (my calendar was marked) by listing his "23 tax cuts" as mayor of New York City. Today he highlighted his cuts to the city work force and the privatization of city-owned businesses. He's stacking up his own record against Romney's in Massachusetts. He even trotted out another former GOP Bay State governor, Paul Cellucci, to show that for many Republicans, ideology trumps geographical loyalty.
Romney, meanwhile, announced the endorsement of New Hampshire anti-tax advocate Tom Thompson and released "A Conservative Blueprint to Lower Taxes." The plan makes all the necessary overtures to renewing Bush's tax cuts, eliminating the "death tax" and cutting taxes for corporations. But at next week's debate, it's not what he will do but what he has done that Romney will have to address. Romney had a $3 billion deficit to balance when he took office in 2003, and he didn't fix it by cutting spending alone. He'll tell you he didn't raise taxes but merely "closed" "loopholes"—a distinction that isn't likely to find a lot of sympathy next Tuesday.
Giuliani has garbled the subject of taxes, too. He says he believes slashing taxes always raises revenue—a notion that, while popular among some crowds, has been all but debunked. This idea led to his bizarre statement that he would pay for tax cuts with more tax cuts. (And for those? More tax cuts!) So far, the other candidates haven't called him out on it. In fact, McCain pretty much agreed.