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November 2, 2008
I started the day noting that the John McCain campaign team (not the candidate) might be by far the most incompetent in history.
I end the day by noting that they are actually much worse than that. In fact, there are no words in the English language sufficient to describe how pathetic these people are. Perhaps the French have a term...
I note that Governor Palin does quite well in this - having been handed a phone by someone in the campaign team and told who is on the other end she had no reason to believe she was being had. Again, it's the campaign team - who doubtless had ample advance notice/coordination on this call - that blew it. Big time. Losing an election Big Time. Barack Obama couldn't have picked a better team himself Big Time.
The commander of the smallest unit in the US military wouldn't allow himself/herself to be surrounded by people this incompetent. Maybe that's why I find it so remarkably disgusting and inexcusable.
Are you out there, Joe?
The Obama campaign team can be accused of significant failures too. One of the most obvious was the handling of the Reverend Wright video. Rather than have their candidate simply claim he never heard Wright utter comments like the ones on that brief collection they could have countered with another video compilation of excerpts of Wright preaching the message of the Gospels. The Sermon on the Mount would have been a great start:
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."Perfect, says I. From the same chapter, later verse: "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Simple yet powerful messages, as is this "'Love your neighbor as yourself."
But instead of a video of Wright preaching the gospels, the candidate was left to go it alone :
Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.How much more powerful would that statement had been if it had only been backed by a brief video of Reverend Wright actually preaching some of those very gospels? Even if the church was unwilling to release such a video a public request by the Obama campaign for them to do so could have been nearly as effective.
Which brings us to the campaign team's second failure: Ironically, not demanding that the LA Times release a video. Not the non-existent video of Reverend Wright preaching the gospel of Christ, but a very much existing (according to the LA Times) video of Obama at a dinner party for a friend:
Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack ObamaThat story is from April, 2008 - before Obama had even secured the Democratic nomination. Arguably, the hints that he's a "friend of Palestine" may have garnered him some votes in that pursuit. That wouldn't draw my vote, but I learned long ago to ignore headlines and read even the most "detailed" stories with much scepticism. However, any verification that Senator Obama (or his opponent) believes in the importance of conversation and the search for common ground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a positive reaffirmation of a concept with which I agree.
But many folks have demanded that the LA Times release the video so that American voters can make up their own minds on that issue. The Times has announced that they promised the source of the video that they would never do so. And that's prompted responses like this one from the right:
Even if you accept for argument’s sake the bunk about honoring the “source’s” supposed wishes, the newspaper wouldn’t need to release the tape in order to give us a more comprehensive account of what happened that evening. So it’s not that the Times is simply withholding the tape. The Times is trying to suppress the story. Not the story as Wallsten spun it back in April. The full story.The initial Times story from April acknowledges that during the party
...a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, "then you will never see a day of peace."...so while they also assure us that
Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground. But his presence at such events, as he worked to build a political base in Chicago, has led some Palestinian leaders to believe that he might deal differently with the Middle East than either of his opponents for the White House....those doubts expressed in response aren't unreasonable.
And they're not unpredictable, either. Which is why the Obama campaign missed a golden opportunity when they failed to echo - or better yet, precede the call by the McCain campaign to release the video with their own demand for just that.
"I'm not in the business about talking about media bias," [McCain] told a Florida radio station. "But what if there was a tape of John McCain in a neo-Nazi outfit being held by some media outlet? I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different."Imagine if instead of their actual response ("This is just another recycled, manufactured controversy from the McCain campaign to distract voters' attention.") team Obama had instead announced that they, too, would like to have the tape released. It would have been a "can't lose" situation - if the LA Times had refused at least no one could accuse the campaign of hiding something they were afraid of. And if the tape had been released, proof of Obama's balanced position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue would be available for all the world to see.
Now certainly, that sort of blunder (or at least missed opportunity) on the part of the Obama campaign doesn't rise to the level of failing to ensure Joe the Plumber is actually in the crowd before telling your candidate to point him out, or not handing a phone to his running mate without somehow ensuring that the guy with French accent actually is the President of France. And certainly if John McCain says "if there was a tape of John McCain in a neo-Nazi outfit being held by some media outlet I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different" then team Obama can rely on the Washington Post to say "Mr. McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have likened Mr. Khalidi, the director of a Middle East institute at Columbia University, to neo-Nazis" - so team Obama doesn't have to worry about blunders to the degree that team McCain does.
But for some reason, with a six hundred million dollar war chest and unquestioning media support on their side, the Obama campaign can't open a reliable and significant lead in pre-election polls. In my mind, release of those two simple videos - both of which have been so well described to us we can almost see them anyway - would seal the deal, and I can't for the life of me imagine why they've failed to do just that.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 2, 2008 1:31 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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