Iraqi official says Obama urged a delay in troop agreement

The Washington Times is reporting tonight that Obama urged Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on US presence in Iraq until a new administration was in place. From the Times:

At the same time the Bush administration was negotiating a still elusive agreement to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to convince Iraqi leaders in private conversations that the president shouldn’t be allowed to enact the deal without congressional approval.
Mr. Obama’s conversations with the Iraqi leaders, confirmed to The Washington Times by his campaign aides, began just two weeks after he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in June and stirred controversy over the appropriateness of a White House candidate’s contacts with foreign governments while the sitting president is conducting a war.
Some of the specifics of the conversations remain the subject of dispute. Iraqi leaders purported to The Times that Mr. Obama urged Baghdad to delay an agreement with Mr. Bush until next year when a new president will be in office – a charge the Democratic campaign denies.
Mr. Obama spoke June 16 to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari when he was in Washington, according to both the Iraqi Embassy in Washington and the Obama campaign. Both said the conversation was at Mr. Zebari’s request and took place on the phone because Mr. Obama was traveling.
However, the two sides differ over what Mr. Obama said.
“In the conversation, the senator urged Iraq to delay the [memorandum of understanding] between Iraq and the United States until the new administration was in place,” said Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States.
He said Mr. Zebari replied that any such agreement would not bind a new administration. “The new administration will have a free hand to opt out,” he said the foreign minister told Mr. Obama.
Mr. Sumaidaie did not participate in the call, he said, but stood next to Mr. Zebari during the conversation and was briefed by him immediately afterward.

Provided Mr. Sumaidaie is correct, the actions by Mr. Obama were out-of-line – some would say worse that out-of-line. Conducting foreign policy is not within the resume of a Presidential candidate.

Message to Obama: We Were Greeted as Liberators

My friend and colleague, Paul Kengor, contributes these observations about Barack Obama’s claim that American troops were not greeted as liberators, made again in last night’s debate. I have friends who have been to Iraq and back as both soldiers and observers and they tell me that many citizens of Iraq view Americans positively and believe we have helped advance their freedoms. Thanks Paul for allowing me to post this article.
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Message to Obama: We Were Greeted as Liberators
By Dr. Paul Kengor
A casualty of the left’s hatred for President George W. Bush has been a destructive inability to separate fact from fiction in the ongoing history of the war in Iraq. The latest case, which, sadly, has dug its way into the head of the Democratic presidential nominee, is the allegation that American troops, when they liberated Baghdad in April 2003, were not welcome as liberators. This inaccurate appraisal, shocking given that it’s made by people who watched the liberation on TV, was leveled again on Tuesday evening by Barack Obama for the second time in consecutive presidential debates. Both times, Obama criticized John McCain for predicting that Americans would be greeted as liberators in Iraq.
I cannot confirm whether McCain said that. Either way, though, the undeniable truth is that we were welcomed as liberators. I know this very well, because I, like everyone over the age of five, lived through it.
I recall a June 27, 2003 piece by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times, titled, “The Man With No Ear.” A few weeks after the apparent cessation of war, Kristof visited Iraq. Like The Times, he adamantly opposed the war. Now, he had to come to grips with the undeniable freedom wrought by the liberation, and the gratitude that Iraqis felt for George W. Bush. One Iraqi told Kristof: “A thousand thanks to Bush! A thousand thanks to Bush’s mother for giving birth to him!”
Kristof admitted he did not expect that reaction. He tracked down a man named Mathem Abid Ali. For deserting the Army, Ali’s ear was amputated. “Children looked at me, and turned away in horror,” he told Kristof. But now, at last, Ali was free. He told Kristof: “I’d like to make a statue in gold of President Bush.”
Kristof admitted that such facts “got in the way” of his plans for his column. He conceded that it was important that doves like himself encounter Saddam’s victims and their joy at being liberated by American troops. Doves “need to grapple with the giddy new freedom that—in spite of us—pullulates from Baghdad to Basra,” wrote Kristof.
When Iraqis weren’t talking of forging gold statues to George W. Bush, they were running around the streets literally praising God for him. Here, too, I could give example after example, but I will stick with another from the popular press, this from the London Telegraph, May 21, 2003:
Juad Amir Sayed, an Iraqi Shiite Muslim, lived in the village of Karada, 90 miles southeast of Baghdad. At age 24, he had buried all of his books in a flour sack, burned his identity card, and constructed a tunnel and three-by-five-foot concrete cell under the family kitchen. He entered that cell on December 2, 1981 and lived there for the next 22 years.
Juad dug a tiny three-inch diameter hole deep into the ground from which he sucked water. This was his well. A smaller peep hole provided a ray of sunlight during the day. His only company was a Koran and a radio with headphones that he kept tuned to the Arabic Service of the BBC. His bright moment came near the 20th anniversary of his confinement when he heard a speech by President Bush on the September 11 attacks. “Mr. Bush gave a speech in which he said the terrorists of the world would be hunted down,” recalled Juad. “The next time my mother brought me food I told her of my conviction that [Saddam] would not last.”
Juad assumed that any hunt for terrorists would naturally include Saddam Hussein. Fortunately for him, the American president agreed.
Once American troops arrived, Juad entered the light of freedom for the first time in over two decades. “I believe that Allah worked through Mr. Bush to make this happen,” said Juad. “If I met Mr. Bush, I would say, ‘thank you, thank you, you are a good human, you returned me from the dead.’”
Those are simply a couple of anecdotes from newspapers. Has everyone forgotten about the images they saw on their television sets?
I spent two hours with about 50 students on the morning of April 9, 2003 watching CNN coverage of Iraqis and U.S. Marines in Firdos Square tearing down a statue of Saddam Hussein, which was then desecrated, spat upon, smacked with shoes, and ridden like a donkey through the streets of Baghdad. As Howard Fineman wrote in Newsweek, affirming what no one doubted, it was George W. Bush “who toppled that statue.”
Doesn’t anyone remember this? Are the biases of liberals so personally crippling that they purge their own memory banks?
Every president has a “finest hour.” For JFK, it was the Cuban Missile Crisis. For Jimmy Carter, it was Camp David. For George W. Bush, it was April 9, 2003.
Of course, shame on President Bush and his administration for not constantly reminding us of this. Certainly, the press hasn’t bothered. And now, yet again, because of the Bush administration’s failure to communicate to the larger public, the president’s enraged opponents have been able to inaccurately portray another highlight from the Iraq war. The left has been so successful in eviscerating George W. Bush that even this amazing day of freedom in his presidency has been somehow turned upside down.
The fall of that statue in Baghdad on that day should be the visual equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall for this president and his presidency. It is not. It is now a negative used by the Democratic presidential nominee!
Now, all that said, here’s a critical rest-of-the-story: George W. Bush eventually became unpopular in Iraq, as did the occupation/reconstruction, especially in the 2005-6 timeframe. No question. The situation deteriorated. But that’s a different argument. The fact is that we were indeed greeted as liberators.
Here again, we have another exhibit in the Hall of Hatred erected to George W. Bush. The left has become so anti-Bush that it can’t make simple distinctions between fact and fiction. And now, worse of all, this latest false charge has become a talking point for the left’s presidential nominee, where, yet again, it is uncontested.
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Paul Kengor is author of God and George W. Bush (HarperCollins, 2004), professor of political science, and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007). This article is archived here on the CVV website.

CNN report on the Barack Obama – William Ayers relationship

As always, I am very interested in hearing from readers about why this does or doesn’t matter. The CNN report makes it clear that Obama wants to minimize the actual relationship. I think this mostly goes away if Obama said somthing like, I made a mistake in hitching my wagon to this guy and moved away from him when I realized what he did and what he stood for. However, as documented by this report, his campaign has fudged a bit on the extent of the connection. Roll the tape:

I think this information is relevant, not because I think Obama is a closet terrorist, but because an analysis of his record reveals something of his political philosophy now. Some of the people who advise him today are those who have advised him since those days (e.g., Penny Pritzker, who advises him on finance but also is on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund. The CPEF is the successor to the Annenberg Challenge which was initiated by Bill Ayers and chaired by Obama). The Ayers connection does not mean Obama supports revolution but it might say something about the types of reforms and education policies he might promote as President.
UPDATE: The Obama campaign is now denying that Obama launched his political career in Ayers home. This may be parsing words (what does “begin” mean?). However, the CNN report places him there and indicates that witnesses characterized it as his “coming out party.”

Obamanomics and the subprime lending crisis

Researching Barack Obama’s philosophical influences, I came across an article called Obamanomics by David Moberg and published in the left-leaning, In These Times.
The March, 2008 article is worth a read in light of the current economic troubles. Moberg predicts the current crisis and discusses Obama’s position regarding the financial industry at that time:

Subprime plans
When it comes to many of the larger issues hounding the economy, Obama hasn’t done much to distinguish himself. He has not been a visionary on the subprime crisis, and his adviser Goolsbee indicated in a New York Times column that the only problem is the rampant fraud that was an integral part of subprime lending. In his proposal to deal with the subprime mortgage debacle, Obama does not support the foreclosure moratorium and interest rate freeze that Clinton and many citizen and labor groups advocate.
But Dean Baker, co-director of the Center on Economic and Policy Research and an early forecaster of housing bubble problems, argues that Obama’s plan is admirable because it is less of a bank bailout than Clinton’s. The problem now, he points out, is not so much the interest rates that are resetting at a higher level, but that the value of people’s houses has declined to less than what they initially paid. Baker advocates guaranteeing people facing foreclosure an option to rent their homes at fair market value. This would avoid many evictions and pressure banks to work out more favorable mortgage agreements.
Obama’s main flaw seems to be excessive caution, not favoritism to the financial services industry, which has contributed almost as much to him as it has to Clinton. But Obama is not beyond influence.
Obama’s national finance chair is Penny Pritzker. Chicago’s wealthy Pritzker family owned half of Superior Bank, a pioneer in subprime lending. When the bank failed in 2001, the family signed a sweetheart deal with federal regulators that let it off with a profit while many depositors lost money. (But Penny’s brother, J.B. Pritzker, is a major Clinton supporter.)
And for years, executives of Exelon, the Illinois-based nuclear utility, have been among Obama’s biggest contributors. (Obama insists nuclear power should not be ruled out as a potential energy source, even if he also promotes alternatives.)

There are many culprits in the current financial melt-down. However, I am puzzled that Obama is viewed by the general public as better able to handle the economy than McCain.
The Pritzker connection seems troubling. Given her experience with subprime lending, I wonder why she was not sounding the alarm.

McCain suspends campaign to focus on economic crisis

I am not student of presidential campaigns but this seems unprecedented.

NEW YORK (CNN) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the “historic” crisis facing the U.S. economy.
McCain said it was time for both parties to come together to solve economic crisis.
The Arizona senator called on his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, to do the same. He also urged organizers of Friday’s presidential debate at the University of Mississippi to postpone the event.
“I am calling on the president to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself,” McCain told reporters in New York. “It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.”
There was no immediate response from the Obama campaign.

UPDATE: John McCain’s campaign just sent out this email:

John McCain’s Remarks on the Economic Crisis
New York, NY
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.
Last Friday, I laid out my proposal and I have since discussed my priorities and concerns with the bill the Administration has put forward. Senator Obama has expressed his priorities and concerns. This morning, I met with a group of economic advisers to talk about the proposal on the table and the steps that we should take going forward. I have also spoken with members of Congress to hear their perspective.
It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration’s proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.
Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.
I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.
We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.
I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.
Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

More from Obama as well:

“It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration’s proposal,” McCain said. “I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.”
McCain said he has spoken to Obama about his plans and asked the Democratic presidential nominee to join him.
Obama’s campaign did not immediate say whether he supported a delay of the debate or would also stop campaigning.
The Obama campaign said in a statement that Obama had called McCain around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to propose that they issue a joint statement in support of a package to help fix the economy as soon as possible. McCain called back six hours later and agreed to the idea of the statement, the Obama campaign said. McCain’s statement was issued to the media a few minutes later.
“We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved,” McCain said. “I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.”

Joe Biden speaks his mind, says McCain attack "terrible"

Stock market crash. Franklin Roosevelt. Television. Ok, I understand the point he was trying to make…

Watch CBS Videos Online
It was a little strange to hear him say, “if Barack had…” in relation to the ad. So did Obama approve the ad or not?
I admire Biden for saying the McCain attack was terrible and I agree with him that it is wrong for either camp to knowingly distort the other candidate’s positions. The differences between candidates is great enough without embellishing.

Obama tells a whopper about McCain and Social Security: Factcheck.org

For a candidate who says he is different kind of politician, Obama is looking pretty predictable. Go to Florida and tell retirees the other guy is going to take away your Social Security. Common tactic.
According to Factcheck.org as reproduced in Newsweek, Obama’s claim about John McCain and Social Security is just plain false. Check it out:

In Daytona Beach, Obama said that “if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week.” He referred to “elderly women” at risk of poverty, and said families would be scrambling to support “grandmothers and grandfathers.”
That’s not true. The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. All current retirees would be covered by the same benefits they are now.

and then…

In our “Scaring Seniors” article posted Sept. 19 we took apart a claim in an Obama-Biden ad that McCain somehow supported a 50 percent cut in Social Security benefits, which is simply false. Then, on Saturday Sept. 20, Sen. Barack Obama personally fed senior citizens another whopper, this one a highly distorted claim about the private Social Security accounts that McCain supports.

Factcheck has some ink on McCain’s claims as well so they are pretty objective it seems. How many days until the election?
I am not sure what is most amazing, Obama’s claims or his campaign worker’s tortured effort to defend it.

Obama's misleading new ad on Born Alive Infant Protection Act

It is hard to know where to start with this one.
Ben Smith at Politico posted this new ad from Barack Obama blasting McCain for another ad by Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor.

First, the Jessen ad is not John McCain’s ad. Second, McCain does support the availability of abortion in cases of rape and incest (Sarah Palin does not). And third, Barack Obama voted against legal recognition to infants of quesionable viability while an Illinois state senator. Obama has yet to clarify his conflicting statements about why he said he would vote for the federal version of the BAIPA but did not vote for it at the state level.
I recently had an op-ed published in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin on this topic: When does a baby get human rights?

Who's the centrist in the 2008 election?

Both McCain and Obama want the mantle of a change agent and one capable of reaching across party divide. This article in the Philadelphia Inquirer from John Lott, research scientist at University of MD, contests the Obama charge that McCain is McSame, or a clone of George Bush. He writes:

Does John McCain represent a third Bush term? The Obama campaign claims the two are almost indistinguishable. It was the mantra during the Democratic convention, and it is the theme of new ads Barack Obama is running. The ads claim that McCain is “no maverick when he votes with Bush 90 percent of the time.”
This week Obama has begun a constant refrain that there is “not a dime worth of difference” between Bush’s and McCain’s views. It is a consistent theme of Democratic pundits on talk shows.
Is this the same McCain who drove Republicans nuts on campaign finance, the environment, taxes, torture, immigration and more? Where has McCain not crossed swords with his own party?
As it’s being used, the 90 percent figure, from Congressional Quarterly, is nonsensical. As Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman explained, “The vast majority of those votes are procedural, and virtually every member of Congress votes with his or her leadership on procedural motions.”
Obama might want to be a little careful with these attacks, as the same measure has him voting with Democrats 97 percent of the time.

Anyone who has followed McCain’s career knows that he has not been an easy vote for the Republican leadership on certain issues. Dr. Lott details some of those issues. Attempts to paint McCain as a lock-step Republican fail when scrutinized.

Song wars: Heart doesn't heart Sarah Palin

Heart’s sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson are not feeling the love with sister Sarah Palin this morning. Last night, after John McCain’s speech, Heart’s hit song “Barracuda” was played, most likely in tune with Sarah Palin’s high school nickname of “Sarah Barracuda.”
The Wilson girls don’t share Palin’s political views and consequently don’t want to share their tune with the GOP. However, my understanding is that if a royalty is paid, then the song may be used.
Obama stepped into similar waters using the Brooks and Dunn song “Only in America” during his convention. In contrast to sisters Wilson, Brooks and Dunn take a more artistic view of the use of their work. “Only in America” songwriter, Don Cook said:

“…For us as writers and them as performers, truthfully, we’re proud when anybody uses our song for something that’s substantial. Even if you’re diametrically opposed politically to the person who’s using your song, the fact that they like it well enough to use it at an important place in their life, you have to love that.”

Well said…