Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Europe vs. Clinton, Edwards and Obama

by nanne Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 05:28:39 PM EST

The next US President is going to be a huge improvement for relations between the US and Europe. If, as seems likely, it's going to be a Democrat.

If we focus on the relations of the EU and of our individual countries with the US, there are substantial differences between the three Democrats who could still win the Democratic nomination: Clinton, Edwards and Obama. Those differences are nowhere near as big as the differences between these three and any Republican, but they're important.

Europe is still going to have challenges to work out with all three candidates. All three are still firm believers in American exceptionalism, but express it in different ways.

(Adapted from Obama and Europe)


"I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth." - Barack Obama

"We cannot achieve any of the solutions that we need to be pursuing without American leadership, and we cannot achieve any of them alone." - Hillary Clinton

"We must do everything in our power to reclaim the United States' historic role as a beacon for the world and become, once again, a shining example for other nations to follow." - John Edwards

Hillary Clinton, on the face of it, is the most hawkish of the three candidates. If she becomes President, her current foreign policy advisor Richard Holbrooke will likely become Secretary of State. Both Clinton and Holbrooke have a tough, hard-nosed approach to politics and negotiations. On the other hand, Clinton is also a cautious operator. She should be expected to take a hard line in a confrontation, but not to embark on any adventures without careful planning.

The speech from which the Clinton quote above is taken from is strikingly humble and realistic. However, that doesn't get her past her support for the amendment that classifies the Iran Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation. It also doesn't get her past calling Obama "irresponsible and frankly, naive" for proposing to sit down with the leaders of what the US calls 'rogue countries', adding that she "wouldn't want to be used for propaganda purposes".

Clinton is still the one most concerned with posturing and toughness. That's because -- that's who she is. She is a cautious, smart hawk. Fundamentally different from Bush on two out of three counts, but a hawk all the same.

John Edwards is probably the most dovish candidate. The EU will run into issues with Edwards over trade policy, not foreign policy.

The core constituency for the Edwards campaign is the working class, and he will move to protect the interests of that constituency by taking protectionist measures. As Edwards' main campaign theme is fighting for the people, he may be all too happy to get into a row.

Another campaign theme of Edwards is fighting the (corporate/lobbying) system in Washington. The EU should expect him to take that fight further to the international institutions dealing with trade. Edwards could well challenge the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, the G8, and so on. However, this also provides an opportunity for the EU to re-order these institutions together with the US. France and the Mediterranean countries would be very interested in that, the UK and other trading countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, not so much.

Much of what Edwards proposes -- labour standards, environmental standards, capital controls... it's also favoured by most European countries. But, to varying degrees, and not by all. On trade policy, the European Union has a large amount of influence, much more than on foreign policy, and there are some elements of the EU that are strongly in favour of free trade.

If Edwards becomes President it is vital for the EU to engage him immediately and constructively on trade issues, otherwise a confrontation will be nigh-inevitable.

Barack Obama, who now seems the favourite to win the elections, is both the best, the most challenging and the most dangerous candidate for the EU. To start with the danger, Obama is not a dove. Despite being the only one of these three to oppose the war in Iraq from the start, he is as likely to start a military confrontation as Clinton is, perhaps even more so.

The reason is that Barack Obama, more than Clinton, more than Edwards, believes in the moral duty of the US to lead the world. David Vickrey called this expression of exceptionalism 'exemplarism' in a recent editorial on the Atlantic Review. The interventionist reflex this leads to in the event of humanitarian crises will be reinforced by Obama's foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, who should go on to become National Security Advisor under an Obama presidency. Power near-literally wrote the book on interventions in humanitarian crises.

On the other hand, a main theme of Obama's campaign and his wider political career has been reaching across the aisle to 'get work done'. This bipartisanship can be frowned upon in the current context of American politics, but extended to international relations, it would be of great use. In terms of style, then, Obama is the least confrontational of the three candidates and the one most likely to find common ground with the EU.

This will also become a challenge, as Obama is the candidate likely to ask for the most, and get the most. He's the one most likely to get Europeans to do something they initially really did not want to do (and maybe, for good reason).

Worryingly, Obama does not seem to have all too much interest of his own in Europe.

Summarising: Europe should be optimistic about any of these three candidates as a President. But we are still going to have differences and Europe should prepare for that.

The people of the United States of America should not expect the transatlantic alliance to immediately get back to the level it was at before Bush. We have differences, and Bush broke a lot of things down.

Building it up again takes more than a more inspiring leadership. It takes years of work.

Display:
Now crossposted to the big wild orange, please recommend :-)
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 05:35:43 PM EST
Not a bad place to expose Hillary, once again, as a foreign policy hawk, which she is. It is the Bush Lite garb she has taken on that has made her a scary candidate, one who may have accepted the Cheney-Bush-Blair belief that a war between the West and Islam is inevitable.

Dangerous lady.

by shergald on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 01:49:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe vs. Clinton, Edwards and Obama
If Edwards becomes President it is vital for the EU to engage him immediately and constructively on trade issues, otherwise a confrontation will be nigh-inevitable.
I have no doubt the European Commission will be ready to engage the President-elect as early as November this year. They are so frustrated by Bush that I cannot imagine them not doing it regardless of who of the three wins.

As for the national governments, I am not so sure.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 06:56:54 PM EST
I don't think the issue John Edwards has with the corporate ownership of this country is antithetical to the European positions, I rather think he wants the same general things that most people of good will would favor, labor pacts that emphasize fair trade with labor protections and environmental controls built into them.  I certainly don't expect (and I'm very much an Edwards partisan in this race) his attack on the corporations to be greatly leftist in a classical sense, probably not nearly enough, but even a populist leftist, that just tried to get a better deal from our masters would be a good improvement for us here.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:38:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it's likely that Edwards gets into a confrontation with the EU over trade.  The only country I can imagine there being a big, public confrontation with in China.  Trade with Europe isn't even on the radar.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 08:17:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... "fair trade" agenda, one of the most direct paths to some of the desired reforms is through organizing a coalition of stakeholders, where the support of EU members would be critical.

Indeed, automatically labeling opposition to the NAFTA-model corporate wealth agreements as "protectionism" would seem to be a symptom of a chronic form of the Anglo-disease when it spreads among intellectuals.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 09:40:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To specify the argument, I think Edwards is the one most likely to succumb to pressure from special interests (labour organisations and industrialists) to raise tariffs, and you can't easily raise tariffs just on China, you have to raise them across the board.

The EU will not like tariffs.

On the other hand, I like the potential an Edwards presidency offers to rearrange the institutions and terms of international trade. But we'd have to form a common understanding to do that, and it's crucial do so very early in his eventual presidency.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:04:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Couple of years ago, US administration (Bush) increased tariffs on some products. EU commision took it to WTO and got a license to counter. It then raised tariffs on key products exported by swing states. US quickly backed down.

It was a short trade war which I remember mostly by the tariff on swedish gingerbread cookies.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:01:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I remember that. I think it was only the threat of retaliatory duties that made the US back down.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was mainly about steel, as I remember it. The tariffs did last for about two years and did their job for Bush, politically.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:19:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... pressure. The question is very much which way he will elect to go, since there is far more than enough countervailing force against crude protectionism to give wide leeway to a President who wishes to satisfy anti-globalist sentiments.

For example, a fight to reform WTO environmental exception treatment to allow a simple ban on tuna fished with the worst dolphin killing nets would attract so much support from various members of the anti-globalist coalition, and take the wind from the sails of a crude protectionist drive. And there is always the recourse to a "hard" negotiation with China to raise their exchange rate against the dollar ... where if it were not to the extent that it involves an increase of the value of the Renminbi against the Euro or the Yen, could well be gained as a victory trophy.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 10:28:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It may not be on your radar, or Edwards', which is why nanne stresses that the EU needs to engage him early.

There are ongoing issues with European restrictions to the sale of GMOs. There will be issues with REACH. There is an arcane dispute on bananas at the WTO, which is absurd because neither the US nor the EU produce significant quantities of bananas. Also, the European Commission blames the US for the collapse of the Doha round negotiations at the WTO on the issue of agricultural subsidies.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:25:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but I'm speaking more to big-picture issues.I thought the implication before was that Edwards might get into a confrontation with the EU resulting in much higher tariffs, or something to that effect.  I was simply stating that there'd be little, and likely nothing, to gain from that politically, because there's no perception of Europe playing in an unfair way.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:18:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Firstly, I had an epiphany last night that Obama is Sarko; their political campaigns are identical for all intents and purposes. By epiphany I mean sudden intuition. By intuition I mean not justified; I have no exposition as yet to describe their ideological similarities or of course predict any mutually beneficial outcomes.

Neo-liberal is inadequate.

Secondly, your article will not be well received at dkos. No one (a bit of exaggeration) in the US can project international consequences of the presidential election. No one (more hyperbole) on the www is even concerned about Congressional gambits in the '08 election cycle. Perhaps they are waiting until V-E Day, coinciding with canvassing season, to advance an analysis of the president-elect's political capital, so to speak?

I'm glad your cross-posted/ I didn't recommend it, given the commentary thus far. Doing so is an empty gesture.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:03:33 PM EST
Looking at dkos I think that early results indicate that you are wrong. It looks reasonably well received to me.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:12:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's much easier to get on the rec list here :-)

This piece was originally written with a European audience in mind, though I modified that slightly for Daily Kos. But it's still in the right place here.

Daily Kos reminds me why I got off Usenet, frankly. Big sea. A constant stream of diaries, most of them seem to be repeating campaign spin from one candidate or the other. With predictable comments. I imagine that it is especially crazy due to the election season.

Still, I appreciate that a number of people liked reading the piece.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 08:08:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In all fairness to dailyKOS (and I am not always fair) they are explicitly set up to get the Democratic Party elected - as opposed to journalistic or free speech considerations.  

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 08:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know. For the record, this is just about the diaries section as it looks right now, not the front page, which I read every now and then and appreciate.

There have been 65 diaries after mine at the moment I'm writing this... after 3 and a half hours (I'm reminded, it's time to log off) I expected the orange place to be busy, but this busy...

It'll be worthwhile repeating some points when the nominee is clear and things have calmed down a bit.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 08:54:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You should ask Jerome about posting tips.

Obama has captured the hopes of a huge number of people. Especially important in that is that he has captured the hopes and dreams of the black population who just may show up in record numbers to vote for him. I guess after 8 years of dear leader people are desperate, and hopeful. The pixels are working over time.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 09:39:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You should ask Jerome about posting tips.

Tips are always welcome!

I did not go into this flying blind, though... I remember some comment here about when to post on Kos (aimed for 23:00 CET, overshot that a bit), but I can't seem to find that.

But I don't want to bitch too much. For a first diary, it did reasonably well. Next time I'm going to be a bit pithier, a bit more controversial in the intro.

Let's just say that the quality of the feedback here on eurotrib is, as usual, amazing.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How I measure "well-received" at dKos weights number of comments by comment content.

In review this morning, I find one directly addressing the prompt: US militarization of Africa, justified by Clinton doctrine as distinct from BHO "exemplarism" (what a novel turn of phrase that is! Not) or JRE "MICtourism" (for want of a slogan -bwah!- to describe his Kemp-Biden-Herzliya orientation to containing nukes; Do you wonder where NATO fits in the "Marshall Corp"?).

I recommended nanne's article here because I expected thoughtful responses insofar as any one is capable of differentiating the POTUS candidates'strategic methods and conceiving of political priorities within the EU. That's a stretch for the average American who is as mystified by back-packing Europe one summer as s/he was once charmed by GWB's inexplicable ability to miss such an "experience."

I believe my prediction is vindicated.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 10:09:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... counting as well-received?


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 10:33:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All the comment contain content. So let me further qualify my metric with the expectation that the content demonstrate some analytic process.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 10:59:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... stereotypical content ... the old definition of information as a difference that makes a difference ... so I don't count, "I agree so you are right", "I disagree so you are wrong", "I agree/disagree with you because I think that doing so helps candidate X", "You obviously have the hidden agenda of supporting candidate Y", and that often takes care of in excess of half the comments.

Of course, if a diary hits the reclist, the content/comment ratio often takes a severe negative hit. Its not called the wrecklist for nothing.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 02:00:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr McF, I recall fondly the first time you responded to a comment of mine at dKos. "Rein this pony in ..." LOL

Well neither the psychology of the individual nor that of markets allows constraints defined by economic theory of rational agents.

Say, I've been meaning to report to one of your Biker reports that I've encountered a couple multi-taskers in MD: phoning while pedaling. Is this the seed of a trend? I hope not.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 04:57:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... I multi-task on my bike ... I listen to Australian news and science fiction short story podcasts while riding.

But ... I don't call those gadgets to allow people to use the mobile in the car "hands free mobiles" ... I call them "brain free driving".

At least if the cyclist is doing it, they are mostly risking their own neck.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 06:49:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If by "well-received" you mean nanne didn't get flamed then yes, it was.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 05:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not that hard to project when the actors have a track record.

It's 2000. What kind of world can Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle build?

It's 2008, if Clinton wins, what kind of world will Holbrooke create?

by Upstate NY on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MarketTrustee:
Firstly, I had an epiphany last night that Obama is Sarko

Maybe not so much.

I think that diary nails it to the wall.

Not to suggest the identity is perfect. But I think it explains some of the unease that some people are feeling around Obama.

And it's a feeling I've had myself. I remember arguing with people who Just Didn't Get It in 2000. The feeling I have now isn't quite so obvious and panic-stricken, but it is similar.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 10:44:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The bankruptcy of American democracy is illustrated by the fact that Obama chooses to campaign on such empty sloganeering---and that it sells.
Gore is right- the political dialog in the US is broken.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 01:59:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't this be the bankruptcy of any democracy?

There are 300 million Americans. We have an electoral college system instituted at the time of the founding of the nation.

This has consequences. In certain states, the candidates can have a more heady discourse. In others they can't. n Iowa, the Republicans have to pay attention to farming and God. In New Hampshire they don't. This is why Huckabee wins in one state and drags in the next.

The States are nowhere near as fractious as the EU of course, but you can imagine trying to run a campaign for Europe.

I agree with you that there is little substance spoken (although each of the candidates have offered detailed plans that are easily reviewed, seldom referred to for fear of boring the electorate) but this superficiality speaks to the deep fissures in American culture.

by Upstate NY on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 10:30:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY:
Wouldn't this be the bankruptcy of any democracy?

As always, it comes down to education and the media. A critical media and a critical, informed population would be far more democratic than what we have now - anywhere.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 06:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same here, I have a very uneasy feeling about Obama, but as you said not as bad as in 2000.

To me Obama is like an empty screen or a Rohrschach inkplot - you can project whatever you want, whatever you hope for on him. And my guess is, it will be a rude awakening for those people if he becomes president, because even if he should be a much better president, than my feelings indicate, he will not be able to fullfil these undefined projections on him.

Like so many times before, I really hope to be proven wrong - it would be even a great joy to be proven wrong for a change.

by Fran on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 02:14:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To me, Obama is Sarko with added Empathy, and both remind me of Blair in that they all believe in nothing other than in gaining and retaining power and (in Sarko's case, Kudos).

I doubt whether any of them have ever had an original idea in their lives and all therefore go with the ideology foisted upon them by the Corporatocracy.

Except that if and when that ideology is generally perceived to have failed (which it is doing right now) both Obama and Sarko are capable of turning on a policy sixpence and doing something else.

It is the job of ET and others like us to get that "something else" out there.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:58:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I must be missing something in Sarko.  To me he is "that horrid little man" always popping up unwanted being terribly chummy with Merkel and others who really wonder what he's on.  He has about the charm of a smart teenager always claiming to be smarter than everybody else.

We are so used to people like Blair looking like intellectual giants compared to Bush.  Any of Obama, Clinton, Edwards and maybe even McCain would make Sarkozy seem like a very marginal figure in the grand scheme of things. Even Putin has more substance though I'm not sure I like the substance.

The American's sometimes complain that when the want to negotiate with "yurp" they don't know who to ring.  I hope it's not Sarkozy because he'd give away the Common Agricultural Policy just for an invitation for a State visit to Washington and a white tie dinner in the white house.  Thats why Cecilia had to go and a replacement had to be lined up.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 12:58:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
here between Sarko-Bush-Obama et al is an ideological and concrete regression to the mean ;)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 04:46:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the "identity" is suitable yet too little, too late, coming from Ms Alegre who is/was a hard-core HRC campaigner.

I'm well aware of the rhetorical debt BHO owes that creature -- that economic "beacon of opportunity," preemptive doctrine, NIE applications, affordable housing?, energy policy!-- since '06. When I was still commenting at dKos, comparisons were rejected out of hand. BTW, the most peculiar remark in my mind, at any rate, was BHO explicit statement that he agreed with GWB on maximum sentencing.

The perversion of due process in GWB's wake cannot be understated. Most recently I indulged in a lop-sided discursion on creeping unitary theory, specifically the putative adjudicative function of "my"(BHO's phrase) DoJ. And as it happened one week later, Charlie Savage (Boston Globe) filed a survey of leading candidates of both parties. I lurked dkos, seeking coherence on the subject and finding none.

Doubtless the expectations of the American voter, irrespective of race or blog activity, are so low as to be immeasurable. High paradox on the campaign trail of "change," no? I am discomfitted by the notion that the myth of a classless society is at last affixed to personal finance.

Relating Obama to Sarko now is a demographic wonder, a wholy intellectual digression perhaps. All that I'm able to express here is that I was much impressed by Sarkozy's ability to split the left by generation, using "reform" as an axe, serated by promises of marginal "opportunities" for the youth vote. Then, again, I am not as intimately familiar with his rhetoric as I am his um stature.

Suffice to say, should BHO win the office, I look forward to warm coordination between him and the leader of the francophone universe in devising solution to um shared unemployment problems.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:00:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Samantha Power's is an interesting case.

In her book, she called the Cyrus Vance-Lord David Owen plan for Bosnia a "giveaway" to the Serbs, and also she said "it bought them time," even though the Serbs agreed to it as a peace plan.

Now, the Dayton Plan has its flaws, and we may yet see it unravel if the Bosnian Serbian Republic ever manages to secede, but it was the best peace plan that was in place, and Milosevic the horse trader got what he wanted when he traded the Krajina for the Bosnian Serb Republic.

I'm imagining that, since Dayton was so close to Vance-Owen in terms of actual territory, that Power was none too happy with Dayton either.

This means that she may be a maximalist when it comes to foreign intervention. If you're going to scuttle a peace plan like Vance-Owen, then a humanitarian such as Power is not going to stand by and watch 100,000 be slaughtered. That would be hypocritical and ironic. This would mean that she would have favored foot soldiers on the ground in Bosnia combating Serbian militias and paramilitary.

That's an important distinction to make about Obama's foreign policy team.

by Upstate NY on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 08:07:28 PM EST
Call me an old cynic, but I'm not sure you can infer all that much of what a successful candidate will actually do once elected based on their campaign team and rhetoric.

There are two radically different games being played here

  1. Do/say whatever it takes to get elected

  2. Think about what you really want to do when you get elected and appoint your governing (as opposed to your campaign) team appropriately at that point.

Under 1) Hilary had to look tough as a women.  She probably has the instinctive Clinton game plan of not being trumped on national security issues by the GOP, so be as right wing as you think you can get away with and still win the Dem nomination.  Big problem was the Dem faithful don't want anyone within an asses roar of Bush to be their nominee.  She underestimated the degree to which public opinion ha turned on Bush and anyone vaguely close to him on foreign policy.  She should have secured the democratic faithful first and worried about not being blind-sided on National security later.

For Obama it was easier.  Hillary was the front runner running a typically centrist campaign to try and overcome her partisan image and pull in some independents.  Position yourself slightly but distinctly to the left of her.  Opposing Iraq was a no brainer if you weren't so obsessed with not being trumped by GOP on national security. First focus on wresting the Dem nomination from the heir presumptive Hillary.  Otherwise she had it sown up anyway.

For Edwards the focus was perhaps more on trade and corporatism at the expense of workers.  Position yourself slightly to the left of the heir presumptive Clinton on social and economic issues.

In trying to secure her right flank Clinton left herself too exposed on her left flank on both foreign and domestic policy.

2)  So what would they all actually do if elected?  To an extent they have to at least appear to genuflect to their base which got them into power.  So the initial mood music and image management would certainly be different.  But very soon the actual election and how it was fought and won is forgotten.  Events dictate what happens next and for all I know Clinton could be more radical and decisive than the other two.  She certainly has waited a long time for her chance and for her there will be no next time.  I don't have a clue what Obama would do except that is focus might be more Asia than Europe.  Edwards might be more focused on domestic rather than foreign policy issues -provided events did conspire to force him to focus on trade and geopolitical issues more.

But its all guesswork.  You need to have the inside dope on what these guys discuss in private when they are not talking electoral politics.  It really has vry little to do with actually being President.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 09:08:12 PM EST
I agree with you.

It depends also on the results of the congressional elections. First, the number of senators: if the Democrats manage to gain 60 seats or more, they will be in a position to bring change. Second, the number of "left-wing democrats" among the newly elected.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 02:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I looked at four different things with these candidates

  • Their campaign rhetoric
  • Their foreign policy staff
  • Their style
  • Their record

Based on the overall picture, I do think that Hillary Clinton's position is her natural position. With John Kerry in '04 it seemed obvious that his hawkishness was just a matter of positioning, not so with Clinton. It matches with her style, it matches with her overall record.

But maybe she's just a better actress.

You're right that we don't really know right now what these candidates will do in face of circumstances and Melanchton is absolutely right in saying that a lot depends on how large the Democratic majority in Congress will be.

But to some extent, we don't have the luxury to take that position ('we' on Eurotrib do, the people in power in Europe, don't). I'd vastly prefer it if we didn't take a sit and wait attitude to what a Democratic President will do, because we'll accomplish a lot less.

It would be irresponsible not to speculate ;-)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:50:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You've done all any outsider can do in this situation, and done it well.  Speculation can be such fun but I pine for the insider info!

nanne:

But maybe she's just a better actress.

My guess is tat we have no idea just how good she is, and how good Obama is at being a white screen on which almost anyone can project their favourite fantasies and imagine they are seeing the real deal (i.e. their aspirations in a mirror).

Both qualities are the essence of mass politics and both are supremely good at it.  Therefore I caution against imagining that what we are doing here is anything more than analyzing the projected images manufactured by their respective handlers.

I am reminded of the firm "The Candidate" in which a young Robert Redford plays a handsome young upstart idealist who overthrows the party machine and wins a Senate seat.  Having been elected he asks, In the final sequence,  almost for the first time since his long lost idealistic days "what do we do now?".  He is beholden to the machine that elected him, but the process of winning the seat had become an end in itself, and he had long lost the and sold out on the idealism that had led him to politics in the first place.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 06:23:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we have a better idea of Clinton because, as she keeps insisting, she's been around for 35 years.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 06:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A women with the self-discipline to put up with Bill for 35 years is capable of hiding her true feelings from almost anyone.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:10:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I repost here a comment I made in another diary:

It is very interesting to look at the contributions made by various industries to the financing of the candidates. You can see them on this site: Open Secrets. Take a look at the contributions from lobbyists...

(thanks to Sharon Wraight on Daily Kos)

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But your point only applies to foreign policy. For us Americans, it's much easier to discern what these people will be like on domestic policy.

One needs only to look at the difference in their health care plans to understand that Obama is much closer to the insurance industry on this issue than Edwards is.

by Upstate NY on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 10:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing I see that a lot of people kind of forget...not here, so much, but in US blogs...that US presidents do not legislate. They suggest bills and budgets and approaches, but it all has to get passed by the House and the Senate (with the Senate being much slower, typically). So, what will be an important thing to bear in mind is, whoever does get elected (thinking positively that it will be a Democrat) will be impacted a great deal by whether there is a Democratic majority in both the House (likely) and the Senate (needs a bigger majority to make changes there). That was one of the problems Bill Clinton faced, he had 6 years in office where he had a rabid Right-wing majority in both the House and Senate, which forced him to negotiate a lot to get anything done (and had to give up a lot, in the process).

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:10:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should add that it will also depend on how left-leaning will be the newly elected Congress members and how they will perceive the voters' expectations

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: "The reason is that Barack Obama, more than Clinton, more than Edwards, believes in the moral duty of the US to lead the world."

Sounds or seems to me a shade of Bush there...

by The3rdColumn on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 09:35:02 PM EST
American exceptionalism is not limited to Bush, it is part of the American fabric. Bush is just the example of how it ends up if coupled to pugnacious power politics and neoconservative radicalism. It will be expressed completely differently under an Obama presidency (though I fear it will still lead to ill-guided military interventions).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:18:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Part of the American fabric? Exactly. That's why there have to be power counterbalances to the United States. The European Union should be one of them. During the Cold War, with the Soviet Union as a superpower, American leaders knew that if they did something gross, they would wake up in the morning and find a big hole in the ground where Chicago had been the night before. Britain's Margaret Thatcher pointed out a number of times that the superpowers' mutual threat kept the peace for a very long time, and that was an awful truth to admit. Now, we've seen adaquately what the Land-of-the-Free-and-the-Home-of-the-Brave gets up to when the United States takes center stage alone. It's an ugly picture, and the trend is going to continue with the next US president.
by Anthony Williamson on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:18:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US got up to plenty during the Cold War -- see Wikipedia, List of United States military history events

I think the only post-war President who did not effectively wage war was Jimmy Carter. On the other hand, three of these wars - Korea, Iraq (Desert Storm) and Afghanistan - had the required support in international law.

I don't think setting up the EU as a competing block is the solution. The solution is ultimately to strengthen global governance and tie the US into it.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 08:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They won't even buy into what little international governance there is now - seeking to destroy the UN, not signing up for the Hague and Kyoto conventions etc.  American exceptionalism does not allow for America to be ruled by any "global governance".

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 08:42:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American exceptionalism does not allow for America to be ruled by any "global governance".

The ideas do conflict, but there is nothing logically exclusive about American exceptionalism and global governance. For instance you can believe that America is the last, best hope of earth, or "the indispensible nation", or history's shining moral beacon, and still think it is worthwhile to sign and abide by treaties and support the UN. Much of international law has been shaped by the US. By and large, outright opposition to global governance has come from the post-1994 Republicans.

Signing up to the Kyoto successor treaty and the International Criminal Court are critical tests for the next US President.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 05:21:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole international system, UN, World Bank and IMF and WTO were set up to the US specification when the US was powerful enough to dictate the terms and control the institutions. Under Bush the US has been trying to undermine the international system because since the 1990's it is increasingly unable to control it. the "Saner" US presidential candidates want to reassert control, while the others will continue with the dismantling. But the US will rather retreat into isolationism than accept being an equal to any other entities.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 05:38:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The general point being that Global Governance is all very well so long as it is led by the US of A.

It's a bit like the EU being all very well and good as long as long as it is led on UK lines!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 09:30:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The general point being that Global Governance is all very well so long as it is led by the US of A.

It's a bit like the EU being all very well and good as long as long as it is led on UK lines!


It's a good argument. We should aim for more IMO, but whether we can expect more... I don't know.

Now, whether the UK has ever lead the EU is eehm... something that can very well be questioned.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 09:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(drop the a in lead)
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 09:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... UK are two entirely different things. The FT demand for Anglo disease EU-wide is not that the UK imposes Anglo disease ... they are perfectly happy if it is a self-imposed disease instead.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 04:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EXCELLENT diary, nanne, thanks!!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:32:34 AM EST
Regardless of who gets elected, the new president will immediately be confronted with at least four huge domestic problems:

  • The current military establishment is exhausted and broke. A HUGE "investment" in armaments will be required if the U.S. is to maintain its ability to "lead" by military means. For example, most our F-15 air superiority fighters are all grounded because of structural failure, and the army is literally worn out--both in equipment terms and human terms.
  • Energy crisis. The recent energy bill was a whitewash, and everybody in Washington knows it. Car fuel is one thing, but with heating bills exceeding $1000 per month in the Northeast, the problem is going to have to be solved.
  • Global warming. While Bush and Cheney might not be willing to confront this problem, the next president will have to--given that his or her potential second term will overlap the start of the big and obviously undeniable environmental effects.
  • Health care and social security. The baby boomers are just now starting to retire, and when they look at their first social security check and realize that they can't make their house, car, and medical payments, they will start to ask questions that have been ignored for 50 years.

Meanwhile, the usual global political issues will still be at hand.

The next decade is going to be interesting, that's for sure. I expect a Democrat to win, but it's really difficult to predict what they might do when confronted with so many big problems at the same time.

by asdf on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 09:43:41 AM EST
I'm betting on versions of a "Civilian Corp." It's a predictable solution to two problems: expanding DoD budget and recruiting thousands of unemployed bodies during recession... When combat duty boggles the imagination, saying yes to the world's finest health care is a plausible hook.

GWB repackaged USAID/Peace Corp in his last state of the union address. (USAID is a financial black hole, of course, but have you ever read Chomsky on the US ground game in SE Asia prior to Nam?) Every Democratic candidate since Jan '07 has incorporated a flavor of this quasi-military, "public-private" programming into their foreign policy as distinct from  fiscal stimulus platform.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:18:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thoroughly enjoy this site; it amazes me how little the posters know about usa for all that they obsess over it;
so, e.g. daily kos, while interesting, is read by almost no one; it is, in this country, somewhat laughable; as is the prospect of edwards being nominated and/or elected; he has only slightly higher odds than kucinich; i.e. none

as for exceptionalism, i thought it was an american affliction until i heard chirac's farewell; apparently there is a fully developped french version.

in any case, i love the site, and think you all should spend a year in some midwestern american town, which is where i live. it is a vastly different place than the america you imagine.

by tomcunn (tomcunn@execpc.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:55:20 PM EST
Let me remind you that a significant number of European Tribune users (and nearly half of the contributors in this thread) are either American or living in the United States...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 02:46:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tomcunn:
thoroughly enjoy this site; it amazes me how little the posters know about usa for all that they obsess over it;

Well I am one of those Europeans who knows relatively little of the US (apart from two summers there many moons ago which I very much enjoyed) and am here to learn.  Fortunately I don't have to move to the Mid West to do so.  The Mid West, no more than Europe or the Middle East, is not the centre of the Universe. I understand L'exception Francaise as an in joke around Europe although others here may beg to differ (Hi Jerome!).

However, the beauty of this site is that if you do think we are missing out on some exceptional piece of Mid West wisdom, you are free to expound on it with a diary of your own.  Patronising people for their lack of knowledge of the US generally doesn't work as well as actually making an effort to communicate your unique insight into its particular charms.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 09:47:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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