Hillary Clinton

But We've Got the Biggest Balls of Them All!

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Rudy Giuliani is surging, Petraeus-style, in GOP polls; completely coincidentally, a number of liberal writers are challenging his foreign policy credentials. Liberaltarian-hater Jon Chait:

What are Giuliani's credentials? Everybody knows the basics. On September 11, 2001, he rolled up his shirt sleeves and gave reassuring speeches. He has a tough guy persona. He expresses extremely strong disapproval for enemies of the United States. (For instance, Giuliani has bragged about asking President Bush to let him personally execute Osama bin Laden.)

If having a macho swagger and talking tough about bad guys were enough to make a good commander in chief, we wouldn't have the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history on our hands right now in Iraq. And, need I remind anybody, one of the reasons Giuliani hasn't been able to fulfill his Bin Laden execution fantasy is that Bush allowed the Al Qaeda leader to escape at Tora Bora by using Afghan proxies instead of U.S. ground troops.

This is completely correct. But it rings a little hollow because, honestly, don't liberals wish they had a candidate with an instant brass-balls image like Giuliani? As liberal blogger Matt Stoller noticed, Hillary Clinton is trying to manufacture that image by lambasting Democrats who "may tell you that we don't face a real threat from terrorism." She does so (if Chris Cillizza's context is right) as a way of… defending her stance on Iraq, which as you'll remember posed no terrorist threat when she voted to invade it.

So here's the rundown: Everyone basically agrees that the U.S. faces a long-term threat from Muslim terrorists. Most people agree that the Bush approach to terrorism, of talking tough and invading rogue states, hasn't dealt with that threat. So in order to convince us that they can defeat Muslim terrorism, the two party's leading POTUS candidates are defining "toughness" and the ability to defeat terrorists as… talking tough and invading rogue states.

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  1. honestly, don’t liberals wish they had a candidate with an instant brass-balls image like Giuliani?

    No we don’t. Democratic political consultants might, but liberal voters don’t. And I don’t think Hillary is doing herself any favors with primary voters by continuing to insist that her vote for the Iraq was was not a mistake or bad judgement on her part and conflating(a la Bush/Cheney) terrorists and 9/11 with Iraq.

    Does Al Gore have a “brass balls” image?? Not really, yet he is very popular with liberals.

    I think liberals want thoughtful diplomacy and intelligence, not a cowboy us against the world mentality.

  2. An article in yesterday’s local paper (Des Moines, Iowa) listed the various Republican contenders’ views on a variety of topics and concluded that none of them exactly match up to the values of “conservative” Iowa voters. Rudy supports abortion rights and gay marriage, which (to his credit) puts him at odds with Iowa’s biggest fundie assholes, but does he support limited government? If not, why wouldn’t he be running as a Democrat? I’m still leaning towards Ron Paul.

  3. Let’s get serious aboutthe Homeland Security lapses by figuring out who really had advance notice of the attack.

    Let’s figure out why the vice president was apparently the one in charge of giving shoot down orders on 9-11 instead of the president.

    Let’s figure out why the president wasn’t on the phone with air defenses the second the first plane hit the first tower. and on the phone continuously with the air defenses until the attacks were over.

    Let’s figure out why planes were still not shot down for more than an hour after it became clear that synchronized multiple high-jackings had happened.

    Let’s figure out who profitted from those options.

    Let’s figure out who sent that email to the Odigo employees.

    There is plenty of opportunity for a politician with true balls of brass instead of pretend balls of brass.

    The best way to avoid the next 9-11 is to figure out why the previous one was so successful.

  4. The reason you invade rogue states is so that jihadis don’t have someplace where they’re not pursued to near extinction by the state.

    Lacking such a place, they can’t get a decent sized group organized to do anything spectacular.

    One rogue state follows the example of another, once you start taking them out. So you don’t have to personally get every rogue state.

    Assuming that the Congress doesn’t undermine you with posturing.

  5. …we wouldn’t have the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history on our hands right now in Iraq.

    Really? The worst in U.S. history? Because I remember reading about some mighty big historical blunders. But then again, I went to public school.

  6. Right. Worse than Korea? Worse than Vietnam?

  7. and let’s pick that anthrax investigation back up, too. Dropping that investigation, without tracking down and executing the culprits, was wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.

    I would love to see Rudy personally executing the anthrax culprits. Their letters said “DEATH TO ISRAEL.”

    But you can’t kill’em if you don’t catch’em and you can’t catch’em if you ain’t looking.

  8. Yeah, just offhand, I’d say losing track of where the hell the Japanese Imperial Fleet was, after months of sabre-rattling, ranks pretty high as a blunder.

  9. Will: Pearl Harbor was a blunder, but if we fought World War 2 like we’re fighting Iraq, we’d have been besieging every Marshall Island with 1000 troops each until 1950, and we’d have given the Soviets the finger even in 1941.

  10. Speaking for myself, I certainly do wish the Democrats had a candidate with “brass balls.” However, I would define that as somebody with the guts to actually explain why insulting our allies and challenging anybody who disagrees with us to a fight is a stupid way to run our relationships with the rest of the world. The Democrats I see offer tepid criticism and meekly hope nobody thinks they’re a wimp.

  11. Although I think that the reputation that Rudy gained on 9/11 is a bit overblown, Mr. Chait’s argument is silly. Exactly what foreign policy credentials did Bill Clinton possess in 1991? Most presidential candidates will have little foreign policy experience, unless the presidency is limited to people who have worked in the State Department, the CIA or the Pentagon.

  12. Ron Hardin: on the face of it, your analysis sucks. The 7/7 bombers didn’t organize themselves in any kind of “rogue state,” they didn’t need large numbers, and they funded themselves, apparently, with street-level credit card fraud. Syria, one of the “rogue states” on your hitlist, has its own terrorist problem. As does Iran. Where is the “safe haven” these terrorists needed to carry out their attacks? The safe haven myth is a strategic dead end that has led countries throughout history into disastrous, avoidable wars.

    Frankly, in American politics, it’s always better to look tough than smart. It might just be the key symptom of imperial senility. You forget all the clever strategems that got you to where you are and assert that they are beneath the dignity of a great power. After all, the all-powerful have no need to be clever: they need only throw more money and troops at the situation and all will be well.

  13. “need I remind anybody, one of the reasons Giuliani hasn’t been able to fulfill his Bin Laden execution fantasy is that Bush allowed the Al Qaeda leader to escape at Tora Bora by using Afghan proxies instead of U.S. ground troops.”

    I have seen this refuted in several publications.

  14. Lacking such a place, they can’t get a decent sized group organized to do anything spectacular.

    Yeah, I dunno about that. I mean, domestic terrorism continues to be an issue in dozens of countries, even our own.

  15. Rudy believes in arresting you for “quality of life” crimes.

    Diallo and Louima incidents were on his watch.

    He wanted to abolish city council because they were an obstruction to what he wanted. Not so checks and balance friendly.

    He went to court about 25 times over 1st Amendment issues losing 23 times.

    If you want an authoritarian figure not intersted in, checks and balances, has his own version of the bill of rights, wants to consolidate power within himself and fully exericise it against the population. He’s your man!

    Not to mention he’s already BSing about anti-gun policies. He said it was a “New York” thing but he tried to sue Virgina a couple of times to force them to change their gun laws. So much for keeping it “New York”.

    You can expect that the average American will get about a much respect as his ex-wife whom he cheated on, and he let the press tell her they were getting a divorce. He didn’t tell her himself!! If he will treat someone he took a vow with like that, forget about the rest of us.

  16. “””need I remind anybody, one of the reasons Giuliani hasn’t been able to fulfill his Bin Laden execution fantasy is that Bush allowed the Al Qaeda leader to escape at Tora Bora by using Afghan proxies instead of U.S. ground troops.””

    I have seen this refuted in several publications.””””

    You wouldn’t need to remind me of that. Maybe Clarity Please would like to shed a little clarity on that comment.

  17. “”Exactly what foreign policy credentials did Bill Clinton possess in 1991?”””

    Would airline stewardesses count?

    Bill did reach out to other countries to invest in Arkansas. The only time a Concord flew into Little Rock’s Adams field was to bring Japanese buisness people to town. Not saying that did much for LR, nor is that an acheivement in foreign policy. Bill was a people person. He could make you feel good about almost anything and that goes a long way in dealing with other people. You could say he was a Dale Carnige kind of guy. I can’t say the same about Rudy.

    In foreign policy you can’t start with I’m always right and go F yourself and it’s not always about experience. Sometimes it’s about apptitude. The Bush admin team is experienced in foregin policy and very experience in defense, where did that get us?

  18. Giuliani’s record on civil rights is utterly abysmal. Trickyvic nailed it. No one who’s even a remote fan of liberty would vote for him.

    If the Republicans run him, I’m just going to presume that they fundamentally do not want my vote.

  19. Will Allen,

    Pearl Habor was a MILITARY blunder. It was not the foreign policy of our government to leave the Pacific Fleet unprepared against a carrier-based attack. Not only that, but it was a military operational blunder, not a military policy blunder.

    The Iraq War is a FOREIGN POLICY blunder. Going to war without enough troops to secure the country was our government’s intent. They intended to start the war without a plan for the post-war (see the decision to ignore the Future of Iraq Project from the State Dept., or Rumsfeld threatening to fire the next person who talked to him about the post-war. They intended – made a point of – going to war without the support of the UN, the majority of the public, or our traditional allies (because making the liberals, the French, and the UN look stupid was going to secure American and Republican dominance, remember?). They made the decision to disband the Iraqi Army on purpose. They deliberately chose not to stop the looting, because “Freedom is messy.” They purposely neglected to engage surrounding countries diplomatically to gain their help, or at least to avoid their opposition, as the haughty dismissal of the Iranians’ offer to help secure the country back in ought-three. They didn’t involve any indigeneous Iraqi groups, or even prominent political leaders, in the overthrow of the government or the formation of the provisional government, on purpose, as a matter of policy, because they were going to reconstruct the political culture of the oldest place on earth from the ground up.

    This was a massive failure not of execution, but of policy.

  20. Yes like the foreign policy blunder of appeasement.

    Anyway…I always find the whole “does he have foreign policy experience” thing rather silly. Does the candidate know how to converse with other people who don’t always share his ideas and figure out solutions? If yes then they can probably deal with other countries. It’s not like other countries are aliens from another world. Most of the negotiations and day to day stuff is all handled by the State Department anyway. Most governor’s have to deal with neighboring states, many times with competing interests. Not really so different.

  21. “You could say he was a Dale Carnige kind of guy.”

    Which worked ok in the relatively event-free 1990s. Bill could slap a few backs, slip on a few grins, and pretend he solved the Palestinian, North Korean, and Balkan problems, all the while lobbing a cruise missile around every now and then when it was politically expedient.

    The Bush Doctrine got us into a big mess and exposed a new generation to the horror and futility of “nation-building,” but let’s not put a partisan spin on it. There is simply nobody presently in the presidential race, arguably other than McCain, who has anything approaching a foreign-policy orientation or experience.

  22. Well, there’s Hillary. And Biden.

    Ugh.

  23. Why is there so little notice given in blogs and media outlets to the fact that Giuliani decided to locate the New York City emergency operations center in the WTC not too many years after the building had been suject of a terrorist bombing?

    I haven’t read all the comments, so if someone else has raised this question I apologize.

  24. Chris Brown, that subject has been raised here before. It probably deserves more attention, though. Certainly doesn’t speak well of Rudy’s managerial acumen, does it? But then, the guy’s really nothing more than a bigshot lawyer, and being a lawyer myself and having worked for some bigshots, I can safely say that lawyers cannot manage for shit. Really, just about the last sort of person you want in the Oval Office.

  25. Pearl Habor was a MILITARY blunder. It was not the foreign policy of our government to leave the Pacific Fleet unprepared against a carrier-based attack. Not only that, but it was a military operational blunder, not a military policy blunder.

    Uh, yeah, cutting off Japan’s oil and then moving all the ships from San Diego to Hawaii was a gr8 idea. No LIHOP there./sarc

  26. The worst foreign policy disaster in US History? We can’t even be sure if it was the wrong thing to do yet. (Oh, it’s unpopular? That must mean it’s wrong. Oh, people have died? More have died in some of our greatest successes.)

    But even dumber, you say Iraq posed no terrorist threat when we invaded it. Of course it did. In any case, the true question, even with your irrelevant quotation from Hillary, is did Iraq pose a serious threat, not just an immediate terrorist one. Did it? To quote you: “This is completely correct.” There, that proves it.

  27. Actually, Larry, I’ve been keeping score at home and you have offered exactly zero proof too. And isn’t that where the burden of proof should be, really? On the person who is defending a war where 3,000 of “us” and at least a half million of “them” have died?

    Unless you don’t have a problem with that type of thing…

  28. I could easily write several hundreds pages of “proof” and have elsewhere. My point is simply this point is one clueless guy quoting another clueless guy, and concluding, with no evidence, that the first clueless guy at his most clueless is correct.

  29. Larry, is it safe to assume that you base your support of the Iraq war on “faith”? You seem so sure that Iraq posed a serious terrorist threat. Is this also based on faith? The kindest thing I can say is that faith like yours gets us nowhere and kills a lot of people. Forgive me for requiring proof before the killing begins.

  30. Where we went wrong with Iraq is that we overestimated the morale of the American people. Back in WWII, we would expend 120% of our annual gdp on the war each year and suffered tremendous casualties but we got through it because the government had the total support of the media. But ever since Vietnam, the media has done it’s best to propagandize for the enemy.

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