Barack Obama displayed his bizarre views on foreign and domestic policy during Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate but nobody in the media seemed to notice. This is a candidate who is pitifully ignorant on some of the major issues facing our nation.
This is a strange presidential campaign, and the coverage is even stranger. Under media pressure, John McCain has apologized because radio talk-show host Bill Cunningham opened a McCain rally by noting that Barack Obama's full name is Barack Hussein Obama. The media were upset not only because he went after Obama, but because Cunningham's hilarious remarks on liberal media bias were so on target.
The American people have been terribly served by the media during this campaign, and the latest bad performance was turned in by those commenting on Tuesday night's debate on MSNBC. They failed to note that Obama made two serious gaffes. First, Obama showed ignorance of what led to the crisis in Kosovo, where a U.S.-Russian confrontation is now playing out, and he seemed to advocate some kind of U.S. military response through NATO. If a President Obama carried through on such a threat, it would be a foreign policy mistake of monumental proportions. It could lead to a war with Russia in the current circumstances.
Second, Obama didn't seem to understand that in the case of the disabled woman, Terri Schiavo, the issue was giving her the same kind of due process rights that are guaranteed to death row killers. We now know where Obama really stands, and it is not a pretty picture.
NBC's Tim Russert has done a fairly good job during the debates and he had some good questions of the candidates on Tuesday night. One was when he asked Obama what he would do if Russia helped Serbia militarily take control of Kosovo, which is under United Nations and NATO occupation and recently declared its independence.
Obama had a long answer: "Well, I think that we work with the international community that has also recognized Kosovo, and state that that's unacceptable. But, fortunately, we have a strong international structure anchored in NATO to deal with this issue. We don't have to work in isolation. And this is an area where I think that the Clinton administration deserves a lot of credit, is, you know, the way in which they put together a coalition that has functioned. It has not been perfect, but it saved lives. And we created a situation in which not only Kosovo, but other parts of the former Yugoslavia at least have the potential to over time build democracies and enter into the broader European community. But, you know, be very clear: We have recognized the country of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign nation, as has Great Britain and many other countries in the region. And I think that that carries with it, then, certain obligations to ensure that they are not invaded."
What does he mean by that? How does he propose that the U.S. and NATO stop an invasion of Kosovo by Serbia? The fact is that, despite its declaration of independence, Kosovo is still recognized by many nations as a province of Serbia. The "nation" of Kosovo is not recognized as such by the U.N., and Russia and China have vowed to oppose its membership in the world body. What's more, as former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton points out, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 reaffirmed Serbian sovereignty in Kosovo. This was agreed to by the U.S. So a pledge by the U.S. to protect Kosovo from an "invasion" would be viewed as further meddling in a civil war.
His comments about the Clinton Administration and Kosovo are apparently a reference to Clinton's NATO war against Serbia over who was going to control the province. The war was illegal and unconstitutional. Clinton launched it without Congressional approval and continued it when Congress failed to authorize it after the fact. Yet Obama was defending Clinton's actions there. His statements about this foreign policy problem were reckless and ignorant.
The problem for the Republicans is that Senator John McCain voted for the war against Serbia and has now, like Hillary and Obama, expressed support for Kosovo's declaration of independence.
On the Schiavo case, Obama said the following: "Well, you know, when I first arrived in the Senate that first year, we had a situation surrounding Terri Schiavo. And I remember how we adjourned with a unanimous agreement that eventually allowed Congress to interject itself into that decision-making process of the families. It wasn't something I was comfortable with, but it was not something that I stood on the floor and stopped. And I think that was a mistake, and I think the American people understood that that was a mistake. And as a constitutional law professor, I knew better. And so that's an example I think of where inaction..."
Russert explained, "This is the young woman with the feeding tube... and the family disagreed as to whether it should be removed or not."
Obama replied, "And I think that's an example of inaction, and sometimes that can be as costly as action."
Once again, Obama demonstrated his ignorance of the true facts. Congress decided to "interject itself" into the situation because the family was divided over caring for the brain-damaged woman and there had been no federal review of the facts in the case. All that Congress did was authorize a federal judge to examine the situation. This is guaranteed to all federal inmates on death row so they are not executed without complete respect for their due process rights. Isn't a disabled woman entitled to similar rights? Many forget that Schiavo's parents and siblings only wanted the right to keep her alive and take care of her. It was her estranged husband who wanted her dead. What harm would have been caused by letting her live?
Obama's statement that he wanted Congress to stay out of this matter and that he personally should have "stopped" congressional action reflects a callous disregard for the rights of disabled people. And yet he claimed to be speaking during the debate as someone with the experience of "a constitutional law professor." In fact, Congress should have done more; Schiavo was eventually starved to death by her estranged husband after a federal judge refused to save her life. If the constitution doesn't protect the rights of the most innocent and defenseless among us, what good is it? What constitution did Obama study in law school? Where did he get his ideas about human worth and dignity?
During a previous debate, on this very subject, McCain sounded like Obama, saying that "In retrospect, we should have taken some more time, looked at it more carefully, and probably we acted too hastily." In effect, McCain was repudiating the effort to save Terri's life.
So once again we have a major issue facing the country and yet there is really no difference between Obama and McCain.
It looks, therefore, like it's going to be a very boring campaign. We all need that pillow Hillary says the media are giving Obama. We need to see more, not less, of people like Bill Cunningham, even though McCain has now fed him to the sharks. At least Cunningham had the guts to utter Obama's full name.