You know, I’ve gotten over my dislike of Hillary Clinton through time and lack of exposure. But things like this are why I still totally despise Bill.
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Easily the most interesting part. On Russia, he mocked the notion that the EU could have done more to prevent the South Ossetia incident (“What did they want us to do, invade Russia?”) and insisted that he brought up human rights issues every time he meets with Putin or Medvedev, specifically mentioning the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. Similarly, he not only said that he mentions human rights whenever meeting with Hu Jintao or Wen Jiabao, but that they are much more receptive than the Chinese representatives he dealt with in the ’90s, as Portugal’s foreign minister, when he was negotiating the transfer of Macao from his country to China. In the ’90s, Barraso claims, the Chinese (presumably Jiang Zemin and allies) silenced any mention of human rights as meddling in China’s internal affairs, whereas Jintao and Jiabao at least make an effort to bullshit and sound concerned (“but we have local elections!”). Barraso views this as progress, which it may well be, but the crowd was decidedly skeptical, laughing audibly at the mention of local elections.
The other major point is that Barroso doesn’t want the US-EU relationship to be about Europe. He wants it to be about globalization, and particularly global governance, generally. His vision is of a US-EU alliance working as an arsenal of democracy and, yeah, freedom within the wider international community. Sounds good.
After some pretty predictable rhetoric on the importance of the EU, stopping climate change, and managing globalization responsibly (I’m a partisan of the “manage globalization irresponsibly” faction), Barroso drops a very interesting section about the evils of multipolarity. He has no interest in realpolitik and balance of power, be it between France, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, and Britain or between the US, the EU, China, Russia, and India. He draws direct parallels between the pre-WWI international order and a future defined by the presence of several major powers that people like Parag Khanna back. I agree, obviously, but it’s encouraging to hear the head of the European Commission say it.
I’m in an auditorium waiting for José Manuel Barroso to give a talk entitled, “A Letter From Brussels to the Next President of the United States.” Given as John McCain has “suspended” his presidential candidacy to
shore up the high-and-mighty vote put country first (TM), I assume Barroso will speak only of President-by-default Obama.
In all seriousness, I think Beutler nails this: “It’s a bizarre political gambit, and perhaps a sign of desperation, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work.” The key to understanding this is seeing how it affects Obama. If he suspends his campaign in turn, he’s a follower who reinforces the great, bold ideas of McCain. If he calls it a stunt, he looks like he’s playing partisan politics while McCain rises above. Either way, McCain and the press can, and will, attack him on process.
So for now, I’m inclined to count it as a win for McCain. He reclaims the mantle of high Broderism, and if all he accomplishes is an armistice in his war with the press, that’ll be a big win.
The person Obama chose to play John McCain in his debate preparation: Greg Craig. It makes sense: Craig played Bush to help Kerry prepare four years ago, and Kerry cleaned Bush’s clock, so this is a good call.
The person McCain chose to play Obama in his debate preparation: Michael Steele. Wow. He’s not practicing debating an immensely intelligent, thoughtful political rival. He’s practicing debating one of them darkies. Unbelievable.