Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Interesting Story, More Interesting Comments

I happened to run across this rather interesting little tidbit along the journey through the news today:
"Foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain," Obama said, according to the Huffington Post.

"It's ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be Commander-in-Chief. Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags 'I've met leaders from eighty countries' -- I know what those trips are like! I've been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There's a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then -- you go."

"You do that in eighty countries," Obama said, "You don't know those eighty countries. So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa --knowing the leaders is not important -- what I know is the people...I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college -- I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

This last part -- a college trip to Pakistan -- was news to many of us who have been following the race closely. And it was odd that we hadn't hear about it before, given all the talk of Pakistan during this campaign.

So I asked the Obama campaign for more information.

Apparently, according to the Obama campaign, In 1981 -- the year Obama transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University -- Obama visited his mother and sister Maya in Indonesia. After that visit, Obama traveled to Pakistan with a friend from college whose family was from there. The Obama campaign says Obama was in Pakistan for about three weeks, staying with his friend's family in Karachi and also visiting Hyderabad in Southern India.
Now, no big deal, right? I mean, after all, college kids travel and while many kids went off to the Bahamas or Florida, Barack Obama travelled to visit relations and friend's relations in South Asia.

But Tapper's point is interesting: given how Obama all but included either an invasion of Pakistan or a nuclear bomb drop on it in his vision of the Global War on an Emotion, you'd think at some point this little item would have come out from the candidate's camp long before this.

More intriguing is this comment in replies to the piece:
Jake, you said you were surprise (sic) to suddenly learn about this Obama trip, this goes a long way to show that the media has looked the other way while another arrogant and incompetent man runs close to the whitehouse (sic). While salivating and drooling, the media has failed to vet this man, just as they failed to ask GOP and Bush/Cheney tough questions about Iraq. It is the massive disinformation of the nation, stupid. Obama is a mediocre, smart but too shallow. His chances in this race is an indictment (sic) on the media's bias and incompetent.

- Posted by: Ed Banks | Apr 8, 2008 9:33:25 AM
Obama has gotten a pretty fair shake by the media, practically kid gloves and all.

I recall that, when Obama was first gearing up his candidacy, many darkly shaded questions about his Muslim background were raised: that he was schooled in a Madrassah, that he's sworn allegiance to the Koran and converted to Christianity as a front.

OK, all crackpot theories, to be sure, but all deserving of at least a little fact-checking, you'd think. After all, this is the same media that went gangbusters when it was revealed during the 1992 campaign that Bill Clinton had travelled to the Soviet Union as a college student!

How does a college trip to Pakistan a) pass under the simple fact-check of asking Barack Obama, "So where have you been in your life that you feel you can speak to foreign affairs issues?" and b) pass without mention in any of the books Obama has written to demonstrate his bona fides as a President?

Come on, it's not like Pakistan suddenly blipped on our radar in 2002 after the September 11 tragedies! During the 2000 campaign, much sport was made regarding the fact that George Bush couldn't even name the new dictator president of Pakistan, Pervez Mussharraf, despite the fact that, oh, THEY DETONATED NUKES JUST TWO YEARS EARLIER!

All these months, when people have harped and harangued on Obama about his inexperience and lack of foreign affairs standing, we're only just finding out now that he took a vacation in Islamabad and is claiming that as a notch in his bedpost????

This is pretty embarrassing, to be frank. How the media could miss this kind of at once laughable-yet-important story is beyond my understanding.