Re: Obama and Nukes

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Which set off a bigger bang today, Obama’s call for an end to nuclear weapons, or Hillary’s $27 million take?

I’ve been more focused on Obama’s speech, personally, so maybe my read of the mediasphere ignores some important chatter, but it’s sort of hard for me to see the Hillary numbers as a game-changing event or, really, news. HILLARY: STILL THE FRONTRUNNER! Yeah, get out the Drudge siren for that.

Meanwhile, Obama’s speech was a true break from traditional presidential politics. While bipartisan support for nuclear disarmament has been growing, Obama the first candidate to** has come out forcefully for the plan outlined by Kissinger, Perry, et al. I’m certain that the Hillary team will try to portray his advocacy for disarmament as somehow naive (because naivete is what Kissinger was known for). It’s a break with traditional politics beyond nuclear policy, too: Obama’s embracing the idea that global politics is no longer a game of Us versus Them (Communists/Terrorists/Evildoers):

This will require a new era of American diplomacy. To signal the dawn of that era, we need a President who is willing to talk to all nations, friend and foe. I’m not afraid that America will lose a propaganda battle with a petty tyrant – we need to go before the world and win those battles. If we take the attitude that the President just parachutes in for a photo-op after an agreement has already been reached, then we’re only going to reach agreements with our friends. That’s not the way to protect the American people. That’s not the way to advance our interests.

And in putting forward this idea of a radically changed diplomatic landscape, he’s saying that those who critique his foreign policy judgment are the ones who don’t understand how the world really works, not him:

When I said that as President I would lead direct diplomacy with our adversaries, I was called naïve and irresponsible. But how are we going to turn the page on the failed Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to our adversaries if we don’t have a President who will lead that diplomacy?

He also lays out a vision of his administration that, at least on its face, seems unprecedentedly open: an annual “State of the World” address, “fireside webcasts,” a National Declassification Center, and depoliticizing the Director of National Intelligence post. He will also ban cynicism.

I have some further thoughts on the speech in this Swampcast (a bell! or a whistle! my hair looks terrible, whatever)*:

*In the vid I say something about the speech not having any “red meat” for Hillary to go after. What I actually was trying to say is that there were no obvious missteps.

** A belated correction: As Jay points out above, Obama is not the first candidate to endorse this proposal. Edwards did so in May. I regret the error.