Thursday, January 18, 2007

Candidates for President and Other Items

I've been meaning to post since Tuesday when Barak Obama announced on his website that he's establishing an exploratory committee. The three minute statement was a classic direct-address statement of why he is thinking of running for president.

It's a clever move to have created this announcement on his website. Right next to the video is a huge "Contribute" button. Money is the key to viability. And, if he is going to be viable, he's going to have to match the Clinton money machine. The media coverage of Obama's announcement was complete, giving Obama ooodles of free media and driving traffic to his website (and, I am sure his staff hopes, drive up donations).

There are a few others who have announced a run for the Democratic ticket: Chris Dodd and Joe Biden. Both are senior Senators. Senator Dodd announced on the "Don Imus in the Morning" show. I'm still not sure what to think about that move. If anyone has any insights, I'd gladly hear them.

Senator Biden announced his run on "Meet the Press." Biden chairs the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, and will get much free media by virtue of serving in that highly visible position (especially as Democrats vow to hold various and sundry hearings on the war in Iraq, etc.).

I should also mention that on the Republican side Newt Gingrigh announced on "Meet the Press" that he is seriously considering a run. He said he'd decide "after the new year." A Gingrigh run would be an interesting thing to see, especially alongside John McCain. I'd love to hear those two debate.

Also, just a brief aside, in my post about "20,000 troops is not the answer" I mentioned two things that have since changed. First, the "Iraqi" troops that will be going in to Baghdad as part of the "surge" are going to be primarily comprised of Kurdish forces (not Shia). This changes the dynamics somewhat. The Kurdish fighters are ready for battle. I don't know as well how they Sunnis or the Shia view them. I also read the al Maliki's government has detained 400 "Shiite militia." It's not clear what this means or who they are, but if they are part of the militia that's been rounding of Sunnis, torturing and killing them, then that's a good sign.

Second, Secretary of Defense Gates has just completed a tour of Afghanistan, and it appears he is likely to call for an increase of upwards of 3,000 U.S. troops in that country and 1,000 additional NATO troops. That's a good move in my book. Although, I still wonder how the Army will find these soldiers. (Does anyone else besides me have any interest in seeing a draft? or at least having a real discussion about it?)

Alright, back to preparing to teach and finalizing a research paper that should have been done weeks ago . . . .

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