Sunday, October 5, 2008

Factcheck on Kissinger, McCain, and Obama

One issue I did not cover from the first presidential debate was the discussion of Henry Kissinger's opinion of talks with Iran and other unfriendly states. I did not cover it for several reasons:

1) Henry Kissenger is not infallible, and while his opinion may carry more weight than most, no one man's opinion is worthy of being a debate issue.

2) The candidates seemed determined to argue over what seemed like a near total agreement on the issue. McCain said he did not believe that the president should sit down across the table from the Iranian leader right now, and Obama agreed. Obama said we could begin talks at lower levels without preconditions, and McCain seemed to agree (by omission). Beyond that the difference between their positions seemed too trivial to warrant the level of time they spent on it.

3) It wasn't the sort of exchange that lent itself to quick, entertaining sound bites, and that (sadly) has been the currency of presidential debates. Detailed substance on particular policies stopped mattering a long time ago. Ask Gore and Nixon.

Nonetheless, the issue has maintained a high profile over the disputed support of Henry Kissinger. Here is Fact Check's summary:

"Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality," Kissinger said in statement issued by the McCain campaign.


While it appears Kissinger and Senator Barack Obama disagree on what level those talks should occur, they do agree talks should begin, in Kissinger's words, “at a very high level” and without preconditions.

So McCain is right at the presidential level, though Onama never disputed that, and Obama agrees with Kissinger on the lower levels. And that, hopefully, will be that.

1 comment:

Jason E Perkins said...

Well said. No single person's opinion, whether he be Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Warren Buffett, or Joe the Plumber, should ever be brought up in a debate. And in the end it seemed that McCain was merely grasping at straws when pointing out the difference between his view and Obama's.