Watching Obama glide through his foreign trip so far, nervous Republicans and other patriots have to hope that American voters will not view Obama through the eyes of a Hollywood casting director. That's because one could not cast a man who visually can portray a worldly statesman better. We all must envy his ability to effortlessly drape his tall, imperially slender form in gilded Louis XV chairs in foreign palaces. Mixing just the right combination of worldly bonhomie and serious mien, his presentation (conveniently presented to the world with video but no audio) make, by comparison, Henry Kissinger, FDR and Winston Churchill all look like clumsy provincial oafs.
And he tops it all off with making what looked like a 40-foot 3-pointer in a military basketball court, surrounded by positively disposed American troops. Of course, we don't know how many times he had to try the shot before making it once. As NBC's veteran foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell -- in an act of admirable candor -- said Monday: "Let me just say something about the message management. He didn't have reporters with him; he didn't have a press pool; he didn't do a press conference while he was on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq. What you're seeing is not reporters brought in. You're seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews because they're not interviews from a journalist. So there's a real press issue here. Politically it's smart as can be. But we've not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before."
When he does submit himself to the occasional press interview, his actual words read in print must make his handlers as nervous as his visual images make Republicans nervous. His discussion of his Iraq policy is almost incomprehensible. He has claimed that both Bush and Iraq's al-Maliki have come to his position that it is time to move our troops out of Iraq. But back on Sept. 12, 2007, he called for an immediate start to the withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq. Obama's plan called for the complete pullout of troops by the end of 2008 by bringing home one or two brigades each month.
"Let me be clear: There is no military solution in Iraq. There never was," he said. "'The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year -- now."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.