July 18, 2008

The 300.

Barack Obama has 300 foreign policy advisors.

So is this a step up from Clintonesque government by polling? A more expert, elite poll?

It's "a tight-knit group of aides supported by a huge 300-person foreign policy campaign bureaucracy, organized like a mini State Department, to assist a candidate whose limited national security experience remains a concern to many voters."

Now, are we supposed to be less concerned?

By contrast, McCain has only 75 foreign policy advisors and "none are organized into teams."
Mr. Obama’s infrastructure funnels hundreds of e-mail messages and reams of position papers and talking points each day to members of the core group, who in turn seek advice or make requests for more information to team members down the line....

Out in the netherworld of the 300, advisers often say they are unclear about what happens to all the policy paragraphs they churn out on request. “It’s all mysterious what we send him and what gets to him,” said Michael A. McFaul, a Russia scholar at Stanford University who leads the Russia and Eurasia team for the Obama campaign.
The President must use other people to do part of his thinking for him. Some kind of structure must exist, and the choice of structure tells us something about the man we are asked to trust to make the final call.

52 comments:

rhhardin said...

It's "a tight-knit group of aides supported by a huge 300-person foreign policy campaign bureaucracy, organized like a mini State Department, to assist a candidate whose limited national security experience remains a concern to many voters."

Into the breach rode the 300.

Quayle said...

No offense Professor Althouse, but we're supposed to feel good about hiring a Professor President who has a lot of Professor advisors who are going to get a lot of stuff actually accomplished?

I mean, we're already suffering under the chaos and panic of a Professor Federal Bank Chairman. How may more Professors should we have in Washington?

The place will grind to a complete halt of brilliance.

MadisonMan said...

The place will grind to a complete halt

This would be a problem?

The Drill SGT said...

Susan Rice: From 1993-1995, she was Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping at the National Security Council. Between 1995 and 1997, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the NSC. After that, she served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1997 until 2001

In the scheme of things, does anyone but me recognize how unimportant an Asst Sec State for African Affairs is? She is the honcho of Obama's 300. a UN loving, NGO hugging, anti-military academic :)

rhhardin said...

Kissinger was an academic and had a fairly good take on Africa: ``This is not Africa's century.'

Breadbasket of the world turned into a permanent kleptocracy.

Trevor Jackson said...

"the choice of structure tells us something"

Except the story doesn't really even say much about the structure. Just the overall size of the structure and that they're organized into "teams." How is consensus reached? What does Obama do with that consensus? How does it inform his decisions and his rhetoric? To be fair, the example of Iraq's desire for withdrawal timetables is a concrete example, but his response is a pretty easy lay-up to the development. The 300 would be relatively useless in developing a response.

Then the story annoyingly reverts to the played-out Clinton-Obama rivalry frame via Holbrooke . . . and then just trails off.

This piece, like many, allow for easy partisan responses: "300," the piece says. Supporters say, "Yay, lots of analysis and careful responses." Detractors say, "Too many cooks. Too much analysis." And we're right back where we started.

garage mahal said...

It's nice to see McCain and even Bush has finally come around to the Democrats position with respects to Afghanistan, Iran and N Korea.

Credit where credit is due.

Skyler said...

I think the "300" is an effort to recall the Spartan 300 who were recently brought to modern awareness by the oh so excellent movie of the same name. Obama may have spindly arms and a sunken chest, but he wants us to think of him as strong. This is a weak attempt to associate him with strong warriors.

From what I've seen he pretty much doesn't listen to anyone, so he might as well have 10,000 or 3 advisors.

Greybeard said...

"It's nice to see McCain and even Bush has finally come around to the Democrats position with respects to Afghanistan, Iran and N Korea."

Democrat Lite.
Which is why Republicans are in trouble.

The Drill SGT said...

Trev said...Except the story doesn't really even say much about the structure. Just the overall size of the structure and that they're organized into "teams." How is consensus reached? What does Obama do with that consensus? How does it inform his decisions and his rhetoric? To be fair, the example of Iraq's desire for withdrawal timetables is a concrete example, but his response is a pretty easy lay-up to the development. The 300 would be relatively useless in developing a response

I bet that the polic is made by 4 or five listed. The 300 just get to talk up talking points, keeping them on the reservation, not critics, and help bolster Obama's rookie image.

does anyone seem schocked that a guy who has been on the Senate Foreign Relations committee for his whole time, does so poorly at foreign relations?

LarsPorsena said...

I think this explains BHO's 300 positions on foreign policy.

His position today depends on whose position paper he read last night.

Roger J. said...

The person who appears to be one a primus inter pares on the group is Susan Rice--she is quite outspoken on the need for more "muscular" intervention in Africa--particularly Darfur. I have heard her make this call even before she signed on with BO campaign. While I am in full agreement with her ends, I am not sure the means are feasible. As long as China retains strategic interest in the Sudan, and Africans in general do not want to see foreign intervention, just how does She/He plan to handle darfur? or Zimbabwe?

P. Rich said...

"It's nice to see McCain and even Bush has finally come around to the Democrats position with respects to Afghanistan, Iran and N Korea."

That is intended as a joke, right?

"And we're right back where we started."

One - I think unassailable - fact is that the quality of journalism has been deteriorating right along with the level of readership for such as the NYT. Althouse now represents 25% of their entire base.

We should be appreciative, though, as each day she bravely sallies forth into the noxious media wasteland searching for minimally toxic bits of blogfodder.

PatCA said...

They are proving to be as effective as any bureaucracy--not very. Why does Obama keep making such dopey statements, like the "bomb" that fell on Pearl Harbor? He's not even getting the little stuff right! And he pivots between surrender and appeasement on war issues. Maybe he's getting his cues from Jimmy Carter?

He's got almost half a billion dollars. I guess the 300 are spending it on office supplies and retreats.

Trevor Jackson said...

"He's not even getting the little stuff right!"

I know! Like the other day when he referred to Czechoslovakia, which doesn't even exist! Or when he confused Shia and Sunni and needed Chuck Hagel to set him straight right in front of reporters (who of course refused to criticize). Then he said he didn't think more troops were necessary in Afghanistan, until he said that they were!

Oh, wait, which candidate were you talking about?

Paul Zrimsek said...

It's nice to see McCain and even Bush has finally come around to the Democrats position with respects to Afghanistan, Iran and N Korea.

Well, sure. It was the only way to make the silly bastards abandon it.

LarsPorsena said...

"It's nice to see McCain and even Bush has finally come around to the Democrats position with respects to Afghanistan, Iran and N Korea"

What do those positions (Democratic) happen to be?
Well, for today any way.

AllenS said...

Too many cooks in the kitchen. Not good.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Go and tell Obama, passerby,
That here, obedient to his will, we lie.

Trevor Jackson said...

Q.E.D.

downtownlad said...

And Bush was supposed to be our M.B.A. President. That worked out wonderfully. Not.

rcocean said...

McCain may have 75 advisers but he only listens when they agree with him.

Cranky, 72 year old hot-heads don't take advise well.

AJ Lynch said...

300 advisers! Shows he is indecisive IMO.

When does he find the time to read their reports and recommendations? Perhaps they are on audiotapes he listens to when he is going to the gym 3x a day?

BJK said...

"Having 300 foreign policy advisors is pure madness."

...
Madness?
THIS IS OBAMA!


(I couldn't be the only one to think it.)

I feel sorry for anyone who wants to be his Chief of Staff. Are these paid advisors? If so, it's rather telling that he's grown his staff to four times the size of the Republican opponent.

P. Rich said...

"It takes a village."

Oh, wait...

Ron said...

If he's got 300 advisers with his private money, imagine how many he'll have with the federal pursestrings!

Anthony said...

>LarsPorsena said...
I think this explains BHO's 300 positions on foreign policy.

>His position today depends on whose position paper he read last night.

Interestingly, I had come to the same conclusion. Frankly, I have no idea where Obama stands on anything (other than taxing me up the yin yang) anymore. Especially on foreign policy.

>Roger J

I agree on Ms. Power. My wife who is an Obama supporter is something of an isolationist, and I think supporters him because he promised to get us out of Iraq (which of course is a promise that is subject to change hourly). I have wanred her that Obama talks a lot about "healing the planet" and is for a muscular response to Darfur and has as advisors people like Power who want an interventionist foriegn policy and Brezinski who want to kick Russia down some more.

In short, I really believe that if you want more war and more American soldiers dying, vote for Obama. McCain may be a "hawk" but he is also someone who personally knows how awful war and half measure war can be. And he has a personal stake in teh matter -- one son is a Marine lance corporal and another a Navy officer.

Joe said...

The most amazing thing is that despite these 300 advisers, Obama repeatedly is wrong about facts (and rather misguided about foreign policy.)

In most endeavors, adding people to the problem makes things worse, not better. Such is the case here. The end result will necessarily be a compromise position.

Even worse, since the groups are defacto isolated, you'll end up with an incoherent, contradictory policy. (You'll end up, for example, aiding one country to the offense of another.)

Paul Brinkley said...

Diazaxos: I see I was wrong to expect Illinois' experience to at least match our own.
Obamidas: Doesn't it?
Obamidas: You there, McCainian! What is your profession?
Free Blogger: I am a blogger, sir.
Obamidas: [points to another] And you, McCainian, what is your profession?
Free Webmaster: Webmaster, sir.
Obamidas: Webmaster.
[turns to a third]
Obamidas: And you?
Free Campaigner: Campaigner. ...Former lobbyist.
Obamidas: [shouting] Advisors! What is your profession?
Advisors: WE ARE AIDES PROVIDING FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE DRAWN FROM PAST DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATIONS!
Obamidas: [turning to Diazaxos] You see, old friend? I brought more advisors than you did.

AllenS said...

Obama Adviser #237: "You know they dropped a bomb on Pearl Harbor."

Obama: "Yeah, I heard about that when I lived there with my grandparents."

LarsPorsena said...

So, Mr. Brinkley, how many times have you seen "300"?-)

Jake said...

Here is what Obama's 300 advisors do:

10 make policy.

90 make slides for Obama's teleprompter

200 spend all their time thinking of ways to weasel out of misstatements of fact Obama continually does. They also finds ways to recover from the stupid policy statements from the 10 who make policy.

Paul Brinkley said...

Mr. Posena: only twice. :-)

Seven Machos said...

What is it with Democratic candidates that makes them believe that having hundreds of people involved in management decisions will make the management decisions better? It seems to be the one area where they like the concept of markets and, naturally, it's the one area where markets tend to suck.

LarsPorsena said...

Paul Brinkley:
Me too (two) but you have better recall than moi. I flash-backed the scenes while reading your posts;-)

Randy said...

300 foreign policy advisors. None could help the one candidate who promises closer cooperation and better communication with our international allies avoid embarrassing the German government, its Prime Minister, and himself in a highly publicized turf war over what, in the end, is little more than an American campaign speech on German soil.

dick said...

I find it interesting that while he has all these foreign policy advisors at his beck and call he has yet to hold a meeting of the foreign policy committee of the senate that he heads. And since he has been on that committee for years why is he so daft when it comes to foreign policy at all. Totally ludicrous.

Pogo said...

Oooooooooooh!
Four years of death by Committee.

I can't wait.

Paul Brinkley said...

Rumor has it that Obama's hiring an extra 50 advisors to advise him on what the other 300 are saying.

Pogo said...

I wonder how many doctors Obama has?

Does he get 300 prostate exams?
NTTAWWT.

Ralph said...

I'll bet not one of the 300 is a Spartan.

Pogo said...

I hope one of the 300 brings a Trojan.

Ralph said...

They'll need a gross for that clusterfuck.

The Drill SGT said...

Anthony said...McCain may be a "hawk" but he is also someone who personally knows how awful war and half measure war can be. And he has a personal stake in teh matter -- one son is a Marine lance corporal and another a Navy officer.

2 comments

1. Those "World Peace" liberals have no problem using American soldiers to impose their will on natives, they just don't want it to be anywhere that America has a compelling national interest.

2. John McCain IV (Jack) has graduated from the USNA as a Marine 2LT, not a Navy Officer.

Anthony said...

It's obvious (even if I have been beaten to the punch) - Obama's 300 are in case Persia attacks.

PatCA said...

"Oh, wait, which candidate were you talking about?"

My mother taught me that two wrongs do not make a right.

Michael Scheuer referred to the mighty 300 as "aging Clinton has-beens" tonight, LOL.

Mateo said...

That's not his foreign policy team, it's his Verizon network!

AlphaLiberal said...

Talk about security. Why is John McCain undermining Barack Obama's security for his Iraq trip?

Is McCain trying to get Obama killed or something? WTF?

PatCA said...

"Is McCain trying to get Obama killed or something?"

Probably.

AJ Lynch said...

Alpha:

You are an idiot. Do you think McCain wants to run against Hillary!

Afterall, he can beat Obama with both of his damaged arms tied behind his back.

Seven Machos said...

Michael Scheuer is a broken clock.

Alpha, how do you maintain such a chronic state of political alarm? It must be stressful.

Ken said...

Obama needs all the foreign policy advisors he can lay his hands on. Since he has no coherent foreign policy ideas every detail must be considered. Obama's national security policy will be handled like a faculty meeting at an especially liberal college. Nobody will be able to agree on any action so we'll give peace a chance while our enemies have every opportunity to prepare for and conduct war.