In the midst of this week’s back–and–forth between the Clinton and Obama campaigns, and, indeed, the two candidates, I wondered about the views of Stephen Sixta, the man whose YouTube debate question touched the whole thing off and the co-owner of the SoCal media firm Nelson and Sixta. In an interview with Al Giordano of NarcoNews on Friday (excerpts below), Sixta expressed a preference for the way Obama responded to the question and discomfort with the hubub that followed.
The post-debate brouhaha has ignored the way Sixta prefaced his question: “spirit of” the “bold leadership” that Anwar Sadat demonstrated in his trip to Israel. (Sixta placed the visit in 1982; it actually occurred in 1977. [Update: Wasn’t CNN’s supposed to be the gate-keeping fact-checker?] By 82 Sadat was dead and Israel was in Lebanon, and Carter was home in Plains. Relevant to the reaction to Obama’s response in the debate, Sadat’s visit was the result of diplomatic efforts that followed the 1973 Yom Kippur War.) In any case, in an American campaign, at least, perception is more important than policy, and I thus tend toward David Corn’s analysis:
Obama had suggested he would sit down with these leaders willy-nilly, no preconditions. Clinton and Edwards explained that that they would use diplomacy to try to improve relations with these nations and that such an effort could lead to a one-on-one with these heads of state.
Obama had responded from the gut, working off a correct critique of the Bush administration’s skeptical approach toward diplomacy. But his answer lacked the sophistication of Clinton’s and Edwards’ replies. And this moment illustrated perhaps the top peril for the Obama campaign: with this post-9/11 presidential contest, to a large degree, a question of who should be the next commander in chief, any misstep related to foreign policy is a big deal for a candidate who has little experience in national security matters.
Sixta in the NarcoNews interview:
Stephen Sixta: I preferred Senator Obama’s reply because I felt it indicated a readiness to use the power of the Presidency to solve problems… to actively pursue a better world. His answer was, it seemed to me, spontaneous, passionate, and well reasoned… and I applaud him for that. My understanding is that his campaign is about change… a new approach to solving our problems… fresh ideas and all. I think his answer reflects a new and possibly more dynamic way of employing foreign policy. A charismatic man who is not afraid to get involved to make the world a better and more peaceful place.
Narco News: What did you think of Senator Clinton’s response?
Stephen Sixta: I thought Senator Clinton’s reply was solid, although more traditional… less visionary, but still a quantum leap in a different direction from the Bush Administration. She has a big advantage in the presidential envoy area because of Bill Clinton. He would be outstanding. I’m sure Obama could use President Clinton as well but with her administration he would certainly be employed more often. I’m not sure what she specifically meant by not wanting to be used as propaganda. Is that a valid reason not to engage other leaders in creating a better world. I could be persuaded that it is but as I write this today… it is not.
Narco News: Do you have any thoughts or responses of your own to any of the subsequent statements by the candidates, their spokespeople, pundits or others that have been discussing the issue since the debate?
Stephen Sixta: I have blissfully avoided watching or reading or listening to anything relating to the debate and the responses that my question generated. So I don’t know specifically what is being said by whom about whom or to whom.[…]All in all I have mixed emotions about it. In one way I am gratified that there has been, for the time being at least, a discussion of how we as a country should deal with those nations and leaders with whom we have disagreements and the role that the President should play. On the other hand I am uneasy because of the controversy that my question has generated.
Sadat’s arrival in Tel Aviv: