The Democrats' Doctor Doolittle Ticket

Why does the Obama-Biden ticket somehow resemble the two-headed llama in the Rex Harrison movie, “Dr. Doolittle”?  The unfortunate creature was called a “pushme — pullyou” or some such, because either head seemed to have alternative moments of control of the whole body — which brings to mind the Democrats’ national ticket.  

I was reminded of these two headed animals — two brains thinking differently but leading a single body — by recent comments made by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden over the issue of Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, which will occur sometime during the next US president’s term(s) in office.

Biden, meeting with Israeli officials a few weeks ago, was quoted afterwards as saying the Israelis needed to accept the inevitable.  “Israel,” Biden suggested, “will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran…It is doubtful economic sanctions will be effective and I am against opening an additional military and diplomatic front.”  

Biden, who was selected by Obama to offset the presidential hopeful’s lack of foreign policy experience, takes a defeatist position towards what perhaps is the biggest threat to world stability during the next four years.  He effectively accepts a nuclear-armed Iran as a fait accompli.  One can only assume Biden takes this position because he fails to see a nuclear-armed Iran as a major threat.  But, it is interesting to compare Biden’s remarks on this issue to Obama’s more recent comments during an interview with Bill O’Reilly.   

Unequivocally recognizing Iran as a “major threat,” Obama explained it would be “unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon.  It would be a ‘game-changer.’”  Pressed as to whether Iran presents a serious enough threat to warrant military action by the US to stop Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, Obama responded, “I will never take a military option off the table.”

Like two-headed animals, both of fact and fiction, these two completely contrary positions by Obama and Biden leave one wondering in which direction the single Democratic Ticket body intends to move if voted into office as it obviously speaks with two different brains engaged.

Obama’s comments also bring to mind another member of the animal kingdom.  The chameleon is known for its ability to camouflage itself, changing color to blend in with its surroundings to avoid danger.  Like the chameleon, Obama — fearing himself in danger during the O’Reilly interview — changed colors from a position he took just last year concerning the removal of the military option for President Bush in dealing with Iran.

In 2007, Senator Obama refused to support a nonbinding Senate resolution recommending Iran’s Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) — an elite unit of which is killing US soldiers in Iraq — be designated a terrorist organization.  Erroneously believing passage of the resolution would authorize war with Iran, Obama failed to vote for it, condemning it as “excessively provactive.”  Not content to leave the matter there, he then introduced legislation to make clear no previous act of Congress was to be used as future authorization to go to war with Iran!  Thus, the very option Obama assured O’Reilly he wanted to retain as the next president and “would never take off the table,” he effectively wanted to deny to President Bush.

Last month when Russia invaded Georgia, a statement issued by Obama brought yet another animal to mind.  The “fainting goat” — a domestic breed whose muscles freeze up briefly when startled — causes the animal to fall over or run around awkwardly.  

Obama appeared awkward in addressing Moscow’s aggression.  In part, he said: “I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war…All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”  

This kumbaya response failed to recognize Russian aggression.  Moreover, Obama’s statement is strikingly similar to one also issued by five of the six Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members, which includes China.  At Beijing’s insistence, and to Moscow’s dismay, the joint SCO statement said:  “(We) express grave concern in connection with the recent tensions around the South Ossetian issue and urge the sides to solve existing problems peacefully, through dialogue, and to make efforts for facilitating reconciliation and talks.”  

Both China and Obama sought neutrality in the face of Moscow’s clear aggression — China so as not to antagonize Russia; Obama so as not to antagonize US voters.  We can expect such irresponsibility from China; but we should not expect it from a US presidential candidate.

Listening to Obama and Biden or Biden and Obama (depending on who, at the moment, is calling foreign policy shots for the Ticket) is similar to a stroll through the animal kingdom: one never knows what animal form the Democratic Ticket will take on next.  But on the issue of a nuclear armed Iran — the single most important issue of the next US presidency — the adage “two heads are better than one” is wrong.  For in speaking with two different brains engaged, giving the American public mixed signals about its foreign policy towards Iran, the Democratic Ticket clearly gives Tehran the signal there is nothing to fear from an Obama presidency unable to get its act together.