John McCain

Missing at Ole Miss: Debra Burlingame scores the first debate

National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez asked Debra Burlingame her opinion of last night’s debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. Here is a glimpse:

Lopez: Could you ever vote for Obama? Why (not)?

Burlingame: If I could wipe out all I heard Senator Obama say in the primary season — he was then presenting himself with the more moderate positions; he now says he supports missile defense, as opposed to scrapping it — I’d take him more seriously. If al-Qaeda and militant Islamism did not exist, I would be much more comfortable with Barack Obama. He is, at best, a conventional-war commander-in-chief. His resume is so shockingly thin, he is utterly dependent on the advice of those around him. That concerns me deeply. The president has a million people competing for his ear. Without more experience in world affairs, how will he decide whom to listen to? Will he take the path of least resistance? I don’t believe I could ever vote for him because, despite his claim that Sen. McCain is about yesterday and he is about tomorrow, I think he wants to take us back to a defensive posture that would work for our enemies, not us.


At Ground Zero, on September 11, tell us about terrorists’ rights, Senator Obama

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain are scheduled to attend a forum in New York City this Thursday, September 11. Presumably, they will visit the World Trade Center, speak to the media, and make formal comments in some venue. While Senator Obama is there, I hope he expands upon what Constitutional rights terrorists and combatants — both lawful and unlawful — have when found outside of our nation and its territories. Specifically, does he believe they are protected by the same rights as a common criminal found within the United States concerning self-incrimination, searches, and legal representation? Should they have full rights to discovery during prosecution?

My family will be at Ground Zero that day only to remember and honor those who were murdered by terrorists, on our soil, on 9/11. Yet I invite Senator Obama, while there, to repeat what he said in Michigan yesterday:

“First of all, you don’t even get to read them their rights until you catch ’em,” Obama said here, drawing laughs from 1,500 supporters in a high school gymnasium. “They should spend more time trying to catch Osama bin Laden and we can worry about the next steps later.”

If the plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks are in the government’s sights, Obama went on, they should be targeted and killed.

“My position has always been clear: If you’ve got a terrorist, take him out,” Obama said. “Anybody who was involved in 9/11, take ’em out.”

But Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus corpus.

Calling it “the foundation of Anglo-American law,” he said the principle “says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, ‘Why was I grabbed?’ And say, ‘Maybe you’ve got the wrong person.'”

The safeguard is essential, Obama continued, “because we don’t always have the right person.”

“We don’t always catch the right person,” he said. “We may think it’s Mohammed the terrorist, but it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You might think it’s Barack the bomb-thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president.”

Obama turned back to Palin’s comment, although he said he was not sure whether Palin or Rudy Giuliani said it.

“The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It’s because that’s who we are. That’s what we’re protecting,” Obama said, his voice growing louder and the crowd rising to its feet to cheer. “Don’t mock the Constitution. Don’t make fun of it. Don’t suggest that it’s not American to abide by what the founding fathers set up. It’s worked pretty well for over 200 years.”

Perhaps Senator Obama will also point out where in our Constitution it says non-Americans, outside the United States, have the same rights as we have here.

Update, 10:42 AM, September 9, 2008:

An emailer had a few questions of their own for Senator Obama:

Of course, Sarah Palin probably doesn’t think the Constitution applies to foreign terrorists. But notice that he says, if they’re involved in 9/11 “take them out.” You mean, assassinate them before a trial? How do we know “they’re involved in 9/11” unless we give them the full monty? And what about the intelligence we might have gotten if we “take them out” without interrogation?