The Barack Obama campaign sidelined Joe Biden today and opted to get one of their diplomats out in front of the Crisis Gaffe. Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State and one of Obama’s 300 foreign-policy advisers, tried to shrug off Biden’s comments as just a “statement of fact” — which may not be terribly helpful:
ROBERTS: I want to ask you what you thought of what Joe Biden said yesterday, in terms of this idea that Senator Obama, if he becomes President, would be tested by an international crisis within the first six months. John McCain certainly picked up on that. Let’s listen to what he said yesterday.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: If Senator Obama is elected, Senator Biden said ‘we will have an international crisis that tests America’s new president.’ We don’t want a President who invites testing from the world at time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars.
ROBERTS: No question there what Senator McCain thought about those comments. What did you think about what Senator Biden said?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it’s just a statement of fact, frankly, and in my book, I talk about the fact that there are a lot of big issues out there, but that also something unexpected – you always have to be prepared for that.
I understand what Albright means in her argument — that any change of administration would tempt America’s enemies to test the new President to see how far they can go. However, Biden’s comments went much further than that. He pointed to the inexperience of his running mate as a special incentive for creating a crisis, and that his response would probably look unsatisfactory:
“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”
“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. “And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”
Even Albright would have to admit that a known quantity in the White House would provide less of a temptation to start provoking the US to test our responses. And Albright would know better than to telegraph the responses by saying we would do something unpopular, rather than act with strength to end the provocations. Why not just reassure people that Obama won’t let rogue nations push us around like playground bullies? Apparently, that’s not the response that Obama has in mind when challenged by the likes of Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, or Cuba.