Spot the difference! Compare Gerard Henderson in the SMH:
Yet it is a fact that Howard's comment has had such a big impact outside of Australia precisely because he was essentially correct......with Greg Sheridan in the Murdoch Australian:
JOHN Howard made a serious mistake in the extravagance of his rhetorical outburst against US presidential candidate Barack Obama. The substance of what Howard said was right...See the difference? No? Me neither.
Henderson actually takes it further than Sheridan, playing with numbers and ripping into Obama from various angles:
If Howard was undiplomatic in commenting on US domestic policies then the same can be said for Obama's response. Obama told reporters in Iowa that if Howard's comments were anything other than "empty rhetoric" he would commit 20,000 additional troops to the war. This is rhetoric in itself.Expect people like Sheridan and Henderson to do their bit to ensure that the road to the White House is as rocky as possible for Obama. Because we all need to hear that he was brought up as a Muslim as many times as possible, right?
Australia has about 1500 men and women in Iraq. On a comparative population basis, an Australian force of 21,500 in Iraq would equate to some 320,000 Americans - almost double the US deployment.
It's a long time to the 2008 US presidential election. At the moment Obama is a high profile Democrat contender, as is Clinton. Yet it is not going to be an easy road for the African-American candidate. His government experience is confined to just two years in the US Senate, where he has not been associated with many prominent legislative initiatives.
Also, unlike Clinton, Americans as yet do not know much about Obama.
In his books The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father, Obama indicates that he was brought up a Muslim and converted to Christianity. He is now a member of the United Church of Christ. There is no doubt that Obama will have a lot of appeal to the left of the Democratic Party.
Finally, there is this bit of "balance" from Henderson:
The verbal punch-up between Howard and Obama indicates just how important the issue that divides them is to each man. Obama has consistently opposed allied intervention in Iraq. He is on record as saying that Saddam Hussein should have been left alone in Iraq, since he believed that he was no threat to the US."And some Muslim nations"? That a new field of retrospective justification! Of course, what Hendo fails to point out when comparing the two men's beliefs is that Obama was right, and Howard was wrong. But then, this is an opinion piece, and facts don't matter as much as conviction.
On the other hand, Howard sincerely believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that he was a threat to the West and some Muslim nations alike.