85 DaysUntil Election Day
August 11, 2008
RUSSIA SLAUGHTER GEORGIANS…in an unprecedented show of aggression, Russian troops are indiscriminately bombing and killing thousands of civilians in it’s attempt to wipe out U.S. ally Georgia. The world in shock and can only stand by and watch, as the old Russian bear emerges, with KGB Colonel Putin in charge. So much for change.
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By JAMES CLENCH inLondon
and NEIL SYSON in Tbilisi
Georgia called for aceasefire as its blitzed armies fell into retreat — and saidit was ready for urgent talks on a “termination ofhostilities”.
But as Georgianpresident Mikheil Saakashvili waited for a reply, Russian forcescontinued to bombard the area — before taking command of itcompletely.
Georgia said 6,000Russian troops had rolled in from the neighbouring Russian provinceof North Ossetia.
South Ossetia capitalTskhinvali was said to be razed to the ground. And in a dramaticescalation, a Russian naval squadron SANK a Georgian missile boatin the Black Sea while its warplanes BOMBED the oil port of Potiand TARGETED Georgia’s international airport in capitalTbilisi.
As a Russian jetbombed fields around his village, Djimali Avago, a Georgian farmer,asked me: “Why won’t America and Nato help us? If theywon’t help us now, why did we help them inIraq?”
A similar sense ofbetrayal coursed through the conversations of many Georgians hereyesterday as their troops retreated under shellfire and the RussianArmy pressed forward to take full control of SouthOssetia.
Smoke rose asRussian artillery fire exploded less than half a mile from thebridge marking South Ossetia’s border with Georgia. A groupof Georgian soldiers hastily abandoned their lorry after its wheelswere shot out and ran across the border.
By BEN FELLER
Associated Press Write
BEIJING (AP) -President Bush on Monday sharply criticized Moscow’s harsh militarycrackdown in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, saying theviolence is unacceptable and Russia’s response isdisproportionate.
The UnitedStates is waging an all-out campaign to get Russia to halt itsretaliation against Georgia for trying to take control of thebreakaway province of South Ossetia.
Bush, in an interview withNBC Sports, said, "I’ve expressed my grave concern about thedisproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemnthe bombing outside of South Ossetia." He said he did so directlyto Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who’s here for the Olympics, andby phone to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau
Republican presidential candidate John McCain will hold threecampaign fundraisers in Metro Detroit during a Wednesday visit, hiscampaign said Sunday.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama got some help in Michigan on Sundayfrom actor Kal Penn, who campaigned in Metro Detroit for theDemocratic candidate. Penn starred in the two "Harold and Kumar"films and TV’s "House."
Spokesman Leah Yoon said McCain, accompanied by Sen. JoeLieberman, will also hold a nonfinance related campaign stop.Lieberman will hold a Wednesday evening campaign event at theHolocaust Memorial Center in Bloomfield Hills; McCain will notattend.
Whyis it so close? That’s been the chatter after these past twoweeks in the three-month run of the Obama-McCain smackdown. TheObamaphiles are nervous that their man has stalled in the pollsafter what, objectively, was a successful trip overseas. TheMcCainites, terrified of a Democratic wave, are taking solace inthe failure of Barack Obama to break away. The stragglingClintonites are busy preparing theirtold-you-sos.
Thereare any number of theories offered for the tightness. One is thatObama is too temperamentally aloof for most Americans. According tothe columnist Maureen Dowd, he is the Mr Darcy of Americanpolitics, too proud, while Americans are still a little tooprejudiced. Or maybe Obama is too popular with Germans for his owndomestic good (he’s lucky he didn’t hold a rally on theChamps Elysées). Or is his orthodox liberalism in many areasseeping through, while America remains a centre-right country?Others posit that the only halfway normal Americans who focus onthe campaign in early August are the elderly, and they aredemographically more in tune with John McCain.
Whoknows for sure? My view is that McCain was always the mostappealing Republican in the current atmosphere and Obama is, formany people, a less well-known and riskier bet. But two factors areundervalued. The first is Iraq. It’s easily forgotten butObama’s candidacy would never have gained the slightesttraction were it not for his opposition to the war from the start.It’s what distinguished him from Hillary Clinton and, in themidst of apparent chaos and drift in Mesopotamia, his campaign gavevoice to those who simply wanted to cut American losses and moveon.
A few weeks back, Timemagazine was musing that John McCain was in danger of sliding from“a long shot” to a “no-shot.” Around thesame time, a hard-nosed former Hillary Clinton insider declared therace “effectively over” thanks to the McCaincampaign’s ineptitude, the tanking U.S. economy andObama’s advantages in cash, charisma and hope. And Obama, upby three to six points nationally, was about to leverage amuch-anticipated trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Europe into apre-convention poll surge.
Instead, his supporters are now suffering a pre-Denver panicattack, watching as John McCain draws incrementally closer in stateand national polls – with Rasmussen’s most recent dailynational tracker showing a statistical dead heat.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has been privately enumerating herdoubts about Obama to supporters, according to people who havespoken with her. Clinton’s pollster Mark Penn recentlyunveiled a PowerPoint presentation red-flagging Obama’slukewarm leads among white female voters and Hispanics –while predicting a five-point swing could turn a presumed Obama wininto a McCain landslide.