The recent spat between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over whether or not the president should meet with nations like Iran, Syria, and N. Korea reflects a divide in the public about how much diplomatic engagement the United States should use when dealing with rogue nations. A Rasmussen Reports poll released on Friday found that Americans are divided about this issue. 42% of those surveyed agreed with the Obama position that the next president should meet with these types of leaders without any preconditions. 34% disagreed with this position, which would place them in the Clinton camp on this issue, and 24% were not sure.

Interestingly, Democrats agreed with the Obama position by a 55%-22% margin, but only 34% of all Americans and 34% of Democrats were aware that this was his position. 11% of Americans, 14% of Democrats, believed that this was Clinton’s position. Twenty four percent of those asked did know Clinton’s position was not to agree to these types of meetings. Seven percent of those asked thought that Obama who said he would not pursue such meetings. Republicans tend not to favor meetings with the leaders of Iran, Syria, and N. Korea, and unaffiliated voters are evenly divided on the issue.

This poll along with a separate one that found that only 15% of Americans think the presidential debates are “exciting,” tells me that most people aren’t paying attention at all. By the way, 58% of those asked said the presidential debates are boring. 30% say the debates are informative, and 50% think they are “useless.” I am a person who writes about politics everyday, and I wouldn’t say that these debates are very informative or exciting. If the point of starting the campaigns a year earlier than normal was to get more people interested and involved, so far the experiment has been a flop. Now if the point of campaigning early was to expand the campaign industry, that the year 2007 has been a resounding success.

What the Obama/Clinton diplomacy argument reveals is that Hillary Clinton is out of step with a majority of Democrats on yet another issue. However, one must ask if it really matters how in step she is right now? This issue might be the beginning of a divide which will distinguish Obama from Clinton, but for now it probably won’t change the race at all.  It is likely that casual voters won’t start paying attention in any way until we get closer to the Iowa caucuses. That means that there is still another four months to go before people start to take even a cursory look at the 2008 candidates. For hardcore political junkies like myself, and I suspect those of you are reading this, the extra campaign time is great, but much of the country hasn’t bothered to tune in yet. The impact of this dispute between Clinton and Obama will likely be minimal.

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Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at


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