Walking Back The Cat
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in 2008 | Barack Obama | Flip-Flopping | Iraq — Comments (4) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Of all of the major Presidential candidates, Barack Obama has been the one who most consistently opposed the war and most consistently garnered the approval of antiwar voters with his promise to end American involvement in Iraq in 16 months after his inauguration, should he win the Presidency. Indeed, several times in debates and on the campaign trail, Obama was asked whether he would reconsider his Iraq policies in the event that General Petraeus or other members of the military asked him to in light of what the conditions on the ground might be. And each time, Obama refused.
However, when it comes to his Iraq policy, Obama may now be softening:
Senator Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot sustain a long-term military presence in Iraq, but added that he would be open to "refine my policies" about a timeline for withdrawing troops after meeting with American military commanders during a trip to Iraq later this month.
Mr. Obama, whose popularity in the Democratic primary was built upon a sharp opposition to the war and an often-touted 16-month gradual timetable for removing combat troops, dismissed suggestions that he was changing positions in the wake of reductions in violence in Iraq and a general election fight with Senator John McCain.
"I've always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed," he said. "And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I'm sure I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies."
Of course, the practical translation of the above is "get ready for the antiwar movement to be thrown under the bus." Just as Obama has cut his ties with longstanding political supporters--thus embittering some of them and just as Obama has decided to support FISA reform--thus embittering the netroots, Obama has now pledged to "refine" his Iraq strategy after having initially pledged not to.
Look, I understand that there are practicalities involved in politics. And Barack Obama now appears to be embracing those practicalities. That's fine and good as it goes but with each passing day, it becomes clearer and clearer that while Barack Obama is an eloquent man with a winning campaign trail style, there is nothing special or extraordinary about his brand of politics.
He's just another Democratic party politician. And because Obama has been selling his politics as some extraordinary new batch of leadership and policies, the more people realize that Obama is just another Democratic party politician, the more pronounced their sense of disillusionment with him is likely to be.
Oh, and see this, this and this. The Obama campaign had to call a press conference to try to kill any talk that he is changing his position, but you can tell that the press is not buying it and that they are calling him on a whole host of inconsistencies between his prior position and his current one. He also accuses the McCain campaign of "prim[ing] the pump" to somehow mislead the public on Obama's position, which is bizarre and unsupported. It is difficult to see how Obama can "refine policies" concerning a troop withdrawal without potentially refining the 16 month timetable that he set for himself so his claims that he would leave the timetable untouched even though he might "refine policies" makes no sense and can't even plausibly be offered up as promises. I realize there is a need to spin this as not being a big deal, but it just isn't going to wash, as this story indicates.