Tuesday, July 22

:: Another Do-Over

The latest Obama do-over, courtesy of ABC News. There's more (but not much more) if you follow the link. Basically this one boils down to: If things had happened differently, I would have been right, so strictly speaking there is nothing wrong about what I said - its just that things turned out differently than I predicted.

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence" in Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said in January 2007. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

In Baghdad yesterday, after a day spent witnessing the reduction in violence in Iraq, Obama was asked by ABC News' Terry Moran if he was wrong.

"Here is what I will say," Obama said, "I think that, I did not anticipate, and I think that this is a fair characterization, the convergence of not only the surge but the Sunni awakening in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided that they had had enough with Al Qaeda, in the Shii’a community the militias standing down to some degrees. So what you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, I think that my assessment would have been correct."

Obama went on to say "the fact is that there was a combination, I think. Look, the troops and General Petreaus and Ambassador Crocker deserve enormous credit for that and that is credit that I have given publicly. And I will say, again this is the danger of politics is that I can probably show you a couple of other quotes, in which I said 'Look, whenever you put US soldiers on the ground, in those particular areas, they are going to have an impact.' So it wasn’t any doubt that you have an additional 20 thousand troops and where they are right there it is going to have an impact."


RS said...

Ummm... I think you are missing the bigger picture. Obama's view is - the situation in Afghanistan is much more serious, and that is really the central front in the war on terror as the home base of Al-Qaeda. As commander-in-chief, he has to look at the bigger picture, and not pass the buck to his Generals like Bush and McCain do.

We don't know what the situation would have been in Iraq if the surge had not taken place; the other political factors may or may not have had the same results. But if the US presence in Afghanistan had been bolstered as Obama wanted, the situation there would be much improved, and Al-Qaeda weakened in their home base. Hell, the US might have even caught Osama bin Laden.

Even McCain is finally coming around to saying we need more troops in Afghanistan... Not to mention the Iraqi government practically endorsed Obama's timetable for withdrawal. Tells me Obama had it fundamentally right. And that is what counts.

Ciccina said...

My point, which I pretty much left out of the post, is that yet another of Obama's "bold" statements that he made months ago to romance the netroots has fallen by the wayside.

Remember, Obama campaigned as the guy who had opposed any involvement in Iraq from day one. His stance against the surge was trumpeted as part of his (fairy tale) agenda of opposing the Bush administration in no uncertain terms. At the time the surge was announced, several people wondered aloud if Obama would eat crow if he turned out to be wrong. But in Obmamaland, the big O is never wrong - its just that events don't unfold the way they were predicted to.

None of this would bother me, frankly, if Obama hadn't campaigned as the non plus ultra holier-than-thou anti-war candidate, the man who had it right the whole time. In Obama's framework, turning out to be wrong in 2003 was evidence of grave moral and character flaws. Mind you I'm not talking about the Bushies, who purposely and blatantly lied; I'm talking about fellow Senators who were on the spot and had to make a choice in one of the most politically charged environments this country had ever experienced.

Obama made "being right on Iraq / judgement over experience" the centerpiece of his claim to moral superiority - one of his very few "plusses" in a basket of comparative minuses. He demonstrated bad judgement. So what are you left with? A guy with three years in the Senate who's learning foreign policy on the fly. Fantastic.

RS said...

Actually, as this article (yes, on HuffPo, but with credible links) points out, Obama is correct:

Plus, he never campaigned as the anti-war candidate. As far as I can tell, Obama always said he's not against all wars, just against dumb wars. Afghanistan is still a place where the US has to have military involvement, but Iraq is not.

You can think he's learning foreign policy on the fly, but he's been pretty spot-on on most issues. And there you go again - saying he doesn't have much else. Guess 20 years of public service - outside DC, out of your sight - doesn't count.

RS said...

Here's a couple interesting reads, which you might have seen already:


More interesting is this Newshour interview with Admiral Mike Mullen:

Admiral Mullen pretty much agrees with Obama, except of course he (as a proponent of the surge) says the surge was the underpinning of the improvements in Iraq. Still, for someone who's apparently a total neophyte, Obama's doing very well :-)

What strikes me as particularly interesting, though, is that Obama - the "newbie" - gets that the mission is set by the C-in-C, and the Generals follow. McCain and Bush, for all their combined experience, have essentially passed the buck to General Petraeus, who frankly is concerned only with Iraq, and not the broader picture.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ciccina said...

Hey! its that same guy posting - I can tell from the characteristic mistreatment of the English language. Honestly, I really don't understand the point of comments like this. I have to go back to an earlier point of thinking its the work of provocateurs. True, Mama Ciccina also told me, as I was growing up, to remember that 98% of people are stone cold stupid (she pulled the number off of some standardized test, I believe). But can anyone be *that* stupid? Hey, I'm going to insult you until you agree to like my candidate! Oh, possums.

To RS -

Well, I disagree about Obama campaigning as an anti-war candidate. You are probably right on the technicality, but he ran as the anti-war (the war everyone pays attention to, Iraq) candidate. Furthermore, he made much hay of McCain's statement about keeping a presence in Iraq for 100 years, when if you go back to McCain's quote its clear he's talking about it in the sense of troops to protect embassy staff and so on- we will always want to have *some* presence there, just like other countries have a presence here.

I agree with you completely about Afghanistan. I was horrified when I started to read positive comments in the Guardian about the possibility of the Brits holding talks with the Taliban. The image of Taliban leaders visiting the White House- I guess during the reign of Bush pere, but possibly Reagan - is seared into my memory. You cannot negotiate with clero-fascists, and that is what they are, essentially. You can only contain them, one way or another.

If you can show me a speech in which he spent a considerable amount of time (i.e. enough time for the words to register with people and for them to think what they are hearing is important to the speaker) talking about Afghanistan as a just war that needs to be waged until we reach a specific objective, then the point is yours. However - saying the objective is to capture Bin Laden - no, not the same thing.

Nor can you use Obama's statement that he would invade Pakistan if thought he could catch Bin Laden. Yes, it makes him sound pro-war, but since he later retracted it, it doesn't count. :-)

By the way, a comment such as the one posted by our new friend here, above, is just as bad as any racist or muslim-baiting email the Obama campaign ever complained about. And as you know, this sort of thing from Obama supporters was very common for a long time. But they never did a thing to reach out to their supporters about not behaving like they had rabies. Clinton made statements repudiating emails that were evil to Obama, but Obama turned a blind eye to everything that happened to Clinton. This contributed to the perception of Obama as someone who doesn't give a damn about sexism, and didn't mind benefiting from it to boot.

(Its the "bitter" trope that is sexist. It is sexist because it has never been said about a group of voters perceived to be predominantly male. When people talked about the possibility that African Americans might not turn out for Clinton in the general the way they would turn out for Obama, I guarantee you that not one single person wrote about "bitter" African Americans. Because, you see, African Americans would have a legitimate reason to lose their enthusiasm, whereas women are just emotional freaks who can't get over their mood swings - no way a woman voter could actually have a legitimate reason to take a pass.)

(the rest of the comment is not sexist; its more of a cry-for-help I'm-losing-my-marbles kind of thing).

Okay, while I am it, because I know you are genuinely interested in the difference in the way voters are perceiving - or not perceiving - sexism: a good rule of thumb is to just change around the gender in a statement. When you read "women won't vote for Obama because they are bitter", change it around to "men won't vote for Obama because they are bitter." Does it sound natural to you, or does it sound reductive / dismissive / patronizing? How about "women won't vote for Obama because they wanted to have a female president." Change it to "men won't vote for Hillary because they wanted to have a male president." Again, does the statement now sound reductive / dismissive / patronizing? Would you accept that statement at face value? If a female, Hillary supporting blogger wrote that sentence, would you go along with it, or would you say: "prove it. show me some data. how do you know. because that doesn't match my experience and it doesn't sound credible."

Now, apply as necessary. :-)

RS said...

Here's Obama in 2007, laying out the case for withdrawal from Iraq to focus on al-Qaeda:

If I understand you correctly, you make a distinction between capturing Osama bin Laden and war. But al-Qaeda is the new enemy, and to expect wars to be waged only against formal nations is... a W-ian understanding of the present and future world.

And I don't think Obama has retracted his statement on unilateral action in Pakistan. In fact, that is current US policy AFAIK, except that Obama made the "gaffe" of stating it explicitly.

As for Clinton repudiating rumors about Obama - "Senator Obama's not a Muslim... as far as I know"? Seriously? Do you really take that as a forceful repudiation? That's the same as McCain saying "I don't know [if Obama's a Marxist]"

"bitter" as sexist? I guess only women, not men, cling to guns and religion out of bitterness... ;-)

As I have stated ad nauseam, Clinton only lost because of bad strategy. You do realize she barely won the popular vote (closer to 17 million than 18, but who's counting?), and won the primaries in OH, PA, TX, KY, WV, CA, NY, AR, TN, OK... If you want to say that she would have won by bigger margins and thus gained more delegates except for sexism, that isn't entirely valid, either - after all, she did win OH/PA/CA by 8-10%. But with proportional allocation... that meant she netted as many delegates out of PA as Obama did out of ID. So if she had paid more attention to caucus states instead of ignoring them altogether (and even dissing them - not a wise thing before the fact), she'd have won. You can't be seriously considering that despite a strong support base in the millions, she couldn't put together 10,000 people in ID to caucus for her?! Do *all* of Clinton-supporters work the night shift?
[According to Wikipedia, ~28,000 voters caucused in idaho.]

Now, if you want to say Clinton should have won the nomination in a cakewalk and not had a close contest... that strikes me as a sense of entitlement. The last person who won like that - as to the manor born - was W, and look how that turned out...