Obama’s Triple Lindy: Iran, Iraq, and League of Democracies flip-flops

posted at 9:25 am on July 2, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama has returned to the no-preconditions policy for meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to Obama foreign-policy adviser Anthony Lake.  Financial Times also discovered in its interview with Lake that Obama has reversed himself on Iraq, now saying that the withdrawal is off.  Obama also now embraces John McCain’s call for a League of Democracies, despite his campaign’s rejection of it earlier this week:

Mr Obama and his advisers stress the Democratic candidate’s readiness to sit down with Iranian leaders without ­conditions.

“Unless you assume that [Iranian negotiators] have IQs less than those of eggplants, they are not likely to make major concessions for the privilege of speaking with us. So the question is: what is your strategy for the talks?” Mr Lake said. …

He stressed that Mr Obama, even after withdrawing troops from Iraq over 16 months as he has promised, would maintain “a residual presence for clearly defined missions”. These would include military training, and “preparedness to go back in if there are specific acts of genocidal violence”. …

Mr Lake was sympathetic to aspects of Mr McCain’s idea of a League of Democracies, one of the centrepieces of the Republican’s foreign policy plans.

So now we’re going to meet with Iran with no preconditions again?  Over the last three months, Obama and his team have tried to distance themselves in every way possible from his statements to this effect last year, by claiming that they would have “preparations” instead of preconditions — as if diplomats had never prepared for talks in the history of statehood.  When that failed, Obama tried claiming that it might not be Ahmadinejad on the other side of the table, which matters little in the Iranian mullahcracy — a point that anyone who has studied Iran in any depth would know.  Apparently, the campaign figures they’re better off defending the indefensible than engaging in a futile effort to redefine it.

On Iraq, the shift is a little more subtle.  Obama had sent the message early in the campaign that he would have a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and at the earliest possible moment.  In the last couple of months, that led to the 16-month timeframe, much longer than he implied while campaigning to the left of people like Chris Dodd and Hillary Clinton.  Now he’s acknowledging that it won’t even be a complete withdrawal, making his policy sound very much like that of John McCain.  Just how large will the “residual forces” be?  And why would he pull out so many that he would risk the need to re-invade Iraq at a tremendous financial cost and a huge logistical effort?

The League of Democracies statement is an outright flip-flop from Monday.  His national-security adviser Richard Danzig had this to say about the idea:

Advisers to Barack Obama have also been critical of the proposal, saying it is an outgrowth of what they call the Bush administration’s “you’re either with us or against us” approach to foreign policy. “I don’t regard this idea as terribly attractive,” says Richard Danzig, a former secretary of the Navy and an Obama national security adviser. “It tends to emphasize the we-they character of the world, when in fact the world is more complicated than that.”

That’s three flip-flops in a single interview, an impressive feat.  In diving terms, it’s the Triple Lindy:


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For heaven’s sake he’s flippin’ like a pancake.

MB007 on July 2, 2008 at 9:27 AM

I protest Obama is not a flip flopper

He is freaking Linda Blair full on headspinning possessed.

William Amos on July 2, 2008 at 9:28 AM

And in the process his new positions make front-page news everyday and McCain is, where?

I hate to quote Dick Morris, but he wrote recently that McCain appears to be sleepwalking through this campaign, and it’s hard to argue with that.

Obama’s making news with his policy positions (even if they are flip flops) and, on the Republican side we have Lindsay Graham attacking Wesley Clark. McCain and his people need to get a grip, get some momentum, get on offense.

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Obama don’t get no respect. No respect at all!

He’s not flip-floppping, he’s re-adjusting.

profitsbeard on July 2, 2008 at 9:37 AM

…like a beached carp. This man clearly has no vision, no ability to grasp or deal with complex issues. He is a ‘wet finger to the wind’ politician and would be a disaster if elected.

whitetop on July 2, 2008 at 9:38 AM

By the way, Back to School is a great movie, as funny today as it was back in 1986. It hasn’t lost a thing.

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 9:38 AM

it’s racist to imply Obama dives competitively…

max1 on July 2, 2008 at 9:40 AM

His position is very clear!

It’s whatever they think someone wants to hear!

He’s not for it before he’s against it, he’s for it and against it at the same time – how does it get any better than that!?!

The ‘say anything’ campaign strategy, run by professionals!

Wind Rider on July 2, 2008 at 9:41 AM

And they call him Flipper, Flipper…or this

right2bright on July 2, 2008 at 9:43 AM

He’s probably just inartfully distracted.

ronsfi on July 2, 2008 at 9:44 AM

Back to School is a great movie, as funny today as it was back in 1986. It hasn’t lost a thing.

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Rodney reading the poem is one of my favorite movie scenes ever. Gives me goosebumps. I have tried to find it on YT, no success.

RushBaby on July 2, 2008 at 9:44 AM

The difference being, of course, that Rodney Dangerfield was a very funny man who got no respect, while Obama is a supremely unfunny man and universally respected for reasons beyond me.

tree hugging sister on July 2, 2008 at 9:48 AM

McCain and his people need to get a grip, get some momentum, get on offense.

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 9:35 AM

He’s being very cautious so that he doesn’t make a serious faux-pas, weighing his words very carefully, as in a job interview. Instead of blowing the interviewer away, he’s hoping that they don’t find any reason not to choose him to fill the position.

It’s the brilliant vs. qualified approach. He’s probably right to do this, given his personality and style.

JiangxiDad on July 2, 2008 at 9:49 AM

At some point soon, probably after he finally visits Iraq, Obama will make a big foreign policy speech that the media will fawn over once again, and this speech will finally define his positions on all of this stuff. Then the speech will be hailed as another visionary masterpiece. There will be no mention of any previous positions, flip flops, contradictory statments by different advisors, or anything. This seems to be the M.O. of this campaign and so far they are getting away with it.

rockmom on July 2, 2008 at 9:54 AM

Obama reminds me more of a coral snake that I found this weekend on my front porch. When I pinned it down with a log from a nearby pile of firewood, it started to thrash violently from side to side, whipping back and forth to try to escape. Yep. Something cold, slithery, dangerous, poisonous, and predatory that thrashes and strikes when it’s cornered.

RushBaby on July 2, 2008 at 9:54 AM

I swear this guy is just showing off now.

It’s like he’s saying:

“Screw America, I can flip and flop and flop and flip, and they are still stupid enough to vote for me!”

cntrlfrk on July 2, 2008 at 9:56 AM

Obama … would maintain “a residual presence for clearly defined missions”. These would include military training, and “preparedness to go back in if there are specific acts of genocidal violence”.

Hey, I’ve got an idea, let’s keep enough Troops there to PREVENT genocidal violence FROM HAPPENING IN THE FIRST PLACE!

What is with these idiotic liberals? ‘Duh, let’s arrest them AFTER they kill a bunch of us.’ How stupid can half the population be?

Tony737 on July 2, 2008 at 9:57 AM

He is freaking Linda Blair full on headspinning possessed.

In which case, under no circumstances let him anywhere near the pea soup!

I R A Darth Aggie on July 2, 2008 at 9:59 AM

It’s really quite remarkable to watch.

Aside from the nitwits who have never voted before and want to “vote for a black guy for President”, what do you suppose his supporters are thinking while they watch this?

Jaibones on July 2, 2008 at 10:00 AM

How does questioning Obama benefit Michelle’s kids?

lorien1973 on July 2, 2008 at 10:01 AM

He’s just refining his position. Don’t you want a president who will always re-evaluate his plans? Not like that stubborn warmonger Booosh.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on July 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM

this is just a strategic re-deployment…

jp on July 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM

Good job RushBaby!

A lefty would’ve said “Awww look how cute, one of Gaia’s little creatures … I should commune with it … here little snakey snakey … OUCH! It BIT me! I don’t understand, I was just trying to talk to it! Why would it do that? … not feeling … so … good … must go … sleepy …”

And the moral of the story is: Iran is a snake and will bite you if you try to pet it, or negotiate with it. Why? Because that’s what a snake does.

Tony737 on July 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM

When you have the refs in your pocket, you don’t even have to pretend to play by any rules, and more significantly, you don’t have to be any good to win.

drunyan8315 on July 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM

rockmom…well said!

I’m all for Iraq moving into the sunshine, but the thought that after all the hard work is done it will be Obama snatching up the Corona Civica and placing it on his head. Makes me ill. The Dems claiming that victory only came on their terms…..and the American people will eat-it-up.

Limerick on July 2, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Change you can believe in, especially if you have some brain damage.

It’s not my fault they officially end their campaign slogan with a dangling preposition.

Beagle on July 2, 2008 at 10:06 AM

What to say? Through his constant policy flip-flop-flips, Obama is getting better at arguing he’s wrong on the issues than the opposition. Well, not better, but more experienced.

If he keeps this up, polls will have to start asking voters whether they are more likely to support Obama, McCain or Obama-Feb, Obama-March, Obama-April ….

Dusty on July 2, 2008 at 10:09 AM

To be fair though these were two different advisors pontificating on behalf of the candidate.. Obviously they will try to pass their own views as the candidate’s views. Easily could happen to McCain as well..

On the flip side, it makes sense now why Obama doesn’t sit down for a lot of interviews.. He would constantly ‘readjust’ his views at each interview

justinok on July 2, 2008 at 10:09 AM

For heaven’s sake he’s flippin’ like a pancake.

MB007 on July 2, 2008 at 9:27 AM

Or like a waffle.

Bigfoot on July 2, 2008 at 10:10 AM

On the flip side, it makes sense now why Obama doesn’t sit down for a lot of interviews.. He would constantly ‘readjust’ his views at each interview

justinok on July 2, 2008 at 10:09 AM

You never even saw that pun zip by, did you?

right2bright on July 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM

rockmom…well said!

I’m all for Iraq moving into the sunshine, but the thought that after all the hard work is done it will be Obama snatching up the Corona Civica and placing it on his head. Makes me ill. The Dems claiming that victory only came on their terms…..and the American people will eat-it-up.

Limerick on July 2, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Sure, Trudy Rubin (Philly Inquirer “Worldview” and Middle East affairs columnist), who hasn’t had a positive thing to say about Bush and Iraq for the past eight years, has a piece up today (it’s on RCP) on there finally being a “ray of hope” in Baghdad. Just in time for Obama’s visit.

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM

Where his wife Michelle shops

right2bright on July 2, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Good lord.

I am starting to think that the senator from Illinois may be suffering from multiple personality disorder. There’s Barry that plays basketball and kicks it in da hood wit his homeys. Then there’s St. Barack that did not know what was going on in his own church that he attended for 20 years and now denounces. And finally there’s elitist post-racial Democrat Senator Obama that talks about the price of arugula and those that “cling” to guns and religion out fear of others. Could this be the reason for the “change” we keep seeing? I would “hope” that he would pick a position and go with it.

/sarc

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 2, 2008 at 10:23 AM

Are we being Punk’d?

mikeyboss on July 2, 2008 at 10:25 AM

It’s hard to see all this swerving as a deliberate strategy. What would that be, an attempt to make people numb to it – to mainstream it?

The oftener that the restless anthropologist Obama keeps swerving, testing the steering, etc., the oftener that various supporters of his will find themselves under the bus, or perilously near to such. So it’s a good idea to keep pressuring Obama into swerves during the campaign. He will increasingly annoy his big-name Dem supporters, as well as coming off as an inartful dodger to the electorate.

It also foreshadows a paralyzed administration, wherein his subordinates will fear to make a move, take any initiative, because they simply won’t know with any assurance what his policy is. Who’ll want to stick his or her neck out for such a mercurial policy-maker?

Our enemies in Iran, our adversaries in Russia and elsewhere, are certainly watching this. When Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, leaders around the world recognized it as an indication that Reagan was not to be trifled with, because they themselves knew from experience in their own countries how important air traffic controllers are. Sometimes we want a politician to change his or her mind, but there’s much to be said for a politician who is consistent, clear, and firm.

Can you imagine Obama as ultimate supervisor of negotiations – top-level or otherwise – with countries like Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, etc., not to mention Russia and China? They would be seeking to take advantage of his changeability. And how about in dealings with our friends? Will promises be kept?

ForNow on July 2, 2008 at 10:27 AM

This is really turning out great. I bet by the time Denver rolls around, O! will be running right down the middle. The Recreate68 crowd will be supremely revved up over this, as their agenda is being publicly disavowed. Should make for some excellent street theatre.

JimK on July 2, 2008 at 10:27 AM

Adjustable interpretations. That’s the way to go.
Vs.
Leader: “a party member chosen to manage party activities in a legislative body “

Nelsa on July 2, 2008 at 10:28 AM

That’s a whole lot of inartfullness…

bofh on July 2, 2008 at 10:35 AM

With the change on Iraq, Obama may keep troops there for 100 years.
.
Will that Move On.org mom in the ad say Obama can have her son for the war?

Right_of_Attila on July 2, 2008 at 10:50 AM

We should not be reading/seeing this stuff on the pages of the MSM, although it helps. We should be seeing split screen videos from the McCain campaign on a daily basis using Obama’s eloquent speech making against himself. If McCain’s folks are so clueless, and they appear to be so, the Repub National Committee should be running the adds themselves.

McCain and crew are letting this thing slip away. You can’t save up these gifts to be used in the last couple of months. You have to pound the message home every few days. Videos have to make it to YouTube to later be spread in emails etc. It has to be nonstop.

Personally I’m starting think McCain is really not into being President. I’m getting the feeling he is just grandstanding, akin to Schumer and a TV camera. There’s a certain timely disconnect here that should not be happening inside a professionally run Presidential campaign. Commercials about Obama flip flopping lose there punch when they show up weeks later. They have to be within days of the flop. Who’s running McCain’s video editing department? This is easy stuff.

He’s whiffing on softballs.

patrick neid on July 2, 2008 at 10:50 AM

If you ignore all the signs — one being open contempt for the US Constitution — you deserve a megalomaniac with delusisions of divinity leading your banana republic.

Beagle on July 2, 2008 at 10:58 AM

How can you tell when Obama is flip flopping? His ears stick out.

bopbottle on July 2, 2008 at 10:59 AM

Where his wife Michelle shops

right2bright on July 2, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Slim chance of her wearing these.

MB007 on July 2, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Personally I’m starting think McCain is really not into being President.

I personally don’t think he, or his camp, are up to it. Maybe the office (still debatable), but certainly not the campaign. They are not quick enough on their feet, they are over-sensitive about details while being seemingly oblivious to strategy. And the candidate cannot embrace whole sections of the party he represents.

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Can’t a man just finish his waffle?

TheUnrepentantGeek on July 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Isn’t that a Triple Klutz and not a Lindy?

andycanuck on July 2, 2008 at 11:11 AM

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM

I literally spit out my coffee this morning when I saw that Trudy Rubin piece. Can’t wait to see the letters that come in from all the BDS sufferers.

rockmom on July 2, 2008 at 11:11 AM

I’ve got to question McCain’s timing on going to Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico right before the Fourth of July. He should be beating the patriotism drum in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan before all those bitter clingers to God and guns now, and he can go to South America in August, when nobody is paying attention.

Obama: I am going to change Washington from the failed policies of the past, including what my advisor said yesterday. I will transcend the partisanship that has paralyzed Washington–what I said today is for Democrats, what I said yesterday is for Republicans. I have consistently said this throughout my campaign, but the inartfulness of reporters have distracted the voters from the issues. If you have a question, Sweetie, ask Wesley Clark.

Steve Z on July 2, 2008 at 11:22 AM

That clip makes it clear: Barry has Kurt Vonnegut writing his policy positions for him. I am waiting for him to start proposing Ice-9 as some sort of solution to the energy crisis.

Mallard T. Drake on July 2, 2008 at 11:23 AM

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM

I literally spit out my coffee this morning when I saw that Trudy Rubin piece. Can’t wait to see the letters that come in from all the BDS sufferers.

rockmom on July 2, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Don’t hold your breath. Bush is not mentioned once. Petraeus is mentioned once. The U.S. military is mentioned once, referred to as “U.S. and British support.” All of the credit goes to the Iraqis.

BigD on July 2, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Joseph Cirincione, Obama’s Nuclear Advisor, is already breaking-ground with Tehran. In an e-mail interview with Tehran’s Mehr News this past Monday this is what he had to say,

The standard U.S. policy before President Bush has been to talk with our adversaries as well as our friends. Only in this administration has the principle been established that negotiations were a reward. The next president should consult closely with our allies and then engage Iran in a full and open dialogue without preconditions. The Europeans and most of our allies would welcome such a policy. This dialogue will be difficult and there is no guarantee of success. But without it, there is a guarantee of failure and conflict.

Earlg on July 2, 2008 at 11:57 AM

remember the old ketchup commercial with the song “anticipation” as the music bed? we need an obama vid with all his positions outlined with a parody version of the song called “triangulation”….

jcrue on July 2, 2008 at 12:00 PM

jcrue….good one! Yesterday I proposed a video to the “Cha-Cha Slide” featuring all of Obama’s sliding around on the issues. There is comedy gold here!

rockmom on July 2, 2008 at 2:06 PM

All Hail the Messiaho!

All Hail the Messiahore!

All Hail the Messialiar!

All Hail the Messiafraud!

All Hail the Messiaclueless!

Remember…Obama or Die!

dmann on July 2, 2008 at 2:07 PM

“a residual presence for clearly defined missions”.

A residual presence of about 100,000 troops.

Non-combat designation, of course.

Bet on it.

drjohn on July 2, 2008 at 3:04 PM

I am beginning to think Obama is just winging it.

Terrye on July 2, 2008 at 7:28 PM