Fact check: What did Obama say about the surge?

posted at 12:15 pm on July 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama finds himself stuck between Iraq and a hard place on the surge.  Instead of just admitting that he miscalculated the potential effect of the surge when he opposed it in January 2007, he has instead tried rewriting history in order to prove himself correct.  ABC’s Jake Tapper looks at the Obama rebuttal — and demolishes it:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on January 10 2007 predicted that the surge of troops in Iraq would fail. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he told MSNBC. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Four days later he told CBS’s Face the Nation that “we cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality — we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.”

Asked about these predictions on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Obama told NBC’s Tom Brokaw that “I know that there’s that little snippet that you ran,” referring to the MSNBC clip, “but there were also statements made during the course of this debate in which I said there’s no doubt that additional U.S. troops could temporarily quell the violence. But unless we saw an underlying change in the politics of the country, unless Sunni, Shia, Kurd made different decisions, then we were going to have a civil war and we could not stop a civil war simply with more troops.”

But did he really?  As Tapper notes — no.  The best Team Obama could manage was a quote in March 2007, when he told an Iowa media outlet that we might see improvements in “certain neighborhoods” but that it wouldn’t affect violence across the country.  In fact, he told WQAD that the surge had already failed by that point — even though we hadn’t transferred most of the troops for the surge to Iraq by that point.

By that time, the Senate debate had long since concluded.  The House passed a resolution disapproving of the change in strategy and troop levels on February 16, 2007, on a party-line vote.  The Senate failed to reach cloture on their version of the resolution the next day, falling five votes short of the 60 needed.  Not once during this time or for months afterward would Obama acknowledge that an increase in troop levels would bring more security to Iraq, not less as he claimed in January 2007.

Put simply, Obama got the surge wrong, as did the House.  Obama cannot bring himself to admit that, however, since to do so would be to admit that he showed himself as inept in the kind of military strategy required for the Presidency.  Instead, he wants to pretend that he foresaw a lessening of violence but a political quagmire, which also is wrong, but is the meme du jour among Democrats on the defensive for having indulged in defeatism all during 2007.


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Comments

Instead of just admitting that he miscalculated the potential effect of the surge when he opposed it in January 2007, he has instead tried rewriting history in order to prove himself correct.

He reminds me of the guy who, while seeing a show, fell from the balcony onto the floor below. To save his pride, the guy returns to the show each night to fall from the balcony.

carbon_footprint on July 29, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Clue the Clueless

Kini on July 29, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Lord,he makes my teeth grind…

tree hugging sister on July 29, 2008 at 12:22 PM

He reminds me of the guy who, while seeing a show, fell from the balcony onto the floor below. To save his pride, the guy returns to the show each night to fall from the balcony.

carbon_footprint on July 29, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Hmmmm…. Baghdad Bob, maybe?

Kini on July 29, 2008 at 12:22 PM

This is very easy for all Americans to understand.

Mulishly wrong is not an easy flaw to explain, spin, or excuse.

RushBaby on July 29, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Sen. Lurch making new friends at a drunken sorority party. Pictures:

http://photos.tmz.com/galleries/john_kerry_party#23379

Kalapana on July 29, 2008 at 12:24 PM

The only way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is to elect Obamalamadingdong.

saltydogg14 on July 29, 2008 at 12:25 PM

Barack & Forth.

jgapinoy on July 29, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Jake Tapper is doing good work. How is it that he still has a job???

HawaiiLwyr on July 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM

But what about all those people who think that Bambi would look handsome in his new “Commander in Chief” uniform with a new self-designed presidential seal?

Travis1 on July 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Jake Tapper is doing good work. How is it that he still has a job???

HawaiiLwyr on July 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM

ADA. He is a protected class since he has objectivity in his journalism.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 29, 2008 at 12:30 PM

I read a few of the posts from that link and sure enough, Obamanites are trying to turn it around about McCain’s flip-flops. Get a clue, people, the article WASN’T about McCain! Useful idiots, period!

Torch on July 29, 2008 at 12:35 PM

The more he digs in, the sadder he looks…it becomes a joke, it will become so obvious that it will be a joke.
Like Jefferson trying to explain why he has money in his freezer.
But at least his supporters can cling onto a lie…they feel that is good enough.

right2bright on July 29, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Speaking of spinning and misrepresenting things, what about this statement of yours, Ed?

This makes the decision track very clear. Obama and his team set up the visits to military installations before going overseas. After seeing how the media got excluded in Iraq and Afghanistan, they decided it wasn’t worth traveling to Ramstein and Landstuhl to visit the severely wounded troops because they couldn’t bring the campaign and get the photo ops they wanted. Instead, Obama went shopping in Berlin.

As I wrote yesterday, that’s certainly a revealing set of priorities for a man who wants to lead these troops as Commander in Chief.

Complete and utter BS. Making stuff up. You know, at least when Journalists get stuff wrong, they admit it. You on the utter hand, just spout BS and don’t correct yourself when obviously wrong.

Seriously, don’t ever criticize journalist who have some set of standards they work by.

Sorry to interrupt this thread, but you need to be called out on this kind of thing.

Tom_Shipley on July 29, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Hmmmm…. Baghdad Bob, maybe?

Kini on July 29, 2008 at 12:22 PM

The resemblance in denials is FRIGHTENING…

tree hugging sister on July 29, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Jake Tapper is doing good work. How is it that he still has a job???

HawaiiLwyr on July 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM

For a while there’s been a small amount of political incorrectness at ABC. John Stossel over at 20/20 does not always sing from the liberal songbook. I remember when Peter Jennings was the anchor, he had (for a while, at least) Peggy Wehmeier as a reporter covering religion, especially in the US, as a newsworthy subject.

Wethal on July 29, 2008 at 12:40 PM

ABC, including Charlie and WNT, has been doing some pretty radical things considering the climate. They were the first to start showing the optimism in Iraq neighborhoods and much of the good news that couldn’t be found elsewhere. Plus, if they DO what we’d consider a ‘lefty’ piece, more often than not Charlie will have some tough questions OR they balance it with a ‘what the other side did today’.

Kudos to them.

tree hugging sister on July 29, 2008 at 12:44 PM

And until we acknowledge that reality

Please do.

joeswampy on July 29, 2008 at 12:44 PM

This is the PATTERN of Obama the candidate, his campaign, and (I assume) his administration if elected.

This country’s conditions (both domestic and foreign) are PRE-determined by Obama, for him and his Dem controlled Congress to implement their policies.

Notice the date (March 2008), President Bush just announced the Surge, Obama in the early days of primary campaign. => Obama the candidate says “I Have the Judgement to Lead”, no matter what reality is, IT IS BECAUSE I SAY SO. End of discussion. Trust your betters.

Question to Obama, Your judgement to lead us WHERE?

Sir Napsalot on July 29, 2008 at 12:47 PM

“… we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference …”

Well maybe you need to talk to somebody besides Wesley Clark.

Tony737 on July 29, 2008 at 12:47 PM

Girlbama’s vaunted judgment is entirely one-dimensional. It’s like having one of those toy 8-balls that answers your questions, but in Girlbama’s 8-ball, the answers are all variants of “give up” when it comes to matters military. Some judgment.

But if Girlbama’s advice is disregarded and the situation resolves well in spite of his position, he’s ready to jump in to steal the credit that rightfully belongs to the people with real courage and judgment. “I have always been among the most avid supporters of [name the policy he opposed].”

Girlbama’s craven willingness to steal credit for the judgment of those whom he opposed is the sign of an adolescent mindset and a complete lack of character.

Cicero43 on July 29, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Hmmmm…. Baghdad Bob, maybe?

Kini on July 29, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Baghdad Bob is at least HIGH comic relief, Obama is nowhere his league.

Sir Napsalot on July 29, 2008 at 12:49 PM

In that March 07 Iowa radio interview he also said that the Sunni insurgency would continue. He felt that the only small effect we might see would be Shia militias dissolving in some neighborhoods on a temporary basis. He could not have been more wrong.

Here’s the quote about the Sunni insurgency:

The problem is that we don’t see any change in the underlying dynamic which is Shia militias infiltrating the government, Sunni insurgents continuing the fight, that’s the essence of the problem…

Also remember that the Dems are trying to say that the Sunni tribes had already started to turn before the surge. If true, shouldn’t The All Knowing One have known that by March 07?

BrianBoru on July 29, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Ooops, March 2007, not 2008! Damn.

Sir Napsalot on July 29, 2008 at 12:55 PM

Obama cannot bring himself to admit that, however, since to do so would be to admit that he showed himself as inept in the kind of military strategy required for the Presidency.

Bad Judgment – check.

No military knowledge and bad military advisors/leftweenies – check!

Too insecure to admit he got it wrong – check.

Too stupid to know that there is a press that might verify these things – Ok, you really can’t blame him for this part; who knew?

Jaibones on July 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM

I’m going to start calling him N00Bama!

spacekicker on July 29, 2008 at 12:59 PM

Put simply, Obama got the surge wrong, as did the House. Obama cannot bring himself to admit that, however, since to do so would be to admit that he showed himself as inept in the kind of military strategy required for the Presidency. Instead, he wants to pretend that he foresaw a lessening of violence but a political quagmire, which also is wrong, but is the meme du jour among Democrats on the defensive for having indulged in defeatism all during 2007.

And not admitting it shows himself to be incompetent. A great leader learns from his mistakes. This guy won’t even admit them.

sadatoni on July 29, 2008 at 1:01 PM

It doesn’t even matter. The entire left is walking in lock-step to the notion that the “surge” was irrelevant, and it was ethnic cleansing and bribery that has improved the situation.

Riposte on July 29, 2008 at 1:04 PM

That’s what happens when your an Anti-American/Pro-Jihadi Leftist Democratic Traitor Racist Nutbag Marxist-Muslim practicing “Taqiyah“, like Barack HUSSEIN Obama (PBUH)(SAW)(SWT)!

Surrender, Socialism & Taxes: Vote Obama in ’08!

Dale in Atlanta on July 29, 2008 at 1:06 PM

Maybe “not admitting he was wrong” in the Dem rule book equates to “being strong”. As in Dan Rather’s brand of “Courage!”

Sir Napsalot on July 29, 2008 at 1:11 PM

Ed, have you seen this yet?

General Petraeus’ former chief COIN adviser David Kilcullen has taken Spencer Ackerman to task for including, without Kilcullen’s permission, Kilcullen’s comment that the decision to invade Iraq was “f*cking stupid” in Ackerman’s piece yesterday on Kilcullen in the Washington Independent.

Here’s a pull-quote:

Spencer Ackerman, in yesterday’s Washington Independent, claims I told him the Iraq war was “f*cking stupid”. He did not seek to clear that quote with me, and I would not have approved it if he had. If he HAD sought a formal comment, I would have told him what I have said publicly before: in my view, the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was an extremely serious strategic error. But the task of the moment is not to cry over spilt milk, rather to help clean it up: a task in which the surge, the comprehensive counterinsurgency approach, and our troops on the ground are admirably succeeding.

Anyone who knows me has been well aware of my position on Iraq for years. When I went to Iraq in 2007 (and on both previous occasions) it was to end the war, by suppressing the violence and defeating the insurgency. (Note: I said END the war, not abandon it half-way through, leaving the Iraqis to be slaughtered. When we invaded Iraq, we took on a moral and legal responsibility for its people’s wellbeing. Regardless of anyone’s position on the decision to invade, those obligations still stand and cannot be wished away merely because they have proven inconvenient).

ganeshpuri89 on July 29, 2008 at 1:21 PM

Memo: Replace batteries in Iraq crystal ball.

whitetop on July 29, 2008 at 1:24 PM

By the time the lamestream press is done they will credit Obama for the drop in violence and for the drop in oil prices…

sabbott on July 29, 2008 at 1:26 PM

By the time the lamestream press is done they will credit Obama for the drop in violence and for the drop in oil prices…

sabbott on July 29, 2008 at 1:26 PM

man, ain’t that the truth!

Dale in Atlanta on July 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM

Citizen of the World Obama is “full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”

TooTall on July 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM

Tapper has actually turned into about as close to a bi-partisan “snarker” as you’re going to get in the media. He made his name and was lauded by others in the press back at the start of the decade when he was writing for Slate for his creation of the “Daily Bushism”, which at times had to do some dialectic gymnastics to come up with a new malaprop from the president each day.

That helped him get his current job at ABC, where the assumption was he would simply continue on in the same vein bashing Republicans. Surprise! — Tapper’s actually be the most tenacious reporter out of the Big Three networks and CNN in reporting on Obama’s errors and his own malapropisms. He may be a little more cynical than most people like, but under the circumstances bi-partisan cynicism is 10 times better than the unabashed love most of the other TV reporters covering Barack are coming up with in their reports.

jon1979 on July 29, 2008 at 1:30 PM

Barry has always been a student of US military history…

Sure he has.

benrand on July 29, 2008 at 1:32 PM

From the March, 2007 WQAD interview with Obama quoted by Tapper:

The problem is that we don’t see any change in the underlying dynamic which is Shia militias infiltrating the government, Sunni insurgents continuing the fight, that’s the essence of the problem and unless we say that we’re going to occupy Iraq indefinitely, we’re gonna continue to see problems.

Curious words from Obama. He prescribed the medicine needed to cure the patient. Of course, advocating and supporting the surge back then meant supporting an indefinite occupation. Political suicide for a liberal.

Verdict: McCain is correct. Obama would rather play politics than win a war.

ganeshpuri89 on July 29, 2008 at 2:02 PM

That Bush, he just can`t admit that he`s wrong………..Wait, who are we talking about again? :)

ThePrez on July 29, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Put simply, Obama got the surge wrong

Wrong he got it. Liar he is.

drjohn on July 29, 2008 at 2:45 PM

Some other things Barry said:

July 13, 2007 statement he slipped into the Congressional Record:

“The decision to authorize and fight a misguided war in Iraq also created a new cadre of experienced terrorists bent on the destruction of the United States and our allies. The recent attacks in Britain are likely only the beginning of an Iraqi ‘blowback,’ which may haunt us for years to come.”

It appears that Barack was inspired to make that statement by Justin Raimondo, who in a 2005 article entitled,
Blowback in Iraq/The U.S. invasion empowered Iran: was that the agenda all along? said this:

In this case, however, they are turning on us quickly, and with a vengeance. We are seeing the sort of instant “blowback” we seem to be experiencing all too frequently of late, as in the London bombings, where Western hubris immediately boomerangs into some disastrous event. Dwarfing even our apparent inability to defeat the burgeoning insurgency, America’s biggest failure is “liberated” Iraq’s growing ties with the government of Iran. This is a policy boomerang of epic proportions.

I wonder if Raimondo one of Barry’s 300 “advisors”, or just someone else to steal lines from. Cause that “epic proportions” thingy rings a bell with me too.

Buy Danish on July 29, 2008 at 2:55 PM

Barry has always been a student of US military history…

Sure he has.

benrand on July 29, 2008 at 1:32 PM

Maybe student of History of the Soviet Union, would be more appropriate?

Dale in Atlanta on July 29, 2008 at 3:06 PM

well, Obama you look like an idiot.

Chakra Hammer on July 29, 2008 at 4:04 PM

“…having indulged in defeatism all during 2007.”

wrong. should read;

…having indulged in political subversion and treason all during 2007.

elduende on July 29, 2008 at 5:05 PM

Democrats on the defensive for having indulged in defeatism all during 2007.

Just 2007? From what I remember, it’s been ever since 2002, if not even earlier.

Cylor on July 29, 2008 at 10:25 PM

Bush 41 used Dukakis’ arrogance against him in the debate. They knew that he couldn’t admit he was ever wrong so they hung him on it. Just sayin’.

Obama is as arrogant as they come. It will be his downfall.

Mojave Mark on July 29, 2008 at 10:50 PM