Senator Barack Obama said today that he is considering visiting American troops and commanders in Iraq this summer. He declined an invitation from Senator John McCain to take a joint trip to Iraq, saying: “I just don’t want to be involved in a political stunt.”
In a brief interview here, Mr. Obama said his campaign was considering taking a foreign trip after he secures the Democratic presidential nomination. No details have been set, he said, but added: “Iraq would obviously be at the top of the list of stops.”…
“I think that if I’m going to Iraq, then I’m there to talk to troops and talk to commanders, I’m not there to try to score political points or perform,” Mr. Obama said. “The work they’re doing there is too important.”
Just so we’re clear, a “political stunt” would be letting McCain cow him into a joint trip to Iraq. Letting McCain cow him into a solo trip? Not a stunt. It’s amazing how a townhall meeting carried across the dial on cable news can concentrate the mind, I guess. He’s doing the right thing so I’ll resist the hackiest spin on this (“if he’s this much of a pushover for McCain, what will he be like against…”), but I am sincerely surprised that he’d bow to this sort of pressure so quickly. His flag-pin stance is stupid but there’s a certain ballsiness to it if he’s willing to stick with it and absorb the political consequences because he believes in it. Which … he isn’t. Same here with him backing down after initially objecting to an Iraq trip, same with his ballyhooed speech on race, which could have been given any time after declaring his candidacy last year had he felt deeply about the subject but wasn’t delivered until the Wright thing had become so toxic that he had to do it to try to save his own ass. It’s the Clintons whose every move is supposed to be calculated for political effect; as we’re learning, Obama can beat them at that game, too. Exit question: How high will the RNC counter go?