The RNC’s circulating this, as they must, but realistically what does anyone expect them to say? “We’ve thought it over and are taking a second look at staying the course?” That’s no more likely than things going to pieces and McCain suddenly deciding it’s time to pull out, and may actually be less likely given that Obama’s early opposition to the war is the very crux of his vaunted foreign-policy judgment. Read Tom Bevan’s post this morning about the titanium-strength rigidity of the left’s and right’s competing Iraq narratives; I wasn’t kidding yesterday when I said you can predict exactly what Obama will say after emerging from a meeting with Petraeus. The political utility of having him go over there and sit through details of the progress that’s been achieved is that it boxes him in on his Iraq rhetoric for the rest of the campaign; he can and will still call for withdrawal, but he’ll be more circumspect and less aggressive about it. The substantive utility is that hearing it from Petraeus (or McMaster) in a private setting instead of in some televised hearing where he has to grandstand is that it may honestly drive home to him that there’s a chance of getting the country back on its feet, which may cause him to readjust his plans as C-in-C. At the very least, it can’t hurt. Just don’t expect for a minute to see or hear any signs of that readjustment on the trail.

Tags: Barack Obama