Roger Simon at Politico believes Barack Obama allowed himself to walk into a big trap on Iraq by agreeing to tour the country and talk to the commanders on the ground. Why go at all if Obama planned to stick to his policy of withdrawal? Making the trip concedes that he didn’t know what he talking about in the primaries, and it sets up a conundrum for Obama’s future policy:
Today many Americans are asking themselves if their summer driving vacations are really necessary because of the high cost of fuel.
Is it necessary? Why? What is he going to learn from it?
The problem for Obama is that he constructed his policy stand on Iraq based on his one trip in 2006 and the explosion of violence at that time. He has stuck with his withdraw-regardless-of-consequences position ever since entering the race in January 2007. He opposed the surge, arguing that the addition of 20,000 more troops would not improve matters, and even suggested it would make things worse.
Now we know that Obama got it wrong on the surge, but his base of voters still refuse to acknowledge reality. Hillary Clinton tried explaining it in this year’s primaries, and lost the contest to Obama in large measure because of it. MoveOn and Code Pink lifted Obama to victory on the basis of his refusal to recognize the progress being made in Iraq, and they do not want to see Obama shift away from that position.
The trip to Iraq will force Obama to recognize the progress, both in security and in politics. He will have to confront the fruits of a strategy he fought to oppose, and the security brought by American troops that he insisted should have been withdrawn two years ago. And after doing that, Obama will have to explain how American voters should trust his judgment on the war when he got the most critical call of it wrong, and continued to insist on surrender when the opportunity for victory presented itself.
When he does, how will he explain it? Simon already knows:
A few days later, Obama said all the “confusion” over his Iraq statement was not his fault but rather the media’s. “I was surprised by how finely calibrated every single word was measured,” Obama said. “I was a little puzzled by the frenzy I set off.”
Bad media. (Asking candidates to say precisely what they mean and mean precisely what they say is ruining this country, if you ask me.)
Obama issues a statement on the biggest foreign-policy issue in this campaign, and he’s “surprised” and “puzzled” that people wanted to figure out exactly what he meant? So much for the superior judgment.