Republicans were not alone in castigating Barack Obama over his op-ed on Iraq and his policy commitments made in the article. Michael O’Hanlon of the center-left Brookings Institute, a supporter of the war in Iraq as well as a frequent critic of the strategies employed by the Bush administration in it, pronounced himself “livid” over Obama’s essay — and hinted that Obama shouldn’t get elected as a result:
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) calling it “an unbelievably brazen effort by a politician to rewrite history.” He accused Obama of building “a political strategy around losing” the war.
Republicans were not alone in that response. Michael E. O’Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution who has been an outspoken supporter of the war in Iraq, said he could not believe that Obama would put such a definitive timeline into print before a trip to Iraq, where he is to consult with Iraqi leaders and U.S. commanders.
“To say you’re going to get out on a certain schedule — regardless of what the Iraqis do, regardless of what our enemies do, regardless of what is happening on the ground — is the height of absurdity,” said O’Hanlon, who described himself as “livid.” “I’m not going to go to the next level of invective and say he shouldn’t be president. I’ll leave that to someone else.”
O’Hanlon doesn’t exactly hide his distaste, even if he doesn’t want to get explicit about it. A week ago, O’Hanlon tried putting a better spin on it with Fox News, calling Obama’s shifts on Iraq an “evolution” rather than a flip-flop. At that time, O’Hanlon guessed that Obama would hear the story from General David Petraeus and the rest of the commanders on the ground before establishing a policy, and called the status of Obama’s Iraq policy “ambiguous”.
Now, O’Hanlon calls Obama’s presumption in devising a policy before finding out the facts “the height of absurdity”, a criticism echoed by John McCain today:
And I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy.
Obama has attained a strong odor of arrogance in this campaign, which even his putative allies have noticed. He seems to believe himself to know all without any need to study issues or research facts — which may be part of why he finds himself hitting reverse so often in this campaign.