As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 07, 2008

Iraq Slips Off The Table

For a few days, I've been saying that the Obama campaign needed to turn the tables on the Clinton campaign, suggesting that her rhetoric didn't match reality on issues like NAFTA and, in particular, Iraq. There was plenty of evidence that she would not pull our troops out with anything resembling speed. Well, they brought it up today, but the problem it they did so from a defensive crouch:

The skirmishing over Samantha Power continued on an Obama campaign conference call moments ago, with the action shifting over to this recent interview with Power about Obama's commitment to withdrawing from Iraq.

In that interview, Power said the following about Obama's future approach to withdrawal from Iraq: "He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator." As Ben Smith notes, she seemed to be expressing "a lack of confidence that Obama will be able to carry through" his withdrawal plan.

Asked about the comments on the call, Plouffe argued that Obama's commitment to pulling out of Iraq was "rock solid." He also pointed out that Retired General Jack Kean, who is close to Hillary, had recently characterized Hillary's approach to Iraq as follows:

"I have no doubts whatsoever that if she were president in January '09 she would not act irresponsibly and issue orders to conduct an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, regardless of the consequences, and squander the gains that have been made."

The parallel isn't perfect, but Plouffe's push-back nonetheless seems fair here -- the larger point is that both candidates, for obvious reasons, want to preserve some wiggle room for themselves on Iraq.

This effectively ends this as an issue. It's now a he said/she said, and I don't think the Obama campaign is skilled enough politically to ignore their own vulnerabilities on this issue and just press forward and say "She won't end the war and I will."

This is extremely damaging to the Obama campaign. He needed to take an issue and run with it and Iraq made the most sense. His strength is supposed to be as an antiwar candidate. Obama gave me some hope by talking about how he not only wanted to end the war, but end the mindset that got us in there. But I don't see him pushing this much further, and in fact he's getting pushed around. He's losing the bar fight primary and it doesn't give me hope that he can stand up to the Republicans.

UPDATE: Here's Obama today in Wyoming.

That's not bad. We'll see how this goes.

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