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The Freshness Unto Death

July 23, 2008

LOSING IT

It only took a few seconds of seeing Barack Obama’s heavily stage-managed photo-op tour for me to bust a capillary. He walks in to the room. The troops cheer. And then I realize: it’s working.

Truth doesn’t matter. Experience doesn’t matter. Past judgement doesn’t matter. All that is real to too many people is the media image presented to them in concert with this candidate, and there is very little to be done about it.

I am realizing that I will just have to accept this reality if I want to have any mental health over the next “8-10” years or so. It doesn’t matter how many Dan Qualye grade gaffes Barack Obama makes. It doesn’t matter that he was spectacularly wrong in his strategic outlook over the past few years – the entire length of his national political life. It will all be folded neatly away into the past, all questions neatly deflected away, even as Obama continues to harp on the past decisions of the Bush Administration. Indeed the candidate of “change” stands for nothing without the concrete reality of the Bush years to base him self on.

Or maybe truth will prevail. We’ll see what happens. So far nobody has been able to successfully predict much about this election.

For me this is a time of testing, a time to search my faith, both in God and in this country and the American people (No Rob, they are not the same thing). I want to believe that a free people will behave rationally and elect the person with the most experience and the most proven record of success in defending America during a time of war. That person is obviously John McCain.

THE MASK COMES OFF

In a series of astounding interviews, Barack Obama clearly reveals his stunning ignorance of the strategic importance of stabilizing Iraq, both as a component of fighting Al-Qaeda, terrorism generally, and our long-term goal of stabilizing the region. In his ABC interview with Rick Moran

(W)hen asked if knowing what he knows now, he would support the surge, the senator said no.

“These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult,” he said. “Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that what I am absolutely convinced of is, at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with, and one that I continue to disagree with — is to look narrowly at Iraq and not focus on these broader issues.”

Astounding. This is dissembling of the first order. Bullshit on stilts. Artful dodging. Airbrushing the past etc. And he doesn’t even answer the question. Any normal reasonable person (I would think) would say they would have supported the surge had they known it would have worked. (Perhaps that’s because I supported it.)

Doesn’t Obama care about the lives of our troops and of the Iraqi people? Of course he does. The surge has greatly reduced violence on both counts. Why can’t he just say “Yes”? It’s the human thing to do. Answer: it obviously brings up the now embarrassing question of his strategic judgment. Obama has had a great many super nuancy positions on Iraq- and some not so nuancy- but trying to “change the political debate” is not one that has figured prominently until now. As he said on Feb. 10th of last year:

“It’s time to start bringing our troops home,” Obama said forcefully as he launched his run. “That’s why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008.”

Not to Afghanistan. Home. By March 2008- four months ago as of this writing.

Most maddeningly, he justifies his current stategery as an attempt to not “look narrowly at Iraq and not focus on these broader issues”. But a narrow focus on Afghanistan (with occasional references to unilaterally invading Pakistan) is just what he’s proposing now- in clear disregard or ignorance of the wider strategic issues. Again, Katie Couric of all people asked him if the level of security today could have existed without the surge. Replies Obama:

Katie, I have no idea what would have happened had we applied my approach, which was to put more pressure on the Iraqis to arrive at a political reconciliation.

Stunning. This is either massive ignorance or dishonesty dressed up as nuance. Obama of course deflects these questions as “hypotheticals”, but really , can anyone fail to see the results of abandoning Iraq in the worst of the violence? I sure did. Al-Qaeda did it’s best to ignite a civil war, which came perilously close to consuming the country, which would have in time involved much of the entire region. Now the terrorists are in retreat to Afghanistan and Pakistan and no one talks of civil war. Obama even airbrushed the concept off of his website with barely a comment.

STRATEGY COMES FROM MORE THAN FACTS

John McCain has responded to this by saying that Barack Obama would rather lose a war and win an election- the opposite of McCain, who has said he would rather win the war and lose the election. Indeed all of this might come to pass. This is pretty strong language, but I don’t think it’s beyond the pale. Obama is clearly of the opinion that leaving Iraq in a matter the military might think is precipitous is his call to make:

Obama said that in his meeting with Petraeus, the general discussed his “deep concerns” about “a timetable that doesn’t take into account what they anticipate might be a change in conditions.”

“My job is to think about the national security interests as a whole and to weigh and balance risks in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama said. “Their job is just to get the job done here, and I completely understand that.

In other words, he will be working for me. Obama has disregarded the assessment of Gen. Petraeus for over a year. Why would he start listening now, even as he maintains that he wouldn’t support the surge? It’s absolutely infuriating to see his refusal to admit he was wrong. From the Jake Tapper interview:

“Here is what I will say,” Obama said, “I think that, I did not anticipate, and I think that this is a fair characterization, the convergence of not only the surge but the Sunni awakening in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided that they had had enough with Al Qaeda, in the Shii’a community the militias standing down to some degrees. So what you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, I think that my assessment would have been correct.”

Let the enormity of this obfuscation of this circular logic sink in. So the surge, which was presented not as a military solution, but a way to reduce violence so that a political solution could come about, led to a political solution. So if the surge hadn’t worked, Obama would have been right. Duh!

Obama and the Democrats desparately want to deny the connection of success in Iraq to the surge, but doesn’t one have to marvel at the coincidence required for such a feat that was projected to be hopless? Obama wants to refocus away from the past in terms of his strategic blindness and he may have some luck in doing so. That doesn’t change the fact that he has been spokesperson for a policy of failure that would have catastrophic consequences for America, Iraq and the world if it had been followed over the past 18 months. Why should he be trusted over John McCain with our future?

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