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Barack Obama on Iraq.--

The McCain campaign has a long, nearly 8-minute ad up on its website, which is mostly just video clips of Barack Obama's statements on Iraq, interspersed with derogatory slides expressing negative conclusions about Obama. Personally, I could do without the ominous music and most of the slides (which are sometimes fair and sometimes not). Yet I like actually hearing Obama's views on what is for me the main issue. Although there might possibly be a clip taken out of context, my sense is that the clips shown are quite representative of his views on Iraq over time.

Indeed, I was happy to see that the political ad included a brief example of his view before he started running for President that we should NOT pull out of Iraq because of the destruction that would result from our leaving. This is the position he took in "The Audacity of Hope." Most people think that Obama always opposed continuing the war and always favored pulling out fairly quickly.

Personally, I would prefer that, should Obama clearly pivot on what to do in Iraq, he not be attacked by either the left or the right for flip-flopping, but rather commended for responding to new realities. After all, he is likely to be President, and the earlier he takes a more mature position on the war, the likelier he is to stick with it. Indeed, that Obama has been so slow even to begin changing his position is a worrisome sign. Even if Obama does change his views and decide to stay in Iraq and win a war that is now probably winnable, I wonder whether when he takes office he has the courage to disappoint his supporters, especially when he has to deal with, not only his extravagant promises, but the families of dead soldiers.

One thing I find disturbing about the Obama clips and some recent public comments is the degree to which he is trying to rewrite the history of what his positions were, particularly on the surge. Obama was wrong on the main foreign policy issue of his brief time in the US Senate, the surge, and he should correct his position as quickly and as forthrightly as is politically possible, not pretend that he always thought that the surge would work to reduce violence.

I would love to see a similar long, detailed ad on the Obama website on John McCain's shifting views on immigration (for amnesty/against amnesty; border control first/border control as part of a general solution). (Perhaps one is already there.)

My own immigration views are for tighter borders AND increased immigration through greatly increased legal immigration. I have long entertained the possibility that some portion of slots should be sold or auctioned off to screened, otherwise qualified immigrants, a proposal explored by Dick Posner and Gary Becker.

Flash Gordon (mail):
I commend you for your views on immigration. You have exactly the right idea.

I don't think Obama is adjusting his views to respond to new realities. I think he is saying what he thinks he needs to say to win an election. To know what he really thinks, I believe his earlier statements are the place to look.
7.18.2008 4:39pm
Anon21:
I still haven't seen this alleged shift in Obama's Iraq policies. He's been consistent on the 16-month timetable throughout this campaign, at least. He has also always qualified that by saying that the withdrawal issue is a strategic/policy decision that he himself will make, but that tactical details of how to do it or even how quickly it will occur will be influenced by developments.

I understand you probably don't like this 16-month timetable. You apparently even think it's "immature." By wide margins, the American public disagrees. Even if we are coming to a place where a stable Iraq in the vaguely foreseeable future is plausible, the cost in American lives and resources is too great, and the actual benefit to American interests too speculative. That's been the problem from the beginning, and it's a problem that needs to be addressed with a policy of withdrawal such as the one Obama has advocated throughout his Presidential campaign.
7.18.2008 4:47pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Obama was wrong on the main foreign policy issue of his brief time in the US Senate, the surge, and he should correct his position as quickly and as forthrightly as is politically possible, not pretend that he always thought that the surge would work to reduce violence."

Obama's possible alteration of his history of his views on the surge aside, I find it interesting that this criticism comes from people such as McCain who were "wrong" (though I prefer "imprudent") on the overarching policy issue in which the surge was embedded, namely the war itself. As Obama pointed out, it's a question of strategy v. tactics. Why would I want to elect someone who is too dense to know the difference between a "we'll be greeted as liberators" cakewalk and a $3 trillion (the all-in cost, by conservative estimates) quagmire that has empowered Iran and greatly diminished our ability to promote freedom and democracy in the region (one of the ever shifting, ostensible purposes for the war). For that matter, McCain continually fails to recognize the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, which calls into question his basic competence on the signature issue of his campaign. Of course, to give credit where it is due, McCain differed from the White House on the war in one significant respect--he wanted to send in many more troops at the outset. But that is tactics, not strategy.
7.18.2008 4:49pm
Smokey:
Sometimes I wonder who Obama really represents.
7.18.2008 4:55pm
iambatman:
I would be interested in seeing an ad showing McCain's insistence that the Iraqis don't want a timetable for withdrawal when the Iraqi president has been demanding just that. Are we still "liberators" in McCain's view? Or does he see our continued presence as a necessary occupation (a "burden," if you will, shouldered by our benevolent and advanced nation on behalf peoples who have a mistaken view of their own needs).
7.18.2008 4:58pm
GV:
Lets see. I want to learn about Obama's position on a complex issue. What to do. Look at his policy papers? No. Do my own independent research by using google? Nah. Go to this opponent's website and look at clips of things he has said where there is often little context for his statements? Ding, ding!

We truly get the government we deserve.
7.18.2008 4:58pm
Anderson (mail):
Although there might possibly be a clip taken out of context, my sense is that the clips shown are quite representative of his views on Iraq over time.

I wish you would explain the source of this "sense," since the fact that the clips are PRODUCED BY HIS OPPONENT is a pretty big red flag, to anyone with a normal degree of skepticism.
7.18.2008 5:00pm
iambatman:
[sees 3:55 post] And Smokey is one of the vocal "ban Sarcastro" crowd. Yeah, we only want substantive discussion on this here blog comments section.
7.18.2008 5:00pm
AnonLawStudent:
GV,

Trust the opponent alone? Probably not. On the other hand, it's not just cross-examination, but the adversary system generally, that "is the greatest . . . engine ever invented to discern the truth." IOW: the McCain add is a good starting point and short-cut for starting your own research.
7.18.2008 5:04pm
highway61:
I commend you for calling him Dick Posner.
7.18.2008 5:04pm
Sam Hall (mail):
The war in Iraq is the centerpiece of the WOT, lose there and we will either lose it all or pay a far higher price.
7.18.2008 5:09pm
glangston (mail):
The "new reality" Obama is responding to is running against a Republican.
7.18.2008 5:11pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
The Brack Show, with Brack Obma.
7.18.2008 5:14pm
AF:

Although there might possibly be a clip taken out of context, my sense is that the clips shown are quite representative of his views on Iraq over time.

I wish you would explain the source of this "sense," since the fact that the clips are PRODUCED BY HIS OPPONENT is a pretty big red flag, to anyone with a normal degree of skepticism.


Well said!
7.18.2008 5:18pm
Constantin:
The "new reality" Obama is responding to is running against a Republican needing the votes of people who aren't rooting for us to lose the war.
7.18.2008 5:18pm
Houston Lawyer:
Seeing as how Obama has changed his position and has deleted from his website his prior statements that were contrary to his current position, I would say that Obama is the last person to ask about the evolution of his positions. He seems to have the same regard for his own past statements as Bill Clinton did.

He also seems indifferent to the result of his proposed actions on Iraq to the people of Iraq, the Middle East and the rest of the world.
7.18.2008 5:20pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Sam Hall and Constantin: How do we "win", that is what is victory in Iraq? I am an Obama supporter but think we are likely stuck there for a lot longer than he or I would like. We and he know this, and it is thanks to the profoundly unwise (and unconservative, incidentally) decision to invade without a casus belli or a good occupation plan. But honestly, what are the conditions of victory, and can they ever be achieved in a way that allows most troops to come home?
7.18.2008 5:24pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):

win a war that is now probably winnable


What is your definition of victory? You must have one, to make this type of prediction.

If it is "install an Iranian-friendly Shiite regime in Iraq" I guess that is "winning."

If it is Wolfowitz's grand vision to remake the Middle East into a bastion of pro-American, pro-Israeli democracies, starting with Iraq, we probably have a long way to go.

I think people are confusing battlefield, tactical successes, which are short-term and possibly ephemeral, with "victory."

We need to define, clearly, what our goals are for Iraq.
Probably most people would agree that one goal is creating a stable government capable of defending itself from internal and external threats. If that is a goal, we may be closer to achieving it, and thus be ready to leave, in the very near future.
7.18.2008 5:28pm
Sam Hall (mail):
Thales

We went into Iraq for the same general reason that the first place FDR invaded after Pearl Harbor was North Africa. The fact that Iraq turned into a honey trap for AQ just made it all the better.
7.18.2008 5:31pm
MarkField (mail):
Criticizing a candidate for changing his position only has merit in one of two cases:

1. His position should not, on the merits, change. If the merits justify the change, then it would be idiotic not to change.

2. His opponent has made fewer or less important inconsistent statements. If anyone wants to make such a comparison with McCain's flip-flops, they can start here.
7.18.2008 5:32pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Why do I say that these clips seem representative?

Here are some of the reasons:

I have followed Obama for many years and voted for him many times. I read his second autobiography. As a registered Democrat and registree on Obama's campaign site, I get regular emails and USPS mailings expressing Obama's views. I watched some parts of some debates. I have read some of his speeches on his campaign website. I have done Westlaw and LEXIS searches of hundreds of articles mentioning Obama, including many quoting from his speeches. Also, these are videos of Obama's actual speeches and interviews, not someone's second-hand accounts of what he said.

Last, as Houston Lawyer points out, according to the claims of many bloggers, Obama's negative comments about the surge have been removed from his website, so (if true) the campaign's own website is NOT a good source of info on Obama's PAST views.
7.18.2008 5:33pm
MarkField (mail):

We went into Iraq for the same general reason that the first place FDR invaded after Pearl Harbor was North Africa.


Rommel had an army we could attack from there?
7.18.2008 5:34pm
davod (mail):
"invade without a casus belli" Sadaam was in breach of the peace treaty. No other casus belli was needed.

I do not mind people changing their positions over time, even if it is for purely political reasons. I do mind people lying to the American people about their previous positions and Obama does this.
7.18.2008 5:40pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"We went into Iraq for the same general reason that the first place FDR invaded after Pearl Harbor was North Africa. The fact that Iraq turned into a honey trap for AQ just made it all the better."

But North Africa was part of the theater of the invasive war started by the ally (Germany) of the country that attacked us (Japan). I fear to read your completion of what you think the analogy is.
7.18.2008 5:40pm
AF:
Professor Lindgren, however informed you might, nobody is going to accept an attack ad as a fair starting point for a discussion about Obama's record.
7.18.2008 5:42pm
AF:
Neither is Obama's website, of course. For a discussion to have even a prima facie veneer of objectivity, it can't start from the unsubstantiated premise that either candidate's spin is true.
7.18.2008 5:47pm
Sam Hall (mail):
But North Africa was part of the theater...

And Iraq wasn't?

We had, and still have, just cause to invade a number of countries for their support of Islamic terrorism.
7.18.2008 5:48pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Here is some more on Iraq. No one has shifted more from day-to-day on Iraq than McSame.
7.18.2008 5:54pm
Lib:
I find it troubling that Obama has stuck to about a 16 month withdrawal timetable even in light of dramatically changing realities on the ground, impact (good or bad) of the surge, and the passage of at least 18 months during which Iraqi forces have received additional training and experience.

While it is possible that 16 months is still the appropriate timetable, this strikes me as a remarkable coincidence. It seems that Obama would be wise to explain that/how a fresh analysis of the very different situation still leads him to a basically unaltered timetable rather than a shorter (or, less likely, longer if he believes the surge made the situation worse) timetable. Otherwise he runs a real risk of being perceived by voters as being more likely to stubbornly stick to his own ideas in spite of changing conditions than to be a truly thoughtful and responsibly adaptive leader.

About three weeks after President Bush formally announced the "surge" strategy, Obama authored SB433 in January 2007 calling for "the complete redeployment of all United States combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008" in a "gradual manner". Even if one assumes the bill was passed instantly (which, as he knew, would not happen) and implementation begun immediately, this would have been a 14 month withdrawal. Although this 15%+ increase in the time required for a responsible withdrawal timetable isn't all that significant, intuitively I would think the changing conditions would have instead shortened the timetable so I'd like to hear Obama explain this change. (Perhaps there's a good explanation, for example, maybe the surge resulted in a lot of additional military hardware building up in Iraq and Obama's analysis of the logistics indicate removing this additional equipment or rendering it inert safely and economically will take 60 days.)

Unfortunately, Obama seems to be passing up some wonderful opportunities to help the voters understand his problem solving and decision making process while also disarming critics.
7.18.2008 5:55pm
Curt Fischer:

Professor Lindgren, however informed you might, nobody is going to accept an attack ad as a fair starting point for a discussion about Obama's record.


I'm not sure why we should reject Prof. Lindgren's informed conclusion that the video is representative of Obama's views. First, distortion and misrepresentation are NOT sine qua nons of attack ads. Indeed, in some cases an ad that attacks an actually-held view of the opponent rather than a straw man may be more effective -- it's certainly harder to respond to legitimate attacks against your actual positions that to straw-man attacks against mischaracterizations of your positions, for example.

On top of that, Prof. Lindgren does seem to be very well informed of Prof. Obama's self-proclamations of his views.

So, I guess I for one am a member of the "nobody" that AF refers to.
7.18.2008 5:56pm
Joey22 (mail):
Real nice there going to an opposition web-site to learn about his 'real' Iraq views. Do you think they might be taken out of context, really?

Too bad that he does not have his own website, and that we don't have some sort of tool that would allow us to easily search past news stories and speeches of public figures, maybe something with electricity and the cable lines...I don't know, just brainstorming here.

I now that when I want to find out about Exxon's corporate practices, I go to Greenpeace.org, and when I want to find out about Senator Obama's Iraq policy, I go to JohnMcCain.com. I can't think of a better source.

It's almost the end of the day and I'm too tired to read something like that opening paragraph...
7.18.2008 6:01pm
PLR:
The surge worked really well,* and Fred Kagan is to be applauded for his perspicacity.**

______________________
*Stated on a pro forma basis, without giving effect to increases in refugee numbers or Iraqi corpses, and disregarding surge objectives relating to political stability. No cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken at this time, and the current failures smashing successes are no assurance of future even worse failures smashing successes.

**If Kenneth Pollack at Brookings says it, it must be true.
7.18.2008 6:06pm
AF:
I'm not sure why we should reject Prof. Lindgren's informed conclusion that the video is representative of Obama's views.

Because it's a mere assertion. Essentially the post says: "Go take a look at McCain's new ad about Obama. It's basically accurate; trust me, I'm well informed. Now discuss." No thanks.
7.18.2008 6:08pm
LM (mail):
James Lindgren,

Yet I like actually hearing Obama's views on what is for me the main issue.

We lack the manpower and material to dispatch our enemies and quell the current and potential threats in Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously. I'd like to hear both candidate(s) assess those threats side by side and explain how they plan to allocate our limited military resources accordingly. It sounds to me like each of them is repeating audience driven narratives that give no indication of being informed by the broader risk and cost-benefit challenges. Obama comes closer, at least calling attention to the ongoing price we're paying for having robbed Peter (Afghanistan) to pay Paul (Iraq), but neither of them has really even approached offering a comprehensive current analysis unencumbered by the politics of their own prior statements and promises.
7.18.2008 6:09pm
genob:
This has to be making Hillary crazy. The single biggest reason he beat her was their relative difference on the war. Hillary miscalculated the ease of her Democratic victory and moved towards the center early...

Now Obama is basically saying: "Well once I do what McCain and Hillary already did, which is consult with the generals on the ground and get the information about what is really going on, then I'll probably 'refine' my position." And that refined position will look remarkably like that of McCain and Hillary.
7.18.2008 6:15pm
Tom O (mail):

But North Africa was part of the theater...

And Iraq wasn't?

We had, and still have, just cause to invade a number of countries for their support of Islamic terrorism.


No, Iraq wasn't - at least not if your talking about a war against the groups that attacked us on Sept. 11. Iraq simply did not give meaningful support to terrorist groups intent on attacking the U.S. It had de-minimus contacts with such groups, as does every regime in the region, but nothing substantial that would amount to causus beli. It gave more substantial support to Islamic terrorism more broadly defined, but if you are suggesting that the U.S. should be going to war to defend Israel and/or the corrupt regimes of countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that are the targets of these Islamic terrorist groups I think that should have been made explicitly clear to the American people. I don't like these groups, but so long as they don't target America I don't want a fight with them.
Just cause is not the same as a good reason in this case.
7.18.2008 6:19pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"We had, and still have, just cause to invade a number of countries for their support of Islamic terrorism."

Excellent. I suggest we begin with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Indonesia, Pakistan and Syria, to name just six that fall into that category (they have each done a lot more than house the occasional retired Palestinian bus bomber, which was Saddam Hussein's "support"). We can use the victory savings from each war to pay down our tremendous national debt and allow us to cut taxes to negative rates. It is all beginning to fit together now, I don't know why I didn't see it before.
7.18.2008 6:22pm
Lib:
Greedy Clerk:

I think it's pretty clear to most voters that McCain is just another example of a fairly traditional politician -- in other words, one who is interested in being elected even at the expense of higher principles like honesty and forthrightness. Thus, flip-flopping doesn't damage him as much -- he's already tarnished and that's been discounted and is, in fact, expected.

I also think voters intuitively realize that McCain has, by nature of being on the national stage in Congress for 25 years vs. Obama's 3 years, much more exposure to conflicting "past positions" (even if specific one flip-flops can be isolated to a 3 year interval) and are likely to be more forgiving of what might be slow and principled shifts due to experiences and changing conditions.

It seems that Obama is much more of a "shiny object" that people see in what they want - including a principled politician which will, by that trait, overcome his limited experience with national politics. Therefore, it seems a fairly small amount of tarnish is likely to do him great harm in the general election. It would behoove Obama to jump on top of perceived or real shifts in his view and explain them carefully rather than try to bury or deny them -- voters would respect him more rather than less.
7.18.2008 6:22pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

We had, and still have, just cause to invade a number of countries for their support of Islamic terrorism.


Like Pakistan? You know...where the Taliban operates with near impunity?

And Saudi Arabia, from whence millions have been funneled to Islamic exremists?

No?
7.18.2008 6:22pm
Kazinski:
Anderson:

I wish you would explain the source of this "sense," since the fact that the clips are PRODUCED BY HIS OPPONENT is a pretty big red flag, to anyone with a normal degree of skepticism.

Maybe you can explain where the McCain ad takes things out of context to misrepresent Obaba's views. And one correction, Obama produced the clips, McCain's campaign selected them.

Joey22:

Too bad that he does not have his own website...


What is really too bad is that Obama scrubbed his website in order to airbrush his views on Iraq. Which unfortunatly means McCain's, admittedly biased, representation of Obama's views may provide a more accurate history of them that Obama himself. It one thing to change one's views on a matter, it is completely different to try to remove the record and pretend those other views never existed.
7.18.2008 6:24pm
Perseus (mail):
as Houston Lawyer points out, according to the claims of many bloggers, Obama's negative comments about the surge have been removed from his website, so (if true) the campaign's own website is NOT a good source of info on Obama's PAST views.

This is an example of the phenomenon which leads those who study campaign ads to claim that opposition ads tend to be more informative.
7.18.2008 6:31pm
Curious Passerby (mail):
After all, he is likely to be President

HAHAHA!!!

Koooolade!!!!!!!!!
7.18.2008 6:37pm
LM (mail):

Kazinski:

I wish you would explain the source of this "sense," since the fact that the clips are PRODUCED BY HIS OPPONENT is a pretty big red flag, to anyone with a normal degree of skepticism.

Maybe you can explain where the McCain ad takes things out of context to misrepresent Obaba's views. And one correction, Obama produced the clips, McCain's campaign selected them.

Sure, right after you point out and rebut everything that's out of context or misrepresentative in Fahrenheit 9/11. Have you ever gotten a piece of (legal or other) work to review, and immediately recognized that critiquing it adequately to get back what you actually need in the next draft would be many times more work than just doing the thing yourself from scratch? Enough said.
7.18.2008 6:37pm
hattio1:
I'm just curious. A lot of people, Professor Lindgren included, are saying that "changed realities" should cause Obama to change his position. What, if anything, should change the Republican/McCain position? When the war was going badly, we had to stay to see it through to the end, which would require some presence there for 100 more years. Now that the surge is working, shouldn't THAT timetable be shortened? Shouldn't the fact that the Iraqis want us out change the timetable? Shouldn't the fact that Afghanistan is getting worse, and arguably needs the troops more make us shorten our timetable?

This reminds me of the tax cuts. When Bush first took office and the economy was going smashingly the solution was...tax cuts. When the economy started tanking the solution was....tax cuts. It makes you think the goal was not so much improving the economy as tax cuts. And the goal seems to be to keep our troops in Iraq no matter what so Bush and others NEVER have to question their decision to go to war.
7.18.2008 6:46pm
Russ (mail):
Success in Iraq = A democratically elected and stable government that is able to police its own security and is no threat to its neighbors.

Democratically elected - check

No threat to its neighbors - check

Able to police its own security - getting there

Stable - getting there

I am amazed that people are still arguing about the past. Whether we should or should not have gone into Iraq is irrelevent. We are there now, so the real question is what to do about it. Do we withdraw, even if that withdrawal leads to genocide? What if Iran or AQ comes back and takes over? Does that mean we go back in? Having done one forced entry in 2003, I know how difficult it is and have no desire to try it again. Either we are there until Iraq can stand on its own, which it is on the way to doing, or we abandon it and accept the consequences.

I would respect Senator Obama a lot more if he said that the changing realities have changed his mind and he needed to re-evaluate. I don't consider that flip-flopping; that's a sign of maturity and being able to accept that perhaps you were wrong. But he seems to want to have it both ways by prclaiming a withdrawal to please his base, while recognizing that most Americans won't shout with glee if we lose.

I'll be in Tikrit in November; maybe I can provide some more focused info for those who only get their information from the news, which, of course, is never biased.
7.18.2008 6:55pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
*Stated on a pro forma basis, without giving effect to increases in refugee numbers or Iraqi corpses, and disregarding surge objectives relating to political stability. No cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken at this time, and the current failures smashing successes are no assurance of future even worse failures smashing successes.
Political stability is much improved, net emigration has reversed, and civilian casualties are down substantially.

You may want to look at some recent graphs from MNF-Iraq. Double click on the graphs to open them up so you can read them better. Note that the second graph is civilian deaths.
7.18.2008 6:56pm
Michael B (mail):
When considering Iraq, some of the latest and more critical information should be brought into focus.
7.18.2008 7:09pm
PLR:
Political stability is much improved...

I was using that as a shorthand term for the actual stated objectives of the surge, not as a nebulous metric that can be satisfied by holding meetings where little of consequence is accomplished.

Net emigration has been reversed.

Only because Syria and Jordan closed their borders. Total refugees, inclduing the internally displaced, have continued to rise according to the U.N.

Civilian casualties are down substantially.

MNF data are not reliable and not comprehensive, by their own terms. But assuming for purposes of argument that the death toll across all of Iraq is lower in the Petraeus era, there have been far too many other intervening factors to attribute causation to the mere presence of a few more boots in Baghdad.
7.18.2008 7:22pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
It seems that Obama is much more of a "shiny object" that people see in what they want - including a principled politician...

Only if they are blind congenital idiots which, come to think of it, does rather well-describe the typical Obamaphile. You know the type:

What I believe is right and Obama is wonderful and anything to the contrary is evil and false and I will NEVER change my mind and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME! (with embellishments)

Yes, that type.
7.18.2008 7:29pm
Ken Arromdee:
Sure, right after you point out and rebut everything that's out of context or misrepresentative in Fahrenheit 9/11.

It's hard to list every error in it, but it's not too hard to take a section with some errors and describe the errors in enough detail that it questions the credibility of the whole thing.

Needless to say, if the Obama clips are out of context it should be possible to do that for it, too.
7.18.2008 7:31pm
LM (mail):
Russ:

I am amazed that people are still arguing about the past. Whether we should or should not have gone into Iraq is irrelevent.

In one respect that's true. Like policy decisions generally, this one should be made on a current cost-benefit analysis, not a retrospective one. But whether we should or should not have gone into Iraq is very relevant to consider as a matter of political accountability for past performance and what we might expect from future performance.
7.18.2008 7:45pm
Smokey:
iambatman:
...Smokey is one of the vocal "ban Sarcastro" crowd. Yeah, we only want substantive discussion on this here blog comments section.
Really? I said "ban Sarcastro"? When?

Care to retract?
7.18.2008 7:45pm
Blar (mail) (www):
Anyone who wants more context on Obama's pre-surge statements can go here for the complete video of his 1/10/2007 address and here for the transcript of his 10/22/2006 Meet The Press appearance. Here is what he said on 1/10/07 (with the part shown in the McCain ad in italics):
I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse. I think it takes pressure off the Iraqis to arrive at the sort of political accommodation that every observer believes is the ultimate solution to the problems we face there.

In other words, when he said that he thought the surge would make things worse, he was focusing on the political situation, not the security situation. McCain's ad gives the impression he was talking about the security situation.

Now the 10/22/06 quote:
Given the deteriorating situation, it is clear at this point that we cannot, through putting in more troops or maintaining the presence that we have, expect that somehow the situation is going to improve, and we have to do something significant to break the pattern that we've been in right now.

What he is recommending here is a phased withdrawal, and the "deteriorating situation" he is talking about is a bit vague but seems to include things like the lack of stability, high levels of violence, and the Iraqi government's lack of control over its territory. I think that this quote also seems somewhat less bad in context, since the improvements did not come merely from increasing our numbers. The Surge has also involved significant changes in tactics (including paying off people we had been fighting against) which (if I recall correctly) had not been proposed as part of The Surge back in October 2006.
7.18.2008 7:49pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Only because Syria and Jordan closed their borders. Total refugees, inclduing the internally displaced, have continued to rise according to the U.N.
I think that would surprise many of those who left due to the sectarian violence, and have come back voluntarily. I will suggest that you will be unable to prove that that a substantial amount of the reverse emigration is due to your suggested rationale.
MNF data are not reliable and not comprehensive, by their own terms. But assuming for purposes of argument that the death toll across all of Iraq is lower in the Petraeus era, there have been far too many other intervening factors to attribute causation to the mere presence of a few more boots in Baghdad.
And you might have a point, if that were all that was going on in the "Surge". But "Surge" is shorthand for a substantial change in strategy. Previously, we were involved in a small footprint sort of strategy. We would clear areas, at some cost in lives, and then pull back to our secure bases. The new strategy is better termed "clear and hold", where terrorists are cleared out of towns and neighborhoods with multinational (and later just Iraqi) forces. Then, the towns and neighborhoods are "held" by multinational forces embedded in the towns. This includes a lot of walking the neighborhoods and working with the civilians there. They also integrate with the local militias, as long as they have switched sides. The significantly added presence, along with the significantly increased security in these areas almost invariably results in a great increase in viable tips and intelligence, which when followed up results in even more of the terrorists being pushed out, permanently, from these towns and neighborhood.

Also note that many, if not most, of the new boots on the ground, as you term them, were utilized as blocking forces. Their preplacement during spring of 2007 was why initially the "Surge" didn't look that helpful - since they were being prepositioned for the clearing and holding that was to come later. They were preplaced to funnel the terrorists when they were ultimately driven out of those towns.

While you may question the MNF-I civilian casualty figures, I would suggest that the 90% or so reduction over the last eighteen or so months is significant. If there is a bias, it is likely relatively consistent, and, indeed, the added security may result in better, not worse, numbers for the more recent months.

I would be interested in what data you have that you think is more reliable than the MNF-I data, and that shows that the "Surge" has not significantly reduced civilian deaths.
7.18.2008 7:50pm
bwan:

In other words, when he said that he thought the surge would make things worse, he was focusing on the political situation, not the security situation. McCain's ad gives the impression he was talking about the security situation.


But wasn't he wrong either way?
7.18.2008 7:56pm
Anon21:
Bruce Hayden: Just curious, but do you think that exploiting the security gains gained from the completion of ethno-religious cleansing in many parts of Iraq should also be considered one of the surge's successes, or should it be deemed the silver lining to the cloud of the 2004-07 bloodbath, or...?
7.18.2008 7:58pm
LM (mail):
p. rich:

Only if they are blind congenital idiots which, come to think of it, does rather well-describe the typical Obamaphile. You know the type:

What I believe is right and Obama is wonderful and anything to the contrary is evil and false and I will NEVER change my mind and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME! (with embellishments)


I know! I never hear an Obama supporter utter a harsh word about the guy. Every one of them seems enraptured in some kind of adoring, hypnogogic trance.
7.18.2008 8:02pm
Anon21:
bwan: That seems to be far from clear. The cultivation of powerful Sunni militias willing to cooperate with U.S. forces to fight foreign terrorists has certainly produced security gains, but it has also created a power structure outside of and potentially hostile to the central, democratically elected government, which could be the focus for the revanchist aspirations of ex-Baathists who would like to see a restoration of Sunni dominance at some point in the future. Similarly, the integration of certain parties with close ties to Iran into the government has produced a reduction in conflict between rival Shi'a militias, but it also leaves the Iranians, one of the more radical and ideologically anti-Western powers in the region, with significant indirect influence over Iraqi politics. Maybe some solution will be found before these problems start to threaten Iraq's stability more seriously. But it certainly looks as though we may have traded short-term gains for long-term conflict that may be outside our power to control.
7.18.2008 8:06pm
Anderson (mail):
But wasn't he wrong either way?

No. The political situation is a tinderbox.

Just because the various factions are waiting for us to leave before going to war against one another, is not a valid reason for us to stay in Iraq indefinitely.

Bottom line: we invaded a country that was held out of Iran's orbit only by its Sunni tyranny, and we knocked off the tyranny.
7.18.2008 8:09pm
wooga:

For that matter, McCain continually fails to recognize the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, which calls into question his basic competence on the signature issue of his campaign.

Thales,
Obama can't remember the difference between farsi and arabic, between persian and arab. That's a much bigger deal, given that Iran actually does support sunni insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama is trying to argue about focusing on Afghanistan over Iraq.

BTW, this "sunnis and shiites would never work together" mantra among the left is a laughably simplistic view of the middle east. It's like somebody learned one thing on the first day of class, and all the sudden assumes they are qualified to teach the class.
7.18.2008 8:09pm
Russ (mail):
Anon21,

What would you do now?

Would you withdraw and accept the potential consequences?

Would you leave and attempt another forced entry if AQI or Iran takes over?

Would you stay until it stabilized?

Not what you wish we would have done, but what would you recommend we do now?
7.18.2008 8:13pm
Russ (mail):
Bottom line: we invaded a country that was held out of Iran's orbit only by its Sunni tyranny, and we knocked off the tyranny.

A great slogan - Tyranny is great, so long as I'm the one who's not oppressed!
7.18.2008 8:14pm
Blar (mail) (www):
Oh, and here are a couple of videos of some of McCain's inconsistencies and mistakes, on Iraq and other things, although they're less focused &shorter than the McCain ad on Obama.
7.18.2008 8:14pm
EH (mail):
The fact that Iraq turned into a honey trap for AQ just made it all the better.

And entirely predictable, based on previous experience.
7.18.2008 8:19pm
Kazinski:
LM:

Sure, right after you point out and rebut everything that's out of context or misrepresentative in Fahrenheit 9/11.

I wasn't aware that I was on record as criticizing Fahrenheit 9/11. I suppose I could give it a go if I cared about ancient history, but believe me if I did, I would cite some specific examples and not just say "Moore hates Bush, so you can't believe a word that he says."

Believe it or not sometimes political candidates accurately portray their opponents beliefs. In this case it would make no sense for McCain to distort Obama's former positions on Iraq because they are so widely known and were such a centerpiece of his campaign any distortion would quickly boomerang and reflect negatively on his own campaign. Obviously the only thing to do is accurately portray what Obama said and then show how wrong he was. Because he was demonstrably wrong.
7.18.2008 8:21pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
xanthippas:

And Saudi Arabia, from whence millions have been funneled to Islamic exremists?


Correction: billions.
7.18.2008 8:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
russ:

A great slogan - Tyranny is great, so long as I'm the one who's not oppressed!


That does indeed seem to have been the operative principle when Reagan and Rummy assisted Saddam with lots of useful goodies, like cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is). This happened right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians.
7.18.2008 8:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kazinski:

any distortion would quickly boomerang


Really? Unfortunately, we live in an era when 'distortions,' and worse, are accepted passively, by large segments of the population and the media. Here are a few examples:

- we found the weapons of mass destruction
- he wouldn't let them in
- a wiretap requires a court order
7.18.2008 8:35pm
LM (mail):
wooga:

For that matter, McCain continually fails to recognize the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, which calls into question his basic competence on the signature issue of his campaign.


[...] BTW, this "sunnis and shiites would never work together" mantra among the left is a laughably simplistic view of the middle east. It's like somebody learned one thing on the first day of class, and all the sudden assumes they are qualified to teach the class.


If "fails to recognize the differences between" meant the same as "would never work together," you might have a point. On the other hand, what was tragically simplistic was the ridiculing by right wing pundits of the massive danger posed by potential sectarian violence at a time when we still might have corrected course to avoid it.
7.18.2008 8:35pm
Michael B (mail):
Fernandez reviews John McCain on Afghanistan - and Obama on Iraq. Extended excerpt from the former:

"Almost none of the ideas McCain is putting forward will be new to those who have followed the War seriously. They will only seem shocking and original to those who have viewed the world through the fantasies of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan et al, and the unnatural prism of Vietnam. Much of anti-war policy has been self-destructively driven by ideological biases rather than inducted from geographical and historical facts. Obama has perhaps without realizing it, simply parroted the received wisdom of the Left and McCain scathingly takes him to task for it.
Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan. 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.
"Barack Obama is almost certain to strike back with his customary eloquence and rhetorical skills. But Obama, good as he is, will be operating under a major disadvantage: McCain has seized the key intellectual terrain. McCain's strategy is mostly right. And that will have consequences."

And again, Michael Yon's recent review of Iraq is a worthy read.
7.18.2008 8:40pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Bruce Hayden: Just curious, but do you think that exploiting the security gains gained from the completion of ethno-religious cleansing in many parts of Iraq should also be considered one of the surge's successes, or should it be deemed the silver lining to the cloud of the 2004-07 bloodbath, or...?
Except that there are many moving back into areas from which they had been pushed out of by that sectarian violence.

Two years ago, I was arguing that the only solution to the security situation might be ethnic cleansing, when Sunni Arabs were indiscriminately killing primarily Shi'a by car and suicide bombings. But it turns out that many of the Shi'a and Sunni have lived together and intermarried for generations and live quite happily side by side - as long as the Sunnis aren't harboring suicide and IED bombers, and the Shi'a aren't retaliating.

So, like much of the talking points, this was an issue two years ago, but is rapidly becoming a non-issue.
7.18.2008 8:46pm
trad and anon:
I wasn't aware that I was on record as criticizing Fahrenheit 9/11. I suppose I could give it a go if I cared about ancient history, but believe me if I did, I would cite some specific examples and not just say "Moore hates Bush, so you can't believe a word that he says."
Actually, that's entirely correct. You can't believe that everything he says is false, but he's a highly partisan polemicist. Without any investigation, it's eminently reasonable to conclude that a fair bit of material in there is probably distorted, inaccurate, or severely misleading. The fact that his movies say X isn't grounds for concluding that X is false, but the fact that Michael Moore says X is not a good reason to believe that X is true.

Nothing in a campaign ad put out by anyone should be taken at face value. I'd go so far as to say that any statement of purported fact contained in one should be viewed as presumptively inaccurate or misleading.
7.18.2008 8:49pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
No. The political situation is a tinderbox.

Just because the various factions are waiting for us to leave before going to war against one another, is not a valid reason for us to stay in Iraq indefinitely.

Bottom line: we invaded a country that was held out of Iran's orbit only by its Sunni tyranny, and we knocked off the tyranny.
Let's be a little more accurate here. The Shi'a are pushing for us to leave, while the Sunnis now, along with the Kurds, would be happier if we stayed.

Let me also suggest that Iraq is much less the tinderbox that it was two years ago. Even six months ago, before the Iraqi military with our help intervened in the Shiite south. I would suggest that much of the flamability was a result of everyone's well founded fears for their own safety, and as that has receded to decisively, the flamabililty has reduced correspondingly.

Also, it is quite simplistic to think that the Shi'a in Iraq are just waiting to fall into the orbit of Iran. There has been a rivalry between the two Shiite communities for centuries for leadership. Right now, the model of clerical rule in Iran is attractive to very, very few Iraqis, and fewer and fewer Iranians. Rather, the separation of mosque and state championed by Grand Ayatollah Sistani is gaining ground in Iran far faster than the Iranian model is gaining supporters in Iraq.
7.18.2008 8:54pm
LM (mail):
Kazinski:

I wasn't aware that I was on record as criticizing Fahrenheit 9/11. I suppose I could give it a go if I cared about ancient history, but believe me if I did, I would cite some specific examples and not just say "Moore hates Bush, so you can't believe a word that he says."

Anderson didn't say, "McCaine hates Obama, so you can't believe a word that he says." He questioned the accuracy of Prof. Lindgren's "sense" that McCain's website is a reliable source of a representative presentation of Obama's positions. You said (politely) "prove it." My response was that since the source was Obama's political opponent (just as for Bush it was a public antagonist), there's no need for Anderson (or you) to prove bias. It's reasonably presumed. Under those circumstances the presumption doesn't even cast any aspersions on the (presumptively) biased.

Believe it or not sometimes political candidates accurately portray their opponents beliefs.

I don't doubt it.

In this case it would make no sense for McCain to distort Obama's former positions on Iraq because they are so widely known and were such a centerpiece of his campaign any distortion would quickly boomerang and reflect negatively on his own campaign.

Even if that were theoretically true, it's been belied by the fact that McCain and Obama have already made of practice of distorting each other's positions.
7.18.2008 9:21pm
LM (mail):
Sorry I didn't see it before posting, but trad and anon said it better and more succinctly than I did.
7.18.2008 9:24pm
SIG357:
What justification is there for greatly increased immigration? I've noticed that the pro-imigration side tends to have trouble explaining their position.
7.18.2008 9:50pm
Russ (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

I don't believe I ever stated that what was done to prop up Saddam was right. Would you really use past evidence of our lack of foresight as reason for us not to do the right thing?

As for Saddam's gassing civilians, when I was in Iraq, I spoke to surviving family members of the Halaba attacks. All it did was strengthen my own resolve and conviction that we did the right thing.

I also spoke to the families of the girls who spent weekends at Uday's rape parties. I helped treat children beaten into deformity by Saddam's thugs because their parents did such vile things as try to not let the Fedeyeen use their house as a weapons cache site. I saw the weeping at the mass graves outside of Karbala. Had you seen such things, I would have been shocked if you hadn't felt the urge to intervene.

Besides which, no one has yet answered my question- what you do about Iraq at this moment? Withdraw and live with the consequences? Re-invade and pour in more troops after we left? Stay in until the area is more secure? Turn it over to the UN or Arab League and hope for the best?

Senator Obama won't give me a concrete answer, so I hope some of you can share your insight and expertise and plot out what should be done, currently, about Iraq.
7.18.2008 9:59pm
iambatman:
[Never mind, Smokey isn't a "ban Sarcastro" person. I was confused as to who said what to DB's Israel hostage trade post. Smokey is merely bannable because his posts are a waste of space... a link to "OMG Click h3re. Obama is a Muslim" pics does not constructive commenting make... oh, and I guess Bush must be an illegal immigrant because he speaks Spanish.]

SIG357:

What justification is there for greatly increased immigration? I've noticed that the pro-imigration side tends to have trouble explaining their position.


Immigrants area young, hardworking population that often fill up tough jobs native-born citizens are not lining up for. Oh yeah, and the claims that they cause crime waves are xenophobic BS.
7.18.2008 10:09pm
SIG357:
Immigrants area young, hardworking population that often fill up tough jobs native-born citizens are not lining up for.

No such jobs exist, and nobody ever even attempts to pretend otherwise. The median Hispanic wage is lower today, in constant dollars, then it was thirty five years ago. Unless the laws of supply and demand have been repealed this shows that there is no "demand" for labor that would justify increasing immigration.


the claims that they cause crime waves are xenophobic BS.

No, the claims that they do not cause crime waves are xenophiliac BS. All the crime data says that the recent wave of (largely illegal) immigration has brought with it increased crime.

But this is a about the level of response I've grown accustomed to from the pro-imigration crowd. It's like a religious sacrament to you people, and to question it is heresy.
7.18.2008 10:19pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

should Obama clearly pivot on what to do in Iraq....


So this is entirely in the hypothetical, then?
7.18.2008 10:19pm
Oren:
What justification is there for greatly increased immigration?
There are twice as many illegal immigrants working jobs as there are unemployed Americans. Done.
7.18.2008 10:22pm
SIG357:
There are twice as many illegal immigrants working jobs as there are unemployed Americans. Done.

Is there supposed to be a point lurking in there somewhere? If so maybe you can say what it is.

PS - you're wrong about the number of unemployed Americans.
7.18.2008 10:28pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
I believe that the hyping of the surge as a success - like most things so far on Iraq - is premature or rather is done in the hothouse 24/7 news cycle atmosphere of the United States and not in the reality of Iraq. I am happy that the number of American troop deaths have gone down - but I am suspicious of the rosy picture being painted to us in the lead up to our election. Maliki and McCain (Bush helping McCain) are in campaign mode.

Iraq is notoriously difficult to predict, but I suspect that the financing of Sunnis by the US (some call it buying off the militias) has an important part to do with the reduction of violence.

And if we were to turn off that spigot, I fear that the battle for dominance will renew. Of course at that time, the 24/7 news cycle will all be about "Who lost Iraq?" or "snatching defeat from victory" for whoever happens to be the American President at that time.

Best,
Ben
7.18.2008 10:52pm
trad and anon:
Ben—I think it's entirely accurate to hype the surge as a success. It's achieved its only significant goal, which was to kick the can down the road with a temporary band-aid. The surge isn't sustainable; that's why it's a "surge". But the time when things get worse will be during the next President's term, so he can claim we were "winning" until those traitorous America-hating liberals stabbed us in the back.
7.19.2008 12:06am
JosephSlater (mail):
Ugly, commie, faggots

Mind the comment policy.
7.19.2008 12:46am
MartyH (mail):
By any objective measure Iraq is more stable and more secure than at any point in the previous five years. Obama predicted the opposite and has been proven wrong by subsequent events.

To those who claim that the surge's effects are temporary, consider that our we surged 30K troops in and out; during the same time, the ISF have added over 100K personnel. The Iraqis took the lead in Basra, Sadr City, and Mosul. They are capable but need our help (like logistics and air support) to be fully effective.

Russ, thanks for your service, and stay safe. Thanks for doing the hard, necessary work to make this world a better place.
7.19.2008 1:22am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
russ:

I don't believe I ever stated that what was done to prop up Saddam was right. Would you really use past evidence of our lack of foresight as reason for us not to do the right thing?


When Reagan helped Saddam obtain bubonic plague, while Saddam was gassing civilians, I don't think of that as "lack of foresight." I think of that as assisting a war criminal. And this wretched track record on the part of the GOP makes me inclined to watch my wallet very carefully when the GOP makes noises about how important it is to "do the right thing."
7.19.2008 1:48am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
iambatman:

Never mind, Smokey isn't a "ban Sarcastro" person


FWIW, Smokey has called Sarcastro a "troll." A good example of the unintentional humor I find here.
7.19.2008 1:48am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

"I would love to see a similar long, detailed ad on the Obama website on John McCain's shifting views on immigration (for amnesty/against amnesty; border control first/border control as part of a general solution). (Perhaps one is already there.)"

What "shifting views"?

McCain has always, and continues to be, in favor of amnesty.
7.19.2008 1:59am
LM (mail):
ed:

"I would love to see a similar long, detailed ad on the Obama website on John McCain's shifting views on immigration (for amnesty/against amnesty; border control first/border control as part of a general solution). (Perhaps one is already there.)"

What "shifting views"?

McCain has always, and continues to be, in favor of amnesty.

Forget the Obama website. I'd like to see the libertarians here agree with the cultural conservatives (what ever happened to Ithaqua?) on just what McCain's immigration policy is.
7.19.2008 2:50am
bwan:

But wasn't he wrong either way?

No.


nonsense. the question was "will the surge improve the security situation and the political situation?"

obama answered "no" to both questions. both the security situation and the political situation in iraq have improved since the surge. obama was wrong.

if he was half the messiah he thinks he is he would at least admit that before attempting to "refine his position."
7.19.2008 2:56am
GregQ (mail) (www):
Personally, I would prefer that, should Obama clearly pivot on what to do in Iraq, he not be attacked by either the left or the right for flip-flopping, but rather commended for responding to new realities.

No a chance. Obama wanted America to lose. that's not something you forgive, that's not something you let someone "flip=flop" out of.

The hard left wants America to be defeated. No one who panders to them is qualified to hold elective office in America, let alone to be President, and Commander in Chief of the US military.

When the Democrats start treating their anti-America pro-US-Defeat nutcases the way Republicans treat John Birchers, then, and only then, might one of them be qualified to be President.

Until then, pandering to them should be electoral death.
7.19.2008 3:19am
iambatman:
Obama wanted the US to lose... how do I know? Mind-reading. Duh. Now let's all laugh at editorial cartoons of donkeys in suits waving white flags. That sort of thing was too high concept for me until they started adding "Defeatocrats" to the caption. I mean, excuuuse me, some of us are to busy supporting the troops and not hating them to get elitist humor.
7.19.2008 3:40am
LM (mail):
GregQ,

Just curious, who's the "hard left?" (Please don't say "everyone who wants America to lose.") Would everyone who agrees with Obama on Iraq qualify? Like, say, Doug Kmiec? Who's harder left, Joe Lieberman or Chuck Hagel?
7.19.2008 4:33am
James Lindgren (mail):
Blar,

Nice FACTUAL comment and a plausible partial defense of Obama on Iraq!
7.19.2008 5:30am
James Lindgren (mail):
Blar,

Nice FACTUAL comment and a plausible partial defense of Obama on Iraq!
7.19.2008 5:30am
newscaper (mail):
Even changing his tune -- and *meaning* it -- is not enough. He was willingly, knowingly wrong about the progress being made over the last 12 months (not just the last 4 weeks) for self-serving reasons. Being self-serving when the tide has clearly turned over there now scores no points.
Worse, the best it shows is that he is just a weathervane - things are hard? cut and run, things are going much better? maybe stick it out longer. That is NOT leadership.
Also, giving him a pass on that -- "well the facts on the ground have changed, he's showing wisdom"...
Bah!
That's an insult to our intelligence (again, even if you DO totally believe his sincerity) because that utterly ignores that the facts have changed "on the ground" ONLY because of the policies, actions, and toughness of those with more background than him, with whom he vigorously disagreed.
You can't gloss over the fact that *his* judgment would have never got the US effort to this point of turnaround.
7.19.2008 6:16am
davod (mail):
"That does indeed seem to have been the operative principle when Reagan and Rummy assisted Saddam with lots of useful goodies, like cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is). This happened right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians..."

Stop it. you are embarassing yourself.
7.19.2008 6:58am
garrett (mail):
Look, I'm no McCain fan but he has been pretty clear that his idea of immigration reform hit a snag that he did not see, the whole defend the border first notion. I think he has been rather honest about saying that he lost because of this and is now saying if he wants to have the comprehensive reform he must include the defend the borders idea, and indeed do it first.

Compare that to Obama who denies the things that he said ON TAPE! AT A PUBLIC EVENT! When Obama flip flops on Iraq he must say that he was wrong on his previous statement(s).

I think the public would accept a an honest politican. But I think they will never trust someone that denies thier previous positions.
7.19.2008 7:58am
Michael B (mail):
Charlie (Colorado) is to be applauded for his appreciable reserve and understatement.
7.19.2008 11:04am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.

@ LM

"Forget the Obama website. I'd like to see the libertarians here agree with the cultural conservatives (what ever happened to Ithaqua?) on just what McCain's immigration policy is."

McCain has outlined numerous times he methods and manner on how he would implement amnesty.

I have yet to hear of, or see, one single instance where McCain has detailed how he would secure the borders.

So which has higher precedence for McCain?

...

On Obama. You must be completely f**king joking. Obama says whatever the crowd wants to hear without regard to the facts on the ground, what he's said previously or whatever his supposed official "position" is purported to be.

This is why his campaign is terrified of having Obama participate in townhalls or debates. This is why the only substantial debate offered by the Obama campaign was slated for July 4, Independence Day, so whatever idiotic gaffes Obama made, "the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor", would find a small audience.

And yet James Lindgren wants those on the Right to take it easy on Obama?

Why the hell should ANYONE take it easy on a Presidential candidate for ANY reason? If they're not up to the job, kick'em to the curb!
7.19.2008 11:29am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
davod:

Stop it. you are embarassing yourself.


If you have any remotely substantive or factual objection to what I said, you should let us in on the secret and tell us what it is.

And speaking of "embarassing yourself," you might as well explain why you repeatedly cut and run when I catch you making things up (example, example, example, example).
7.19.2008 11:39am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
garrett:

I think the public would accept a an honest politican. But I think they will never trust someone that denies thier previous positions.


64 of McCain's flip-flops are documented here. This includes examples of him denying his previous positions.
7.19.2008 11:46am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
newscaper:

You can't gloss over the fact that *his* judgment would have never got the US effort to this point of turnaround.


You can't gloss over the fact that it was the "judgment" of people like John "welcomed as liberators" McCain that got us into this mess to begin with.
7.19.2008 11:54am
Cliff (mail):
I wish you would explain the source of this "sense," since the fact that the clips are PRODUCED BY HIS OPPONENT is a pretty big red flag, to anyone with a normal degree of skepticism.

This is silliness. The only reason he even brought it up is that OBVIOUSLY it's set up by his opponent, so it requires saying that even given this, he thinks it's relatively fair. He's watched TV, read the newspapers, etc. on what Obama has said, and has a sense of it, and he thinks the criticism is fair.

Sometimes you might not be able to trust the message because of the messenger, but its silliness to suggest that you can't take anything someone's opponent says seriously. That's essentially what you are doing here. If that's the case, why have political debates at all?
7.19.2008 12:33pm
Cliff (mail):
You can't gloss over the fact that it was the "judgment" of people like John "welcomed as liberators" McCain that got us into this mess to begin with.

Yah...and your point is?

We were welcomed as liberators by most.

We didn't predict that the Iraqi Army wouldn't stand and fight and retreat and fight an insurgency campaign. We didn't predict that they would join with foreign Jihadists and that they would then would attempt to provoke a civil war, which they were unsuccessful in doing until 2006.

But that doesn't change the fact that the VAST majority of Iraq did just that. And it doesn't change the fact that Obama was willing to turn tail and run at the very time resolve was most necessary.

Thank God for people like McCain, not willing to subject the Iraq to genocide and to weaken America in the eyes of its enemies in order to make their political base happy.
7.19.2008 12:38pm
Cliff (mail):
There are twice as many illegal immigrants working jobs as there are unemployed Americans. Done.

Riiiiggghhht...

SO you're suggesting that this proves if we sent them all home all the unemployed Americans would have jobs.

I suggest you learn some really basic things about Economics if you think this, because it's utter, total and complete nonsense. And anybody who knows anything whatsoever about Economics knows it.

I'm not making any judgments on the underline issue, but your reasoning is total nonsense.
7.19.2008 12:44pm
Neo (mail):
So we aren't aupposed to judge Obama by the statements to determine his judgement and weren't supposed to judge Obama by his character of those who he hangs with. His legislative portfolio is painfully thin. The records of Obama Illinois tenure have apparently been thrown out.

So exactly what is left to choose a POTUS ?
7.19.2008 1:38pm
Michael B (mail):
The self-blinkered qualities of Obamabots - no matter the price to be paid (by others) - is stunning on most any scale imaginable, excepting the political/ideological scale wherein BDS and the cult of personality are leveraged for all the votes they can conceivably muster.

Following, with dates the statements were made, are some Obama quotes concerning Iraq. Perhaps most strikingly, take note of the absolute and entirely unqualified self-confidence with which the statements are made - as if his rhetoric has oracular power and force in the real world and somehow is a suitable substitute for real-world appraisals. Iow, the cult of personality is alive and well and walking among us as a candidate for the office of the presidency.

January 10, 2007: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

January 14, 2007: "We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality -- we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground."

March 19, 2007: "... even those who are supporting ... the escalation have acknowledged that 20,000, 30,000, even 40,000 more troops placed temporarily in places like Baghdad are not going to make a long-term difference."

May 25, 2007: "And what I know is that what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric, they deserve a new plan. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working, I do not." (An almost unbelievable statement from BHO, concerning the theme of "just rhetoric.")

July 18, 2007: "My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now."

November 11, 2007 (a full two months after Petraeus emphatically told Congress the surge was working): "Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a surge and at that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there."

July, 2008: "Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been." (This is particularly noteworthy and reality-denying given overt statements by al-Qaeda second in command Ayman al-Zawahiri that Iraq is "the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era" and by Osama bin Laden himself that Iraq is where the "Third World War is raging.")

By contrast, and notably not from the MSM, reports such as are reflected in this in-depth youTube video (and it is in fact particularly informative) were available at least as early as mid-2007, not to mention the intelligence briefings made available to members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Obama's is a faith based campaign, faith in the personality cult he and his campaign are consciously fostering, faith in a rhetoric conceived as having oracular powers, faith in an ideologically and politically based zealousness, faith in reality-denying posturing and poses and pretensions - and virtually all of it inveighed as if it reflects great and momentous gravitas rather than the Jimmy Carteresque qualities it does reflect, all of it accompanied with self-applauding affectations that know few, if any, bounds.

Hat tips to:
The Long War Journal
A Battlefield Tourist
Powerline
BlackFive
Michael Totten
Michael Yon
David Tate
Bill Roggio
7.19.2008 1:47pm
James Lindgren (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

I went to the website you recommended and followed the links for the first 2 McCain flip-flops listed and it wasn't clear from the posted materials that they were flip-flops.

The second is not a flip-flop at all. Indeed, McCain's statements are precisely what many of the most sensible lawyers believed was true BEFORE the Supreme Court waded into the issue: simple human decency requires that detainees get some sort of adjudication, but (except in rare cases) the full Geneva Convention protections apply only to regular military in uniform. From the quoted passages, that appears to be what McCain believes, and none of the passages quoted are in the slightest bit inconsistent with that position.

The first supposed flip-flop was on monitoring calls. Here the purported inconsistency is between what McCain said and what his spokesman said, a strategy that would greatly multiply either candidates flip-flops. Although the two positions may well be directly inconsistent, the evidence offered at the website is not entirely clear on this point. McCain said that monitoring overseas calls was OK, while monitoring some other calls wasn't. Then his spokesman said that monitoring international calls was OK. I can't tell from the quoted passages whether these two positions are really inconsistent, as the website you linked says.

If someone would come up with a careful list of 10 or 15 actual McCain flip-flops, that would be helpful, instead of 64 ones, including a nontrivial number of doubtful ones. I know that McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts, but now wants to retain them; and as I noted in the post, McCain's views on immigration seem to me to have changed, though I think a semi-amnesty (no longer called that) and border control are still ultimate goals.
7.19.2008 1:57pm
LM (mail):
Michael B,

Blar already showed that your first quote is misleadingly out of context. You should link a source for each quote in full context if you want anyone to believe they can draw reliable conclusions from your quotes and commentary.
7.19.2008 2:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cliff:

We didn't predict that the Iraqi Army wouldn't stand and fight and retreat and fight an insurgency campaign. We didn't predict that they would join with foreign Jihadists and that they would then would attempt to provoke a civil war


Yeah, right. That's about as truthful as this statement: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

The fact is that many of the problems that ensued were problems that were predicted. McCain is part of the group that ignored those predictions. Some "judgment."
7.19.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
james:

it wasn't clear from the posted materials that they were flip-flops


If they weren't flip-flops, you would be able to simply say so. But the best you can do is claim that the situation is ambiguous ("it wasn't clear"). Trouble is, that's almost as bad, given that this is supposedly the "straight talk" candidate.

For example, the FISA issue was discussed at length here. I would especially point out the comments here and here. Taking into account all the views expressed in that thread, I think it's hard to avoid the conclusion that McCain was hiding behind a wall of ambiguity.

In the world of politics some of this is inescapable. But McCain has large piles of this sort of thing, and it's grossly incongruent with his "straight talk" slogan.
7.19.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael:

Following, with dates the statements were made, are some Obama quotes concerning Iraq


You have a distinct track record of presenting 'facts' that fall apart when scrutinized (proof). So you shouldn't expect anyone to take your claims seriously when you omit links to primary sources.
7.19.2008 3:09pm
Michael B (mail):
LM, re, this commentary, directly above.

Blar showed no such thing, your susceptibility to believing what you wish to believe notwithstanding. And if you further believe any of the Obama quotes I provided to be misleading, then it behooves you to forward a reasoned argument in defense of that idea. Do you doubt the dates? Do you doubt the intent or meaning on any responsible scale or within any truly viable context? Fine, then forward a reasoned and suitably supported argument on behalf of what you believe - to this point you've indulged a base dismissiveness and an incredibly naive and unreflective assessment of what Blar indulged. It would be easy to expand on that a great deal, but suffice to say - and contra Blar's mischaracterization (and Lindgren's "plausible" conception) - Obama's focus was on both the sectarian violence and the political solutions and "accomodations" needed. BHO's quote, as presented by Blar:

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse. I think it takes pressure off the Iraqis to arrive at the sort of political accommodation that every observer believes is the ultimate solution to the problems we face there."

Then there's the additional problem with Obama's incredibly fatuous and tendentious conception that the type of sectarian - and al-Qaeda styled - violence somehow reflects an appropriate amount of "pressure" (a bland and neutral sounding term, given the realities and the stakes) to help ensure the struggling, nascent Iraqi state and govt. needs in order to "accomodate" a political solution. If that's the type of pressure that is suitable for ensuring political accomodations are made, then I can't help but wonder what type of pressures would be deemed to be unsuitable. Nihilistic "pressures" - pressures that in turn are reliant upon grotesque, macabre and death cult-like levels of violence - are not properly conceived as suitable levels of political "pressure," they are a force unto themselves, a force that needs to be far better appraised. Commonsense alone, uncommon as such a quality appears to be in the present atmosphere, is sufficient to come to that assessment.

You may want to form friendships, or at least tacit and tactical alliances, with the jukeboxgrads of the world. You're going to need them if you continue in such an unreflective and seemingly willful mode.
7.19.2008 4:31pm