Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 25, 2008
WAR/POLITICS: Barack Obama Is Afraid Of What He Might See In Iraq

Obama Forced To Admit That He Can't Handle The Truth

John McCain is a believer in seeing things with his own eyes, as a result of which he has visited Iraq several times during the current war (at least 7 at last count). McCain wrote in his 1999 memoir about how much his grandfather and father, both admirals, valued the ability to go face-to-face with the men on their ships and commanders and field troops on the ground to learn more about the men in their command and the developments in the war they were fighting (World War II and then Vietnam). It's a lesson he's carried through to his role as a Senator and now presidential candidate supporting the mission in Iraq.
Barack Obama, by contrast, has made just one brief trip to Iraq in 2006; he's seen nothing of the facts on the ground since Gen. Petraeus instituted the "surge" and accompanying counterinsurgency strategy. Obama may fancy his policy to be 'reality-based,' but the reality he's interested in is years out of date.
Sen. McCain, looking to take advantage of a classic opportunity to make political hay from this contrast while making an offer to actually educate the man who might well be Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces at war (including, yes, McCain's two sons), yesterday challenged Obama to join him in a joint factfinding trip to Iraq:

"He really has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq and he has wanted to surrender for a long time," the Arizona senator added. "If there was any other issue before the American people, and you hadn't had anything to do with it in a couple of years, I think the American people would judge that very harshly."...

"I go back every few months because things are changing in Iraq," he said. McCain questioned whether Obama has ever been briefed by Petraeus. "I would also seize that opportunity to educate Senator Obama along the way."

Obama has now rejected that offer, with the following response:

We don't need any more 'facts' to know that this war has been lost. The American people don’t want any new 'facts' or 'information,' they deserve a real debate in which we say the same things we have been saying for five years and come to the same conclusions.

Oh, sorry, that's what I heard when I read it. Here's the actual wording, with some window-dressing on the same basic message:

John McCain's proposal is nothing more than a political stunt, and we don't need any more 'Mission Accomplished' banners or walks through Baghdad markets to know that Iraq's leaders have not made the political progress that was the stated purpose of the surge. The American people don't want any more false promises of progress, they deserve a real debate about a war that has overstretched our military, and cost us thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars without making us safer.

Obama opposed the 'surge,' proposing instead to withdraw from Iraq beginning in May 2007, with a complete withdrawal to be completed two months ago. The one thing Obama can't afford - especially while he's still courting Democratic primary voters - is to face up to new information showing that he was wrong or needs to change his preferred strategy, the way President Bush did in approving Gen. Petraeus' approach. McCain is betting that Americans want a wartime leader who actually cares what the war looks like from Baghdad to the people charged with fighting it - not what it looks like from the streets of Chicago to the people fighting against the mission.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:03 PM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-16 | Comments (0)
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