Sunday, July 27, 2008

John Dickerson on Obama's Iraq trip

Slate.com's John Dickerson writes that Senator Obama has not shared much of his thinking on Iraq, and that if Obama's position has evolved after his trip [as it must have according to Dickerson], Obama is not admitting his initial views were wrong. So, Dickerson says, Obama is like Bush.
I don't know. Obama's position on the Iraq war and the "surge" - defined as the increase in troops - has been that it takes US focus away from the more important war in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Dickerson also buys the new McCain-speak that the "surge" had two parts - the increase in troops, as well as the change in military tactics that General Petraeus tried. Dickerson says Obama opposed these other tactics as well, but does not give concrete examples or even a link to a story that the surge included these other tactics, or that Obama opposed them. Talk about not sharing information!
Dickerson also says that Obama suggested troop withdrawal, rather than an escalation, might have had similar or better effects, but faults Obama for not presenting evidence to support his views. First, I have only heard Obama say we don't know what would have happened. Second, given the Anbar Awakening (predating the troop surge) and the drawdown by the Sadrists, perhaps things could have gotten better - this is simply a matter of acknowledging possible outcomes. The increased numbers of US troops helped, and this is something Obama has acknowledged - now, even if he didn't before.

The bottomline is this: Obama's calls in the past six years have been far more often right rather than wrong, and Obama has displayed a faculty for nuance much more pronounced than any other national politician (for which he has often suffered, e.g. on abortion rights and yes, foreign policy). The Iraq War was unnecessary to begin with, and we have since found out that Saddam Hussein never had WMDs, nor the capabilities to develop WMDs; I don't think Sunni Osama bin Laden was welcome in Saddam's secular Iraq either. Bin Laden is still on the loose; the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are growing stronger by the day. And yet, McCain continues to spout the line that attacking Iraq was right because Saddam Hussein was developing WMDs, as recently as this morning's appearance on Wolf Blitzer. [For fun, other McCain statements on Iraq are here, via The Carpetbagger Report.]

Will Dickerson call out McCain for continuing to be wrong and refusing to acknowledge his mistakes despite facts on the ground? Or will he continue to swallow McCain talking points and nit-pick Obama's positions, fearful of alleged Obama-mania in the press, just like he sometimes did during the Democratic primaries?

1 comment:

Ciccina said...

Don't wait for the press to take notice of their own behavior, they'll never do it. My sense is that journalists who are motivated by a principled, investigative instinct go into (or are moved into) specialty areas: business, SCOTUS, foreign policy, the arts. The rest - including the political reporters (since we now treat politics as though its entertainment) - are generalists who are primarily motivated by narcissism.

I guess Obama will find out if a more exclusive mode engenders their respect or prompts their temper tantrums; the journos appear to be revving up for the latter. Will they see him as more presidential, or will they start chewing on his leg? Impossible to tell with those people.

The only thing I do know is that they don't care about issues, nor do they care about facts. They care about the conditions of their lives on a daily basis. Detailed policy speech = bored = bad coverage. BBQ chicken = good coverage.