Chuck Hagel, fresh from his trip to Iraq to provide a patina of bipartisanship to Barack Obama, tips the hand of the Obama camp's inability to explain away Obama's terrible misjudgment in opposing the "surge":
"Quit talking about, 'Did the surge work or not work,' or, 'Did you vote for this or support this,'" Hagel said Thursday on a conference call with reporters.
"Get out of that. We're done with that. How are we going to project forward?" the Nebraska senator said. "What are we going to do for the next four years to protect the interest of America and our allies and restructure a new order in the world. ... That's what America needs to hear from these two candidates. And that's where I am."
Hagel, too, opposed the troop increase strategy, though he acknowledged Thursday it brought about positive changes. "When you flood the zone with superior American military firepower, and you put 30,000 of the world's best troops in a country, there's going to be a result there," Hagel said.
This is an amusing turn of events, given that for years now the Democrats - and anti-war Republicans like Hagel - have been eager to duck questions about Iraq's future by focusing on the decisions made in 2002-03 to go to war in the first place. Suddenly, a candidate like Obama who staked his claim to national security competence on a speech he gave in 2002 needs desperately to avoid talking about positions he took in 2007 and 2008. Hagel's remarks, in his capacity as a de facto Obama campaign surrogate, reflect that desperation. As does Obama's effort to spin the movement in the direction of a 2010 withdrawal date as somehow a vindication of his call for withdrawal by March 2008, a claim that Tony Blankley demolishes:
For him, now that the surge he opposed is working and victory may be around the corner, to claim that he was always right is like someone in America in 1944 opposed to the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy claiming there is no military solution to World War II and we should bring our troops home; then once our troops were on the beach, warning that our troops can accomplish nothing on the beaches -- get them out; then when they broke out, warning Americans that they never will get through the hedgerows; then when they broke through the hedgerows, warning that they never will get through the Siegfried line; then the following spring, when Hitler blew his brains out, Germany surrendered and President Truman ordered our troops to be brought home systematically, bragging: "You see? I was always right. Even the president now agrees it is time to bring the troops home."
Also from that Blankley column, we see that Obama has now conceded a very significant point that runs totally counter to his insistence way back in 2007 (remember 2007? I remember it like it was last year) that Iraq was "somebody else's civil war":
When asked by ABC News whether he is committed to winning the war in Iraq, Obama said: "I don't think we have any choice. We have to win the broader war against terror that threatens America and its interests. I think that Iraq is one front on that war, but I think the central front is in Afghanistan and in the border regions of Pakistan."
Now that Obama can no longer run on the premise that his judgment is reliable, I guess he will have to run on his national security record as evidence that we should trust his judgment about the future. Which will make for some mighty short speeches.