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RS

FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Your timing needs a little work there, Senator Obama.

Hey! That's what *she* said!

Pejman, as is his wont, has collected a couple of the more trenchant objections to Obama’s fairly silly op-ed. Feel free to check them out; it’ll save me time, because I really want to bring up the following two observations:

First off, “Senator Obama” – not that I would suggest that somebody wrote this for you, although in the end you might – did you think to, you know, double-check with the Iraqi government before you wrote your op-ed?

No?

Yeah. About that.

From the BBC Article Iraq faces dilemma over US troops :

The prime minister was widely quoted as saying that in the negotiations with the Americans on a Status of Forces Agreement to regulate the US troop presence from next year, “the direction is towards either a memorandum of understanding on their evacuation, or a memorandum of understanding on a timetable for their withdrawal”.

That was the version of Mr Maliki’s remarks put out in writing by his office in Baghdad.

It was widely circulated by the news media, and caught much attention, including that of Mr Obama.

There is only one problem. It is not what Mr Maliki actually said.

Turns out that the spoken speech said “presence” and the written speech said “withdrawal.” The problem here – which the BBC handles fairly comprehensively and reasonably fairly – is that the Iraqi government needs to strike a delicate balance. As one person put in the article:

“The troops will leave when the Iraqis are ready to take over. But they [Iraqi leaders] need to get what they need, and to get cover for it.

It is politics – how you package it, how you sell it to your people. They want our support, but they also want to show that there’s progress towards sovereignty.”

Put another way: the Iraqi government would like full Iraqi control of the country back, but not at the cost of having their families rounded up, put in cellars, gang-raped, and then shot. Which is pretty much what would have happened if we had listened to Barack Obama in the first place, and might still happen if he persists in treating the inhabitants of Iraq as props for his domestic political ambitions. I do truly regret not being able to hear the private comments that will come his way when he makes his Middle Eastern trip; coupled with all those European leaders that will, once the cameras aren’t running, bluntly tell him to shut up about unilateral Iranian talks on nuclear weapons… well, it should be quite an informative trip for the fellow. Travel does broaden the mind so.

And when he gets back, he can go look at polls!

50/49 in favor per the new ABC/WaPo poll, within the three-point margin of error. There’s no prior data on the specific question of a 16-month timetable to compare it to, but given the trend on whether significant progress is being made, it’s safe to say Obama’s pullout advantage ain’t what it used to be:

{snip of question 12 from here: the gist is, while the “not making significant progress in Iraq” numbers remain flat at 51%, the “are making significant progress” (currently 46%) is up three from March and six from April}

I don’t know what to make of it. It’s in line with what Quinnipiac recently found in four battleground states, with clear majorities opposing a timetable in each, but it runs counter to national polls taken in June by CNN, Pew, and Time Magazine, in which majorities answered yes to variations on a question about supporting withdrawal as soon as possible without regard to Iraq’s stability. Are ABC/WaPo and Quinnipiac catching the first sign of a breaking wave in public opinion? I don’t know how else to explain it, except that the more articles like this there are on the wires, the less catalyzing Maverick’s “100 years” comment is going to seem.

See also Rasmussen, which chronicles an 8 point shift up (to 40%) in the last year of people believing that the war in Iraq is winnable and a 10 point shift down (to 44%) that it cannot. And by all means: if you’re the sort that would rather lose a war than an election, there’s all the doom and gloom at the Polling Report link above that one could hope for. Just check the sell-by date, first. You see, things can change in several months. Indeed, things are changing now. And they’re not changing to the benefit of the antiwar movement.

This would be academic, of course, except that Obama – having exhausted all other convenient positions with which to stand with progressives – has really nothing left but the war with which to make common cause with them. And so he must align himself with them, and not dwell on the contradictions existing already, and the hint of outright disaster – which is to say, an American victory in Iraq – on the horizon. I’d be sorry that I have to put in those terms, only I’m not. I was raised on the quaint belief that domestic politics ended once the foreign war started, and I am still, thankfully, *incensed *that the antiwar movement junked this ideal in a heartbeat, along with every other ideal that they profess to believe in.

And I’m just as incensed that they dare ask the Iraqis to be the first ones to die for Barack’s mistake.

Moe Lane

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