We have had much debate recently over whether Obama has flip-flopped on key issues. I have admitted that McCain has flipped on some issues. As the price of oil and gas continue to rise or remain high, I hope McCain sees the political climate and the worth of drilling in ANWR – something he has opposed to this point.
Recently, Obama’s positions on Iraq have seemingly become more nuanced with many discussions over whether they were actual position changes. Hopefully this will get through to even the most ardent Obama supporter that he has indeed changed his position and statements – for good reason.
Obama’s campaign scrubbed their webpage over the weekend removing their former criticism of the surge. The title of the section is clearly enough: "THE SURGE IS NOT WORKING." The old plan on the website also said that he would begin to withdraw troops immediately and have them all "redeployed" by 2009. The new plan gives Obama a bit more leeway in removing troops. He said "he would set a goal of having all U.S. combat brigades out of Iraq by summer 2010…" He moves it back a year and calls it a "goal" which allows him to adjust based on the situation.
I applaud Obama for coming to this conclusion however begrudgingly. It shows that he is willing to take into consideration the improving conditions in Iraq, but I don’t think the liberal wing of the Democratic party will see it that way. Early last year, Obama was saying things like:
I don’t know any, uh, expert
on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to, uh,
privately that believes that that [the surge] is gonna make a substantial
difference on the situation on the ground.
Or in July last year when he said:
Here’s what we know. The surge has not worked.
How about at the Democratic debate in September of 2007:
After putting an additional 30,000 troops in, far longer & more
troops than the president had initially said, we have gone from a
horrendous situation of violence in Iraq to the same intolerable levels
of violence that we had back in June of 2006. So, essentially, after
all this we’re back where we were 15 months ago. … So, I think it is fair to say that the
president has simply tried to gain another six months to continue on
the same course that he’s been on for several years now. It is a course
that will not succeed.
He began to revise his statements in January 2008 to admit the facts of violence dropping:
I had no doubt, and I said when I opposed the surge, that given
how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in
there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and
we would see a reduction in the violence.
That’s odd because that’s not what he said, when he originally opposed it. (In Jan. 2007 on MSNBC, he said, "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.") But as he allowed for the reduction in violence, he doubled down on his opposition to the surge in his response to the President’s State of the Union:
Tonight Pres. Bush said that the surge in Iraq is working, when we know
that’s just not true. Yes, our valiant soldiers have helped reduce the
violence. But let there be no doubt—the Iraqi government has failed to
seize the moment to reach compromises necessary for an enduring peace.
Campaign Spot and Powerline have all these and more quotes along with all the links to the original sources, if you would like to go check all that out. I would invite you to do that if you are not convinced that Obama has indeed flipped on his position on Iraq.
I would just like to say I don’t view it as a bad thing. Many of his changes, whatever the motivation, have been good changes – or at least smart ones. I don’t begrudge him those, what I cannot accept though are supporters of his claiming that he does not flip-flop or that he is somehow a "different type" of politician who is ushering in a "new age of post-partisanship."
He’s a politician just like the rest of them. The only difference is, he’s much better at it than most. In fact, I would say he is the best politician I have seen, even better than Bill Clinton. He knows how to effortlessly change positions on an issue, while
reaching for new voters and keeping the old ones believing he has never
left them. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it is something.