Senator Obama hopes to become President in 2002, if his exchange with McCain on Iraq is a guide:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., continued to attack Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., today for suggesting during a Democratic debate that after withdrawing combat troops from Iraq, Obama, as commander in chief, would be willing to send U.S. troops back into Iraq "if al Qaeda is forming a base" there [see Dem debate transcript].
"The fact is, al Qaeda is in Iraq," McCain said. "Al Qaeda is in Iraq today. If we left Iraq there's no doubt that al Qaeda would then gain control in Iraq and pose a threat to the United States of America. Ask anyone who knows about the situation on the ground in Iraq. I look forward to continuing this debate."
Obama seems to be campaigning on the hope of a national do-over in Iraq:
Obama responded to McCain's comments today at a rally in Columbus, Ohio.
"Well, first of all, I do know that al Qaeda is in Iraq. That's why I've said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets," he said. "But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.
"I've been paying attention, John McCain," he said. "That's the news. So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he's done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that's cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
"I intend to bring [it] to an end so that we can actually start going after al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in the hills of Pakistan like we should have been doing in the first place.That's the news, John McCain," Obama said.
McCain delivered the obvious rejoinder:
In his back-and-forth with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., over Iraq, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Thursday morning sought to portray the Democratic front-runner as representing the Iraq politics of the past by focusing on the decision to invade in 2003 rather than what to do now.
"That's history, that's the past," McCain told attendees at a town hall meeting at Rice University. "That's talking about what happened before. What we should be talking about is what we're going to do now. And what we're going to do now is continue this strategy which is succeeding in Iraq and we are carrying out the goals of the surge, the Iraqi military are taking over more and more of the responsibilities."
Interesting that the old codger is looking forward while the youthful dynamist is looking back. But is it surprising? Arianna Huffington writes on "Microtrends and Macrotrends" to explain why Obama is winning but I think she misses an obvious point - Obama is successfully riding the Democratic Party's ongoing 60's flashback in a way that, for example, Mr. Reporting For Duty did not.
Would Obama be a credible candidate if he were white? Please - he would be the articulate, visionary, son of a mill worker, John Edwards.
Would Obama be a credible candidate if he had not opposed the Iraq war in 2002? Of course not.
Obama brings together the most revered people and causes of the Democratic fantasy - he is John Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and supporting him enlists his supporters in both the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. Heady stuff, especially for the youngsters who missed it the first time around, and we can see why his campaign much prefers to have people looking backwards.