Tom Brokaw is the latest media heavyweight to have his intelligence insulted by Barack's BS and Obamafuscations on Iraq and the surge, joining Terry Moran of ABC, Katie Couric of CBS and Brian Williams of NBC:
If he spreads enough BS Obama may fertilize a press revolt. John Dickerson of Slate shows what that might look like:
Barack Obama's trip to Iraq was so presidential that at moments, he sounded like our current White House resident. When Karen Tumulty of Time asked Obama what he'd learned on his trip, he said, "It confirmed a lot of my beliefs." Lara Logan of CBS asked him if he was ever in doubt that he could lead the country in war as commander in chief, and he answered, "Never."
After seven and a half years of George Bush, we should pause when a man auditioning for president says that the facts confirmed his beliefs and that he's never in doubt. As Obama himself has warned us at other moments, these are signs that a fearless leader may be letting ideology or rigidity steer him in the wrong direction.
Obama is as stubborn and impervious to changing circumstances as George Bush? Oooh, the unkindest cut of all. Mr. Dickerson then pokes at the steaming mess of Obama's statements about the likely efficacy of the surge:
The main complexity Obama has to confront in Iraq is the apparent success of the most recent phase of U.S. military strategy, of which the troop surge was a key part. Violence has come down from stratospheric heights. The success is relative (violence is still at 2005 levels), but the situation is far better than Obama predicted. When he voted against the surge in January 2007, he claimed on more than one occasion that it would lead to increased casualties and sectarian violence. It didn't. How'd he get that one wrong? In January 2007, Obama claimed that the Iraqi government would make no hard choices if the United States stayed. But they have made hard choices. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched incursions into Basra and confronted cleric Muqtada Sadr, both of which helped pave the way for the Sunni faction's return to the government. This is not enough progress to suggest Iraq is anywhere near stable, but like the drop in violence, it's more than Obama predicted.
These are not academic questions. Some people would say the vote on the surge was one of Obama's most important as a senator. As Obama pointed out regularly during the Democratic primaries with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, both of whom voted to authorize the Iraq war, a person's past vote tells you something about his or her judgment.
An obvious point not often made in the press:
If Obama was wrong about the tactical gains that would be made by the new strategy and wrong about how the Iraqi political leaders would react, can his larger theory about how Iraqis will respond to a troop pullout remain intact? Perhaps, but he has the burden of explanation.
And then the real beat-down:
In his interview with NBC's Brian Williams, he suggested that he'd always said the surge would decrease violence in Iraq. That's not just spin. It's not true. At the time Bush announced the surge, Obama 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." [More in the Hotline archive.]
On the Anbar Awakening:
Obama suggests the military had almost no role in the Anbar Awakening and the decision by Sadr's militia to stand down—that the two sets of events merely happened "at the same time." Military leaders think they had a role in bringing about these improvements. (This might be a bigger dis of the brass than his conflict with them over a timeline for withdrawal.) What did he learn on his trip that suggests he's right and the generals are wrong? Did nothing on the trip shade his view?
Since Bush described the Anbar Awakening is his surge speech of Jan 2007 and promised to reinforce the effort, it is hard to see how the link between the surge and the Anbar Awakening can be a complete coincidence.
Timing is everything:
Obama once argued that the Anbar Awakening of September 20006, in which Sunni tribesmen turned against al-Qaida, started because Democrats took control of Congress. (The awakening started months before the 2006 election, but never mind, McCain also mangled the timeline this week.) Obama's theory was that since Democrats had promised to withdraw troops, Sunnis started taking their affairs into their own hands. But given that Congress never made good on its promise to reduce funding or troop levels, and in fact troop levels increased, why didn't Sunni violence go up? What did Obama learn on his trip that's relevant here?
What Obama learned is that he can say anything and the press will still eat out of his hand.