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July 14, 2008

Flip-Flopping Absurdity
Posted by Michael Cohen

The New Republic has a great editorial today on the absurd notion that is somehow developing around Barack Obama's "refinement" of his Iraq policy:

Flip-flopping has become the most damning accusation against a politician speaks to the poverty of the political process. Here's how the system currently works: As candidates prepare to enter the race, they devise a foreign policy platform. Then, for the next two years, they must resolutely defend that platform. Any deviation from their original position papers will be treated by their opponents--and, in turn, by the press--as a deep character flaw, evidence that a candidate will do whatever it takes to win the presidency.

. . . . And, while Obama has clearly reframed his Iraq position with an eye toward November, he also has good substantive reasons for backing away from some of his past rhetoric. The improvements within Iraq are real. Although they may not presage a liberal democracy or justify the permanent presence of our troops, Obama would be a fool if he didn't take these new trends into account. The dynamic within Iraq has changed since he initially conceived his policy during the bloodiest days of sectarian warfare. And there's certainly no reason why he should be rewarded for continuing to argue his Iraq stance as if nothing is different.

This is so precisely, spot-on correct it just pains me that I didn't write it first. As yesterday's revelation that under pressure from the Maliki government the Bush Administration is preparing to countenance a timetable for withdrawal makes clear; the person with the Iraq problem is John McCain. And it's not because he's a flip-flopper (whatever that incredibly silly expression actually means); it's because he's taken a position that is so out of touch with the current political reality in Iraq - namely staying in Iraq for potentially 100 years, which is completely unacceptable to the Iraqi leaders and their people.

Only in our screwed up political world can Barack Obama be criticized for adapting his Iraq position to changing facts on the ground while John McCain can bear no criticism for maintaining an Iraq policy that has little chance of being implemented and runs counter to not only the desires of the Iraqi leadership, but in fact his own Republican Administration.

So basically a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds - unless you are running for President, in which case, it's a requirement.


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I wonder if part of the reason McCain gets such an easy time from the press is that they are actually afraid of him. His temper is notorious. Maybe so many reporters have been personally reamed out by McCain, personally or over the phone, that they are now too terrified to challenge him.

His position on Iraq seems to be, "I don't give a damn what the Iraqis want or say they want. We're not there for them; we're there for us. And we're going to stay as long as it damn well suits us."

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