Saturday, July 5, 2008

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

I’ve posted earlier about Obama possibly backing off on his plan to “... immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq ... remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.” In that earlier post, I suggested that such a change in plan might cause him serious problems with his supporters. However, while commenting on a post at TigerHawk, I realized there is a means by which Obama would have a good shot at justifying a decision to remain in Iraq:

A pivot on Iraq withdrawal would be huge but with his rhetorical skills, Obama should be able to recast it pretty easily. The most effective way would be to visit Iraq and then express a “stay the course” position as resulting from talking with everyday Iraqis who want the US to finish the job. If he can present the elements of the basic conservative argument - democracy good; fear of Iran; get rid of terrorists; don’t waste lives already lost; progress being made - as coming not from those nasty militaristic Republicans but from Iraqis who want for their children what we all want for ours, he might well get away with it. It depends on how badly damaged Obama’s reputation as a Teller of Tough Truths is by that time but the man has been able to pull off some amazing feats so far.

A decision by Obama to “stay the course” in Iraq would seem to leave McCain with little opportunity for substantive criticism: he can hardly attack Obama for coming over to his way of thinking and would be left with only the charge of flip-flopism to make. However, there is a substantive issue on which the Republicans could attack Obama if he decides to stay in Iraq: If he didn’t have all that money he was going to save by leaving Iraq, how the heck would he fund his proposed domestic programs?

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