Obama Scores Overseas
Posted 07/23/2008 ET
Updated 07/23/2008 ET
- The Afghanistan-Iraq segment of Sen. Barack Obama's foreign trip was an unqualified success. He committed no blunder as Republicans had hoped he would, and had the good luck to play into the Iraqi government's negotiations for a U.S. treaty—making it seem as though the Iraqis endorsed his withdrawal plans. The visit increased Republican defeatism and Democratic triumphalism.
- The response by Republicans is that any time the inexperienced Obama enters the realm of Iraq policy he has entered into Sen. John McCain's area of expertise. But this may be a case of whistling past the graveyard.
- The problem for McCain is that Obama can now say that there is a difference of only months between his proposal for withdrawal and that of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The danger for Obama is that he has strayed far from his strict and simple 16-month withdrawal pan, which was instrumental in defeating Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Obama also is plagued by not admitting that the Surge, which he opposed, is the reason that Iraq is secure enough for him to visit.
- Obama has known since the beginning of his campaign what was needed to bridge the Iraq demands of Democratic primary voters and general election voters: a convincing argument that withdrawal can be done honorably and safely. As Obama puts it, we need to be "as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in." The "al-Maliki endorsement" greatly bolsters Obama on this score.
- As Obama prepared to arrive in Baghdad, the McCain campaign leaked to us word that he would name his vice presidential candidate this week. As we go to press, this seems most unlikely, and appears a clumsy attempt by McCain aides to create a buzz in the midst of Obama's triumphal tour.
- The identity of McCain's running mate, whenever he is named, still is unknown. But former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney now leads all speculation. He is getting a boost from private polls that show his presence on the ticket puts McCain ahead in Michigan—changing that state from Blue to Red,
- The McCain candidacy appears constricted and wooden, while Obama's is expansive and effective. The McCain hope still is that inherent public doubt about Obama's ability to be President in a dangerous world will persist.