Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Don't want to jinx it, but...

Howard Fineman thinks Obama needs to do more groveling at the feet of those who supported the Surge. I'm not so sure about that, but in any case it's a minor gripe about what has truly been a stellar week of press coverage for Obama. After a halting start, the "Maliki favors Obama plan" meme has finally reached full flower. Even confirmed serious people like Jay Carney are saying that everything is breaking his way right now.

Unfortunately, the polls coming into the week were going the other way, in Ohio and nationally. I can't believe they'll stay that way after elite opinion has deemed this trip a rousing success. It's important to realize how easily they could have gone the other way. I mean somehow the definition of success was set at avoiding saying anything too stupid into a microphone. And he probably did better than that even had he not gone 1/1 from three in front of the troops.

On a more substantive note, the best part as far as I'm concerned was his discussion of Petraeus. He acknowledged that Petraeus would like more rather than less resources and for longer, but also pointed out that's what you'd expect the general in charge of Iraq to say (or in Obama's empathetic version: "If I were in his shoes, I would probably feel the same way").

"But my job extends beyond Iraq."

Whoa! Did he just display a basic understanding of the Constitutional relationship between the president and his generals? Like, that he tells them what to do and stuff? That's totally mindblowing these days. On MSNBC they're talking about him "staring down" the generals, and Matthews is talking about how he's like Truman, who had to "fight generals."

It doesn't make any sense. Bush defied his generals too, except he didn't defy them exactly as much as fire them, as he was well within his rights to do. But all Bush's talk about "listening to the commanders on the ground," despite being a transparent and unusually craven way of passing the buck, seems to have really sunk in among the Howard Finemans of the world. So now Obama has to have another "teaching moment" about the purview of the president's job responsibilities.

To the extent that's perceived as professorial (even though that would be sad because it's elementary school civics), I guess there's some risk, but it also makes him look assertive of presidential power and willing to take responsibility for military decisions, which is good for a Democrat. The Hardball chyron was "Who's the Boss?" I mean you know Tweety loved it.

So yeah. Good week so far.

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