Thursday, July 03, 2008

Making moderate noises

So Obama's talking about listening to the "commanders on the ground," which is a Bush phrase that means leaving the troops in Iraq while abdicating responsibility for the decision.

If I were the raging purity troll I sound like on the FISA stuff, I'd be concerned, but I'm okay with this. For one, as Matt Yglesias points out, Obama has from the beginning left himself plenty of wiggle room on the withdrawal timeline, so there's not the same flat self-contradiction as there was on FISA.

Second, he's not selling core American values down the river. The questions of exactly when and how to withdraw troops from Iraq are practical ones. And even on the issue of Iraq the logistics are much less politically fraught than the judgment questions of "Should we have invaded?" (BO no, JM yes) and "Should we withdraw our troops soon?" (BO yes, JM no).

Given the high awareness and relative popularity of those conflicting positions, Obama might as well try to sucker as many war supporters into voting for him as possible. He's just gotta make it clear that he's no pansy. He's not going to take his army and put it away, like a good little boy after playtime. He's gonna confer with the death dealers and see if any more death needs to be dealt before he slowly, at his leisure, removes the boot from the neck of our adversary. That kind of thing.

At the end of the day, he'd be able to do whatever he wanted with the troops as president, and I don't see any suggestion outside certain corners of winguttia that he's secretly resigned to the idea of keeping a massive troop presence in Iraq for years and years.

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