What would you think if I told you that Sen. Obama, when he was over touring Iraq, sought to have leaders there delay making any arrangements for troop withdrawals until after the U.S. election?
Impact on the Election
On the one hand, it could be seen as entirely self-serving. If troops started to come home as early as this year, and that was public knowledge before the election, it would be harder to make “mismanagement of the war” something that would stick to Sen. McCain. Indeed, to those that are undecided, this would actually be a net-plus for President Bush, and Sen. Obama’s incessant attachment of two would result in a net-plus for Sen. McCain. Especially after he supported the surge that is working while Sen. Obama did not.
But are Democrats this smart—is that what he was really trying to do?
There’s another way to look at this, especially when you take the view that Sen. Obama believes he will win (what politician doesn’t?), and at the time of his visit his position in the polls was astronomical.
Victory on My Watch
Presidents get credit for what happens on their watch—regardless of whether they had anything to do with it. In 2001, when President Bush took office, we entered a mini-recession. It was a neat present from the previous administration, and although he had nothing to do with it, Pres. Bush was tagged with it.
If there was a delay in troop returns until after January—even if it was Feb. 1—President Obama would take the credit.
The last logical argument could be made1 that Sen. Obama really believes in the waning power of a President in the last of eight years, and that a “lame duck” should not be making such decisions, especially when the new President has yet to be determined.
Lame Ducks are a distinct fowl indeed—I’ve been through 3 in my lifetime—and a President at the end of his time in office does tend to struggle to be relevant. Most news coverage is on the ones that will be replacing him. People look past him into the future, and don’t expect him to find solutions to today’s problems.
More than at any other time, he’s someone to be worked around, rather than worked with. And that’s how I read Sen. Obama’s statements. He really is saying, “Look past Bush, because he’s not going to be around anymore. I don’t want to be stuck with his plans, I may want to have my own.”
Sen. Obama knows that whatever Bush negotiates is what he’ll probably have to stick with2, and so if he can get Iraq to delay he’ll be able to create his own terms.
- And could be made convincingly, since this was not a public lobbying, but made behind the scenes.
- If he can beat out McCain, which looks more doubtful every day.