At the same time the Bush administration was negotiating a still elusive agreement to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to convince Iraqi leaders in private conversations that the president shouldn’t be allowed to enact the deal without congressional approval.
The Obama campaign claims that Sen. Obama simply was repeating what was being said in the House and Senate at the time—namely, any time table that was negotiated with Iraq should go through Congress for approval.
The Times asks the question of whether or not there was an ulterior motive—namely, benefiting his Presidential campaign.
Three Not Very Appealing Options
So, let’s look at the merit of the arguments…
First, we’ll take a look at Sen. Obama’s claim that he was just repeating the refrain that the rest of Congress was saying. Sen. Obama was siding with a Congress that distrusted President Bush and wanted to take credit for getting the troops out.
Congress being in the control of the other party, attempted for an entire year to defund the war, or at least impose their own time table on the war. They opposed the surge and predicted its demise. So, when we started to win the war, and it looks like the troops may soon be returning home—victorious even—the same Democratic Congress that distanced itself from the surge because they believed it wouldn’t work was now in the position of finding itself irrelevant because the Republicans and the Republican President would get credit for victory.
And then there’s the pesky thing about who is involved in negotiating treaties and prosecuting the war.
In any case, Sen. Obama requesting a delay and Congressional oversight is playing politics. It’s not seeking the best for the nation about political affiliation, but seeking what’s best for his party, and for himself as the Democrat Party’s nominee.
Of course the other side of this discussion is also political. If President Bush successfully negotiated a treaty or an agreement that started drawing down troops, the Republicans would be trumpeting victory in Iraq and showing images of soldiers returning home. The images would be powerful, as Pres. Bush would see his war at a conclusion, and it would be another time that the Democrats would have been wrong1.
So, if a withdrawal is delayed, then it’s still up in the air, and should Sen. Obama be elected President, he would negotiate and get credited for bringing home the troops in victory—since every President is saddled with whatever happens during his watch, even if he comes in at the end2.
If he’s going against the will of a sitting President, doing an end-run around him and thwarting negotiation, then we’re into more serious territory—but territory that would never be prosecuted. Again, I’m being realistic here. There’s no way that Sen. Obama is investigated for treason at this stage. As much as we claim to want to regard the rule of law, what would happen to this country if Sen. Obama was investigated now would be decried from the high hills—even if he was exonerated.
And that’s where I am. If he did do this, it fits what I think of Democrat tactics, but I’m not sure it would influence anyone that’s already going to pull the lever (or press the button, punch the chad or fill in the oval) for Sen. Obama.
Do you think it would make a difference?
- They predicted a quagmire before we went in, and were wrong about how soon we would take Baghdad. They predicted that there would not be an election, and there was. They predicted that the surge would not work, it did.
- Think President Bush with President Clinton’s mini recession.