John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Story Behind the Obama World Tour

Posted on July 22, 2008



            Looking at the entirely predictable pictures from the Obama World Tour, which shows a triumphant Barack Obama greeting the troops, agreeing with the Iraqis, and pretty much being loved by everybody, you would think that the junior Senator from Illinois has hit nothing but home runs on this trip. 


            The media would agree with that analysis.


            On ABC World News, political analyst George Stephanopoulos said, "Halfway through the trip, it's going about as well as it can possibly go" for Obama, who has "hit all his marks." Under the headline "For Obama, A First Step Is Not A Misstep," the New York Times reports in a front-page analysis that the Iraqi move is "providing Mr. Obama with a potentially powerful political boost on a day he spent in Iraq working to fortify his credibility as a wartime leader." The Washington Post says that "as political theater, the events of the past few days have played unfailingly in the Democrat's favor."


            But look a little closer at the news he is making.


            Obama said this to ABC News:  What I will refuse to do is to get boxed in into what I consider two false choices. Either I have a rigid timeline, come hell or high water, and I am blind to anything that happens in the intervening 16 months, or, alternatively, I am completely deferring to whatever the commanders on the ground say, which is what George Bush says he's doing, in which case I'm not doing my job as commander in chief. I'm essentially, simply rubber-stamping decisions that are made on the ground.”


            In other words, don’t pin him down on what he actually believes, and don’t believe that he will actually listen to the commanders on the ground about what the best way to win this war.


            He is actually criticizing President Bush because he is listening to our commanders on the ground too much.


            For somebody who has never been to Afghanistan and who hasn’t been to Iraq in years, it is quite audacious for him to say that he knows more about the war than the commanders on the ground do.


            And of course, there was Obama on the surge.  In an interview with Terry Moran, he had this to say: 

 Moran:  If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you support the surge?

Obama: No. Because, keep in mind that —

Q: You wouldn’t?

Obama: Keep in mind, these kind of hypotheticals are very difficult. You know hindsight is 20/20. But I think that what I am absolutely convinced of is at that time we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one I just disagreed with.


            For Obama to refuse to accept the fact that he was wrong on the surge, and then for him to proclaim that he knows more than the generals about this war is stunning.


            During the Viet Nam War, Lyndon Johnson would micromanage the war from the White House, going so far as to pick out the targets for the Air Force.


Johnson’s micromanaging of the war in Viet Nam led to our defeat.


Now Barack Obama, who has far less experience than Johnson, is promising the same kind of political strategy.


Thankfully, we are now actually close to winning the war in Iraq, and Obama, if he gets elected in November, probably won’t be able to screw it up.  But that doesn’t mean he can’t screw up the overall war against the radical Islamists.


John McCain knows first hand the perils of letting the politicians micromanage war strategy.  He spent years too many years in a prison camp to let that happen again.


McCain also knows that sometimes the politicians don’t know enough facts on the ground and that they have to do their own investigating so they can make the right judgments.


McCain’s investigations led him to conclude that the Bush White House didn’t have the right strategy.  It was McCain who pushed for the surge, the strategy that ultimately won the war for the Americans and for the Iraqis.


McCain did the hard work.  He listened to the commanders on the ground.  He used his experience and made the correct judgment, and then put his political future on the line by pushing for the right strategy.


The contrast with Obama couldn’t be more telling. 


I wonder when that story will be reported.

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