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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Barack Obama on Nightline: The Analysis

(h/t to Powerline, Redstate, and Hotair) Barack Obama was on Nightline last night.

Watch the full video here. There are three points of interest in the video. (Please check out the full video for two of the three points)

First, Barack Obama refuses to admit that he was wrong in opposing the troop surge. Of course, during the 2004 election cycle, the media made a major deal out of President Bush's refusal to admit any mistakes. Here, Barack Obama exhibits a similar sense of intransigence and lack of recognizing mistakes. Of course, admitting you've made a mistake is tricky business in politics. Moran's question is the sort of double edged sworded question that politicians hate. If Obama had admitted he made a mistake, his opponents would have used it against. Now that he hasn't, his opponents are using it against him.

His explanation that he needed to oppose the troop surge to "change the political debate" is lame and should have frankly been challlenged better. Bush changed the political debate by calling for a troop surge. Wars are about getting the right strategy not "changing the political debate". Obama is right. These sorts of questions are difficult to answer as everything is easier with the benefit of hindsight. Of course, without the benefit of hindsight, John McCain supported the troop surge that has now been proven to be a rousing success and Barack Obama opposed the same troop surge.

Second, Barack Obama chalks up his disagreement with General Petreaus over a timetable to Obama seeing the GWOT as a whole whereas Petraeus sees things strictly from the perspective of success in Iraq. Well, first, Petraeus has recently been promoted to head of Centcom. So, in fact, Petraeus is now supposed to view the GWOT as a whole. Second, there is no one in the chain of command that currently agrees with his surge of troops. The only folks that agree with Obama's timeline for withdrawal are those currently outside of the military system. This inconvenient fact is not addressed or explained by the Senator.

Finally, Obama indicates that he would micromanage the war. He said that totally differing to the Generals on the ground, as President Bush has done, means that he wouldn't be doing his job as Commander in Chief. Now, keep in mind he has no military experience and scant foreign policy experience. Of course, as Commander in Chief, his decision is final. That said, he wants to significantly alter the plans of a general on the ground, and he wants to significantly alter plans that have been overwhelmingly successful. One of the problems of Vietnam was too much micromanagement from D.C. The reason that President Bush has largely differed to General Petraeus is because General Petraeus has proven he knows exactly what he is doing. Clearly, that is not something that fazes Obama.

These are three things I hope the media will challenge Obama more on as the campaign goes on. The public certainly deserves some clarification on each of them.

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