If I had to pick which ’08 candidate would be the first to the post with a bill that unflinchingly mandated an exit deadline from Iraq, I’m not sure that I would have guessed Barrack Obama. Wasn’t he supposed the be a centrist?
The Illinois senator introduced a bill to force the redeployment under law, but that’s unlikely while Bush is president. Still, Obama said he’s taking Bush up on his challenge to critics to offer alternatives.
Obama’s bill would cap troop levels in Iraq at the early January level of around 130,000, when Bush announced he would send 21,500 additional U.S. forces to Iraq. It would require that troops begin coming home on May 1 with the goal of removing all combat brigades by March 31, 2008.
[…] Obama said troops should be sent to three locations – home to the United States, in countries around Iraq to prevent regional conflict and to Afghanistan, which he said is in danger of falling back to the Taliban.
The bill also would place conditions on economic aid to Iraq and would allow for a temporary suspension of the redeployment if the Iraqis meet security, political and economic benchmarks.
Kevin Drum is unimpressed, making this the second Obama proposal that left him cold. Jason Sigger, an arms control and CBRN warfare expert, disagrees:
Obama is creating a carefully crafted congressional bill that could actually succeed because 1) it doesn’t screw with the president’s commander-in-chief responsibilities, 2) exercises Congress’s actual responsibilities to participate in foreign policy and national security matters, and 3) counters the president’s (and Republican party’s) claims that there is no reasonable alternative to “staying the course.” It just might work. It at least showcases Obama’s leadership abilities in the Senate. I like it.
On the balance I find Sigger’s perspective more compelling. Between the filibuster and the veto Obama’s bill will never see the light of law, but it probably doesn’t have to. I doubt that was even its intended purpose, although it seems well enough written not to bite anyone in the ass if it defies probability and passes. Rather, think about Obama’s unique position in the Democratic party. Excluding non-candidates like Joe Biden Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton are the two centrists in the race, but unlike
Hil Sen. Clinton the press doesn’t hate him. As of now anyway the press practically eats out of his hand. Obama’s unflinching endorsement will make it much harder for pundits to tar other pro-pullout Dems as extremist, unserious &c. On two important issues now he’s carrying the banner and, as far as I’m concerned, he is carrying it in the right direction.
I don’t know how much of this effect comes from Obama’s politics and how much comes from his undeniable charisma. It’s possible that as the campaign drags on and he defines himself in more detail the effect won’t last. But for now Obama seems to not so much move to the center as redefine it and make it a place where people want to be. That can provide tons of cover for allied politicians, and for the opposition party that’s a real problem. That should help explain why more than any other pol in the ’08 race the rightwing noise machine has gone out of its way to to define Obama on its own terms.
How do you deal with FOX News’s complicity in the stupid madrassa smear? Freeze ’em out. Smart move.