Thus, the man who made pulling out of the Iraq war his No. 1 foreign-policy campaign issue now says that the United States will have "to maintain a residual force to provide potential training for the Iraqi military and logistical support to protect our civilians in Iraq." That was the behind-the-scenes advice his Iraq war advisers gave him early this year, and he is apparently taking it.
Notably, Obama now says his "No. 1 priority is making sure that our troops remain safe in this transition phase and that the Iraqi people are well served by a government that is taking on increased responsibility for its own security.
"I will listen to the recommendation of my commanders," he reaffirmed Monday.
Not surprisingly, all of his wiggle-room talk is making his party's hard-line, antiwar base quite unhappy, and there is growing anger in the leftist blogosphere. It is suddenly dawning on them that we are going to be in Iraq a little longer than they had been led to believe.
Two things strike me about Obama's national-security team that tells us a lot about how much change he will really bring about -- or perhaps more likely how little things will change.
He talked in his campaign of bringing change to Washington from the outside in, but anyone flying over the nation's capital after Obama takes office may see few substantive changes on the players.
Down there in the Pentagon will be Bush's secretary of defense, Bob Gates, champion of the surge that Obama said would fail and "make things worse."
At the State Department will be Washington insider Hillary Clinton, who voted for the Iraq war resolution, opposed setting withdrawal deadlines and has taken more hard-line positions toward Russia and other trouble spots than Obama.
And in the West Wing, just down the hall from the Oval Office, will be Obama's national-security adviser, Jim Jones, a 40-year Marine veteran who remains mum about his political leanings but is seen as a conservative on many military issues and has advised Republicans and Democrats alike.
Too much has been made of this idea of "a team of rivals" when in fact they may agree more than they disagree. The Washington Post, in an editorial Tuesday, called them a "team of centrists," pointing out that Obama's "national-security appointees have plenty in common."
Which may remind people of the old admonition that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
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