In the most recent debate in New Hampshire, when he wasn’t hurting Hillary’s feelings, Barack Obama was busy giving his GOP opponents a powerful piece of ammunition. His response to one question in particular not only displayed an ignorance of the past couple years of action in Iraq and insulted those in the U.S. military, but also gave opponents a nifty little video clip for future campaign ads.
With lower casualties in Iraq and a level of success attributed to the surge that even Jack Murtha eventually had to acknowledge, many (including me) have speculated that Iraq would not play as big a role in this presidential election as earlier thought. Obama’s response to the question about the success of the surge made it clear that Iraq is going to continue to be a relevant issue in the current campaign and if it isn’t, Republicans might want to make it one.
Debate moderator Charles Gibson asked the Democratic candidates “We started the surge early this year. You all opposed it. But there are real signs it has worked…So I want to ask all of you, are any of you ready to say that the surge has worked?”
Of the four Democratic candidates participating in the debate, only one, Obama, would concede that there are some positive signs in Iraq. Instead of admitting that maybe he was wrong to oppose the surge, he instead decided to take some credit for the progress made.
“Now, I had no doubt -- and I said at the time, when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence…I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place, although I would point out that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province -- Sunni tribes -- who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what, the Americans may be leaving soon, and we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shi'as. We should start negotiating now. That's how you change behavior.”
Steve Schippert wrote at The Tank “…one Democratic candidate has acknowledged progress in Iraq. And, in what strikes me as nothing short of self-serving fantasy, Barack Obama this past weekend swiftly and wrongly assigned significant cause for said progress in Iraq to himself and the Democratic majority in Congress.”
Bruce Kesler described Obama’s statement as another example of “stolen valor.”