Obama's Free Ride in Middle East Coming to an End?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jul 22, 2008 8:03 AM
Barack Obama has yet to commit the kind of gaffe that would reverse the glowing media narrative about him, but his trip abroad has continued to expose some major weaknesses. 

First, his stunning admission that -- even knowing what he knows now, he would not have supported the surge -- continues to confuse and baffle.  Here's the controversial exchange:
Moran: "'[T]he surge of U.S. troops, combined with ordinary Iraqis' rejection of both al Qaeda and Shiite extremists have transformed the country. Attacks are down more than 80% nationwide. U.S. combat casualties have plummeted, five this month so far, compared with 78 last July, and Baghdad has a pulse again.' If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you -- would you support the surge?"

Obama: "No, because -- keep in mind that -"

Moran: "You wouldn't?"

Obama: "Well, no, keep -- these kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult . Hindsight is 20/20. I think what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate, because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with."

Moran: "And so, when pressed, Barack Obama says he still would have opposed the surge." (ABC's "World News," 7/21/08)
This, of course, opens the door for many follow-up questions that will no doubt plague Obama for days to come.  Already, columnists and pundits are weighing-in.  Washington Post’s Dan Balz said: “Obama's opposition to the troop ‘surge’ that has helped quell violence and U.S. casualties -- and that McCain vociferously supported -- leaves plenty of room for further questions about his judgment at that moment.”

And Politico’s Jonathan Martin sees a political calculation here: “To have said anything other than ‘no,’ would've brought further howls of "flip-flop" and no small amount of grief from his base. But the CW on the Surge has gotten to a point where "no" is tough to explain.”

Obama will hold a press conference to "explain" his statement today.  Will the press let him off the hook ... again???

But Obama's bizarre statement on the surge was just one glimmer into his personality.  Some leadership books will advice you to pretend you're already in the job you want.  Obama seems to agree; his team continues to act as if he's already president.  At least, that's what this exchange reported by Politico implies:

“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.

“But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.

"Not yet" -- they no doubt thought ...