Saturday, September 15, 2007

Washington Post on Obama: What the hell is he thinking these days, anyway?

Okay, as we know: some Democrats say he’s been talking the talk, but not walking the walk:

War Critics Question Obama's Fervor
Some Say Actions Don't Match Talk

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 15, 2007; A01

...some antiwar Democrats have raised questions about the depth of Obama's opposition, taking aim at one of the signature arguments for his candidacy -- that he is the only leading Democratic candidate who opposed the war from the beginning.

They say that while Obama did argue against the war as a Senate candidate, he tempered his rhetoric and his opposition once he arrived in the Capitol, rejecting timetables for withdrawal and backing war funding bills. He returned to a sharper position, they say, when he started running for president...

"So many politicians were afraid" to oppose the war, "so he gets credit for that," said Jim Ginsburg, a Chicago Democratic activist. He backed Obama when he ran for the Senate in 2004 but says Al Gore is his preferred candidate for president.

"Some of his actions and speeches once he got in the Senate did not match his rhetoric," Ginsburg, the son of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said of Obama. "He started making very mealy-mouthed comments and voted to authorize funding for the war. Once he started seeing how angry Democrats were, his rhetoric has turned to where it was in the 2004 campaign."...

..."It's great [Obama] had good judgment," said Markos Moulitsas Z?niga, who runs the popular liberal blog Daily Kos, but he added: "There's no clarity of message." Moulitsas said that Obama should have firmly come out against any bill that offers funding for the war without a timetable for withdrawal, as Edwards has...

(Okay, sounds like a fair thing to ask an end-the-war candidate to do...)

In a speech Wednesday, Obama offered his most detailed plan yet for getting troops out of Iraq, calling for the withdrawal of at least one of the 20 brigades (each made up of about 3,500 soldiers) in Iraq every month starting now, with all combat troops out by the end of next year. And even among the most antiwar audiences, Obama still has many supporters.

(Personally, I don’t react very well to that plan. I don’t think it seems wise militarily or politically, but I won’t pass judgment until I hear all the details.)

"He's been there from the very beginning," said Tom Andrews, the national director of a group called Win Without War.

(In 2002 when Obama spoke at an anti-war rally) "Bush's ratings were at an all-time high," said Marilyn Katz, another organizer of the rally, who is now one of the top fundraisers for Obama's 2008 campaign. But Obama "was willing to stand up and stake out a leadership position."

(Very admirable--taking an unpopular and principled stand at a time when most of the country still believed in Bush shows vision, courage and character. Here's where we get into trouble:)

...But once he arrived in the Senate, after winning the primary and easily dispatching his Republican opponent, Obama did not emerge as a key voice on the war.

Days after Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) gave a teary speech in November 2005 calling for the immediate pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq, Obama called for a phased reduction in troops but emphasized that he was against a timetable for withdrawal...

In 2005 and 2006, Obama backed several bills that funded the Iraq war. In July 2006, when Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Russell Feingold (Wis.) pushed for a bill that would set a timetable to remove combat troops from Iraq by July 31, 2007, Obama, like Clinton, voted no.

Hmmm... I don't know. He does some war-funding stuff, then he does some I'm gonna end the war stuff... And there's all these Democrats who believe in him deeply. I don't know.


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