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Obama’s Brazen Reversals
The stage is set for a flip-flop on troop withdrawal from Iraq.


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Charles Krauthammer

You’ll notice Barack Obama is now wearing a flag pin. Again. During the primary campaign, he refused to, explaining that he’d worn one after 9/11 but then stopped because it “became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism.”

So why is he back to sporting pseudo-patriotism on his chest? Need you ask? The primaries are over. While seducing the hard-core MoveOn Democrats that delivered him the caucuses — hence, the Democratic nomination — Obama not only disdained the pin. He disparaged it. Now that he’s running in a general election against John McCain, and in dire need of the gun-and-God-clinging working-class votes he could not win against Hillary Clinton, the pin is back. His country ’tis of thee.

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In last week’s column, I thought I had thoroughly chronicled Obama’s brazen reversals of position and abandonment of principles — on public financing of campaigns, on NAFTA, on telecom immunity for post-9/11 wiretaps, on unconditional talks with Ahmadinejad — as he moved to the center for the general election campaign. I misjudged him. He was just getting started.

Last week, when the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns, Obama immediately declared that he agreed with the decision. This is after his campaign explicitly told the Chicago Tribune last November that he believes the D.C. gun ban is constitutional.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton explains the inexplicable by calling the November — i.e., the primary season — statement “inartful.” Which suggests a first entry in the Obamaworld dictionary: “Inartful: clear and straightforward, lacking the artistry that allows subsequent self-refutation and denial.”

Obama’s seasonally adjusted principles are beginning to pile up: NAFTA, campaign finance reform, warrantless wiretaps, flag pins, gun control. What’s left?

Iraq. The reversal is coming, and soon.

Two weeks ago, I predicted that by Election Day, Obama will have erased all meaningful differences with McCain on withdrawal from Iraq. I underestimated Obama’s cynicism. He will make the move much sooner. He will use his upcoming Iraq trip to acknowledge the remarkable improvements on the ground and to abandon his primary-season commitment to a fixed 16-month timetable for removal of all combat troops.

The shift has already begun. Thursday, he said that his “original position” on withdrawal has always been that “we’ve got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable.” And that “when I go to Iraq . . . I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.” 

The flip is almost complete. All that’s left to say is that the 16-month time frame remains his goal but he will, of course, take into account the situation on the ground and the recommendation of his generals in determining the ultimate pace of the withdrawal.

Done. And with that, the Obama of the primaries, the Obama with last year’s most liberal voting record in the Senate, will have disappeared into the collective memory hole.



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