Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hoisting Obama up by his own petards

Dean Barnett has an excellent piece up at The Weekly Standard that takes Obama to task over his same old song-and-dance about Iraq:

IT'S UNLIKELY THAT I'll get to talk to Barack Obama during this presidential campaign. Since he keeps even friendlies in the media at a distance, I probably have no chance of getting an opportunity to bend his ear.

But if I could ask Barack Obama one question, it would be this: "We haven't suffered a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. Are President Bush's policies at least partly responsible for this? If so, which ones? If not, to what do you attribute our run of luck?"

Okay, that's more like three questions, but you get the point. I'm not confident that even the non-loony left as personified by the very sober and thoughtful Barack Obama can honestly assess the current administration. Yes, the administration has made errors in a thousand different areas. But if you surveyed the public right after 9/11 and suggested there would be no more attacks on American soil in the next seven years, the percentage agreeing to that proposition would have been nil.

Of course, Obama and his campaign could never give the Bush administration any kind of credit. Obama exclusively hews to liberal conventional wisdom, and there's no room in liberal conventional wisdom for even faint praise of the current White House.

This leads to one of the big problems with Barack Obama--he is very comfortable believing and repeating "conventional wisdom," even if that conventional wisdom has grown moldy. Take the war in Iraq. According to the website Icasualties.org, there have been 312 civilian and fatalities in Iraq in June as of yesterday. That means June is on a pace to have roughly 375 Iraqi casualties. To date, the best month in that regard since the start of the war was the preceding month, May '08, which saw 506 such deaths. In other words, the situation continues to improve.

But as blogger Tom Maguire points out, if you go to Barack Obama's website, they're still partying like it's 2006. "The goal of the surge," BarackObama.com
lectures, "was to create space for Iraq's political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq's civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq's political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war." (Emphasis added)
We keep hearing how web savvy the Obama campaign is, so presumably it could figure out how to edit its website if it wanted to do so. Factually, one can hardly imagine a group of assertions more at odds with reality. Regarding the lack of political progress, the Obama campaign is pathetically singing from last winter's hymnbook. In terms of casualty counts, the Obama campaign is risibly mistaken or simply dissembling.

The site insists that the casualty figures have not come down to the levels of mid-2006. Let's see--in May '06, there were 1,119 civilian deaths. June '06 saw 870, July '06 1,280. Lest you think I'm cherry-picking data to embarrass the Obama campaign (something that the campaign and candidate are perfectly capable of doing on their own), I'm doing the precise opposite. August '06 had 2,966 casualties while September had 3,539.

Once again, this month Iraq is on pace to have 375 civilian casualties and last month had 506 civilian casualties. It takes a peculiarly strong disregard for the facts to insist that the 2008 figures are worse than the 2006 figures, as the Obama campaign persists in doing.

This is how Obama works. He sets himself up to "tweak" the facts to suit him, and should the mistake be pointed out, you can be sure he will blame members of his campaign for it. He has no problem throwing people under the bus. We've seen him do it before to his people. He did it back in March when The Politico uncovered a pair of questionnaires that provided embarrassing information about where Obama stands on certain issues. Despite the fact his handwriting appeared on one of them, he claims his staffers answered the questionnaires without his knowledge, and that they "mischaracterized" his positions.

So, he could throw them under the bus when it comes to the casualty numbers. But what about his statements regarding the casualty numbers? Are they based off the information from his website? It would appear so, and if that were true it speaks volumes to his knowledge. He can't sit there and say things are getting worse in Iraq, or that they're the same as they were two years ago. There has been significant progress in Iraq. Even the "treasonous" New York Times admits that the surge has worked.

Dean also points to the fact he keeps claiming that we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. By going into Iraq we probably let bin Laden escape. (Personally, we believe he's pushing up poppies in Tora Bora.) But let's suspend our disbelief for a moment, and ask what would he do with Afghanistan? Would he dispatch more troops there? Would he urge NATO to send more forces? Who knows? There is nothing on his campaign website that speaks of Afghanistan. The meme pushed by the Left with regard to Afghanistan is one that is older than John Kerry's talking points from 2004, and it still holds no more water now than it did then. In fact, US and NATO troops have had repeated success in recent months (going back to January) with nailing Taliban and AQ forces that do the Pakistani border two step. We have intelligence assets that constantly point to high-ranking Taliban commanders that reach room temperature after reaching extremely high temps from Hellfires launched from Predator drones.

It's farcical to continue hearing this from Obama. He clearly knows nothing about either theater, and to continue pushing the fallacies doesn't make him look any smarter. While he may be a shrewd campaigner, as some are beginning to take notice of, he lacks the brains when it comes down to the nitty-gritty.

Publius II


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