Senator Joe Lieberman, Rep. Eric Cantor and McCain foreign policy and national security director Randy Scheunemann responded to Barack Obama’s AIPAC speech. Lieberman deemed the speech one of “good intentions” but raised three major criticisms. First, he noted that Obama had sought to minimize the threat from Iran when talking on the primary campaign trail, but before AIPAC now cast the threat as “grave.” Second, with a mild tone but forceful, they took Obama to task for his switch of position on classification of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. As the co-author of the amendment with Sen. Jon Kyl, Liebermann noted that it was supported by three-fourths of the Senate including Sens. Schumer, Durban, Reid and Clinton, but that at the time Obama opposed it. Obama says that it contained lanugage about military action. Lieberman said bluntly, “It has none of that.” Lieberman said he hoped that Obama would acknowledge that his vote was a mistake. Finally, he rejected Obama’s view that Israel was less safe because of American actions and said that if there is a culprit, it is Iran.
Scheunemann reminded the media that Obama still seemed fixed on withdrawal from Iraq, but that now he wants a “phased” withdrawal, whereas he previous voted to cut off all funds immediately. He also bashed Obama for claiming that we had “subcontracted” Iranian negotiations to the Europeans, deeming this insulting to our allies. Finally, he noted that Obama seemed to be “walking back” some of the prior comments on meeting Ahmadinejad and now indicated he would do so “if it would advance American interests.”
In short, the road back to the middle of the road will be treacherous for Obama. As he tries to moderate his views, on Iran most clearly, he will, it seems, face frequent reminders from the McCain camp that the new positions seem adopted especially for the general election. In a world of YouTube and Google, not to mention campaign websites, the job of the McCain camp is made much easier.