The day after his appearance at AIPAC Barack Obama was apparently not happy with Senator Joe Lieberman who had the temerity to explain that Obama had changed his tune on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment. It may be unpleasant for Obama to have a Democrat, even an Independent-Democrat, speak out so sharply, but frankly his record is plain for anyone to see. Lieberman, as author of the Amendment, simply is a more effective critic than most.
Alas, it also appears that Obama is no closer to a reconciliation with reality on Iraq. Whatever weasel words he employs, his meaning and perspective have not changed: his code word is “withdrawal.” He never indicates that much if anything has changed in Iraq, he never speaks of “victory” and he certainly never acknowledges that the surge has brought about unimagined (unimagined by the Democrats, that is) progress. And so, as Peter points out, he continues to pretend that there is no need to re-evaluate his central assumptions: that all is lost, that Al Qaeda has benefited by our presence there and that Iran and the terrorists whom they sponsor would not take delight and encouragement from our precipitous exit.
And then the big reversal: it seems that Obama did not mean to pledge to revise U.S. policy on the final status of Jerusalem. In front of AIPAC he pledged that Jerusalem would be the undivided capital, the Palestinians then squawked and Obama promptly retreated. (On this, David did not even need to wait until Election Day for his hopes to be dashed.) If further example is needed that Obama lacks experience (Did he not know what current American policy was, or did he not believe the Palestinians would notice his comments? Did he mean to be bold and then think better of it?) and the clarity to steer foreign policy, this is it. He managed to confuse and annoy just about everyone with this one.
As with direct meetings with Iran, flip-floppery on a key element of our Israel policy only shows Obama to be uninformed and unsteady. Moreover, one wonders whether the speech was not reviewed and vetted by his advisors (the ones that are “official,” as opposed to the ones that are not and say inconvenient things)? Foreign powers tend to take American presidents at their word, unless proven unreliable and erratic. Obama has proven himself to be both.
So if anyone supposes that his AIPAC speech signaled some intellectual or political maturation on Obama’s part (or development of a sophisticated foreign policy staff), there is more than enough reason to be disappointed.