The McCain has put out a web ad documenting the twists and turns in Barack Obama’s Iraq policy positions. What is so unnerving is the implacability with which he puts forth not just new positions, but false explanations of his old positions. Perhaps the most damaging and embarrassing to Obama are the clips of the presser in which Obama tries to explain his “strike force.” There is a reason perhaps why he isn’t doing town halls.
The McCain team also jacked up the volume in other ways, putting out a memo accusing Obama of playing politics with the Iraq war. Then it held an afternoon blogger conference call today with Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and McCain campaign blogger Michael Goldfarb. Blackburn began with a pitch for Obama to listen to the troops who will “tell him they are fighting the enemy” and that the surge has allowed the Iraqi government to increase its “stability, popularity and relevance.” Goldfarb reiterated that Obama judgment “was so misguided on the surge” and echoed the call for Obama to listen to those in command there, rather than rely on his pre-existing views which Goldfarb said he had tried to “set in stone” with his op-ed and speech this week.
Other highlights: 1) The McCain camp contends that the Obama camp’s attacks while McCain was overseas in Colombia “set the mode” that criticism and contrast ads are fair game when one candidate is out of the country and the McCain camp has “no reservation” about doing the same next week; 2) the only way, Goldfarb says, that the Bush administration’s policy could move closer to Obama’s is if “Ahmadinejad showed up in Crawford for a barbecue” and that McCain is in favor of low level, multilateral negotiating efforts, but the Europeans are very concerned about Obama’s no-preconditions posture; 3) as for whether the media star parade following Obama but not McCain overseas is unfair or just covering a big story, Goldfarb — with tongue firmly planted in cheek — said it was understandable the press would want to cover someone with a very thin policy record and who had spend very little time overseas except “as a kid” and that Obama had already heightened controversy over the Brandenburg Gate flap.
I asked about the difference between the candidates’ statements on the release of the Israelis’ bodies and the murderer of the Haran family. Goldfarb declined to comment on Obama’s failure to mention the murders or issuance of any condemnation, but reiterated that McCain considered the conduct of Hamas and Hezbollah to be “egregious” and had called for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier still in the hands of Hamas.
I also asked about Obama’s position that Iraq was irrelevant to Afghanistan. Goldfarb argued that Osama bin Laden and General Petraeus agree it is “central in the war on terror” and that one can “just look at the map” to see that Iraq is “in the heart of the Muslim world.” He reminded the press that ABC’s report found that the 16-month withdrawal plan is “absolutely dangerous.” After Blackburn reiterated that Obama “does not understand the regional threat,” Goldfarb commented that the only one who was distracted from Afghanistan was Obama who had declined to hold hearings on the subject.