Glenn Thrush of Politico wrote a story on President Obama’s “summer of no love.” It includes this analysis:
On Monday, President Barack Obama recommitted to ending the combat mission in Iraq by the end of this month, a milestone that seemed nearly unattainable in 2008 — and seems nearly unnoticed in 2010.
Ending the war in Iraq was Obama’s central campaign promise two years ago, so the announcement should have been a huge deal. But by mid-Monday, the story drooped like a limp flag on news websites, sliding below obituaries of bandleader Mitch Miller.
Let’s see if we can sort through some of what’s wrong with these two paragraphs.
For one thing, the milestone didn’t seem “nearly unattainable in 2008” — since 2008 is when the Status of Forces agreement was signed. The SOFA — which was signed during the Bush administration — established that U.S. combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, and all U.S. forces will be completely out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.
For another, Obama’s plan to end the war wasn’t based on a return on success; it was a plan to leave despite the awful consequences of an American defeat. Remember: when Obama announced his run for the presidency on Feb. 10, 2007, he said: “It’s time to start bringing our troops home. That’s why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008.” And in May 2007, Obama voted against funding for combat operations. He was also a constant critic of the surge.
If Obama had his way, the Iraq war would have been lost, that nation would be engulfed in a civil war and possibly genocide, militant Islamists would have scored their greatest victory, and America would have suffered a defeat worse than in Vietnam.
Obama’s central campaign promise, contrary to the Thrush article, wasn’t to end America’s involvement in Iraq in a way anything like what we’re doing now (the SOFA agreement was responsible and carefully crafted); it was to cut and run and lose.
What President Obama was doing on Monday was claiming credit for the success and foresight of George W. Bush. Maybe that’s one explanation for why the story drooped like a limp flag. The reason Obama is not getting more credit for this achievement is because most of the credit belongs to his predecessor, which is something Obama simply cannot admit.