Barack Obama doesn’t really have an answer for why he wouldn’t meet privately with General Petraeus or go to Iraq. It is clear that he doesn’t like the topic and equally clear that saying “Bush” or “Republican” or “same old thing” in answer to every question is now standard operating procedure. A tougher press corps (maybe one that isn’t so “deferential” in the eyes of the MSM’s favorite new guru) would say “But why not go to Iraq?” or “Why haven’t you spoken privately to General Petraeus?”
There is no good answer to either of these, I suspect. The real answer is that he doesn’t care what he sees in Iraq or what he hears from Petraeus. Moreover, the prospect of him confronting information which contradicts his predetermined position would be politically uncomfortable.
Yet I seem to remember the Democrats pleading over the past years with President Bush to get diverse views, get the facts right, and not rely solely on his close-knit group of advisors. Senator Carl Levin said, in 2006, “He doesn’t want to see the facts. He doesn’t want to acknowledge reality. And if we’re going to change the course and change the dynamic in Iraq we’ve got to end this state of denial.” And in January 2007, it was Dick Durbin who castigated Bush for ignoring the advice of the military. It was 2004 when Senator Biden lectured Presdient Bush, “‘How can you be so sure when you know you don’t know the facts?” Fact gathering, listening to military experts, and confronting evidence are, it seems, passé. This is the New Politics.