Thursday, May 29, 2008

Can Obama Take a Punch ?

John McCain came out swinging the other day and caught Obama square on his [foreign policy] glass jaw. McCain challenged Obama to accompany him on a trip to Iraq and speak to our senior military leaders, our troops, and tour the country in order to get a better view of the current conditions in Iraq. The eloquent one was sent reeling, a trip to Iraq was probably the furthest thing from his mind, but the gauntlet has been thrown, can he eloquently talk his way out of this one?

McCain points out that Obama spent only two days in Iraq back in January 2006. Since then Obama has been busy running for president. McCain, who has made eight trips to Iraq, charges that Obama does not have an accurate idea of conditions there because he has never really taken the time to sit down with our military leaders on the ground.

Obama is in a very tough position; he has already stated that he is willing to sit down with the leaders of Iran, how can he possibly refuse an opportunity to speak to American leaders in Iraq? The men he wants to lead as commander-in-chief. If he refuses the challenge, it will damage his already fragile foreign policy credentials and strengthen the argument that he is all talk and no substance. If he consents to a visit, the case can be made that his only reason for doing so is the McCain challenge.

The physical dangers aside, Iraq poses real threats to the Obama campaign. A trip to Baghdad means meeting with General Patraeus on his own turf, not in some Senate hearing room. It involves touring places like Sadr City, and Fallujah, places where our troops have died to make the streets safer. Obama will meet our brave men and women who risk their lives everyday, and he will see firsthand the improvements that have been made there since 2006.

It is all too easy to stand at a podium in Cedar Rapids and speak about the horrible mistakes in Iraq, and call for the immediate withdrawal of US troops. Obama is insulated by ignorance, but after he has met with our troops, toured the cities, seen how many Iraqis depend on our presence for the safety of their families, will he still be able to maintain that complete surrender is the best option for the US and Iraq? When it comes to Iraq, Obama prefers to think in general terms, knowledge is his enemy, and a trip to Iraq jeopardizes all of that.

The Obama camp now says that he may visit Iraq sometime this summer, so McCain’s challenge is already beginning to influence his actions. No one is likely to believe that Obama had a trip previously planned this year…or any year for that matter. It will be entertaining to see what develops now that McCain is pulling the strings on this issue. Let’s see if any “soaring oratory” can keep Obama off of that Baghdad bound C-17.

McCain has exposed Obama’s Iraq policy; “get out, forget about it… and damn the consequences”. A trip to Iraq? Obama doesn’t want to be bothered with it, but that pesky McCain may get Obama in body armor yet.

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