28 February 2008

McCain vs.Obama (al Qaeda in Iraq)

Talking heads and bloggers have been tittering like Tinkerbell at a Wendy sighting over McCain and Obama's recent exchange concerning Iraq. It started when Obama responded to a debate question about the President's right to go back into Iraq after removing troops . Obama replied, "If al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."

McCain caught the comment and delivered his response from Texas. "I understand that Senator Obama said that if al Qaeda established a base in Iraq that he would send troops back in militarily. I have some news. Al Qaeda already has a base in Iraq. It's called al Qaeda in Iraq."

In Ohio, Obama shot back, "Well first of all, I do know that al Qaeda is in Iraq. That's why I've said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets. But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq."

While this was a fun little exchange, what I've enjoyed the most is the reaction that I have seen in the press and on the web, particularly from a host of fellow moderates and liberals, claiming some sort of verbal victory for Obama. Didn't they notice that the Illinois Senator never addressed the issue that McCain was pushing to the fore? Didn't they wonder why the candidate who claims to be about the future scurried to the past to deftly deflect defending his position on Iraq?

Here is what we now know about Senator Obama's rice paper logic concerning Iraq.

  1. One of his primary promises of the campaign is that he will bring the troops home.

  2. He recognizes that al Qaeda in Iraq would be a bad thing. So bad, we might need troops there.

  3. He admits that al Qaeda is already in Iraq.

So, Senator, the troops . . . do they stay or do they go? We all know that neither you nor John McCain were calling the shots to send them there, but that's irrelevant now. The troops are there. Al Qaeda is there. What would you do as President? Can we have an answer Mr. Obama?

Barack Obama is certainly engaging, but the way his answers to fundamental questions twirl and spin, corkscrew and pitch into conflicting quips and sense-free soundbites have me wondering who is coaching the guy on foreign policy, Barnum or Bailey?