Leadership On Iraq: Obama's Missed Opportunity

[Once he arrived in the Senate, after winning the primary and easily dispatching his Republican opponent, Obama did not emerge as a key voice on the war.

The Washington Post this morning writes about the principal reason Senator Barack Obama is flailing in his Presidential camapign:

[S]ome antiwar Democrats have raised questions about the depth of Obama's opposition, taking aim at one of the signature arguments for his candidacy -- that he is the only leading Democratic candidate who opposed the war from the beginning. They say that while Obama did argue against the war as a Senate candidate, he tempered his rhetoric and his opposition once he arrived in the Capitol, rejecting timetables for withdrawal and backing war funding bills. . . .

Simply put, Obama has not led on Iraq. He could lead now. He has chosen not to.

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    principal reason wapo writes this (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by seabos84 on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:27:01 PM EST
    is to bury obama and raise hillary.

    I've been wondering where is some kind of bold leadership ever since I got my hopes up with the Democratic National Convention speech 3 years ago.

    To me, he's turned into a variety of the lame dukakis-clinton-gore-kerry-mcaulliffe-schrum crowd of

    the-smart-people-tell-me-i-better-not-scare-the-middle-or-i'll-lose losers.

    Since i don't care much for him, i don't care about the wapo's whisper campaign on behalf of the corporate beltway sell out scum.

    while their whisper campaigns are despicable, i've been watching the s.o.s. on that front since before willie horton.

    the problem is not the lying fascist media, the problem is the lam losers on our side who keep getting their heads boxed by the same despicable tactics.


    you took the words right outta my mouth (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Miss Devore on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:33:50 PM EST
    I wouldn't trust "Obama's lost opportunity", because it is an essential media narrative, to throw support to Hillary.

    a/btd/aravia--you've fought like hell over many minor things in the blogs, but you're crumplestilskin when it comes to buying the Dem package.


    Your longtime love of Obama (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:35:12 PM EST
    is worth noting.

    You have been quite the crumnplestiltskin for Obama imo.


    I've backed off (2.50 / 2) (#7)
    by Miss Devore on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:43:55 PM EST
    but still see no more leadership from Hillary on Iraq than him.

    damn did I give you a typing challenge with crumplestilskin.

    I pine for Elizabeth Holtzmann, frankly.


    I agree (1.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:47:25 PM EST
    That is why I support Chris Dodd.

    Take a look at him.


    The principal reason I write this (3.66 / 3) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:34:06 PM EST
    is because Obama has not led on Iraq.

    The truth be told, apparently primary voters (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:42:40 PM EST
    don't care who leads on Iraq.

    Proof:  Hillary's massive lead.

    I could see this argument if people were deserting him for Dodd or Biden or even Edwards.

    But he's lost support to the single least courageous voice in the field on Iraq.  (Biden is frequently egregiously wrong, but it's clearly not calculation)

    has there been (none / 0) (#8)
    by Miss Devore on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:45:40 PM EST
    a primary vote yet?

    this is my point--following the media narrative, blindly.


    None (1.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:46:59 PM EST
    That is why I am fighting for the candidate who is leading now on Iraq.

    How about you?


    Dodd gives same answer as Obama on Iraq (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by joejoejoe on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 05:01:49 PM EST
    I see zero difference between Dodd and Obama on Iraq today other than style. Digby reports, "Chris Dodd just told Tweety [Chris Matthews] again that we can't end the war without 60 votes." The Friday Hardball transcript isn't up but if Dodd is saying this how is he any different than Obama?

    Dean is a head! Unstoppable in the polls (none / 0) (#13)
    by seabos84 on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:56:02 PM EST

    jeez, I really hate being sarcastic


    but anyone remember how if you lost new hampshire you wouldn't win the white house!

    or how a sitting vice president can't win the white house!

    we'll KNOW what the polls say the day the polls close after being open for voting.

    so hillary is way way way up ... whoopee whoopee whoopee.

    i think we the country are ripe for an inflection point in this campaign where someone currently running or someone on the sidelines says something / does something that knocks it outta the park.

    that doesn't mean that the event will happen, OR, that whoever does it will capitilize on it.



    I think you have it backwards (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:46:25 PM EST
    Obama presented no choice to those who do not want Hillary.

    Unless someone came in anti-Hillary, what is Obama offering on Iraq leadership?

    Let's be clear, if Obama had led on Iraq NOW, I am pretty sure I would have endorsed him.

    I have come to like Dodd a lot on a number of issues.

    But I endorsed him months ago on ONE issue.

    Obama could have gotten it.

    Heck, Hillary could have gotten it.

    I was a one issue voter.

    I think there are more than a few like me.

    And I bet there are a few like me in Iowa.


    Geek has a point (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by andgarden on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:58:20 PM EST
    If you look at the crosstabs of the polls, there's no significant difference between Democratic voters whose priority is Iraq, and those for whom it is some other issue. (that's nationally, of course, and you're right that Iowa might produce a very different result).

    Actually that is MY point (3.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:04:39 PM EST
    Why is Obama NOT getting Iraq voters?

    HE is offering no contrast.


    Given that even some of the most ... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Meteor Blades on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 04:57:56 PM EST
    ...avid supporters in wwwLand don't have a full appreciation of their own candidates' stance on Iraq, much less an understanding of other candidates' positions, I'm not certain that the numbers we're seeing out there for Senator Clinton have anything to do with a lack of contrast offerd by Senator Obama. We poljunkies should always remember how rare it is among the masses - even what might be considered the better informed masses - to have detailed knowledge of the sort we're discussing here.

    A quick look at any comment threads at the bigger left blog sites is all it takes, I think, to prove my case. If you still don't believe me, pick 20 longtime commenters at random from Big Orange to Opera Glasses and Popcorn and ask them what Hillary's, Barack's, Chris's, John's and Joe's positions are on, say, residual troops.

    (Oh, and Miss Devore, "crumplestil(t)skin" is one of the reasons I miss you, even though I know you despise me.)


    oh blades (none / 0) (#40)
    by Miss Devore on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 08:20:22 PM EST
    I don't despise anyone. but feel the vipers  at OG&P don't get the respect they deserve. that's all.

    How can you make this argument... (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by joejoejoe on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 05:14:01 PM EST
    ...as a Dodd supporter?

    Dodd is at 1% in Iowa, not registering in NH, and 1% in SC.

    You say Dodd is leading on Iraq and Obama isn't getting voters because he isn't offering contrast to Clinton, yet Dodd gets almost no support.

    Voters are obviously considering other issues than Iraq. If it was all about Iraq it would follow that Dodd's leadership on Iraq (per BTD) would generate higher poll numbers for Dodd. That isn't happening.


    Let me add (4.00 / 4) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:07:16 PM EST
    contrast on leading on Iraq NOW.

    Obama cooulda, shoulda, woulda been theanti-hillary if he had pressed his natural advantage on IRaq.

    Axelrod chose to BLUR it, thinking saying "2002" was enough.

    The fact is Obama has blown it. Axelrod has blown it.


    Nah, he'd have been tarred as 'reckless, naive, (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:24:15 PM EST
    irresponsible, unconcerned with the troops' etc etc.  It very well may have been the right thing to do, but if Hillary was willing to tarnish him with Holocaust denial because he was willing to meet with Ahmadinejad . . .

    The reason that Hillary is winning is that she's the Establishment candidate and Democratic primary voters have never shown a willingness to buck the Establishment.  Not in my lifetime anyways.  


    And that tarring (2.50 / 2) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:27:04 PM EST
    is PRECISELY what he needed to be the anti-Hillary.

    The Netroots would have embraced him, he had Oprah, all the money in the world and the ability, the POLITICAL ability, to do what Dean could not - WIN.

    Honestly, I am surprised Obama supporters are not furious with Axelrod.


    The real problem is Harry Reid, imo. (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:37:35 PM EST
    Rather, it's Obama's willingness to defer to old Weak Tea.  Reid pretty clearly wants to keep his 'presidentials' in line and keep presidential politics out of the Iraq question as much as possible.

    Reid should have been removed as Maj. Leader when he voted for the cave-in.


    Interesting note (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by andgarden on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:41:30 PM EST
    I can't find the link, but after Daschle was defeated, Dodd ran against Reid to be Minority Leader.

    He's not deferring to Weak Tea. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:51:37 PM EST
    Good for him.

    I suspect Obama doesn't want to speak out of turn, but dammit he's running for leader of the free world.


    O is for Oprah, O is for Obama (none / 0) (#22)
    by robrecht on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:30:55 PM EST
    You've changed your mind about Oprah being important?

    For the money I mean (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:36:14 PM EST
    He could survive being tarred in the way Geek describes.

    QED (none / 0) (#28)
    by robrecht on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:51:40 PM EST
    Axelrod (none / 0) (#29)
    by Alien Abductee on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 03:08:47 PM EST
    just emphasized what's already there. That's who Obama is. He's a uniter not a divider. He should be in the motivational speaking business not politics.

    Because voters don't care about leadership. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:25:49 PM EST
    Mass politics is about marketing, and Hillary is very able to market herself as someone committed to ending our presence in Iraq.  

    I don't even think it's that (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by andgarden on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:38:07 PM EST
    She and Obama are actually marketing themselves in similar way. They smile and let you believe what you want to believe about who they are. It's a frontrunner's game, which is why it works for Hillary better.

    The problem is that it's easy to use anti-war (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 03:08:57 PM EST
    rhetoric without proposing anti-war legislation or actually believing one's own rhetoric.

    Well, I think a politician (none / 0) (#31)
    by andgarden on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 03:20:57 PM EST
    is what he does or what he tries to do. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Sure, but they have a lot more flexibility (none / 0) (#32)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 03:34:01 PM EST
    when they're just talking as a candidate as opposed to what they'll actually do as an executive.

    Best guess? (none / 0) (#12)
    by robrecht on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 01:55:42 PM EST
    What level of support will Dodd get in Iowa?  Best guess.

    As of today? (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:04:02 PM EST

    Come January? Who knows. He is certainly having his best moments in thre campaign right now.


    This may support your (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Maryb2004 on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 05:32:17 PM EST
    contention that Obama isn't leading on Iraq and it's costing him, but it's hard to say if the general reading public will take the viewpoint of the anti-war activists on Obama too seriously:

    "So many politicians were afraid" to oppose the war, "so he gets credit for that," said Jim Ginsburg, a Chicago Democratic activist. He backed Obama when he ran for the Senate in 2004 but says Al Gore is his preferred candidate for president.

    I'm not picking on Jim (I met him at YKos and liked him) but this is typical.  Too often activists quoted in the papers are seen as living in dreamland - and it's partly true.  Al Gore isn't a candidate.  No grounded person believes that he's going to BE a candidate.  His candidacy is a dream for some people.  

    So how does a reader reconcile this anti-war activist's supposedly grounded views on Obama's problems with the fact that he's living in a dream world when he talks about who HE'S supporting?  They don't.

    My prediction is that the general public will write this off and peg it as just more whining from those unrealistic anti-war activists who want a world that doesn't exist.  

    Hurts us.  Probably won't affect Obama.

    Is Al Gore even saying anything re (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 06:04:09 PM EST
    what to do about U.S. in Iraq?  If so, its not making the newspaper.

    Curious that Gore doesn't get faulted (none / 0) (#38)
    by Geekesque on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 06:05:34 PM EST
    by that activist for a lack of 'leadership.'

    Precisely. (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 06:27:53 PM EST
    I find it hard to await the second coming until Gore speaks out on the issue I most care about.

    Obama is leading... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by diogenes on Sun Sep 16, 2007 at 10:29:31 AM EST
    He just isn't leading in the direction you want him to.  

    Not only Iraq (4.00 / 1) (#41)
    by koshembos on Sun Sep 16, 2007 at 02:38:38 AM EST
    Obama positions, on Iraq and other issues, are centrists. He attempts to avoid being Dean and seems to listen to Broder's bipartisanship.

    This proud, intelligent, charismatic and youthful candidate has basically decided to take no risks.

    No pain, no gain.

    I hope when I'm Obama's age ... (1.00 / 1) (#18)
    by chemoelectric on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 02:17:25 PM EST
    ... that I am wiser than he is.

    Oh, wait, I am Obama's age.

    Mission Accomplished!