Take the damn ball, Senator Obama.
An open letter to Senator Barack Obama from a supporter.
Senator Obama, in your short time in the public eye you have shown great wisdom, judgment, and vision. Your greatest strength is the ability to fuse pragmatism with idealism. This often means eschewing traditional showboating and playing for the cameras in order to build consensus that builds towards progressive goals.
However, no single approach works for every problem, and building consensus is not working on the problem of Iraq. There was a time for Congress to be the steering wheel of our Iraq policy. Now, someone needs to slam on the brakes.
And you used that authority wisely by introducing legislation to mandate withdrawal on Iraq back in January of this year. And you have been a good team player on this issue as Democrats, a functional minority in the Senate, tried to forge a consensus. Harry Reid is the 'team' leader, and he has been entrusted with handling the ball on Iraq.
However, Senator Reid has dropped the ball on Iraq (forgive the mixing of football and basketball metaphors). Senator Reid, for all of his strengths, just isn't getting the job done. He is a competent work horse, but he isn't a star. He isn't a difference maker.
And, when it comes to crunch time, star players and difference makers need to take over. The truly exceptional leaders are not just willing to step up and take the important shot, they demand the damn ball.
This is your time to do so. Iraq hangs in the balance. Republicans are wobbly. Unfortunately, so are your fellow Democrats. The talk increasingly is of both sides holding hands and enacting pro forma legislation to pretend that Congress is doing something about the war. We are moving dangerously close to a point where the goal will be to pretend to be doing something about Iraq rather than actually doing something about Iraq.
Don't let them get away with it.
I understand your hesitance to call out your colleagues. But, to hell with that. There are larger stakes.
Others, of course, are trying to speak out.
But, nationally, no one (outside of their supporters) cares what John Edwards says from the safety of non-accountability or what Chris Dodd says from a position of relative obscurity.
What you say is news. Because you say it.
And, to be blunt, saying we need to get out of Iraq just won't cut it anymore. What matters now is doing something to get us out of Iraq. Not just saying we need to do it, but talking about how we're going to get it done.
Now, I know that some people will bring up your presidential run, and talk about how it wouldn't be the smart thing to do.
Senator, you're either moving forward or you're moving backwards. Relative to other candidates, you're moving backwards on Iraq. How on earth is it even remotely possible that Hillary Clinton, a clinical study in opportunism when it comes to Iraq, is perceived amongst primary voters as essentially indistinguishable from you?
Do the right thing and the smart thing. For your nation, your party, and yourself. Step forward, demand the damn ball, and be prepared to accept the consequences one way or another. The voters will not punish you for speaking out against a tragical farce like our so-called Iraq debate.
Playing it safe will result in Bush winning and Hillary getting the nomination. Playing it safe is the ultimate form of living dangerously.
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