We’ve arrived at a very weird place in terms of our presidential candidates’ positions with regard to Iraq. Thanks to the amazing success of the surge — the policy that Bush at long last initiated after four years of John McCain saying that’s what we should do — both McCain and Obama find themselves in an awkward situation.
- The Surge has succeeded so well that Maliki is emboldened to say that we can start talking about the Americans leaving, since the Iraqi government sources have gotten so much better at kicking the Sadrists around and other such demonstrations of prowess.
- Obama is so wedded to the mythology of MoveOn.org et al, for whom it is a religious precept that every soldier or Marine ever sent into Iraq was the worst, most horrible mistake in the history of the universe (actually, I’m probably understating their position just a little here).These are the bruised innocents who reaction to the surge was, "What? We’re going to send MORE soldiers in to be maimed and killed; have we lost our freaking minds?"
- McCain feels like, "Finally, everybody (except the MoveOn types) recognizes that MY idea of boosting our force levels has worked beyond our wildest dreams, bringing us closer and closer to being able to declare victory." Of course, with things going so well he’s not about to say that the success of the surge we can, irony of ironies, speak about Americans drawing down forces — just what Obama’s always wanted to do, regardless of realities on the ground. That would look like Obama was getting his way, and among the simple-minded it would look like "Hey, Obama was right all along" — even though he was the exact opposite of right, even though we only got to this good spot by doing what Obama adamantly opposed.
- And Obama certainly can’t recognize currently reality and say "Oh, well, the surge worked. Wow, great jobs guys; you proved me wrong. But now can we leave?" If he ever uttered the phrase, "the surge works," his most intense and devoted supporters’ heads would explode spectacularly.
So here we are: Things are going well in Iraq, and neither campaign can use that fact advantageously.
How weirdly ironic is that?