Update: The anticipated overreaction is happening, but it seems to be most flagrant in the MSM. As a result, Barack Obama has given another press conference, and has issued an email confirming that he has, in fact, been very consistent. Some reaction from the blogosphere has been added after original post.

A question: Why would the MSM be spinning this up so baldly?

For months now, I’ve been writing that Obama was not the hard-core liberal the far left wanted (and the far-right hoped for). This was true on nearly everything from NAFTA to the death penalty, and it’s only on FISA that I’ve been surprised.

As the general election campaign has gotten underway, and various issues have become more fleshed out, there have been gasps of horror from various corners. Imagine (I’ve thought and discussed) what will happen when Obama’s carefully nuanced Iraq position finally moved into the light. Here it comes:

FARGO, N.D. – Senator Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot sustain a long-term military presence in Iraq, but added that he would be open to “refine my policies” about a timeline for withdrawing troops after meeting with American military commanders during a trip to Iraq later this month.

Mr. Obama, whose popularity in the Democratic primary was built upon a sharp opposition to the war and an often-touted 16-month gradual timetable for removing combat troops, dismissed suggestions that he was changing positions in the wake of reductions in violence in Iraq and a general election fight with Senator John McCain.

“I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed,” he said. “And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”

It’s true. He’s said this all along, and as I wrote earlier today, he’s also said that he’d listen to commanders on the ground.

But I’m absolutely sure that a large portion of his supporters weren’t listening. So what will they do with this, I wonder? Will it blow up as big as FISA has? I hope not, but there’s certain to be an uproar.

For me, though, bringing some light to this subject is a relief. I’ve wondered when he’d start to clarify for those many folks who’ve not read past the headlines and soundbites.

FWIW, I agree completely with his approach, and I always have. Had I thought Obama was going to completely ignore current conditions in Iraq when he took office; that he would simply start pulling troops in complete disregard for their safety, or the safety of the Iraqis, I would not have been able to support him.

That would have been incredibly irresponsible, perhaps even criminally so. More than that, though, it would have indicated a rigid mind, and there’s nothing I want less in a president.

But I never thought Obama suffered from rigidity, or even ideological purity.

Once folks who missed the nuance recover from the shock of a responsible approach to withdrawing from Iraq, I hope they’ll agree with me.

And I hope they recover before November.

* * * * *

Some reactions from various parts of the blogosphere:

Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central writes that the news organizations are “getting it wrong”, and says:

All Obama is doing here is defusing the GOP argument that he’d withdraw recklessly and preserving flexibility for himself as commander in chief. These journalistic errors are matters of nuance. But nuance is hugely important here.

AllahPundit at HotAir agrees that Obama’s consistently left some wiggle room. However:

I’m not going to rub his face in it. The important thing is to make the right decision and he’s nearer to that now than he’s ever been. Yeah, it’s almost certainly for cynical political reasons, but so long as the progress continues and public opinion improves, those cynical political reasons will continue to steer him right.

Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics:

This may not be a flip-flop by the technical definition of the term, but it certainly is a substantial walk back on perhaps the defining issue of the election that will draw fire from both the right and the left.

I suspect the ruckus is just getting going. Many more opinions at memeorandum, here.

POLIMOM
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pacatrue
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pacatrue
8 years 2 months ago
My understanding from a few months ago is that Obama would look to withdraw troops and the likely draw down would take about a year and a half (I believe 16 months is the number?). That’s still the basic idea, correct? He’s also always said that he’d leave some contingent there for training, but the exact size of this contingent has been unclear. What I don’t know is his position on the permanent bases. Assumingly, some 10-20 thousand training and stability troops would need a place to be, but my impression has been that the size of the bases would… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
* In 2003 and 2004, he spoke out against the war on the campaign trail; * In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops; * In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq’s neighbors; * In January 2007, he introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008. * In September 2007, he laid out a detailed plan for how he will end the war as president. Oh my lord is the antiwar going… Read more »
PeterV
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PeterV
8 years 2 months ago

I am very antiwar but not upset. As the post said he was pretty clear to anyone who listened that he was not going to withdraw the troops in a dangerous fashion. This is sensible. I’m just happy someone will be in the White House who has the default set to “not war” as opposed to “sure, why not war”

I am still pissed off at his seeming turn-around on FISA.

Area504
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Area504
8 years 2 months ago

Doesn’t it bother you just a little bit that he keeps changing his mind and his policies with regard to almost everything? NAFTA, Iraq, public financing…all examples of Obama’s waffling. What can we really trust about him? He will say one thing and change his mind next week. I wonder if his supporters knew this is what he meant when he talked about “Change”!

GeorgeSorwell
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GeorgeSorwell
8 years 2 months ago

I don’t think Obama is changing his mind. He’s always said he’d consider actual conditions in Iraq if he were elected before settling on a course of action.

I’m sure he’ll be called a flip-flopper, though!

GeorgeSorwell
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GeorgeSorwell
8 years 2 months ago

And people who want to call Obama a flip-flopper ought to look at the links in this post for evidence to the contrary.

If evidence matters to you.

DLS
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DLS
8 years 2 months ago
So he may not announce “firm milestones” for withdrawal, or remove enough troops fast enough for a few. That will make those hard-core anti-war, anti-US-and-western-success nuts and their comrades in principle, the terrorists, upset, but there’s no reason why they should be so assisted or even rewarded. Obviously we cannot have our current troop levels maintained in Iraq forever, or even merely a hundred years. Some troops on some long-term bases in Iraq, that’s another issue, obviously. But not the current situation. The money is not there, in addition to the desire and the will not being there. Already there… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
I agree DLS that we cannot maintain this committment and that we should get out of there and the sooner the better. However not only has Barak Obama now changed his mind on Iraq he also in his works proposal pdf format indicates he is going to increase our military by nearly 100,000 troops so that their is more time between deployments. Sounds like he has plans for being in Afghanistan for a long time and wants to drag his feet now getting out of Iraq and he has no plans for reducing the size of our military but rather… Read more »
janinedm
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8 years 2 months ago

I don’t think you understand how dangerous the situation is right now. Our enlisted forced are waaaayyy overstretched. Recruitments have steadily dropped every year. We need more troops just to have a standing army. I’m anti-war but the need for an adequate standing army is clear.

CitizenKang
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CitizenKang
8 years 2 months ago

Most disturbing about this episode is the MSM’s willingness to buy the flip-flop meme being pushed by the McCain camp. As has been pointed out by other commenters, Obama has always promised to run his withdrawal in a safe and sane manner.

Obama is “waffling” only in respect to rightwing caricatures of his, admittedly nuanced (now THERE’Sa dirty word) positions.

Happy 4th all.

Jim_Satterfield
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Jim_Satterfield
8 years 2 months ago

What I heard Obama say today was basically the same thing I heard him say months ago and it still makes sense.

vwcat
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vwcat
8 years 2 months ago
I had been writing on blogs for over a year that Obma was not hard core ideologically. anyone who pays attention knows that he always leaves himself some room to finese because he believes in being able to work with those opposite of his stands and has never believed in rigid hard core purity. But, I have also seen the MSM building up to this for over a month. they have a weekly Does Obama have a problem with (insert group of the week here). They tip it off with a spade of articles about the coming week’s group. Last… Read more »
JSpencer
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JSpencer
8 years 2 months ago

We all know there are people who won’t be able to resist trying to create some melodrama over this (partisan or otherwise), but most of us realize that drawing down in a responsible fashion is entirely appropriate.

Marlowecan
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Marlowecan
8 years 2 months ago
Hahahahaha….look, Obama has changed his policies repeatedly on Iraq. I quote from AP below in 2004 where he supports increasing troops in Iraq to stabilize the situation. Read Obama’s words. A troop increase. Sounds eeriely like Petraeus’ “Surge”. Obama the Senatorial Candidate, intelligently, saw the logic behind it. But when Obama realized how the nutroots despised the “Surge”…and to this day deny it any success…he shifted ground to oppose the “Surge”. So Obama changes his policy. I don’t know why you folks cannot concede that. He is a politician…not the Second Coming. I can’t wait until the FISA vote. The… Read more »
runasim
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runasim
8 years 2 months ago
Then: WE HAVE TO BE AS CAREFUL COMING OUT AS WE WERE CARELESS GOING IN. EST,. COMBAT TROOP WITHDRAWAL 16 MOS. Now: WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL (paraphrased in different ways). EST.TROOP WITHDRAWAL 16 MOS. —————————— Where is this drastic change.? The MSM have created their own parallel universe and are harping at Obama as if he, too, were obligated to live in it. This is eerily similar to the runup to the Iraq war, when the MSM pushed for war day in and day out. As it was obvious then to anyone half awake, the corporate owners and CEO’s… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago

No runasim thats not what he said in his first news briefing and that is FLIPPING what set off the firestorm.

HE THEN PROFFERED A SECOND news briefing in which he clarified. By then the damage was done.

Get YOUR facts straight.

JSpencer
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JSpencer
8 years 2 months ago
As usual the wingnuts are busy cherry-picking in an effort to create another of those fictional narratives they are so fond of. Afterall, they’ve learned they can’t depend on truth and fairness to be their ally in an election anymore. Just ask the John McCain of 2000 – before the McBush morphing took place. How many people do you think now wish they had voted for Al Gore instead of GWB? For my own part I don’t know of ANY politician who would qualify as the second coming. Does anyone here know of any? If so please share. I reckon… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
I’m really not sure their is a lot of cherry picking here……there was genuine confusion. Try this on for size: In another report issued by Barak Obama we find this. In a separate six-page Iraq plan, he says in a section headed “All Combat Troops Redeployed by 2009”: “The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to begin immediately to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year — now.” Anyone who says this man is not sending mixed signals is wrong. Secondly the initial reaction by… Read more »
JSpencer
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JSpencer
8 years 2 months ago
Neocon, look at the history of GWB’s (and fellow chickenhawks) orchestration and “handlng” of THEIR Iraq war (yes, they will forever own it, despite those half-witted votes some dems gave in entrusting to this miserable excuse for a commander in chief). Then tell me that in all honesty and careful judgement you would reward the GOP for supporting these policies by voting for an old fart with a temper and memory problems? Sorry dude, it just doesn’t add up. As for America not being “full of stupid voters”? This remains to be seen. There is much redeeming waiting to be… Read more »
JSpencer
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JSpencer
8 years 2 months ago

By the way, I’m looking at this in the context of the big picture. If you are truly interested in focusing on concerns over shifting nuance, waffling, or questionable resolve when it comes to positions, then you need to be taking a much closer look at Sen. McCain’s own history.

Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
Jspencer The spin is that lets not question Barak Obama. Just like we didnt question George W. Bush. This is not going to lose him a single vote on the left. However the battle is not for the left or the right. Never has and never will be. The battle is for the middle. However I reject your thesis. Not because I am a republican cause I am not but because I believe that the democratic party embarked upon a campaign to destroy Bush and they have accomplished that. Then they embarked upon a campaign to destroy Hillary and Bill… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
Ill respond to that as well Jspencer. Barak Obama flip flopped on public funding because he knew he could take in way more money then he ever dreamed. Seems a flip flop to me. But your right the facts changed. So did his principals. Barak Obama flip flopped on FISA. First he was opposed to amnesty to telecoms as in speech after speech he worked up his far left base into a tizzy over accusing the Bush administration of trampling on the constitution: Read:There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has… Read more »
Polimom
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8 years 2 months ago
Sigh… Those who do not like Barack Obama have no interest in nuance. Those who saw some kind of progressive Savior also had no interest in nuance. It is what it is… but it does drive me crazy sometimes that people fixate on a piece or part of this or that, and declare it the Divine Word. Nothing else, however relevant or revealing at the time, applies. Ignore it and focus on the pieces parts that support the narrative. Meanwhile, of course, John McCain has been subject to a fair amount of the same treatment. (“100 years in Iraq” comes… Read more »
JSpencer
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JSpencer
8 years 2 months ago
Neocon, I believe your contention that the dems embarked on a campaign to destroy George Bush betrays your implied non-republican sentiments. At the very least, your ideology (whatever it is) is helping you to imagine that scenario is somehow true. The fact is, George Bush destroyed himself through incompetence and duplicity. The record is there to see, no conspiracy is required. All the dems have done is point out the obvious reality. Should they be chastised for doing so? I hardly think so. Let’s try dropping the partisan reflexes for a moment and lay accountability where it belongs. Obama’s stance… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
You deny my allegation and then you begin a berating of Bush spewing far left talking points in your trail of hate for all things Bush. I rest my case. Secondly the win at all costs mentality is not a problem with me but because its been openly stated that this time around that is the case then why the whining when Obama gets questioned or takes some lumps in this WIN AT ALL COSTS election??? It is my contention that the democratic party having embarked upon a destroy Bush and the GOP that they now see the need to… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
AS for any……….ANY republican that would cross over and vote for Barak Obama is a vote for the party that wants to end the GOP in America. Anyone who would vote for Obama is essentially voting to end their party and support a party that despises Republicans. Read their platform. Read their agenda. Read Obama’s own issues agenda. I am trying to prevent a one party America right now. This is really not about Obama. I believe he is the next president but if tons of Republicans cross over and vote for Obama then its going to COAT TAIL to… Read more »
runasim
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runasim
8 years 2 months ago
I do believe I finally understand why Obama needed a second news conference. He overestimates the intelligence of the press and the public. He underestimates the tendency to insert personal interprettions into everything heard and read. To admit an error, then, becomes a threat to one’s ego. For those who don’t like Obama in the first place, of course, its just a tempting opportunity to use their claws. I note how the first news conference is cited over and over, no matter how badly misinterpreted, while ignoring the second. To me, it seemed just plain logical that any plan would… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago

He overestimates the intelligence of the press and the public.

Yep every person who does not support Barak Obama is a nitwit and a moron.

Interesting that the last website I visited I noticed they were saying the same thing.

But your right Runasim you do not label people left or right…….you label them idiots, morons and The ultra intelligent Obama supporters.

You might want to read my timeline of events further up Runasim and try to understand why this hit the fan the way it did. Instead of automatically assigning everyone who has anything negative to say as at 3rd grade level,

runasim
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runasim
8 years 2 months ago
I can take the attacks by Obama opponents for what they are- paritxan warfare. I don’t expexct to see inherent logic there. But I am exrtremly disappointed to see the serial rages among Obama supporters (former or current.). They treat every separate issue and every single statement as if that were the ONLY thing at stake in this election. McCain and Obama are so strkingly different, in their philosophies, their policies and in how they operate. It seems to me absolutely infantile to lose sight of the whole spectrum every time a toe gets stubbed. or feelings get ruffled. I… Read more »
Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
But I am exrtremly disappointed to see the serial rages among Obama supporters (former or current.). This should not surprise anyone really. When you look at the make up of Obama’s supporters you are getting people of all political persuasions. Far left, left, Moderate, right of center and even some righies. Libertarians as well as socialists and Communists have staked some small claim to him. But that is his problem going forward. Its as Huffington was trying to point out yesterday, he is not going to win by veering to the center. Maybe, maybe not but the point is that… Read more »
runasim
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runasim
8 years 2 months ago

BTW,
Every scuffle makes me like Obama more.
The more I see, the more I like.

Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago
My goal is to not make Obama people dislike Obama. My goal is to help those who are not sure, who are angry with Bush who might ordinarily vote for a Republican understand that there is much more at stake here then just a presidential election. The coat tails of a national election rout could render the GOP inconsequential and put America on course for a one party system or at least a party that has a veto proof majority. I want to keep reminding those people that Gasoline is soon going to be 5 dollars a gallon and it… Read more »
runasim
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runasim
8 years 2 months ago

Yawn.

Neocon
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Neocon
8 years 2 months ago

Is that a Superior Obama Supporter Yawn Runasim?

JSpencer
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JSpencer
8 years 2 months ago

Neocon, you still don’t get it when it comes to Bush criticism. This isn’t about destroying anybody, or spewing far left talking points, etc. It’s very simply and very honestly about accountability. There is no mystery or conspiracy involved.

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