In the first segment of his interview with Barack Obama, FNC’s Bill O’Reilly complimented Obama for being mentally keen, even "perspicacious" in his original decision to oppose the war in his state Senate days, but "desperately wrong on the surge." Voting no on the war and yes on the surge would be an interesting legislative record. In response, Obama claimed, I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody has anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters." He added, "what I’ve said is it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
Obama’s answer invited two questions. If "nobody anticipated" the surge would work, why would they propose it, especially once Democrats took over Congress in 2007? Clearly, someone anticipated success. Then: has Obama really said before now that the surge has succeeded beyond our "wildest dreams"? Would he say that as he campaigned against Hillary? Or McCain? Will the media follow up on that?
Taking a while searching the "Transcripts" file in Nexis for the last twelve months, there’s no place where Obama’s said such a thing. (History-wise, you’ll also have a hard time finding Bill saying Iraq was the "wrong battlefield" before the war.)
Obama can't honestly answer O'Reilly's toughest question: why not admit you were wrong to oppose the surge? The answer is clearly political: I couldn't support the surge and win the hard-left "anti-war" MoveOn/Code Pink vote. To the richest part of the transcript:
O’REILLY: All right, let’s go to Iraq. I think history will show that it’s the wrong battlefield, okay? And I think that you were perspicacious in your original assessment of the battlefield.
OBAMA: I appreciate that.
O’REILLY: I think you were desperately wrong on the surge and I think you should admit it to the nation that now we have defeated the terrorists in Iraq and they, the Al Qaeda came there after we invaded, as you know-
OBAMA: Right, absolutely.
O’REILLY: We’ve defeated them. If we didn’t, they would use it as a staging ground. We’ve also inhibited Iran from controlling the southern part of Iraq. By the surge, which you did not support. So why don’t you say "I was right in the beginning and I was wrong about that."
OBAMA: You know, if, if you listen to what I have said, and I’ll repeat it right here on this show. I think that there is no doubt that the violence is down. I believe that, that is a testimony to the troops that were sent and General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody has anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters. It has gone very well partly because of the Anbar situation--
O’REILLY: The Awakening, right.
OBAMA: --and the Sunni Awakening, partly because the Shia militias–
O’REILLY: But if it were up to you, there wouldn’t have been a surge.
OBAMA: Well, look-
O’REILLY: No, no, no, no.
OBAMA: No, no, no, no, no.
O’REILLY: Look, if it were up to you, there wouldn’t have been a surge.
OBAMA: No, no, no, hold on.
O’REILLY: You and Joe Biden, no surge.
OBAMA: No, hold on a second Bill. If you look at the debate that was taking place, we had gone through five years of mismanagement of this war that I thought was disastrous. And the president wanted to double down and continue an open ended policy that did not create the kinds of pressure on the Iraqis that did not take on the responsibility and reconciled–
O’REILLY: But it worked.
OBAMA: Well, look.
O’REILLY: It worked.
OBAMA: What I-
O’REILLY: Come on.
OBAMA: Bill, what I’ve said is it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
O’REILLY: Right, so why can’t you just say I was right in the beginning and I was wrong about the surge?
OBAMA: Because there is an underlying problem with what we’ve done. We have reduced the violence.
OBAMA: But the Iraqis still haven’t taken responsibility. And we still don’t have the kind of political reconciliation. We are still spending, Bill, $10-12 billion a month.
O’REILLY: And I hope if you’re president you can get them to kick in and pay us back.
OBAMA: They’ve got $79 billion in Iraq.
O’REILLY: And I’m with you, I’ll go with you.
OBAMA: Let’s go!