Given how fundamental Barack Obama's former position was to his credibility as a candidate during the Democratic primaries, I'd say it's yet another a full-fledged, full-throated flip-flop, accompanied by a fundamentally flawed reading of the Bush Administration's current policy -- both of which we can be confident Old Media will try to ignore.
Hegseth explains (link to transcript added by me; other links are in original; bolds are mine):
Recent reports and rumors have indicated that Senator Obama plans to aggressively move to the middle on Iraq in the coming months. This is a good political move for Obama, if only because he’s finally starting to recognize reality. However, it's no surprise that he will continue to try and have it both ways: moderating his withdrawal language without giving any credit to surge/Petraeus advocates.
..... Standing alongside Hillary (Friday in Unity, NH), Obama said:
"We can follow a policy that doesn’t change whether violence is up or violence is down, whether the Iraqi government takes responsibility or not; or we can decide that it’s time to begin a responsible, gradual withdrawal from Iraq."
..... Just months ago, Obama clamored for an “immediate” withdrawal, regardless of the situation on the ground; today, his withdrawal would be “gradual.” Maybe he was channeling Hillary Clinton, or maybe he finally realizes that very few people—except the MoveOn crowd—want an immediate withdrawal. His website, I should note, still touts an “immediate” withdrawal.
Despite this move, Obama insists that America’s policy in Iraq “doesn’t change whether violence is up or violence is down.” This is verifiably false. ..... What was the new counter-insurgency strategy, Mr. Senator?
..... True to form, Obama is trying to have it both ways—attempting to use moderate rhetoric to mask an irresponsible Iraq policy, all the while unwilling to recognize the incredible progress on the ground. His website says the surge has only reduced violence to mid-2006 levels. Again, verifiably false. Today, we are at the lowest violence levels in Iraq in four years.
In fact, Obama's web site not only is not in sync with what the candidate said on Friday it's not even in sync with itself, even within that very same web page:
Much as he might think that he's already got the election in the bag, even arrogantly having his own "presidential seal" designed in advance of the election, a President Obama would not take office until January 20, 2009. Sixteen months from that point in time would be May 2010, not "the end of next year."
As to Hegseth's first-paragraph claim that all of this flipping, flopping, and flailing by Obama is "a good political move": Baloney. It is instead a cravenly cynical strategy that only has a chance of working as long as Old Media stays in the tank for him. Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post noted that the strategy largely worked in the Heller ruling (so far). But there have been some defectors, including PBS's Bonnie Erbe (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog); there will be more if (or is it as?) the flagrant flip-flops continue. And there's always New Media, which has shown little patience, even in some cases on the left, for much of Obama's recent nonsense.
One sign that Old Media is worried about Obama's frequent flip-flopping: Newsweek's Jonathan Darman came out yesterday with a howler about how "flip-flopping has a noble history in this country." Uh-huh.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.