Will Anti-war Media Turn On Obama If He Flip-flops On Iraq?

With few exceptions, Obama-loving media have been very forgiving of the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee's recent campaign flip-flops.

They've called them nuanced, and good strategy by a young politician learning the ropes.

Will anti-war press members be so understanding if Obama changes his position on Iraq, and suggests that conditions dictate American troops stay there longer than he pledged during the primaries?

Before you answer, consider this article on the front page of Friday's New York Times interestingly titled "Obama Fuels Pullout Debate With Remarks" (emphasis added):

Senator Barack Obama said Thursday that he might “refine” his policies for Iraq after meeting with military commanders there later this summer. But hours later he held a second news conference to emphasize his commitment to the withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

His two statements in Fargo, N.D., reflected how the changing dynamics in Iraq have posed a challenge for Mr. Obama, who is trying to retain flexibility as violence declines there without abandoning a central promise of his campaign: that if elected, he would end the war. [...]

Mr. Obama said at his first news conference on Thursday that he planned a “thorough assessment” of his Iraq policy when he visited that country this summer.

“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,” he said. “That assessment has not changed. 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.”

Mr. Obama has long spoken of consulting with commanders in the field as part of his plan for a phased withdrawal, but his shift in emphasis in the way he spoke about the situation on Thursday — after weeks in which Republicans and even an outside Iraq policy adviser to his campaign argued against a withdrawal along the lines he had proposed — fueled speculation that he might not be wedded to his timetable.

So the Obama campaign scheduled a second news conference to try to clarify his remarks.

In reality, honest people on both sides of the aisle have always felt the Democrat presidential candidates promising an immediate troop withdrawal if elected were lying to the anti-war contingent in their Party, and that such would never occur due to its inherent military stupidity.

However, as the serious candidate (apologies to Dennis Kucinich) who's been most anti-Iraq, a change in Obama's withdrawal pledge could be devastating to his campaign because it seems highly doubtful the dovish media would aid and abet his metamorphosis.

Quite the contrary, as was evident in the Times editorial Friday, a flip-flop on this issue could be the death knell for the almost indecent love affair press members have had with the junior senator since he spoke at the Democrat National Convention four years ago.

With this in mind, as the violence in Iraq continues to wane, and it becomes more and more indisputably obvious the surge has been a huge success, Obama finds himself in a very tough position: does he cater to the anti-war press and Netroots that brought him to the dance, or does he risk their continued support by admitting that conditions in Iraq necessitate a change in his previously stated position?

Stay tuned.

Iraq Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential New York Times
Noel Sheppard's picture