Even if the current administration doesn’t set the bar too high in terms of keeping promises, I do my best to keep mine. In this case, I’ve made the promise several times to not only criticize President Barack Obama when he does bad, but also to applaud him when he does good.
Today, he did some good, so I’ll applaud him. Of course, as with any good deed by a duplicitous politician, there is a caveat.
Obama deserves to be applauded for taking time, during his return from an eight-day pandering mission overseas, to stop unannounced in Iraq and give a little face-time to American troops. These men and women, sacrificing so much of themselves for all of us back here in the States, deserve all the recognition each and every one of us can muster, and I was absolutely delighted to hear the Commander in Chief–regardless of his abilities in such a position–heap praise on American forces in Iraq.
For the first time, it seems, Barack Obama was willing to concede that there has indeed been progress in Iraq, and seemed to take pride in telling our servicemen and servicewomen that they have “performed brilliantly” and have “given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country.” That, he said, was an “extraordinary achievement.” Populist posturing or not, I don’t care. It worked for me, and our troops in Iraq need all the support they can get. Good on President Obama for finding excellence in places where he previously refused to even look.
Now, the caveat.
While I’m sure that a certain amount of the recognition and praise was genuine, it goes without saying that President Obama absolutely must swallow his pride and admit the merits and accomplishments of the previous adminstration in Iraq, though I think it unlikely he’ll mention the former president by name. Such a concession is wholly necessary to the planned boost in operations in Afghanistan, an augmentation which will, oddly enough, mirror somewhat the Iraqi “surge” Obama himself dismissed with every chance he was given.
Obama’s challenge, politically, is that he must be able to advocate an effective counterinsurgency in Afghanistan without overtly admitting that the similar counterinsurgency in Iraq was a success. To do so, it seems, would undermine the trust placed in him by the anti-war left, some of whom are already deeming Obama, of all people, a war-monger.
And why wouldn’t they? His language with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan, save for the obvious difference between the “Global War on Terror” and an “Overseas Contingency Operation,” largely smacks of language used by his much maligned predecessor. Today’s statement that troop withdrawal depends upon Iraq’s ability to take care of itself, for example, is a longshot from the inflammatory talk of precipitous withdrawal posed by Obama during his presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008, and is instead very similar to language used by both Obama’s rival in the campaign, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and former President George W. Bush as well.
All in all, it was a good day for President Obama, and it will be hailed as such by the mainstream media. What will not be spoken of by the press, however, is that it was indeed such a good day for the current president because he came off looking and sounding like the former president.