Saturday, July 26, 2008

reality bites

As reported by Allahpundit at HotAir, the following exchange between a pool reporter and a representative of the Obama campaign took place on Sen. Obama's plane after the big dis Obama handed to the military personnel at Ramstein and Landstuhl:

Q: When did you originally decide to go?

Gibbs: I have to get you an exact date but it has been on the schedule for a long time.

Q: Did it not occur to anybody that this might be viewed as a political stop?

Gibbs: We had taken some of that into consideration, but we believed that it could be done in a way that would not create, it would not be created or seen as a campaign stop.

So the "beliefs" of a neophyte campaign--based almost entirely on nothing more than belief--didn't pass muster when the harshness of reality intervened.

Hmmmmm. . . . .

Or how about the "we had taken SOME of that into consideration". . .

Sen. Obama's biggest opportunity to score CinC points on a major trip designed to score major foreign policy points. . .and his staff only took "some" things regulating this planned stop into consideration?

Hope and Change vs. the real world. It isn't pretty, folks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Two quick hits today

First, to the realm of fun: the British Open. Although watching the Open when Mother Nature is flexing her muscles is rarely "fun", it was interesting to watch today because of Greg Norman's presence in the final grouping, the 54- (and 63-) hole leader. Yes, THAT Greg Norman from yesteryear, playing golf with the best that the world could offer today.

And I can't help but think of one thing: how good is Tiger???

Which is amazing, given that Tiger was almost half a world away recovering from his knee surgery.

AND I'm not suggesting that Tiger would have won today if he was in the field. To do such is to tarnish the awesome play of champion Padraig Harrington, who somehow managed to shoot under par today, finishing four shots clear of the field at 3 over for the tournament. That is some amazing golf, and while Tiger MAY have been able to compete with that. . .there's absolutely no guarantee. No, Harrington deserved this one today, not just because he was the best player in the field, but because he arguably was the best player in the world against that course in those conditions.

But why think of Tiger? Well, because of Norman, of course. Follow me here: yesterday, the analysts (including my personal favorite, Tom Watson--he added so much to the broadcast!) noted how Norman "was Tiger before there was Tiger". Which is to say, of course, that he was an amazing golfer: he finished the season as the #1 golfer in the world 5 times (he held the top ranking 11 times in 10 separate years covering 331 non-consecutive weeks, according to wikipedia--if you believe that stuff!). And that's just the numbers: Norman also was instantly recognizable the world over, and the products he pitched were huge commercial successes. "Tiger before there was Tiger" indeed!

For all that greatness, though, Norman may be best remembered as a non-closer: the best golfer who didn't strike fear into opponent's hearts on the first tee on Sunday of a major championship. Sure, he won 2 majors--both Open championships--but 5 times (according to an article on CBS Sportsline) he held the 54-hole lead at a major and did NOT win the tournament.

Tiger, of course, has yet to lose a major when leading after 54 holes (14-0). Heck, he's only lost 3 TOURNAMENTS when holding at least a share of the lead after 54 holes (44-3).

Greg Norman is a hall-of-fame golfer and a true gentleman. He, along with Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Price, were the face of golf from the mid-80's into the mid 90's.

But Tiger Woods has been the face of golf since then--and it doesn't look like there's anyone getting ready to replace him. He is not only a closer--a la Mariano Rivera--but he is an inning-hog of a starter who frequently hands the lead over to that little punch-shot he hits so accurately on Sundays.

He is the best golfer ever. And even in his absence we are reminded of just how amazing of a player--no, pardon me, that should be "competitor"--that he is.

So pray that he comes back from his injury well--I think we could see 2 dozen majors before he's done.

ITEM # 2: How about Condi Rice for a running mate?

Oh, you think I'm talking about the GOP ticket?

Silly you.

Given that her accomplishments at State for the last couple years have been. . .uh. . .not of the strongest flavor of conservatism, I have to wonder if she's been infected by the left bent of the lifelong department personnel she is surrounded by every day.

And if those partisan hacks can make her carry water for their purposes, can you imagine what someone as charming as Obama is supposed to be would do to her in a one-on-one?

It would be a HUGE victory for Obama, of course, probably solidifying a ticket even more dreamy than the supposed dream ticket of Obama-Clinton.

Now I know Rice has said before that she has no interest in electoral politics.

Which, of course, makes her a prime target for Obama to go after.

There's nothing but upside here for Obama, and I would be very surprised if he doesn't make a strong play for her.

The question is: will she have the strength to say no?

Would she want to?

(For similar reasons, I also think that Colin Powell should get more than a little consideration from Obama's camp. Nothing says "moderate" like taking players from the other guy's lineup. Not that I think Obama is anything close to a moderate, but I think gestures--and I stress "gestures", which is all the left believes you need to do in governance-- such as these would pretty much kill any "how liberal is Obama?" lines of questioning.)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Piling On

Sen. Obama earlier this week:

"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. . . 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. . .my 16-month timeline, if you examine everything that I’ve said, was always premised on making sure that our troops were safe. . .I said that based on the information that we had received from our commanders that one to two brigades a month could be pulled out safely, from a logistical perspective. My guiding approach continues to be that we’ve got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable. . .I’m going to continue to gather information to find out whether those conditions still hold.

And then, ONLY A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER in a "hastily arranged news conference", he takes to the podium again to say:

"I intend to end this war… my first day in office, I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission. That is to end this war, responsibly, deliberately but decisively. . .that position has not changed. I have not equivocated on that position. I am not searching for maneuvering room with respect to that position. . .I have always reserved the right to do what’s best for America’s national interest… I would be a poor commander-in-chief if I didn’t take facts on the ground into account. . .I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring out troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades per month… This is the same position that I had four months ago. . ."

Now I know that this is an awful lot of "words aren't just words" to swallow on a long weekend, but somebody's got to try and decipher all this gobble-dee-guck for you. And I'm just the guy, so here goes:

Obama talked about the "notion" that we can bring troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades per month--from a LOGISTICAL PERSPECTIVE. There's no strategic planning involved with this timeline, nor is there a place to account for what happens if, during that phased retreat, violence spikes upward. He is merely talking about the logistics of abandoning Iraq--which is a very monodimensional look at what is happening over there. Not that such a view should be surprising. . .

What's lacking from his statements is a no-kidding date as to when we're going to start that one-to-two brigade per month retreat. Even in his clarification, where he states that he intends to end this war by calling in the JCS and giving them a new mission, he doesn't say exactly when he will make heads roll if the job isn't finished. While he may say he's not looking for wiggle room, he is certainly providing an awful lot of it to his would-be subordinates.

Which, by the way, is really poor leadership because it shirks HIM of any accountability for the direction he's providing. But that's to be expected from a man who's never led anything.

But here's the real crunch, and one that I can only hope finds its way into a debate: when he says that he would be a poor CINC if he didn't account for the facts on the ground--facts which, by the way, he hasn't cared to gather firsthand for a ridiculously long period of time--and that he has always "reserved the right to do what’s best for America’s national interest", I wonder IF there's a point in time where the facts on the ground will tell him that it's in America's best interest to maintain a long-term PRESENCE in Iraq? (Obama prefers to use the word occupation, but there's a huge difference between an occupying force and a "presence"--not that I'd expect anyone to call him on it). And if not. . .then is he really actually listening to the facts on the ground? I mean, he's got to say that there's at least SOME point where he may decide we should maintain a presence in Iraq if he wants to give any service to the idea of being open-minded and willing to listen to his advisors--right?

Obama, of course, is just blowing smoke. He wants to get out of Iraq, but he wants to distance himself from any accountability for that effort. So he will be . . .uncommittal in his "leadership" on this issue. He'll fire a few Chairmen of the JCS because they'll undoubtedly not live up to his ill-defined expectations (I wouldn't be surprised to see a CENTCOM commander or two under the bus as well), and in the end regardless of how Iraq turns out, he will take the best road possible for his views. If Iraq is stable, he'll say "see, I told you we didn't need to be there,"; if Iraq turns into a mess, he'll blame the military (for their implementation of the withdrawal), the Bush administration (for even starting the war), the Republicans in Congress (for providing voice to the opposition). . .heck, I wouldn't even be surprised if the bible-reading gun-toting xenophobes from middle America would come in for some blame as well.

So how would this all play out in an Obama administration? Here's my best guess: Obama actually WILL listen to his advisors--just not the ones who know anything about the military or about the Middle East (why would he listen to them?). No, he'll listen to the guy who's part of Obama's "circle" because he's the best at CYA. And Mr. CYA will tell Obama that he MUST delay the drawdown of the troops for one simple reason: if the U.S. withdrawal leaves Iraq as a total mess AND it starts too soon, then Obama will likely be dealing with a GOP-controlled house in 2010 and an invigorated right-wing opposition for the majority of his first term. If Obama delays the start of withdrawal until, say, spring of 2010, then Iraq will break down into two possibilities: a) the extra time at full-strength will give more opportunity for the overall mission in Iraq to succeed, and he'd even get to take a little credit for that (makes the stomach wretch, I know); or 2) the withdrawal is still in the early stages of implementation by the time of the Congressional elections, so no clear conclusion can be drawn as to the shape of Iraq when the U.S. has left; Iraq is therefore off the table as a factor in the elections.

Either way, Obama plays it out like the opportunist that he is.

Two press conferences in a couple hours--BOTH of which are about Iraq but in neither of which does he get pinned down into his thoughts on one of the most important issues of the day. The man is a chameleon.