Obama’s stance on Iraq begins to slowly shift

Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Iraq sometime this summer, however, he is already beginning to hedge a bit on his views of how he believes the troops should be withdrawn.

Report from Yahoo News:

FARGO, N.D. – Democrat Barack Obama struggled Thursday to explain how his upcoming trip to Iraq might refine, but not basically alter, his promise to quickly remove U.S. combat troops from the war.

A dustup over war policy — one of the main issues separating the Illinois senator from his Republican opponent, John McCain — overshadowed Obama’s town-hall meeting here with veterans to talk about patriotism and his plans to care for them. Republicans pounced on the chance to characterize Obama as altering one of the core policies that drove his candidacy “for the sake of political expedience.” He denied equally forcefully that he was shifting positions.

Arriving in Fargo, Obama hastily called a news conference to discuss news of a sixth straight month of nationwide job losses, but the questioning turned to Iraq policy and his impending trip there.

“I am going to do a thorough assessment when I’m there,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll have more information and continue to refine my policy.”

He left the impression that his talks with military commanders there could refine his promise to remove U.S. combat troops within 16 months of taking office.

Less than four hours later, after the town hall meeting, Obama appeared before reporters for another statement and round of questions to “try this again.”

“Apparently I was not clear enough this morning,” he said. He blamed any confusion on the McCain campaign, which he said had “primed the pump with the press” to suggest “we were changing our policy when we haven’t.”

Video report from CBS News:

If news out of Iraq continues to be relatively positive, Obama will have a tougher time defending his position on an immediate pull out. It will be fascinating to watch this develop as the McCain campaign is sure to keep the pressure on this issue.


    Barack Obama changed his stance on something…im shocked! LOL

    The guy has been changing the whole entire time and always has to come back and correct himself like he did today, especially on a key issue like the war.

  • Frank


    McCain has changed positions on many issues just to secure the conservative vote.
    Not small but big issues like torture, immigration and tax cuts.

    Im not saying that that makes it okay for Obama to switch. But why stress the (he hasnt changed anything yet)changes on Obamas side and be blind to the flips McCain has made.

  • Grey

    The fact that he switched his stance is not so troubling, nor is it something to be held against him moreso than McCain.

    The timing, however, is particularly troubling. Right when Hillary drops out, he suddenly switches up a lot of his focus and message, changing his stance on a variety of issues. One can make the argument that it is necessary for him to do so, but that raises two important questions. Does he have the tenacity to adhere to what’s right even if it’s unpopular, and just what exactly does he believe?

    Of course, pandering to popular interest is infinitely better than being both stubborn and wrong.

  • Frank


    I agree with you. Your last point i think is especially important. If you see that a policy that you didnt support turns out to be a good policy it would wrong to stick to your original view.

    But Obama has made clear that he hasnt shifted in anyway on his view so far so there is nothing to worry about.

  • Mike

    Looks like Obama, like every presidential candidate for the past 50 years or so, is embracing the Median Voter Theorem. Given a normal distribution of opinions about a particular policy, game theory dictates the best strategy is to try to encompass the middle ground…more here:


    The problem is that this might not be a good case to do it. Opinions of Iraq War policy seem to be more of a bimodal distribution…how many likely voters do you know that feel solidly ambivalent about the war?

  • Michelle


    I need your help with something. For those of you that know me from my posts, I’m an Obama supporter, and stick more so to the left. Thus, I can’t really relate to a lot of conservative-likes.

    My older brother is a Republican, leaning towards conservative, begrudingly backing McCain kinda guy (I think he was backing Romney during the primaries). I wanted to get him a good book for his birthday, you know, something up his alley. He just recommended I read Glen Beck’s “An Inconvienent Book” (to counter my viewing of “An Inconvienent Truth”), so I think he owns that and I want to get him something different.

    Thanks for your help!

  • Michelle

    As far as the topic of discussion here goes, I think Obama can afford to “pander” to the center, but not to the point where he’s contradicting himself. Bottom line is that the right has already formed their opinions of Obama and they will attack him either way. The last thing he needs is to look inconsistent, so he needs to be careful of how he comes across sometimes.

    As I was watching the news earlier I saw the above mentioned press release (conference, whatever you call it) where he stood by his approach to a timetable for withdrawl from Iraq. I’m glad to hear it’s still on his agenda.

  • Todd

    Oh my folks !

    The blind trust you libs show in any person who says they stand for change. You slam Repulicans for everything and then excuse your guy when he does the same thing.

    Here’s the difference and why Mac’s flipping isn’t as big an issue.

    Obama is flipping on every “IMPORTANT” “POLICY” issue that got him where he is. He absolutely hated the war and let all you guys believe he was pulling out ASAP. Yet 2 months ago his advisor was on one of the talk shows, George’s I believe, saying the fact was that the Iraq policy was under CONSTANT review. You guys had no problem with it then, if you were paying attention, but now you act surprised. Obama would not be so loved by libs if he were to have said his war “POLICY” was under constant review during the nomination process so he just told you he was agaisnt he war and you belived it the entire time. Now your stuck as a party and you feel the egg flyng at your faces and it scuks but what can you do ? your in love, worst case of domestic battered syndrome I’ve ever seen. Love him no matter what, right ?

    Mac’s flip as you call it was on the assumption that we would be at war. Since the GITMO torture issue surrounds prisoners it is not a major “policy” shift. Had Mac recalculated his support for the war, which he stated he supported throughout the process, it would be a “policy” change. A true flip flop.

    Now lets do some high school ecomomics for a moment. Bush this Bush that, Republicans this Republicans that—Gas is high because of Bush yada yada yada. Gas is high because the demand is growing and the supply has stayed the same or decreased worldwide. This = price increase folks, simple supply and demand, remember that law in school ? If we drilled for half of what we are sitting on the supply would increase and price would go down. Mac changed his policy on drilling because you guys are pissed gas is $4.50 a gallon. Obama on the other hand can’t even see his way to suspended the gas tax as a way of helping us in the short run. He says it wouldn’t do much and the oil companies would not pass it along. All of a sudden we have Democrats telling us that big business passes on the expense they have to the public. That’s a change since the take and redistribute party has always jumped on the chance to tax the crap out of any business in the past all while having no problem with them paying the tax by increasing the price on the consumer, talk about a real flip. Oh yeah it’s very disenginuous to tell me that cutting .50 off the price of gas would not help, I ain’t rich so it would help alot but to Obama I’m sure .50 isn’t a big deal hell that would make gas $4 instead of $4.50, a $10 dollar saving on filling up a 20 gallon tank, wake up. I ain’t saying Mac is the next slice of cheese but you guys have to know you are getting feed a bunch of crap from your guy, right ?

    After all O dosen’t want an attack on this country during his watch, that would validate all the Repubs say, therefore he will not be nearly as generous to the Iraqi’s, or any other group as you hope.

    By the way, since I have spoken so much I have one question for you Libs, Remember when Bush said we would fight terrorist where ever they are and we would allow them no place of refuge ? Most everyone, libs included backed that up because back then you were scared and you wanted protection. What would you consider Saddam if he paid death benefits to terrorist who blew themselves up in your grocery store or at a sporting event your family was at ? Isn’t that a terrorist ? I believe that’s what he did for suicide bombers going to Israel, didn’ he ? and not to rehash an old argument but didn’t Clinton bomb Saddam 1 or 2 times over the WMD issue plus once more over the contact Saddam placed on Buch Sr. ? I believe Saddam qualified as a terrorist, really come on now you see what I am saying right ?

    Thought so then that makes him and Iraq fair game in the war on terrorist and in protecting my life and your too, whether or not you know or appriciate it.

    Enjoy your rights, that you claim Bush took away, the next time you join a protest march remember your leaders are telling you you have no rights & the big bad Repubs have gotten them all locked in a lockbox for safe keeping, no wait a second you guys like the lock boxes, I forgot–oh well you the the point.

  • nzpudding

    It seems Republicans see Obama as some sort of messiah rather than the Dems, that’s why everytime he does a verbal shit they jump all over him. “Oooo Obama said he was for change and now he’s flip-flopping, he’s no better than any other politician”..FFS

    Obama got slammed for his stance on Iraq because it seemed too far left (and it was) and now he’s changing that stance slightly (OMG he changed his opinion..WTF?) towards the centre he gets slammed again. He’s kinda damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

  • Frank


    Your comment screams for an reaction. I could give an long comment on the specific issues you raised but i wont, and let me tell you why:

    Although the impression was there (and focused on by McCain people), OBAMA HASNT CHANGED HIS POLICY in anyway.
    The reason for his second press conference was especially organized to make that clear.

  • IndiMinded

    Obama’s ideas on Iraq have routinely been criticized as being vague and potentially reckless, despite the fact that he’s always talked about the need to handle the withdraw very delicately.

    His stances were never fully solidified, and they’ve been in great need of refining for a long time now. I’m glad to see him addressing the issue. Our next president will have to do more than rant about the previous administration for their past mistakes, he’s going to need to have the best solutions. This may disturb some others, but it comforts me.

    I look forward to hearing him expand on this. I’ve been leaning strongly towards Obama in this election, but it would make me nervous to vote for a candidate that doesn’t tout a clear, well considered plan where Iraq is concerned.

  • Todd

    Frank, I don’t understand why it is we can’t get a clear picture of your man ? We can’t get a concrete statement on how much he will raise taxes, what taxes he will raise, what his Iraq policy is, how he will address the energy issue, nothing. All we here is CHANGE, tell me what it will be please !

    If you are going to address any of the issues give me details. Hilter rose to power on unquestioned promises and he delivered by consuming neighboring countries and their resources. I am not sayng Obama is Hiltler but I am saying that chasing someone because your in love with a notion can get nasty.

    Pudding, the fact that you would say Repulicans are the ones consumed with Obama is proving my point. You can’t tell me one way the man will actually bring change but you and 100,000 will crowd into Safeco field to prase him, all while standing behind the fact the Republicans are the crazy ones.

    Good to see you stand for SOMETHING at least all of you can blame the big bad Republicans, oh yeah next time you hear any of your buddies talking about “scare tatics” ask them not to tell the public that Republican’s will cost them their jobs, or bankrupt Social Security, or start WW III. I certainly would not want anyone to get scared and vote for a democrat by mistake.

  • Mike


    First off, way to go on fulfilling Godwin’s Law:


    Someone had to do it, and it might as well be you.

    Second, Obama has no concrete policies? I think you’re just not exercising due diligence in researching the candidates and buying into the whole “he’s all abstract” line from the right-wing pundits. To provide you with some concrete info about the issues you raised…

    1) Taxes. I already posted this on another thread, but for the sake of argument, here it is again. A concrete comparison from the non-partisan Tax Policy center of McCain’s vs. Obama’s tax plans:


    That translates to “If your household makes less than $88K per year, you will get a bigger tax cut from Obama than McCain.” Also note, the nation’s debt will be about $1 billion less under the Obama tax plan.

    2) Iraq Policy. I think Obama’s been pretty clear on this since his original 2002 speech opposing the war. From his speech back in October 2007, with concrete goals:


    The choice quote here is, “There is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was. I will begin to remove our troops from Iraq immediately. I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months.”

    Now, you may disagree with this assessment and feel that our military should continue to occupy Iraq indefinitely…that’s fine, but don’t claim that Obama isn’t concrete on this subject.

    If you actually read his statements in the above article (instead of McCain’s spin on it) the only part of this issue that’s changed in recent days is that he wants input from the military about how to proceed with this goal in a safe manner…in my mind, that’s a good thing. Consulting the military and Joint Chiefs of Staff about matters of war seems like the proper thing to do, and is more than our current president has done with his “whack-a-mole” policy on generals who disagree with him.

    3) Energy. I see some pretty concrete numbers here:


    – Invest $150 billion over 10 Years in clean energy
    – Double energy research and development funding
    – Require 25% of renewable electricity by 2025
    – Reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050
    – Double fuel economy standards within 18 years
    – etc. (I won’t quote the whole page here)

    Now, you may take issue with “big government” intervention on energy policy. I know that concept scares a lot of conservatives. On the other hand, there are some tasks large enough that private companies probably shouldn’t be involved…say, public education or police forces. I don’t really relish the thought of Kraft Foods educating our children, or Blackwater policing our streets.

    …Any other Obama policies you’re still unclear on?

  • Babs

    I think CBS did a fair report, and Mike, your quote on Obama’s FIRM stance on Iraq pretty much proves he is moving away from a campaign promise that probably clinched the nomination for him. No matter how you slice it, there will be repurcussions on this one.

    Michelle, I can recommend a book, but you probably won’t buy it. *L* If he is begrudgingly supporting McCain, I would give him “Faith of my Fathers” by John McCain. After reading it, I don’t begrudge my support of him at all. I see his character and integrity clearly.

    From the preface:

    “I have spent much of my life choosing my own attitude, often carelessly, often for no better reason than to indulge a conceit. In those instances, my acts of self-determination were mistakes, some of which did no lasting harm, and serve now only to embarrass, and occasionally amuse, the old man who recalls them. Others I deeply regret.

    At other times, I chose my own way with good cause and to good effect. I did not do so to apologize for my mistakes. My contrition is a separate matter. When I chose well I did so to keep a balance in my life – a balance between pride and regret, between liberty and honor.”

  • nzpudding

    Indiminded said it quite well “the need to handle the withdraw very delicately.” kinda sums it up.

    It is a very delicate situation and policies need to be refined almost daily. That’s not flip-flopping, that’s adjusting your position to suit the situation at the time. If you have a candidate unwilling to change their position as and when it’s needed (think of Dubya) then you could end up in a whole world of crap (think of Dubya again).

    Withrawl from Iraq isn’t going to be easy and it certainly isn’t going to be quick. It is time Iraqi’s took control of their own destiny and who’s to say that withdrawing troops won’t give them the kick up the ass to do just that, taking control of their own destiny.

  • Todd


    thanks for the links but the question is still this, what are the SPECIFIC details in ANY of Obama’s plans ?
    I appreciate the fact that he wants to cut the price of gas by the time I am 84 but do you want us paying $4.50 a gallon until then ?

    How does he pay for the 150 billion ? are you afraid to say tax increase ?

    It’s simply not enough to say what you would like to do I want to know who pays and how it gets done. That applies across the board–medical, energy, taxes everything.

    I see you refer to the tax chart as an answer and in doing so you have defined the major difference in our positions. You clearly feel that the government is responsible for ensuring the financial well being of it’s citizens. Your chart was clear on one thing, more tax burden will continue to be placed on one class of our society than any other and I don’t think it’s right or fair to justify government discrimination against anybody, be it by fraudulent loans or tax policy. A dollar is a dollar and we should all pay the same % on those dollars we earn.

    I AM concerned with those who make over $ 88,000 a year in household income in Obama’s world. Now I know that sounds self centered and most likely fits right into the liberals image of a Republican, but let me explain.

    I am a Republican not because of God, liberty, abortion, war, guns or individual rights. I am a Republican because when I was growing up I had no house with central heating and air, I had no car, I went to public schools. I had no father because he bailed just after I was born and I had an alcoholic step father who had a desire to get overly physical with both my mother and I. I remember growing up in a cinder block house that was hot as hell in the summer and cold as hell in the winter. I remember wearing jeans with holes in them and I remember eating breakfast one morning as a rat chewed his way through the particle board ceiling tiles over my head. I remember at the age of 13 I got a job loading trucks and worked that until I could finish school. I then had enough money to get me a old beat up car, I could see through the rusted out floorboard and sometimes wondered if it was the flintstone vehicle. When I got my car I moved up in the world my boss asked me to go full time and I agreed providing he would give me a raise to $ 5.50 an hour.

    I then went to college but couldn’t finish because I had to help the family with money. Despite all this and the fact that I did a lot of this during the Jimmy Carter administration, I survived and moved up step by step. I never applied for nor received federal or state money, I paid for college as I went(semester by semester) working the overtime that was needed, not by a student loan. My mother never applied for or obtained aid from the government, not that she couldn’t she just didn’t.

    After this I got a job at a law firm working as a courier and general help. I developed an interest in law during that time and wondered if I would like it. Since I grew up in an abusive home I decided I could help by being a cop, I didn’t hold out much hope, but I got hired. The site of America’s citizen’s living their everyday life was a shock, I thought I had it bad but what in the world were these folks doing. The abuse of drugs, alcohol, women and children was truly eye opening or should I say enlightening. In a further effort to help I asked for and was given the task of training new cops, about 5 years into the job. I did this because I feel it is extremely important for cops to actually be the good guys and wanted to have an influence toward that end. About 10 years into this I became a detective in Homicide. I have seen the real world application of drug abuse, infidelity, alcohol and everything else that leads a person to kill, rape and rob another. After about 17 years of being a cop I saw that it really wasn’t the cop on the street but the prosecutor in the courtroom that had the real chance to help so I applied to the local District Attorney’s office, again I was shocked that I was actually hired. You see I have maintained that I am just a regular person trying to live day to day and it’s was surprising to get what you work for, especially when you hear all the time that only the rich get it. I now have been at the DA’s office for 7 years, I have been promoted to Unit supervisor with only 5 people between me and the actual DA. I process over 400 cases a year and I try to dismiss those who shouldn’t be prosecuted while actively pursuing those who should. I found a wonderful women who was crazy enough to marry me we now have a 13 year old kid. My wife however is disable, she cannot work because of the medical problems she suffers from. For the first time in my life I am with someone who is taking a benefit from the government. This was hard for me to be a part of initially but then I figured out that we were taking the money that she had already paid into the system over her lifetime. Because of my salary, in the mid 70’s and her benefit we have a household income of about 90,000. This means that since we pay taxes on her benefit and my salary we are very impacted by the tax that democrats wish to impose.

    I guess what I am saying is that through my experience I have seen and learned that the ability to “make it” is mostly dependant on the individual. I could have sold drugs, drank and fell right into the community expectations but I didn’t. I believed in the American dream , which says no matter what-you bust your ass trying. To see the result of the welfare system on this country is really sad. Folks don’t even try at times, the phrase ‘we got into a fight because he used the check to buy beer’ is reflective of what the handout system has brought us. People live monthly for the handout the government gives them, unfortunately so a lot of them can buy beer and cigarettes. Why work when the government will fill in the need ?

    We have a fundamental desire as humans it is to feel useful, the giveaway policies of Democrats is killing the desire and in doing so fueling the why can’t you just give it to me mentality. It’s also destroying the country and in my mind will be the issue that brings this great power down, like all those before it.

    I am not saying that government should not assist but it should not be a national policy to take from those who have worked through it all and helped themselves to give it to those who are users and abusers.

    I am a Republican because I worked my ass off to improve my life and never took anything from anyone to do it. Now that I am reaching a comfortable level and have a real roof over my head the Democrats want to penalized me and tell me that I should pay MORE taxes. Tell me where in the constitution does it say the government has the right to take my money and give it to who they believe should have it ? Oh yeah the intent sounds good but the result is a welfare state in which personal pride and identity is lost. We are already losing our regional cultural identity because liberals have made it where everyone has to be treated with kid gloves. The politically correct has taken over in place of common since. I ,and many others, have worked hard to improve our lives now that we have, Obama and the democrats want to take 35% of my salary to assure they keep the downtrodden’s vote.

    Thanks democrats-thanks for being the sole thing that I will never be able to overcome, if I work harder and make more money you want more of it !

    The best place to be in a Democratic world is to have a income between 40 and 60 thousand a year. That way you don’t have enough to accumulate wealth, invest it or really make it work, this way the democrats will leave it alone and let you keep most of it.

    I am a Republican because the government should protect it’s citizens from crime and other governments hostile actions, It should not encourage failure by a handout policy and it should not take from anyone in order to justify it’s own existence.

    One more thing Mike, that was a good effort to denigrated my point. Hitler was able to gain power because he spoke what the people wanted to hear, he gave no details of his plans to accomplish it and he abused the power when he got it. You can dismiss it all you like it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    By the way when Obama said he would end the war in Iraq with no exceptions. Now, despite what you guys want to say he is giving himself room to maneuver, now he wants to talk to the military leaders and see how to do it. Remember when he debated Hillary he said he would give them the orders and they would carry them out, he never said he would talk to them and get advice on how/when to end he war, he just said he would end it and said it would be within 16 months. All you guys know he is making room to maneuver, especially since the Afghanistan war, which he supported, is now the more dangerous of the two. If U.S. troop deaths is really the issue then we should be pulling out of Afghanistan first. We know what the war debate is really about and Democrats have managed to get on the popular side of the argument without justifying any vote they cast in support of it. Democrats can simply say they made a mistake and then move on, if Bush did that you would be all over him for saying it with troops in the field.

    By the way maybe you guys can explain why Clinton bombed Iraq 2-3 times over the WMD issue and why he felt he needed to bomb Iraq when Saddam put a contract on Bush Sr’s head. You all supported it then.

    Oh yeah also tell me this since the war is such a hot topic for you (because of the death toll) why aren’t Democrats upset about the 3-4000 murders which take place on American streets every year ? The death toll in America is higher in one year than 6 years in Iraq but you guys seem very understanding of the killers in our own country

  • IndiMinded

    Iraq is just a little bigger than Montana. So yeah, if you took all the annual murders in our 50 states, and shoved them into Montana, that would be a practically unfathomable murder epidemic – thanks for pointing that out. Mis-portraying the facts with statistics is the best, isn’t it?

    In fact, the murder rate in this country IS awful, but not Baghdad-awful. What’s your basis for saying democrats don’t care about murder, anyway? Which party has been vocally arguing that we need to focus on domestic issues? You may have an admirable life story, but it seems like you’re bringing a strongly partisan view to the table. You don’t even seem to understand the perspectives you’re arguing against.

    I mean honestly, would you really think it wise for the commander and chief of this country to make decisions of Iraq’s magnitude without consulting generals and without seeing what it’s like on the ground? Because if you don’t, if you actually think that Obama is doing the smart thing here (and by the way, he hasn’t voiced a shift in any of his stances) then what you’re really saying is that you would prefer to see a hypothetical Obama administration crash and burn – along with the United States of America. Well, God bless partisanship.

    By the way, you’ve got Afghanistan all wrong. You don’t hear Democrats complaining about having been mislead into going into Afghanistan – deaths may be really high now, but it’s a war that was roundly supported by all then as it is now. Essentially it was a war that we needed to fight. But some might suggest that perhaps we could be doing better in Afghanistan (perhaps even have caught Bin Laden!) if we had not chosen to divide our forces to fight 2 wars at once.

    The withdrawal that is being advocated is not due to high death rates, but because victory is not within sight. In fact victory is not even well defined yet. I know, McCain has announced that he would figure something out by January of 2013, but as that is the same month he would be leaving office (unless he’s re-elected for a second term) that doesn’t leave him much wiggle room, and I’m skeptical.

    It’s not that you don’t make some good points, Todd. But you don’t seem to understand the opposing viewpoint well enough to spew as much venom as you do. You should consider both sides of a debate before making a decision. It sounds like you’re trying to understand the other side just well enough to figure out why they’re wrong. America could do with less of that sort of thinking

  • Jeremy

    Obama’s own web site pretty much explains all of the policies that he generalizes while speaking to the public. All anyone has to do is go there and read a little.

    Mike and anyone else that thinks Obama is for removing all combat troops out of Iraq…

    “He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.”

    This is from Obama’s own website. I encourage everyone to go and read what he has planned. He will continue to keep ‘combat’ troops in Iraq. Now, keeping them in the embassy is kind of standard stuff, but now that Al Qaeda is rampant in many parts of Iraq, how many ‘combat’ troops will be needed to go after them? Quite a few, I am afraid, if he plans to be successful. How can I trust a policy from someone who says that there is ‘no military solution to Iraq’, but turns around and has it on print, that he will utilize military might to combat what is happening in Iraq at the moment?

    I wish I had a weekly copy of Obama’s web site so I could show the discrepancies that are in his polices from copy to copy, as in ‘flip flops’. The recent disappearance of his old stance on gun rights and gun ownership is another thing I would have liked to capture.


    Todd I agree and believe everything you say is basically right. Keep it up and love to see someone say this stuff. GOD BLESS!

  • Babs

    Jeremy, your last paragraph says it all. I myself, not being a supporter, was still trying to keep up with Obama’s stance on issues until he kept changing and deleting them from his own website. Maybe he’ll have decided by October, I’ll take a look again then.