The Audacity Of Hype

Update: What a way to begin October.

Obama’s claims to fame have been his Iraq vote, his fundraising, and his online support. Today the AP torpedoed his Iraq history, Hillary trounced his fundraising and Josh Orton, Obama’s “blog outreach” guy quit (apparently unhappy with the Obama campaign).

It’s another trifecta disaster day for Obama.

And third or fourth tier Chris Dodd issues a press release mocking Obama:

“Today, the Obama campaign is celebrating the 5th anniversary of the speech that then-State Senator Barack Obama gave opposing the invasion of Iraq. But unfortunately, they forgot to celebrate another anniversary. July 26th marked the 3rd anniversary of the New York Times story in which Obama admitted that he did not know how he would have voted on the Iraq resolution had he been serving in the United States Senate at the time of the vote.”


The Associated Press today finally analyzes Barack Obama’s claims of courage and judgment on the Iraq war.

Nobody can dispute that Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war from the start and, with striking prescience, predicted U.S. troops would be mired in a costly conflict that fanned “the flames of the Middle East.”

But nobody should accept at face value the Illinois senator’s claim that he was a “courageous leader” who opposed the war at great political risk.


The truth is that while Obama showed foreign policy savvy and an ability to keenly analyze both sides of an issue in his October 2002 warnings on Iraq, the political upside of his position rivaled any risk.

And, once elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, Obama waited months to show national leadership on Iraq.

Even now, as he hopes to ride his anti-war credentials to the White House, Obama’s views on how to end the conflict differ little from those of Democratic rivals who voted in the fall of 2002 to give President Bush authority to wage war.

Associated Press continues the examination of “courageous leader”:

His latest campaign ad calls Obama “a leader with the judgment to oppose the Iraq war before it began.” The words “courageous leader” are superimposed over video.

As others write the Barack Obama story, the facts are not as flattering as his autobiographical claims:

Courageous or calculating? These are the facts:

In 2004, while getting ready for his star-making address to the Democratic National Convention, Obama gave presidential nominee John Kerry and other leading Democrats a pass for backing Bush on Iraq.

Noting he was not privy to intelligence reports shown to Kerry and others, Obama told The New York Times, “What would I have done? I don’t know.”

Nothing new here to readers of Big Pink. AP might open some eyes as Obama tours Iowa this week foregoing entirely any Senate votes:

Once elected, Obama didn’t force the issue in the Senate. His first floor speech encouraged Democrats to drop challenges to the 2004 presidential election “at a time when we try to make certain we encourage democracy in Iraq.”

His first major address on Iraq came in November 2005, when he said U.S. forces remained “part of a solution.”

Here is something to discuss during this week’s Obama rallies if Obama tries to draw distinctions:

Seven months later, he was voting in step with Clinton for a middle-of-the-road approach. On June 22, 2006, they both backed a nonbinding resolution to pull troops out of Iraq.

More meaningfully, they also rejected a bill _ backed by the force of law _ that would have required the troops to come home by a date certain.

The truth emerges:

Obama likes to say he feared his anti-war views would hurt his Senate candidacy in 2002. He may have felt that way, but there was little reason for concern.

First, his strategy for winning the Democratic Senate nomination hinged on his ability to form a coalition among blacks and so-called lakefront liberals in Chicago, hardly a pro-war constituency. His rivals for the nomination also would criticize the war.

In the general election, Obama might have had to regret his remarks if the war had been going well in 2004. Still, he was never too far out on a limb:

_ Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois voted against Bush on Iraq in 2002 and breezed to re-election shortly after Obama’s signature speech.

_The Chicago Sun-Times published an October 2002 poll under the headline “Illinois is not ready for war.”

The survey found that more than half of voters in the Democratic-leaning state wanted more proof that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction before the United States waged war.

Iraq wasn’t a major issue in the race, according to several Illinois political observers.

“What he was saying in October 2002 _ and this takes nothing away from him; he’s a very impressive guy _ was not a risky thing,” said Chris Mooney, political science professor at the University of Illinois in Springfield.

“Not risky at all.”

The examination of hype will continue, here and at AP.