Friday, April 13, 2007

"Obama Aims to Clarify AP Interview"

georgia 10 on Kos:
Via Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times:

I asked Obama on Thursday to explain his comments [in a recent AP interview].

"What I said was it was unlikely we could generate the votes to override a veto. And I said that I don't believe any Democrat wants to play chicken with the troops, put them in a situation where they don't have the equipment they need to come home safely. That does not mean that our only alternative is to send a carte blanche to the president."

Obama said there are "options that we are looking at now" if there were a veto -- shortening the time frame for funding, for example -- that would keep "this administration on a shorter leash."

Fair enough. That pretty much echoes Obama's comments during the debate (sans the Republican talking point, of course)

Now, I recognize that President Bush has indicated that he is going to veto a timetable that is attached to any supplemental, and my belief is that we’re gonna have to continue to ratchet up the pressure and re-present to him legislation that contains some constraints on his actions and has some mechanism whereby we can start getting combat troops out. The withdrawal has to begin soon. It’s time to end this war. It’s time to refocus our efforts on the wider struggle against terror, and it’s time for us to work much more aggressively diplomatically both inside Iraq and regionally if we’re gonna see the kind of stability in Iraq that all of us hope for. [...]

ELI PARISER: Alright, and now our final question of the day for you, Senator Obama:

You just voted for Senate legislation that would hold President Bush accountable to bring an end to the war by laying out a timeline for troop withdrawal. The fight around this bill isn't over yet, so will you commit only to support Iraq spending legislation with a timeline to bring the troops home?

SENATOR OBAMA: I’m committed to putting as much pressure on the President and this war as possible in a responsible fashion, and I’m hopeful that the President is going to heed the advice of some of his own party, including Rudy Giuliani to reach an agreement with the Democrats. But assuming that he vetoes the bill, I’m committed to finding the 67 votes we need to override this veto. I would support putting conditions on the next version of legislation if we can’t muster 67 votes, and I’m also looking at options of giving the President a much shorter leash moving to appropriate enough money for 3 to 4 months at a time, during which we continue to build more Republican support for veto override. So my belief is that this is just the first step in a continuing process of making this administration responsible to the American people, and to the young men and women who are being sent to Iraq. I don’t think it’s acceptable for us to simply give the President more of a ‘cart blanche’ than he’s already received, and I’m gonna be working diligently with leadership in the Senate and those in the House who share my view to make sure that we have the kind of legislation that is going to begin to bring an end to what has proven to be one of our biggest foreign policy failures in recent history.

But the good Senator needs to back up his words with action. As do the remaining presidential candidates. Christopher Dodd is the only candidate who has signed on to co-sponsor Reid-Feingold. For all his talk of leadership ("I’m committed to finding the 67 votes we need to override this veto"), one would think that Obama would be the first to sign on as a co-sponsor to Feingold-Reid. Almost ten days ago, Obama's spokesperson said he was "still looking at it."

Two days ago, in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Obama made clear that he has no intent of supporting the Democratic leadership and endorsing Reid-Feingold at this point:

BLITZER: Senators Harry Reid, the majority leader, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, they say cut off the funding if necessary to end this war. Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on the other hand, doesn’t go that far.

Where do you stand in terms of this debate among Democrats?

OBAMA: I am not yet at the point where I am prepared to say that I am going to cut off funding, partly because I spent a lot of time in Iowa, in Illinois, in small communities where every town hall meeting I have I meet with a mother whose son or daughter is in Iraq and they are concerned not only about getting them home but also concerned about getting them home safely and making sure they’ve got the night vision goggles and the armor and so forth.

Now I think Harry Reid is exactly right that if anybody is putting troops at risk, it is this administration who is now calling up troops that aren’t properly trained, sending them over there on rotations that are too frequent and too long and that the Democrats have acted in a very responsible fashion.

I don’t think we’re yet at the point where we have to immediately cut off funding. What I do think we have to do is to continue to put the pressure on the president and get more Republicans to listen to their constituents who are suggesting that perhaps it is time for us to bring this war to a close.

Color me confused again. Obama, who so forcefully calls for an end to the war in Iraq in the debate, who is such a supporter of a March 1, 2008 withdrawal from Iraq that he is "committed to finding the 67 votes we need to override this veto," who proclaims on his site that he has a "clear plan to end the Iraq war," who even goes as far to suggest endorsement of funding the war in 3 or 4 month increments, this man is "not yet at the point" where he can support cutting off funding the very war he claims he wants to bring to a March 2008 end?

To Obama (and Clinton, Biden, and Edwards, for that matter), I ask this: how can we believe you words, your claims that you are the president who will end this war, when you refuse to take the one step that best evidences your dedication to that cause? Either you want the war to end in March 2008 (as so many of their bills claim), or you don't. It is fundamentally inconsistent--and frankly, disrespectful to the American voter--to on the one hand boldly proclaim that it should be the policy of the United States to have all or most troops out of Iraq by March 2008, but then refuse to sign on to legislation that would truly effectuate that policy.

So color me confused. Perhaps Obama can clarify this issue for voters as well.
Howie P.S.: Fair enough. But I'm a little confused why the headline only calls out Obama when the issue also touches "Clinton, Biden, and Edwards." Jerome Armstrong also points a finger at Obama but unlike georgia 10, he lets John Edwards off the hook on this, while completely ignoring Biden. I have no problem with that.

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