Bush, having mysteriously decided to wait until just AFTER the election to dump Rumsfeld (in some mistaken belief that doing so before the election would look too political, when in fact it may well have saved one or two Senate seats), now had a new men for his top military posts. And they had new ideas -- the most important of which was General Petraeus' "Surge".
The chief Senate proponent? John McCain, who had pushed for additional troops for years, and had been sharply critical of the previous strategy.
Most every Democrat was strongly against it. Including, of course, Barack Obama, who likes to claim some special credit for opposing the war from the beginning -- along with half the Democratic party and a fair number of us Republicans, none of which think we are qualified to be President.
That January, Obama and McCain appeared on CBS's Face The Nation, and here is what Obama said about the Troop Surge:
We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality, we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops. I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believe that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.
In response to the state of the union, he said it would make things worse:
I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”
Now he admits the surge has reduced the violence. In a recent debate he said:
“I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place.”
And now he claims he ALWAYS said the surge would reduce violence:
"[W]ell, there's no doubt that the security situation has improved, much as everybody admitted it would if we put more troops on the ground."
Obama certainly is change you can expect -- a change in position, or a change in nuance, or whatever you want to call it -- it would be nice if Obama would ever say something substantive enough that you could actually TELL if he was changing his mind later or not.
Here's a guy who was able to convince an entire audience at AIPAC that he was on their side, and the next day make a plausible argument that they had completely misunderstood his REAL position.
Anyway, this was the topic of my latest column "Obama gets it wrong".