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"Listening to Obama - Commentary by Joseph C. Phillips"

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After months of being transfixed by empty slogans, supporters of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama are finally listening and many do not like what they are hearing. Critics have charged him with flip flopping on a number of issues most significantly his stance on the war in Iraq.

During this campaign, Obama has been adamant that as president he would “set the mission” to end the war and bring the troops home in 16 months. In what no less an authority than the liberal paper of record, the New York Times identified as a flip (or a flop depending on one’s inclination)Obama now says he will consult with his generals in order to refine his promise to quickly remove troops.

I am disinclined to view this as a change of position. Though he has sought o reassure the left by responding with a hearty “Don’t be confused, I will bring this war to a close when I am president of the United States.” It would appear that he has finally come around to my way of thinking. He has taken a more moderate approach based on an evolving situation on the ground.

That the current administration and John McCain, the Republican Party nominee, also want to bring this war to a close as quickly as possible should go without saying. Alas, the left has been so successful at obfuscation that it must be said: Republicans want to end the war – the sooner the better! Republicans want to bring the troops home – the sooner the better! The difference between the Republican position and until recently Obama’s position has always been that bringing the war to a responsible close meant victory. To that end, events on the ground would dictate our leaving Iraq as opposed to an arbitrary timetable.

Obama now says that as commander-in-chief, he will keep his options open. One assumes that means if he is informed that events on the ground do not warrant a redeployment of our troops, we will remain in Iraq beyond his 16 month deadline. That is not a flip flop, but a reasonable position and as it happens, the same position as both President Bush and John McCain.

Barack is actually a victim of his own success. He did such a remarkable job of demonizing the war effort that any suggestion that he might actually fight the war makes the left apoplectic.

During the Democratic primaries, Obama gained considerable political mileage by pointing out that among the major candidates he was the only one to oppose America’s invasion of Iraq from the beginning. It is a testament to his political skill that he has been able to continually bask in the glow of having the moral courage to oppose the war while a member of the Illinois state senate. Of course at the time, no one much cared what the state of Illinois thought of toppling Saddam Hussein.

More recently, one wonders where all this moral courage was when called upon to step up to the plate and vote against the wire tap bill that easily passed the U.S. Senate.

For two years, Congress debated the measure designed to overhaul rules for government eavesdropping in terrorism and espionage cases. Many prominent Democrats had viewed the bill, which rewrites the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as an unacceptable encroachment upon the civil liberties of American citizens. Barack Obama had opposed an earlier version of the bill but supported this latest version in opposition to fellow Democrats Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-NV)

What remains unclear is how he can continue to refer to the current administration policy as “brain dead” when he has supported a measure this president fought for, and when he now clearly seems to be adopting the administration’s position on withdrawal from Iraq.

Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.

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