He starts by quoting Obama as saying that he was never in doubt about foreign policy decisions. Since this sounds a lot like Bush, Dickerson goes on to assure us that Obama is a superior human being.
We know, of course, that Barack Obama, in fact, goes through life thinking in subtle, nuanced, and interesting ways. He's probably got lots of complex input from his visit to Iraq that he's dissecting and analyzing.How is this being reflected? He admits that Obama isn't sharing much. Neither is Susan Rice, Obama's advisor who never answered Diskerson's questions.
And now that the trip is over, we have no better sense of how Sen. Obama thinks about Iraq. It's not that I expect grand revelations. But Obama still holds the same policy views he did more than a year and a half ago, even though a lot has changed since then in Iraq, and a lot of those events appear to contradict his earlier views. We know that Obama hasn't moved, but we don't know, really, why that's so.Dickerson goes on to admit that Obama was completely wrong about the surge in 2007.
Even if you agree with the argument that the additional brigades didn't change much in Iraq on their own, you still have to account for whether the overall Petraeus strategy shift worked to assist the positive developments among Sunnis and Sadr's Shiite militia. Obama suggests the military had almost no role in the Anbar Awakening and the decision by Sadr's militia to stand down—that the two sets of events merely happened "at the same time."Dickerson also quotes Obama as saying that the Anbar Awakening happened because the Democrats won Congress in 2006 even though the Awakening had already started.
Dickerson saves the worst for last:
Perhaps Obama doesn't want to share his views because his inquisitive mind sometimes takes him to contradictory places. In his book The Audacity of Hope, he writes about pulling aside reporters who were living in Iraq to get their views about the war. He expected them to agree with his call for a troop reduction. They didn't. They said a troop reduction would start a civil war. Obama called for a troop reduction anyway, but we know his mind is alive enough to capture and remember a piece of data that didn't fit with his pre-existing views. Are contradictory observations fine for a book but off-limits when you're a political candidate? Admitting you're wrong, or even that your thinking has evolved, is risky for a politician. Maybe too risky. That's certainly what George Bush believes.Why does Dickerson give Obama so much credit and Bush so little? Bush changed course with the surge on the advise of people with experience in Iraq. Obama did the opposite. He heard something that contradicted his beliefs so he ignored it.
Dickerson gave every reason to vote against Obama but he is still gives Obama a pass on a major foreign policy mistake, assuming that it is just part of the campaign.