OBAMA’S WORDS….Two press conferences, three headlines:
Washington Post: Obama Softens on Iraq Withdrawal Timeline
New York Times: Obama Strives to Retain Some Flexibility on His Iraq Policy
LA Times: Obama restates plan to exit Iraq in 16 months
The story is the same in all three cases: Obama held a press conference in the morning saying, as usual, that he planned to bring our troops home from Iraq in 16 months, but leaving himself a bit of wiggle room based on issues of troop safety and political stability. This “fueled speculation” that he was changing his position, so he held a second press conference in which he said:
Let me be as clear as I can be. I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war — responsibly, deliberately, but decisively. And I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring our troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades a month, and again, that pace translates into having our combat troops out in 16 months’ time.
So who got the headline right?
On another note, it turns out that the “speculation” about Obama’s position was “fueled” by none other than the John McCain campaign. All’s fair in love and politics, so whatever. But check out exactly what the McCain campaign said:
“Today, Barack Obama reversed [his] position, proving once again that his words do not matter,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said in a statement.
“Once again his words do not matter.” Have the McCain people used this exact formulation before? I ask because it seems very shrewd. After all, Obama’s most famous trait is the power and quality of his rhetoric. His words. To criticize him in exactly this way — “his words do not matter” — is to launch an attack directly at his strongest point.
That’s very Rovian, isn’t it? And Rove disciple Steve Schmidt took over the McCain campaign just yesterday. Apparently he works fast.